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The Hidden Disease of Parental Alienation

Dealing with Parental Alienation?  Parental alienation can be very prevalent in homes of divorce or struggling families. Some might say it is like a hidden disease, that if not treated properly, will consume everyone involved. A parent may not even recognize they are falling victim to this until it is too late. By that time, the child’s view of the alienated parent has already been distorted beyond repair.

Parental alienation is the use of psychological manipulation of a child to damage his or her view of the other parent. Often times this is due to one parent’s inability to separate conflict in the marriage with the well-being of the child. If these symptoms are noticeable in your family, action must be taken quickly to stop it head on. Depending on the severity of the case and the stage your child is already in, it may be harder to decide on which action to take. Let us first look at common symptoms of a child subjected to parental alienation and then discuss a variety of solutions you should consider to remedy the situation.

Symptoms of Parental Alienation

The severity of these may differ greatly, but here are common signs your family is falling subject to this:

  • Asking the child to choose one parent over the other.
  • Refusing to allow the other parent access to school, medical or extracurricular activities.
  • When a child cannot give reasons for being angry towards a parent or their reasons are very vague without any details. [1]
  • One parent playing the role of victim to the child with the other parent set as the perpetrator.
  • Making degrading comments about each other or false allegations of abuse.
  • One parent confiding all the details of the ongoing issues with the minor children so as to get them on his or her side.
  • Continuing to make up reasons why the child or children cannot visit.
  • Frequently making Child Protective Service complaints against the alienated parent which end up having no merit.

How to Move Forward to Resolution

If you have identified symptoms of parental alienation in your home, it is best to look at the dynamics of your family first to then decide how to find a solution with your child’s best interest at heart. If addressing the parent conducting the alienation does not work, some suggestions include:

  • Getting help from a parenting consultant experienced in parental alienation.
  • Finding a parenting program or support group in your area that can help you navigate through this difficult time.
  • Finding resources in the form of books, webinars, or online education programs that may provide some effective tips and strategies to try. There is an online program which addresses this issue in more detail. The moderator is Ryan Thomas. Please visit www.ryanthomasspeaks.com for more information.  There has been very good feedback from the program participants that I have met.
  • You can attempt reconciliation therapy with the minor child.

Of course, some of the potential solutions, listed above, may not be possible without a court order. The alienating parent may not willingly cooperate with the alienated parent. Therefore, getting a lawyer may be necessary.  Sometimes when a judge is presented with concrete evidence that one parent is alienating the child from the other parent, the alienating parent faces legal consequences. Those consequences may involve losing custodial rights, supervised visitation, being ordered to pay  attorney’s fees, or other sanctions. Regardless of what you decide to do, be very diligent in documenting the current situation and the different ways you have tried to take action. This may be used in court to show misconduct if the situation continues to get worse.

Getting an Attorney

In more serious alienation cases such as false allegations of neglect or abuse, by the alienating parent, to Child Protection Services, you should get an attorney immediately. I recommend getting an aggressive one experienced with criminal defense law. Many times an accused parent knows he or she is innocent of a charge or complaint and believes there is no need to hire an attorney.  The accused parent believes that hiring an attorney makes them look guilty. That is not the right approach in this situation. In fact, that is more of a reason to hire an attorney. An attorney can advise, protect, and defend against false allegations. [2] In this situation, proper documentation of the alienation can then be used.  The Law Offices of Sandra Guzman-Salvado has the knowledge and experience to represent you in a custody or divorce case. We also have a list of criminal defense attorneys that are experienced and can help.  We provide our clients with honest advice in all custody and divorce matters and can provide options to best suit your situation.

 

Sources:

[1] Douglas Darnall, PsyCare Inc, “Symptoms of Parental Alienation” http://www.parentalalienation.org/articles/symptoms-parental-alienation.html (August 9, 2011).
[2] Farzad Family Law, “Parental Alienation is a Stalker. Learn How to Gain Awareness and Stop the Abuse,” http://farzadlaw.com/parental-alienation-syndrome-awareness-cases-divorce/
[3] Edward Kruk, Psychology Today, “The Impact of Parental Alienation on Children” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/co-parenting-after-divorce/201304/the-impact-parental-alienation-children (April, 25, 2013).
[4] Richard A. Warshak, Dr. Richard A. Warshak, “What is Parental Alienation” http://www.warshak.com/publications/what-is-parental-alienation.html (2013).


