Study says costly weddings lead to divorces

Money can’t buy happiness. Money also can’t buy a lasting marriage. That’s the official word from researchers, at least.

According to a recent study by a number of economists, the costly trappings of a wedding, including an expensive engagement ring, are no barrier to a divorce. In fact, the couples who spend the most are most likely to see their marriages falter fast.

What price is considered significant? In terms of the engagement ring, spending more than $2,000 is enough to increase the likelihood of a divorce. Where weddings are concerned, the figures are a little fuzzier.

Spending anything under $1,000 for the whole event will decidedly lower your risk of a divorce. However, you don’t significantly raise the risk until the price tag for the wedding exceeds the $20,000 mark. Those who spend somewhere between $1,000 and $20,000 experience similar levels of risk to one another.

Why do these factors lead to more divorces? The experts didn’t offer any insight into the issue, but there are some possibilities.

Financial stresses could make marriage harder

The wedding industry isn’t exactly shy about pushing couples to spend big on their weddings. However, couples that spend more than they have on hand may be setting themselves up for a problem after the wedding is over.

Those lavish table settings and costly seat covers might not seem like such a worthwhile expense after the day is done and a couple is stuck with the bill. The stress of all those financial obligations left over from the wedding may put an unnecessary strain on marital bliss and lead to divorce.

Expectations don’t live up to reality

An expensive ring and fairy tale wedding could be setting unrealistic expectations for the couple. Expensive weddings make everything seem romantic and wonderful, but that level of intense romanticism is hard to maintain day after day in a real relationship. Once the excitement of a lavish engagement and wedding is over, real life may not favorably compare.

On the bright side, the experts also say there is one thing you can spend money on at will that won’t lead to a divorce: the honeymoon. There are no obvious negative consequences for big spenders.

Ultimately, of course, divorce is a complex issue with many motivating factors. Studies like this examine trends, not individual cases. Take these kinds of studies under advisement without worrying about your own relationship.

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Is your ex refusing to follow the visitation order? Do this

What do you do when your ex isn’t following the court-ordered custody schedule for your children?

This is the sort of post-divorce event that nearly every parent dreads. Yet, most parents fail to have a response plan in mind if it does happen. Don’t make that mistake. The faster you react to an issue with your visitation, the more clearly you’ll convey the boundaries of your post-divorce existence with your ex.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Contact your ex regarding the issue

Do this in writing, so that you have a record of your statements and your ex-spouse’s response. Be specific about the ways in which your ex is interfering with your visitation.

Direct interference involves things like refusing to turn the kids over for your weekend or arbitrarily canceling a planned visit at the last minute. However, don’t overlook indirect violations. Those include things like intercepting your phone calls or refusing to give you information about a child’s school activities. It’s important that you document exactly what the issues are in your letter in case you end up back in court.

2. Propose a resolution to the problem

You want to offer a solution to the issues whenever possible. Not only does that give your ex a reasonable way to respond, it also could show the court that you are more than willing to be flexible. A refusal to negotiate on your ex’s part will also play very badly in court if it gets that far.

For example, if your ex insists that the planned visit just had to be canceled, propose an alternative visit to make up for the one that was missed or “make-up” visitation time. If your ex says your phone calls are just coming “at a bad time,” suggest setting up a specific time every night to call — and let your ex choose the time.

3. Take the issue back to court

If your ex refuses to negotiate or rapidly falls back on the same excuses, your best bet is to take the issue back to court. Judges expect custody orders to be followed and can issue fines or even alter existing custody agreements when they aren’t.

If you do find yourself heading back to court over a custody issue, you want to make certain that you go in armed with the proof that you did everything possible to avoid the situation.

Britney Spears asked to pay $60,000 per month in child support

Celebrities often go through the same sort of struggles that ordinary people do — just more publicly and on a larger scale. There are elements of their lives, however, that often help illustrate some valuable lessons.

One of those lessons is what it means to pay enough support so that you maintain a child’s existing standards of living whenever possible.

In this case, pop singer Britney Spears is being asked to pay $60,000 per month in child support to her ex-husband, Keven Federline — a significant increase over the $20,000 per month that he receives now. At issue is the disparity between the singer’s multimillion dollar income and the dwindling income of her ex-husband. Once a popular figure, his star has been on a decline for the last decade — taking his wealth with it.

