Archive for the ‘Divorce’ Category
Late summer of ’92. Bent over, arms on knees, resting, trying to recover from a long hard row against the tidal current. Pleased with this not-so-easy accomplishment. Too bad there wasn’t an audience, someone to do the clapping, to deliver accolades. She is no longer here, my wife. Perhaps she is with him right now. Having a morning coffee, or sharing a shower.
Back then, before the recovery, I was adrift and afloat in self-pity. Wondering for the hundredth time. What did I do to deserve this? Why me? Why did our friends abandon me too? The questions unanswered, floating out to sea, then sinking.
It’s was like this for a while, owning this deep feeling of loss and hope. Still expecting her to show up at our favourite dock-side restaurant, her smile radiating, her arms open. At home the deck lights were always on, waiting her return. Sitting at the window, watching the rain, waiting for the taxi.
The emotional steps leading from the first shock of betrayal to the cleansing action of divorce is similar to the steps dealing with death. And in the early stages I sometimes preferred death. Friends tried to help with their professional advice, mostly they said it will get better with time. “You’ll be fine.” “You just need time to heal” That was a good one, like if it were only as simple as a broken leg, or hole in the hull. Those I could fight, those I could understand. Friends told me about:
- Anger , resentment and fear
- Withdrawal and grieving
Did I listen then? I said I did, but in the early stages it’s impossible. Months later, visiting a friend in a hospital room I found myself saying the same things. My words sounding terribly false and hollow against his real pain, his discomfort and fear. “You’ll be fine” In his case, like mine, it was true, we both recovered.
I remember my anger, experiencing it as feeling down or depressed. Left unresolved, this anger could have ruined my career, business opportunities and my health. All of these feelings lowered my sense of self-worth and self-esteem. At this point, motivation and drive to try new things disappeared, resulting in less and less confidence in my abilities.
I began to worry and over-think, creating feelings of anxiety. I worried about many things, especially not ever letting anyone into my life. I could justify being a castaway, safely at anchor, alone. I continued to have work problems and developed a sleep disorder. I found comfort in plotting fanciful revenge. If left unchecked this pattern would continue into a downward spiral, creating more fear, more anger or depression lower self-esteem and more worry and anxiety.
The simple truth is that I had a good marriage with a good wife. She left. Yes I had generous feelings of betrayal; how could she do this to me? I had constant feelings of loss. Driving our car, turning to see the passenger seat empty would fill me with unseen tears. Somehow things changed for me; sure the counseling helped, but mostly the change happened when I finally gave myself permission to move on. To accept things for what they are, to accept the new opportunities, to see the door open, not closed.
I dreaded the thought of divorce. I had worried about divorce for a long time before I had the nerve and courage to take this final action. I spend many nights saying it was OK to do it, then I’d put it off for one good reason after another. I told myself the money was too tight, knowing the lie. I told myself I would do it after the holidays, or maybe next month, or next week.
Intellectually I was aware of the immediate benefits of getting divorced, and since there was nobody seeking my hand I kept postponing, procrastinating. The day I filed my divorce papers was a day of discovery. I discovered relief from anxiety and a freedom I did not expect. The day I filed was a day of new beginnings, a day of new life.
Do I need a lawyer?
Check out the following circumstances to make sure whether you need to have a lawyer or not.
• You and your spouse have been wed for at least 5 years
• You and your spouse have kids.
• Either you or your spouse is the breadwinner while the other may have difficulty getting on his/her own two feet financially speaking, once the divorce is finalized.
• You or your spouse has come upon inheritance while married to one another.
• Either you or your spouse is in debt.
Where can I get a divorce lawyer?
There are a many ways to get a divorce lawyer. Also try asking your marriage counselor or therapist for a referral. Of course you may ask your relatives or friends as well. Other lawyers can recommend those attorneys which specialize in divorce also.
It is also possible if you may even go straight to the courthouse to check out if a particular divorce lawyer strikes your fancy. No matter where you look, may it be in the yellow pages or in directories on-line, you should assess their credentials.
