Tag: divorce and data

Speaking at the Family Courthouse

What an honor to speak at the Family Division Courthouse Lunch & Learn series, co-hosted by Family Court Services and the First Family Law Inn of Court. The discussion, attended by family law attorneys judicial officers, and professionals, was on the new technological changes that impact everyone in family court, in addition to the annual Town Hall presented by the Honorable Judge Scott Bernstein.

Family Law

Family Law Technology

Technology is constantly changing our lives, and may times for the better! The Eleventh Judicial Circuit is rolling out “courtMAP” this month. CourtMap is a new online Management and Access Platform that combines eCourtesy with online scheduling, online notification/confirmation, and allows judges to create and e-File orders. courtMAP also allows parties to self-schedule their case events – motion calendar, special sets, and trials – and attach the documentation previously submitted via eCourtesy.

Family Court Services and Kidside

KidSide, Inc., has been developed to raise and secure funds to provide the best possible services and facilities to the children of Miami-Dade County who have suffered through the conflict of their parents’ divorce or other litigation in the Family and Domestic Violence Courts. By working with Family Court Services, a unit of the Miami-Dade County Eleventh Circuit Court, Family Division, KidSide strives to ensure that the best interests of the children are considered by parents and the Court.

More information about Kidside is available here.

 

Did Your Promotion Cause Your Divorce?

Does a promotion to a top job increase your likelihood of divorce? Two Swedish professors researched that issue, and found that a promotion to a top job doubled the probability of divorce for women . . . but not so much for men.

Sweden Divorce

Divorce Stockholm Syndrome

The professors also found that there was a widening gender gap in divorce rates for men and women after being promoted to CEO. Their analysis of possible mechanisms may show that divorces are concentrated in more gender-traditional couples, while women in more gender-equal couples are unaffected.

No one doubts that the economic and social roles of men and women have been converging in recent decades. Women in Western democracies have largely caught up with men in terms of labor force participation, tertiary education, and career expectations.

But what lags behind is women’s realization of those career goals. In 2015, men accounted for 95% of CEOs in Forbes 500 firms and more than 75% of the world’s parliamentarians.

The professors argued that one potential reason for women’s slower career progressions is that a job promotion for a woman causes more stress and strain on the household than the job promotion of a man.

They also offer the first empirical analysis of how the promotion to a top job in the economy affects the marriage durability of men and women. They found that a promotion to a top job leads to an increased rate of divorce among women, but not among men.

Florida Divorce

I have written about some of the various reasons why people divorce in the past: snoring, calling the bride “fat” at the wedding and others. In Florida, a divorce is called a “dissolution of marriage.” Florida abolished fault as a ground for dissolution of marriage. The only requirement to dissolve a marriage is for one of the parties to prove that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Either spouse can file for the dissolution of marriage. Generally, you have to prove that your marriage exists, one of the spouse’s has been a Florida resident for six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition, and the marriage is irretrievably broken.

The reason for the irretrievable breakdown, however, may be considered under certain limited circumstances in the determination of alimony, equitable distribution of marital assets and debts, and the development of the parenting plan.

Every case is different, so results can differ from case to case. Outcomes in a divorce include, among other things, dividing the assets and debts, an award of alimony, determining the amount of child support, and parental responsibility and time-sharing schedules. There is no “one-size-fits-all” or “standard” dissolution of marriage in Florida.

Divorce can be highly emotional for couples and their children. But was your promotion to CEO the cause of all of this trauma?

Relationship Fjords

The professors’ analysis was carried out using Swedish register data and targets promotions to three types of top jobs. Two of the jobs are top public sector jobs, and the third type was in the private sector: CEOs of companies with more than 100 employees.

The analysis linked the divorce impact of the promotion to couples for which the woman’s promotion to a top job conflicted with gender-traditional behavior in the household.

Divorces are more likely to occur when the wife is younger than her husband by a greater margin, and where she took a larger share of the couple’s total parental leave.

Another important finding was a large gender difference in the correlation between the probability of a divorce and experiencing a promotion that shifts earnings from dual-earner into the woman becoming the dominant earner.

Among women whose promotions make them the dominant earner, i.e. making more than 60% of household income, more than 15% divorced within three years after the promotion. In the corresponding group for men, only 3% had divorced.

Some of the problems with the study included the fact that there is no register for which spouse initiated the divorce, there is no good annual measure of the division of household work, and Sweden does not measure cohabitation accurately.

