Category Archives: Law

The Current State of Divorce in the U.S.

This article is brought to you by Yelman & Associates. If  you need a divorce lawyer in San Diego contact Yelman & Associates.
A divorce is the legal act that dissolves a marriage. Research gained by the Center for Disease Control and the National Survey of Family Growth, as well as information retrieved through the United States Census Bureau has led to interesting findings about the current state of divorce in the U.S.

Data shows that marriage rates are at an all-time low, and that people are waiting longer to marry for the first time. Divorce rates have also been dropping during the last few decades. By 2010 it was found that marriages in this century have lasted longer in comparison to marriages in the 1990’s, and experts project that both marriage and divorce rates will continue to drop due to the growing popularity of cohabitation.

Because the Census Bureau performs survey studies only every ten years, their most current data dates from 2009, when more than two million weddings were performed and the divorce rate was 6.8 per 1,000. From 1999 to 2009 there were 19.1 marriages per 1,000 men and 17.6 marriages per 1,000 women in the U.S. During the same time frame divorces were finalized for 9.2 of every 1,000 men and 9.7 of every 1,000 women. It was also found that northeastern states have the lowest divorce rates, and southern states have the highest.

The largest correlational element that leads to divorce is poverty and financial stress. Marriages whose household income is below the median have a greater tendency of ending in divorce. States with a lower base working-class compensation than surrounding states typically have higher divorce rates. Infidelity and young marriages are secondary factors in high divorce rates.

The amount of first, second and third marriages that end in divorce differ significantly. The divorce rate for first marriages is between 40 and 50 percent, the probability of divorce in a second marriage is 60 to 67 percent and third marriage divorces account for a staggering 73 to 74 percent. The amount of people who reach their 25th, 35th and 50th wedding anniversaries are 33, 20 and 5 percent respectively.

The process of a divorce begins when one spouse files a complaint or petition with the court to request a divorce. The court will then schedule a time for an initial hearing at which a judge will review the complaint, answer documents, interview the couple and make temporary decisions that govern the state of the couple’s relationship – this may include information about child custody and child support if any children are involved. After the initial hearing a waiting period will be required before the divorce can be finalized. The waiting period varies, depending on what state in which the divorce is taking place. During this time the couple may negotiate the terms of their divorce, such as division of property and assets. If those terms can not be agreed upon the couple may go through arbitration or mediation.

Finally, if the couple still is unable to see eye to eye, separate lawyers will become necessary to fight for what each spouse believes they are entitled to. A judge will then oversee a final hearing to approve any negotiated settlements, or to impose a settlement. Although an amicable and emotionally healthy divorce is generally the goal, total understanding and agreement in divorce cases is rare. It is therefore highly important that anyone going through a divorce who has any unresolved issues seek the advise of a qualified divorce attorney.


Governor Brown vetoes California Bill that would allow more than two legal parents

Senate Bill 1476 proposed by State Senator Mark Leno would have allowed a child to have more than two legal parents if “required in the best interests of the child.” It would award a previous custodial or biological parent legal parental rights to care for the child if the two legal parents become incapable.

California Governor Jerry Brown assured in his veto announcement on Sunday that he appreciates the intent of the bill and expressed his concern about the well-being of any child that the bill would affect, however he is “troubled by the fact that some family law specialists believe the bill’s ambiguities may have unintended consequences.”

Senator Leno explained that the bill would not change the definition of a parent in California. A parent would remain a biological mother or father, adoptive or legal foster parent, legal guardian, stepparent and grandparent. The bill would only eliminate the current limit of two parents per child.

The bill was created to satisfy 21st century lifestyles and families that are not necessarily “nuclear.” The bill could potentially benefit same-sex marriages or parents, surrogates, in-vitro fertilization, domestic partnerships, stepparents and other technological and societal changes that create new possibilities and nontraditional households.

The basis of the bill, which is co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the University of San Diego School of Law Children’s Advocacy Institute, is a May 2011 case in which the biological parent of the child of a same-sex lesbian couple sought custody when the couple was no longer able to care for their child. He was not granted custody, and the child was going to have to go into foster care until the grandparents were eventually awarded custody.

