Study Ties Expense of Wedding to Divorce Rate

The More You Spend to Tie The Knot, the Greater the Chance it Will Break

A study by two economics professors at Emory University seems to support what Lennon and McCartney said some 40 years ago—apparently, money can’t buy you love. The report, entitled A Diamond is Forever and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship Between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration, found that:

  • If you spend more than $2,000 on an engagement ring, you are two to three times more likely to file for divorce than if you spend under $2,000
  • The divorce rate for women whose wedding costs more than $20,000 is twice that of women who spend less than $10,000 (the average cost of a wedding in 2013 was approximately $30,000)
  • The divorce rates for people who spend less than $1,000 on a wedding are below the national divorce rates

Participants in the study were not asked to give reasons why they thought spending more on engagement rings and weddings would increase the likelihood of divorce. The authors of the report did speculate, however, concluding that:

  • Those with smaller weddings were less likely to start married life with financial  challenges, and were disinclined to have a pattern of overspending during their marriages
  • People who spent less seemed to be marrying for love, rather than money, so the bond was stronger

The authors say that their study dispels a myth long promulgated by the wedding industry—that the more you spend on a wedding, the greater your commitment to the marriage or the more inclined you will be to make it succeed. Professor Andrew Francis, who co-authored the study with Professor Hugo Mialon, said that a better indicator of marital success is the number of people who attend the wedding—the more who attend, the lower the rate of divorce.

Contact Morgenstern & Rochester

At Morgenstern & Rochester, our two partners have almost 50 years of combined family law experience. We are a boutique family law firm that takes a hands-on approach. When you hire us, you will always work directly with one of our partners, never with an inexperienced associate or a paralegal.

To arrange a confidential meeting with an experienced Cherry Hill family law attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 856-489-6200.

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Preparing for Divorce Ahead of Time

If You Know a Divorce is Coming, It’s Best to Plan Ahead

Though there are situations where a party to divorce has no idea it’s coming until the papers are served, in many, if not most, situations, there are indications of trouble long before it becomes official. If you have good reason to believe that your marriage is not going to survive, you can take steps in advance to prepare for the process and protect your interests.

When There are Minor Children in the Home

If you have minor children living at home, you’ll face difficult decisions about custody, visitation and support as part of a divorce. To ensure that you get the most desirable outcome, take a couple steps:

  • Make certain that your kids have a stable and safe home environment—If at all possible, don’t move out of the marital home and leave your children with your spouse. When it comes time to determine custody and visitation, the court will likely conclude that you either have less interest in or are less capable of taking care of your children. You may be sending the message that your ex ought to have custody.
  • Keep a diary of your interactions with your children—In custody proceedings, the court customarily looks at the nature of your relationship with your children. If you can show regular and meaningful interaction, the court will likely consider a continuation of this relationship as being in the best interests of your children

Compile All Necessary Documentary Evidence

When making determinations about child support, alimony or spousal support, and the division of marital debts and assets, the court will want to review all documentary evidence, including financial records, tax returns and retirement accounts. The court will also want to know what property was brought into the marriage, whether any property was obtained through inheritance, and how assets were held.

Open New Accounts in Your Name Only

Set up your own bank accounts and credit card accounts, if possible. You may also want to stash some cash, as bank accounts may be frozen, and cash will provide you with some liquidity. It’s also advisable to request a copy of your credit report, so that you can see if your spouse has hidden assets or obligations.

Set Up a Post Office Box

This will allow you to receive mail without risk of interception by your spouse.

Contact Morgenstern & Rochester

At Morgenstern & Rochester, our two partners have almost 50 years of combined family law experience. We are a boutique family law firm that takes a hands-on approach. When you hire us, you will always work directly with one of our partners, never with an inexperienced associate or a paralegal.

To arrange a confidential meeting with an experienced Cherry Hill family law attorney, contact us online or call our office at 856-489-6200.

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What to Tell Your Children about Your Divorce

Talking to Your Children about Divorce

During and after a divorce proceeding, children experience fear and anxiety about their lives and their futures. They may fear that they’ll never see a parent again, or that they will be abandoned by both parents. They need to see and hear that that’s not the case—that you’ll love and support them regardless of what happens. Ultimately, though, you’ll either sit down with them and talk to them about the divorce, or you’ll have to answer their questions.

If At All Possible, Agree Beforehand What You Will Say

If your children are old enough at the time of the divorce to understand what’s going on, it’s best that you both talk to them as soon as possible. Try to sit down (without the children present) and agree on what you will and won’t say. When you talk to your kids, honor your commitment not to discuss matters that you’ve agreed to avoid.