So, if job promotion causes divorce among women, is that a good thing or a bad thing? The professors argue that the implications for society are largely negative because human talent for top positions is evenly distributed among men and women and the vast majority of men and women put “family” at the top of their list of priorities for life satisfaction.

An abstract is available here.

 

New Year Divorce Surge

Market Watch is reporting on a consistent pattern: divorce filings surge in January as people decide to start their New Year with a clean slate, helped by a stressful holiday period and, perhaps, even more stressful in-laws.

NYE Divorce

Happy New You

In general, many family lawyers report a rise of nearly one-third in business in the New Year. The president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, says he typically sees a spike of 25% to 30% every year in January.

That’s not only true for the United States, but around the world. Similar trends are seen in the U.K.: one in five couples plan to divorce after the holidays, according to one survey of 2,000 spouses by legal firm Irwin Mitchell.

Being cooped up in a house for several days when a marriage is experiencing serious problems — while dealing with the pressure to put on a happy face for the kids and visiting relatives — takes its toll on the most stoic of couples.

Holiday time is usually a time when we get a spike in consultations and in being retained by clients. Holiday time is usually fraught with a lot of tension, emotion and financial issues, which is usually the trigger.

Florida Divorce

I’ve written about the rise in new years divorce filings, and many times the holiday season can highlight problems. What should you do? Whatever the reason for your problems, there are a few things that anyone looking into divorce for the first time needs to know to help them through the process.

Prioritize

Line up your priorities for life after the divorce. Is it finding a home? Is it retiring? Getting a job? Managing your special-needs child? Consider writing down your most important goals.

Consult

Even if you aren’t certain you need to hire an attorney, or filing for divorce at all, it is a good idea to meet with an expert in Florida’s divorce and family laws. Who better than someone certified by Florida as an expert in marital and family law? We offer free consultations, but even when there is a charge, it is well worth the fee to get accurate information.

Alternatives

Litigation is something to avoid. It’s time-consuming, contentious and expensive. The majority of divorces end up settling. There are many forms of alternative dispute resolution out there, including collaborative divorce, mediation, and informal settlement conferences.

As Market Watch further reports, there is good reason for treating a divorce like a calm business deal. Don’t rush to file. Think about your end game. Many people file quickly out of anger perhaps after learning of a spouse’s misconduct. But it’s better to be strategic.

New Year, New Priorities

If not planned correctly, divorce can be one of the most financially devastating life events, so get an up-to-date assessment of your spouse’s accounts.

“It may be illegal to open another person’s mail, but you can, however, make a note of the financial institution that mails statements. If you give your attorney those names, we can subpoena that information.

Lawyers are cautious about taking on clients who refer to their attorneys as a pit bull or a shark. “Sometimes, people might say that because we’re tough, but if you go in with all guns blazing and start in a mean, aggressive manner, you automatically create a very adversarial situation.

That could increase the cost of the divorce — which could vary between $25,000 to $100,000, depending on the assets involved, the lawyer’s fees and where you live — by double or even triple, he says. “Be courteous and respectful. The key is to avoid escalation.”

It may be that divorce is not the best option, particularly if one partner doesn’t have company health insurance. Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $18,142 this year, up 3% on last year, with workers on average paying $5,277 towards their coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Menlo, Calif.

Premiums for Obamacare are expected to rise 22% next year for the benchmark silver plan. Some health insurers won’t insure both parties on the same policy if the couple has legally separated so people report.

Avoid serving your partner with divorce papers during the holidays, especially if you have children. As they grow older they’ll hate that holiday memory forever. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do some preparation in the meantime.

In Florida, you can file for divorce and you have a period of time before you have to serve the papers. Most unhappy spouses wait until after the turkey has been carved, the gifts have been unwrapped, and the new year has started.

The Market Watch article is here.

 

Divorce Surprise

In what is being hailed as another win for women’s rights, Saudi Arabian women who have been divorced by their husbands will now have to be notified they’ve been divorced via text message to avoid a nasty divorce surprise.

Divorce Surprise

Deserted

According to the Saudi Arabian Justice Ministry, Saudi courts have started notifying women of marital status updates via SMS and enabled them to view relevant probate certificates through the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) online portal.

Saudi courts have started to send such notifications starting on January 6, 2018, a step aimed at protecting the rights of female clients, and enhancing digital transformation with more services.

