Why is January is the most popular month for divorce

After surviving the holidays, many people are preparing to serve their spouse with divorce papers — and, as one expert notes, that can be a good thing for some households. January typically has a surge in divorce filings as people look for a fresh start on their life. Divorce filings surge in January as people decide to start their New Year with a clean slate, helped by a stressful holiday period and, perhaps, even more stressful in-laws, experts say, with family lawyers reporting a rise of nearly one-third in business in the New Year Read More


The Cost of Divorce varies according to which State you live in with California coming out the most expensive. What a surprise. Read

• Avg. cost of divorce without children: $17,500 (the highest)
• Avg. cost of divorce with children: $26,300 (the highest)
• Avg. divorce filing fee: $435
• Cost of living: 14.8% greater than the national average
• Median household income: $75,277 (6th highest)
• Divorced population: 9.2% (5th lowest)

• Avg. cost of divorce without children: $8,400 (the lowest)
• Avg. cost of divorce with children: $12,600 (2nd lowest)
• Avg. divorce filing fee: $225 - $250
• Cost of living: 5.4% less than the national average
• Median household income: $55,328 (13th lowest)
• Divorced population: 12.4% (12th highest)


The Adultery Arms Race: Atlantic Monthly

The Adultery Arms Race: Read Article

Technology has made cheating on your spouse, or catching a cheater, easier than ever. How digital tools are aiding the unfaithful and the untrusting—and may be mending some broken marriages.

                                All illustrations by Kristian Hammerstad           

Jay’s wife, Ann, was supposed to be out of town on business. It was a Tuesday evening in August 2013, and Jay, a 36-year-old IT manager, was at home in Indiana with their 5-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son when he made a jarring discovery. Their daughter had misplaced her iPad, so Jay used the app Find My iPhone to search for it. The app found the missing tablet right away, but it also located all the other devices on the family’s plan. What was Ann’s phone doing at a hotel five miles from their home?

His suspicions raised, Jay, who knew Ann’s passwords, read through her e-mails and Facebook messages. (Like others in this story, Jay asked that his and Ann’s names be changed.) He didn’t find anything incriminating, but neither could he imagine a good reason for Ann to be at that hotel. So Jay started using Find My iPhone for an altogether different purpose: to monitor his wife’s whereabouts.

Two nights later, when Ann said she was working late, Jay tracked her phone to the same spot. This time, he drove to the hotel, called her down to the parking lot, and demanded to know what was going on. Ann told him she was there posing for boudoir photos, with which she planned to surprise him for his upcoming birthday. She said the photographer was up in the room waiting for her.

Jay wanted to believe Ann. They’d been married for 12 years, and she had never given him cause to distrust her. So instead of demanding to meet the photographer or storming up to the room, Jay got in his car and drove home.

Still, something gnawed at him. According to Ann’s e-mails, the boudoir photo shoot had indeed taken place—but on the previous day, Wednesday. So her being at the hotel on Tuesday and again on Thursday didn’t make sense. Unless …

In an earlier era, a suspicious husband like Jay might have rifled through Ann’s pockets or hired a private investigator. But having stumbled upon Find My iPhone’s utility as a surveillance tool, Jay wondered what other apps might help him keep tabs on his wife. He didn’t have to look far. Spouses now have easy access to an array of sophisticated spy software that would give Edward Snowden night sweats: programs that record every keystroke; that compile detailed logs of our calls, texts, and video chats; that track a phone’s location in real time; that recover deleted messages from all manner of devices (without having to touch said devices); that turn phones into wiretapping equipment; and on and on.

Jay spent a few days researching surveillance tools before buying a program called Dr. Fone, which enabled him to remotely recover text messages from Ann’s phone. Late one night, he downloaded her texts onto his work laptop. He spent the next day reading through them at the office. Turns out, his wife had become involved with a co-worker. There were thousands of text messages between them, many X‑rated—an excruciatingly detailed record of Ann’s betrayal laid out on Jay’s computer screen. “I could literally watch her affair progress,” Jay told me, “and that in itself was painful.”

One might assume that the proliferation of such spyware would have a chilling effect on extramarital activities. Aspiring cheaters, however, need not despair: software developers are also rolling out ever stealthier technology to help people conceal their affairs. Married folk who enjoy a little side action can choose from such specialized tools as Vaulty Stocks, which hides photos and videos inside a virtual vault within one’s phone that’s disguised to look like a stock-market app, and Nosy Trap, which displays a fake iPhone home screen and takes a picture of anyone who tries to snoop on the phone. CATE (the Call and Text Eraser) hides texts and calls from certain contacts and boasts tricky features such as the ability to “quick clean” incriminating evidence by shaking your smartphone. CoverMe does much of the above, plus offers “military-grade encrypted phone calls.” And in the event of an emergency, there’s the nuclear option: apps that let users remotely wipe a phone completely clean, removing all traces of infidelity.

