General Divorce Blogs & Articles

Life after Divorce – Apps and Websites That Assist Parents

Adjusting to life after divorce is difficult, especially with the many changes to daily life that follow. Co-parenting requirements, financial considerations, and communication issues can all place new responsibilities on divorced West Michigan spouses. However, there’s tech for that.
Parents can find help with many of their needs both online and in apps from the Google or Apple App Stores. Here are some of the most popular and helpful free and paid tools available today.
1. Talking Parents
By keeping an online record of all conversations between both parties, Talking Parents helps them avoid the “he said-she said” aspects of communication and can prevent disputes. If a dispute does arise, it may be resolved more quickly since stored communication records cannot be altered or deleted.
Talking Parents also provides space for sharing and storing files, and a shared calendar with notifications to help with co-parenting tasks and appointments. The program is free for people who only want to use the website, however, for $4.99 per month parents can also use Talking Parents’ mobile apps on their phone.
2. 2Houses
2Houses helps divorced or separated parents communicate, organize, and schedule tasks and resources to prevent conflict and to help ensure the well-being of their children. 2Houses provides a shared calendar specifically created for separated parents, and a journal for sharing information such as news, pictures, and even videos.
2Houses also provides an expense management tool so that parents can easily track and share financial information, offering transparency that helps to avoid conflict between divorced spouses. Visit their website or download the smartphone app and provide access to the entire family for $9.99 per month.
3. AppClose
Although only available on mobile phones, AppClose helps separated parents avoid scheduling conflicts with an easy to use shared calendar. AppClose also includes a secure messaging platform that includes the ability to export conversations for review by a divorce attorney.
The app can also maintain a record of important information such as allergies, contact info, teacher’s names, and alternative childcare. Download Appclose for free from the Google or Apple App store.
4. Our Family Wizard
Designed specifically for co-parenting, Our Family Wizard helps parents keep the focus on their children. The program helps to avoid miscommunication and reduce stress by providing a secure platform where messages between parents cannot be deleted or altered. The built-in, proprietary Tone Meter can suggest changes to new messages that will keep things light and positive.

Our Family Wizard also includes a robust shared calendar, a virtual diary, and an information bank that can store important medical, school, or contact information and files for easy access by both parents. Our Family Wizard plans begin at $99.00 per year and include website and mobile access.
5. CoParently
CoParently helps parents spend less time managing custody and more time with their children. Offering a shared calendar, secure messaging platform, and information storage much like the others, the program provides parents with all of the tools they need to stay focused on the best interests of their children.
Coparently also allows Guest access to select family members, caregivers, or family law professionals and provides special access for children that shields them their parent’s conversations. Membership plans include website and mobile access for $9.99 per month.
If you are considering divorce, please take the time to learn about the options available to you today, such as Collaborative Divorce, which can help couples reach an outcome that is acceptable and beneficial to their entire family.
In West Michigan, please contact the experienced divorce attorneys at Johnsen Wikander today and let us help you through your most difficult time.

Money can’t buy Happiness | Johnsen Wikander P.C. West Michigan Divorce Attorneys

Money can’t buy Happiness

Most people with a TV or Internet access know by now that, after 25 years together, Jeff Bezos and his wife, Mackenzie, are getting divorced. Although they are ending their marriage, they have both stated that they are splitting on good terms and wish for “wonderful futures ahead” for themselves and their four children.

This is not the first time a public figure, politician or wealthy individual created a stir with their marital woes. However, this could be the first time someone’s divorce involves a personal fortune that outweighs the gross national product of several countries.

Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com in 1995 with the goal of selling books over the Internet. Although his idea seems hardly revolutionary today, the company was founded at a time when many people still believed the Internet, and the personal computers that accessed it, was just a fad that would not be sustained long-term.

Of course, it did not blow over. In fact, it could be argued that Bezos’ creation helped drive the Internet’s explosion into the lives of nearly every man, woman and child across West Michigan, and beyond.

