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Does a married couple’s fighting style predict divorce?

Couples argue for many reasons and in many different ways. Some individuals shout, some throw things, some analyze and some completely shut down when confronted by his or her spouse. But is one of these fighting styles more toxic to a relationship than the other? Does fighting earlier on in marriage indicate that a couple is doomed for divorce? A study recently published by the University of Michigan offers some answers to these questions.

Researchers at the University of Michigan conducted a 16-year study of 373 couples. Each couple was entered into the study during their first year of marriage. Researchers wanted to know if certain fighting styles and the amount of fighting between each couple would affect their chances of divorcing later on in life.

According to the study, 46 percent of couples who reported no fights during the first year of marriage ended up divorcing within 16 years. This may contradict the beliefs of many who think that fighting during the early years of marriage signifies a couple’s inability to resolve issues with each other. However, the couple who fights may be better off because they are learning to communicate their frustrations and worries.

Researchers also analyzed fighting styles of couples and determined that the most destructive response to an argument was for one spouse to withdraw from the conflict while the other analyzed the situation internally. When both spouses are quiet, nothing gets resolved and the problem lingers. Spouses may worry that the other’s lack of response signifies indifference or a lack of interest in the relationship.

The University of Michigan acknowledges that there is still a lot to learn about marriage and divorce, but the study’s results do offer some interesting insights. The study also offers some insight on how family law attorneys approach clients who are thinking about divorce. Divorce gets a bad reputation for causing long and expensive legal battles between individuals who cannot come to an agreement with each other. However, just as effective communication in marriage can keep a couple together, effective communication during divorce can prevent individuals from enduring a painful legal battle.

Family law attorneys understand how difficult a divorce can be on any individual, regardless if a marriage ends amicably or not. Lawyers in Illinois realize that each divorce case is unique, and there are different ways to assist clients with reaching agreements and settlements. Family law attorneys offer couples an alternative to the standard divorce process. Individuals who are focused on communication and collaborating with each other throughout the divorce process may find it beneficial to participate in divorce mediation. Mediation tends to be a less expensive and less stressful alternative to traditional litigation.

Couples interested in mediation can still resolve their legal conflicts regarding divorce, child custody, child support and division of marital property without going to trial. Although family law attorneys acknowledge that mediation may not be for every couple, they identify individuals that would be good candidates for the process and inform divorcing couples about the benefits of mediation as opposed to traditional divorce.

Child Support Payments Took a Hit Due to U.S. Economy

In Illinois, many parents rely on child support in order to provide for their children. Child support payments allow custodial parents to allocate funds towards food, clothing, daycare, tuition and other expenses. All of these expenses add up quickly, and for any parent it can become overwhelming when trying to keep up with all of the other payments such as housing, insurance and a car loan.

In Illinois, a custodial parent may receive child support up until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school. There are some cases when a parent would qualify for child support beyond that. Overall, many parents are entitled to receive funds in order to pay for the expenses of taking care of a child. However, this economy is proving to be difficult to pay and receive child support.

According to the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Child Support Enforcement, child support payments fell in the U.S. in 2009. This is the first decrease in payments for more than three decades. It is believed that more custodial parents are receiving less in child support because of the horrible mess our economy is in. Reports show that in Illinois, 88% of child support cases were delinquent at some point in the fiscal year of 2009.

The amount of personal bankruptcies has risen, unemployment and underemployment levels are high and debt continues to increase. People are struggling to make ends meet, and in some cases individuals may choose not to make a full child support payment. Parents on both sides are struggling. One parent can’t make the payment and the other doesn’t get the money to support the child. The director for California Child Support Services Department explained, “For many of our families, [child support payments are] the difference between being in poverty and rising out of it.”

Family law attorneys can help custodial and noncustodial parents work out child support agreements that are manageable and accurately based. Family law attorneys can also speed up the process so that parents can possibly collect payments that are delinquent and still owing. Many can become frustrated with the legal process, but family law attorneys work to ensure that payments are correctly calculated and enforced in a timely manner.

