Dannenbaum Law Firm, PLLC

Arlington Family Law Blog

Gray divorce is increasingly common, study says

Virginia residents may be surprised to learn that, even though divorce rates overall are declining, divorces among couples over the age of 50 have doubled from 1990 to 2010, according to a survey of U.S. divorces.

Therapists believe the biggest reason for people splitting up later in life is emotional detachment. With people living longer than they did in previous generations, individuals are realizing that they do not want to spend another 20 or so years after retirement with someone who makes them unhappy. Additionally, couples who have grown apart may find it easier to divorce now than it would have been a few decades ago, when divorce was more stigmatized.

Preventative steps to speed financial recovery after divorce

While divorce is a difficult process, people will eventually bounce back from it. This is also true in a financial sense. A study done by Fidelity Investments revealed that it takes about five years for a person to recover financially after a divorce. Virginia residents may be interested taking some smart preventive measures to speed their recovery if divorce is on the horizon.

The same study showed a few of the biggest regrets people have when it comes to their finances after divorce. Eighty percent of the respondents who were not involved in the daily finances during the time they were married felt bad about it. This problem can be prevented by getting involved in the family's finances now. Each partner should keep tabs on how money is being spent and have access to bank accounts and tax returns.

Helping kids cope with divorce: Keep these issues in mind

Many people refer to January as divorce month. It's a fact that an increase in inquiries and petitions typically occurs during the first weeks of a new year. Perhaps, you're one of many parents in Virginia who want to head into the new year by starting a new lifestyle, one that does not include your current spouse. While filing for divorce is definitely an adult issue, as a parent, you no doubt understand that your decision will have a significant impact on your children's lives.

There are resources available to assist your family as you help your children cope with divorce. By providing encouragement and support to your kids, you can help maximize their coping skills and keep stress levels to a minimum. The more you and your ex work together as a team, the more likely your kids will successfully adapt to a new lifestyle. This is one of many reasons it's important to know how to resolve legal issues if a problem arises between you and your co-parent.

Calendars can be useful in a divorce case

Calendars may provide crucial evidence that could result in an individual obtaining child or spousal support in a divorce settlement. For example, an individual may have marked the dates that he or she went on vacation with a former spouse. It may also show that a couple routinely had dinners at fancy restaurants or saw shows together. This may be important because it could be proof of the lifestyle that an individual enjoyed while married.

Ultimately, what is written on a calendar could help a person obtain spousal support or other financial assistance in a divorce settlement. Parents may also benefit by keeping calendars in their possession. This is because those calendars may make mention of a birthday party that a child went to or a soccer tournament that took place out of town. The custodial parent may be entitled to help paying for gifts he or she purchased for that party or expenses a child incurred while on the road.

How to create a fair prenuptial agreement

A prenuptial agreement or a cohabiting agreement can be a good idea for couples in Virginia who are getting married or moving in together, but it is important that it is put together with input from both individuals. One woman learned this when her boyfriend gave her a cohabiting agreement that stated that if they married, she would not receive any alimony. She also would not receive any financial compensation for the home he had purchased with his mother's help no matter how much money she put into it.

An attorney may start by giving a client a boilerplate contract of this nature that is designed to protect the client's interests as much as possible. The problem with this type of contract is that it may be unfair to the other person. Both people should have legal counsel before anything is signed. This kind of contract could act as a jumping-off point for individuals to discuss their finances and what should happen if there is a divorce.

Dividing retirement funds in a divorce

Retirement plans may be among the largest assets held by a Virginia couple who decides to divorce. Dividing these plans during the dissolution of a marriage can be complex, and both parties may need to revise their retirement schedules after the division is complete. In most cases, retirement plans are considered assets that belong to the marriage. Of course, the length of the marriage and the duration of a retirement plan are also factors in this equation. People in longer marriages generally need to split more of their retirement funds, especially if the fund was only started after the couple was already married.

On the other hand, people in shorter marriages may only divide the portion of the retirement fund that grew during their years together. In some cases, both parties may have extensive retirement savings in their own name that need to be divided with one another. These types of plans have special tax regulations surrounding their use, so it is important to make sure that any division is executed correctly to avoid unwanted penalties. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO, is a court order issued after the divorce decree. It provides for the distribution of funds from a retirement account in line with the divorce settlement.

Reasons to get a prenuptial agreement

Some people in Virginia who are getting married might want to consider a prenuptial agreement. Divorce usually means having to divide property acquired during the marriage. A prenup can protect people who are entering a marriage with substantial assets, but the document also has other uses. If either person has children, a prenup can protect assets for those children.

In some cases, spouses may both want a prenup because they are each bringing assets into the marriage that they want to keep as their own property. While property that is brought into the marriage is generally considered separate property, this becomes more complicated if marital funds are used to renovate or upgrade it as might be the case with a house. The same is true of inheritances. They are usually treated as separate property, but if they are mingled with marital property, they might be considered joint property. Income earned during marriage is usually joint property.

Getting through the holidays before your divorce

When you and your spouse decided to finish the year together and divorce after the holidays, you may not have realized how challenging it would be to face those festive weeks together. As amicable and peaceful as you hope your divorce will be, you cannot deny the emotions and frustrations you have ahead of you as you participate in celebrations with family and friends.

Since you have the goal of negotiating your divorce through alternative dispute resolution, now may be a time to practice your negotiation skills by coming to some agreements about how you will handle the holiday season as a couple. After all, you will not want to look back on these last months as a couple and remember them as a painful time that damaged your chances of an amicable divorce.

How to maintain bonds with a child after moving away

After a divorce, some Virginia parents might have to move away from their children. Parents may be concerned both that their children will feel even more abandoned on the heels of the divorce and that the bond between them will suffer. However, there are many things long-distance parents can do to keep in touch with their children and ensure that their time together is high-quality even if it is infrequent.

Parents should talk to their children about how they prefer to stay in contact and if they want their parent to come to them or if they prefer to visit their parent. Parents can make phone calls outside of scheduled times and use postcards, text, email and social media to deliver positive messages to their children. They can also ask them about things happening in their lives, such as how an activity they are involved in went.

More couples are using prenups in the startup age

The laws in many states have a presumption that any wealth gained during the course of a marriage is the property of the couple rather than the spouses separately. For Virginia couples considering marriage, a prenuptial agreement can be a safeguard against much of the havoc of divorce. According to a 2016 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey, 60% of divorce lawyers said they'd seen an increased demand for prenuptial agreements in the prior three years.

Roughly 50% of those surveyed said they'd seen a spike in the number of prenups being requested by millennials. Part of the reason for an increase in prenups may be the developing startup culture. People are getting married when they have just an idea with the potential for growth. If their ideas later become successful, their spouses may have a claim to that success in the absence of a prenup. Another reason may be the growing awareness of the likelihood of eventual divorce. Even when entrepreneurs get married, their business ideas and ventures remain their true passion.

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