But every new app that promises to make playing around safer and easier just increases the appetite for a cleverer way to expose such deception. Some products even court both sides: a partner at CATE walked me through how a wife could install the app on her husband’s phone to create a secret record of calls and texts to be perused at her leisure. Which may be great from a market-demand standpoint, but is probably not so healthy for the broader culture, as an accelerating spiral of paranoia drives an arms race of infidelity-themed weapons aimed straight at the consumer’s heart.


Every tech trend has its early adopters. Justin, a 30-year-old computer programmer from Ohio, is at the vanguard of this one.

Justin first discovered CATE on the September 21, 2012, episode of Shark Tank, ABC’s venture-capital reality show. The Call and Text Eraser, pitched specifically as a “cheating app,” won $70,000 in seed money on the program. Justin knew he had to have it.

His girlfriend at the time—we’ll call her Scarlett—was “the jealous type,” forever poking through his smartphone and computer. Not that he could blame her, given that she’d already busted him once for having sex with another woman. “It took a lot of talking and a lot of promising that it wouldn’t happen again,” he told me over e-mail. (I found Justin through a user review of CATE.) “So her wanting to check up on me was understandable,” he allowed. “But at the same time, it was my business and if I wanted to share I would have.”

Even a not-so-jealous girlfriend might have taken exception to many of the messages on Justin’s phone: “casual texting” (that is, flirting) with other women, “hard core” (explicitly sexual) texting, texts arranging “hookups.” In the past, he’d been busted repeatedly for such communiqués. (Scarlett is not the only girlfriend with whom Justin has found monogamy to be a challenge.) With CATE, all Justin had to do was create a list of contacts he didn’t want Scarlett to know about, and any incriminating texts and phone calls with those contacts got channeled directly into a pass-code-protected vault.

CATE is just one of many tools Justin uses to, as he puts it, “stay one step ahead.” His go-to method for exchanging explicit photos is Snapchat, the popular app that causes pics and videos to self-destruct seconds after they are received. (Of course, as savvy users know, expired “snaps” aren’t really deleted, but merely hidden in the bowels of the recipient’s phone, so Justin periodically goes in and permanently scrubs them.) And for visuals so appealing that he cannot bear to see them vanish into the ether, he has Gallery Lock, which secretes pics and videos inside a private “gallery” within his phone.

Justin wound up cheating on Scarlett “several more times” before they finally broke up—a pattern he’s repeated with other girlfriends. Oh, sure, he enjoys the social and domestic comforts of a relationship (“It’s always nice to have someone to call your girl”). He understands the suffering that infidelity can cause (“I have been cheated on so I know how much it hurts”). He even feels guilty about playing around. But for him, the adrenaline kick is irresistible. “Not to mention,” he adds, “no woman is the same [and] there is always going to be someone out there who can do something sexually that you have never tried.” Then, of course, there’s “the thrill of never knowing if you are going to get caught.”

All of which makes it more than a little troubling that, while laboring to keep one semiserious girlfriend after another in the dark with privacy-enhancing apps, Justin has been equally aggressive about using spy apps to keep a virtual eye on said girlfriends.

Therapists say they’re seeing more spouses casually tracking each other, and lawyers are starting to recommend digital-privacy clauses for prenup and postnup agreements.

Justin has tried it all: keystroke loggers, phone trackers, software enabling him to “see text messages, pictures, and all the juicy stuff … even the folder to where your deleted stuff would go.” He figures he’s tried nearly every spy and cheater app on the market, and estimates that since 2007, he has “kept tabs,” serially, on at least half a dozen girlfriends. “The monitoring is really just for my peace of mind,” he says. Plus, if he catches a girlfriend straying, “it kind of balances it out and makes it fair.” That way, he explains, if she ever busts him, “I have proof she was cheating so therefore she would have no reason to be mad.”

Not that Justin is immune to the occasional flash of jealousy. More than once, he has gone out to confront a girlfriend whose phone revealed her to be somewhere other than where she’d claimed to be. One relationship ended with particularly dramatic flair: “The phone went to the location off of a country road in the middle of nowhere and there she was having sex in the backseat of the car with another man.” A fistfight ensued (with the guy, not the girlfriend), followed later by “breakup sex” (vice versa). One year on, Justin says, “I still don’t believe that she has figured out how I found out.”

Justin knows that many folks may find his playing both sides of the cheating-apps divide “twisted.” But, he reasons, “I am doing it for my safety to make sure I don’t get hurt. So doesn’t that make it right??”