Man Faces Criminal Charges for Snooping through Wife’s E-Mails

An interesting story drew a lot of attention from family law attorneys and American’s across the nation last week. A Michigan state law used against internet hackers intending to steal trade secrets and identities is now being used against a man who went through his estranged wife’s e-mails. The man now faces felony charges for computer misuse. But is this statute applicable to the man’s case?

Divorce can be a difficult time for many, causing added stress and worries. The 33-year-old man from Michigan and his wife were in the process of a divorce, and he suspected that his wife was having an affair with a former husband. His suspicions were concerning because he believed his wife was seeing her second husband who had been arrested before for beating the woman in front of her young son. The man feared for the safety of his step-son and his own child.

He explained, “I was doing what I had to do.” The man logged into his wife’s e-mail account using a shared computer in their home that they were both living in. He claims that his wife kept her passwords next to the computer, and he has no choice but to read through her e-mails. His suspicions were confirmed.

After finding evidence in the e-mails that the woman was having an affair with her second ex-husband, the man gave the e-mails to the woman’s first ex-husband. The woman’s first ex-husband was the father of the child who witnessed the beating. The man immediately filed an emergency motion to obtain custody of the child.

When the woman learned that her third husband accessed her e-mails without her permission last March, she filed charges against him. The couple’s divorce was later finalized in December.

Although many are questioning the validity of the Internet law being applied in this case, charges have not been dropped against the man. Prosecutors claim that the man broke state privacy laws.

If the Michigan man is convicted of hacking into his former wife’s e-mail account, he could be sentenced up to five years in prison. Divorce attorneys across the nation will be interested in the outcome of the Feb. 7 trial. According to an electronic privacy expert, about 45 percent of divorce cases involve spouses snooping through each other’s e-mails, Facebook and other online accounts. If the man is convicted of the crime, the court system could be opening a floodgate for similar cases.

Woman flees Illinois with child, violating visitation agreement

Child custody cases are complex, and the battle for rights over a child in Illinois may not always be between a mother and a father. In some cases when a parent is not present, is deceased or is disabled, the grandparents of a child may request visitation rights in order to maintain a bond with their grandchild. In these instances, a judge will determine if the grandparents should be awarded visitation rights and a schedule will be agreed upon that each party must lawfully follow.

Failing to adhere to a visitation schedule or a child custody agreement is a serious matter and one could face prison time for violating visitation and custody agreements. A woman who recently fled Illinois with her child has now been jailed and faces nine counts of unlawful child visitation interference for her actions.

In 2008, the woman was in the process of divorcing her husband. The two were fighting for custody of their baby daughter, but everything changed when the woman’s husband was shot and killed. The woman then had custody of her child, but the murdered husband’s parents requested to have grandparent visitation rights.

In September 2010, an Illinois judge finally granted grandparent visitation rights to the murdered husband’s parents. However, in November 2010, the mother of the child stopped adhering to the order and left Illinois with her 3-year-old daughter.

On March 1, an Illinois judge issued a warrant for the woman’s arrest after she failed to show up at a hearing regarding the visitation order she had violated. The woman was arrested in Florida and will be brought back to Illinois where the child visitation case will resume once the woman is released from jail.

Divorced couple argues religious differences in custody battle

The Chicago couple divorced in 2007 with a joint parenting agreement. Both parents had agreed to raise their son to be Jewish since the mother had recently converted and was a devout Hasidic Jew herself. The family never observed Jewish traditions or beliefs while the couple was married, but since the father only attended Roman Catholic services on Thanksgiving and Christmas, he agreed to allow his son to be raised under the Jewish faith. However, the divorced couple was back in the Cook County Circuit Court this week to discuss their ongoing child custody battle.

Religion is at the center of the couple’s disagreement over their current joint parenting agreement. The mother, who is in her late 30s, claims that her ex-husband has been disrupting their 8-year-old son’s religious upbringing. The father has been accused of purposely feeding his son bacon and non-kosher foods. The mother says that her ex-husband has also refused to make sure that the boy wears his yarmulke to school. In the courtroom on Wednesday, the woman said that she wants the former custody agreement revoked and is fighting for sole custody of her son.