This may not always be possible, though. You or your ex may feel that the emotions are too fragile to have a joint conversation with your children. If you have to sit down with your children by yourself, take some time by yourself in advance to think about what you want to say. Here are some important issues to address:

  • Don’t use the discussion with your children to disparage your spouse—Your children will be confused and hurt enough by the mere fact that you are getting a divorce. Don’t make their pain worse by putting them in the middle.
  • Reassure them that they are not the cause, and that you still love them and will be there for them—One of the biggest fears kids have is that they will be abandoned. Make certain they know that won’t happen.
  • Be willing to take responsibility—Divorce is seldom the exclusive fault of one party. By admitting your responsibility as soon as possible, you can start to build a relationship where your children trust you to tell them the truth
  • Don’t tell them more or less than they need to know—For very young children, you don’t need to discuss things in any detail. Even with older children, the sordid details are likely not necessary. Remember, though, that if neither of you take responsibility for the divorce, there’s a good chance your child will.

Contact Morgenstern & Rochester

At Morgenstern & Rochester, our two partners have almost 50 years of combined family law experience. We are a boutique family law firm that takes a hands-on approach. When you hire us, you will always work directly with one of our partners, never with an inexperienced associate or a paralegal.

To arrange a confidential meeting with an experienced Cherry Hill family law attorney, contact us online or call our office at 856-489-6200.

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Forcing Your Children to Take Sides in Your Divorce

Forcing Your Children to Take Sides in a Divorce

Forcing Your Children to Take Sides in Your Divorce
In the aftermath of a divorce, your emotions can get the better of you. The sense of loss that comes with divorce can leave you with feelings of shame, anger and low self-esteem. Often, in a misguided effort to feel better about yourself, you can say or do things designed to get your kids to love you, but which only force them to take sides in your dispute with your ex. Unfortunately, all you really end up doing is taking a situation that is already extremely painful for your child and making it more so.

Don’t Punish Your Children to Punish Your Ex

It’s normal to feel loss and hurt during and after a divorce. Unfortunately, our society has a tendency to encourage acts of retribution against those we believe have hurt us. The reality, though, is that it’s almost impossible to punish your ex-spouse without direct or residual harm to your children. If you are the custodial parent, speaking disparagingly about your ex, about his or her living conditions, about his or her behaviors, only tends to confuse your children and to increase their anxiety when it’s time for visitation. In most instances, your children love both of you, and they already feel the pain of the absence of one parent. Making negative remarks about that parent can make them afraid of going to visit, or can lead to feelings of guilt if they don’t have the same perspective.

By the same token, if you are the non-custodial parent, there’s nothing to be gained by denigrating the custodial parent. This is where your children will spend most of their days and nights. Do you want them living in fear or doubt all that time?

Contact Morgenstern & Rochester

At Morgenstern & Rochester, our two partners have almost 50 years of combined family law experience. We are a boutique family law firm that takes a hands-on approach. When you hire us, you will always work directly with one of our partners, never with an inexperienced associate or a paralegal.

To arrange a confidential meeting with an experienced Cherry Hill family law attorney, contact us online or call our office at 856-489-6200.

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Venting to Your Children about Your Divorce

Keeping Your Kids Out of the Middle in a Divorce

Venting to Your Children about Your DivorceWhen you are involved in a divorce and there are minor children, you can struggle with the desire to vent to your children about your ex or about your divorce. When your children ask about your divorce, or ask why you got divorced, your inclination can be to try to take the blame away from yourself by suggesting or putting it on your ex. It’s never a smart or a caring thing to do. How do you avoid the temptation?

Remember That the Mental and Emotional Health of your Children is Paramount

Regardless of the nature of your relationship with your ex, or what went on between the two of you, your children look to both of you with love and concern. In the aftermath of divorce, your goal should not be winning the hearts and minds of your children, but it should be in providing a stable and loving atmosphere that doesn’t force them to choose sides. The unfortunate reality is that when parents consistently bring up blame with children of divorce, the children ultimately start wondering if they were to blame, especially when parents are blaming each other. One of the healthiest things you can do, both for yourself and for your children, is to admit that you contributed to the breakdown of the marriage.

Always Speak Respectfully about Your Ex

Issues may arise or questions may come up, where your children will be looking to you to hear your opinion about your ex-spouse. When you speak derogatorily, it causes anxiety, fear and uncertainty in your children. The best approach is often to simply tell your children “Your mother (father) loves you and wants what is best for you.” If questions persist, you may want to contact your ex and discuss how you want to address the matter. Again, you should focus on what’s best for your children.

If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree as to how to respond, family counseling (or individual counseling for your child) may be appropriate.

Contact Morgenstern & Rochester

At Morgenstern & Rochester, our two partners have almost 50 years of combined family law experience. We are a boutique family law firm that takes a hands-on approach. When you hire us, you will always work directly with one of our partners, never with an inexperienced associate or a paralegal.

To arrange a confidential meeting with an experienced Cherry Hill family law attorney, contact us online or call our office at 856-489-6200.