Jeff Bezos became the world’s richest man in late October 2017, when his $90 billion fortune surpassed that of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and many others. Today, Bezos’net worth is estimated at more than $150 billion dollars.

Bezos owns 16% of Amazon.com, which makes him the company’s largest shareholder. In the latter part of 2017, an incredible increase in Amazon’s stock value nearly doubled his net worth, generating approximately $78 billion in income in one year. Using that figure as his annual income, Bezos earned more than $8 million an hour.

What does all of this mean for Mackenzie Bezos, who married the Amazon.com founder when the company was still a back of the napkin idea? More than just Jeff Bezos’ wife and mother to their four children, Mackenzie Bezos was an instrumental part in Amazon’s launch, even acting as the company’s first accountant.

Since the couple’s primary residence is in Washington state, any asset acquired during their marriage is considered “community property” and is subject to a 50-50 split. However, any division of the couple’s unusual fortune could have a negative effect on Amazon.com’s stock price, and potentially each spouse’s net worth. Although each spouse will retain a divorce lawyer, it’s likely that the Bezos’ will come to an agreement out of court.

Although there is a great deal of speculation about their divorce, it is unlikely that Jeff or Mackenzie Bezos will be left struggling. If she receives even half of their wealth, Mackenzie could easily become the richest woman in the world by the time the dust settles. However, even if she is awarded “only” 1/10 of the couple’s wealth, her net worth could exceed $15 billion dollars.

With options such as Collaborative Divorce available today, it would be interesting to speculate on which path forward the Bezos’ will take, especially given their apparent willingness to end things on good terms. A statement released on Jeff Bezos’ Twitter account even read, “After a period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends.”

With over $150 billion at their disposal, you might think they could find a way to work through their differences and survive any marital speedbumps. Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos, however, are proof that, as the saying goes, money cannot buy happiness.

If you are considering divorce, it is important to educate yourself on the process and options available today. Please contact the experienced Grand Rapids divorce attorneys at Johnsen Wikander today and let us help you through your most difficult time.

Fear of Divorce | Johnsen Wikander P.C. West Michigan Divorce Attorneys

Fear of Divorce

Divorce is far from uncommon in West Michigan today. However, the idea of separating from someone who has shared the same home for years, for better or worse, is still often met with fear by one or both divorcing spouses.

The fear of divorce may keep unhappy couples together for years, often living as roommates to avoid subjecting themselves to the process even when no children are involved.

When asked why they feared the idea of divorce, the answers given were often the same, with several specific issues repeatedly appearing in the top results.

Disruption/Upheaval

For many people, the idea of divorcing is overshadowed by the upheaval that accompanies the process. Couples who have been together for decades may have accumulated a substantial amount of personal property, investment and retirement assets, and just plain “stuff.”

For them, staying together may seem easier than facing the work involved in dividing their shared assets. Other disruptive issues may also be cause for fear, such as lost friendships, new and unfamiliar homes, and new financial responsibilities.

Loneliness

The fear of divorce can also be rooted in the common fear of being alone. This can be especially true for older couples who believe they may never have another chance to find a strong or lasting relationship.

For these spouses, sharing a home with a virtual “roommate” may be preferable to walking into an empty house. Even when couples no longer share a bed, having someone else in the home may provide peace of mind and security for one or the other spouse.

Financial Stress

People often believe divorce will result in extreme financial difficulties. When both people earn a paycheck and share expenses, one or both may fear the impact removing half of their collective income might have on lifestyle, well-being and financial security.

Newer divorce options, such as Collaborative Divorce, can provide solutions that may reduce the cost of divorce and will certainly reduce stress.

For the Children

Parents who stay together because they believe it is the best solution for their children’s emotional wellbeing or concern regarding who gets custody of the child,  often overlook the real results of their decision. Children are often not fooled by their parents’ actions and can feel the tension and unhappiness in the home.

Unfortunately, children sometimes believe they are to blame for the trouble at home and may act out because of it. By staying together, parents potentially contribute to the resulting misbehavior, violent actions, and sadness or depression their children may manifest.