The courts notify women of probate certificates related to marital status — upon approval — through their Absher-registered mobile numbers,” the ministry explained. “The message includes the certificate number and the name of the relevant court.”

Female clients can also visit the court or the court president’s office in order to obtain a copy of the divorce certificate, if any.

Florida Due Process

I’ve written about many jurisdictional aspects on divorce in Florida and will be speaking at the Florida Bar Family Law Section and AAML Certification Review Course later this month in Orlando.

A divorce in Florida is a civil lawsuit, and basic Constitutional notions about Due Process require, at a minimum, that a party to a divorce be given notice of the proceedings and a real opportunity to be heard and defend themselves in an orderly procedure.

When courts violate Constitutional protections of due process rights, court commit fundamental error. This frequently happens when a court expands the scope of a hearing without proper notice.

For example, a court can violate due process by considering one motion at hearing that was scheduled and noticed for a different motion! Frequently trial courts will schedule a matter for a case management conference but turn the proceeding into a final evidentiary hearing. Family courts can be held to violate due process rights when that happens.

Exceptions

There are situations in family law in which notice may not be required. A good example of this is a temporary injunction.

Temporary injunctions may be granted without written or oral or even text notice if, immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to the movant before the adverse party can be heard in opposition; and the movant’s attorney certifies any efforts to give notice and why notice should not be required.

It is important to keep in mind that a temporary injunction is an extraordinary remedy that is granted sparingly.

Just Desserts

What is happening in Saudi Arabia is a different matter entirely. The new notice move is designed to stop the practice of men ending marriages without telling their wives.

The Saudi courts started to send such notifications Sunday in:

a step aimed at protecting the rights of female clients, and enhancing digital transformation with more services.

The message will include the divorce certificate number and the name of the relevant court where the women can pick up the documentation.

The government move comes as part of social and economic reforms known as Vision 2030 being promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The reforms have included women being given the right to drive.

The Saudi Ministry statement is here.

 

Divorce in a Fortnite

Are too many pro athletes playing Fortnite? Is Fortnite addictive? Has Fortnite caused hundreds to divorce? This Christmas, many people are asking those very questions as everyone settles into play their holiday gifts.

Divorce Fortnite

Launch Pad

According to the Independent, numerous reports – published by just about every news major news organization – have recently claimed that some 5% of divorces are being caused by the online game.

The sources can all be traced back to one website called Divorce Online, which provides tools to people who are splitting up and need legal advice. And that pointed to some numbers that make clear that the story might not be all that it seems.

In fact, what actually happened is just a standard and depressing break down of relationships because of an addiction to online games. And the recent reports about Fortnite appear to be just a consequence of something being too good – or bad – to check.

All of the reports originated with that post on Divorce Online. Its headline read “Is Fortnite becoming a relationship wrecker?” and it went on to say that the site had dug into data generated about the people who were using its services.

“The company has done some data mining after seeing an increase in enquiries where Fortnite has been mentioned as part of the reason someone wanted to file a divorce”.

“It has received 200 divorce petitions since January 1st 2018 where addiction to Fortnite and other online games has been cited as one of the reasons for divorce.”

Many took that sentence and wrote stories suggesting that 200 divorces this year had been caused by Fortnite. But if that seems like a high number, it’s because it probably is: that “and other online games” is doing a lot of work, allowing the site to tie the news to a game that is famous but which might not have been cited in those divorces, which were actually about games in general.

Florida No Fault Divorce

Whether Fortnite is the reason for a marriage going bad or not, is largely irrelevant in getting a divorce in Florida. That’s because Florida has enacted a “no-fault divorce” law.

I’ve written about the no-fault concept before. The official term for divorce in Florida is “dissolution of marriage”, and you don’t need to prove some kind of fault as grounds for divorce. Florida abolished fault as a ground for divorce.

In Florida, either spouse can file for the dissolution of marriage. You must prove that a marriage exists, one party has been a Florida resident for six months before filing the petition, and the marriage is irretrievably broken.

However, fault may be considered under certain circumstances in the award of alimony, equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities, and determination of parental responsibility.

Battle Royale

Digging into the numbers, Divorce Online gave absolutely no indication how many of those divorces were caused by Fortnite itself. So possibly fewer than 200 divorces were caused by the game. Possibly, the other divorces were caused by other games.

More likely, the numbers reflect digital addiction in general. “These now include online pornography, online gaming and social media, so it is no surprise to us that more and more people are having relationship problems because of our digital addictions,” the site wrote in quotation attributed to a spokesperson.