Disclaimer: 
We are pleased to communicate with you concerning your family matters. However, if you communicate with us through the web regarding a matter for which our firm does not already represent you, your communication may not be treated as privileged or confidential, and shall not be deemed to create an attorney/client relationship. Furthermore, you should not provide confidential information to anyone at our law firm in an e-mail inquiry or otherwise unless we have first entered into a representation agreement.  By continuing to our website you are deemed to have agreed to these terms and conditions. 

The Emotional Ride of Infidelity

infidelityIn today’s society, couples get married for a number of different reasons. Some of these motivators include finances, companionship, to have children and of course, for love. Although any of these might provide the initial incentive to walk down the aisle, it doesn’t always guarantee a happy ending. A study done by the Associated Press, “Journal of Marital and Family Therapy,” indicates that 41% of all men and women will cheat on their spouse. [2]

If you are dealing with infidelity then your most pressing question is, “How can I understand my feelings and move towards a solution?” In order to heal from the pain you are feeling, you must first understand this pain is much like grieving from the loss of a loved one and you will encounter many emotional stages in the process.

The Stages of Dealing with Infidelity

Let’s take a look at the different stages you may go through and how to move forward:

Stop. This is probably the most important step. At this point you probably just found out about the deception. You may be in denial and it’s hard to believe this has even happened. You may have moved on to anger and are feeling resentful towards your spouse. Let yourself be angry, cry and scream even. It’s okay to feel this. However, it’s important not to make any irrational decisions and give yourself enough time to process it. [1]

Reflect. Now that you have probably calmed down, you are most likely feeling confused and desperate for an answer. You may start asking yourself what has brought your spouse to this point.  You may start looking to yourself to see if you have neglected a fundamental need of your spouse. It is very easy to get depressed and blame yourself. However, do not blame yourself or stay in a prolonged depression. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and you should believe that it is not your fault and that you will get through this. Do what you need to do to get over feeling depressed. That can involve talking to family and friends, seeing a therapist/psychologist, getting back in touch with your church or temple, and its members, and/or medication based on the recommendations of your psychologist.

Accept. This has happened and there’s no way to pretend it hasn’t. Understand that this will be a journey, a process, and there is no easy fix. Analyze your feelings and prepare to take action towards a solution.

Ask. By this point you will have tons of unanswered legal questions. Our Law Offices at Sandra Guzman-Salvado can provide answers and options in order to move forward. Understand that your spouse may not agree that he/she has done something wrong or even understand how you may be feeling. However, if you and your spouse are willing to talk, you can talk about how you will move forward separately.

You should discuss what will happen with the children, home, cars, accounts, support for the child or children, support for yourself, property, and anything of value. If you are able to reach agreements about these things, we can draft a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement. This will save a lot of time and money for both of you, and it will make it easier to move on.

If you hire our firm to draft the separation agreement, your spouse will receive a copy of the agreement and he or she can take that to any other attorney to review before signing. Your spouse can simply sign it before a notary with you, after you, or before you. This document, fully executed, will be filed with the court once the divorce is commenced. You should expect the legal process to be much less time consuming and expensive if you go this route.

If the communication between you and your spouse is not possible, you may consider simply filing for divorce, custody, and support. In Maryland, you do not have to be living separate and apart to file for divorce if you have sufficient evidence that adultery occurred. Although the case may start out contested, it is possible that the case will settle once your spouse has the chance to discuss the issues with an attorney, been advised, or when opportunities to settle the case present themselves. Generally, once a litigant realizes how much time and money is involved to litigate a highly contested case, he or she realizes that it is not worth prolonging a resolution.

If you decide you would like to pursue a divorce, based on adultery, proof of adultery may include but is not limited to:

  • Pictures and videos of your spouse with the other person being affectionate with each other, or coming out of a hotel together
  • Emails where they reference their last or upcoming encounter
  • Witnesses that have seen them together
  • Admissions from your spouse via text or voicemail message
  • Receipts for purchases to another person
  • Proof of travel to a destination where the lover resides

Move On. Even though your world may have turned upside down by this point, it doesn’t mean your future can’t be great. Going through trials can be painful, but you can always learn from pain. If you have decided to proceed with litigation, you should know that there is still a future ahead of you and adventures await you even if it does not feel like you will ever recover.