Many children of divorced parents who were interviewed later knew that their parents were staying together “because of me” and stated that they would have been much happier if the couple had divorced earlier, removing the tension and anger from their lives.

If you are considering the possibility of divorce, it is important to understand the process and options available to you today. In Grand Rapids and the surrounding communities in West Michigan, please contact the experienced divorce attorneys at Johnsen Wikander today. Let us help you through the fear associated with your most difficult time.

Divorce Roundup for 2018

Divorce Roundup for 2018

In the past year, Americans have seen a fair amount of uncertainty, turmoil and change. Some events may impact the legal decisions facing divorcing spouses in the near future, while other events point to cultural changes that may positively touch the lives of one or both spouses who have chosen to dissolve their marriage.

For our first post of the new year, it seems appropriate to review some information we shared during 2018. Although some of the things we have shared with our West Michigan neighbors has been light-hearted, other posts have addressed critical issues facing the people in the Grand Rapids area who might be considering or going through a divorce.

Our 2018 highlights include:

Divorce Rate Decline

Divorce rates have seen a decline over the past several years, with much of that change attributed to the Millennial’s approach to marriage. With a more results-driven, goal-oriented attitude toward marriage, Millennials are marrying later in life, and divorcing less often.

The Truth About Divorce Rates

Dropping Divorce Rates Influenced by Millennials

Modern Technology, Social Media, and Divorce

Todays’ technology and its occasional overuse can lead to marital problems and also provide attorneys and litigants with evidence that can be used on either side of a case. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets often show proof of everything from hidden property to infidelity.

There have been some helpful technological advancements too, with the rise of smartphone apps and websites that help with co-parenting and communication, such as Our Family Wizard and the like.

Social Media can be Divorce Case Evidence

New Divorce Trends – Online Apps

Divorce Themed Jewelry

Divorce and Vacations

Cultural Changes, Acceptance, and Divorce

Public sentiment towards divorce has changed dramatically over the last several decades, with television and other media sources contributing to the shift. TV shows like One Day at a Time and even I Love Lucy showed the public that divorced spouses were still human beings with regular problems, undeserving of the stigma and scorn so often directed their way.

Divorced Women on TV

The Power of Mediation for Divorcing Couples

Stay Together for the Kids? Many Kids say No

Divorce and The Office

Divorce and Friendship – Who gets The Smiths?

New Options Available to Divorcing Spouses

Divorce does not have to be the adversarial, “winner take all” contest it once may have been for many divorcing spouses. Newer options, such as Collaborative Divorce, and more common options, like arbitration, and mediation, offer divorcing couples and family lawyers a way to work together, protect their relationships, and create better outcomes for children.

The History of Collaborative Divorce

More than just Divorce

Collaborative Divorce: A Gentler Process, A Better Answer

Collaborative Divorce Revisited

Gentler Approach to Difficult Issues

New Tax Laws, Finances, and Divorce

Tax code changes that take effect in the new year may change the way spouses approach issues like spousal support and alimony. With the tax responsibility shifting from one side to the other, new financial considerations make it more important than ever to discuss the divorce process and outcome with an experienced divorce attorney.

New Tax Laws May Affect Alimony Settlements

Divorce and Financial Considerations

How the New Tax Code may Impact Children of Divorce

The Impact of Changing Tax Laws on Divorce

If you are considering divorce in 2019, please consult with a divorce lawyer before taking any steps forward. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, please contact the experienced divorce attorneys at Johnsen Wikander today and let us help you through your most difficult time.

Divorce in 2018

Divorce in 2018

As the year draws to a close and West Michigan prepares for the Holiday Season, many people take time to reflect on the events of the past year and the impact those events have had on their lives, including divorce.

For some couples, divorce played a part in their year, setting the course their lives will take in 2019 and beyond. For those Grand Rapids couples who have been through a divorce, this year may have included consultations with divorce lawyers, being educated about Collaborative Divorce, mediation, arbitration, and traditional divorce proceedings.