Spears has reportedly tried to settle the dispute out of court but her ex-husband has refused. His contention is that he can’t compete with the things that Spears can offer their children when they are with her. She has the bigger home, with lavish additions like a pool house, tennis court, library and spa — while he shares a more modest home with his six children (including those from other relationships) and a wife.

Family courts tend to take the view that a broken marriage shouldn’t affect the children of that marriage any more than necessary. When deciding support, the court will often try to level things out so that a child doesn’t experience comfort at one parent’s house and deprivation at the other parent’s house.

When dealing with large parental incomes, the issue can become very complicated. It’s hard to argue that a child’s basic needs can’t be met by $20,000 a month in support — although that hardly provides the same lifestyle that millions can. When there’s enough money to go around, a custodial parent receiving support is entitled to use that support money for nonessentials, like entertainment.

Exactly how this issue will play out remains to be seen, but it does nicely illustrate the difficulties that many well-heeled parents can face regarding appropriate child support long after a marriage is over.

Source: pagesix.com, “Kevin Federline wants $60K in monthly child support from Britney Speas,” Jessica Sager, May 30, 2018

Issues for couples during a same-sex divorce

As of 2015, same-sex marriages have been legal everywhere in the nation.

That’s great news. Unfortunately, however, not every marriage gets a happy ending. For same-sex couples that do divorce, the complicated history of same-sex marriages in the United States has a lasting legacy that can make divorce just as troublesome.

Prior to the landmark Supreme Court ruling granting marriage equality, only 36 states and Washington D.C. permitted same-sex couples to marry. Unsurprisingly, most same-sex couples who lived together weren’t married prior to 2015. After 2015, the percentage of those same-sex couples living together who were married skyrocketed from 38 percent to 61 percent!

There are two major issues that same-sex couples who divorce can often face:

Dissolving all legal relationships

A lot of people entered same-sex domestic partnerships prior to the time that actual marriages were permitted. While imperfect, domestic partnerships were the only available alternatives.

Those domestic partnerships have to be specifically addressed if a now-married couple divorces because dissolving one doesn’t generally affect the other. That’s an additional legal step that couples can’t afford to overlook.

Determining the length of the committed relationship

Even though California doesn’t recognize common law marriages, there’s a lot of good reasons to ask the court to consider the actual length of a same-sex relationship outside of the matrimonial bonds. Since many people in a committed same-sex relationship couldn’t legally marry without going through extraordinary hoops, it’s generally unfair not to consider the length of time a couple has been in a marital-like relationship when it comes time to divide up the assets and debts and address spousal support obligations.

Documentation is the most important thing to keep in mind in these situations. While that’s pretty much true for any divorcing couple, good documentation in a same-sex marriage of everything from when the couple held a commitment ceremony to who brought which assets or debts into the relationship can have a drastic effect on the divorce settlement.

Naturally, there are other issues that can also become complicated in a same-sex divorce — or any divorce. If your marriage is failing, the key thing to do is start gathering all the documentation you need to give the court the ability to make a fair decision.

Source: Communities Digital News, “Divorce: The unique hurdles same-sex couples face,” Myra Fleischer, May 17, 2018

How to protect your child at school when there’s a custody issue

What are your rights at school when there’s a custody dispute going on?

You may be afraid of any number of things, but the idea that your child’s other parent might try to abduct your child may never be far from your mind. Parental abductions are an unfortunate reality when parents have trouble adjusting to the limitations courts sometimes set on their custody and visitation.

In order to protect your child at preschool or primary school, you need to be aware that the other parent has a right to your child’s school records even if his or her custody and visitation is restricted.

The only way to prevent that access is to ask the judge in your case to specifically restrict it. Otherwise, the other parent can easily keep track of your child’s schedule, field trips and other important information that he or she may use to plan an abduction. Judges will generally prevent a parent from having access if there’s a credible threat of abduction or a history of abuse.

You need to review the permissions on the school’s records and remove the name of anyone that you feel may be a threat. For example, if you’re concerned that your child’s mother may abduct your child, review the list for old “pick up” permissions given to her best friend, parents or siblings.

