How To Avoid Relationship Conflicts During Self-Imposed Quarantine

We’re all worried right now. We have the right to be. COVID-19 is the disease caused by a novel coronavirus tearing across the globe. Our government is designed to weather a storm such as this, but authorities have been slow to activate measures already in place. Some Americans aren’t taking the outbreak seriously, which will result in even more cases and eventual fatalities. The outlook to the economy is grim.

And what makes it even worse?

If you are listening to CDC advice, then you’re stuck inside with your best friend and the kids. There’s no rest or respite when you have so few opportunities to escape outside. The situation we’re in will inevitably lead to a huge spike in relationship conflicts. That could mean an increase in divorce cases in the coming months. How can you avoid these conflicts and the possibility that your most important relationships spiral out of control later?

First, you will want to stay informed about the extent of the outbreak — but limit how much news you consume each day. There’s no need to spend your life in front of FOX News or CNN. You don’t need to hear about every new case and every new fatality in your community. Turn on the news once after dinner, and leave it at that. More won’t make you feel better. In fact, it’s more likely to increase stress.

And since your stress will likely be at an all-time high, you’ll want to take measures to reduce it. Although many states have imposed a “shelter in place” policy instead of outright lockdown, most people don’t realize that they can still go outside. And not just for gas or groceries. You can also take a walk around the block, play catch with Fido in the backyard, or go for a day hike at a state or national park. But beware of changing rules and regulations. Those parks might close soon because people are continuing to congregate in large numbers.

Limit time in front of screens. That means TV, phones, computers, and tablets. While it can be easy to fall into a routine of waking up only to jump on the couch and invest the rest of your day’s hours in a vegetative state, you’ll notice both your energy and your sense of worth rapidly start to decline if you do. These can be great activities for mental health, but only in moderation. Keep an eye on your kids, too.

Don’t let yourself consume microwave dinners or frozen food all the time. Diet is important. Frozen fruits and veggies retain most of their nutritional value, but stay away from fish sticks and fries if you want to live through this. It’s not just about reducing stress — it’s about keeping your immune system strong just in case you do come down with the coronavirus.

Could A Consolidated Court System Mean Less Divorce Litigation?

What do you think about when you hear the words “court,” “judge,” or “jury?” Peace and quiet probably don’t come to mind. Chaos and disagreement probably do. That’s the basis for every civil court case: one party feels wronged by another. Whereas that is true of divorce litigation as well, disagreements are why many of those cases end up before a judge. Can we do something to reduce the number of divorce cases? Divorce law expert Alton L. Abramowitz thinks the answer is yes — as long as we consolidate our court system. 

That means merging courts that are designed to work around a single type of case, such as divorce. Doing so could mean more chaos than before, or it could mean more efficiency. There are proponents and opponents of the idea.

New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore is for consolidation. A late 2019 press release described her proposed changes to the state constitution that “would eliminate New York’s complex maze of 11 separate trial courts and replace it with a simple three-level structure to make the courts easier to navigate, increase operational efficiency and reduce costs to litigants…”

News outlets were quick to deride the potential changes to the court system, suggesting that children would be hurt the most, especially in divorce court cases.

The New York Office of Court Administration (OCA) described six divisions of a newly revised Supreme Court: family, criminal, state, commercial, general, and criminal. Divorce claims would fall under the “family” division, of course.

Dan Clark of NYLJ said, “Under the current way the judiciary is set  up, a survivor of domestic violence may have to attend criminal court proceedings for the charges against their alleged abuser and have a separate case in civil [Supreme Court] to finalize their divorce.”

But a lot of attorneys who practice family law have found reasons to remain optimistic about the proposed changes to the NY Constitution. The Office of Policy and Planning of OCA says: “New York State’s Domestic Violence Courts (DV) make decisions regarding criminal offenses involving intimate partners. Essential features of DV Courts include: a dedicated judge; specially-trained staff; resource coordination; on-site victim advocacy; and collaboration with technical assistance teams.”

The point of a consolidated family court is that it exists primarily to protect the children who opponents of the system say would be harmed the most. While we can always argue over how changes might affect one group of people or another, it might be better to spend the required resources to change something for the better and simply wait and see.

Are Bad Divorces Affecting Children In The Classroom?

