Children of Divorce – A Preventive Triangulation Methodology Research

Based on my personal experience, and what I’ve seen from others who also experienced divorce or parental separation, it is my belief that children of divorce aren’t an overnight curable illness, but a process that lasts a lifetime. Some divorce or separation is necessary as to the abuse, drugs, and other harmful acts within the home. Regardless the reason for separation, the affected child never reaches their full potential. I too experienced parental separation at the age of 4 years old. I can remember not seeing my dad for days, and then weeks, to now it’s been over 5 years since I have seen or even spoken to him. At the age of 9 is when I can remember to question and ask about why my father is no longer in the picture. Some of the thoughts that would arise were, “Is it me?” Was I the cause of their separation?” He never assured me that he loved me or cared about me during those most important years. He never came to my football games to encourage me to push hard. When I look at my peers family structure, they all had a father there to support them and encourage them during those times. It never dawned on me that they may have questioned where my father was. Divorce is a personal choice made by each parent for their own best interest and not the child’s. When a family splits apart it automatically sends signals to the child that one of the parents no longer cares or values them. According to Kelly and Emery (2003) report that on average, nonresidential fathers see their children only 4 times per month following divorce and about 20% of children have no contact with their fathers 2-3 years after divorce. In contrast, non-residential mothers visit their children more frequently and are less likely to cease contact.

As I reflect and think back to the times of feeling alone, nothing can equate to the desire of having a father figure there. My biggest challenges were to compensate for the absence of my father to make me feel valued. Statistics show that children of similar circumstances utilize money, drugs, and promiscuity to fulfill these voids and needs. Children that live in intact families often experience these as well but those who are of a divorce guarantee these experiences.

Every child must have a balance of love and discipline from both mother and father. A separation reduces their discipline and forces the parent to avoid conflict to focus more on the immediate quality that’s being omitted from the child’s life. Those moments are needed as well in a child’s life. The absent parent never has to tell the child to turn off the TV and do homework, get up for school, because he/she isn’t there on school nights.

So much of life’s lessons has been lost and skills that would have been learned are no longer apart of the blueprint. School doesn’t teach these one-on-one coruses and its too late once in college to learn the basics of life. A mother and father exposes the child to those things that give them a balanced life. Without the whole family there are holes in the basics to be learned.

According to (Kidshealth 2015) As soon as you’re certain of your plans, talk to your kids about your decision to live apart. Although there’s no easy way to break the news, if possible have both parents there for this conversation. It’s important to try to leave feelings of anger, guilt, or blame out of it. Practice how you’re going to manage telling your kids so you don’t become upset or angry during the talk. Involving the child is key to helping them adjust to all the changes that will affect them during the separation process. When my parents separated I lived with my mother who wore the hat of both during my years with her. I wasn’t a part of the process therefore it left many questions unanswered. Children don’t need all the information but to prepare them for the upcoming changes in their lives is vital.. All that’s needed to be understood is that there are changes going to be made and that it won’t affect the relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent. Exposure to both physical and mental illnesses originate in the traumatic loss of both parents through separation or divorce.

Divorce Rates, What They Are, How Have They Changed and Why

The Urban Legend of the 50% Divorce Rate

Most of us have heard the often repeated statement that 50% of all marriages end up in divorce. This “fact” gets passed from one media “source” to another without anyone ever checking its original source. So we decided to check with the final authority on all things demographic: The Unite States Census Bureau.

Typical of statements often repeated in the media, the 50% number is an oversimplification that does not begin to tell the important story about divorce rates. There are much more interesting figures that tell us how the divorce rate has changed over the decades and suggest the reasons for their changes. But first, to understand the issues around divorce rates we need to answer this question:

Just What is a Divorce Rate?

What does it mean to say that some percent of marriages “end up” in divorce?

People stay married for many decades. Some get divorced at one year, five years, fifteen years or even sixty years after the marriage. And some die married. Therefore, we only know the rate at which marriages end up in divorce for people who married far back enough in the past for all of them to have already died.

But we can also start with a more recent cohort of people who married on the same year and estimate the divorce rate of the remaining marriages on the last available year of their data. The more recent the cohort of marriages, the longer and less reliable is the estimated period.

Or we can state divorce rates as of a given wedding anniversary, such as “35% by the 25th anniversary”. This allows us to compare divorce rates between people who married on different years by the same standard.

A divorce rate alone, without:

stating the year of the marriages,
qualifying it by the anniversary when the divorce rate was calculated and
mentioning whether it is an actual or estimated rate
is a meaningless number

Is the Divorce Rate Rising or Falling?

