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Every state has its own set of specific laws covering family law, which includes divorce, alimony, property distribution, child support, and custody. You can read the full text of each state's divorce laws by clicking on the state links below. As you will see, many of these laws are complex and detailed; and, while we do our best to keep this information current, the statutes and code are revised by states on a periodic basis. If any of the following information is of particular interest or concern, consider doing further research or contacting an attorney in your area Click Here for State-by-State Law Guide.

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Divorce Resource Article Guide
by Henry S. Gornbein

9.   Find out as much about your financials as possible before you file a divorce, so that there will be no surprises.

8.   Try to find out as much as possible about your job security and if you aren’t employed, see what your options are for employment.

7.   Carefully consider all options, especially whether or not the marriage can be saved.

6.   Think about your house. Does it have a negative equity? Can you afford the payments? Do you want to stay in the house, or leave?

5.   If you have children, think about your children. Can you work with your soon to be former spouse regarding custody and parenting time? What arrangement makes sense for you?

4.   Build a support system among family and friends, because this will be important as you go through a divorce.

3.   Keep a journal. Keep track of incidents and events. Do this both before and during the divorce.

2.   Prepare budgets. Try to figure out either individually or with a financial planner or an attorney, what you will need to live on once the divorce is final.

1.   Find a good attorney, someone you can trust, someone you can work with, someone who will not try to take advantage of you. The role of an attorney is to be supportive, to litigate, and be your advocate where necessary, but also not to create a scorched-earth policy. We at Gornbein Smith Peskin-Shepherd PLLC will have your best interests at heart, but will also take into account, especially if there are children, that you will have to communicate and move forward doing what is best for your children.

Divorce and Bankruptcy

In these troubled economic times, more and more people are turning to the protection of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to resolve their debts and protect their property from foreclosure and repossession.

More than 1 million people filed bankruptcy last year alone, and the numbers are only climbing as the recession hits homes.

Some people are finding that in order for them to save their homes from foreclosure or to gain control of their bills, they need to file bankruptcy in the middle of their divorce.

This can lead to many questions as the legal proceedings of bankruptcy and divorce intersect.

Read on to get answers to some bankruptcy and divorce questions you may have. 

What Happens to Property if My Spouse Files Bankruptcy?

When a spouse decides to file bankruptcy, all property acquired during the marriage becomes a part of the bankruptcy estate.

That property may be sold by the bankruptcy court in order to repay debts, depending on which type of personal bankruptcy is filed (Chapter 7 or 13).

But don’t panic—in many bankruptcy cases, most property is considered exempt and the debtor gets to keep all or most of his or her assets.

In any case, you and you’re spouse’s property may not be divided by the divorce court until the bankruptcy trustee decides whether the property is exempt.

Bankruptcy & the Automatic Stay: Could it Help Me?

When a person files bankruptcy, they receive the protection of the bankruptcy automatic stay, which is a legal order that prohibits creditors from trying to collect on most types of debt.

  • The bankruptcy automatic stay can stop:
  • foreclosure
  • repossession
  • utility shutoffs
  • direct credit contact (calls & correspondence)
  • some wage garnishments and lawsuits

When the new bankruptcy law went in effect in 2005, it ruled that a former spouse’s obligations can’t be discharged through bankruptcy.

As a result, the bankruptcy automatic stay does not stop you from paying alimony or child support and it doesn’t stop a spouse from asking the divorce judge to order you to pay alimony and child support.

I’m Filing Bankruptcy and Getting Divorced, Should I File Jointly?

If you’re getting divorced and about to file bankruptcy, filing jointly may just be something to consider.

When a couple jointly files bankruptcy, it can make the final division of remaining assets easier. Also, filing joint bankruptcy is typically cheaper than filing bankruptcy as separate individuals.

But it’s important to keep in mind that whether you’re filing bankruptcy before, during or after a divorce, a bankruptcy filing will likely have an impression on your divorce case and will likely affect the your finances and property.

Additional Divorce and Bankruptcy Questions?

If you or a spouse is filing bankruptcy (or just thinking about it) and you’re getting a divorce, it’s important that you weigh the pros and cons.

A divorce or bankruptcy lawyer can be a good resource to talk to you if you have further questions


Nine Ways to Deal with the System in Tough Times

by Henry S. Gornbein

9. Once your divorce is filed, find out as much as you can about the judge.

8. Stay out of court as much as possible because court appearances are costly, not only financially, but also from an emotional standpoint. Judges will not know you or your case unless you are in a situation where you are in court every week on motions or hearings, and often the judge will be getting a very negative impression of you.

