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9 Unexpected Things That Show a Marriage Won’t Last Long

Posted On: February 26, 2020

Most people despite the harsh realties are looking for the fairytale romantic relationship where you fall in love at first sight or that you find your soulmate and are looking for a relationship that lasts a lifetime.  The harsh reality is that is the rare exception rather than the rule. 

It has long been a statistic that more than half of marriages end in divorce and in some areas those statistics are higher.  In Europe it has been shown that in the last 50 years people have divorced 2 ½ times more often and get married 2 times less often.

Whether you are married legally or in a committed long term relationship, if dissolution of the relationship is a reality, using the Collaborative process for either a divorce or the dissolution of a significant relationship is vital and a much more holistic approach, no matter what your geographical location is.  Further the courts will not get involved with the dissolution of a romantic partnership that is not a legal marriage.  

There is scientific data and research that has been done on foreseeing whether divorce is a possibility in a relationship  and nine most distinctive factors. 

This first factor I find is a humorous one.  They basically did a study of people’s photographs from college and were able to determine by the amount of the impact of their smile or gloom of their photo, the rate of divorce for those people.  The study showed that people who look gloomy in their photos were divorced five times more often than those who smiled. 

This also held true for people with respect to the emotional tone of their voice and the commitment to what they are saying.  So, it’s not only what you say but how you say it 😊  

This article had some interesting points on what to look for in your relationship and factors that can contribute to an early termination.

Selected excerpt(s), photo and linked article courtesy of anton7788, Chowhound.

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12 Divorce Tips To Make Your Split Waaaayyy Less Stressful

Posted On: February 18, 2020

Many people don't realize until they are going through it, the extreme stress that the divorce process creates for the parties.  Other than the death of a child or spouse, getting divorced can be one of the most horrific times of a person's life.  This stress is guaranteed to last for several months and for some, years, depending on whether the parties go through a litigated and highly contested divorce or choose an alternative method with a more holistic approach, such as Mediation and Collaborative Divorce.  Having to appear in the Courthouse; going into a Courtroom; and being addressed by a Judge who now has control over your life and your children is extremely scary and stressful for most people. This is why using Collaborative or Mediation is extremely helpful in alleviating much of the stress caused by the Court System.  In both Collaborative Divorce and Mediation the parties never have to personally go to Court; only their paperwork goes to the Courthouse to get processed.  That is a big difference and it alleviates a tremendous amount of stress for the parties.

Even under the best of circumstances, the dissolution of a marriage or a significant life partner relationship has inherit stress and has highly charged emotional aspects.  Even when you are choosing a holistic approach, stress is involved.  That is why using the Collaborative method is so beneficial.  One of the members of the professional team is a mental health specialist who acts as a family specialist or divorce coach, helping guide the couple and navigating through difficult communication. 

This article highlights different tips that you can take on how to help yourself through the stress.  One being getting a therapist or a divorce coach that you can use as a sounding board and help you navigate some of the difficult issues.  Getting organized, making a plan, doing your homework and finding out about the different processes available to you, other than costly litigation, well before you choose to take those first steps towards getting divorced.  Most people feel much better when they get organized and have a plan of action.  Just taking small baby steps of getting information can help you feel more grounded and help you organize and choose a better path going forward. 

I feel taking positive action towards moving forward in a positive way are some of the biggest steps that you can take to help alleviate stress and help support yourself through an extremely difficult time.

Selected excerpt(s) and linked article courtesy of Karen Covy of Your Tango Blog; Photo courtesy of UNSPLASH/TRENT SZMOLNIK.

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'Marriage Story Was Stunningly On-Point': What Divorce Lawyers Want You To Know

Posted On: February 12, 2020

This article talks about the film Marriage Story, which has some very on point dramatizations of what can happen in real life.  Divorce is hard enough, but when a couple thinks that this can be very simple and easy and should not cost us anything to get divorced, they are many times proven drastically wrong.  Even when a couple starts out with the premise that they feel there is not a lot to fight over, if they get involved in a litigated divorce, things become positional very early on and many times the couple are oceans away from where they originally started…thinking that they could do this simply, either by a difference of opinion or a perceived breach of trust, or a multitude of many other reasons.  This is why Mediation and the Collaborative process is so vital and important.  These processes are based on and revolve around the clients and their communications and trying to keep things on a settlement track from beginning to end. 

