Category: marriage

A Divorce Lawyer’s Guide to a Good Marriage: Part II

A Divorce Lawyer’s Guide to a Good Marriage: Part II

We previously began our discussion on our Guide to a Good Marriage.  This post continues on that topic, but to summarize, good marriages take hard work and commitment to one another as well as the relationship itself. With that in mind we will dive into the remaining tips from this divorce lawyer’s perspective.

4.  Part of a Good Marriage is Open Finances Right from the Beginning

An older attorney once told me that many of the people who file for divorce probably actually just need to file for bankruptcy. His glib attitude belies a real truth that finances put an incredible strain on a marriage relationship. It becomes miserable to be with someone when all you do is fight or fret over money issues.

While struggling to make ends meet can put serious stress on a marriage, money-related problems often also stem from a couple’s unwillingness to share financial information. One spouse controlling the finances can create an imbalance of power in the relationship that can become toxic.  I also am not a big fan of the idea  separate bank accounts.  They can lead to secrets or make it a lot easier to decide to split the sheets. If you are going to be in a marriage, it should be a partnership. Think of it like rowing a boat. If two people are rowing in opposite directions, you are not going to get anywhere. Everyone needs to be pulling in the same direction.

5.  Pick Your Battles

He never puts the toilet seat down. She always burns the toast. WHO CARES? Pick your battles and let life’s little annoyances go.  Do not expect the other person to be perfect. Conversely, we divorce lawyers cringe when we hear couples say they never fight. There is not a single relationship on earth where people do not argue or disagree. Talk about your problems or disagreements. If you feel you cannot talk to your spouse about an issue, you have big problems. Find a therapist before you have to find a lawyer.

6. Treat Your Spouse as You Would Treat a Good Friend

One of the weird things about marriage based on what I have seen, is that people often treat their friends, children and extended families better than they treat their spouse. If you treat your drinking buddies better than you treat your spouse, you have a problem. Remember how you showed your spouse you cared when you two were dating? Do that. Never forget you could lose him/her.

7. Find an Outside Interest/Activity/Hobby

Maintain your own interests and do not rely on your spouse (or your spouse and children) for the sum total of your happiness. Having outside interests makes you a more interesting person. It gives you something to talk about over those date night dinners we discussed in Part I of this article. You are never too old to learn something new. Take a piano lesson. Sign up for an art class. Go hiking, Whatever it is, find something that interests you. Then you can share it with your spouse.

No one ever said this would be easy. Hopefully, you remember why you got married in the first place and you have decided it’s worth it.

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Photo courtesy of Allie Towers Rice

A Divorce Lawyer’s Guide to a Good Marriage; Part I

A Divorce Lawyer’s Guide to a Good Marriage; Part I

Marriage can bring out the worst in people. Some spouses cheat, they lie about money, or they destroy each other’s sense of self-worth. They put their children in the middle of their battles even before a divorce has been filed. Sometimes, they get violent. Everyday I see people who have made similar mistakes which have landed them in my office. Perhaps, it is seeing these types of common mistakes over and over again which have allowed my wife and I to remain married for over two decades (that and I knew a good deal when I saw one).  Divorce stinks under the best of circumstances but hopefully by following some of these points of advice you can avoid landing in my office.

1.  Do Not Believe the Hype; Love Does NOT Conquer All

Many people mistake lust for love and like the old Johnny Cash song says, they get “married in a fever.” Sorry burst your romantic bubble, but marriages take a lot of work and love (especially lust) does not conquer all things. Some thing it will not conquer: (i) Disparate views on managing money; (ii) Rigidly held religious differences; (iii)  Conflicting long-term goals; (iv) Troubled family histories; (v) Abusive behavior.

2.   Never Be Too Busy to Spend Time Together

Finding opportunities to be alone together is extremely important; especially for people with children.  Children benefit most when their parents have a healthy relationship.  Many people who wind up in my office are in relationships where one or both parties simply stopped working on their relationships and stopped dating their spouse.  Find time to have dinner alone (without the kids), watch TV and share a bowl of popcorn – sit on the couch together; put down the smartphone and have a conversation.  Never forget that you could lose your spouse.  Even the President of the United States finds time for date night.

3.  SEX – Keep Having It
We generally do not have to delve too deeply into people’s personal lives during in divorce cases.  However, to be “separated” as that term is defined in the law means to not be engaging in sex with the other spouse.  Many people who are getting divorced have not had sex with their spouse in months or even years. When someone tells me that, I am pretty sure I can see at least part of the problem with the marriage relationship. 