The Morning Call recently published an article decrying silly lawsuits in the United States. Maybe they’re onto something. After all, in other countries the idea of a lawsuit is practically unheard of. But according to David Tyack and Aaron Benavot who wrote about the issue of school litigation in the Law & Society Review, a whopping 1,883 state lawsuits slammed schools — from 1907 to 1916.

Nowadays, the numbers are much higher.

From 1967 to 1976, there were 7,017 state cases. The number of federal cases ballooned even more astronomically. 

The article contends that “frivolous” lawsuits cost millions. Not only that, but the litigation can end up hurting teachers or even kill their careers. Some lawsuits are justified, of course, but maybe not all. 

The Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service exists for “community conflicts and tensions arising from differences of race, color, and national origin” in addition to “violent hate crimes committed on the basis of: gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, race, color, and national origin.”

The problem is that some lawsuits have used the organization and its protections in an almost comical way. For example, some lawsuits cry foul when a white teacher marks down an African American student — after he didn’t turn in his homework. 

According to the article, a lot of lawsuits arise not from problems in the classroom, but from problems at home. Christopher Brooks writes: “Society has secularized…There were about 2 million divorced people in the U.S. in 2017. Though dissolutions are often a justifiable remedy that can lead to a positive co-parenting model, schools and related institutions are often left having to deal with the aftermath of bad divorces.”

We would argue that Brooks’ article presents a lopsided argument. To blame parents who separate for the problems inside school has no real basis in fact. The article presents no empirical evidence of an actual connection between the divorce rate and litigation against schools, or that divorced or divorcing parents are more likely to attack schools with frivolous lawsuits.

In fact, the very idea of frivolous lawsuits is overblown. Most lawyers don’t get paid unless they win a case! That means that they don’t take cases that won’t lead to a settlement or win in court. It simply doesn’t make good business sense. 

We believe parents who are no longer in love often have no other choice but to divorce and move on with their lives. To place blame on them makes them more likely to do what must be done or move on — and that negativity is far more likely to run off on their children and find its way into the classroom.

Attorneys Held In Contempt Of Divorce Court For Their Clients’ Actions

It sounds completely unreasonable to be held in contempt of court based on the actions of someone you work for, but that’s exactly the premise of a 2018 Pennsylvania Superior Court case Farrell v. Farrell. It all began when a husband decided to divorce his wife. Both parties eventually decided to retain legal counsel for the remainder of the case. 

The subsequent legal action spanned years, and the exhaustive mental fatigue on the part of husband and wife and their attorneys was obvious. 

When the wife and her attorney were served with “informal” requests for discovery, the husband and his own attorney were quietly ignored. The husband proceeded to file a number of similar requests, but the response was always the same: silence. Eventually, the husband’s counsel decided to file a motion in court to compel a response. The motion was upheld. 

The man’s wife was given a 20-day grace period with which to respond to the previously made discovery requests.

Unfortunately for the wife’s attorney, she was allowed to reply to the discovery requests with her own words and without supervision. Her attorney proceeded to forward those requests, unread and unrevised, to the husband’s attorney. Big mistake. She had openly lambasted her husband while failing to provide the relevant information for some areas of discovery.

The husband’s attorney filed yet another motion in court, this time amending the former motion to include attorney’s fees. His wife’s attorney filed another motion directly thereafter, and before the husband’s motion was heard in court. This strategy was the last straw for the judge who sat at the husband’s hearing. 

The wife’s motion was precipitously dismissed, and she was barred from adding any new discovery information to bolster her own, already weakening, case. Her attorney was thus found in contempt of the court. The same court order forced the wife’s attorney to transfer funds to cover the husband’s attorney’s fees. The wife’s attorney angrily bounced the matter to the Superior Court, who dismissed her claim.

While it is extremely unusual for legal counsel to be held in contempt of court for an attorney’s actions, counsel is required to pay attention to a client’s actions when that’s the reason they were hired in the first place. A contempt of court charge can lead to incarceration, steep fines, increased sentencing, etc.

Contempt is usually described as the willful disobedience of the court system, and most of those who face the charge will have been advised by their attorneys as to the effect of their actions. And, of course, those who have attended law school are also aware of courtroom consequences for misconduct.

