Archive for March, 2015

Long-Term Separation

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

For the poorest of Americans, divorce remains a luxury item.

Long-term separations are the alternative for poor couples who cannot afford to legally end their marriages, according to research presented tot the American Sociological Association.

In the longitudinal study conducted by Ohio State University and published in August 2012, researchers surveyed more than 7,272 people on a regular basis from 1979 to 2008. Most people in the study who separated reported getting a divorce within three years of the break up; however, about 15 percent of the survey participants who separated did not get a divorce within the first 10 years of their separation. Primarily, researchers found, finances reinforce the decision to enter a long-term separation: the couples simply could not afford to divorce. The married-but-indefinitely-separated group generally had only a high school education, were black or Hispanic and had young children.

The cost of divorce was one of the most significant reasons behind couple’s decision to remain separated. Depending on the jurisdiction, even the simplest divorce generally costs at least a few hundred dollars in court fees, and any complicating issue raises the cost significantly.

Moreover, there are also financial benefits to remaining married that couples, especially those with children, hesitate to forego. These include shared health care coverage and joint tax returns, among others. In addition, older couples may not want to lose their retirement benefits or claim to their shared real estate. “Those with young children may find it difficult to support themselves and their children if they divorce,” said Zhenchao Qian, study co-author and professor of sociology. “Divorce may not protect them because their spouse may be unwilling or unable to provide financial support.”(While there are some financial benefits to long-term separation, there are also risks in remaining legally married, such as being liable for a spouse’s debt or having to share earnings from windfalls like a lottery win, which are considered marital property.)

In the past, separations were usually linked to strict divorce laws that required one spouse to prove the other did something wrong — they could have cheated or abandoned their partner. But today, as laws around “no-fault” divorces have become more lenient, researchers from the study suggested long-term separations are mostly done to avoid the financial stress of going through a divorce.

Things to Consider When Hiring a Divorce Attorney

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Hiring a divorce attorney is a very important decision. The following are a few important considerations when hiring a divorce attorney.

> The experience of the lawyer. Any divorce attorney should have substantial experience in handling divorce case; he or she should practice primarily in the field of divorce law. An experienced attorney knows what to expect of the judges in his or her jurisdiction and should be able to use this to a client’s advantage.

> Client Testimonials. Former clients are a good source of insight into the attorney. An attorney should be willing to provide client references.

> Communication skills. One of the most common complaints about a divorce lawyer is that clients are unable to communicate with him or her. A divorce attorney must be accessible and prompt in responding to phone calls, emails, and requests for meetings. This is another area where prospective clients can best assess the divorce attorney by hearing what former clients have to say.

> Attorney Costs. Some attorneys do brief initial consultations for nothing; however, most experienced divorce attorneys will charge between $100 and $200 as a consultation fee, and much more for their normal hourly rate. It is a good idea to ask about the attorney’s hourly rate, what the up front retainer is, whether any portion of the retainer is refundable if it is not used, and the billing cycle, if any.

> Comfort Level. A client must have a comfort level with a divorce attorney. A divorce case is too important to entrust to someone who does not inspire complete confidence.