Right or wrong, cheating apps tap into a potentially lucrative market: While the national infidelity rate is hard to pin down (because, well, people lie), reputable research puts the proportion of unfaithful spouses at about 15 percent of women and 20 percent of men—with the gender gap closing fast. And while the roots of infidelity remain more or less constant (the desire for novelty, attention, affirmation, a lover with tighter glutes … ), technology is radically altering how we enter into, conduct, and even define it. (The affairs in this piece all involved old-school, off-line sex, but there is a growing body of research on the devastation wrought by the proliferation of online-only betrayal.) Researchers regard the Internet as fertile ground for female infidelity in particular. “Men tend to cheat for physical reasons and women for emotional reasons,” says Katherine Hertlein, who studies the impact of technology on relationships as the director of the Marriage and Therapy Program at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. “The Internet facilitates a lot of emotional disclosure and connections with someone else.”

At the same time, privacy has become a rare commodity. Forget the National Security Agency and Russian mobsters: in a recent survey conducted in the United Kingdom, 62 percent of men in relationships admitted to poking around in a current or ex-partner’s mobile phone. (Interestingly, among women, the proportion was only 34 percent. So much for the stereotype of straying guys versus prying gals.) On the flip side, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, 14 percent of adults have taken steps to hide their online activity from a family member or romantic partner. Therapists say they’re seeing more spouses casually tracking each other as well as more clashes over online spying, and lawyers are starting to recommend digital-privacy clauses for prenup and postnup agreements. Such clauses aim to prevent spouses from using personal texts, e‑mails, or photos against each other should they wind up in divorce court.

Tech developers by and large didn’t set out looking to get involved. As is so often the case with infidelity, it just sort of happened. Take Find My iPhone. Apple did not create the app with suspicious lovers in mind, but users pretty quickly realized its potential. Dr. Fone is marketed primarily as a way to recover lost data. Likewise, messaging apps such as Snapchat have many more uses than concealing naughty talk or naked photos, but the apps are a hit with cheaters.


The multipurpose nature and off-label use of many tools make it difficult to gauge the size of this vast and varied market. The company mSpy offers one of the top-rated programs for monitoring smartphones and computers; 2 million subscribers pay between $20 and $70 a month for the ability to do everything from review browsing history to listen in on phone calls to track a device’s whereabouts. Some 40 percent of customers are parents looking to monitor their kids, according to Andrew Lobanoff, the head of sales at mSpy, who says the company does basic consumer research to see who its customers are and what features they want added. Another 10 to 15 percent are small businesses monitoring employees’ use of company devices (another growing trend). The remaining 45 to 50 percent? They could be up to anything.

Apps marketed specifically as tools for cheaters and jealous spouses for the most part aren’t seeing the download numbers of a heavy hitter like, say, Grindr, the hookup app for gay men (10 million downloads and more than 5 million monthly users). But plenty have piqued consumer interest: The private-texting-and-calling app CoverMe has more than 2 million users. TigerText, which (among other features) causes messages to self-destruct after a set amount of time, has been downloaded 3.5 million times since its introduction in February 2010. (It hit the market a couple of months after the Tiger Woods sexting scandal, though the company maintains that the app is not named for Woods.)

Once the marketplace identifies a revenue stream, of course, the water has been chummed and everyone rushes in for a taste. By now, new offerings are constantly popping up from purveyors large and small. Ashley Madison, the online-dating giant for married people (company slogan: “Life is short. Have an affair.”), has a mobile app that provides some 30 million members “on the go” access to its services. Last year, the company introduced an add-on app called BlackBook, which allows users to purchase disposable phone numbers with which to conduct their illicit business. Calls and texts are placed through the app much as they are through Skype, explains the company’s chief operating officer, Rizwan Jiwan. “One of the leading ways people get caught in affairs is by their cellphone bill,” he observes. But with the disposable numbers, all calls are routed through a user’s Ashley Madison account, which appears on his or her credit-card statements under a series of business aliases. “The phone number isn’t tied to you in any way.”

Both sides of the arms race have ego invested in not getting outgunned. Stressing Ashley Madison’s obsession with customer privacy, Jiwan boasts that the shift from computers to mobile devices makes it harder for members to get busted. “It’s much more difficult to get spyware on phones,” he told me. But mSpy’s Lobanoff pushed back: “All applications can be monitored. Let me make it clear for you. If you provide us what application you would like to track, within two weeks we can develop a feature to do that.” It all boils down to demand. For instance, he notes, after receiving some 300 calls from customers looking to monitor Snapchat, the company rolled out just such a feature.

Lobanoff admits that iPhones are tougher to monitor than phones from other brands, because Apple is strict about what runs on its operating system (although many Apple users “jailbreak” their devices, removing such limits). Which raises the question: Is an iPhone a good investment for cheaters worried about being monitored—or would it too tightly restrict their access to cheating apps? Such are the complexities of modern infidelity.

