The Power of Marriage Agreements GOING IN WITH EYES WIDE OPEN
Stereotypes abound about women siphoning off money from their husbands when their marriages end, but in reality, a 2016 article in the Atlantic claims that women see a 20% decline in income after a divorce. In fact, in that same article, the author argues that the person most benefited by an agreement is statistically likely to be a woman —maybe she’s a stay-at- home mom, or maybe she decided to put her partner’s career first in a move. Whatever the case, she’ll be better cared for in the event of a divorce if she has an agreement in place. We’ve all read the eye-popping numbers thrown around about the amount of money celebrity spouses do or do not inherit in the event of a divorce, but marriage agreements can be a useful tool for everyday people, too. Marriage agreements are just contracts that detail how assets will be divided in the event of a divorce, so if you have assets you care about protecting, putting together an agreement is, at the very least, worth investigating. As a family law practitioner, I see the power of having — or not having — an agreement in place all the time. When you have one, agreements can protect an inheritance, shield your spouse from debt, provide for pet ownership and care, and be instrumental in providing for out of court asset division if you get divorced. Agreements almost always make the process less public, less painful, and less costly. Nobody wants to think about the fact that their marriage might not work out, but the reality is that marriage is hard work, and by putting an agreement in place, you’re going into it with your eyes wide open. You’re making sure that if you throw all of your effort at making your marriage work and it still fails, you have a plan in place that guarantees you’ll still care for each other. At it’s best, marriage is wonderful. It is about two people loving and supporting each other. But marriage is also a legal status that can have very real, very measurable effects on your financial life. Think about it: Your wife gets a job across the country, so you resign from your partner-track position at a job you love. That has a real, measurable impact on your lifetime
earning power. Even more dramatically, when kids enter the picture, your family elects to have a stay-at-home parent. You leave the workforce and your earning power stagnates. That, too, has very real impacts on your financial health. When a couple decides to put one career first, an agreement can be an excellent way to ensure the other partner isn’t punished for their sacrifice down the road. Another group of people who should think seriously about marriage agreements are small business owners. If you build a business from scratch, even if your spouse does nothing at all to contribute, they are entitled to half of it. What’s worse, your business will have to go through a lengthy valuation process in the event of a divorce, which can be even more time consuming and frustrating than a tax audit. By having a marriage agreement in place, you can decide how you’d like to divide the asset of the business and avoid the lengthy and expensive process altogether. At first blush, talking about the importance of forming a marriage agreement might seem as far from romance as you can get, but real love isn’t a Hollywood movie. Agreements force both partners to lay all of their cards on the table and to slow down and really think about the hard work they’re signing up for. By forming an agreement when you’re still in love, you are saying you care so much about your partner that you’re not willing to leave the way they’ll be cared for in the event of a divorce up to chance, and you’re willing to do the work now, on the front end, to make sure nobody has to suffer needlessly.
3 WAYS TO SURVIVE V-DAY AFTER A DIVORCE
If you’re divorced or in the process of getting divorced, it’s easy to fall into the trap of dreading Valentine’s Day. But Valentine’s Day is about love, and love comes in far more than one flavor. Here are three ways you can spend Valentine’s Day this year celebrating your newfound commitment to yourself: Bake Valentine’s Day cookies together and deliver them to your friends and family. Go bowling, see a movie, or do whatever it is that makes you feel connected to your family. Valentine’s Day is about love, so who better to spend it with than the people you love most of all? SPEND TIME WITH YOUR KIDS
willing to show up for you in your time of need. Host a dinner party, or go out. Revel in the community of love that embraced you with open arms when your marriage ended.
Whatever this means to you — treat yourself. Maybe it means a spa day, maybe it means taking a mental health day from work, or maybe it just means taking the time to cook yourself a special meal. Whatever indulgence you choose, you are worth it. And here’s one more thought: Maybe, just maybe, you’ve managed to get divorced in a way that leaves you wanting to give your ex a card, instead of a nastygram. Divorce doesn’t always have to be adversarial. Sometimes, a relationship has just run its course, and at Atlanta Divorce Group, our goal is always to help you get divorced in a way that will leave you with your memories of the good times still intact.