7. Make sure that you and your attorney are well prepared before you go to court. Floundering around in court can create a bad impression, and is also costly.

6. Through your attorney, see if your judge is one who will cut court appearances to minimize expense. This can be done by, in some instances, having original pre-trials and some court appearances done by phone if the judge and the other attorney will agree.

5. When you go to court, try to accomplish as many matters as possible. Don’t go to court every week on a motion. If there are issues, save them so that you are covering several issues at once, because there is an economy of scale, and this is a way to save money.

4. Try every means to settle the case first through meetings and if possible, direct conversation with your soon to be former spouse. Try mediation, because this settles most cases.

3. If the case must go to trial, discuss other options. Perhaps yours is a case that should be arbitrated. Arbitration can often be a cost-effective means in resolving a case without numerous court appearances because in court you will spend a day in court, and often get two or three hours of testimony in, or you may be coming back again and again for court appearances before you actually go to trial, while with an arbitrator you can be much more effective in time management.

2. If you actually go to trial, make sure that you are well prepared, and look at other options. One option that can be effective in a small case where there are not a lot of issues, is to have a summary trial. In a summary trial, if everyone agrees, you can relax the rules of evidence and submit exhibits in advance to be reviewed by the judge. You can have your opening and closing statements in writing, and have an understanding that each party will be allowed to speak for a limited amount of time without being questioned or cross- examined, thus the judge gets a picture on an uninterrupted basis, and is able to make a decision. This can be effective where there are not a lot of complicated issues, and where there is not a lot of money to spend on court costs and attorney fees.

1. Last, but not least, retain an attorney who meets your needs, who understands the legal system, understands the courts, and will be doing what is best for you. Here at Gornbein Smith Peskin-Shepherd PLLC, we will do whatever we can to help you and our role is to effectively represent you on a case by case basis. Thus, if you are fighting over a million dollars, you will have representation that is effective to protect your assets. If you are fighting over debts, you will still be fully represented, but the fact that you have very little in funds for attorney fees, will be recognized and everything will be done to minimize the costs on your behalf.

Divorce Recovery: Releasing the Toxic Emotions

Shelley Stile
Life Coach/Divorce Recovery for Women

The way to recover and thrive after divorce is simple: Until you can release the toxic emotions surrounding your divorce, it is impossible for you to move forward in life and be happy.  It takes enormous commitment and effort but it can be achieved.  If you want to lead a new life that is both fulfilling and happy, you must let go of the negative emotions and thoughts that hold you back from creating a life you love.  And guess what else?  Who do you suppose pays the biggest price when it comes to toxic emotions?  You.

During the divorce process, the negative emotions that you were already experiencing in your marriage go haywire!  During times of crisis, our world appears to crumble and with it our concept of whom we are. Our mind chatter turns up the volume to deafening levels.  We question everything.  We feel emotions so intense that we often wonder if we will survive them.  Anger, sadness, depression, rage, grief, resentment, bitterness, and confusion are some of the feelings we are hit with.  

Once a divorce is finalized, we find ourselves attempting to adjust to a new way of life that is oftentimes lonely and frightening.   The negative emotions are still there and perhaps worse as we face the harsh reality that we are indeed divorced and on our own.  Even if we are the one who initiated the divorce, it is still a brave new world.  If we spend our days tied up in thoughts and feelings that disempower us, there is no clear path to the future.

We may find ourselves ruminating about our situation throughout the day.  That time spent on the mind chatter based in negative feelings eats up time that we could be spent working on a new life.  Think about it. If I spend hours during the day consumed with thoughts of  resentment and hatred towards my ex, I don’t have time for other more productive thoughts and actions to arise.  There is only so much room up there in the head. If we use up all our space with negativity, we have no room for the much needed positive thoughts.

The destructive mind chatter will permeate every aspect of our being.  When we are residing in a perspective or attitude that life is not fair, then everything that goes on during the day will support that perspective.  If we are living in the perspective that our ex is a terrible person, then everything that he or she says and does will support that idea.  It spreads throughout our lives like a cancer.

Trust me, you are the one who pays the biggest price.  It is you who suffers the most. It is you who is giving up on life. It is you who is consumed with thoughts that cause stress, sadness, depression and paralysis.  It is you who becomes a person that few want to be around.  It is you who is setting a poor example for the children.  It is you who cannot move forward and is mired in the past, a past that is destined to repeat itself under the present conditions.