Of course, no app can remove all risk of getting caught. Technology can, in fact, generate a false sense of security that leads people to push limits or get sloppy. Justin has had several close calls, using CATE to conceal indiscreet texts and voicemails but forgetting to hide explicit photos. When a girlfriend found a naked picture of him that he’d failed to delete after sexting another woman, Justin had to think fast. “The way I talk my way out of it is that I say I was going to send it to her.” Then, of course, there is the peril of creeping obsolescence: after several months, regular upgrades to the operating system on Justin’s phone outpaced CATE’s, and more and more private messages began to slip through the cracks. (A scan of user reviews suggests this is a common problem.)

Virtual surveillance has its risks as well. Stumbling across an incriminating e‑mail your partner left open is one thing; premeditated spying can land you in court—or worse. Sometime in 2008 or 2009, a Minnesota man named Danny Lee Hormann, suspecting his wife of infidelity, installed a GPS tracker on her car and allegedly downloaded spyware onto her phone and the family computer. His now-ex-wife, Michele Mathias (who denied having an affair), began wondering how her husband always knew what she was up to. In March 2010, Mathias had a mechanic search her car. The tracker was found. Mathias called the police, and Hormann spent a month in jail on stalking charges. (It’s worth noting that a second conviction, specifically for illegally tracking her car, was overturned on appeal when the judge ruled that joint ownership gave Hormann the right to install the GPS tracker.)

Staying on the right side of the law is trickier than one might imagine. There are a few absolute no-nos. At the top of the list: never install software on a device that you do not own without first obtaining the user’s consent. Software sellers are careful to shift the legal burden onto consumers. On its site, mSpy warns that misuse of the software “may result in severe monetary and criminal penalties.” Similarly, SpyBubble, which offers cellphone-tracking software, reminds its customers of their duty to “notify users of the device that they are being monitored.” Even so, questions of ownership and privacy get messy between married partners, and the landscape remains in flux as courts struggle to apply old laws to new technology.

In 2010, a Texas man named Larry Bagley was acquitted of charges that he violated federal wiretapping laws by installing audio-recording devices around his house and keystroke-monitoring software on his then-wife’s computer. In his ruling, the district judge pointed to a split opinion among U.S. circuit courts as to whether the federal law applies to “interspousal wiretaps.” (The Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts said it does, he noted; the Second and Fifth said it doesn’t.) Similarly, in California, Virginia, Texas, Minnesota, and as of this summer New York, it is a misdemeanor to install a GPS tracker on someone’s vehicle without their consent. But when a vehicle is jointly owned, things get fuzzy.

“I always tell people two things: (1) do it legally, and (2) do it right,” says John Paul Lucich, a computer-forensics expert and the author of Cyber Lies, a do-it-yourself guide for spouses looking to become virtual sleuths. Lucich has worked his share of ugly divorces, and he stresses that even the most damning digital evidence of infidelity will prove worthless in court—and potentially land you in trouble—if improperly gathered. His blanket advice: Get a really good lawyer. Stat.


Such apps clearly have the potential to blow up relationships, but the question now may be whether they can be used to salvage them as well. Many of the betrayed partners I spoke with believe they can.

A couple of years ago, Ginger discovered that her husband, Tim, was having an affair with a woman he’d met through a nonprofit on whose board he sat. (As Ginger tells it, this was a classic case of a middle-aged man having his head turned by a much younger woman.) The affair lasted less than a year, but it took another eight months before Tim’s lover stopped sending him gifts and showing up in awkward places (even church!).

Ginger and Tim decided to tough it out—they’ve been married for 35 years and have two adult children—but that took some doing. For the first year and a half, certain things Tim did or said would trigger Ginger’s anxiety. He would announce that he was going to the store; Ginger would fire up her tracking software to ensure he did just that. Business travel called for even more elaborate reassurances. “When he was away, I would be like, ‘I want you to FaceTime the whole room—the bathroom, the closet; open the hallway door.’ ”

Ginger’s anxiety has dimmed, but not vanished. She still occasionally uses Find My iPhone to make sure Tim is, in fact, staying late at the office. “And we use FaceTime all the time. He knows that if I try to FaceTime him, he’d better answer right then or have a very, very good reason why he didn’t.”

Jay and Ann, of the boudoir photo shoot, also decided to try to repair their marriage. When he first confronted her with a record of her texts, Ann denied that the sex talk was ever more than fantasy. But when Jay scheduled a polygraph, she confessed to a full-blown, physical affair.