 

Sources:

[1] About Relationships, “How to Cope When You’ve Learned Your Spouse Is Unfaithful.” http://marriage.about.com/cs/infidelity/ht/unfaithful.htm (March 10, 2016).

[2] Statistic Brain, “Infidelity Statistics.” http://www.statisticbrain.com/infidelity-statistics/

[3] Psych Central, “The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief.” http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/  (October 6, 2015).

Disclaimer:
We are pleased to communicate with you concerning your family matters. However, if you communicate with us through the web regarding a matter for which our firm does not already represent you, your communication may not be treated as privileged or confidential, and shall not be deemed to create an attorney/client relationship. Furthermore, you should not provide confidential information to anyone at our law firm in an e-mail inquiry or otherwise unless we have first entered into a representation agreement.  By continuing to our website you are deemed to have agreed to these terms and conditions.

Coping With a Spouse Who Has PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderPTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a psychiatric disorder that can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical/sexual assault as an adult or child. Following one of these traumatic experiences, it is natural for a person to feel afraid, sad, anxious, or disconnected. But if these feelings don’t fade away and you are stuck with a constant feeling of danger, you may be suffering from PTSD.

The symptoms of PTSD can make it very difficult to maintain a healthy, happy relationship. Normal arguments can turn into explosive fights, and misunderstandings can become prevalent. The non-PTSD partner may even start to develop secondary trauma, just from being exposed to the intense PTSD their spouse is suffering from. Often referred to as “caregiver burden”, the spouse can experience overwhelming stress and strain due to the emotional, physical, and financial demands of their partner.

Fortunately, there are things you and your partner can do. These tips should help you cope with the effects of PTSD and significantly improve your relationship:

  • Educate Yourselves

    Take advantage of all of the great resources that are available. Learn the stages of the disorder, and the effects that it has on the body and mind. The more you know, the better off you will be.

  • Set Clear Boundaries

    Unfortunately, PTSD can sometimes cause people to be abusive toward their friends and loved ones. Just because your partner is suffering, it does not give them the right to be abusive or violent. Sit down with them ahead of time to set clear boundaries and rules for what is tolerable in the relationship and what is not.

  • Enroll in Couple’s Therapy

    Research shows that couple’s therapy can be very helpful in coping with PTSD in the relationship. Find a therapist who is educated and professionally trained to provide family therapy, and also is knowledgeable about trauma. Coping with this disorder on your own is difficult. Why not get some help?

  • Study Triggers Together

    The emotional highs and lows of PTSD are almost always caused by some sort of trigger. A trigger can be anything at all. They can be sights, sounds, smells, or even feelings that bring back memories of the trauma they experienced. Sit down together and try to figure out as many triggers as you can. The more triggers you figure out, the easier it will be to avoid them.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can present challenges in your relationship that you may not think you can overcome. If you follow these tips, however, you should be able to maintain a healthy, strong, loving relationship.

Sources:

How to Cope With a Bipolar Spouse

How to Cope with a Bipolar SpouseBipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is a mental condition that is characterized by unusual shifts in mood, as well as fluctuations in energy and activity levels. Millions of Americans are affected by bipolar disorder, and it can have a serious impact on their lives. Similarly, bipolar disorder can put strain on a relationship.

When one partner in a relationship is affected by the disorder, it can be nearly as difficult for the other partner as it is for the patient themselves. The sudden shifts from depression to mania, and vice versa, can lead to emotional withdrawal, unexpected outbursts, wild accusations, and everything in between. Some days will be exciting and exhilarating, and other will be stressful, frustrating, and depressing.

The sad truth is that many people just can’t handle the stress that these extreme mood swings put on their relationship, and they file for divorce. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. With some extra effort from both partners, and a therapist, you can maintain a loving and supportive relationship.

Here are some tips for coping with bipolar disorder in your relationship:

  • Build a Support Team

    Coping with bipolar disorder can be a lot of work for both partners, and it can weigh down your spirits. Joining a support group for family members and spouses of bipolar patients can help. You should also build a strong support team of understanding family and friends who you can talk to.

  • Communicate

    Dedicate some time every week to talk to each other, whether it’s about your feelings or just about what you did that day. Open communication is the key to a successful, healthy relationship.

  • Tips for Coping with Bipolar Disorder

  • Breathe

    When things are tough and you’re feeling hopeless, step back and take a deep breath. Remember that it’s the disorder, not your spouse, that is causing these feelings.

