Author: mpontrelli

Taking that First Step. What to do when a divorce is imminent.

Divorce can be a frightening experience and taking that first step is sometimes difficult. First, find a law firm that handles divorces as a regular part of its law practice. The best recommendations come from people who have knowledge of a lawyer’s experience and reputation. Take your time in choosing a lawyer that is right for your case. This is one of the most important decisions you will make with respect to your divorce. Find an attorney you are comfortable discussing your case with as the attorney will likely learn more about your life than is known or shared with even close friends and family. Having a comfort level that this is a person you can speak with freely, who understands your situation, and who will completely represent you is important. State bar associations often have a list of attorneys who have been certified as specialists in family law if you need to obtain names of potential lawyers in the area of family law. Even if you are not ready to file for divorce, you may find it helpful to call and schedule an appointment with a lawyer to obtain basic information about protecting yourself and your children. Many times these initial consultations are to simply explore the process so you know what to expect, especially if you believe your spouse is planning on filing for divorce. Ask what...

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How to Divorce a Narcissist

Someone with a narcissistic personality usually has a heightened sense of arrogance and lack of empathy for other people.  On the other hand, the initial impression they make upon people is one of likeability, control of their emotions, and a leader among their peers.  As result, in the course of a divorce, such traits may make it difficult for you to feel like you will receive a fair outcome either because others will be misled by the behavior of the narcissist or because you feel that the only way to resolve issues is by giving in to his or her demands. However, you do not have to be a victim of such behavior in your divorce.  Here are a few things to consider when dealing with a narcissist in a divorce.   First, learn to understand the behavior so that the positions taken and the statements made do not infuriate you, but instead empower you. Just like looking at a map before you travel, knowing what to expect along the way eliminates any surprises. When demands are made (i.e. “if you do not settle now I will make it more difficult for you”) you know that the statements are just part of the disorder and are to be expected.   Second, do not engage the narcissist in one on one discussions. The narcissist thinks that the more they talk with you...

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Five Important Steps to Consider in Advance of Filing for Divorce

For some reason, divorces nationwide tend to peak in the springtime.  Perhaps it is because of the reluctance of wanting to pursue a dissolution of marriage during the holidays, or perhaps it is the realization that a spouse simply does not want to go through another summer of family vacations, family reunions and pretending that everything in the marriage is picture perfect.  However, for anyone considering a divorce or legal separation, there are some important steps to consider in advance:  1.  Take an inventory.  If you have valuable jewelry, art work, furniture, and furnishings, take pictures and make a detailed inventory of what exists.  Even if you have no concern over whether the items will disappear during the divorce, it is good to have pictures and an itemized list of the more expensive items.    2.   Gather documents.  Understanding your financial situation is important. Gather copies of prior tax returns, pay stubs, credit card statements, bank statements, investment accounts, employee benefits, life insurance, and trust documents. In addition, if there are deeds of trust, mortgage statements, promissory notes or any other documents indicating property owned and liabilities, be sure to obtain those as well.  Put copies in a safe deposit box or at the home of a trusted friend.    3.  Consider whether you need a protective order.  If you are in an abusive relationship, it is important to make sure...

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Five Steps You Can Take When Your Ex-Spouse Talks Negatively About You to the Children

Your child has just returned home from a visit with your ex-spouse. When you ask how the visit went, your child confides that “We couldn’t do anything because (daddy/mommy) said you took all the money.” Devastated, you wonder what to say other than to scream “That’s not true!” Such a response, while accurate, just brings the child into the parental conflict. In addition, your denial is not likely to bring positive results because the child then sees both parents as potentially being untruthful.   While in an ideal world it would be nice if you could pick up the telephone and talk to your ex-spouse about not making such comments, that option is not always realistic. Here are 5 steps you can take that may minimize the negative comments made by the other parent.  1.  Depending on the age of your child, talk to the child about how emotional the situation is for everyone. While taking the proverbial high road is often difficult, explain how when people feel bad they sometimes say things that they do not necessarily mean.   2. Give your child words of empowerment so they can learn to express how they are feeling to the other parent. Let them know it is ok for the child to tell the other parent “I don’t like it when you tell me things about mommy/daddy. It makes me feel bad.”    3.  Role model...

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Addressing the Legal and Emotional Side of Divorce

Understanding the emotional aspects of a divorce is just as important as understanding the legal process. In virtually every case there are two types of divorces taking place: the legal divorce and the emotional divorce.  One may be a little ahead of the other, but they are each important to address.  This is especially true if one spouse has gone through the emotional side of considering a divorce and making the determination to file for divorce, while the other spouse may be completely in the dark. Being served with a divorce petition and then being asked what you want to do with the house, how you want to divide assets, and what the parenting time plan should be for the children are questions that come up almost immediately. While you may be struggling with the realization that the marriage is over and there is nothing you can do to stop the divorce from happening, you are also being asked to make important decisions that affect the rest of your life. Whether the decision to end a marriage is mutual or the desire of only one spouse, the emotional pain of ending a marriage can often hinder the legal process. It is difficult to make weighty legal decisions when you feel as if your entire world has been turned upside down, sometimes overnight. Accepting your circumstances and recognizing that the...

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The DW Family Law Blog Blog is published by Dickinson Wright PLLC to inform the public of important developments within the firm and practice areas. The content is informational only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. We encourage you to consult a Dickinson Wright attorney if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered in this blog.