As hard as it has been for Jay, one year later he reports that tech tools are helping. Ann’s affair grew out of her sense of neglect, Jay told me: “She wasn’t getting the attention she wanted from me, so she found someone else to give it to her.” To strengthen their bond, Jay and Ann have started using Couple, a relationship app geared toward promoting intimacy by setting up a private line of communication for texts, pics, video clips, and, of course, updates on each person’s whereabouts. Every now and again, Jay sneaks a peek at Find My iPhone. He also has set his iPad to receive copies of Ann’s texts. “I don’t know if she realizes I’m doing that,” he told me. But in general, she understands his desire for extra oversight. “She’s like, ‘Whatever you want.’ ”

In fact, post-affair surveillance seems to be an increasingly popular counseling prescription. Even as marriage and family therapists take a dim view of unprovoked snooping, once the scent of infidelity is in the air, many become enthusiastically pro-snooping—initially to help uncover the truth about a partner’s behavior but then to help couples reconcile by reestablishing accountability and trust. The psychotherapist and syndicated columnist Barton Goldsmith says he often advocates virtual monitoring in the aftermath of an affair. Even if a spouse never exercises the option of checking up, having it makes him or her feel more secure. “It’s like a digital leash.”

Once the scent of infidelity is in the air, many therapists encourage snooping—to help uncover the truth, but also to reestablish accountability and trust in couples looking to reconcile.

And that can be a powerful deterrent, says Frank, whose wife of 37 years learned of his fondness for hookers last February, after he forgot to close an e‑mail exchange with an escort. “He had set up a Gmail account I had no idea he had,” Carol, his wife, told me. Frank tried to convince her that the e-mails were just spam, even after she pointed out that the exchange included his cell number and photos of him.

Frank agreed to marriage counseling and enrolled in a 12-step program for sexual addiction. Carol now tracks his phone and regularly checks messages on both his phone and his computer. Still, she told me sadly, “I don’t think that I’m ever going to get the whole story. I believe he thinks that if I know everything, the marriage will come to an end.”

For his part, Frank—who comes across as a gruff, traditional sort of guy, uneasy sharing his feelings even with his wife—calls Carol’s discovery of his betrayal “excruciating,” but he mostly seems angry at the oversexed culture that he feels landed him in this mess. He grumbles about how “the ease and the accessibility and the anonymity of the Internet” made it “entirely too easy” for him to feed his addiction.

Frank has clearly absorbed some of the language and lessons of therapy. “As well as it is a learned behavior to act out, it is a learned behavior not to,” he told me. He doesn’t much like his wife’s having total access to his phone, but he claims that his sole concern is for the privacy of others in his 12-step group, who text one another for support. Frank himself clearly feels the tug of his digital leash. “Now that she checks my phone and computer, I have a deterrent.”

Even as he calls virtual surveillance “a powerful tool,” though, Frank also declares it a limited one. No matter how clever the technology becomes, there will always be work-arounds. For someone looking to stray, “absolutely nothing is going to stop it,” says Frank, emphatically. “Nothing.”

Los Angeles Divorce

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

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


Nagging, Divorce, Witchraft & the Lottery


            Last weekend, I finally embarked on the monumental task of cleaning out the garage, one of the many pending "requests" from my beloved a.k.a my weekend shift manager. To be fair, it was a reasonable request and it was long overdue.  After a couple of hours, while I was on a break, I came across the following article from the Wall Street Journal with the title, "Meet the Marriage Killer" by Elizabeth Bernstein." The piece was about how nagging by wives was as potent a cause of divorce as adultery. It defined nagging as the interaction in which one person repeatedly makes a request and the other person repeatedly ignores it and both become increasingly annoyed. Some people I know, might characterize this as the definition of marriage?  At first blush, it sounded like something you might read in the Onion. The article went on to say, "Nagging can become a prime contributor to divorce when couples start fighting about the nagging rather than talking about the issue at the root of the nagging, says Howard Markman, professor of psychology at the University of Denver and co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies."  The same expert also published research in the Journal of Family Psychology indicating "that couples who became unhappy five years into their marriage had a roughly 20% increase in negative communication patterns consistent with nagging." Oh really, Dr. Markmam. Finally, the article suggested various ways to curb the nagging problem and gave the example of one wife whose solution was to write her requests on post it notes with a smiley face. Based on my experience with my college room mate I can attest to the fact that this is not a solution.

            As an experienced divorce attorney in Beverly Hills, I decided I needed to know more about the nagging and its relationship to divorce. That's a lie. I was procrastinating. I was not ready to go back to cleaning the garage. I decided to do some google "pseudo" research.

            I first turned to the Onion to find out whether "nagging" was, in fact, listed as a prime contributor to divorce. Apparently not.  The Onion cited a study which found that 31% of those divorcing said they wanted to resume having sex.  