“Fortnite is all over the news right now as one of the most addictive digital games ever played”.

The Independent article is here.

 

Divorce to Save Money?

The Hill reports that a Texas couple may divorce to save money in order to pay for their daughter’s rising health-care costs. There are times when people have divorced “on paper” to save money, but is this a good reason and does it work?

Divorce save money

Health Care Scare

Can you divorce to save money? Jake and Maria Grey may try. They told NBC’s “Today” that Brighton, the older of their two daughters, has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a developmental disability that requires 24/7 care.

“We shouldn’t have to make that sacrifice to get our child Medicaid!”

They said they spend thousands of dollars annually out of pocket, even though Jake Grey has private health insurance. The couple added that they are considering divorcing to save money so that Maria Grey can qualify for Medicaid as a single, unemployed mother.

Divorce to Avoid Penalties

I’ve actually written about a similar issue, namely: divorcing to save money on taxes by avoiding the marriage penalty tax. Back when the 2012 American Taxpayer Relief Act was passed, it raised taxes on couples making more than $450,000, and individuals making more than $400,000. As it turns out, some couples found out they could save over $25,000 a year if they divorced.

Think about that for a second. If you could save over $25,000 a year in taxes, you could take a couple’s trip to Italy, ski Deer Valley, put a little cash away for college, and still have some mad money to spend just by divorcing and turning your marriage into a long-term relationship.

Divorcing on Paper

There are a lot of risks though, known and unknown to divorcing on paper but staying together. I would encourage anyone considering a “divorce on paper” to think about a few things:

  • The impact on your relationship. I don’t know of a good way to ask for a divorce: “Honey, I want a divorce. No, no wait, come back, it’s to save big bucks . . . really!”
  • There is no fake divorce. Once the court signs the final judgment of divorce, you are divorced. Once you’re divorced, your Ex may find someone who thinks marriage is more valuable than 5% adjusted gross income.
  • IRS rules regarding your filing status have something to say. IRS publication 504 warns that if you obtain a divorce just to file as unmarried with the intent to remarry the next tax year, you have to file as married individuals.
  • State law. All no-fault states have minimum requirements for getting a divorce. Florida, for instance, requires at a minimum that your marriage be irretrievably broken before you can get a divorce.
  • In addition, there are estate planning issues, retirement and social security complications, and many other issues besides the mere tax savings.

Most people who marry do so forever, and with the sincere intention of honoring their vows. Is the money worth it?

Jake Grey’s $40,000 salary is too much for the family to receive Medicaid, and Maria Grey said they are No. 60,000 on the list to receive state assistance.

It’s drowning us to try to keep up with her medical expenses. We’ve done everything we can do to try to keep her afloat, and we’re going to reach a point where we can’t do it and we won’t have another option. We don’t know what to do.

The Hill article is here.

 

Can You Pass the Divorce Test?

As if fighting with your spouse wasn’t stressful enough, in China authorities require that you pass a quiz to divorce. Here’s the rub: the better you do on the test, the less likely the divorce will be approved.

Divorce Quizzes

According to the New York Times, the Chinese Divorce Test, which has been issued in at least two provinces since last year, follow the format of a typical three-part school exam: fill-in-the-blank, short answer, and an essay.

Questions include the mundane — “When is your anniversary?” — and the philosophical: “Have you fulfilled your responsibility to your family?”

The quizzes — 15 questions, scored on a scale of 100 points — were developed as a way to prevent “impulse divorces”.

Local news outlets reported that the authorities considered a score of 60 points or higher to mean “room for recovery,” and those couples were encouraged to work on their marriages.

Florida No Fault Divorce

Florida has made it much easier to divorce, which is a subject I’ve written about before. For example, we have abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. The only grounds you need to file for divorce in Florida is to prove your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

No fault divorce laws exist in all 50 states to make it possible for one party to get a divorce without proving any bad behavior took place, and without getting the permission of the other spouse.

Before the no-fault divorce era in the United States, people who wanted to get divorce either had to reach agreement in advance with the other spouse that the marriage was over or prove wrongdoing.

No-fault laws are the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court. No fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.

China is different. China is going through growing pains and dealing with modern problems like separation and divorce. The Chinese Divorce Test is a novel approach to dealing with rising divorce rates.

Chinese Water Torture?

