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Social Media Issues and Divorce | Johnsen Wikander P.C. West Michigan Divorce Attorneys

Social Media Issues and Divorce

Social media has become more than just a way for friends and family in West Michigan to stay connected. It is now one of the most popular ways for businesses to advertise or market their product or service. It is a great way for organizations to raise funds or awareness. It is also an easy way to keep the public informed about an event or a cause. And, of course, it is a great way for people to stay in touch and share photos and updates with their friends and family.

Social media, however, can also lead to relationship issues and very often play an integral part in divorce proceedings. As social media becomes more popular, it has also become easier for people to reconnect with old flames, and even rekindle those past relationships.

The threat of infidelity posed by social media is not the only problem. Facebook, Instagram and other outlets can also generate addictive behavior. A Chicago University poll concluded that people can become more addicted to social media than alcohol and nicotine.

In many cases, continuous use of social media, suspicious behavior, unusual posts and more can cause distrust between partners and spouses. Many often try to hide the level of their use.

All social media outlets can lead to marital issues, with 15 percent of couples polled reporting that social media was responsible for the problems in their relationship. A quarter of the couples polled reported that social media use caused at least one argument each week.

One social media outlet stands out from the rest in its impact on relationships. In 2019, Facebook has taken the lead, accounting for one-third of all marriage strife. In a study published in the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, Facebook was cited as the leading cause of divorce in nearly 30 percent of cases.

For many spouses, the primary complaint was inappropriate messages to members of the opposite sex. However, in a substantial number of cases, high use was the biggest issue. In either case, the same study found that people who access Facebook more than one hour per day are more likely to have conflict in their marriage.

Although social media provides a number of positive tools and results, its over-use can interfere with, and even destroy, a relationship. If you believe you are facing divorce for any reason, please contact a lawyer and learn your rights. In West Michigan, please contact the experienced attorneys at Johnsen Wikander and let us help you through your most difficult time.

Collaborative Divorce & Finances

Divorce, Wealth, and the Future of Amazon.com

The divorce of the world’s wealthiest couple turned Jeff Bezos’ wife MacKenzie into the 3rd richest woman in the world.

Mrs. Bezos could have been the richest as she was entitled to 50 percent of the couple’s holding in Amazon, as well as Bezos’ other private space company, Blue Origin, and his recent acquisition, the Washington Post.

As of today, Amazon stock alone is valued at more than $1800.00 per share, putting the Bezos’ holdings of more than 80 million shares at a value of over $140 billion dollars.

However, MacKenzie Bezos agreed to give control of 75% of the couple’s shares to her husband, along with the voting rights to the 25% of the stock that she will retain. While Jeff Bezos’ net worth will remain above $100 billion dollars, MacKenzie will leave the marriage with more than $35 billion of her own.

The couple’s divorce created concern in the financial world since an extended or contentious split had the potential to influence Amazon’s stock price. If the couple went through a difficult divorce, control over the company’s future may have shifted, negatively impacting Amazon stock.

However, according to separate Twitter posts from both Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, the couple parted ways on amicable terms. They stated that they intend on working closely on philanthropic projects and will cooperatively co-parent their four children. Both of their statements referenced the other as a “friend.”

With so many celebrity divorces ending badly and so much riding on the outcome, it is interesting to note the positive statements by both spouses and the apparent cooperative nature of their split.

Did MacKenzie and Jeff Bezos work things out on their own, or could they have used a process such as Collaborative Divorce to come to a final agreement?

Collaborative Divorce provides couples with a process that reduces animosity and offers a more respectful, less combative approach to the dissolution of their marriage. Couples choosing Collaborative Divorce engage a group of professionally trained Collaborative specialists who help the couple work together to reach a mutually acceptable resolution.

The Collaborative Divorce process helps couples maintain their co-parenting relationship and helps to keep their children’s well-being in the spotlight. By removing conflict, the ability for spouses to work together and co-parent their children is very often maintained.

Whether you are facing divorce in Silicon Valley or Grand Rapids, please consult with a qualified divorce lawyer before taking any steps forward. In West Michigan, contact the experienced West Michigan 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 and New Tax Laws in 2019

Divorce and New Tax Laws in 2019

With last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act set to take effect in 2019, many West Michigan couples have rushed to finalize their divorces before the end of the year. The adjustments to the U.S. Tax code, drafted in 2018, will implement changes, including the taxes and deductions related to alimony and spousal support payments.

In the past, the person making the payments was able to deduct the amount when filing their taxes while the person receiving the payments was taxed on the income. Under the new tax code, the payor no longer has the advantage of a deduction, and the recipient does not pay taxes on the income.

In previous years, the deduction may have dropped the payer to a lower tax bracket, incentivizing many to pay spousal support. This major change has driven many people, who may have already been considering divorce, to file before the end of the year.

Though the real impact made by the new tax laws remains to be seen, some professionals argue that the shift in tax liability may eliminate some opportunity for negotiation. By removing the deduction, the spouse responsible for writing the alimony checks may have more reason to push for lower payments. With the deduction no longer providing a potential tax advantage, the payer may fight harder to limit their responsibility.

