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Divorce by Texting?

photo by DavidErickson via PhotoRee

According to Time Magazine’s Hillary Brenhouse, it is no longer permissible in Tajikistan to divorce your wife by sending her a text message. In some traditions of Sunni Islam a divorce can be granted by uttering the “triple talaq,” which simply means the husband repeats the words: “I divorce you” three times. Apparently, Tajik men working abroad found that texting the  triple talaq was just as effective, and much more convenient.

However, the sense that that this shortcut was just a bit too easy has been growing. Abdurakhim Kholikov, the head of the state religious affairs committee, issued a statement that delivering the coup de grace to a marriage by SMS was a breach of Islamic law, and plans to outlaw it entirely. In a nation where most marriages do not appear in the official records anyway, the talaq was a mere formality.

In other nations the triple talaq must usually be accompanied by arbitration and reconciliation. The practice had already been regulated or banned in Turkey, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Of course, in the US, divorce has never been so simple – or so arbitrary.

Read the article here.

How To Have A Better Divorce

Here are some tips and suggestions to help make the process of divorce a little bit easier. If you follow these suggestions, you will save yourself a lot of potential frustration down the road.

1. Always take your file with you everywhere.

2. Keep a journal. Write down every significant event, conversation, discussion and action of your spouse at the time it occurs.

3. Keep a ledger. Write down every financial aspect of your case to assure a complete, accurate, and legible record of all the financial aspects of your case.

4. Memorialize every agreement with every person who is interested/involved in your case. Keep/send copies.

5. Meet with your attorney in person to design strategies for your case. Explore consensual dispute resolution; confirm everything in writing.

6. Know your strategy; do not deviate without advice and counsel.

7. Participate in the preparation of your case; draft, document, investigate, gather information and pre-interview all witnesses.

8. Let your attorney know when s/he is on track or off.

9. Schedule regular spit and grouse sessions with your attorney. DO NOT let resentments accumulate.

10. Keep your account current at all times and offer security if you fall behind.

Happy Holidays from Ron & Robert

Warmest regards and sincere best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season
from Ron, Robert, and All of Us at The Law Collaborative, LLP

Greetings!  Our warmest thoughts go out to our friends and colleagues who have made our success this year possible.  This Holiday Season, rather than sending out ‘hard’ greeting cards (with envelopes & stamps),  we’ve decided to donate the cost of cards and postage to The Smile Train, an organization that provides cleft palate surgeries to afflicted children all over the world.  We hope that by doing so we’ve given a good many small needy children something to smile about.  If you are interested in making your own donation to this worthy cause, contact them at www.smiletrain.org.

As this year rolls to an end, here is a to-do list for the coming weeks:

1.  Remember that the tax filing deadline for individuals and partnerships is April 15, 2011.
2.  Opening and/or contributing to a Roth IRA seems to be more advantageous every year.
3.  If there have been changes to your estate, you must keep your heirs informed.
4.  Schedule a Legal Check-up early in the New Year to help plan for your future.
5.  Find something to be thankful for every day. Breathe deeply and often.

A Happy, Healthy, Prosperous, and Peaceful New Year to all of our readers.

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Pains of Divorce

Dina Haddad is a former law clerk from The Law Collaborative, who now practices family law at McManis Faulkner. Mediate.com sent me this article in one of their recent newsletters. It is an excellent piece about the power of sincere apology. For more information about Attorney Haddad, click here.

DEALING WITH THE PAINS OF DIVORCE THROUGH MEANINGFUL AND COMPLETE APOLOGY
By: Dina Haddad

If you are contemplating divorce, in the midst of a divorce, or already have a divorce decree in hand, you know pressures of the legal process do not compare to the emotional turmoil you are experiencing. The emotional pressures can be quelled when you give a meaningful and complete apology. It has the effect of freeing you from the weight of the divorce, helps heal you and the person you offended, restores your relationships, and even provides direct legal benefits to your case.

Apologies: The Need to Give and Receive

During the divorce, you process a variety of thoughts and emotions while attempting to understand what lead to the dissolution of your marriage. You conclude that some of these failures were your spouse’s fault and others were yours. Many were a result of both you and your ex-spouse. You may struggle with the shame and guilt you experience for the affair you had or the misuse of your family’s money. You may feel guilty that your marriage failed. You may have even come to terms that this guilt is not going to disappear when the divorce process is over. You are haunted by the thought of having on-going contact with your ex-spouse and you can’t imagine co-parenting for the next ten years in any healthy way or being at your children’s celebrations with your ex-spouse in the years to come. [1] Internal factors, such as shame, guilt, or empathy, may motivate a person to apologize as well as external factors, such as restoring a damaged relationship.

These are heavy and weighty issues many divorcees feel. A meaningful and complete apology, however, has the power to heal, relieve you of the humiliations and grudges, and help you establish a more healthy future relationship with your ex-spouse. [2] An apology can take you from desiring revenge to a place of acceptance. It has the power to make your situation better and reduce the anger and resentment your ex-spouse has towards you and you have against your ex-spouse.