Opponents of the bill argued that it would lead to an increase in court cases in an already overcrowded court system, and harm traditional parental roles that could allow children to have a limitless number of parents. They also called attention to the fact that the bill does not consider problems with tax deductions, social security, inheritance and probate, wrongful death and education benefits. A major financial issue that the bill would cause the state to face is that of determining child support. This process would cost an estimated $6.4 million according to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Similar laws in the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maine, Louisiana and Pennsylvania have taken off successfully, however Governor Brown urges proponents to go back and work on the bill to prevent unintended consequences before California can be included in the list.

Alimony, Palimony, and Child Support - Explained

Alimony, or “spousal support” as some states refer to it, is money that is paid by one ex-spouse to the other as ordered by a court in a divorce case. Traditionally the recipient of alimony is the female spouse; however there are cases in which prosperous women pay alimony to the male spouse, and more recently same-sex cases in which the wealthier partner must pay.

Alimony exists to cover any potentially unjust division of assets. It is based on the notion that both partners in a marriage have a duty to support each other equally; this includes finances, upkeep of the home, and any other domestic duties (excluding sexual favors) a partner may have.  Tampa divorce attorney Scott P. Davis explains that “the courts balance one spouse’s financial needs with the other’s capacity to pay.”

Though there are guidelines and formulas for courts to follow, no two alimony cases are the same. Many factors must be considered when calculating alimony payments, such as the level of domestic responsibility the recipient has taken, any financial burden that they may have suffered in the past in order to benefit their spouse, the health of the parties and the duration of the marriage. If the marriage was long-lasting, it is likely that alimony will last until a second marriage or death. There are, however, exceptions; for example, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah have placed new caps on time limits of alimony and have instilled new criteria on payments. Massachusetts is the most recent state to alter its alimony laws; the state passed a controversial reform in 2011 that abolished most lifetime spousal support.

Derived from alimony is a more recent term, informally called palimony. Legally referred to as a “Marvin action” based on the unsuccessful first palimony court case, it is a court-ordered financial settlement between a couple that although never married, cohabited for a significant amount of time. Couples choose to stay together and remain unmarried for a myriad of reasons; they may feel that their relationship is valid without having to obtain a piece of paper, the couple may fear divorce, and same-sex couples are widely unable to marry. As lengthy cohabitation without marriage becomes more popular, so do palimony suits. However, although such cases are rising in popularity they are not getting any easier to prove or win and palimony laws are only enforced in 24 of 50 states. For palimony to exist between a couple there must be proof that one partner promised to provide financial support for the other through a written or oral contract. Misunderstandings between parties about certain duties that they had in their cohabited relationship can lead to a palimony suit.

Often confused with alimony is child support. Child support is the financial obligation that a parent has to his or her child’s custodial parent to be used to care for the child. Unlike alimony, child support payments are not to be used for the ex-partner. The monetary compensation is to serve the purpose of purchasing food, clothing, health care, entertainment, education and any other expenses for the child. Child support payments represent on average, 40 percent of income for poor custodial families who receive it. The amount of money to be paid under each state’s individual child support laws varies, but is fundamentally based on two factors: the cost of raising the child and the gross income of the non-custodial parent. All states operate a child support enforcement program. Services offered in child support programs include locating noncustodial parents, establishing paternity, establishing and modifying support orders, collecting support payments and enforcing child support orders, and referring noncustodial parents to employment services. Although child support can be voluntarily paid, a court-ordered financial agreement works to ensure that the non-custodial parent will pay a required amount.  

Marriage Drives Women to Drink

Marriage drives women to drink. According to a recent study, married women drink more than their single counterparts because they are influenced by their husband’s drinking habits. The study found that, as a whole, men drink more than women and, as they spend more time with their husbands, women begin to drink more as well. Conversely, the study showed that married men drink significantly less than single men, as they spend less time with their drinking buddies and more time with their wives.

In the past, there have been numerous studies into the relationship between drinking, gender, and marital status. The new study, however, looked at all the different types of single people including divorced, widowed, and never married. Conducted by sociologists from numerous U.S universities, the study surveyed 5,305 men and women from Wisconsin (so, according to the study, 100 percent of men and women are also Packers fans).

Despite the rise in female drinking, the data showed that married people, on average, drink less than single people.

The most at risk group, however, is recently divorced men, who are more likely to cope with emotional pain in external ways. Divorced women generally see a sharp decline in their drinking.