How Will Your Children Tell Their Parents’ Divorce Story?

Collaborative divorce will give you and your spouse the most control over the story your children grow up to tell about when their parents separated.  Collaborative divorce will allow you to craft that story every step of the way and plan for your new family structure into the future, years beyond your divorce.

Psychologists and conventional wisdom now tell us that the story that children internalize about their parents’ divorce has a profound and pivotal effect on their lives as they grow up and into their adult lives.  Children tend to hold on to the stories they are told and integrate them into who they are.  Those stories can affect your children’s ability to have meaningful relationships as they become adults, and their view of marriage and divorce.  Divorce is now reality for more than half of all children and families.  Normalizing that story will help your children feel better about who they are and how they fit into their family unit.

The typical divorcing parent will tell their lawyer or family psychologist that the children are just fine and that they are adjusting with no problem through the divorce and all the changes that are happening in their lives as a result of the split up of their parents.

To a child, divorce is more than their parents splitting up and no longer living in the same house.  Divorce is a restructuring or a fragmenting of their identity.  Children identify their parents as a unit, and they strongly identify themselves within that unit.  When that unit breaks down, it is natural for them to feel fragmented or as if they have no real sense of identity or security.

A heated divorce that is hashed out in the court system often creates an adversary win/lose dynamic where there should be none – in your family.

In the collaborative divorce model, couples are able to complete their divorce with the assistance of attorneys who advocate for them and work as a team with other professionals, including a child expert who is neutral and advocating for the entire family, to resolve their cash-flow, parenting, and property interests without letting the court decide what is in their family’s best interest.  Collaborative divorce facilitates the evolution of your family through the process, creating the space for you to remain an intact family into the future.

No matter how you choose to navigate your divorce, you will share your children for the rest of your lives.  You will be together at your children’s weddings, graduations, christenings of your grandchildren, and other important family events.  What better gift is there to give to your children than a loving and kind divorce story where the main characters want to do what was best for the entire family and maintain a stable, loving life for them?

Attorney Dana L. Boyle is a trained collaborative divorce attorney in Kenosha and Racine Counties in Wisconsin, focusing her practice on advocating the greatest kindness in divorce.  If you are seeking or answering a divorce, speak with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.  To contact Dana Boyle, please call 262.412.0806 or email boylelawfirm@gmail.com.

This article is for general information purposes only.  It is not intended as legal advice and it does not constitute establishment of an attorney-client relationship with anyone who reads it or an attempt to create an attorney-client relationship.  Keep in mind that the law changes frequently based on legislation and case law.  If you have a legal issue that relates to this article’s subject matter, please consult with a licensed attorney to determine your individual rights and to clarify the law with respect to your particular set of facts.  If you live in another state, please consult a licensed attorney in your state.  Dana Boyle is licensed in the state of Wisconsin.

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New Location

I am pleased to announce that Boyle Law Firm is now located at 1119- 60th Street in Kenosha.

The Exchange Building is owned by Phil Marry and Loren Keating, and is also occupied by several other solo practitioners, including Frank Parise, Jason Rossell and Heather Devan.

I will be providing legal services to couples, newlyweds and married couples with a wide range of legal needs including but not limited to prenups, contracts, break-ups with child/property disputes, domestic partnerships, wills, family immigration, mediation and collaborative divorce.  Call for an appointment.  262-412-0806.

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Considerations When Eloping to a Foreign Land

It’s a romantic idea to ditch the big wedding plans and elope to Paris, Tuscany or an Isle in Ireland, isn’t it?  Going to Vegas is always an option, but if Elvis chapels and drive-thru style weddings aren’t your thing and you don’t have the desire or stomach to sort through guest lists, tastings and registries, eloping to another country may sound like a dream wedding and honeymoon in one.  Just make sure you check and double check all requirements in both your own domicile and your wedding locale BEFORE you go.

A marriage performed anywhere is recognized legally anywhere else, as long as you didn’t circumvent laws to marry outside your own domicile, generally.  So if you aren’t hopping the state line to get married to your third husband (without divorcing the first and second) or your wife isn’t 15, or something like that, as long as you follow the local laws to make your marriage legal you will come home man and wife.

You generally need:

  • Original or certified birth certificate
  • Divorce decrees
  • Passports
  • Proof of residence
  • Death certificate of deceased spouse

France:

  • If you want to be married in a church, you must first prove you’ve had a civil service, because church weddings are for fluff in France
  • You may do a civil service at home and bring the paperwork with you to do a blessing ceremony in a church in France
  • You may have a French mayor perform a civil service in France and call it a day, you’re married
  • Make sure the locality doesn’t have any specific rules.