But even for what is undoubtedly our own fault, most of us find it very hard to apologize. It’s hard to admit we were wrong to anyone, especially to an ex-spouse. We worry that if we did apologize, we would feel weak and our spouse would feel superior to us. [3] In fact, there is no guarantee that once we put ourselves at the mercy of our spouse that we will be forgiven. If our spouse does not forgive us, would it only result in injury to our pride and self-esteem?

The Apology Risk

Apologies are not easy, but the benefits likely outweigh the risks and your fears. And without an apology, you are likely to face additional short-term and long-term consequences. As you are probably aware, the divorce process can be very nasty. Spouses are pitted against each other to fight for important issues such as time with their children, ownership of the family home, and division of the family estate. An insulted spouse may be too hurt to discuss settlement options and may express his/her anger in litigious tactics. Even in mediation an insulted spouse would find it difficult to trust the other spouse enough to reach a mediated settlement or forgo tit for tat strategies.

An apology, however, can prevent this antagonistic behavior [4] and heal the damaged relationship between you and your spouse. Apologies heal because they satisfy at least one – and sometimes several – distinct psychological needs of the offended party. Those needs are: restoration of self-respect and dignity, assurance that you and your ex-spouse still have shared values, and your ex-spouse’s assurance that the offense you are apologizing for was not his or her fault. [5] For example, an apology that you are sorry you mismanaged the finances and did not save enough money as your spouse requested for the children’s college fund demonstrates that you understand the value of your children’s education – a value both you and your spouse share.

The apology process also allows you and your ex-spouse to keep the past in the past, and create a relationship based on the present circumstances, absent hate and revenge. This gives you an opportunity to deal with your ex-spouse on a more level playing field. Otherwise, the insult from the injury and the indignity your ex-spouse is experiencing can be a large barrier to compromise. It will affect you when you try to settle your case. It will have an emotional weight on you personally. And it will hamper your on-going relationship with your ex-spouse, particularly if you and your ex-spouse have children to raise together. [6] On the other hand, a meaningful and complete apology has the power to keep your ex-spouse from being unreasonable in mediation and settlement discussions and using the courtroom to punish you. It will give you a healthier and redefined relationship for the future.

How to Apologize

The manner in which you apologize is crucial to the success of your apology. I am sure we each can recall countless examples of apologies that just didn’t work. For example, we’ve had our spouse, friend, or family member apologize half-heartedly. Other times, we’ve received an apology so vague it was not clear if the person was in fact apologizing. We’ve also been recipients of conditional apologies, in which the offender says something to the effect: “I’m sorry if I hurt you,” leaving us questioning whether the offender even believed she or he had actually hurt us or done something wrong. Other times, the offender doesn’t even admit to his or her personal fault when apologizing. For example, the offender may say, “Mistakes were made,” rather than “I made a mistake.” [7] We know from experience that these apologies don’t work because they leave us wondering whether the offender really understood what was done wrong, whether the offender would never do the same wrong again, and whether the offender was really sorry.

Read more…

Children In Divorce

One day I decided to indulge myself in a personalized license plate frame for my car. A salesman explained to me how much room I could use for whatever sentiment I wanted to express to fellow drivers. I chose, ‘No Court Divorce. Where the child comes first.’ That phrase has, over the years of my practice, become my professional motto.

When couples start having trouble in their marriages, the emotional impact is so great that the children and their needs seem to go into eclipse. Sometimes things are so disrupted for a season that children no older than nine or ten find themselves taking care of a distraught parent. No dependent child should ever, under any circumstances, have to take care of a parent.

I learned about the problems of children in divorce gradually and haphazardly as my law practice grew. My perspective was limited until I attended a seminar conducted by Judith Wallerstein in the early eighties. Through her influence, I began to see the bigger picture of what actually happens in the homes of the people who are my clients. Her book Surviving the Breakup: How Children and Parents Cope With Divorce, coauthored with Joan Berlin Kelly, is a landmark.

There is nothing a divorcing parent – or any parent, for that matter – can do to shield a child completely from pain or injury. But there is a lot parents can learn that will keep them from contributing to the child’s pain and injury. And every parent can learn to help a child deal with pain appropriately and to grow through it to great maturity.

One of the ways parents can help their children is by having a peaceful divorce.  Collaborative divorce uses licensed therapists as divorce coaches to help couples deal with the emotional divorce, so that their children don’t have to.  Each spouse has their own coach who will help them examine and understand their feelings and assist with face-to-face meetings with the other spouse.  The coach helps the client state their needs and desires in ways that make them easier for their partner to hear.  The coach helps divorcing couples to understand and suitably respond to each other’s needs and desires, process and express difficult feelings,  identify and appropriately respond to triggers that may derail communication and they assist the entire family in processing the changes inherent in a divorce. The divorce coach helps the children by helping the parents work together effectively to plan the family’s future.  They help the attorneys work together productively, and help the parties achieve a divorce settlement that is fair, fast and economical.

When divorcing couples negotiate amicably, communicate effectively and co-parent peacefully, their children will thrive. Divorce is painful, but it doesn’t have to leave scars.