Is there somebody in particular who helped you survive your divorce? Valentine’s Day is the perfect time of year to reach out and spend time celebrating the friends who are
Don’t Forget About Your Little Valentine This Year VALENTINE’S DAY TREATS FOR YOUR KIDS
Valentine’s Day isn’t just observed between romantic couples. It’s a day for celebrating the love you feel for people in all areas of your life. And if you have kids, Valentine’s Day is a perfect opportunity to celebrate your love for them and let them know how special they are to you. Here are a few ways to make this Feb. 14 the most memorable one yet for your little ones. Surprise your little ones the morning of Feb. 14 by decorating their room with their favorite treats and balloons. Tie their favorite candy bar or a small toy they’ve had their eye on to the bottom of one or more balloon strings. Then, place the balloons around their bedroom for them to find. GIFTS AND BALLOONS
cheer. If you want to get extra crafty, you can cook bacon, pancakes, eggs, and toast all in the shape of hearts. For extra love, add strawberries or raspberries to complete the Valentine’s Day vibe.
Let them decide whether you all spend a few hours together ice skating, watching a movie, going to the park, or visiting an amusement park. To add a little more fun, create a “menu” they can look at and choose what they’ll have for dinner that night.
REFLECTIONS OF LOVE
Enjoy this day of love with all of your special someones this year!
While you’re busy cooking up a feast, your kids will most likely visit the bathroom to get ready for the day. What will they see when they walk in? Their mirror covered in sticky notes in the shape of a heart! You can write words of encouragement, love, and support and set the display up for them the night before. It’s a fantastic way for them to start their day.
LET YOUR KIDS BE IN CHARGE
A HEARTFELT BREAKFAST
Valentine’s Day lands on a Friday this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate over the weekend. Let your kids plan a day of fun by creating a list of activities they can choose from.
Take the time to whip up their favorite breakfast and try to add a little bit of Valentine’s Day
LEAP INTO 2020 FACTS ABOUT THE LEAP YEAR
Like the Olympics and presidential elections, leap years only occur once every four years, which is why many people look forward to Feb. 29. But there’s a lot that you might not know about this quirk on the calendar.
leaplings currently living in the U.S. is roughly 187,000. Some famous leaplings include motivational speaker Tony Robbins, rapper Ja Rule, and singer Mark Foster of Foster the People. However, the most famous leapling is probably Superman. When you invent a super-being, you might as well give him a super-birthday.
To keep the calendar in sync with Earth’s orbit around the sun, an extra day is added to it every four years. Earth takes exactly 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds to orbit the
Anthony, Texas/New Mexico (a single town that straddles the two states’ borders), claims the title “Leap Year Capital of the World.” The city throws one massive birthday party for all leaplings but invites everyone to join the celebration. Two leapling neighbors from Anthony began the tradition in 1988, and it’s blossomed into a festival with thousands of participants every four years. It includes banquets, hot air balloons, a carnival, concerts, parades, and more. When you have four years to plan in between each shindig, there’s time to go big. Celebrate this leap year by doing something unusual or new. It’s a special day that doesn’t occur often, so make the most of it by doing something you’ll talk about for another four years.
sun. Those extra hours add up over time, so another calendar day becomes necessary. But a leap year doesn’t occur every four years. Adding that extra day still doesn’t quite keep Earth on track, so the calendar skips leap years that occur during century years not divisible by 400. For example, 2000 was a leap year, but 2100 won’t be.
The odds of being born on Feb. 29 are 1 in 1,461. That means that of the roughly seven billion people in the world, only about five million of them are “leaplings.” The number of
CONCIERGE PARTNERS’ CORNER:
HERE’S WHAT OUR Clients Are Saying!
Cindi Gatton With Pathfinder Patient Advocacy
The health care system is fragmented and complex, and having an advocate by your side can make or break your patient care experience. That’s why we partner with Cindi Gatton at Pathfinder Patient Advocacy. Cindi brings over 30 years of experience from within the health care system to help her clients navigate medical processes. From managing insurance and billing issues to advocating for the best possible patient care
“By far the most professional, caring, and thorough group of women! After a mind-numbing search for an attorney who was a good fit, Ashley Pepitone was and is the girl you want in your corner! She has fought for me, given expert advice, and made me feel like I mattered. She tells me like it is and has helped me in more ways than she knows other than my divorce. The relationship you have with your attorney is an important one, and finding that right person to trust can be frustrating. But from the very beginning they took me under their wing and started on my case. This team of amazing people have made an ugly divorce a lot smoother than I could have ever hoped for. I put my faith and trust in this firm and I have not been disappointed. ADLG is where it’s at!”
and working on issues related to the cost of care, chances are high that Cindi has seen it before and can help you through your situation.