What Happens If The First Lady Wants To Divorce The President?

For this country, it’s an unthinkable possibility: What happens if the president’s life partner wants a divorce? We’ve only seen it on shows like 24 — which have a somewhat colorful take on potential real-world scenarios. The president of the United States is widely considered the most powerful person in the world. That means that his influence over the other people in his life often straddles the line between right and wrong, or legal and illegal.

Take the 90s affair between President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, for example. Is it even possible that the pair could have a consensual relationship considering Clinton’s power and influence? Could Lewinsky possibly have been comfortable saying “no” to the man? Those are the questions still being asked today amidst the #metoo movement.

But today there are also different questions being asked regarding the president in office right now. Many have debated whether or not First Lady Melania Trump is truly happy in her marriage. Somewhat more bombastic reports actually assert that she’s one of the first people in line ready to “dump Trump.” In her case, the phrase might be taken more literally.

Former White House aide Omarosa is known for her common criticisms of the president. She even appeared on the first season of Celebrity Big Brother, which aired on CBS. During her stint on the show, she blatantly stated that the country was not going to be okay under Trump. Considering many of his actions in office, it’s difficult to argue against those words.

But now Omarosa is saying that Melania’s wardrobe is actually meant to rebel against the president. “Taken as a whole,” Omarosa writes, “all of her style rebellions have served the same purpose. I believe Melania uses style to punish her husband.”

Maybe she’s onto something.

Melania wore an “I Really Don’t Care. Do U?” jacket when she visited a Texas border facility last year. 

Omarosa said, “She wore that jacket to hurt Trump, setting off a controversy that he would have to fix, prolonging the conversation about the administration’s insensitivity, ruining the trip itself, and trying to make sure that no one asked her to do something like that again.”

But if true, it begs the more important question: Could Melania leave her husband, even if she wanted a divorce? Could she really speak out against such an overbearing and powerful public figure? When does her lack of comfort in her marriage cross the thin line from legal to illegal? Likely, we won’t know the truth until many years after Trump leaves office.

Then again, Omarosa believes that Melania is waiting until the end of the term to file for divorce.
If you feel stuck in a marriage but don’t know how to extricate yourself from the situation, there are resources available to you. Call a divorce attorney at your earliest convenience for a free consultation.

Should Legislators Try To Reduce High Divorce Rates With New Laws?

The “sanctity” of marriage has taken quite a blow in recent years as marriage rates fall and divorce rates increase. That’s why one Jacksonville representative, Clay Yarborough (R-Florida) wants to pass a new measure called the “Guide to a Healthy Marriage.” According to his description, the new action is meant to reduce high divorce rates while saving the taxpayers a few bucks per year.

But is that really the case?

The “Guide to a Healthy Marriage” is exactly that: reading material that gives advice and insight that might help a marriage thrive if spouses were to stick to it. The guide teaches potential spouses about expectations, communication, conflict management, parenting, and how to deal with domestic disputes. Yarborough wants anyone and everyone who applies for a marriage license in his state to read that guide. 

The guide was written after Governor Ron DeSantis put together an education committee on marriage (notably costing the taxpayers a few bucks per year). Or not — according to Yarbourough, the measure would be paid for with “private funds.” Whatever that means.

Yarbourough said, “Promoting healthy marriages and families in Florida should be a priority for all of us. When the bill was filed previously, groups came forward who supported the idea of additional information to go alongside the Florida Family Law Handbook.

“Since 1998 and continuing today under current law, acknowledgment by couples that access was provided to the handbook is a prerequisite to receiving a marriage license in Florida. The Florida Guide to a Healthy Marriage would be made available as additional information, not to be mandated.”

An American Community Survey conducted from 2013 to 2017 found that an average of 11.67 people out of a 1,000 and over the age of 15 were divorced each year in the country. But Florida has one of the highest divorce rates in the United States. South Pasadena has the highest, for example, at 22.3 percent. 

This measure has been up for debate before, and has yet to find a willing sponsor in the Florida Senate.

Yarborough continued, “A number of bills do not make it through the process the year they are first filed. This is an important priority and I will be pushing hard to get it through the process…The majority of [the handbook] centers around child-related issues after divorce, how courts divide assets and liabilities, and the steps to take to end a marriage. In an effort to provide a balance, the FL Guide to a Healthy Marriage will focus on elements not expanded upon in the handbook.”