It would be foolish to expect that divorce rates have been at the same 50% for many decades. Few things having to do with human behavior stays the same for very long. So we need to do our best to understand whether the divorce rate has been rising or falling during the last few decades.

The following article published by the Census Bureau sheds some light on the direction of the divorce rates:

Rose M. Kreider and Renee Ellis, “Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2009, Household Economic Studies, May 2011”, Current Population Reports.

The data for this Census Bureau article was based on a survey of over 39,000 households given in 2009 to 55,597 adults that were married at some time in their lives. What follows summarizes some important facts from this article:

At the 35th anniversary, the survival rate of marriages fell form 62.10% for the cohort of men married between 1960 and 64, to 57.90% for the 1965-69 cohort. At the 25th anniversary, those survival rates fell from 66.90% for the 1960-64 cohort to only 54.40% fort he 1975-79 cohort. There was also a drop in the 10th anniversary survival rates of 10 percentage points between the same two cohorts (which is the same as a rise of 10 percentage points in divorce rates).

After 1974, the marriage survival rates are too close together for the cohort-to-cohort changes to be significant. But, for men, the tenth anniversary survival rate gradually rose from the low of 73.40% for the 1975-79 cohort to 77.30% for the 1990-94 cohort.

In general, what we know from this study is that the men’s marriage survival rates, of the 10th to 25th anniversaries plunged by about 12 percentage points between the 1960-64 and the 1975-79 cohorts. Then their survival rate at the 10th anniversary rose by about four percentage points between the 1975-79 and the 1990-94 cohort.

How to Hire an Online Uncontested Divorce Forms Preparer

The first article in this sequence dealt with the choice facing new divorce consumers between hiring a lawyer and hiring a non-lawyer to provide uncontested divorce services. Assuming the question had been answered in favor of the non-lawyer option, the second article in the sequence addressed the next choice: that between a traditional office or “bricks-and-mortar” paralegal and an online divorce forms preparer.

This third article in the sequence assumes that the second question was answered in favor of the online option. It would not be my greatest prediction ever to tell you that the online divorce forms preparation option is the path that more uncontested divorces will be taking in the future. Online is where the greatest cost savings and some pretty cool software advances are already available. It’s where the non-lawyer divorce industry is going.

How to drill down further now into the choices facing divorce consumers who have decided to hire an online divorce provider? There aren’t any more industry dichotomies to guide the analysis. So drilling down further, to provide additional guidance for the divorce consumer, inevitably must broaden into an analysis of the quality and integrity of the top 10 nationwide websites offering online divorce form preparation plus an unknown number of local or regional online providers across the country.

That is what this and the next, and final, article in this series will do.

I’ll continue to use the format of the prior two articles to address issues one at a time. Separating the issues enables the individual divorce consumer to attach her own significance to each issue. However, don’t think for a moment that the issues highlighted separately below and in the final article in this sequence will each hit you separately. They can and will be mixed and matched in almost any blend on any site offering online divorce forms preparation.

Feel-Good vs. Actual Divorce Form Preparation Sites: This is not to be disrespectful to feel-good sites. They provide a valuable service to some, but they do not provide divorce form preparation services. They provide access to divorce articles, divorce coaches, counselors, divorce books, divorce discussion groups and blogs. Some branch out to mediators and divorce lawyers. Some sell blank forms or provide “free” forms (more on that scam in the final article in the sequence).

There is nothing wrong with these sites, beyond any such scams, as long as you recognize these sites for what they are and realize that while they may provide some valuable services, they won’t prepare your divorce papers for you. There is a lot of these sites. It’s easy to recognize them because they don’t prominently display pricing for divorce document preparation.

My Advice: Avoid these sites unless you alone determine that you need them. Don’t get emotionally enticed into services you neither want or need. Be careful about providing personal info or an email address on feel-good sites. Some of these sites are lead generators for lawyers or legal services plans that will try to sign you up for such plans that cost $20 or $50 per month on an auto-billing basis. If you want to hire a lawyer or sign up for a legal services plan, do it yourself. Don’t get duped in while you’re looking for divorce forms preparation.

Claimed Experience Level: Almost all of the top 10 nationwide online divorce forms preparers have been around since the late 1990’s or early 2000’s – no surprise there – the Internet boom. They are well experienced. You definitely want to hire experience even if it costs a little more.

My Advice: Try to find evidence about how long the online provider has been in existence. The gems to be found in this consideration are the smaller local or regional online divorce providers who have experience of pre-Internet divorce through a “bricks and mortar” company in your area. I would not make a strong argument that someone with 30 years’ experience in uncontested divorce is substantially better than someone with “only” 8-10 years, but it is a minor consideration.