In 2018, the choices available to divorcing couples are more varied than past years, and the opportunity to part with a spouse amicably – instead of going through a combative process – can lead to a more functional co-parenting situation after the divorce is finalized.

Instead of fighting over minute details, West Michigan divorce attorneys can offer solutions that include decisions and outcomes that give both parties the tools they need to move forward.

With Collaborative Divorce, couples can find closure without aggressive litigation that often impacts their ability to maintain a positive relationship in the future. This is especially important for parents who wish to co-parent their children and make it easier to work together when visitation is split between homes.

The alternative options available to divorcing couples can have less harmful impacts on children’s lives, with less tension and stress that often affects their relationship with their parents.

Modern divorce options put children first, allowing divorcing parents to maintain a peaceful family environment and provide a secure foundation for the future of their children. The importance of preserving the integrity of the family unit is unmatched.

If you are facing the possibility of divorce, please consult with a divorce lawyer before taking any steps that might be difficult to reverse. In Grand Rapids and the surrounding West Michigan area, please contact the experienced divorce attorneys at Johnsen Wikander today and let us help you through your most difficult time.

Being Supportive when Friends Divorce

Being Supportive when Friends Divorce

Married couples are not the only people affected by divorce. Many people have friends or family members who have been through the process as well, and when divorce happens to close friends or relatives it can also cause turmoil for the people close to the couple involved.

People want to be helpful when those around them are hurting or frightened. However, being supportive does not necessarily mean getting overly involved another person’s divorce. There are plenty of problems that arise when someone gives advice, chooses sides or tries to intervene.

Although they may have the best intentions, the advice provided by friends of separating spouses may not be relevant or helpful to the divorcing couple’s situation. No two divorce cases are exactly the same; the same decisions and arrangements very well will not apply to both.

It is also hard for people to remain neutral, no matter how much they try. When friends choose sides, whether it’s because they feel more loyalty toward one spouse over the other or because they perceive some emotional or personal gain from the relationship, feelings can be hurt and may lead to resentment, making an already difficult situation worse.

Friends close to the divorcing couple may trade information back and forth as well. In the search for details or information, rumors often start. This is even more of a problem in the Information Age when every detail of most people’s lives often end up on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Rumors are problematic enough, but misrepresented information can have a detrimental effect on the situation, especially if it plants the idea in someone’s head that one of the spouses has been acting badly, by hiding money or carrying on an affair.

Unfounded concerns, that lead to rumors, can have an unexpected effect on the divorce case. In litigated or very adversarial cases, a rumor about hidden money or an affair may encourage one spouse to delay the proceedings, often creating additional expense for both parties. Very often, the more litigious a divorce cases, the higher the attorney fee bill.

Being supportive to friends who are going through a divorce does not require getting involved with the situation itself. Provide a shoulder to lean on or a safe place to turn, but allow the divorcing spouse to get their advice and legal information from the right professional.

If you are considering divorce or feel that itis your only option, be sure to discuss your situation with an experienced West Michigan attorney. In Grand Rapids, please contact the legal professionals at Johnsen Wikander and let us help you through your most difficult time.

Divorce Today – No-Fault vs Fault Explained

Divorce Today – No-Fault vs Fault Explained

At one time, anyone filing for divorce in the United States needed to prove fault before being granted permission to proceed. Reasons for fault varied, and individuals seeking to split with their partner often found reasons to do so anyway.

In a divorce, fault could include adultery, prison time, alcohol or drug abuse and mental or physical cruelty. In many cases, when good reason could not be provided, one or both spouses chose “irreconcilable differences” as their reason for separating.

Today, 17 of the 50 states are “no-fault” states, not requiring (or allowing) spouses to blame the other for the breakdown of their marriage. Traditional reasons for divorce, such as adultery and abuse, are not recognized as reasons for ending the marriage in these no-fault states.