  • Look for Triggers

    When your spouse is in a stable mood, try to figure out what environmental triggers are maintaining that stability. Often, there are specific stressors or soothers that influence mood swings. Use these triggers to your advantage to maintain a desired mood.

  • Remember your Love

    It will get difficult at times, almost unbearable, but just remember that you did not fall in love with the disease, you fell in love with a person.

Overall, bipolar disorder can put a lot of stress on a relationship, weighing heavily on both partners. It may seem like it is just too much to handle, but if you follow these tips and educate yourselves, you should be able to maintain a happy, healthy, long-lasting relationship.

Sources:

How to Cope With ADHD in Your Relationship

Emotional Outburst From ADHDADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder that affects a large number of people. It is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder that starts during childhood, and often continues into adulthood. The symptoms of ADHD can make it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship. These symptoms include:

  • Difficulty Getting Organized

    People with ADHD may have trouble organizing and prioritizing parts of their lives. Additional responsibilities such as bills, jobs, and children, can make organization even more difficult.

  • Easily Distracted

    Hampering attention, adult ADHD can often lead people to become easily distracted. The smallest thing may distract them from a much more important issue or conversation.

  • Poor Listening Skills

    A person with ADHD may seem like they are paying attention and listening to what you have to say, when in actuality, their mind is somewhere else completely. This can lead to a lot of misunderstandings.

  • Forgetfulness

    Even when they are paying attention, a person with ADHD may later forget what was discussed or promised. This also can lead to misunderstandings, missed appointments, and frustration.

  • Hyperactivity

    In adults, the hyperactivity associated with ADHD can cause restlessness and difficulty relaxing.

  • Emotional Outbursts

    ADHD in adults can lead to problems with emotional control. They may lose their temper easily and are quick to explode over minor issues.

These symptoms take a toll on the relationship partner with ADHD. The disorder can be very frustrating for both partners. The good news is that there are steps that can significantly improve the relationship.

  1. The first step is to educate yourselves. Whether the condition is diagnosed or not, it is important to learn about it and know the symptoms, so that you can manage your response.
  2. From here, you should begin to seek treatment for the disorder. Treatment may include medication, exercise, sufficient sleep, and counseling.
  3. As with any relationship, always remember that it will take effort from both partners to make the relationship work. You will need to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each partner so that you can set up realistic expectations and goals.
  4. Set up a structured system for projects to make it easier for the partner with ADHD to stay organized and remember their responsibilities.
  5. Finally, find time to connect and spend time with each other, and always remember the positives of your relationship. This will make it much easier to deal with your frustration.

Overall, ADHD can put a lot of pressure and stress on both of the partners in a relationship, and sometimes this is just too much for a person to handle, which may lead them to seek a divorce. However, if you follow these steps, it should help build a stronger, healthier relationship.

Sources:

Divorce After 50

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Divorce rates in the United States have declined steadily over the last twenty years. However over that same period of time, Divorce rates for individuals that are over the age of 50 have risen. In 1990, the divorce rate for people over 50 was over 1 in 10. These days, that figure is nearly 1 in 4.  Although many of the typical challenges involved in a divorce, such as child support and custody, may not be issues, divorcing over the age of 50 has unique issues that can be just as challenging to navigate. [1]

One such issue that can be a challenge is how to split up the finances. Couples that have been married for a long time often have built up substantial savings and retirement accounts that they planned on relying on. While individual retirement accounts can be split up as part of the divorce agreement, in order to split up the assets from a retirement account, such as a 401(k), a couple will need to utilize a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or “QDRO”. A QDRO is a court order that is used to divide benefits without incurring tax penalties.  However, when withdrawing money from a retirement account, it is important to calculate the real value of the account rather than the balance. This is because after taxes incurred from withdrawing the money, the value of the account can end up being about 65% of what the balance was. [2][3][4]

Another issue that can come into play is alimony. Typically, alimony is rewarded to the spouse who makes less money. However, depending on how old the people getting divorced are, the health of the spouse may become a factor in regards to being able to depend on the monthly payments.  As such, the lesser-earning spouse may decide to claim the Social Security benefits of the higher earning spouse. Unless the spouse remarries, he or she is entitled to the benefits after reaching the age of 62.  It is imperative to consider the social security benefits during any alimony negotiations. Furthermore, if a former spouse dies, the surviving ex may be entitled to survivor benefits, which is 100% of their former spouse’s benefits. In order to qualify, however, the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years. [5] [6] [7]

