Saturday, August 14, 2010

Divorce Insurance -- What Will be Next?

James Gross, who writes the Maryland Legal Crier blog, always comes up with interesting posts, and the following is one of the best. Here is a recent post by James:

"Want to buy some divorce insurance? Jennifer Saranow Schultz reports in the New York Times that SafeGuard Corp. of North Carolina is offering the world’s first divorce insurance called WedLock. For each $15.99 per month you pay, you can buy $1,250 in coverage. The benefit covers the costs of divorce such as lawyer fees or setting up a new home.

"Then, if you get divorced, you send Wedlock proof, and they’ll send you a check for the amount of insurance you purchased. You have to be married at least four years, however, before the payout. You can buy riders to shorten that to three years or get your premiums back if you don’t make it that long. Every year the company automatically adds another $250 to the coverage for each unit you buy.

"The company helpfully provides calculators on its site for Divorce Probability and Divorce Costs to help you figure out much insurance you need."

I don't know if the company is any good or if the insurance is worthwhile, but it's fun to use the calculators. You can do the calculations from your point of view and from your spouse's point of view. If you accurately record how your spouse would respond on the questions, you might be surprised at the difference in scores. It might get you thinking about things.

Since we now have these tools to predict the future, maybe someone will come up with a test you can take so you can learn how to correct your mistakes and fix any problems in your marriage. We can always hope!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

How to Be Alone During Family Transitions

As Monty Python used to say, and now for something completely different. Today's post is not "legal" information. It's more from the "counselor at law" portion of my work.

Aside from the changes in your legal status, divorce brings a lot of emotional changes and most people have to learn how to start over in some ways. A problem I have seen over and over, with all kinds of clients, is the rebound relationship. Some people have trouble being alone and not being part of a relationship.

I recently saw a video poem about being alone and I thought it had a lot of good ideas. If you are experiencing a change in relationships, the following video might be very helpful for you.

Hopefully, the video will help with those times when your spouse or significant other, or your children, are not around and you are alone. It is just temporary, but it can be difficult if you are not prepared and you aren't used to being alone.

I thought the video was excellent -- let me know what you think.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

How to Speed up Your Divorce

One of the most common questions clients have for their attorneys is how to speed up their divorce or other court case. This is very understandable since a family law case is usually unpleasant, expensive and slow-moving. It would be nice if there were some quick, easy answers to help speed things up. Unfortunately, there's no easy solution. However, even though there are no guarantees, but here are some things you can do to help the process.

  • Be agreeable. That includes trying to be agreeable on issues, plans and solutions. Remember that you can't make the other party be reasonable, and let's not even think about "fair" (fair is in the eyes of the beholder). You should do your best to adapt and compromise. If you can't agree to what the other insists on, you should probably just plan to wait for the court date in the future.
  • Be available. Make this case your priority and work your schedule around the court. It may not be convenient, but you may have to be inconvenienced if you want to speed up the process. Part of this is getting your preparation done in a timely manner so that you and your attorney can be ready for discussions or court. If you want your attorney to do all the work, it will cost you more time and money.
  • Avoid fights with the other party. In a family law case, each side usually knows what will set off the other party. Honestly, you may feel some spark of vindication or something else if you take advantage of an opportunity to say something or to respond to provocation from the other side, but those exchanges usually escalate and the result is anger which makes it hard to settle the case. No settlement = a slower process. You can choose between fleeting gratification or a faster way to end the case.
  • Figure out what motivates the other side and try to accommodate it. If you can come up with an agreement that meets the needs of the other side, you have a much better chance to achieve a quick resolution. Both sides always evaluation a proposal in terms of "what's in it for me?". If there's nothing, there's no agreement and you end up waiting for court.
These suggestions may seem very simple, but it's amazing how often people do just the opposite. If the suggestions don't work, there's still one more thing to do.
  • As a last resort, set court dates. As much as I hate to recommend it, sometimes you have to have a deadline to force the other side to act. You can schedule various steps along the way to increase activity: temporary orders hearings, modification hearing, enforcement hearing, etc. Sometimes, you can get agreement finalized just by getting everyone to the courthouse on some small aspect of the case.
Caveat: You should avoid letting the other side know that you are anxious or desperate to get the case concluded. If they find out, it gives them a huge edge in negotiating because they can hold out for more and you will need to make concessions to get an early agreement. Be sure to keep a poker face as you try to speed things up!