The other 33 states do allow a reason to be given as the reason for the breakdown of the marriage, however, they do not require it. In these states, no-fault is the main reason for the divorce, and any other details provided simply fall under the no-fault umbrella.

One of the biggest differences between fault and no-fault divorce is the cost involved. Since fault requires one spouse accusing the other in order to obtain their divorce, litigation can drag out and legal fees can be significant.

When fault was required in order to proceed with a divorce case, couples often lied under oath when giving a reason for the breakdown of their marriage. By making false statements, people would often commit perjury just to be granted their divorce. The no-fault divorce designation helped the courts to more efficiently process divorce cases and reduce legal fees for litigants.

As a No-Fault state, Michigan does not require a reason for divorce. One spouse, and one spouse only, must state under oath that, “there has been a breakdown in the marriage relationship to the extent the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.” The other spouse may disagree, but the filing spouse will be granted their divorce regardless.

If you are considering divorce or feel that it is one of your only options, be sure to discuss your situation with an experienced West Michigan attorney. In Grand Rapids, please contact the legal professionals at Johnsen Wikander and let us help you through your most difficult time.

The Power of Mediation for Divorcing Couples

The Power of Mediation for Divorcing Couples

Today’s couples have divorce options that did not exist in the recent past. Traditional approaches to divorce, which in West Michigan and other places around the country, involve two attorneys, in an adversarial position, were once the only option. New and trending options, such as Collaborative Divorce, arbitration, and mediation, provide a less stressful approach for couples who do not want to fight their way to freedom.

Instead of creating conflict, mediation places couples in a low-stress, cooperative environment where they can work together to find common ground. Mediation helps to reduce conflict and preserve relationships, often ensuring a healthy co-parenting arrangement once the process is complete.

A Dutch company has taken the mediation approach a step further by offering couples a weekend retreat at a high-end hotel where the end result is their divorce agreement. Called DivorceHotel, couples can check in married, and three days later, leave with a signed divorce.

DivorceHotel, a company and not a specific location, partners with finer hotels to offer a weekend getaway that includes meals, spa treatments, and even free swag bags. Couples looking for a softer approach to the divorce process can pay a single fee which includes their stay, meals and spa access, and the process which leads to signed divorce paperwork by the time they check out.

The approach is unusual, but DivorceHotel now operates throughout Europe and has opened in several hotels around the United States. Couples who wish to avoid confrontation and take a less stressful approach to divorce can work together to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome – while at the same time enjoying a relaxing “vacation.”

The weekend event, held at upscale hotels in New York and Los Angeles, is also available in other locations around the country. One such location is the Gideon Putnam Hotel in Sarasota Springs, NY, where fine weddings take place several times a year. The possibility that a divorce and wedding could overlap at the same location does exist.

Whether accomplished through an offering like DivorceHotel or through an experienced attorney, couples who can still communicate and are willing to work together to reach a mutually achieved agreement can keep their divorce proceeding out of the courtroom and reduce associated stress and costs.

If you are facing divorce, don’t just assume you have to go to court at odds with your spouse. Discuss your options with an experienced attorney and see if there is a better, gentler approach that puts children first and benefits everyone involved.

Mediation is just one of your options. For more information, or to discuss your divorce with an experienced Grand Rapids area attorney, please contact Johnsen Wikander today and let us help you through your most difficult time.

Stay Together for the Kids? Many Kids say No

Stay Together for the Kids? Many Kids say No

In a recent study by the British Family Law Organization, Resolution, more than 80 percent of the children surveyed between 14 and 22 years old said they would rather their parents divorce than stay together for the sake of the children.

As difficult as divorce can be, the alternative is often worse. Children often observe and sense the stress and anxiety generated by their parent’s unhappy marriage. They are not blind to the pressures and problems, or even to the mechanical relationship of a loveless marriage.

Too often, children are caught in the middle of their warring parents and are either used as a sounding board to vent frustrations or a pawn in the divorce negotiations. Some children may desire for their parent’s marriage to end for self-preservation reasons, while others may genuinely wish To see their parents happy again.