Another overlooked issue is that of health insurance. If a spouse is part of either a family policy or covered by their spouse’s policy, the loss of health insurance can be a real issue. If the spouse is too young to qualify for Medicare benefits, one option they may proceed with is enrolling with COBRA benefits. COBRA provides temporary continuation of health coverage for up to 36 months after the loss of coverage. While the spouse would be getting the same coverage as they were previously, the cost of coverage would be significantly higher. Additionally, attempting to enroll in reasonably priced health care at an advanced age can prove to be very difficult. One way that couples are combating this dilemma is by proceeding with a legal separation as opposed to a divorce. This way, the spouses may not lose health care but can go forward with splitting the additional assets. [8]

While the typical issues in a divorce can be avoided, it is clear that divorcing after the age of 50 has its own unique set of issues that must be settled. It is imperative that an individual considering this utilizes any expert possible in order to minimize the stress and problems that can arise.

 

[1] http://www.connichlaw.com/Articles/Divorce-Rates-Soaring-Among-Couples-Over-50.shtml

[2] http://www.levinepirolaw.com/Blog.html?entry=divorce-after-50

[3] http://www.nextavenue.org/article/2012-03/divorce-after-50-calls-special-money-strategies

[4] http://www.smartmoney.com/spend/family-money/divorce-over-50-mistakes-to-avoid-1300832383830/

[5] http://www.smartmoney.com/spend/family-money/divorce-over-50-mistakes-to-avoid-1300832383830/

[6] http://www.levinepirolaw.com/Blog.html?entry=divorce-after-50

[7] http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/divorce-after-50—unique-issues-older-couples-face-

[8] http://www.nextavenue.org/article/2012-03/divorce-after-50-calls-special-money-strategies

What is Mediation and how does it work?

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Legal Mediation is a cooperative dispute resolution process in which both parties work together with the help of a professional independent mediator. Ultimately, the goal of the process is to clearly define what is being disputed in the case and work out all problems that can arise relating to child custody, property and finances.  [1]

The mediator is an impartial third-party that works with both sides to hear out the disputes and communicate them in a more agreeable manner. The mediator serves as a negotiator and clearly defines what is in dispute. The mediator also provides different suggestions and options as a means of handling each issue. These disagreements can often be very contemptuous, so it is up to the mediator to help bring a mutually agreeable resolution to the disputes and hopefully dissolve any anger. [2][3]

The mediation process is far different from that of a traditional trial. The mediator has no ability to make a legal judgment or offer any legal advice. The mediator’s sole purpose is to offer options for the parties to take. Also, the mediation process can end at any time with or without an agreement being reached. Perhaps the biggest difference between the mediation process and a trial is that the mediated agreement is not legally binding. Once an agreement is made between the parties, the agreement must be sent to the parties’ attorneys for review prior to being submitted for approval from the court. It is only after the Judge reviews and signs off on the agreement that it becomes legally binding. However, if the two sides mutually agree that their original agreement is not working out how they may have liked, they can agree to changes, which can then be submitted to a judge for approval. [4] [5]

There are many benefits to using mediation as opposed to a trial. First and perhaps most importantly, by working together, the parties are able to discuss a mutually agreeable option, rather than have one be ordered to them. This means that both parties can be happy with the results. Also, the parties work together and speak to each other face to face as opposed to only communicating through third-party means. This can assist in the issues being far more clearly defined than the alternative. The mediator can provide options that may have not been considered before by either party. Finally, mediation is far less time consuming and less expensive than a trial. [6]

Mediation can be an excellent option for many people. While working together and minimizing tensions between the parties, both sides are saving themselves money, time and stress that can accompany a trial proceeding.

[1] http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/circuit/mediation/mediation.html

[2] http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/circuit/mediation/mediation.html

[3] http://maryland-familylaw.com/mediation/mediationfaqs.html

[4] http://maryland-familylaw.com/mediation/mediationfaqs.html

[5] http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/circuit/mediation/mediation.html

[6] http://hzlegal.com/family-law-mediation.php

What is Collaborative Law?