This is because even couples in France have a civil service before they may have a church service.  Wonder what couples do when they don’t want a church service at all?  Evidently, in France, only 3 out of 4 couples ever have a church service because it has no legal significance there.

Italy:

  • First contact the vital statistics office in the locale where you wish to marry, because rules may vary
  • You must bring with you your birth certificate, your passport and 4 witnesses who know you well to attest that there is no impediment to your being married and take all of that to the Italian Consulate…omgosh, really?
  • Then you must go to the American Consulate to have them create a sworn statement that certifies that you are not marrying in Italy to violate or avoid any law in your domicile
  • Next, you must get the sworn statement authenticated at the local immigration office
  • Next, if you’re both not from Italy, you must go to the Civil Registrar in the locale where you will marry with an interpreter and declare your intent to marry with all of your documents, and set a date for your civil ceremony
  • Then the registrar will post a notice on the commune for 1 – 12 days (presumably, if no objections, you can marry); some locales waive it, check your intended locale
  • The mayor or an assistant will then perform your civil ceremony on your date when you appear together with your interpreter and two witnesses over 18 years old with identification
  • If you want a religious ceremony as well, that can be arranged, but Italy does not legally recognize non-Catholic religious wedding ceremonies, so you will be required to do a civil ceremony for your marriage to be legal.
  • If you wish to have a Catholic ceremony, it will take a month minimum to get the correct paperwork, including documents from your local parish, and approval from the Italian archbishop, however, this marriage is legal, so a civil ceremony isn’t necessary if you are both Catholic or if one of you is not Catholic but your local parish sent a Non-Objection Declaration and if neither of you is divorced, unless you have a valid annulment recognized by the Catholic church.  What a mouthful.  Gives me  a headache to read the requirements

Italy looking good to you about now?   How about…

Ireland:

  • Officials in Ireland want to know 3 months before you plan to marry, notify the local officials.  They will inform you about paperwork, fees, and any other requirements of their locale
  • Weddings are only allowed in a church or a registry office, otherwise you can do a civil ceremony first and then a blessing outside
  • Paperwork must be perfect or you have to start over, 3 months, remember?
  • Residency – you must live where you intend to marry for at least 7 days, even foreigners.  Even then, they impose a 21 day wait period after you meet the 7 day residency to apply for a license.  Long pre-honeymoon?
  • Bonuses – Ireland is full of castles, and they come cheap for a wedding blessing ceremony or reception…but you’re eloping, right?

Makes Napa Valley sound pretty nice right about now, doesn’t it?  Maybe a honeymoon in Paris, the Irish Countryside or the Amalfi Coast would be more relaxing?

Wherever you elope, make sure you know before you go.

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Get A Professional Opinion Before Marrying an Alien

Sounds funny, doesn’t it?  If you are engaged to or marrying or recently married to someone who is either not able to legally be in the United States or who is here on another type of visa for work or tourist visits, etc, you have yourself an alien fiancé or spouse.

A woman I know came to me and asked me what she could do about the fact that her husband is stuck in another country and they haven’t applied for a status adjustment to alien fiancé or to alien spouse yet because they were afraid he’d be sent back to his country until approval.  They are young newlyweds and they are very much in love.  He had only visited with a tourist visa prior.  They met on Facebook, of all places.  I met my sweetie online too, so I know it can be love at first sight even miles away through an avatar.

Unfortunately, the adjustment of status or immigration process can be hairy to navigate if you are unaware of the pitfalls and stops that could pop up after you file an application for adjustment.  There are financial sponsorship requirements, timing considerations, long waits and other things that can affect whether your new spouse or fiancé will be easily approved to join you in the United States.

Be aware that you will need to seek legal advice to make sure that the facts of your particular situation are combed through so that an attorney can advise you about issues such as potential criminal history, waiting periods, requirements, restrictions, and any other important information that will help you streamline your spouse’s adjustment.

Most people think that if you simply get married, your spouse can live here with you the day you’re married and you just file an application and wait for approval.  It isn’t quite that simple, and it can take up to a year or more to get approved.