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Can You Get a Divorce and Still Remain Civil with Each Other?

Can’t We All Get Along? Strategies for Positive Relationships with an Ex-Spouse

Can You Get a Divorce and Still Remain Civil with Each Other?Though many divorce proceedings are bitter and lead to years of anger and recrimination, it doesn’t have to be that way, and if it’s to be in the best interests of your children, it can’t be that way. But the emotions that come with divorce can be difficult to put behind you. Every minor disagreement you have about child rearing or custody can turn into a contest. There are, however, things that you can do to minimize the possibility of acrimony and hostility after divorce.

Grieve the Loss of Your Relationship

Unfortunately, far too many people don’t take the time during or after divorce to fully acknowledge and accept the loss. Divorce has been called “the living death,” because even though you’ve lost your spouse, they are still alive and you still have to deal with them. But the end of the relationship needs to be treated the same way you would treat the death of a family member. You need to feel all the emotions associated with the loss or you’ll hang on to them and pull them out whenever things get the least bit difficult with your ex-spouse.

Remember Your Children

Even thought the disagreements were between you and your ex, they had (and will have) and impact on your children. If you have to disagree with your ex, try to do it when your children are not around—perhaps by phone.

Put Things in Perspective

Don’t put too much emphasis on any one thing, unless it’s clear that it’s really important. You and your ex likely have different styles, and that will come out as you raise your children. Don’t let minor differences in discipline or rules become major battles. And don’t make the differences in discipline and behavior be about who’s right and who’s wrong.

Be Respectful

Use common courtesy in all dealings with your ex, honoring any promises or commitments that you make, and never disparaging them (or their families) with your children.

Contact Morgenstern & Rochester

At Morgenstern & Rochester, our two partners have almost 50 years of combined family law experience. We are a boutique family law firm that takes a hands-on approach. When you hire us, you will always work directly with one of our partners, never with an inexperienced associate or a paralegal.

To arrange a confidential meeting with an experienced Cherry Hill family law attorney, contact us online or call our office at 856-489-6200.

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The Collaborative Approach to Divorce

The Collaborative Divorce Process

The Collaborative Approach to DivorceIn recent years, a new alternative to the traditional divorce process—a concept called collaborative divorce—has become increasingly accepted as an effective way to settle differences in a divorce.

In the collaborative process, each party retains separate counsel, as would happen in the traditional divorce process. The first significant difference, though, is that the parties and their lawyers agree to try to resolve all disagreements without the intervention of the court. So instead of focusing exclusively on protecting your rights, your attorney is charged with identifying ways that you can cooperatively resolve your disputes.

A second distinguishing characteristic of collaborative divorce is the willingness to seek guidance from independent authorities. Instead of looking at court guidelines or even mediating a child custody dispute, the parties to a collaborative divorce proceeding may jointly retain a child psychologist, therapist or counselor, who will meet with the parties and the children and make recommendations regarding custody and visitation that are in the best interests of the child. Instead of battling over the division of marital assets, the parties to a collaborative divorce may hire an accountant, financial planner or other consultant to review the marital estate and make recommendations regarding the equitable distribution of debts and assets.

If the parties to a collaborative divorce proceeding resolve all issues without the help of the court, they typically put their agreement in writing, sign it and have a copy entered into the court record. If, however, they cannot agree on all issues, and need the court to settle a matter, they must terminate their relationship with counsel and hire new attorneys to handle the court proceedings.

Contact Morgenstern & Rochester

At Morgenstern & Rochester, our two partners have almost 50 years of combined family law experience. We are a boutique family law firm that takes a hands-on approach. When you hire us, you will always work directly with one of our partners, never with an inexperienced associate or a paralegal.

To arrange a confidential meeting with an experienced Cherry Hill family law attorney, contact us online or call our office at 856-489-6200.

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Mediation and Divorce

Mediation as an Alternative to the Traditional Divorce Process

Mediation as an Alternative to the Traditional Divorce ProcessIf you have concluded that your marriage cannot be saved, but you want to maintain a positive relationship with your ex-spouse, or you simply want to resolve your disputes with a minimum of anger or bitterness, divorce mediation may be your best alternative.

In mediation, instead of engaging in an adversarial process, you work with a third party neutral, who is tasked with helping you and your ex-spouse identify mutually beneficial solutions to your differences. The mediator does not represent either party, and does not have any vested interest in the outcome, but will work cooperatively with both of you to help you identify what you need, and brainstorm about ways that you can both get what you need, if possible.

Mediation is not a legal proceeding and the mediator does not make determinations regarding the outcome of the mediation. Accordingly, the mediator does not listen to or weigh any legal arguments, and does not consider testimony from witnesses. The mediator helps you stay focused on the potential costs if you can’t find ways to amicably resolve your disputes.