            More google "pseudo" research" led me to an editorial in a 1899 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association with the title            "Nagging Wives and Nervous Husband's" which briefly considered the effects of nagging on the nervous disposition of husbands. In Shakespeare's time, it apparently led to nervous prostration and even insanity. The editor defined modern nagging as "an expression of an ill regulated and ill balanced nervous system which led to motor restlessness and egotistical inability to see the rights of others."  I wondered whether this editor's marriage had made it to the end of the century.

            Next, I searched "history of nagging" and came across some more highly polemic material. A web site called a "Brief History of Struggle" had a rather original page called a "Brief History of Nagging," which attributed nagging to the utter powerless of married women in patriarchical societies starting with Socrates whose wife was such a nag that he was forced to take up philosophy in the city squares and gymnasia of ancient Greece.  

            Another web site had a rather more sinister take on nagging. It reviewed the "Scold's Bridle," a book by Jenny Paul, which set out to dispel the myth that nagging wives or "scolds," as they were called in the middle ages, were forced to wear a bridle to shut them up. The author found that the historical record did not support such a punishment. The bridle, often with spikes, was usually reserved for witches. Punishment for scolds was only a "ducking stool." Well there's a relief.

            Anyway, it was time to get back to work, so I searched to see what the Bard, always good for a quote, had to say about nagging. There was nothing even from Taming of the Shrew, the greatest work ever written about a nagging wife. Instead, I found this gem with the title," Nagging wife, sausage help man win $4.2M lottery"  It claimed that a wife in New Zealand nagged her husband to buy a lottery ticket which he finally did with minutes to spare before the ticket sales closed on Saturday night. "My wife had been nagging me all week to get a ticket, so I when saw the Lotto sign ... I sprinted in to get the ticket before they closed," said the man. The couple who live in Auckland had fallen on hard times. The husband discovered that he had won $4.2 million when he went out to buy a barbecued sausage at his wife's "request." The man said he didn't have enough money to buy his wife the sausage. So he decided to check his Saturday lottery ticket in case he'd won a small prize. "I could not believe it when they said I was actually the big winner," he said. Note how the wife now requests the sausage after he's won the lottery.

            It was time to go back to the garage. What had I learned? Was nagging a medical condition or the inevitable consequence of the gender struggle in a patriarchical society?  Was it inherently a subjective term that said as much about the lack of responsiveness of the "naggee" as it did about the persistence of the "naggor." Did it invariably lead to a nervous disposition, divorce or other cruel and inhuman punishments.  And what was the solution? Would we have to change the power structure of society or could it be banished with post it notes plastered around the kitchen?

            I preferred to look at the positive. Sometimes it just gets things done. We got western philosophy, a couple in New Zealand won the lottery and we finally cleaned out all the crap from the garage.  



From the Onion: Future U.S. History Students: 'It's Pretty Embarrassing How Long You Guys Took To Legalize Gay Marriage'

DECATUR, IL, THE YEAR 2083—According to students in Mr. Bernard's fourth-period U.S. history class, it's "really pathetic" how long it took for early-21st-century Americans to finally legalize gay marriage.


The class of 2086 said it was "laughable" that people against gay marriage were given a legitimate political voice in the early 21st century. The classroom of 15-year-olds at MacArthur High School—all of whom were born in the late 2060s and grew up never questioning the obvious fact that homosexual couples deserve the right to get married—were reportedly "amazed" to learn in their Modern U.S. History: 2081 Edition textbooks that as late as the 2020s, gays and lesbians actually had to fight for the constitutional right to wed.

When is a gift not a gift

Valentine's Day is upon us. Some of us will receive flowers, others jewelry and others may receive more expensive gifts such as a new car. Wouldn't that be nice? You would think that a gift is a gift but in California that is not always the case. As a divorce lawyer in California, I hate to rain on your parade but if you receive a diamond necklace from your husband as a gift, the law may not treat it as a gift if you ever get divorced.


            This is very common where a divorce turns nasty. Suddenly the gift giver and their lawyer decide that all the gifts of jewelry etc. during the marriage were not gifts at all but property of the marriage.


            The reason for this is that in a community property state like California there is a presumption that all property acquired during marriage is community property and must be divided equally in the event of a divorce. Certain types of gift are an exception to this rule but the exception is narrowly defined.


            In California, gifts of jewelry and other items of a personal nature are separate property if they are not substantial in nature taking into consideration the circumstances of the marriage. In other words, a $10,000 diamond ring from a millionaire is probably a gift of separate property. The same diamond ring from a spouse making an average income with no other valuable assets in the marriage is probably not. In one California divorce caseIn re Marriage of Buie & Neighbors, the court found that a gift of a Porsche was not an article of a personal nature as contemplated by the law. 