Meeting a lawyer for consultation
After finding a promising lawyer, the next step would be to meet him/her for consultation. If he/she is hard to reach then this may be a sign that you may have a hard time getting in contact with him/her once you hire him/her as your divorce lawyer. Find out how much he/she may charge for consultation. What exactly is his/her specialization? It’s important that he/she specializes in divorce, for you to have the best representation. You wouldn’t want a gynecologist dealing with your heart disease would you? Of course you’d seek the help of a cardiologist and with legal matters it goes the same. Seek the help of a divorce attorney for divorce concerns.
What you ought to know after consultation with a divorce lawyer
The first time you meet with a divorce lawyer may be one of the few times that you are the one who gets to do most of the asking. Make the most of it. Find out everything you need to know in order to make the right choice of attorney. After speaking with a lawyer, make sure you’ve discussed the following matters:
• Length of practice
• Case specialization
• Divorce trial experience
• Experience in negotiation for settlements
• Familiarity with divorce mediators
• Custody dispute experience
• Familiarity with tax issues of divorce
• Familiarity with your particular situation/context
• Projected period of time for your case
• Projected outcome for your case
• Schedule and methods of contacting him/her
• Fee (Including specifics, like if travel time is included)
• Manner of billing
Not surprisingly, assets are often hidden in a divorce situation. Why – well simply greed, or the feelings of betrayal or anger at the need to divide assets in the divorce, or the fear of not having enough after the divorce all motivate the behavior of hiding assets.
In divorce, the parties assets are divided. Under the divorce laws of some states they are divided equally and under the divorce laws of other states, they are divided “equitably” or fairly. Equitably often means equally to overworked divorce judges.
There is no way to know in advance if your spouse has or will hide assets in a divorce. You know your spouse better than your divorce attorney will and you will need to alert your attorney to the possibility of your spouse hiding assets. Before you get to that point, however, there are some easy steps to take to prevent your spouse from being able to hide assets. Those steps include finding out everything you can about your assets before divorce.
Before you alert your spouse that you are considering divorce, you need to compile and/or stockpile documentation about all of your assets. If you do not have knowledge of your marital assets, it is time to find out what is there. If bank and other statements come to the house, open them and write down account numbers and balances.
If you have access to the cancelled checks, copy those as well. It is not unusual for a spouse who is planning a divorce to transfer money to friends or relatives with the plan being that they will give that money back after a divorce is finalized. So, you should review those records and carefully scrutinize all large or suspicious transfers that take place in the two or three years prior to or just after the filing of a divorce action.
Make sure that you know where the copies of your income tax statements are. If your spouse has a business, make sure you have a copy of several years of tax returns for that business. All of these documents can be copied and hidden safely somewhere outside of the house in the event that you need them. Taking these simple pre-emptive steps can mean the difference in obtaining a fair settlement in divorce. It will also be incredibly helpful to your divorce attorney to have this information in advance.
If banking and other statements and financial records are not kept at or mailed to your house, you will need to obtain those records in other ways. You can contact the IRS to obtain copies of any tax returns that you signed. Request copies of those returns and have them mailed to a different address – either a friend or relative or your divorce attorney. If there are returns that you have not signed, such as business tax records, you will not be able to obtain copies of those returns from the IRS. If you have access to your spouse’s place of business, you may be able to find those tax returns there. If you are worried about your spouse hiding assets in a divorce, you really do need to find those returns and make copies of them – for as many years as possible.
If you have valuables, antiques, jewelry, art or other collectibles in your home, catalog all of them and if you have appraisals, make copies. It is not unusual for those items to disappear or even to be pawned by a spouse in need of more funds.
If you suspect that your spouse has engaged in some divorce planning and is hiding assets, let your divorce attorney know. Ask your divorce attorney to subpoena records from any other individual or entity who could be involved in assisting your spouse in hiding those assets. If need be, your attorney can use the services of an investigator to help to obtain financial records that have been withheld.