The holiday season is right around the corner, and for many men that can mean an avalanche of stress and emotions. While we like to think of the holidays as a time of joy and happiness, the reality is often the opposite. For many couples getting through the holidays is the final step before filing for divorce. For those already divorced, the holidays can be incredibly difficult between juggling parenting time and coping with the loneliness.
For men facing divorce or family issues, the holidays can bring anxiety and dread. Whether you’ve been divorced for many years, this is your first holiday after divorce, or you are waiting to file until after the New Year, it is common to be overwhelmed and drained as you navigate the festivities.
As you head into the holiday season, being prepared can go a long way towards minimizing stress.
Avoid situations that will escalate.
It can be tempting for divorced parents to try and celebrate the holiday together. If there is a zero risk of conflict, this can be an alternative to splitting parenting time over different holidays. Unfortunately, for many exes, the likelihood of conflict is too high and separate celebrations are the best option.
During the holidays, the path of least resistance can help you navigate the pressure of the season. It is ok to avoid seeing your ex during the holidays, but be sure to continue to communicate using a channel that is comfortable. If phone conversations often get heated, using email can provide you the space and time to craft a diplomatic message.
Start new traditions
Starting your own traditions can help you establish a new routine. Find ways that you can bring new meaning to your celebrations. It can be as simple as cooking a special breakfast the morning of the holiday, or going to your favorite coffee shop for a seasonal drink.
Volunteering is also an excellent tradition for those looking to make new friends and help people in their community. It can be a fulfilling way to spend time and, for some, the socialization can help minimize some of the loneliness of divorce during the holidays.
Ask for help
Taking care of yourself is important, especially during the holidays. Being realistic about what you can and can’t do and knowing when to recruited help can make all the difference. In an attempt to overcompensate, many newly divorced parents overwhelm themselves by trying to do too much. Sometimes saying no to social invitations can save your sanity.
The holidays can also be a great time to start working with a mental health professional. A therapist or psychologist can provide you with tools and suggestions for managing the stress of the season. Additionally, the structure of having a weekly appointment to discuss what is going on in your life can help you traverse the period between Thanksgiving and the New Year.
“If I get a legal separation, will that protect my credit score?”
In this installment of Life Coach with Danny Bonaduce, managing partner Rick Jones tackled some tough questions from men looking for answers. The first caller needed advice on getting a legal separation. His question for Rick: “My wife and I are splitting up and we aren’t ready to divorce, will getting a legal separation protect my credit score.”
Rick’s answer was, “The easy answer is yes for anything going forward.” He elaborated saying, “The problem is many people don’t realize a legal separation isn’t an easy process. You still have to divide up property, assets and liabilities in a permanent way the same as you would in a divorce."
A legal separation often takes the same amount of work as a divorce. The difference is that after the legal separation is final you are still married.
Danny inquired if the caller would benefit from a legal separation to protect his assets. Rick clarified that a legal separation will protect the caller’s interests moving forward, but won’t affect already existing marital assets. This means that if the caller does get a legal separation, his wife would not be entitled to any purchases or assets acquired after the separation is finalized. A legal separation would also protect the caller from being responsible for any debt that his wife might incur down the road.
The next caller was looking for more information about child support and paying for college.
“My son is 18 and getting ready to go to college, am I required to pay for half of his college?”
Rick confirmed that the caller had a support order already in place and explained that there should be a section that addresses post secondary support. Most support orders have language that says the issue of post secondary support is reserved and that either party can raise the issue prior to the termination of child support. In Washington State, child support usually ends when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes later.
You can hear all of Rick’s advice about divorce, legal separation, custody and other family law issues, in the clip below. If you have questions regarding your rights as a husband or father, please give us a call. (206) 448-1010
Losing custody and visitation can be a frightening prospect for fathers facing divorce and custody issues. Every case is unique, but there are some basic do’s and don’ts for protecting the priceless relationship between you and your child.
Don’t move out
Remaining in the home until a parenting plan has been created is extremely important. Many fathers make the mistake of moving out in an effort to reduce conflict. This can be a mistake if a parenting plan isn’t in place.
Vacating the family home prematurely can decrease the amount of time you spend with your children and limit your ability to be actively involved in their daily lives. This can set a precedent that the court will consider when awarding custody.
Do stay involved with your kids’ daily lives
When deciding custody, the courts seek to curtail additional stress on your child by minimizing drastic changes in schedules and daily routines. For father’s, being actively involved in the daily activities of your child is essential.
Demonstrating to the courts that you are an active and involved parent is imperative to protecting your rights as a father. Making a conscious effort to increase the quality and quantity of time you spend with your kids will not only improve your prospects for custody, but it will also pay off by strengthening your bond with your child.
Don’t wait to act
When the issues of divorce and custody arise, it can be natural reaction to want to “wait and see” how things will play out. Unfortunately not being proactive in your custody issues can work to your detriment.
Failing to act early can leave you vulnerable to the other party’s actions and put you at a disadvantage for obtaining the custody arrangement you want. If you think divorce or custody issues are on the horizon, speak with an experienced attorney to understand what course of action is best for your unique situation.
Do act in the best interest of your child
Throughout your custody case, acting in the best interest of your children will establish a solid parenting foundation. The court will evaluate your willingness to constructively co-parent with your child’s mother. Being cooperative will demonstrate your desire to put your children first and is viewed favorably by the courts.
It is important to note that being cooperative does not mean giving in to the demands of the child’s mother. Reasonable requests should be evaluated and accommodated if they serve the child’s best interest, but as a father you should protect your time and access to your children.
Don’t let yourself be removed from your child’s life
Staying actively involved in your child’s life can be challenging, especially if the child’s mother is attempting to limit access and visitation. If you think your ability to spend time with your child is being undermined, speak with an attorney immediately. Trying to avoid conflict by taking a passive approach will only hurt your case and it could lead to a steep child support obligation.
