Thursday, January 29, 2015

Operation Organization Day 21

Each weekday this month, we are addressing one task that you can complete in order to help you prepare for moving forward with your divorce.  Today’s task is:

ATTORNEY CONSULTATION

Schedule a meeting with your attorney to discuss strategy for how you want to move forward with your divorce.  Depending on which spouse earns more money and other factors, there are strategic decisions to be made in order to decide whether and when you should file for divorce.  These factors vary depending on what state you live in, but your attorney will be able to help you figure out what your next step should be.  For example, in Pennsylvania, even if you decide not to file for divorce immediately, you may be able to go ahead and file for spousal support.  Your attorney will be able to help you make these decisions.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Operation Organization Day 20

Each weekday this month, we are addressing one task that you can complete in order to help you prepare for moving forward with your divorce.  Today’s task is:

STRESS REDUCTION

Like all prior weeks during this month, there is one day each week that we focus on you.  Today, think about things that you can continue to do in the future to help you feel good about yourself and reduce your stress during this process.  Perhaps spend a couple minutes scheduling lunches with friends or a haircut appointment that you have been meaning to book now for a couple weeks.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Operation Organization Day 19

Each weekday this month, we are addressing one task that you can complete in order to help you prepare for moving forward with your divorce.  Today’s task is:

MAKE GOALS

Think about and write down where you would like to be and what you would like to have at the end of the divorce.  Sometimes the only way to finalize a divorce is to proceed through litigation, because the parties cannot agree.  However, in other situations the parties are able to reach a settlement.  If you start thinking now about what you would like at the end of the divorce, you will be in a better position to negotiate.

Think about which assets you would like to keep and how debts should be divided.  If you think that you should receive alimony, try to start to figure out a realistic amount that you think that you need.  Likewise, if you expect that your spouse will ask for alimony, think about how much you could afford to pay.  What you end up doing, could be vastly different than what you think it should be today.  That said, your attorney will have a better idea of what your priorities are and will be in a better position to guide you.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Operation Organization Day 18

Each weekday this month, we are addressing one task that you can complete in order to help you prepare for moving forward with your divorce.  Today’s task is:

YOUR ESTATE PLAN

If you have a will and other end-of-life documents, find them and review them.  Likewise, find any life insurance policies or other investment accounts that have named beneficiaries.  It is likely that you are going to want to make changes to those documents.  You should talk to an attorney before making any changes, especially before removing your spouse as a beneficiary on any policies, but you can start to consider how you would like to make changes.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Operation Organization Day 17

Each weekday this month, we are addressing one task that you can complete in order to help you prepare for moving forward with your divorce.  Today’s task is:

PERSONAL PROPERTY

If you own any valuable artwork, jewelry, antiques or other similar items of value, begin to look into having the items appraised.  Ask around for recommendations for an expert, and find out how much it may cost.  There is no reason to move forward with the actual appraisals, because they could become stale depending on how long the divorce process takes and they could not be needed if you agree with your spouse about the value of the asset.  That said, having a few names in your pocket now, could come in handy later.  If you are not able to find an expert on your own, your attorney should be able to help you with this process.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Operation Organization Day 16

Each weekday this month, we are addressing one task that you can complete in order to help you prepare for moving forward with your divorce.  Today’s task is:

RESUME

Update your resume, especially if you have been a stay-at-home parent or have been working part-time.  The harsh reality of divorce is that each party may need to look for new or better paying jobs, because income in a divided house simply does not go as far.  It takes more income to operate two separate households than it does one joint household.  Even if you expect to receive support from your spouse, in the vast majority of cases, it will not be enough to live on without sufficient earned income.

If you have let certifications lapse or you need to do continuing education, start looking into what would be required to update your resume and re-enter the workforce.  It is easier to start looking for a job before you desperately need one.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Operation Organization Day 15

Each weekday this month, we are addressing one task that you can complete in order to help you prepare for moving forward with your divorce.  Today’s task is:

SPLURGE

Splurge a little on yourself today.  It does not have to be anything expensive or fancy.  It could be a latte instead of a coffee, or a bubble bath instead of a shower, or taking some shirts to the dry cleaner instead of washing and ironing them yourself.  Again, the importance of this “me” day each week is to remember that you need to take care of yourself during the process of divorce.  The purpose is not to be extravagant or spend a lot of money, but rather to do something that makes you feel good about yourself or gives you a little extra room to breathe during this stressful time.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Operation Organization Day 14

Each weekday this month, we are addressing one task that you can complete in order to help you prepare for moving forward with your divorce.  Today’s task is:

SECURITY

Change your passwords AND your security hints for all of your accounts, including email, bank accounts, credit cards, shopping websites, etcetera.  Remember that your spouse may know you better than anyone else, which makes it easier for them to guess your passwords.  Also, they likely will know the true answers to your security questions.  If necessary, make up fake answers to the questions, as long as you will remember the fake answers!