In the past, the month of January has often seen an increase in divorce filings, since couples who were already struggling with their relationship often waited until the new year to file for divorce to reduce the negative impact on the holidays and related events.

However, the opposite will likely be true for divorce filings in 2019; January may bring a reduction in the number of cases filed since the push to beat the clock, and the new tax guidelines, will likely have run its course. Grand Rapids divorce attorneys, judges, and other legal professionals across the country may get a reprieve from the wave of new cases once the current rush is over.

If you are considering divorce now or in 2019, please consult a divorce attorney before taking your first steps. In Grand Rapids, please contact the experienced attorneys at Johnsen Wikander 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.

Celebrity Divorce Quotes

Celebrity Divorce Quotes

Celebrities are just people too. However, they are people whose dirty laundry is hung out to dry in the middle of the public arena for the whole world to see. When celebrities go through divorce proceedings, they make statements and give interviews that have been known to produce funny, sad, and even touching quotes that may connect with many West Michigan divorcing spouses.

Here are a few.

1. Anna Farris

“Life is too short to be in relationships where you feel this isn’t fully right or somebody doesn’t have your back, or somebody doesn’t fully value you. Don’t be afraid to feel your independence if things aren’t right.”

Recently, divorce rates began to stabilize and drop because of the new approach Millennials are taking. Instead of seeing marriage as strictly based on emotional attraction, Millennials are tying the knot to help each other achieve their individual and common goals, make better use of their pooled resources and help protect each other from unforeseen circumstances.

In other words, they’ve got each other’s backs.

2. Reese Witherspoon

In a 2008 interview with Parade, Witherspoon said, “There are things in my life that are hard to reconcile, like divorce. Sometimes it is very difficult to make sense of how it could possibly happen. Laying blame is so easy. I don’t have time for hate or negativity in my life. There’s no room for it. When you make wrong choices, you have to take responsibility for them: ‘What part of this do I own?’”

There are always two sides to a story. It’s very easy to point fingers and assign blame but in the end, no one can move forward until anger is replaced by cooperation and an agreement is reached. That’s why Collaborative Divorce has become a popular option for many couples; the mutually beneficial outcome helps couples maintain a good relationship which makes responsibilities such as co-parenting better for their children.

In other words, Collaborative Divorce helps couples set aside the blame and negativity and work on being the best parents possible.

3. Jessica Simpson

“It was like a death in the family: You go through the mourning stage, then the rebellion, and then all of a sudden you have to find life by yourself,” she told Glamour in August 2009. “Once you do that, you feel complete—and that’s the only time you can truly fall in love again and give yourself over completely to another person.”

Wise words from Ms. Simpson regarding divorce and death. So many people have compared the two, saying divorce is even harder to handle than the loss of a loved one. The 5 stages of grief also follow divorce, which means the same outcome is inevitable for most people and with acceptance, the healing process can begin.

4. Jennifer Lopez

“There’s no pain or failure like going through a divorce.”

Sometimes it’s nice to know that celebrities, even those as well-known as Jennifer Lopez, have the same fears and doubts, and feel the same pain, that the rest of us do.

If you are facing divorce, please consult with a qualified divorce lawyer before making any decisions. Contact the experienced Grand Rapids divorce attorneys at Johnsen Wikander and let us help you through your most difficult time.

Collaborative Divorce – A Better Approach to a Difficult Issue

Collaborative Divorce – A Better Approach to a Difficult Issue

In the past, divorcing couples were given few choices when the decision was made to end their marriage. A traditional divorce, which often created feelings of anger and resentment due to the adversarial nature of the process, was very often the only choice a couple faced.

In 1990, Stuart Web, a Minnesota divorce lawyer, grew frustrated by the conflict created through traditional divorce proceedings and created the less impactful process known today as Collaborative Divorce. After representing divorce clients for 15 years, Webb recognized the need for a more respectful, less adversarial process that presented both spouses with a mutually beneficial outcome.

Collaborative Divorce has since become a widely accepted option for divorcing couples who wish to work together to achieve an outcome that not only satisfies both spouses’ needs and wishes but also puts the security of any children involved in the divorce above all else.

By reducing the conflict present in many divorce cases, the children receive another benefit to Collaborative Divorce. Relationships between divorcing spouses are more likely to remain respectful and civil when both parties work through the divorce process together, leading to a more stable and friendly co-parenting arrangement.

Collaborative Divorce can also cost less than traditional divorce proceedings. By reducing anger and resentment and introducing cooperation, the time required to achieve an acceptable outcome can be reduced, along with fees and court costs.

The time required to complete the divorce process can also be reduced. If both spouses can work together to make critical decisions and agree on the outcome, the process can move faster and potentially can be completed in less overall time without involvement of the courts.

In a Collaborative Divorce case, both parties agree to work together to reach a mutually beneficial outcome with the assistance of divorce lawyers, financial specialists, mental health professionals, and other important professionals who have been specially trained in the Collaborative Divorce process.

If you are considering divorce, you may not be aware of the options available to you and your spouse today. Please take the time to educate yourself before proceeding with any legal action. In West Michigan, please consult with the specially trained Collaborative Law professionals and Grand Rapids area divorce attorneys 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.