How then do we learn to let go of these toxic emotions and thoughts?  Here is a way to begin the journey to a future filled with all that you want:

1)  Understand that you are the sacrificial lamb on the altar of life.  You have this one precious life to live and you have the choice to make it great or miserable.  What will it be?

2)  No one other than yourself is responsible for your life, your divorce or your marriage for that matter.  This is one of the most difficult things to get your mind around but it is true. Unless you accept responsibility for yourself and everything you see in your life, then you will continue to blame others and give away your power.

If you were to be totally honest with yourself, you would probably see how you played an equal part in the collapse of your marriage.  Even if you are the so-called dumpee, there were two people in this marriage and no one person is solely at fault.  You may believe that your ex was a bully and a tyrant and you were an innocent victim but guess what?  You allowed it.  You were co-dependent; you empowered your ex in ways you may not even recognize at this point in time.

And if you are really honest and willing to do the inner work necessary to move on, you will see that who you were being in the marriage is who you have been all along.  Unresolved emotional issues from your past colored your marriage, it’s true.  If you had a bad relationship with your father and he made you feel worthless, you may go looking for a Father as a mate which is not the basis for a successful marriage.

3) To see outer change, you must first do the inner work.  In order to rid yourself of the same reactive, ingrained responses from your past you have to do the inner work of personal growth.  You must conquer the demons of mind chatter that run you.  You must learn what has been holding you back from living your best life, being happy and successful.  Whether you work with a therapist or a Life Coach doesn’t matter. Just do it!

4) It is during the times of the most intense pain and transition that we learn the lessons we need to learn and grow as a human being.  When we are challenged is when we learn deep lessons. When we learn deep lessons we grow as a human being.  It is easy to handle life in good times but it is when things get rough that our true character has the chance to emerge IF we allow it.  Again, it becomes your choice and your choice alone as to how you will handle this life transition.  You alone will choose to go forward or live in the past.  Once again I ask you…what will you do with this one precious life you have?

4) Everything that has happened to you has happened for a reason.  If you believe that there are no reasons for what happens in life then you will see no reasons for this divorce and you may stay stuck where you are right now.  If on the other hand you believe that everything that happens in our lives happens for a reason; that life is not random; that all the events we have experienced have moved us forward and in turn force us to evolve as a human being; that our purpose will reveal itself to us through these life lessons, well then you can see that this divorce is a tremendous opportunity to go inside and do the inner work that will cause you to transform as a human being.  You will also have a much easier time of letting go.

5) It is not so much what happens to us in life, rather it is how we handle what happens that counts.  Things will always happen in life, some good and some bad. That’s just life.  Accepting that fact shows you that you have a choice to choose how you will handle things.  You can choose to sit in resentment and bitterness and suffer as a result or you can choose to call upon your higher self that resides within and leap into the future as a better person.

6  Learn acceptance of what is versus what you think should be.  Very important point!  Have you truly accepted reality for what it truly is or are you still walking around in a world of should-be’s?  You know, I should be married, I should have more support, I shouldn’t be suffering, life should be fair, etc., etc., etc. The sooner you learn to accept things as they are, the sooner you will be able to make real choices on how you want to live your life.  

6) The meanings we add to what happens to us are not the facts.  Our interpretations of life dictate our future.  There are the facts of life and our personal interpretations of those facts.  We add meaning where oftentimes there is no other meaning than the fact itself.  For example, my husband is cold and heartless.  That means that I have failed to elicit his warmth and therefore I am a failure in this marriage.  That is just your interpretation. The fact remains that your husband is a cold person which is based on his past and not yours and over which you have no control!  Watch carefully how you choose to interpret reality. It will make all the difference in the world for you.

7)  Try separating the facts from the drama.  Oh the drama of it all.  He left me for no reason, he is a cad, I have suffered such abuse, he is causing me such unhappiness and this marriage was so destructive to me.  Facts?  He left because the marriage was not working and no one was happy, I am not an overly happy person to begin with, the destructive marriage is over and the future is available to  me if I am willing to let go of the past.  Do yourself a big favor and separate fact from drama.

8) Don’t let the mind chatter run the show because you will forever stay stuck.  Learn to disempower the mind chatter by not responding to it.  Hear it, notice it, and thank it for sharing and them move on. Don’t argue with it or attempt a logical conversation.  Mind chatter loves the status quo and abhors change so when change is in the air it will get very loud.  