Cindi has a B.S. from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in speech and language pathology from The George Washington University. She attended the postgraduate program in consumer patient advocacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013, and she currently serves as a consultant supervisor for the program. She has been quoted in Time, The Wall Street Journal, and Women’s Day as an expert in the area of patient advocacy.
To learn more about Pathfinder Patient Advocacy, go to PathfinderPatientAdvocacy.com.
– Katie S., 5 stars
Mythical Adventures Await in the Mediterranean CREATE YOUR OWN ODYSSEY
One of the oldest stories in Western literature is Homer’s “The Odyssey.” This epic poem tells the story of Odysseus and his long journey home after the Trojan War. While Odysseus’ travels were fraught with mythical monsters and magic, many of the places he visited are said to be inspired by real islands in the Mediterranean. Even today, travelers flock to these islands looking for peace, adventure, and epic stories of their own. One of the most popular stories in “The Odyssey” is the tale of Odysseus rescuing his crew from Polyphemus, a man-eating Cyclops. It’s said that Polyphemus made his home on what is now modern-day Sicily. Fortunately, there are no Cyclopes in Sicily today; there are only cultural festivals, world- class golf courses, and delicious food. SICILY, ITALY
her daughter has had an anxiety attack. To add insult to injury, the doctor, after observing Renata, suggests counseling — not just for Amabella, but for the whole family. Also in this episode, Madeline, Reese Witherspoon’s character, ends up accidentally revealing the year-long affair she had with the theater director to her husband Ed (played by Adam Scott). A major theme of the show is that parenting and marriage are nuanced and difficult, and this episode stays true to those themes. The show perfectly captured how nuanced the love that Madeline and Ed share is — real life is complex, and even people who have affairs often still love and care for their partners. The two are far less mutually exclusive than a more reductive show might portray. If you’re going through a divorce, it might help to remind yourself every now and then that feelings of love aren’t always reflected in actions. Marital strife touches the whole family, and if you’re struggling, you are not alone. the mythical island of Ogygia, home of the nymph Calypso. Historians suspect that Ogygia was Gaudos, now modern-day Gozo, Malta. Gozo is home to the Ġgantija temples, which are older than the Egyptian pyramids. In addition to exploring its archaeological marvels, Gozo’s visitors can also enjoy snorkeling, horseback riding, and other memorable adventures. If you want to chart your own odyssey, make your final stop Odysseus’ home, the island of Ithaca. Covered in lush greenery and quaint villages, Ithaca is a wonderful place to relax at the end of your trip. Visitors can enjoy their morning coffee by a seaside cafe before lounging on a secluded beach for the rest of the day. It’s no wonder why Odysseus fought so hard to get back to Ithaca! With dozens of other islands to explore, the Mediterranean is the perfect place to plan your own odyssey —minus the mythical monsters, of course. ITHACA, GREECE
While Odysseus’ journey was perilous, he did enjoy one peaceful stop. Odysseus spent seven years on
ADLG’S ‘BIG LITTLE LIES’ SERIES: SEASON 2, EPISODE 2 RECAP
Divorce Law Theme: Vulnerability
As usual, the star-studded cast of the HBO series “Big Little Lies” does an excellent job at capturing the nuances of family dynamics and the role separation can have on them in Season 2, Episode 2. In this episode, Laura Dern’s character Renata would have benefited from a marriage agreement. In this plot-heavy episode, her husband gets arrested for insider trading. Renata is a successful Silicon Valley board member, but the FBI opening an investigation
into her husband puts her at risk of losing everything. This just goes to show that you can be powerful and in control on the surface, but when push comes to shove, you are still systematically vulnerable without a marriage agreement. This episode also highlights how difficult it is to continue parenting through a separation. Renata’s second-grade daughter, Amabella, collapses on the floor of her classroom. She’s rushed to the hospital, where Renata is told
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