In an interesting Reddit thread, a parent wrestling with the decision to divorce or remain in a marriage for the sake of the children, posted his question to the site’s readers. Many of the responses from those who had been children of divorce created a telling picture, with the majority advising the couple to consider divorce.

Reasons given vary, but the most common were the audible arguments, visible fatigue and stress, and an overall unhappy environment in the home. By staying together, most parents had subjected their children to the very same misery that they were experiencing.

Another side-effect of a crumbling marriage was that one or both parents tend to be less present, choosing to avoid the home as much as possible. By avoiding each other, one or both spouses end up spending less time with their children as well.

Children of parents who remained in an unhappy marriage also claimed that the situation set an unhealthy example for them. Very often, behavior such as lying, cheating, and mistreatment of the other spouse were viewed as acceptable.

In any divorce, children should be a chief consideration, not a pawn or tool caught between two unhappy parents. If you are considering divorce, please discuss your options with an attorney before making any decisions that may affect your children. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, please contact the experienced attorneys at Johnsen Wikander and let us help you, and your children, through your most difficult time.

Divorced Women on TV

Divorced Women on TV

Divorced women have historically carried more of the social stigma than their male counterparts, even when they were equally responsible for the decision to divorce. Once general divorce proceedings were done, women have generally been treated with unequal social scrutiny, often being treated as if they have suddenly become members of some lower caste.

This has been visible through the years on television, where divorce was never even mentioned until an unlikely hero brought it out into the center stage. At the end of an era when TV bedrooms had to show two beds and pregnancy could not even be discussed on air, Lucille Ball made a divorced woman the supporting star of her own prime-time show.

After her own divorce from Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball struggled to find her footing until she talked the network into running her new show, which featured herself as a widow and Vivian Vance, or Ethel, as she was known in I Love Lucy, as a divorcee named Viv and Lucy’s best friend. The Lucy Show was a hit, and Viv became the first divorced woman on a hit sitcom.

Years later, Maude, the title character from the 1972 show featuring Bea Arthur (long before she was a Golden Girl), went through divorce as part of the show’s script. Interestingly enough, she would return to TV as a divorced woman in the 1980’s hit, The Golden Girls.

Shortly after Maude ended, Bonnie Franklin brought the role of a divorced mother of two girls to prime time. For many, One Day at a Time, which previewed in December of 1975, was the first to spotlight a divorced woman, and to portray her for what she really was – a struggling single parent facing the same issues any other parent would face, just without the support of a spouse.

One Day at a Time is often cited as the first show to feature a divorced woman, even though it was not even the second. It was, however, the first to discuss the issues of divorce openly and honestly, placing the main characters in realistic situations, which, even though the show was technically a sitcom, could be heartbreaking and difficult. For many, that tipping point brought the subject of divorce out of the shadows and made it a normal, dinner-time discussion.

The subject of divorced women was initially broached by an unlikely source, one who broke several stereotypes and paved the way for women to succeed on television. Lucille Ball made the subject more approachable, then Bea Arthur’s Maude made it more open and acceptable.

Bonnie Franklin’s character put the subject of women in divorce front and center of our TV screens for almost ten years, showing the world that divorced women were no different than divorced men. In many ways, the show proved what most people already knew – they had to work harder, often face the same struggles and challenges, and often do so with less support than their now-absent spouses.

Every subject has its tipping point when someone finally steps up and boldly presents it to the rest of the world. These three brave women changed the face of divorce for the rest of us, and especially for divorced women everywhere.

If you are facing divorce, there are many new options available that may not have been possible when Lucille Ball took to the screen, let alone even 5 years ago. Educating yourself is important. Please contact the experienced West Michigan divorce attorneys at Johnsen Wikander today. Let us help you understand the options, such as Collaborative Divorce and Mediation.

Contact Johnsen Wikander today and let us help you through your most difficult time.