9) Learn to forgive.   Forgiveness is not condoning bad behavior, it is simply forgiving it.  If you capable of forgiveness then you are capable of letting go of toxic emotions.  Look at the other person and see their inner child much like your own. Separate their behavior from that inner child and it is much easier to forgive.

10) Fall in love with yourself, warts and all. Honor everything about you.  Make a list of all the things you like about yourself.  Get your friends to tell you what they love about you.  Now look at the things that you think are not so hot about yourself.  Have they allowed you to do certain things that enhance you?  Can you simply see that they are all a part of you?  Can you see that you can also work to soften the edges?   You are a totally unique individual who will never be around again.  You have a gift to give the world that is yours and yours alone.

11) You have control over one thing and one thing alone in this life…yourself.   Did you try to change your ex during your marriage?  Did it work?  The only person you can change is yourself.  The only thing you can control in life is yourself.  It is through who you are being that will impact those around you most intensely and then is when you may see some changes.  Work on yourself and forget ]about working on the ex.  People change because they want to not because you want them to.  You will change because you want a better life.

So what will it be?  Are you willing to do the work that needs to be done in order to live a great life?  Are you willing to learn to let go of the past so you can live in the present and create the future?  The best way to predict the future is to invent it you know! 

The Real Divorce: Cutting the Emotional Ties that Bind

by Shelley Stile 
Your divorce decree is only step one in moving into a new life after divorce.  The real divorce is the cutting of the emotional, mental and physical ties that still bind you to your ex-husband.  This is the real work of divorce recovery: becoming a single woman possessed of confidence, self-esteem, an enthusiasm for life and most important, a complete break from the emotional turmoil that led to your divorce in the first place.

All too often, women experience the same conflicts with their ex that originally led to divorce: constant arguments, reactive behavior leading to emotional upsets, old patterns of reliance, the barrage of destructive barbs aimed at your self-esteem and deep hurts.   To truly be divorced you must put forth great effort and inner work that will sever your ties to your ex and you must build a structure that will facilitate that work.

Let me give you examples: You and your ex have children together therefore you must be in contact with one another on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, your discussions with him always end in an argument.  Nothing happens easily.  The deep resentments and hurts suffered in your marriage and actual divorce remain intact.  You each know each other’s hot buttons and continue to push those buttons resulting in upsets.  It’s the old marriage still running the game. You continually get sucked into this abyss.

If this is the case for you know that you have not divorced on an emotional level.  You are an ex-wife versus a divorced woman.  Somewhere inside of you there is still an attachment of some sort to either your marriage or your ex.  You need to look inside to determine where you are still tied to him.

Acceptance of your new place in life is mandatory. Acceptance comes from acknowledging that your marriage is over with no hope or wish for it to continue.  Acceptance allows you to living in a way that reveals a freedom from the past. It means living in the present and the future. It takes work but before you can do this work, you must put in place new rules that will lay the groundwork for a completely new relationship with your former husband. These rules are there to protect you from any further hurts or upsets.

You must build a new structure that empowers you versus disempowering you.  Take the analogy of going on a diet to lose weight.  You need to create an environment that will both motivate and move you towards your goal.  To do so you remove all of the temptations that lead to over-eating or eating the wrong foods. You clean out all the junk food form the cupboards and replace them with healthy and non-fattening foods. You create a support system with a friend who you can call when you feel yourself slipping into your old eating habits. You take on a partner in your exercise program.  In other words, you do everything that you can to surround yourself with ways to achieve your goal.

You must do the same thing when you are working at disentangling yourself from your ex.  Create an environment that will help, not hinder your progress towards true independence. Remove all the temptations to stay connected to your ex.  Within this framework you are free to do the inner work of healing.

 My ex and I had a fairly amiable divorce and we have managed to move out of each other’s lives albeit for the children. Or so I thought.  In reading the book, Leaving Him Behind by Sandra Kahn, she mentioned something that set off a light for me.  My ex has spent a good deal of time around my new home, as his condo has taken much longer to complete as was predicted. In order for the children to see him more often I have been extremely accommodating and have allowed him to be in my home with the kids.  He knows the code to my house lock and oftentimes enters on his own.  He has the tendency to walk into the house, open the refrigerator door and grabs something to eat, which is exactly what he always did when we were married.  Not such a big deal you might say.  But Ms. Kahn says otherwise.

Although we have a very friendly relationship for the most part, he is not my husband anymore. I have been far too accommodating to him. I should have created a scenario where it was incumbent upon him to get into his new place in order to have a place for him and the kids.