A petition for alien fiancé status is available and is often the best route when you decide you’re going to marry someone from outside the U.S.  It can be quicker and easier, not that the process is ever that quick or that easy.  Some people get  a tourist visa, then get married, then file an I-130 to adjust status as a sponsor for their spouse but don’t realize that this could raise red flags and result in consequences with immigration officials making decisions about your loved one’s status.  In effect, your spouse has lied on the tourist visa (in some cases) because they intended to stay here to get married and were not here to simply visit like they declared.

People do apply for adjusted immigration status on their own, but just beware that legal advice can save you stress and headaches if you don’t know the proper way to navigate the system for optimal ease and success.  At least a paid consultation with an attorney well-versed in handling family immigration matters may be well worth the money spent.

This article is for general information purposes only.  It is not intended as legal advice and it does not constitute establishment of an attorney-client relationship with anyone who reads it or an attempt to create an attorney-client relationship.  Keep in mind that the law changes frequently based on legislation and case law.  If you have a legal issue that relates to this article’s subject matter, please consult with a licensed attorney to determine your individual rights and to clarify the law with respect to your particular set of facts.  If you live in another state, please consult a licensed attorney in your state.  Dana Boyle is licensed in the state of Wisconsin.

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How To Become a Legal Same-Sex Domestic Partnership in Wisconsin, and Why You Want To

2010 – The year Wisconsin Recognized Same-Sex Partnership

Wisconsin hasn’t yet joined the states that recognize same-sex marriage, but our state has taken steps to recognize domestic partnerships in a way that impacts estate planning, property rights, employee benefits, healthcare decision-making, wrongful death actions and more.  Now, same-sex couples can take a pro-active approach to protect each other and provide for each other in life and after their death.

(State employees fall under a different set of rules, and this article will not treat those rules.  See 2009 Wisconsin Act 28 for more details.)

Who Qualifies to Create A Domestic Partnership in Wisconsin?

Non-state employees, meaning everyone else (and State employees who meet both definitions), falls under Wisconsin’s new Chapter 770 defining same-sex domestic partnerships in this state.  Under the statute, a same-sex domestic partner has 1) applied for and obtained a Declaration of Domestic Partnership (DDP) with the clerk in the county in which one of them resides for at least 30 days prior to the application AND 2) recorded the declaration with the Register of Deeds.

Same-sex domestic partners are qualified to get a DDP if they:

  1. Are both at least 18 years of age
  2. And are otherwise capable of consenting to the DP
  3. Neither is married or in a DDP with another individual
  4. The two applicants share a common residence
  5. The two individuals are not next of kin closer than 2nd cousins
  6. The two are members of the same sex

As stated in Howard Sweet’s article entitled “Understanding Domestic Partnerships in Wisconsin”, Wisconsin Lawyer, 2009 Issue, the requirement that neither parties be married creates an interesting presumption that Wisconsin recognizes marriages of the same sex that are legal in other states.   This is not explicitly stated anywhere, but a good argument can be made that Wisconsin gives full faith and credit to a marriage (same sex or not, of course) that was performed and legally recognized in another state.  A court may take the position that this provision requires that neither be married to anyone OTHER than the intended DP.  It is yet to be seen.

How Do We Divorce if it Doesn’t Work Out?

Nullifying a DP in Wisconsin requires a Certificate of Termination from the same Clerk of Court who issued the DDP.  Either partner may file a Notice of Termination of DP and must either have the signature of the other DP or must follow the rules of service of process.

Unfortunately, this is not like a divorce.  It makes sense that because the state is not granting the same rights that are recognized in marriage, they would not grant an actual divorce for a DP.  What this means is that, unfortunately, there are no court dates to talk about dividing up property or custody and placement of children because there are not provisions that address ongoing property rights and division of property mechanisms during the termination of a DDP, which is why a DP couple may want to consider a contract similar to a prenuptial agreement prior to applying for a DP, so that if the relationship breaks down, property rights and divisions are subject to a binding contract.  There are also no provisions for the treatment of the children of a DDP couple in Wisconsin upon termination of the DDP.  Child custody under this scenario is beyond the scope of this article and will have to be treated elsewhere.

So What Difference Does it Make?