However, the father claims that he is the parent who should have sole custody of the child. The 52-year-old man believes that the strict religious upbringing of his son may actually be alienating the 8-year-old. Attorneys representing both parents believe that either the mother or father should have sole custody because of the conflicting views over the child’s religious upbringing.

The father’s attorney said, “The question here is who is the better decision-maker.” The attorney said that he plans to bring up the couple’s past to illustrate how the mother has a history of making some “extreme” decisions. The couple met in 1995 at Chicago’s Admiral Theatre. The woman was an exotic dancer and the man was the manager of the adult club. After the couple married, they both changed careers. The father now works in real estate, and the mother has turned to Judaism.

Both attorneys have brought child psychiatrists into the case who will each testify that their client should have sole custody. Religion can complicate any child custody battle, especially when parents have differing views and beliefs. For couple’s in Illinois who are considering divorce, they may want to evaluate the benefits of family law mediation. This Chicago couple is clearly beyond being able to come to an agreement, but couple’s who are just beginning to consider divorce may be able to come to an agreement on more amicable terms. Divorce mediation is an alternative to traditional litigation and helps individuals find practical solutions to their divorce issues.

Recovering economy prompts boost in divorce filings

Earlier this year, our Lake County family law blog discussed how the recession had put a strain on many marriages in the U.S. A study had polled 1,200 married couples and nearly 30 percent reported that the recession had caused financial worries in marriages, leading more couples to consider divorce. However, 40 percent of the couples who reported that they considered divorce chose not to go through with the process because of the financial consequences.

Now that the economy appears to be on the path to recovery, divorce attorneys have reported a dramatic increase in divorce filings. The financial downturn may have prevented many couples from divorcing for several reasons. Investments tanked, creating fears that the each individual would not be able to afford living on their own income. Home values plummeted, making it difficult for couples to sell their homes. And individuals who owned businesses had to deal with another slew of financial issues. Overall, many couples decided that filing for a divorce would be too risky for one or both spouses.

The recent increase in divorce filings suggests that more couples are finally feeling less worried about their finances. However, choosing to end a marriage now may actually cost couples more. As individuals improve their financial stability, they also see an increase in the size of divorce settlements.

“There are a lot of things that you have to be really careful about in this kind of economy if you’re moving forward [with a divorce],” said the president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. In any divorce case, couples should always be aware of the market and how that could affect the value of their assets. Each individual should have a good understanding of what assets may perform better than others in order to ensure that marital property is split fairly.

Individuals in Illinois who are considering a divorce can seek guidance from an experienced attorney who can help them understand what costs are associated with divorce and how to best negotiate the division of assets and debt.

Entrepreneurs may face higher risk for divorce

Entrepreneurs are known for pouring their hearts and souls into business ventures. They take great risks with the hopes of making their financial, physical and emotional investments pay off some day. They generally put in long hours and devote a significant amount of attention to fledgling businesses. With that kind of necessary dedication to a business venture, it is not surprising that a large percentage of entrepreneurs find their spouses feeling neglected.

Small business experts believe there is a strong connection between entrepreneurship and divorce. They claim they see the same pattern repeating over and over: those who are most successful at creating successful businesses are often the ones who struggle the most to hold their marriages together.

It is no secret that a number of factors may strain a relationship. These commonly include disagreements about finances, lack of communication, having widely different goals in life and feeling neglected. Over time, these resentments can build up and become unbearable. Eventually, they can even overpower a relationship.

Many spouses admit that it is difficult to compete with the intense passion their entrepreneur spouses have for their businesses. They sometimes tend to feel as though they are not as important as the business and feel neglected. To make things even more difficult, owning a business can bring out personality traits that the spouses have never seen before, such as bossiness, self-importance and impatience.

If spouses are not able to effectively communicate and identify ways to break down the resentment, they may find themselves searching for a divorce attorney.



Late divorce payment costs CEO $750,000 in interest

For many Illinois couples who are going through a divorce, dividing marital assets may be one of the most complicated tasks, especially in a high asset divorce case. Each spouse must carefully consider how the division of marital property will affect their current and future financial situations, but they should also make sure that they fully understand the terms of their agreement before signing a settlement.