This is my house and I should have laid down he ground rules that said he is to knock on the front door just like any other houseguest.   Houseguests do not help themselves to the food in my refrigerator. This is him living by the old rules as if this were his home, which it is not.

These ground rules are meant to protect you and prevent any kind of situations that could lead to an upset.  Obviously the less you have to do with your ex the better.  That is not to say that you cannot have a relationship with your ex but it has to be radically different from the one you had while married.  There are those women who cannot have their ex in their lives for any reason other than the children.  Their emotional ties to their ex are still strong and they need to isolate themselves in order to break those ties.

Set ground rules that determines the nature of this new relationship.  These rules might include:

1) Communicate with your ex via writing and/or brief phone calls.  Keep all communication limited to only what is necessary for the kids or legal matters.

2) When an upsets is looming or when your ex starts to speak to you in appropriate ways, stop the conversation and hang up or walk away. Let your ex know this new ground rule: you will speak to another in respectful ways and will not tolerate anything else or the conversation is over.

3) Ensure that your home is just that: your home.  It is not a place to hang out with the kids. It is not his home.  When he is in your house make certain he realizes that he is a houseguest like any other.

4) Keep your conversations highly impersonal and to the point. Protect your privacy. Do not discuss your fears, concerns or personal issues because that only maintains the emotional tie between the two of you.  Don’t talk about anything that opens the door to more connections or emotional entanglements. Keep it business-like.

5) Do not involve the children in any communication between the two of you.  Don’t send messages through the kids. Keep them protected.
6) Stay out of each other’s lives. You don’t need to now where he goes, what he does, what he is thinking or whom he is seeing…and he doesn’t need to know those things about you as well.

7) Don’t look to your ex for advise or support. This might be the hardest tie to break. I remember in the early part of my separation, I continued to treat him as my husband when I called upon him for assistance with the kids. Wrong.  Handle it yourself by getting support from friends or family.  You aren’t married anymore and you will only be left disappointed.
8) Consider your child support or your alimony as your money and not a gift from him or an obligation.  Your money, no matter how it is acquired, is your money.  The courts determined that support and it doesn’t give him the right to comment upon or berate you about finances. If you are experiencing any problems with support checks, take it to your lawyer. Never beg or put yourself  in an inferior position.  Keep your true financial position to yourself.

9) Be careful of maintaining relationships with his family.  Blood is thicker than water.  If you have developed a friendship with your sister-in-law, make certain it is because you two are friends, not family members.  Always insist that the subject of your ex is forbidden.

10) You are not a wife anymore and do not exhibit any behavior that mimics that role. All too often women continue to do things or relate in ways to their ex that were part of their former marriage.  If he needs support or someone to talk to about personal matters, he needs to call a friend and not you.  You are not there to assist him as you did when you were his wife. You are not his wife anymore and not his friend either, at least not right now.

Perhaps in the future, when you have cut all of the psychological ties to your ex that held you back form creating a new life for yourself, you might be able to ease these rules.  I doubt it. What’s done is done and what is past is past.  Let go of anything that does not serve you well.  

You will be much more successful in healing yourself and moving on if you have adopted rules and created an environment that keep you physically and mentally separate from your ex.  The work of healing your emotional wounds and of learning acceptance and forgiveness for yourself and him demands all your attention.  Don’t squander your time and effort on him.  It’s all about you now, you as a single woman with an exciting and wonderful future in front of you.

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Broadcast Schedule:

January 2010

Host, Steve Peck's Story - Part 1

Listeners have been asking about my divorce and now, since my divorce has be completed, I am finally able to talk about it.  It is my sincere hope that some listeners will be able to learn from my very sad situation.

Parental Alienation

A parent inducing P.A.S. will stage false allegations of abuse against the non-favored parent in an effort to deflect attention away from their abuse of the child(ren) and to further frustrate visitation and time sharing.

What isn't understood is how quickly P.A.S. can develop in the context of a divorce and how heart wrenching and difficult it is to prove to the court that a child is being abused with parental alienation.

In this program, Joe Goldberg, a leading expert in the field of P.A.S. describe this syndrome an shares advice on how to protect yourself and children from going thorough this. Visit:

The Smart Divorce

Deborah Moskovitch,  joins us from Toronto to discuss her new book The Smart Divorce.

Deborah's own divorce took her seven years to close the file on her case. Deborah now helps others  through her book, seminars and  as a divorce consultant to avoid the pitfalls of a divorce, both legally and emotionally.  This is a "must hear" program for anyone entering the divorce process.

Deborah's Website: www.TheSmartDivorce.com



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