I heard a speaker one time make the statement that women need an emotional connection to have sex; men need sex to feel an emotional connection. When it is not happening in a marriage relationship, it is usually a sign of bigger problems. Moreover, the lack of sex in a marriage relationship could lead to infidelity which is the least forgiven sin in a marriage. Again, never forget that you could lose your spouse and there is someone out there who would gladly take him/her from you.

LATER THIS WEEK WE WILL POST PART TWO OF THIS ARTICLE.  If you have not already, be sure to like us on Facebook so that you never miss an article.

Photo courtesy of Serendipity Diamonds

Same Sex Marriage is Now Legal in Kentucky

Same Sex Marriage is Now Legal in Kentucky

Last fall I discussed the Sixth Circuits ruling upholding Kentucky’s ban on same sex marriage.  In that decision the Sixth Circuit (the federal circuit of which Kentucky is a part) differed with the other federal circuits that had decided the issue in favor of same sex marriage.  This set up a division among the circuits which allowed the issue to be presented before the United States Supreme Court.  Oral arguments were heard in April and the Court issued its ruling on June 26, 2015, in a 106-page opinion penned by Justice Kennedy, which overturned the Sixth Circuit’s decision and establishes the right of same sex couples to get married.  This means that same-sex couples will now be able to enjoy the benefits of marriage in the Bluegrass State such as intestacy laws, filing joint tax returns, employee benefits, etc.

Governor Steve Beshear appeared to do a full about-face on the issue.  Beshear made headlines last year when he hired outside counsel to represent the state in an appeal after Commonwealth Attorney General, Jack Conway, refused to appeal Judge John G. Heyburn’s opinions in Bourke v. Beashear and Love v. Beshear.  The governor sent a letter to all one hundred twenty county clerks to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses.  The state government has already prepared gender neutral versions of forms which will be sent out to all counties.

Regardless of your political views, same sex marriage is now the law of the land.  That means that same sex couples can also get divorced.  Therefore, they may want to go back and read the archives of the Kentucky Divorce Blog or start reviewing family law attorneys just to be prepared.

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey

Should I Get a Legal Separation Instead of a Divorce?

Should I Get a Legal Separation Instead of a Divorce?

Earlier we talked about the term “separated” as it is used in the context of divorce.  This should not be confused with securing a decree of legal separation which is an entirely different animal.

In a legal separation, the parties essentially go through all of the same steps as they do when securing a divorce.  They enter an agreement or the court will grant a decree setting out each party’s rights with respect to the children.  The marital property is divided in just proportions or by agreement.  The debts incurred during the marriage are assigned to each party.  The non-marital property is restored to its rightful owner.  There may even be a maintenance award.  The difference in a legal separation is that the court does not take that final step of actually dissolving the marriage.  Therefore, even though everything is divided and the parties may even be sharing custody of the children, they are still legally married and unable to remarry someone else.

There are a few reasons why a legal separation may actually be a favorable choice for some people.  One of the chief reasons is for religious reasons.  Perhaps one or both parties’ religion or denomination discourages or even prohibits divorce, but the parties can no longer remain living together.  I have seen this type of scenario where a wife is a devout believer, but, unfortunately, she is married to an abusive husband with whom it is no longer safer to remain.  A legal separation allowed her to remove herself from the situation without violating her deeply held convictions.

Another situation may be for purely pecuniary reasons.  Sometimes it simply makes good financial sense to get a legal separation instead of a divorce.  One situation in particular where this happens is when one spouse relies on the other for health insurance through the other spouse’s employer.  The cost of similar insurance for the non-employee spouse may be cost prohibitive after a divorce.  The parties can opt for a legal separation and the non-employee spouse should be able to remain on the employer’s health insurance plan.  This may mean there should be some money paid back to the employee spouse if he has some out-of-pocket for the expense or it could be treated in lieu of other maintenance obligations.  I once used this tactic to good effect where the wife was diagnosed with lupus and on several expensive medications.  She was within three years of qualifying for Medicare and we used a legal separation to keep her insured until she could qualify.

Once a decree of legal separation has been entered, it can still be converted to a decree of dissolution of marriage.  After one year (or more) from the date of the decree of legal separation, either party can file a motion with the court asking that the decree be converted to a decree of dissolution of marriage.  Once one party asks to convert the decree to one of dissolution, if it has been a year or more, the court is required to grant the request.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Lobo