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February 2012
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How to Help Your Toddler With Custody Transitions

The instability and uncertainty of a divorce can hamper a toddler’s need for routine.  When parents separate, new rituals and routines need to be created to foster a child’s sense of security and family.

Anyone who has had children will remember the terrible twos: the domineering behavior, inflexibility, stubbornness, extreme emotions, indecision, and the need for things to be done just in a certain way.  Characteristic behavior of toddlers is well described by the authors of the classic child development study Child Behavior: The Classic Child Care Manual from the Gessel Institute of Human Development.  A child at two and a half years old gives orders and wants exactly what they want when they want it.  If a toddler decides "Mommy do it" they will not accept Daddy as a substitute. If they decide "me do it" then no-one is allowed to help them no matter how difficult the task.  In Child Behavior the authors describe this phase as one of "disequilibrium" where toddlers find it very difficult to adapt to change, and crave structured domestic routines. These rituals make toddlers feel safe and secure. The rigid sequences of events and rituals can be as elaborate and impenetrable as a Japanese tea ceremony.  

It is important in the context of divorce that a very young child’s inclination toward ritual and routine should not automatically be misinterpreted as a preference for one parent over another.  In fact, divorce is an opportunity for both parents to help the toddler to create new rituals and routines to ease transitions and give the toddler a sense of comfort and stability.

Crankiness, irritability, defiance, signs of regression, clinginess toward one parent, and physical resistance to the other parent are common patterns displayed by toddlers when parents separate.  In their book, In The Name of The Child, Janet Johnston and Vivienne Roseby describe how parents can develop collaborative strategies to ease transitions between parent's households using rituals and routines.  (read more


For more information on child custody please call Law Offices of Warren R. Shiell - Certified Family Law Specialist at (310)247-9913 or visit our website LA Family Law or visit our FAQs on Child Custody

Money and Divorce

Broken_familyHere are 11 ways to protect yourself, when going through an unexpected separation of finances.

1. Yours, Mine and Ours

I can speak from experience when I say, everyone should have a “yours, mine and ours” account when it comes to money. By no means should you hide money or avoid financial responsibility, but each of you should have your own account, plus a joint account.

In the event of a death, sudden accident or divorce, you will still have instant access to your money. This prevents any type of confusion about who gets what (which can happen once lawyers and banks get involved) until everything is sorted out.

2. Update Yourself

If you don’t handle the household finances, now is the time to have a money talk with your spouse, and update yourself. No one likes to be taken for a ride and have an “I didn’t see that coming” moment.

Look over the bank statements, insurance policies and other important financial documents to update yourself. It will make any unexpected situations less stressful if you have control over this part of your life.

3. Stay in Contact with Your Network

Your network of friends, families and co-workers are your best assets right now. They can give you emotional support as well as financial support. They can use their resources to help you find a new place live or a new job.

Keep an updated contact list handy, so you can refer to it quickly. It’s also a good idea to update your resume. During this transitional time in your life, you never know what to expect and it’s important to be prepared.

4. Separate Your Credit and Joint Accounts

Depending on your state’s laws (and if you had a prenup), whatever you acquired during the marriage or partnership is joint property. During the duration of the relationship, many couples take out joint mortgages and car loans. Once you both decide to end things, you need to separate any joint property, like loans or credit cards.

In the case of a mortgage you will likely have to sell the property or refinance it into your partner’s name. You should also check your credit report and remove your significant other from your account. That way, their credit decisions won’t affect you in the future and vice versa.

5. Keep a Paper Trail

Some days, my ex and I were fine talking calmly and sorting through our business, other days we were yelling and threatening. In the event you and your ex can’t discuss anything in a calm fashion, you need to have proof of your decisions.

Sending emails or text messages back and forth, is much better than a verbal agreement. You’ll need a paper trail, in case something bad happens or you’re wrongly accused. This also applies to any transactions with creditors or joint accounts where you are separating your finances.

6. Treat It Like a Business

Whether you’re breaking up with your roommate or going through a divorce, the best way to protect yourself is to treat all your decisions like a business. Stay calm, remove your emotions and try to create a well thought out plan.

7. How to Find Hidden Assets

8. Family Home in Divorce

9. Division of Stock Options

10. Copyright, Divorce Community Property

11. High Net Worth Divorce

Please call Los Angeles divorce lawyer at Law Offices of Warren R. Shiell if you have any questions regarding High Net Worth Divorce in California at (310)247-9913

Orthodox Jews Look to Prenuptial Contracts

A superb article for the New York Times. 


Extract: "During a discussion after “Women Unchained,” Ms. Siegel urged Jewish couples to sign the prenuptial agreement devised 20 years ago by the Beth Din of America, a leading Orthodox religious court Couples who sign the Beth Din of America halakhic prenuptial agreement — “halakhah” means Jewish law — agree to have all religious aspects of their divorce decided by a Jewish court. More important, the husband agrees that if the couple separates, he will pay his wife $150 per day until they are religiously divorced, adjustable for inflation. In other words, he will support his wife until he gives her a get.There are many versions of the religious prenuptial agreement, but the one promoted by the Beth Din of America, which is based in New York, seems most widely used. Asked how many couples sign the agreement, Rabbi Shlomo Weissmann, the court’s director, said not enough.n 2006, the Rabbinical Council of America, a separate organization affiliated with the Beth Din of America, passed a resolution encouraging rabbis not to perform a wedding without a halakhic prenuptial agreement. About two years ago, Rabbi Weissmann said, a Beth Din of America survey found that about 70 percent of its affiliated rabbis required or encouraged couples to use the document.There certainly are segments of the Orthodox Jewish community that have not embraced it,” Rabbi Weissmann said. “When we talk about wedding practices, these are ancient and sacred practices, and when you start tinkering with them, people start getting nervous.”

In Age of Dual Incomes, Alimony Payers Prod States to Update Laws

IStock_000000532394XSmallpayingbillsMIAMI — In the waning days of this year’s legislative session, Florida lawmakers and advocacy groups are pushing to overhaul the state’s alimony law in a bid to better reflect today’s marriages and make the system less burdensome for the alimony payer. 

Florida joins a grass-roots movement in a growing number of states that seeks to rewrite alimony laws by curbing lifelong alimony and alleviating the financial distress that some payers — still mostly men — say they face. The activists say the laws in several states, including Florida, unfairly favor women and do not take into account the fact that a majority of women work and nearly a third have college degrees.

Read more in New York Times

More on Spousal Support on our website.

For more information visist our Los Angeles divorce attorney website or our LA Divorce blog