The other fallacies that most people don’t realize is that no matter what you do or which path you take, divorce does not come for free.  There are legal implications that are imposed by the Courts and paperwork that is required as well as filing fees.  This paperwork, although the Court has a do it yourself section, is very difficult for a lay person to actually accomplish.  Therefore, you need the assistance of a professional, to not only navigate the process of divorce, but to get the paper work done correctly.  One thing is for sure, using an alternative method like Collaborative Divorce or Mediation is much more cost effective than litigation and as I like to say, in these methods the parties never go to Court, only their paperwork does.

Selected excerpt(s), photo and linked article courtesy of Elle Hunt, The Guardian; & Netflix/Guardian Design Team

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15 Men Reveal the Moment They Knew They Wanted a Divorce

Posted On: February 05, 2020

Relationships, especially marriages, are hard work and difficult.  Even the happiest of couples may have serious bumps along the way.  Although there are studies that the divorce rate has dropped in recent years, that also can be attributed to the fact that some people have chosen not to get married.  However, that doesn't change the fact that when you are facing a dissolution of a relationship, it may not be always easy to extract oneself.  People split for a multitude of reasons.  However, sometimes at the core are some basic simple things like kindness, honesty, integrity and good communication.  This article explores 15 men who revealed different reasons why they chose to get divorced, which include a lack of a sex life, not willing to engage in therapy, deception by a partner though cheating and spying on them or looking through their phone, having grown apart and many others.  Whatever the reason may be, if therapy and reconciliation are not possible, then it's best to go about getting divorced through an amicable resolution process like Collaborative Divorce, where the parties are utilizing professionals who are dedicated to a settlement process and not litigation.

Selected excerpt(s), photo and linked article courtesy of Bethany Heitman, Prevention.com & SEB_RA Getty Images

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5 Essential Marriage Lessons From a Divorce Lawyer Who’s Seen it All

Posted On: January 27, 2020

As a divorce lawyer, many times you can see what a couple cannot and that is what is really at the heart of the breakdown of their relationship.  It is usually not one simple issue that is the straw that breaks the camels back, but small items that develop and can accumulate over time. 

Many couples make the mistake of not communicating openly and honestly with each other and making sure that their needs and wants are expressed out loud. Too often people couched their language or alter their response based on their attempt to please the other side and not cause an argument, when in fact what they are actually doing is laying the foundation for resentments and other problems for the future.

By the time people are at the point of getting divorced, they are often unrecognizable from the couple that was once so in love that they chose to get married.  They often forget why they chose to get married and lose the appreciation and reason why they love their partner. 

It is often the small communications and paying attention to the small things.  Being kind to one another, respecting one another and communicating that will help keep a marriage alive and well. 

This is why a collaborative divorce is also the best method in dealing with couples that have reached the point of needing a divorce.  The process is focused around the individuals and their relationship and what they need to go forward, even if that means getting divorced.

Here are 5 Essential Marriage Lessons From a Divorce Lawyer Who’s Seen it All...

Selected excerpt(s) and linked article courtesy of Jeremy Brown, Fatherly.com.

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Disabled Couples Navigate Red Tape On Way to Altar

Posted On: January 20, 2020

People suffering from disabilities always have to work harder at the most simplest things in life as a result of their disabilities.  What is criminal is when government and society put extra road blocks in their way to make normal paths to happiness difficult.  This is an inspirational article about a couple that would not take "no" for an answer and are trying to fight for a better way for other disabled couples to find happiness through marriage and not lose their disability benefits as a result. 

This should be a lesson to us all and it should be a lesson to legislators that they need to make a change.

Selected excerpt(s), photo and linked article courtesy of Rita Price The Columbus Dispatch & Courtney Hergesheimer The Columbus Dispatch.