            Another exception if where there is something in writing indicating that a gift was intended. In California, a gift is separate property if there is a writing which expressly declares that giver intends the nature of the property to be changed from separate to community property. The legal term for such a declaration is a "transmutation." It is difficult to say whether your typical gift card would meet this standard. A hopelessly unromantic divorce lawyer receiving such a gift would therefore ask their spouse to append a declaration of transmutation under the declaration of love at the bottom of the card, "Please honey, just underneath where you say, "I love you, xxxx" do you mind writing “I give to you all and any interest I have in this diamond ring.”"


            Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer


Bizarre Use of Facebook Between Exes

The Globe And Mail reported a bizarre story about an ex-wife in Indiana who created a fake facebook profile to spy on her ex-husband.  Through this fake profile she soon became his on-line confidante, and he slowly revealed to this "confidante" a plan to kill this ex-wife.  The ex-wife quickly reported him to the authorities.  However, in a surprising twist, all of the charges were dropped once the ex-husband proved that he had made the whole scheme up, knowing that his ex-wife was still tampering with his life.    Read the article here.

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In the UK : Gay Divorces Up By 44%

In relation to our last post about gay divorce in the US, The Telegraph has an article about gay divorce in the UK:

"Almost 50,000 same-sex couples have formalised their relationships since civil partnerships were introduced in December 2005.

During 2010, 6,385 civil partnerships were registered in the UK, 100 more than in 2009, the Office for National Statistics said.

However, as growing numbers of couples register their partnerships, the number splitting up has also risen.

Last year, 509 civil partnerships were dissolved across the UK, an increase of 44% since 2009, when 353 couples separated.

In order to obtain a dissolution, a couple must have been in either a registered civil partnership or a same-sex partnership recognised abroad or 12 months."  Read the rest of the article here.

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Same-sex divorce?

The New York Times reports:

If you thought the fight over same-sex marriage has been tumultuous, just wait for the era of same-sex divorce. With New York State’s new law allowing same-sex marriage, not just for residents but for out-of-staters as well, a bumper crop of weddings is sure to follow — and, eventually and inevitably, a sizable number of divorces.

But Americans are a roving sort, and people who marry and move to places hostile to their union could find, in disunion, a legal limbo. A couple who marry in New York and seek a divorce in Texas could find themselves fighting not just each other but also Texas’ attorney general, Greg Abbott. He has tried to intervene in two same-sex divorces, arguing that if the state does not recognize the marriage it won’t recognize the divorce, either.

If blocked in Texas, the unhappy couple can’t head back to New York for a quick split either. New York’s same-sex marriage law does not require residency to wed, but the state does require residency of at least 90 days to obtain a divorce. A stay like that is out of the question for most people.

“Where can you get a divorce?” asked Tobias Barrington Wolff, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. “The answer might be nowhere, perversely.”  Read the rest of the article.


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Work Stress Can Strain Marriage

Failing to give marriage top priority over job-related stress is a major cause of divorce.  Money problems, longer work hours, and unemployment or other work setbacks can lead to spouses making less time for one another and feelings of resentment or dissatisfaction.  A recent article in the Chicago Tribune suggests some ways to avoid common work-related problems that can breakdown a marriage: 

  1. Communicate dissatisfaction in a way that's not judgmental.
  2. Remember that everyone is vulnerable to job or financial loss.  Going into marriage with lifelong expectations of lifestyle or job security is unrealistic.
  3. Divide the workload at home.  Working as a team strengthens marriage.
  4. Both partners have to be committed to encouraging sex and accepting sexual advances.
  5. Try to compartmentalize.  Once you leave work, leave the work stress behind.

Read the entire article here.


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Court Says Ex-Wife May Retain Money From Ponzi Scheme

The New York State Court of Appeals has ruled that a woman can keep over $7.6 million in proceeds from her divorce settlement, even though they were ill-gotten gains of a Ponzi scheme perpetrated by her ex-husband.  In February 2009, federal authorities arrested Stephen Walsh, a former executive at WG Trading, a commodities firm, for defrauding investors of more than $550 million.  Janet Schaberg divorced Mr. Walsh in 2007 after 25 years of marriage.  The federal government has not accused Ms. Schaberg of having any knowledge or participation in her former husband’s 13 year long Ponzi scheme.  Nevertheless, the Securities Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission attempted to seize Ms. Schaberg’s millions of dollars of stolen money in order to return it to the victims of the Ponzi scheme.  The federal appeals court asked New York State’s highest court for guidance on the divorce issues.  Judge Victoria A. Graffeo, writing for the New York Court of Appeals, ruled for Ms. Schaberg.  Judge Graffeo based her ruling on upholding the finality of business transactions and maintaining the reasonable expectation that ex-spouses are free to move on with their lives after divorce settlements have been reached.  Read the New York Times article here.