Sarah Palin’s Husband To Seek Divorce Over Incompatible Temperaments

Sarah Palin always manages to find a way to wiggle back into the nightly news cycle, but this time it’s not her own doing: her husband Todd Palin has filed for divorce, according to reports from the Anchorage Superior Court where the paperwork was submitted. The information indicates that Todd filed for divorce on August 29, only about a week after the two celebrated (or didn’t) their anniversary.

The reasoning is far from specific, but even without details few would be surprised. Todd says that the two “find it impossible to live together as husband and wife.” 

The divorce papers don’t use their full names, but they document obvious details about the Palin family, including the birthday of their son, Trig, who suffers from Down Syndrome. Todd requested shared custody. The documents request an equitable share of all assets and debts acquired during marriage. 

Sarah Palin shot to fame when Senator John McCain chose her to be his running mate in the 2008 election he ultimately lost to the now former president, Barack Obama, and his vice president, Joe Biden.

Todd stands in stark contrast to Sarah as having avoided the lion’s share of the limelight, except in the weeks after a serious snowmobile accident in 2016 when he broke several ribs, a shoulder blade, and clavicle. He also suffered from lacerations on his leg and a collapsed lung. 

Reported emails do little to document the couple’s relationship, but they do shed light on Todd’s involvement with Sarah’s political career. According to the emails, they discussed economic issues like marine regulation and wildfires in addition to economic and political issues like oil and gas production, budgets, education, vetoes, staffing, etc.

The couple’s family life might be rockier than imagined: in late 2017, their son Track Palin was charged with breaking and entering the family home, and then assault and battery after a scuffle with Todd. He took a plea deal in order to see the charges reduced.

Their daughter Bristol has also been in the news for her participation in a reality TV program called Teen Mom after she became pregnant with her son, Tripp, at age seventeen.

The couple has yet to comment on the potential divorce proceedings.

Are you in the middle of an ongoing divorce? An amicable solution is best for all parties involved, but sometimes spouses fail to come to an agreement and a case inevitably moves to court. If you need legal help in a divorce, sit down with a qualified divorce attorney for a free consultation today!

There Is Only One Place In The World Where Divorce Is Legal

We’ve come a long way as a civilization — not just the United States, but the entire world. Many terrible atrocities committed in the past are long gone, slavery chief among them (if you don’t count the 40 million or so people who are legally enslaved through loopholes or underground criminal activity). Here at home, voting rights now extend to anyone who reaches age eighteen. Civil rights, over time, only become stronger. And then there are divorce rights. 

Once upon a time divorce was considered a life-long vow no matter what. That meant obtaining a divorce was illegal! Did you know that there is one country where divorcing a spouse is still illegal? You might not believe which country it is, either: the Philippines. Divorce is also impossible in the Vatican City and the British Crown Dependency of Sark (which you’ve probably never even heard of).

Part of the fear is that the Philippines, a popular travel location, will turn into a place where people come to “get married in the morning [and] … get divorced in the afternoon.”

While that has little chance of happening even if divorce legislation changes current laws, there is always an excuse for conservative members of government to make. That’s why so many countries hadn’t legalized divorce before the last few decades.

Malta legalized in 2011; Chile in 2004; Ireland in 1996; Andorra in 1995; Colombia and Paraguay in 1991; Argentina in 1987; and the list continues. Divorce has always been common in the United States.

Most legally obtained divorces require a court authority to sanction the act — which in most cases will only occur after the two spouses meet a strict set of requirements. They might have to decide how joint resources are split up, and they might have to turn to lawyers or mediators — or even a judge — to determine who gets custody of children or pays alimony and/or child support. There are lots of variables to discuss. 

The way many younger people approach marriage, and relationships in general, today, is much different than it used to be. Today you often hear terms like “open” to describe a relationship. “Polyamory” is another word that gets thrown around a lot. In most cases this means — even in the case of marriage — partners are allowed to have extramarital partners or relationships, and in some cases both spouses are involved in a relationship with a third party. One can only imagine how marriage and divorce will continue to change in the next few decades.