Do educate yourself by speaking with an experienced family law attorney
Custody disputes are some of the most difficult legal issues a man can face. Understanding your rights and your options is an important first step toward protecting the relationship you have with your kids.
An experienced family law attorney will help you assess the unique facts of your case and provide guidance on creating a strategy for protecting your rights. A knowledgeable attorney is an invaluable resource for navigating the uncertainty of custody issues.
If you need answers to your custody or family law questions, please give us a call. We understand the unique concerns that fathers face and we can provide answers that are specific to your personal circumstances. (206) 448-1010
We are excited to welcome family law attorney Julie Caputo to the Goldberg Jones team. Julie is an experienced family law attorney having practiced in Colorado and Washington. Her sharp legal and communication skills will be invaluable to husbands and fathers facing family law issues in Seattle and the surrounding communities.
Julie has been practicing law for more than 19 years and she is well versed in complex divorce issues. She has built a solid reputation for her ability to handle everything from international child custody disputes to high conflict divorces.
Using a balanced approach, Julie is dedicated to resolving disputes and producing meaningful results for her clients. She is an agile attorney that is equally comfortable at the negotiating table as she is at trial. Julie has certainly earned her reputation as a respected advocate for men facing complex family law issues.
Managing partner Rick Jones commented on the addition of Caputo saying, “Julie is an exceptional family law attorney. She is tenacious, solution oriented, and knows how to produce results. Her experience with complicated cases and multi-jurisdiction custody issues will be a valuable asset to our clients.”
Julie is experienced in Collaborative Law, is a trained mediator, and is licensed to practice law in Washington State and Colorado. Additionally, she has served as the co-chair of the Boulder County Bar Family Law Section and is a member of the BDIC.
When she isn’t in court or in the office, Julie can be found enjoying music, kayaking, and traveling.
If divorce is on the horizon, getting your proverbial ducks in a row is important—particularly when it comes to your finances. It isn’t uncommon for spouses to try and hide assets when a divorce is imminent. Knowing the red flags that might indicate your wife is hiding money can help you protect your rights and your financial future.
The eight signs listed below are not definitive proof that your wife is concealing assets, but they can indicate that further investigation into her finances is prudent.
1. Self employment
Being a business owner in and of itself isn’t a warning sign of hidden assets. However, if your wife owns her own business there are more opportunities for creative concealment of money. Be wary of drastic changes in reported income and unexpected increases in operating costs. Purposefully “running a business into the ground” or not letting you look at the business’ financial documents can signal something is amiss. If you or your wife own a business, speak with a family law attorney or accountant (or both) before filing for divorce.
2. Income/lifestyle discrepancy
If your soon to be ex-wife is living large, yet reporting an income that puts her below the poverty line, this can indicate that there is something awry with the income she is reporting. Additionally, a change in how much or how often your spouse is willing to contribute to family expenses can be a warning sign that your wife if hiding assets.
3. A change in deposit/withdrawal activity
If the deposit and/or withdrawal activity suddenly changes after years of predictability, it might be time to investigate where the money is going. It isn’t uncommon for spouses make cash withdrawal or to start diverting money into new accounts when a divorce is inevitable.
Cash transactions can be more difficult to track, making them an attractive avenue for people trying to hide money. After cash has been withdrawn from an account it can be moved to a variety of places where it can be held until after the divorce is final.
4. She is overly assertive about signatures on financial documents
If your wife suddenly becomes aggressive about having you sign important financial documents and pressures you to act quickly with financial decisions, she may be trying to hide something from you. This can encompass everything from wanting to be added to property via title or asking you to sign quit claims that release interest in title or accounts. It is always important to take the time to read and understand any financial documents that are presented to you—and when divorce is on the horizon it become imperative. Take as much time as is required to thoroughly evaluate the consequences of signing any financial or legal documents.
5. She is secretive about finances
Is your wife secretive about finances? Does she get dodgy when you ask her about bills, expenses, or her spending? This may be a red flag that she is trying to hide money or financial information. It is important to pay close attention to credit card statements and credit reports before, during, and after a divorce. It isn’t uncommon for spouses to max-out lines of credit or open new credit accounts in an attempt to accumulate clothes, jewelry, etc. and have the other spouse required to pay for some or all of that debt.
6. Sudden change in the profitability of her business
If your wife’s business has been profitable and then all of a sudden she is reporting record losses and skyrocketing costs, this might require a closer look. Overstating expenses and understating income are two common methods of making a business appear less profitable (and less valuable) than it actually is.
7. She starts gifting money or assets to family members or friends
Gifts of cash or assets may be an attempt to shield your wife from having to divide those assets during the divorce. If your wife is gifting money or property to friends or family well before the divorce has been filed, it may be difficult to have those assets or money included in the division of marital assets.
It can be particularly challenging if your wife is sending money to family overseas. Money held in offshore accounts can be particularly difficult to locate and even harder to recover. If you suspect that your wife is trying to hide assets in an offshore account, you may need to hire a detective that specializes in financial fraud.
8. Emails or financial statements from an unfamiliar financial institution
If bank statements and other financial documents start arriving from a financial institution that you don’t have an account with, take note. Your wife may have opened a new account in an attempt to move money from a joint account to an account that you cannot access.
If you suspect your wife is trying to hide money or assets, speak with your attorney. Your situation may require additional discovery and a forensic accountant may be necessary. A forensic accountant will work to trace, locate, and accurately value the marital assets to ensure an equitable division in the divorce.Disclaimer – The materials posted in this blog are for informational purposes only. The information presented is general in nature, and may not apply to particular factual or legal circumstances. The information presented here does not constitute legal advice or opinions and should not be relied upon as such.