According to the Times:

Through the guidance of the questions, couples can reminisce on the moments of their relationship and reflect on their familial roles and responsibilities. Nearly two million Chinese couples divorced in the first half of 2017, an 11 percent increase from the year before, according to state news media. About 3 percent of all married couples sought a divorce last year, up from fewer than 1 percent in 2002.

The quizzes were meant only to be a starting point, not the deciding factor in whether a couple can split up. But at least one couple’s high score resulted in the authorities’ preventing their divorce in another province last year.

A court in Yibin, a city in Sichuan Province, refused to grant the couple a divorce in September after citing their stellar test scores, according to local news outlets.

More than 70 percent of divorces filed in China last year were initiated by women, The South China Morning Post reported, citing the Supreme People’s Court. In most filings, incompatibility was given as the major reason; 15 percent cited domestic violence.

However, a smaller number of divorces appear to be shams resulting from a quirk in Chinese real estate law. Some cities limit the number of properties a married couple can own. By legally divorcing, a couple can buy more real estate in some of the world’s most expensive cities.

Experts said the state’s focus on preventing divorce stems from a Confucian belief that a stable society is made up of complete families. Some Chinese citizens criticize the quizzes for treating people like children.

So, if you remember your wedding anniversary you can’t divorce? Divorce isn’t a case of amnesia.

The New York Times article is here.

 

Turkish Delight

Another fault-based divorce ruling comes from Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, which issued a fatwa stating that if a man refers to his wife as either “mother” or “sister,” their marriage will be deemed divorced. What is no-fault divorce?

A Real Turkey

According to Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper, if a man tells his wife that he sees her as a mother or sister, the man will be considered divorced from his wife.

However, if they have not divorced before, they may come together with a new marriage,” it said.

If a man says those things or other phrases like “I divorce you”, “You are not my wife”, “Be free”, “Go off”, or “Go to your father’s house” to his wife with the intention to divorce, the divorce has taken place in terms of Islam, even if it is sent by SMS or by e-mail.

Previously, the Diyanet, the Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate, had issued a fatwa on divorce, stating that couples may get divorced via telephone call, fax, letter, text message or internet.

Turkey’s preeminent religious authority has a long track record of issuing other interesting fatwas. For example, in November, the Diyanet declared the digital currency bitcoin “inappropriate at this moment in time.”

Then it issued a fatwa on hair dye for men, followed by a prohibition on purchasing national lottery tickets. Several days later, it warned against “immoral music.”

Florida No Fault Divorce

I’ve written about no fault divorces before. Historically in Florida, in order to obtain a divorce in Florida, one spouse had to prove the existence of legal grounds such as adultery.

Proving fault often required additional expenses on behalf of the aggrieved party, only serving to make the divorce process more expensive and cumbersome than it already was.

In the years leading up to the enactment of “no-fault” divorce, courts often granted divorces on bases that were easier to prove, the most common being “mental cruelty.”

Over time, the “no-fault” movement expanded to other states, although interestingly it only reached the typically progressive state of New York in 2010.

The Triple Talaq Divorce

Islamic countries have been convulsing lately with the divorce concept of “triple talaq.” Turkey’s Diyanet issued a similar fatwa. According to Hurriyet:

Divorcing your spouse by saying ‘talaq’ three times via phone call, letter, SMS, internet and fax are as valid as saying it to their face. However, in this situation, the husband should not deny the divorce.

If a woman is divorced through written methods such as a text message or letter, she should ensure that the message was sent by her husband.”

The religious body, Diyanet, has no power under Turkish law to issue a divorce. Civil courts grant separations under the 1926 Turkish civil code law. However, Turkey has become increasingly religious over the past several years.

The institution serves the Prime Minister’s office, is responsible for the appointments of personnel at mosques, drafts centralized sermons read at all mosques, and issues fatwas.

Critics argue that the Diyanet is against the impartiality required of a secular state, and that it promotes only one understanding of Islam in Turkey and abroad.

The Hurriyet article is here.

 

Friends or Spouses?

Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux announced that they are going to file for divorce after two and a half years of marriage. However, some news outlets report they can’t locate the Friends’ star’s marriage license to see if they were even married. What would happen if you find out you were not married?

Friends Like Us

Irrespective of the status of their marriage license, according to news reports, the decision to divorce appears to have been mutual:

“We are two best friends who have decided to part ways as a couple, but look forward to continuing our cherished friendship.”