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In Collaborative law, two sets of clients and attorneys work together in order to mutually agree on a settlement. In addition, trained professionals with specific areas of expertise, such as financial analysts and parenting counselors may be brought in when necessary to assist with the construction of the agreement.  Both clients agree to open and honest with all the information that is needed to create a fair, uncontroversial agreement that benefits both sides as well as any other members of their family that may be involved. [1]

Lawyers Working TogetherBy following through with this collaborative effort, the parties are agreeing that they do not want to put their decision making into the hands of a judge, or deal with the time and emotional and monetary expense that comes with litigation. Outside of avoiding court and saving money, there are additional benefits to collaborative law as well. The client is far more in charge of the situation than they would be if it was in litigation. As such, the proceedings are far less stressful and the client is guaranteed to be happy with the agreement that they come up with as opposing to what is ordered upon them. Furthermore, the client is able to participate and voice their opinion and wishes far more than the alternative. Perhaps the most important benefit in cases that involve custody is that the collaborative approach works to “insulate” the children, by proceeding in a way to best minimize the impact of the divorce on them. [2] [3] [4]

The entire process is different than that of a traditional divorce. When a couple decides that collaborative divorce is the option they want to take, the clients and lawyers will conduct a series of face-to-face meetings that identify every issue that is in dispute. Rather than blame one side for any of the conflicts, the parties work together to agree on a solution that is mutually beneficial. Also, collaborative lawyers are specifically trained in collaborative law. If the parties cannot come to a mutual agreement and decide to pursue traditional litigation, the clients must hire new lawyers to handle it. If either lawyer learns that their client is not being forthcoming during the meetings, they are required to withdraw from the case, or they are considered to be participating in bad faith.  Being that these meetings are completely confidential, if the case does end up in litigation; any disclosures that were made during the collaborative process cannot be used against either party during the follow up proceedings. [5]

Collaborative law can be a very beneficial option for couples to take. Not only does it save money, but by working together, clients can avoid all of the aggressiveness that leads to bitter feelings and stress that may come with litigation.

 

[1] http://www.yourpeacefulresolution.com/forms/What%20is%20Collaborative%20Law.pdf

[2] http://www.yourpeacefulresolution.com/forms/What%20is%20Collaborative%20Law.pdf

[3] http://www.collaborativeattorneys.com/benefits.htm

[4] http://www.collaborativelaw.com/art/4-13_what-collaborative.cfm

[5] http://www.nycourts.gov/ip/collablaw/faqs.shtml#Q2

Outsourcing Jobs – The New Trend in the Legal Industry

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These days, outsourcing of jobs has become a hot-button issue in all aspects of life. With the recent economic downturn, more companies are finding outsourcing to be a cheaper, cost-effective way of keeping productivity up, while costs stay down. Unfortunately, this is not great news for the American public, who are still fighting with high rates of unemployment. Current statistics show that as the unemployment rate stands at around 8%, the number of jobs being outsourced has climbed to 2,273,392. [1][2]

Statistics show that the legal industry is by no way immune to these same problems facing the overall job force. According to a recent survey conducted by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), the overall employment rate for 2011 law school graduates is at 85.6%. This is the lowest employment rate for law school grads since 1994. [3]

One new phenomenon that may be affecting the legal industry’s ability to create jobs is a new reliance on outsourcing by law firms. As American’s struggle to find work, often times they cannot afford the often overwhelming costs a typical lawyer would charge. In an effort to maintain production, while being able to justify lower charges by lawyers, many firms are using lawyers in India, among other places, to do “grunt work,” such as document reviews, that would have been completed by young lawyers in the past. [4][5]

As firms find more and more benefit in utilizing these outsourcing firms, the industry has grown to accommodate them. As of 2009, the number of legal outsourcing companies has ballooned from 40 in 2005, to over 140 by the end of 2009. Additionally, India’s legal outsourcing firms have seen their revenue’s skyrocket 38% from 2008-2010, with estimates showing continual growth through 2014. Clearly, this new phenomenon is only in its’ infancy. [6]

Although on the surface, this may sound like bad news for newer lawyers, the outsourcing may have unique solution to the unemployment problem; young lawyers moving overseas to work for the outsourcing companies. Legal outsourcing companies currently employ about 16,000 people worldwide, with that number expected to grow with the demand for the service. Many unemployed lawyers are choosing to move out of the U.S. to find work. Although the pay is far less than what many lawyers expected to make in the past, at $50,000-$80,000, the pay is nothing to scoff at. [7][8]

Only time will tell if the rise in legal outsourcing will cause a major impact in the legal industry. Although, as more and more firms are choosing to utilize these companies, one can imagine that we will learn the answer to this sooner than later.