The cooperative focus of mediation carries many benefits. First, unlike a trial or court proceeding, you get to participate in the resolution of your dispute. You don’t have to wait for a judge or a jury to decide whether your arguments were compelling. You can make an offer to settle, and you can always reject any proposal from your ex-spouse.

Because mediation doesn’t consider legal arguments, there is no need for extensive and expensive discovery—depositions, private investigations, document review. You’ll have the chance to tell your side of the story to the mediator, but only so the mediator can help you move toward common ground. So mediation is almost always more cost effective than the traditional divorce process.

Additionally, mediators generally have “dockets” that are far less crowded than the courts. You can usually complete a mediation in a couple months, so your divorce doesn’t have to drag out interminably.

Contact Morgenstern & Rochester

At Morgenstern & Rochester, our two partners have almost 50 years of combined family law experience. We are a boutique family law firm that takes a hands-on approach. When you hire us, you will always work directly with one of our partners, never with an inexperienced associate or a paralegal.

To arrange a confidential meeting with an experienced Cherry Hill family law attorney, contact us online or call our office at 856-489-6200.

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What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse is Hiding Assets

How to Locate Hidden Assets in a Divorce Proceeding

It’s a pretty common occurrence—when your spouse decides to file for divorce or learns that you plan to serve divorce papers, he or she starts hiding money or property in an attempt to keep it from being divided in court proceedings. If you suspect or know that your soon-to-be ex is hiding assets, here are some of the steps you can take to protect your interests.

Put Together a Comprehensive Inventory of Income, Expenses and Assets

To the extent possible, create a thorough accounting of all income and expenses during the last few years of your marriage, as well as an inventory of all assets. Identify those assets that were purchased during the marriage and distinguish them from any assets that you or your ex brought into the marriage.

Ask for Copies of All Financial Records

You can do this without the intervention of the court, but your spouse may not willingly comply, or may only provide limited information. If you have any reason to suspect that your spouse is not being totally forthcoming, you should ask your attorney to petition the court for the production of all financial records from your ex. If your ex is willing, but unable, to comply, you can jointly request copies of documents from relevant providers, such as banks, investment firms and creditors.

There are a number of “discovery” methods by which you can seek to obtain information about hidden assets. During the “discovery” phase of your divorce, the court allows you to use specific methods to gather all evidence related to your divorce. Among the different options available are:

  • Requests for production of documents
  • Written questions, called interrogatories, that your ex must truthfully answer
  • Requests for inspection of property or asset storage facilities, such as safe deposit boxes
  • Depositions, where your attorney questions your ex under oath about financial issues

Contact Morgenstern & Rochester

At Morgenstern & Rochester, our two partners have almost 50 years of combined family law experience. We are a boutique family law firm that takes a hands-on approach. When you hire us, you will always work directly with one of our partners, never with an inexperienced associate or a paralegal.

To arrange a confidential meeting with an experienced Cherry Hill family law attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 856-489-6200.

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Determining a Fair Child Support Agreement

Making Certain Your Child Support Order is Fair

In every state, including New Jersey, there are state-established guidelines for the calculation of child support. You don’t have to let the amount of support be determined by the guidelines, though—you can agree to accept or pay more or less than called for, though the court will still review your agreement to ensure that there is no duress, undue influence or other inappropriate conduct leading to the agreement.

Establishing a Fair Amount

If you are trying to come to an agreement regarding child support, you should start with an assessment of what is needed to provide for the child, as well as the ability of the non-custodial parent to make payments. It may seem at first blush that, if both parents have the same income, they should both contribute the same amount to support the child. Accordingly, when both parents have the same earning capacity, or when the custodial parent earns more than the non-custodial parent, the perception is that there shouldn’t be any support obligation. This, however, is not how courts perceive or order child support.

Ideally, you will identify an amount that meaningfully contributes to the needs of the child without either forcing the non-custodial parent into a financially difficult situation or leaving the custodial parent with the bulk of the child’s expense. You may want to try to get as much support as possible, but remember that your children will have visitation with your ex-spouse. You want your ex-spouse to provide safe accommodations that meet the needs of your children.

Regardless of which side of the support issue you are on, it’s important to remember that ultimately it’s about the impact the support order will have on your children. If you refuse to pay enough support to provide a healthy and safe environment for your children, they are the ones who suffer most. If you demand more support than your ex can reasonably pay, you have to be concerned about the quality of the accommodations, and how they are provided for, when they are with your ex.

Contact Morgenstern & Rochester

At Morgenstern & Rochester, our two partners have almost 50 years of combined family law experience. We are a boutique family law firm that takes a hands-on approach. When you hire us, you will always work directly with one of our partners, never with an inexperienced associate or a paralegal.

To arrange a confidential meeting with an experienced Cherry Hill family law attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 856-489-6200.

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