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Do housing prices make it more likely that a couple will divorce?  Maybe. According to an interesting new study published in the American Economic Review, it depends on whether you own your home.  The study found that when house prices decline, people who own their homes are less likely to get divorced, whereas people who rent are more likely to get divorced. The researchers used educational status as a proxy for homeowners and renters because college graduates are more likely to be homeowners than high school drop outs. The study predicted that a 10% drop in house prices would lead to a 20% increase in divorce rates amongst renters, but a 29% reduction amongst homeowners. The likely explanation is that declining house prices tend to trap an unhappy couple in their homes. On the other hand, couples who are renters are more likely to find two affordable apartments if they divorce. This study corroborates similar findings in the United Kingdom. If the findings in this study are true, it may have interesting consequences for public policy. Policies to speed up the foreclosure process and restore liquidity in the housing market may actually increase the divorce rates. 

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Study Blames 15% of Divorces on Online Gaming

NEW YORK, June 2, 2011 (NYDN) – According to a Divorce Online study, the number of couples filing for divorce increased from last year by 10 percent.  Managing director of Divorce Online Mark Keenan explains that to obtain a successful divorce petition, a couple must provide at least three reasons for the split.

The firm’s press release offers insight into how online gaming addiction impacts the deterioration of a marriage saying, “The increase could be a consequence of people staying indoors more because of the recession.”  As a result of unemployment and/or restraints on budgets, spouses choose video games as a pastime.

The press release also offers another explanation as to why 5 percent of their clients blame online gaming as a reason for their divorce.  “As a means of escape from an already unhappy relationship,” people may turn to online video games instead of spending time with their spouse.  Read the rest of the article here.

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Briton Who Won $1 Billion Dollar Divorce Case Files For Bankruptcy

The TELEGRAPH reports:

Patricia Kluge, a 62-year-old socialite, winemaker and one-time adult film actress, reported debts with her third husband of about £30 million, despite selling her 300-acre estate in Virginia.

She admitted defeat after a £10 million fire-sale last year of paintings, Roman statues, Qing dynasty antiques, a Chippendale commode, a four-poster bed from Hedingham Castle and a George III crystal chandelier.

Liquidating jewellery including 64 carats worth of diamonds, platinum and diamond earrings, and a sapphire-and-diamond Cartier watch, also failed to keep her afloat.

Asked last night where all her money had gone, Miss Kluge would only say: "That's a very long story". Her husband, Bill Moses, has said: "We spent too much, too fast."  Read the rest of the article here.

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Seven Big Post-Divorce Financial Mistakes

Fox Business has an article about seven common money mistakes made after divorce:

Breaking up is not only hard to do, it can be brutal on your finances.

Legal fees and creating two households from one are just the initial costs of separation. And while some expenditures are necessary, others can be emotionally charged and careless and can lead to serious debt.

See the list of seven mistakes here.


Madoff Victim Seeks Divorce Do-Over

Peter Lattman of the New York Times reports:

After 33 years of marriage, Steven Simkin and Laura Blank divorced in 2006. They agreed to split their considerable wealth equally. She got the apartment on the Upper East Side; he got the house in Scarsdale, N.Y.

Afterward, they spoke infrequently, mostly concerning their two grown sons.

More than two years later, Ms. Blank received a voicemail message that stunned her: Mr. Simkin wanted to revise their settlement. She refused, and he sued.

While divorce agreements are generally ironclad and rarely rescinded, this challenge has now reached New York’s highest court. Deeply divided appellate justices requested what is considered an unusual review of settled law involving contracts.

What made Mr. Simkin’s call for a do-over even remotely possible has its roots in Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

When the couple split their assets evenly, the largest chunk of money was invested with Mr. Madoff. Mr. Simkin kept much of his funds in the Madoff account, which was held in his name. Ms. Blank, who said she had no interest in investing with Mr. Madoff, received her settlement proceeds in cash.  Read the article.

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New Mediation Rules for Separating Couples in England and Wales

Guardian.co.uk reports - Last week the government's independent Justice Review Panel published its interim report on the family justice system in England and Wales.

It is a welcome and broad review of a system that is, as noted by the panel's chair, David Norgrove, under serious strain. Too many cases involving separating families take too long to resolve, with children sometimes waiting more than a year for their futures to be determined. The panel has rightly pointed out that lengthy, complicated legal processes are emotionally and financially draining for parents and distressing for children.

Its recommendations, now out for consultation, are thoughtful and intelligent. They include a positive emphasis on encouraging separating couples to consider non-court dispute resolution services, and on assessing whether they need parenting information.

So far, so good. But the government, apparently too impatient to wait for anything as slow as a fully consulted, well-considered and balanced review – even one commissioned by itself – introduced new rules on mediation for separating couples on Wednesday.

Under the changes, first announced by the justice minister Jonathan Djanogly in February, couples wishing to go to court should now first attend a meeting with a mediator who will assess whether their case is suitable for mediation.  Read the article.

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