Are you from the Philippines? If you moved to the United States and would like a divorce, it might be time to talk to a divorce lawyer now!

What Should You Ask Your Lover Before Tying The Knot: How To Prevent Divorce

Preventing divorce might be as simple as asking the right questions prior to marriage — and how many of us really do that? We think we’re in love, and we’re usually in that young phase of life during which we think we already have all the answers. More questions would just complicate the chemistry inherent in the relationship! Well, not quite. Most psychologists recommend a courting or cohabitation period of five to ten years before a proposal. There’s a reason for that.

  1. Part of the reason is how much you know about your partner, and when. There are always going to be those people who court one another for two months, determine they’re the only people in the world for one another, and then jump into a long-term commitment far too soon — very few of these relationships work out for the best. Most result in messy divorces. That’s why you need to question your partner about financial goals. Ask what their dream is or where they see themselves in a decade, and then find out how they plan to achieve that dream.

  2. Go down a list of deal breakers and don’t be afraid to put it on the fridge. This can and will change as partners become more comfortable opening up to one another, and those deal breakers can easily make a partner question whether marriage is really an intelligent next step. Take your time before you accept that the list is complete.

  3. Do you want kids? It seems like a blatantly obvious question, but some people still fail to ask — they make a bad assumption instead. Loving children doesn’t mean a person will want them. While you’re at it, ask what will happen if they can’t have children biologically. Is adoption on the table?

  4. What does time to yourself mean to you? Some people need a solid daily portion set aside for freedom and independence, while others will need to spend every waking moment with their loved one. Although opposites can and will attract, this is not one of those traits that should be all that dissimilar from your own.

  5. How do you communicate during arguments? There are those who need a few hours of alone-time to calm down — and won’t accept anything else — and then there are those who feel the need to immediately mend fences — and won’t accept anything else. Sadly these two types of people rarely interact well during marriage, and this is a big one to avoid. Find out whether your partner would prefer writing issues down or discussing them openly.

Are Millennials Really Ditching Divorce?

It is a difficult story to avoid in today’s news cycles: millennials are destroying everything in the world from peanut butter jelly time to doorbells to healthy relationships. How does one find fact in a sea of fiction? The easiest thing to do is assume most everything is fiction, because most everything is. But you may have read a recent collection of studies that suggest millennials are actually having a positive impact on divorce statistics.

Are millennials really not ripping apart the institution of marriage as often as their parents did? The answer is complicated (but also “yes”).

According to these studies, the reduced probability of divorce among the millennial generation has resulted in a whopping 24 percent overall decline in divorce rates going back to 1981. One of the highest criticisms older generations have lodged against the younger surrounds the hookup culture, but these numbers seem to suggest that millennials, while quicker to jump into bed, are slower (or less likely) to get hitched.

For other generations, marriage was the start of a new relationship on which partners would begin to build a life. These days things have changed. Now marriage is the result of a mature relationship. Many of these bonds were already secured with affection, sexual intercourse, cohabitation, and even kids, which is part of the reason why younger couples are marrying at an older age than their parents did. They only take this final step when they feel absolutely safe that the bond is lasting.

Another piece of the puzzle lies in how many fewer millennials are getting married at all. According to a publication from the University of Baltimore, a quarter of this bracket of the population won’t bother. Nearly a quarter of the same age bracket does not affiliate with any religion. Although most millennials appear to believe in god, it seems that fewer hold religion in as high esteem as their parents. Maybe this is why so many millennials are abandoning marriage, an institution so steeped in religious importance.

Millennials also realize we live in a changing world with perhaps a less secure economic future. Divorce can be a costly affair both emotionally and financially and most millennials will do anything to avoid making a dent in their pocketbook. Who can fault them for being diligent with their money? Financial situations are a big cause of divorce, which is why it might be smart to wait until partners feel secure in their livelihood as well.

This is probably the biggest driver of prenuptial agreements, which millennials are coincidentally signing more often than their parents.

There’s another interesting possibility why millennials might marry (and divorce) less often. Rates of marriage among couples whose religious beliefs and cultural backgrounds differ are on the rise, as are the number of wedding ceremonies a single couple will hold. This is done to accommodate everyone’s beliefs.

In the end, millennials are divorcing less often because they believe in personal security above all else.