Divorces Rise as Economy Improves

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Recent Spike in Divorce Filings Tied to Economy

Like everything else, divorce statistics are cyclic. With the U.S. economy reportedly on an upswing after a six-year recession, couples continually unable to resolve financial problems are deciding to call it quits. The federal government’s National Center for Health Statistics reports a rise in divorce filings for the third year, reportedly signaling a recovery of the ‘great recession,’ which reportedly hit rock bottom in 2008. Finances are frequently one of the most common stressors in many relationships. Marriage further complicates many ‘financial issues’ faced daily if the couple is out of sync in their views and practices of  personal finance. While one partner in the marriage may be frugal with money, a partner who is reckless with finances could instigate financial woes that the couple must resolve together. If weathering the debt storm as a couple becomes impossible, the next step might be dissolution.

Many options are available for divorcing couples when both parties wish to remain amicable. Couples who are not able to end the marriage amicably will need a ‘traditional divorce,’ requiring an attorney who will fight their battle before a judge to protect their marital interests. Using a board-certified family law specialist to represent a party in the process allows for informed decisions about the dissolution process and settlement. Simple divorces can be complicated for litigants representing themselves. Because of this, many do-it-yourself cases languish in the court system for years.

Cooperative and Non-Traditional Divorce

Rent-A-Judge, Mediation, Collaborative are all non-traditional paths to divorce many couples take when they are agreeable to ending the marital contract. Divorce can affect the quality of a person’s  lifestyle for the rest of his/her life. So whatever method is chosen, it is necessary to be informed of the options and how they work.

Rent-A-Judge

Private judging, known as “Rent-a-Judge,” involves a private process in which divorcing parties give a private individual the power to hear and decide their case. Private judges are an ideal alternative for wealthy couples who want their dissolution settled privately, quickly and amicably.

Mediation

Mediation is used to settle disputes as well as divorce while remaining flexible and confidential. With mediation, a neutral third party works with the couple to develop a settlement agreement. The neutral third party is known as the mediator. The mediator assists the couple in their decision making process. Mediators help keep the couple focused on the issues at hand while keeping them on track toward a settlement. Sometimes agreements come easy and sometimes they take time and a lot of work. When agreements are hard to reach, it’s the mediator’s job to intervene. Mediation has the ability to help the couple learn to communicate again and possibly make their post-divorce relationship better than their married one.

Collaborative Dissolution

Collaborative divorce was designed to resolve conflicts in a mutually agreed-upon process. Rather than turning the decision-making power over to a judge or other third party, control of the dissolution process is kept with the people directly involved in the marriage. Clients and their individual attorneys are at the heart of helping explore solutions for planning into the future. If children’s issues are part of the marital dispute, their needs are always placed first. Through the collaborative process documents are drawn up consensually and a settlement agreement is not signed until both parties are comfortable with the final agreement. The respective lawyers are disqualified from representing either party in any future family related litigation if the collaborative process fails.

When Divorce Requires Hiring An Attorney

If your situation requires the expertise of an attorney, remember that you must be prepared to share intimate details about your marriage, finances and personal life.  A big complaint about family court is that the process is too complicated and there are too many time consuming forms and procedures. Organizing your personal finances and important documents in chronological order will assist your legal team to help keep your finances intact and your legal fees down. Do not confuse your attorney with your therapist. When calling your attorney the time clock is ticking whether you have an actual legal question or if it’s just to complain about your spouse.

Your attorney should share your views and philosophy on divorce, especially if it is your intent to keep things cooperative and non-adversarial. If you make sure your lawyer understands you want an amicable divorce upfront, that’s what you will get from a board-certified family law specialist.

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CENTRAL BANKS/GOVERNMENT BATTLE FAMILY FOR PURCHASING POWER

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To understand finances in any meaningful way – where one might actually be able to help his or her family survive the oncoming financial collapse – one must at least be aware of how central banks play with our purchasing power, and how that relates to interest rates and gold.  To help shed some light on this financial shadow, James Turk, writing for Goldmoney, alerts us to a financial indicator called backwardation. According to Turk, there are two types of backwardation, money backwardation and commodity backwardation, and he iterates that “both apply to gold.”  He explains that backwardation (and something called contango) are “a mathematical result that reflects the cost of money as measured by the interest rates of one (national) currency relative to another.”  Okay, and…uh…what exactly does that have to do with the price of milk in Ventura? Turk goes on to explain that interest rates are set to reflect the risk that the currency might be debased through governmental and central bank policy.  In other words, we, the consumers, who presumably are the “market”, would lose our purchasing power due to central bank manipulations that could thwart “real and accurate price discovery” in the marketplace.  Hmmm, now why would a central bank like our Federal Reserve debase the value of our hard earned dollars to make it so we had less purchasing power? In 2008, Chris Powell of GATA.org asserted that, “There are no markets anymore, just interventions.”  Which means that the interest rates we deal with today that affect our purchasing power are not so much a reflection of true market conditions, but result from “heavy-handed central bank manipulations” that Turk says thwart “real and accurate price discovery by the market.” But Turk also emphasizes that central banks can only push so far (a limitation he calls “pushing on a string”) before market forces begin to push back.  Central banks in countries such as South Africa or India, whose interest rates tend to remain relatively high as compared to other currencies due to the fact they have a greater risk of being debased by government and central bank mismanagement, might then lower their own interest rates.  This would cause holders of the rupee and rand to sell the currency, which in turn would cause the exchange rate to drop.  This is because the risk of holding those currencies at lower interest rates would be perceived as being too great compared to other less risky investment opportunities for one to place their liquid capital (money). So, it appears there are limits as to how much damage “central bank intervention” can actually cause our families, or what it might be able to accomplish.  And based on what Turk says, this is because the people of the world, who we call the “market”, act as a “guardian that carefully watches central bank tinkering and responds to it by moving their money around to better suit their risk preferences.” But what if we don’t have any money to move around to better suit our risk preferences with?  We’ll try to figure this out.  And more.  As this discussion about family finances, central banks, interest rates, and gold continues…

CALIFORNIA FAMILY LAW PROCEDURE AFFECTED BY NEW LAW

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Another important bit of recent legislation that has affected family law in California is AB 1067.  This 2011 bill slightly alters procedural aspects regarding civil law in general.  Specifically, it amends California Code of Civil Procedure §1008 to provide that an order denying a motion for reconsideration is not separately appealable, but if the order that was the subject of the reconsideration motion is appealable, the denial of that motion is reviewable as part of an appeal from that order.

Under the old law, when an application for an order has been made to a judge, or to a court, and refused in whole or in part, or granted, or granted conditionally, or on terms, any party affected by the order may, within 10 days after service on the party of written notice of entry of the order and based on new or different facts, circumstances, or law, apply to the same judge or court that made the order, to reconsider the matter and modify, amend, or revoke the prior order.

Now, under AB 1067, an order denying a motion for reconsideration made pursuant to the above provision is not separately appealable.  However, if the order that was the subject of the motion for reconsideration is appealable, the denial of the motion for reconsideration is reviewable as part of an appeal from that order.