Resources

[1]http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=z1ebjpgk2654c1_&met_y=unemployment_rate&idim=country:US&fdim_y=seasonality:S&dl=en&hl=en&q=unemployment+statistics

[2] http://www.statisticbrain.com/outsourcing-statistics-by-country/

[3] http://abovethelaw.com/2012/06/how-did-the-class-of-2011-fare-in-the-legal-job-market/

[4] http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2011/02/18/saving-the-dying-american-legal-industry-from-outsourcing/

[5] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/03/business/03reverse.html?pagewanted=all

[6] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/05/business/global/05legal.html?pagewanted=all

[7] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/05/business/global/05legal.html?pagewanted=all

[8] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/03/business/03reverse.html?pagewanted=all

The Effects of the Economic Downturn on Family Law

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In the past, it has been estimated that about half of every marriages end in divorce. In a United States Census Bureau Survey completed in 1996, 34% of all men, ages 40-49 and 37% of all women, ages 40-49 answered that they had been divorced at some point in their lives. However, during the recent recession and economic downturn, divorce rates have dropped significantly. According to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, of the 16,000 lawyers polled, 40% said that divorce fillings had decreased 40% since the recession. [1] [2]

Recent estimates show that a divorce can cost an individual anywhere from $8,187 to $132,600, depending on the complexity of the divorce. Due to the high legal fees, as well as financial uncertainty, many couples have chosen to stay together simply because they are unable to afford getting divorced. [3] [4]

Some people, however, have chosen to take matters in their own hands and choosing to represent themselves in divorce cases, a practice known as “Pro Se” representation. A California survey found that 49% of petitioners and 81% of respondents are self-represented. Recently, the state of Texas controversially decided to provide forms to individuals that would assist in Pro Se divorces. While this assistance has helped individuals by eliminating the cost of lawyer fees, it has given rise to other problems. [5][6][7]

Complex divorces involving Pro Se representation, such as those involving property, children and income, has led to chaos at family courts. Family Court clerks have had an especially increased work load, as they often are called upon to help the Pro Se parties navigate through the divorce process. Pro Se litigants often times lack the legal knowledge to recognize the validity of their case, as well as what the best means of argument are. Additionally, judges are often found having to worry about basic procedural issues as opposed to the divorce itself. A poll of judges found that 88% believe that procedural errors were a problem in Pro Se cases. Procedural issues and paperwork that are standard practice to lawyers can easily be confused by Pro Se litigants, which lead to judges having to spend time explaining what would be basic information to a professional attorney. Another survey found that 62% of judges polled said that the outcomes in Pro Se cases were worse than those involving representation.  [8][9][10][11][12]

Although Pro Se litigants are representing themselves, they are still held to the same procedural standard that a traditional attorney would be held to. By law, Judges are unable to provide legal advice, no matter how confused the Pro Se party may be. Although other states may choose to follow Texas’s lead in providing DIY divorce forms, until there is adequate legal information available for individuals who wish to represent themselves, it can reasonably be inferred that the problems involved in Pro Se litigation will continue to be the norm. [13]

Resources

  1. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/two-income-family-model-matures-145735457.html
  2. http://articles.nydailynews.com/2009-03-06/entertainment/17918039_1_couples-divorce-matrimonial-lawyers
  3. http://www.divorcemag.com/articles/Financial_Planning/divorce_cost.html
  4. http://www.legalnews.com/oakland/1001361
  5. http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-05/for-an-easy-affordable-lawyer-free-divorce-check-yes-view
  6. http://www.ncsconline.org/wc/publications/memos/prosestatsmemo.htm
  7. http://www.law.com/jsp/tx/PubArticleTX.jsp?id=1202538338997&slreturn=1
  8. http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-05/for-an-easy-affordable-lawyer-free-divorce-check-yes-view
  9. http://thewonksalon.com/archives/4603
  10. http://www.law.com/jsp/tx/PubArticleTX.jsp?id=1202538338997&slreturn=1
  11. http://ourfamilywizard.com/ofw/index.cfm/blog/going-pro-se/
  12. http://www.abajournal.com/files/Coalition_for_Justice_Report_on_Survey.pdf
  13. http://www.nujournal.com/page/content.detail/id/529389/Representing-yourself-in-court.html?nav=5011