A state Supreme Court has ruled that the CEO of Credit Suisse Group AG owes his former wife over $750,000 in interest for a $7.5 million divorce payment that he made 12 days late. The couple’s divorce settlement stipulates that the CEO would pay his ex-wife interest at an annual rate of 10 percent if he was late with the $7.5 million payment, which was due in June of 2006. While the CEO was late, he paid her an additional $25,000 for the 12 days’ worth of interest. However, the ex-wife’s attorney claimed the man owed his ex more.

The CEO contested that this sum should be sufficient and that he should not be charged interest more than the 12 days in which he was delinquent. The state Supreme Court justices disagreed, however, unanimously ruling that the man pay his ex at the rate determined in the divorce settlement. One justice explained that the CEO is “financially sophisticated” and should have been fully aware of the terms to which he had agreed upon when he signed the settlement.

The ex-wife’s attorney also asserted that the CEO should be obligated to pay an additional 10 percent annual interest over the last five years on the $750,000 penalty on which he was delinquent. If the court rules again in his former wife’s favor, the CEO would face a total fee of around $1.1 million. Whether he will be forced to pay this sum is expected to be resolved at a future hearing.

The man and his wife signed the divorce settlement in June 2005. The CEO was worth nearly $80 million and had agreed to pay his wife $15.3 million in two installments. His ex-wife also received the couple’s home which was valued at $9.6 million at the time as well as a 2000 BMW vehicle.

NFL lockout sends players seeking modifications for child support

As of this week, the National Football League lockout will continue. The lockout between NFL players and the owners of the league has been going on since March. The two sides have failed to reach an agreement on how to split more than $9 billion in annual revenue, and now players are worried that they will lose their income if a labor contract cannot be reached.

As a result of the lockout, many players have been seeking modifications for child support and spousal support payments in order to financially prepare for a potential decrease in their incomes. An attorney who is already representing some NFL players commented that the NFL industry is in “trouble” and as a result, players may no longer be able to meet their current financial obligations.

Many wives and mothers fear that the modifications will require them to make some serious adjustments if child support and spousal support payments are significantly decreased. One woman who is a nurse with a 2-year-old son said that she may not be able to afford child care if her son’s father, a player for the New York Jets, seeks a modification on his payments.

However, just because NFL players are seeking modifications doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be granted a reduction in payments. When a judge reviews the modification request, he or she will consider other income and assets in addition to paychecks. Some players could be required to sell some of their assets such as real estate, vehicles or championship rings in order to continue paying the agreed upon amounts for support.

More baby boomers embrace divorce

The rate of divorce in couples who were part of the “baby boomer” generation is currently on the rise. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, couples who had been married for at least 20 years accounted for nearly one-fourth of the divorces that occurred in 2007. They are now the generation most prone to divorce.
For people in their 50s, 35.7 percent of them have been divorced, opposed to 23.4 percent of people over 70 years old.

Some couples say their marriages dissolved as a result of dissatisfaction, growing apart or losing intimacy. Other couples find that they have nothing in common after their children are grown and have left home. After spending years parenting and juggling busy schedules, some couples realize that they do not know how to just live with each other anymore.

Although society may expect a couple to stay together once they have been married for so long, many baby boomers choose to divorce because they no longer feel constrained by religious consequences or social taboos that used to be associated with divorce. Also, the financial independence women now have is greater compared to the age before the boomers. All of these factors make it easier for a couple to make a logical decision to divorce if their marriage no longer brings them happiness.

In addition to more baby boomers divorcing, many wives are the ones who are initiating the divorces. According to an AARP study in 2004, 66 percent of women filed for divorce.

All in all, many marriages of people over the age of 50 are quickly coming to an end, but many of these couples are also focusing on ending their marriages on good terms. They now have grown children and grandchildren, and they want to continue to be involved with family activities.

Although divorce is known to provoke disputes between couples, couples who share similar thoughts about what they want from a divorce can often communicate effectively with a mediator and come up with fair solutions regarding property division and other agreements. Divorce mediation gives spouses the opportunity to resolve the legal matters associated with divorce without having to go through the traditional litigation process which can be costly and time consuming.