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Changes In the Law Regarding IRAs That May Change Estate Planning

Posted On: January 13, 2020

2020 Has Seen Changes In The Law Regarding IRA's

The maximum age for required minimum distributions from IRAs was raised from 70½ to April 1st of the year after you turn 72.  It also changed how long a distributees who inherits and IRAs may keep the funds in an IRA.  Now it is mandatory to have the account liquidated within 10 years of the death of the decedent:  no longer the lifetime of the distribute.  These are changes that may change estate planning.

The SECURE Act:

  • Repeals the maximum age for traditional IRA contributions, which is currently 70½.
  • Increases the required minimum distribution (RMD) age for retirement accounts to 72 (up from 70½).
  • Allows long-term, part-time workers to participate in 401(k) plans.
  • Offers more options for lifetime income strategies.
  • Permits parents to withdraw up to $5,000 from retirement accounts penalty-free within a year of birth or adoption for qualified expenses.
  • Allows parents to withdraw up to $10,000 from 529 plans to repay student loans.

As part of a larger government spending package, which was signed into law on December 20, 2019, Congress included provisions from the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act. The act includes many common-sense, long-overdue reforms that could make saving for retirement easier and more accessible for many Americans.

The important retirement legislation reflects policy changes to defined contribution plans (such as 401(k)s), defined benefit pension plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and 529 college savings accounts. Most provisions in the law go into effect on January 1, 2020.

Here's a summary of key provisions of the SECURE Act:

Required minimum distributions (RMDs) now begin at age 72

  • Americans are working longer and will no longer be required to withdraw assets from IRAs and 401(k)s at age 70½.
  • RMDs now begin at age 72 for individuals who turn 70½ in the calendar year 2020.
  • If you turned age 70½ in 2019 and have already begun taking your RMDs, you should generally continue to take your RMDs. The IRS may provide further guidance on this point, so you might want to speak with your tax advisor regarding any 2020 distributions.

Next step: If you are turning 70½ in 2020 and had planned on taking an RMD, you may want to work with your financial advisor to reconsider your withdrawal plans.

You can make IRA contributions beyond age 70½

  • As Americans live longer, an increasing number are continuing to work past their traditional retirement age.
  • Under the act, you can continue to contribute to your traditional IRA past age 70½ as long as you are still working. That means the rules for traditional IRAs will align more closely with 401(k) plans and Roth IRAs.

Next step: Work with your financial advisor to determine your retirement readiness, how long you plan to work, and when you expect to start withdrawing from your retirement savings. This change doesn't apply for tax year 2019, as it will begin for tax year 2020 contributions. You can make your tax year 2020 contribution up until April 15, 2021.

Long-term, part-time workers will be able to join their company's 401(k) plan

  • Up until now, if you worked less than 1,000 hours per year, you were generally ineligible to participate in your company's 401(k) plan.
  • Except in the case of collectively bargained plans, the law now requires employers maintaining a 401(k) plan to offer one to any employee who worked more than 1,000 hours in one year, or 500 hours over 3 consecutive years.

Next step: If you work part-time and haven't been eligible to participate in a 401(k) to date, ask your employer or HR department how and when you can enroll.

Inherited IRA distributions generally must now be taken within 10 years

  • Previously, if you inherited an IRA or 401(k), you could "stretch" your distributions and tax payments out over your single life expectancy. Many people have used "stretch" IRAs and 401(k)s as reliable income sources.
  • Now, for IRAs inherited from original owners who have passed away on or after January 1, 2020, the new law requires many beneficiaries to withdraw assets from an inherited IRA or 401(k) plan within 10 years following the death of the account holder.
  • Exceptions to the 10-year rule include assets left to a surviving spouse, a minor child, a disabled or chronically ill beneficiary, and beneficiaries who are less than 10 years younger than the original IRA owner or 401(k) participant.