According to TMZ though: “We checked marriage records in L.A. County all the way back to 2010 and there is no record of a marriage license. There’s such a thing as a confidential marriage license, but we’re told they did NOT get one in L.A. County.”

Is Your Marriage Valid in Florida?

First off, common-law marriages have been abolished in Florida since 1968. In order to be validly married, you need a license. It may seem like a mere formality, but couples who want to be married must apply for a license.

There is a fee for getting a marriage license, and that fee is reduced for attending pre-marital counseling. The license is valid for 60 days. The officiant at the ceremony must certify that the marriage was solemnized.

The certified marriage license must be returned to the clerk or an issuing judge within 10 days, and the clerk or judge is required to keep a correct record of certified marriage licenses.

I have written about Florida marriages and divorces before. Florida courts have repeatedly warned people that they cannot depart from the requirement of the Florida Statutes to have a license, otherwise the courts would be re-creating common-law marriages.

In the event you do not obtain your marriage license, you cannot divorce. This means that certain rights can be lost. For example, you could not make claims for equitable distribution, and you could not ask a court for alimony. That can be a devastating result for many couples who unknowingly, are not married.

Central Perk

The report from TMZ sounds like ridiculously bad investigative journalism. Jennifer and Justin could have gotten a marriage license in any of the 57 other counties in California, or other states and even countries, and their marriage license would be valid.

But just because TMZ claims it spoke with some “Jen sources who have had regular contact with her for years, and they say there’s been talk for a long time they might not be legally married” does not prove or disprove anything.

According to the TMZ article:

“it’s certainly possible they’re legally married, but based on what we found, it’s possible they’re not.”

The TMZ article is here.

 

Divorce Perspectives

Essence magazine’s Senior Editor, Charreah K. Jackson, wrote an interesting article on divorce entitled: “9 Interesting Facts About Divorce for Black Couples” in which she shares her insights into modern divorce issues that anyone can benefit from.

Although the article is from 2013, the wisdom is timeless . . . and in some ways surprising. Some of the surprising findings from the front-lines of divorce include:

It Takes a Village to Get a Divorce

“When you’re Black, you’re not just married to one person, you’re married to a family. You’re married to a community. You may be married to a church. We’ve always embraced the concept that it takes a village.

For instance, you’ll have a grandmother who will come to court and the judge will say, ‘Well this is between the mother and father.’ Well in many instances, that grandmother is the one who is taking care of the kids.”

Women Pull the Purse Strings

“What makes our divorces different is that our community is formed around a matriarch. African-American women tend to be better-educated and higher-wage earners so when you’re ending a marital relationship the economic factors come into play.

If you have an African-American woman who has her master’s degree and she’s married to someone who has a high school diploma and works at the post office, she’s not going to voluntarily pay alimony for maintenance to him.

Mental Health Neglect and Marriage Don’t Mix

“African-Americans don’t do as well with getting therapy. So for Black people who are having marital problems that may lead to divorce, we’re resistant to any kind of intervention by mental health.

We perceive that, if I have to see a therapist, then something’s wrong with me. Often times, we don’t have the same resources available to us that the broader community has and even when we do have those resources, the stigma can be very challenging.

Conditioned for Call and Response

“When we go to church, we yell out, ‘amen.’ If the preacher is off-tune, then you’re, ‘Oh Lord, please help ‘em.’ We’re just a more expressive people.

I’ve seen White judges and lawyers who don’t fully understand how we express ourselves. A couple could be fighting like cats and dogs before the judge, but in the hallway, they are back friends again. And the judge looks at them and says, ‘Oh my God those people are out of control.’

But they might drive back in the same car. Just because we express ourselves a certain way, doesn’t necessarily mean that others understand what we mean when we express ourselves.

Divorce is for Spouses, Not Children

“All children of a divorce are impacted by their parents’ divorce. Most children will tell you that they want their parents to be together. But they have little control over the outcome of a divorce situation.

What tends to happen in the African-American community is that many fathers who get divorces from their spouses simply divorce the whole family and walk away. I have seen lawyers who don’t look like myself who will think:

‘I’ve gotten her the house, I’ve gotten her the kids. I’ve gotten her alimony.’ But that wife is saying, ‘more important than all those things is that he has a relationship with our children at the end of the day.’

That lawyer thinks he or she has done a great job for that client and at the same time, they don’t recognize the impact this is having on this family in the future. When a father divorces his children, when he divorces his spouse is a very tragic thing in our community.”

The Essence article is here.