Make certain that the school has copies of your court-ordered custody arrangement. Take a copy for the file and for your child’s instructor. Never assume that the correct information will be relayed through channels if there’s an issue that has you concerned. It may even be necessary to request a staff meeting so that you’re sure the people who watch the playground and the office staff are all informed.

Even when a noncustodial parent has no intention of harming the child, custodial interference is a serious problem that can disrupt lives and sever the important ties to your children. If you’re concerned about the possibility, don’t hesitate to take steps to ensure your child’s safety at school.

Source: Campus Safety Magazine, “How Schools Should Protect Students from Child Custody Disputes,” Amy Rock, accessed May 15, 2018

How does a therapist help if you’re thinking about divorce?

A lot of people eventually get a therapist if they’re thinking about divorce…but they may not get exactly what they’re looking for when they do.

If you’re looking for a therapist to tell you if you should give your marriage another shot or get a divorce, you’ll likely be disappointed. Most therapists say that’s generally inappropriate to do except in situations where physical abuse is occurring.

Instead, therapy offers people struggling with a decaying marital relationship an opportunity to address their innermost feelings — maybe for the first time. Sometimes, just talking over a situation out loud makes it easier to see what needs to be done.

Therapy also lets people vent their anger, disappointment and frustration with a spouse in a safe place — to someone that will never betray their confidences. That’s sometimes the only healthy way to get over a bad situation and get rid of those negative feelings so that you can try again. If you address a spouse directly with a big barrage of complaints, you may be killing off any remaining hope for the relationship.

Therapy is also good once someone has made the slow, painful choice to divorce. A therapist can help you decide what is most important to you, what you ultimately want to get out of the divorce and what new future goals you can focus on. Therapy can also help you find a way to cope with your feelings during the divorce so that you don’t make rash, emotional decisions when a cool head needs to prevail.

Having a therapist can also prevent you from trying to use your attorney as a therapist. Many people in unhappy marriages are desperate for a “sounding board” because they no longer have their spouse to act as one. That can make your meetings with your attorney longer — and more expensive — than necessary.

If you’re thinking about a divorce or are already in one, therapy is a good idea. Just be clear about the fact that the decision to divorce is always going to be up to you — not your therapist.

Source: HuffPost, “Do Couples Therapists Ever Suggest Divorce?,” Brittany Wong, April 16, 2018

Watch for these reactions from your children during a divorce

Divorce is a family affair — it affects everyone, including your children.

There’s bound to be some fear, grief and even anger on their part — so how do you know if they’re handling things in a healthy manner or not? There are a number of signs that your kids are having trouble coping.

In young children, you may see:

  • Regressions in age, reverting to thumb sucking or wetting the bed
  • Changes in sleeping patterns, nightmares or insisting on sleeping with you or their other parent
  • Worries that you’ll forget to pick them up from school or day care, or an irrational fear that you’ll suddenly leave
  • The sudden appearance of an imaginary friend

In older children, you might see:

  • Extreme changes in clothing, hair or makeup
  • Secretive behavior, such as hiding in their rooms
  • Changes in interests, including new friends that don’t come around

In children of any age, look for:

  • Sudden changes in a child’s weight
  • Outbursts of anger or extreme moods swings
  • Rebellion, including refusing to obey parents and teachers
  • Refusing to see the parent that “left”
  • Behaving differently for one parent than the other
  • A frantic hope or insistence that you and your spouse will get back together
  • Sudden, vague health complaints with no identifiable cause, like stomachaches and headaches

If your child is exhibiting worrisome symptoms of stress, it’s smart to be proactive. Sit your children down and address the divorce in a clear, age-appropriate way. Reassure your child that both parents still care and will be there — even if one has moved out of the home. Make every effort to answer your children’s questions. Be kind about your spouse — whatever his or her faults, that person is still your child’s other parent.

Also, consider counseling for your children — especially children in their teens. They may need a sounding board they can trust who is outside the household.

Finally, remind yourself that this transition period may be difficult but it won’t last forever. Once the divorce process is over, you’ll be able to establish some “new normals” that will help your children thrive.