Over the past few years, my law and mediation practice has seen a significant increase in requests for prenuptial agreements. A recent New York Times article The Rise of the Millennial Prenup cites the following contributing factors for the increase: millennials are marrying later, they are bringing more assets to the marriage and more women are in the workforce. According to an AAML survey (American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers), 51% of divorce attorneys are seeing prenuptial agreements on the rise in the millennial generation, with the most cited issues:

• 78% protection of separate property

• 74% alimony/spousal maintenance

As a divorce lawyer, my days are spent untangling the married lives of people who no longer want to be married, and who sometimes should never have gotten married in the first place. In a recent New York Times article Single at 38? Have That Baby, the author shares her decision to deliberately get pregnant and have a child at 39, without being married or even in a relationship.

A marriage of convenience is in fact often highly inconvenient. The decision to have a child is a very personal one. Times have changed, and the decision for a single woman to have a child does not mandate marriage. The myth that a child is both financially and emotionally better off with two parents is often just that: a myth.

Single parenthood isn’t always a choice, but for women who are unmarried and hearing their biological clock ticking away during the last years of their 30s, choosing to become a single parent can be a preferable option to getting married solely in order to get pregnant and have a child.

Dissolving a marriage or partnership is never easy: divorce and mediation are never stress-free. Many factors need to be considered, decisions need to be made and plans need to be mutually agreed upon. Your divorce lawyer is an integral part of ending your marriage, but there is a lot you can do on your own to plan for your divorce and make decisions about the future of your family.

Books, articles and support groups provide information, resources and assistance in helping you manage your divorce and consider issues that you aren’t yet aware of, or need more information on. There are many good resources available by parenting experts, therapists and psychologists, financial planners, and divorce and mediation lawyers that can help you navigate your own divorce.

Note: Vacca Law receives no affiliate or referral fees;

Couples who are divorcing strive to make decisions in the best interest of the children. However, co-parenting after a divorce is challenging and parents are people too: sometimes they make bad decisions when it comes to their children which they later come to regret. You can avoid causing your child the anxiety and pain of parental alienation by avoiding these specific actions.

1. Do not speak negatively about the other parent or his or her family.

It’s likely that your list of grievances with your ex-spouse and ex-in-laws will be long and complicated, but your child does not need to know that.  This is true even if there was physical or emotional abuse in your relationship that the child witnessed first-hand. A therapist who understands child development can help you determine exactly how you should talk to your child about what he or she witnessed based on your family’s unique circumstances.

Nothing could be worse than a very public divorce – except for a very public custody battle. Every detail of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s courtship, marriage, childrearing and divorce have been chronicled in the newspapers, so sadly it is no surprise that their child custody dispute is now making headlines.

While the court documents are rightly closed to the public, the latest custody ruling appears to provide Pitt with increased time with his children and limits the amount of involvement Jolie can have with his interactions. According to published reports, “a judge in the couple’s ongoing divorce case said the six children not having a relationship with their father is harmful to them… it is critical that each of them have a healthy and strong relationship with their father and mother.”

The issue appears to be parental alienation, a common side-effect of an adversarial divorce. As I stated in a previous post, parental alienation may not always be intentional, but it always causes harm.

The idea behind paralysis by analysis is when a decision needs to be made, all the options are over-analyzed, and not one “works.” Everything that could happen, should have happened, or did happen is considered and weighed. Then, the paralysis sets in, and no action is taken.

Sometimes this concept can lead to marriages lasting beyond their healthy breakpoint; people are afraid to leave because what awaits on the other side is (understandably) unknown. But, this concept can also carry into the divorce process. For example, let’s say a decision to divorce has been made. When it’s time to analyze the options, the paralysis may begin:

  • “Should I try mediation?”
  • “Should we do the collaborative process?”
  • “Should I just find an attorney who will be my mouthpiece and negotiate on my behalf, and I will never have to see my husband again?”

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If you signed a prenuptial agreement before you got married, and believe there is any chance you and your spouse may divorce in the future, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was signed into law on December 22, 2017 could seriously affect the deal you bargained for.

One major change that occurred when that law was passed was that spousal support, which is also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, will no longer be tax deductible after 2018 to the spouse who is paying it, and will no longer need to be claimed as income by the person receiving it. Under the new law, a separation agreement must be signed within the calendar year of 2018, or there needs to be a judgment of divorce signed in 2018 directing that spousal support will be considered tax deductible in future years.

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Online programs such as It’s Over Easy can walk you through a divorce process, but should you really, completely, “do it yourself” (DIY)?  You might have gone into the divorce process thinking, “We want a simple divorce.” Then you realize that you and your spouse have issues you didn’t even know you need to resolve. It’s at that point you realize it’s not necessarily going to be “over easy.”

If that describes you, mediation can be a great compliment to your online divorce. Artificial intelligence and its applications can help you move through the divorce process: It can generate a checklist of issues that need to be resolved; it can generate legal forms; it may have built-in tools to help create a parenting plan. But it’s not going to help you come to a thoughtful agreement if there is a dispute between you and your spouse.

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One of the advantages of divorce mediation is that it allows both people in the relationship to come together and speak directly to each other — and just as importantly, to be heard. Mediation facilitates decision-making and encourages compromise, but there is one thing about it that makes some people nervous: how to deal with power imbalances.

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