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pre-Marriage Snooping

On Saturday, January 17, 2015, the Wall Street Journal featured an article about boyfriends and girlfriends hiring private investigators to sniff out any problems (financial, legal, romantic or otherwise) of potential spouses.

I wonder about the trust and communication in the relationship if you feel the need to hire outside help.  I do recommend a thorough google for potential romantic partners -- you may be able to identify red flags.

However, if you are already in a relationship and feel the need to hire a private investigator to help you decide whether to take it to the next level, you probably should think twice about being in the relationship at all.  Even the best private investigator will not be able to uncover everything -- and if you are already having that many doubts - your relationship is probably doomed.  Click here for the Wall Street Journal article.


Operation Organization Day 13

Each weekday this month, we are addressing one task that you can complete in order to help you prepare for moving forward with your divorce.  Today’s task is:

CATEGORIZE YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT YOUR SPOUSE

During our interviews with prospective clients, we always ask them what the worst thing is that their spouse will say about them and the worst thing that they have to say about their spouse.  Additionally, it is important to think about the best thing that you have to say about your spouse and the best thing that they would say about you.  It is usually easy for the client to rattle off a list of bad characteristics, but sometimes people have become so bogged down in the events that have led them to divorce that they cannot name any good features of the spouse.  Being able to think of positive attributes for your spouse is particularly important for parents going through divorce, because in order to effectively co-parent you will need to be able to work with the other parent and judges expect you to be realistic in recognizing that the other spouse does have at least one good quality.

Today spend 5 minutes thinking about how you would answer those questions, including the questions about your best and worst characteristics.  We’ve limited this to five minutes so that you do not become consumed with the negative, and spend your day in a fury.  Rather, focus more on the positive, so that you are in a better position to rationally negotiate your divorce.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Operation Organization Day 12

Each weekday this month, we are addressing one task that you can complete in order to help you prepare for moving forward with your divorce.  Today’s task is:

BUDGET

Make a list of your monthly expenses.  This list should include anything and everything that you spend money on, not simply your “big” expenses like rent/mortgage and utilities.  It should include haircuts, groceries, tuition, gifts for friends, vacations, charitable giving, entertainment and eating out, clothing, gas, lunches, magazine subscriptions, gym memberships and parking or public transportation.

This task serves two purposes.  To the extent that you do not already pro-actively budget, writing down your expenses will help you figure out how much money you need each month in order to support your lifestyle and it will help you figure out where you can cut down expenses if necessary.  Additionally, this task can be important during support and alimony calculations to determine the amount of support that you should receive or pay.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Operation Organization Day 11

Each weekday this month, we are addressing one task that you can complete in order to help you prepare for moving forward with your divorce.  Today’s task is:

SOCIAL SECURITY STATEMENT

Obtain a copy of your social security statement at http://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/.  This statement can help provide additional evidence regarding your income, and provides a nice timeline of your earnings.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Operation Organization Day 10

Each weekday this month, we are addressing one task that you can complete in order to help you prepare for moving forward with your divorce.  Today’s task is:

TAKING CARE OF YOU

Spend 30 minutes doing something for yourself today - whatever it is that you enjoy doing that you do not usually make time to do.  For example, going to the gym, if you are already a gym-junkie does not count, but it certainly counts for the person that would love to go but rarely finds time.  Go get your haircut or have your nails done.  Go to a coffee shop and sit to enjoy your coffee, rather than running on to your next errand.  Sit in the park and watch the passersby.  It does not matter what you choose, as long as it is something that you are doing to make yourself happy.

Again, it is so important to reiterate that you must take care of yourself during this stressful time in your life.  Not only will you benefit from spending a little extra time on yourself, but your children and work and people around you will benefit as well.  Taking time away from your children or other responsibilities may seem like exactly the wrong thing to do; however, it will help you be better at fulfilling those other responsibilities when you come back to them.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Operation Organization Day 9

Each weekday this month, we are addressing one task that you can complete in order to help you prepare for moving forward with your divorce.  Today’s task is:

UNDERSTANDING EXPENSES

Start saving each and every bill or invoice that you receive for recurring/monthly expenses.  Monthly statements for your utilities, mortgage, loans and credit cards will help establish what your current living expenses are.  Additionally, saving monthly or quarterly statements from each and every bank account or investment account that you have will also be important.

Monthly statements are often the only way to prove what your living expenses are, and certainly are the only way to show how much money is in a particular bank account at a particular time.  During equitable distribution, especially if there is a disagreement about how funds were spent or where they came from, monthly bank statements make it much easier to demonstrate to a court what you and your spouse owned at a particular point in time.

By beginning to save statements early during the divorce process, you will potentially save yourself a lot of time and money later down the road.  It can be extremely time-consuming to contact banks or other financial institutions to request old statements, and there is almost always a significant fee associated with the request.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Monday, January 12, 2015

New Jersey's New Alimony Statute

Click here for the text of the new statute addressing alimony in New Jersey.  This was signed into law in September 2014.