The benefits of a DDP include:

1)      Spousal privilege extends to same-sex DPs

2)      Health insurance companies may provide DPs with coverage

3)      Wrongful death actions may be brought by the surviving DP

4)      Death benefits may be payable to the surviving DP

5)      Any estate planning instrument provision naming a DP as a beneficiary will be revoked by a DDP termination

6)      Estate planning instruments that do not provide for the surviving DP that were created prior to a DDP will be subject to the surviving DP’s      entitlement to an intestate share of assets

7)      Powers of Attorney given to a DP will be revoked upon termination of a DDP

8)      Interest in vehicles and homes will be transferred to the surviving DP upon the death of one partner without the usual transfer fees

9)      A decedent DP who dies without a will does now leave an intestate interest in his/her property to the surviving DP

10)   FMLA applies to the care of a DP in the same way it would for a spouse

11)   Property acquired together will be recognized as joint tenancy property, unless otherwise evidenced in a title document or bill of sale

12)   Hospital visitation rights are the same as those afforded a spouse

13)   Nursing care and rehab admitting rights are the same as those afforded to a spouse

14)   Rights to authorize post-mortem organ donation and autopsy are the same afforded a spouse

15)   Healthcare power of attorney given to the partner is revoked upon termination of the DDP

16)   A surviving DP has the same rights to inspect healthcare records of the deceased DP as a spouse would

17)   Worker’s compensation and unpaid wage claims for deceased DPs may be brought by the surviving DP

There are some 40 various provisions through the Wisconsin code that are affected by Chapter 770.  For a specific interpretation regarding your particular fact-scenario, contact an attorney familiar with the new Domestic Partnership Law in Wisconsin.

This article is for general information purposes only.  It is not intended as legal advice and it does not constitute establishment of an attorney-client relationship with anyone who reads it or an attempt to create an attorney-client relationship.  Keep in mind that the law changes frequently based on legislation and case law.  If you have a legal issue that relates to this article’s subject matter, please consult with a licensed attorney to determine your individual rights and to clarify the law with respect to your particular set of facts.  If you live in another state, please consult a licensed attorney in your state.  Dana Boyle is licensed in the state of Wisconsin.

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The Case for a Kinder Divorce

Divorce can be the worst time in your life.  Aside from the heartbreak involved, there are legal and financial issues that must be dealt with and that can change your life in drastic ways.  On top of that, many times you have to move to a new home or apartment, disrupt your children, and create a new normal all while fighting it out with your new ex-spouse.

Divorce can be a damaging financial blow.  Many times it involves splitting up assets and selling things off.  Starting over in your thirties, forties or fifties can be extremely discouraging.  To make matters worse, legal fees and court costs can eat up a great portion of your personal wealth if your divorce is hotly contested and lengthy.  The wealthier of the two spouses may even be required by the court to pay for both attorneys.  That means every time the lawyers make a phone call, that party is paying double fees for the time that is ticking away.  Every status conference, every discovery request, every minute of both lawyers’ time is subtracting hundreds of dollars from the pie that you and your spouse will divide in your marital settlement agreement, and from the wealth you have accumulated to support your children.

The court will likely appoint a guardian ad litem to determine the best interest of your children.  That’s right.  As a couple and as parents you will not be deciding the best interest of your children, particularly if you can’t agree, but a third party will be doing so by making a recommendation to the court.  That third party will have much more say the more you fight with your spouse and the less you agree upon regarding the placement and rearing of your children.  If you show the GAL that you both care about the best interest of your children and you are committed to doing what is best for them, your joint decisions carry much more weight and the GAL is very likely to recommend what you jointly decide for your kids.

There are less expensive, less taxing ways to get a divorce.  A judge does not have to make all the final decisions for you.  In fact, you can make all the decisions together, if you can be civil and come to an agreement together.  Then all you have to do is have your agreement drawn up by a lawyer, or you can write it up yourself with the forms at the local clerk of court’s office, and file it with the court as a marital settlement agreement.  There may be some pitfalls to doing it yourself, because you are not a lawyer and you may not think of everything or you may not draw it up in a way that a judge will accept without putting on a trial to make sure you’ve considered everything.  If a judge does that to you, then you could end up in court anyway.  Then again, many folks divorce without lawyers.

There are several new family law styles being practiced by attorneys these days.  You may want to check into collaborative divorce or cooperative divorce.  Those are topics for another article.

There is an even gentler and more cost-effective approach.  In a divorce mediation where you hire the mediator and no lawyers, you and your spouse can work with the mediator to bring about a marital settlement agreement that you both can live with, without paying lawyers to litigate at all.  Sure, you can also hire lawyers and bring them to mediation, but a good mediator is going to want to talk to you about your needs and find a good fit for the family, rather than allow two lawyers to bicker like they would in court.