Next step: If you have an IRA that you planned to leave to beneficiaries based on prior rules, consider working with your tax advisor or estate planning attorney, as this change may require you to reevaluate your retirement and estate planning strategies. If you're a beneficiary of an inherited IRA or 401(k) and the original owner passed away prior to January 1, 2020, you don't need to make any changes.

Small-business owners can receive a tax credit for starting a retirement plan, up to $5,000

  • The new law provides a start-up retirement plan credit for smaller employers of $250 per non-highly compensated employees eligible to participate in a workplace retirement plan at work (minimum credit of $500 and maximum credit of $5,000).
  • This credit would apply to small employers with up to 100 employees over a 3-year period beginning after December 31, 2019 and applies to SEP, SIMPLE, 401(k), and profit sharing types of plans.
  • If the retirement plan includes automatic enrollment, an additional credit of up to $500 is now available.

Next step: If you're a small-business owner and have not yet established a retirement plan for your employees, consider taking advantage of the new credit to establish a retirement plan.

Small-business owners will find it easier to join together to offer defined contribution retirement plans

  • The new law facilitates the adoption of open multiple employer plans (MEPs) by allowing completely unrelated employers to participate in an MEP and eliminates the IRS's "one bad apple" rule, which stipulates that all employers participating in an MEP may face adverse tax consequences if one employer fails to satisfy the tax qualification rules for the MEP.
  • Roughly half of private-sector workers in the US still don't have access to a retirement plan through their employer. Open MEPs can help deliver low-cost, high-quality retirement plans for millions of small business workers.

Next step: If you're a small-business owner and have not yet established a retirement plan or would like to make changes to your plan that may make it easier to implement, consider taking advantage of the new law by joining a multiple employer plan, which will be available in 2021. If you're a small-business employee whose employer is currently unable to offer a plan, consider letting your employer know about this new opportunity.

You can withdraw up to $5,000 per parent penalty-free from your retirement plan upon the birth or adoption of a child

  • The new law permits an individual to take a "qualified birth or adoption distribution" of up to $5,000 from an applicable defined contribution plan, such as a 401(k) or an IRA.
  • The 10% early withdrawal penalty will not apply to these withdrawals, and you can repay them as a rollover contribution to an applicable eligible defined contribution plan or IRA.

Next step: Consider taking advantage of this provision if you do not have ample personal savings to fully fund the birth or adoption of a child.

529 funds can now be used to pay down student loan debt, up to $10,000

  • In some cases, families have money remaining in their college savings plans after their student graduates. Now, they can use a 529 savings account to pay up to $10,000 in student debt over the course of the student's lifetime.
  • Under the new law, a 529 plan may also be used to pay for certain apprenticeship programs.

Next step: If your family's 529 plans have money left over after you pay for college expenses, consider using the remaining money to help pay off student loans.

There are other changes that could impact workplace retirement savings plans. The SECURE Act:

  • Encourages retirement saving by raising the cap for auto enrollment contributions in employer-sponsored retirement plans from 10% of pay to 15%. So if your plan at work provides auto enrollment, the amount withheld for your retirement savings could go up every year until you're contributing 15% of your pay to your retirement savings plan.
  • Allows "lifetime income investment" to be distributed from your workplace retirement plan. The retirement income options would be portable. So, if you left your job, you could roll over this lifetime income investment to another 401(k) or IRA.
  • Increases transparency into retirement income with "lifetime income disclosure statements." These statements would show how much money you could potentially receive each month if your total 401(k) balance were used to purchase an annuity. This disclosure would allow you and your financial advisor to better gauge what your potential income would be throughout retirement.
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The LGBTQ Rights We Gained—and Then Lost—This Decade

Posted On: January 05, 2020

As we look at the end of last year and the end of a decade, this article really gives a good perspective and highlights many points with respect to the LGBTQ Community and the rights we have gained and lost over this past decade.  It is definitely a good read and highlights some of the significant things that have happened over this past decade.  It also gives us pause, to know that so many rights have been lost that took so long to obtain.  There is a lot of work ahead of us in the decade to come.

Selected excerpt(s), photo and linked article courtesy of Lisa Needham of Rewire News & Getty Images

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