Regional vs. National: Some online divorce forms preparers are nationwide. Others have remained local or regional. My opinion is that local or regional providers will be better for you just because they are closer to you and handle cases from a smaller catchment area and are more likely to know the quirks of your local court.

For example, it is unlikely that a large national online divorce forms preparer in Maryland will know that in Ventura County, California, there is very precise wording required (beyond that required by law) in a Marital Settlement Agreement for a marriage over 10 years when there is a waiver of spousal support by either party. The Maryland outfit will only discover that when you tell them your papers have just been rejected after a two month processing delay at the court. No doubt, that Maryland divorce provider will then recover and correct the problem. You will then re-submit your divorce papers and wait another two months for the result of that submission. This is called crisis management. All online divorce form preparers employ crisis management to some extent. Many courts are different. A few are difficult. All change constantly, and most think that only they know the law. However, the smaller and more local your online divorce forms preparer, the more local knowledge they will have, the faster they will acquire it and the less likely is your case to get caught up and delayed in such adjustments.

My Advice: If you have the option (and sometimes you won’t), go with a smaller local or regional online divorce forms preparer, but if the choice is between local/regional and inexperienced or nationwide and experienced, definitely go with the experience every time. Experience is a larger factor than location and local knowledge, but even 2-3 years of experience should be enough if you can find someone local.

Price Advertising Nonsense: Obviously you want to know the full and final price before you pay a dime. Almost all of the top 10 national sites are upfront and clear in their onsite pricing – so no problem there. But the problem is in the advertising of fees in text or banner ads on Google or similar advertisement distribution systems. These are the ads you will likely see that attract you to a particular site in the first place.

What to watch for here are phrases like, “from $150,” “starting at $200” or the popular, “start your case for $175.” You want either a full and clear advertisement of the all-inclusive price or no advertisement of price at all. Teasers or up-selling are not helpful. Regrettably, this type of practice seems to be more pervasive in smaller local online divorce providers, no doubt because they are trying to become larger.

The reason that no advertisement of pricing is fine is that some online divorce providers still divide uncontested divorce fees into “with children” and “without children.” Some even add extra for a Marital Settlement Agreement, which most cases will need. There’s nothing wrong with such menu pricing, though in the age of divorce software, it should not be necessary. Make sure any menu pricing and up-selling possibilities are clearly indicated on-site.

Another troubling and developing piece of price nonsense that I’ve noticed recently is that a small group of regional sites in California has morphed to an higher price level, namely “starting at $349,” but conceals their pricing on-site in the obvious hope of getting you to begin their interview process before you find the actual price of your case. When you get to a site, if you cannot discover the stated complete all-inclusive price with one or fewer clicks, walk away.

The “Free” Forms Trap in Online Divorce

This article is the fourth and final part of a series dealing with what new divorce consumers should consider and avoid when hiring an online divorce forms preparer to handle an uncontested divorce. The “free” forms scam deserved its own article.

The “free” forms scam falls into two distinct categories of websites. We’ll call them Kit Providers and Bait and Switchers.

Kit Providers: Kit Providers offer blank downloadable divorce forms, i.e. forms not completed with your personal information. Divorce forms need to be completed before they can be filed at court to begin your divorce.

Blank forms are provided by Kit Providers on the basis that you will be able to complete them using their provided instructions and then, again using their written instructions, to file your case at court and then complete your divorce free of charge (other than any court filing fee, which can be waived if you have low income).

Therefore, what is offered by Kit Providers is a compelling possibility for those trying to save money in their uncontested divorce cases, i.e. everyone. They provide the free forms. You provide your personal data. All that is missing is the knowledge of how to complete whichever forms apply to your case, what to do with those completed forms and when to do it. It can’t be too difficult to figure out that last part, can it?

I regret to advise you to forget it. In divorce, strangely like everything else any of us has ever experienced in life, nothing of any value is free. There is always a cost hiding somewhere. Downloading free blank forms will never, with any amount of un-personalized written instruction, get you divorced in a clean smooth process, if at all. If you attempt it, I can virtually guarantee you that it will not go well. You will encounter the cost you tried to avoid – and then some!

I have seen the quality of several sets of written instructions that come with downloadable forms. They are all only several pages of very thin, vague and sketchy instructions that will not help you in any practical sense to get your specific case filed or completed without great difficulty. Such instructions could not possibly contain enough specific personalized information to enable you to complete your case.