The intangible benefits of getting a divorce in a more peaceful manner go without saying.  Imagine your divorce running smoothly, settling fairly easily, and your relationship with the mother or father of your child remaining strong so that you can be the best parents for your child(ren) together even after you are no longer married.  Imagine not having to spend more money than you have to, not losing or gaining weight or developing ulcers or other stress-related health issues that can often result from prolonged stress.  Imagine not walking away from your divorce bitter and exhausted.

Surely, you can work out an agreeable settlement with the person you once loved, maybe still love, and the one you once agreed to commit your life to for better or worse.  You can still live happily ever after, even if divorce is the only way you can work things out.

This article is for general information purposes only.  It is not intended as legal advice and it does not constitute establishment of an attorney-client relationship with anyone who reads it or an attempt to create an attorney-client relationship.  Keep in mind that the law changes frequently based on legislation and case law.  If you have a legal issue that relates to this article’s subject matter, please consult with a licensed attorney to determine your individual rights and to clarify the law with respect to your particular set of facts.  If you live in another state, please consult a licensed attorney in your state.  Dana Boyle is licensed in the state of Wisconsin.

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Top Ten Reasons to Get a Prenup

A prenuptial agreement is a contract that two people enter into prior to marriage that deals with the financial consequences of a break-up, should they divorce.  Without a prenuptial agreement, couples’ financial affairs are subject to the jurisdiction of their domicile (where they live) when they divorce.  To override state laws or protect certain assets and interests, a prenup may be necessary.  There are particular sets of circumstances where a prenup may be most attractive and beneficial.

  1. One partner has much more personal property and wealth than the other. To protect yourself from someone marrying you for financial gain, a prenup can be written to protect premarital assets from division upon divorce.
  2. One or both of you has children from a previous marriage or some other person to care for. You may want to protect your children should something happen to you, so that they are provided for before your spouse takes your assets.
  3. One partner is coming into the marriage with substantial debt. In the event of divorce, you may want to protect yourself from division of debt as marital debt, leaving you to pay off half of the bills your spouse already piled up before you married them.
  4. One of you has significantly less than the other. This is the flipside of the coin.  You marry someone who has much more than you, and you want to ensure that if you divorce they can’t leave you with nothing after you’ve grown used to a better lifestyle, particularly if you have children with them.  If your divorce could leave you homeless and jobless, or living in an efficiency apartment on public aid, protect yourself.  If they want a prenup to protect themselves, you want to include provisions that protects you too.
  5. You want your final wishes carried out specifically, despite having a spouse. If you have significant premarital assets or heirlooms and you want those distributed according to your wishes despite having a spouse whom the law would otherwise give those assets to upon your death, a prenup can help you.
  6. You are a business owner or shareholder. In the event of your death or divorce, your spouse could claim a marital property interest in your business, particularly if you’ve conducted that business for a substantial portion of your marriage.  A prenup can ensure that your spouse is not a partner in a business where your other partners may not want the unintended partnership.
  7. You earn much more than your partner. Generally, all income earned during a marriage is marital property.  However, a prenup can limit how much alimony or maintenance a spouse can ask for and receive in a divorce. 
  8. You and your spouse have agreed that you will not work during all or part of the marriage. Opting to be a stay-at-home spouse can have a negative impact on your earning potential and ability to provide for yourself and your children should you divorce.  A prenup can ensure fair responsibility for support and care of children, taking your work history into account, should you divorce and have limited job opportunities or limited earning potential.
  9. You own assets jointly and cannot share them with your spouse in the event of a divorce or your death. It could be that you bought income property, a vacation home, a piece of real estate, or some other significant asset with your siblings or father or a friend from college and you are not able to allow your share to become marital property in the event your marriage ends.
  10. You have or will be earning a professional level degree that will create a rebuttable presumption of high earning potential. In some cases, your professional degree can be considered marital property in that it is assumed someone in the professions has a high earning potential, and this is attributed to the marriage.  There are actually experts that people hire during divorce proceedings who can put a value on this and your spouse can attempt to argue that they have a right to half of this intangible value in the event of a divorce or, at least, that you should be entitled to fewer tangible marital assets because you have higher earning potential on your side of the property division.

This article is for general information purposes only.  It is not intended as legal advice and it does not constitute establishment of an attorney-client relationship with anyone who reads it or an attempt to create an attorney-client relationship.  Keep in mind that the law changes frequently based on legislation and case law.  If you have a legal issue that relates to this article’s subject matter, please consult with a licensed attorney to determine your individual rights and to clarify the law with respect to your particular set of facts.  If you live in another state, please consult a licensed attorney in your state.  Dana Boyle is licensed in the state of Wisconsin.

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