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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.

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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

los angeles divorce lawyerHere 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

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.”

Baby boomers are breaking up late – late divorces double

For years, 51-year-old Dawn and her husband of two decades, Tim, had buried their differences over finances, child-rearing and religion. But when the last of the Wisconsin couple’s three daughters was finishing high school in 2009, those differences were all that Dawn could see. “I had gone back to school to advance my career as a paralegal, and his work had dwindled, so he was just basically hanging out with his buddies,” she says. “We had nothing to talk about, and when we did, it was bickering.” read more on WSJ

For more information on high net asset divorce, property division, division of pensions, retirement plans, division of stock options visit our Los Angeles divorce lawyer website.

Marrying again? Get a prenuptial agreement. Call Law Offices of Warren R. Shiell Certified Family Law Specialist

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to discuss your legal issue at (310)247-9913

How Gifts Are Treated Through Divorce Within A Community Property State

When a gift is not a gift by LA Divorce Attorney

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 practicing 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 case, In 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.””

Factoids about the Kardashian Marriage from the Guardian newspaper

• How many months K & K knew each other before getting engaged: 6
• How many months they were engaged: 3
• How much Kim made from the wedding thanks to magazine deals, etc:$17.9m
• How much she therefore made per hour of the 72-day marrige, as calculated by New York Times’ investigative journalist Don van Natta Jr:$10,358.80
• The current minimum wage in California: $8 an hour
• How many hours the E! special of their wedding lasted: 4
• How many months E! spent promoting the wedding, daily: 3
• How many months they were actually married: 2½
• Kim & K’s wedding cost: $10m
• Donald Trump’s last wedding: $1m
• Price tag on one vase on K & K’s wedding list: $7,500
• How much the wedding cake cost: $6,000
• How many Vera Wang wedding dresses Kim had for the wedding: 3
• How much each wedding dress cost: $20,000
• How much her mother Kris spent on a face lift for the wedding: $50,000


ONION: Study Finds Every Style Of Parenting Produces Disturbed, Miserable Adults

Article from the satirical Onion:
SANTA ROSA, CA—A study released by the California Parenting Institute Tuesday shows that every style of parenting inevitably causes children to grow into profoundly unhappy adults. “Our research suggests that while overprotective parenting ultimately produces adults unprepared to contend with life’s difficulties, highly permissive parenting leads to feelings of bitterness and isolation throughout adulthood,” lead researcher Daniel Porter said. “And, interestingly, we found that anything between those two extremes is equally damaging, always resulting in an adult who suffers from some debilitating combination of unpreparedness and isolation. Despite great variance in parenting styles across populations, the end product is always the same: a profoundly flawed and joyless human being.” The study did find, however, that adults often achieve temporary happiness when they have children of their own to perpetuate the cycle of human misery

The Los Angeles Times reports on a whistle-blower who tells how a private detective arranged for men to be arrested for drunk driving at the behest of their ex-wives and their lawyers — and that entrapment using decoys was only one of many alleged misdeeds. Read full article

David Dutcher says his 2008 arrest on suspicion of drunk driving was a setup orchestrated by a private detective who is the subject of a state and federal criminal investigation. (Michael Macor, The Chronicle / October 17, 2011)

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Los Angeles Times – MCourt Divorce

Frank and Jamie McCourt confirmed in a joint statement Monday that they have settled their divorce, as The Times reported earlier in the day. The McCourts disclosed no terms other than that Jamie McCourt would withdraw her Bankruptcy Court opposition to the Dodgers’ proposed sale of television rights and would now support that sale. Major League Baseball and Fox Sports remain opposed. Read article

Are community property laws taken into account in determining adjusted gross income (or modified adjusted gross income) for purposes of the dependent

According to a recent IRS publication:Yes. Community property laws must be taken into account in determining the adjusted gross income (or modified adjusted gross income) amounts in section 21(a) (dependent care credit), section 24(b) (child tax credit), section 32(a) (earned income credit), and section 36A(b) (making work pay credit).

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