The problem is that unlike after you have hired a lawyer ($600-$800 for an uncontested) or an experienced high-quality online divorce service ($100-$300), Kit Providers will not know anything about you, your case or your local court at the time you download their kit and instructions. Such instructions would literally need to be hundreds of pages long to instruct you on all reasonable possibilities. In fact, they would have to be so long and complex that no one would ever read them to try to find the few pages that apply to her case.

You will still need to figure out how to complete which forms in the circumstances of your case and what to do with them and when.

One major California Kit Provider will sell you a 250-page book for $22 that purports to tell you how to fill in their “free” forms and what to do with them. You might think that is not a bad deal and could save you some money.

Yet the $22 book also fails the practical test, and they have been selling that book, updated every year, since 1972. There is no doubt that this book is well-written by well-intentioned experienced people who are trying to assist you – up to a certain point. But the last time that book actually worked to tell someone how to complete and file divorce forms from start to finish was around 1972. Divorce is just too complex these days – too many different forms, procedures and multiple complex life issues that inevitably bleed through into your specific case.

Divorce Financial Help – Finding Money During the Divorce

If you are going through a divorce it is already probably obvious that financial problems seem to pop up and/or grow. Prior expenses like child care, transportation, food, utilities, rent or mortgage expenses often increase, sometimes significantly. Here are some common financial techniques as well as a brand new option to assist you in finding money and reducing expenses while waiting for your divorce to settle.

In almost all divorces where formerly there was the cost of the rent/mortgage and maintenance of only one residence, most commonly split between two incomes, you will usually end up with two residences, two rents/mortgages, and two sets of utility bills. If not planned for, this additional expense can become overwhelming.

When children are involved in a divorce, costs during and after a divorce almost always go up. Where once there were two parents able to take turns watching the children, rides to school, softball practice, and friends, there is now only one parent at a time designated to help. Forget about splitting homework duty, caring for children when they get sick, etc. People going through a divorce seldom consider the additional expense of the child care and transportation costs associated with the above as well as running the kids back and forth to the other parents home.

If the above seems familiar, then you are already asking yourself “Where do I find the extra money to pay for my increased expenses until the divorce settles?” or “How do I get financially stable during the divorce proceedings?” Here are a few ideas plus a totally new option to help guide you financially until the divorce settles.

  1. This one is simple…reduce, reduce, reduce. Reduce your overhead expenses by reducing or eliminating expenses that are not needed. There is a difference between wants and needs. Do you really need cable, Tivo, to eat out, that extra latte, etc. Cut out any and all unnecessary expenses where possible.
  2. Count your human assets: Parents, siblings, friends, fellow workers, church/temple members, etc. It is alright to open up and share that you are going through a divorce as approximately 50% of marriages currently end in divorce. Share your problems with people you trust and ask them for their assistance. You will be surprised how many people come forth to offer free or reduced day care for your kids, to run errands to take them to their softball game, music practice, etc. if they are taking their kids anyway, and more and more churches, temples, and community centers now offer support groups for divorcees and those going through divorce. It is important to always be gracious, thankful, and remember not to unload too much of your personal problems regarding the divorce on people who come to your help or they may become resentful and your saviors may soon find reasons why they can no longer assist you. You may also find friends, family, and contacts that can assist with handy work and maintenance if you are not qualified to do the work yourself and your budget does not allow you to hire someone.
  3. Reduce or eliminate the legal costs of preparing and filing your divorce. Hopefully your divorce will be uncontested. If yes, they are fairly simple to do on your own for little money. You can even complete most of your divorce online at sites like Online divorces are nothing new and can save you thousands of dollars with the average divorce in the United States utilizing a lawyer costing $5,000 or more and an online divorce usually between $200 – $300. However, if your divorce is being contested or is very complex an online divorce may not be right for you and you may have to hire a good divorce attorney. Look for a referral to a good divorce attorney or seek divorce attorneys that offer a free initial consultation so you can get a feel to see if he/she is a good fit to represent your best interests during the divorce. The repercussions from a divorce can last years, decades, or even the rest of your life so make sure if you need a good divorce attorney you take the time to find one.
  4. Access the equity you already have. A recurring problem during divorces is accessing equity and cash in property and formerly shared banking accounts, stocks, bonds, and other assets. Often, pending the divorce, access to the shared assets are frozen or inaccessible. Sometimes one of the spouses had complete control over checking and savings accounts and now refuses to relinquish the control until forced by the divorce decree. This can tie up funds you would formerly have had access to for many months and sometimes even years depending on the number of assets, types of assets like businesses and homes, contracts, and the difficulty you and your spouse have in agreeing to the divorce. Fortunately there is a new option available to many people going through a divorce. This new option is called a divorce loan or more accurately a divorce advance.