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How financial 'cheating' may affect a divorce process - Part II

During our last post, we began a discussion about the concept of financial cheating and the ways this behavior may influence one’s divorce process. We asked readers to think of financial cheating as “any time you have lied to your spouse about any significant financial matter or any time you have hidden a significant financial matter from your spouse. It goes without saying that if your spouse has hidden or lied about any significant financial matter that this behavior can be considered financial cheating as well,” for the purposes of this discussion.

We also noted that hiding information or providing misleading information about your finances during the divorce process is not just financial cheating, it can be considered a crime. It is therefore important that you “come clean” about any hidden assets, etc. that you may have knowledge of. In addition, it is important to alert your attorney to any suspicions you have that your spouse may be engaging in financial cheating, as constructing a divorce settlement without factoring this information in may leave you with far less than you deserve.

How financial 'cheating' may affect a divorce process - Part I

It is a well-known fact that finances tend to cause tension between American spouses. Oftentimes, disagreements about finances can lead to divorce. While marital disagreements about money may stay largely hidden from public view, the divorce process compels spouses to lay their financial realities out on the table. When instances of financial “cheating” come to light, they may ultimately end up influencing the divorce process in significant ways.

It is important to understand that hiding assets, debts, accounts, real estate and other financial matters from the divorce process can be a crime. If a judge discovers that you have hidden financial information from the court, you could be charged with contempt, charged with other criminal wrongdoing and even sued by your spouse. Even if you have financially “cheated” on your spouse in the past, it is imperative that you come clean during the divorce process.

Single parents: It is okay to admit that you are imperfect

The American experience tends to be hectic. In popular culture, much emphasis is placed on the concept of “having it all.” Educators, entertainers and advertisers seem to consistently praise the virtues of working hard, playing hard and resting well. There are few individuals who can pull off this delicate balance. And if you are a single parent with babies, young kids or teens, such a balance can prove truly impossible to achieve.

Whether you are recently separated from your child’s other parent or you have been a single parent for some time, there is absolutely no shame in admitting that you cannot achieve this kind of balance. There is also no shame in admitting that you are not perfect. In fact, your kids and your sanity can truly benefit from such an admission.

When is a marriage 'absolutely null' or 'relatively null'? p2

We are talking about how Louisiana law treats marriages that for one reason or another should not have taken place. Remember, a valid marriage requires the man and woman to consent to the marriage contract and to participate in a legitimate marriage ceremony. In addition, there cannot be a legal impediment to the marriage.

If there is a legal impediment, though, the marriage may be either absolutely null or relatively null. In our last post, we discussed the conditions that would render a marriage absolutely null, that is, as if the ceremony had never occurred. Here, we are moving on to relatively null marriages.

When is a marriage 'absolutely null' or 'relatively null'?

The definition of marriage has been a subject of controversy and lawsuits for the past couple of years (at least). Louisiana's definition is just two sentences long:

Marriage is a legal relationship between a man and a woman that is created by civil contract. The relationship and the contract are subject to special rules prescribed by law.
(La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 86)

Marriage Is A Contract That Creates Community Property

Under Louisiana law, LA-R.S. 9:237, when domestic partners marry, any property owned by the individual parties will become subject to the state's community property laws, unless the couple signs a prenuptial agreement or post-nuptial (after date of marriage) specifying which property will remain separate and in the control of the individual spouse. Even a prenuptial agreement, however, may not prevent the property as being classified as community property if the spouses commingle (join) the assets and realize a gain on their investment or take on increased debt as a result.

What your divorced friends might tell you about divorce

When Americans reach certain life milestones, they tend to either receive books related to those milestones as gifts or they search out books related to their situations. For example, when couples opt to marry or when they find themselves expecting a child, they tend to gravitate towards the “weddings” and “parenting” sections of libraries and local book stores. This trend is both normal and healthy, as it makes perfect sense that individuals would seek counsel from authors on subjects they themselves are currently navigating.

The divorce section of bookstores and libraries tends to look very different than the wedding section and the parenting section do. While the divorce section tends to consist primarily of legal texts and books about “surviving” divorce, the wedding and parenting sections are primarily full of advice books written by cheerful experts and memoirs written by those who have experienced this life event before.

The wisdom that the divorce process may inspire

If you are weathering the challenges of the divorce process, you may understandably have trouble viewing the glass as half-full. Negotiating or litigating a divorce settlement and/or child custody matters can be a draining experience. In addition, you may be experiencing financial challenges related to splitting up your household. Finally, you are likely experiencing a host of challenging emotions related to your divorce.

It can be difficult to take comfort in the knowledge that your divorce process may make you wiser if you allow it to do so. However, it is important to remind yourself of this note with relative frequency. Viewing the divorce process as a transition from one phase of life to another and as an experience to be learned from can help you to restore any optimism that you may have lost.

If you may lose your marital home due to divorce

It may indeed be true that home is where the heart is. Perhaps your heart resides squarely in the home that you and your spouse have resided in over the course of your marriage. If financial necessity, procedural necessity or a fundamental disagreement as to which spouse should remain in the house after your divorce is threatening your ability to reside in that home, you may understandably feel frightened, frustrated or even devastated.

We frequently write about the importance of processing any negative emotions or grief that you may be struggling with during divorce. By processing your emotions and grief in healthy ways, you will place yourself in the best position possible to obtain a fair divorce settlement and to move positively into your future. This same logic applies to the grief process associated with losing a marital home or fear of losing a marital home.

What kids and teens want co-parents to understand

Not so long ago, there was a cultural norm that insisted children should be seen and not heard. Thankfully, American culture has generally moved past this outdated approach to raising children. However, simply because children and teens are often encouraged to speak up and to express themselves does not mean that adults always understand what children and teens are feeling. As young people are still developing emotionally, it is not always easy for them to express deep, complicated feelings and thoughts.

When children and teens are told that their parents have decided to divorce, they tend to feel emotions which are complex and vulnerable. Sometimes their feelings seem to contradict each other and sometimes their feelings may even frighten them. As a result, it is important for co-parents to understand where their children are likely coming from as kids may not always be able to express themselves articulately on their own.

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