New Facts & Figures About Divorce

497398333_6b8378634c_z

Here’s some new facts and figures about divorce gleaned from a new article by Dee Lee, a Certified Financial Planner. 

  • Each year in the USA, over 2 million people get married.  Nearly 50% of them will end in a Divorce.
  • 2nd marriages do not fare well.  Apparently experience isn’t much help in this area.  67% will end in a divorce.  For 3rd marriages, it gets even worse: 74% of them wind up in Splitsville.
  • The average age of first marriages that call it quits is 30.
  • New studies (which unfortunately are not cited in the article) indicate that children suffer much more trauma than originally thought after a divorce.  Yikes!
  • Family law is a $28 billion dollar industry each year.  Divorce lawyers in Massachusetts charge an average of $350 an hour.  This is in the same ballpark as Sacramento.  The “cottage industry” includes more than just attorneys: mediators, therapists, CPAs, court personnel, process servers, visitation supervisors, appraisers, authors, book publishers and more.
  • The cost of a divorce is about $20,000.  I recall reading years ago some ABA statistics that the average party in a divorce spends about $10,000 so this would be in agreement.  If a divorce is in your future, it is important to be realistic about the costs and plan for it.

If you have recently been through a divorce, how much was your attorney and what was the total bill? Were you satisfied or did you feel ripped off?  As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

Source and further reading:  CBS Boston.  Photo credit by umjanedoan at Flickr (CC by 2.0).

Gray Divorces on the Rise

This past Sunday the Sac Bee had a interesting article about the growing “gray divorce” phenomena, where married couples split after twenty or more years of marriage.  A recent high profile example of this trend was the surprising breakup of Al and Tipper Gore, high school sweethearts who spent spending more than forty years together.

Overall, divorce rates are declining for those born in the early 1960’s and later.  The national divorce rate has dropped from a peak of 5.3 per 1,000 people in 1981 to 3.5 today, matching the rate in 1970.  A major exception to this trend are old baby boomers.  According to the Census Bureau, in 2008 one-forth of all new divorces involved couples that were married at least twenty years.  In addition, in 2008 about fifty percent of all divorced people were members of the baby boomer generation.  A study by sociologist Andrew Cherlin found that marriages of 40 years or more account for 4% of all divorces while marriages of 30-39 years now constitute 8% of all filers.

Older people often get divorced for the same reasons as younger folks.  Often couples simply grow apart as they age and in different directions.  Especially after their children are grown and no longer living at home, “empty nest” married couples sometimes find they no longer have many shared interests, goals or values.  Sometimes older couples split due to infidelity or abuse.  Experts have identified two additional factors that are also fueling the gray divorce trend.  First, life expectancy is much higher.  In prior generations, by the time the children were grown, a couple in their sixties may have felt they were in the sunset of their years.  Now, sixty is the “new forty”.  Many boomers can expect to live productive lives well into their 80’s.  There’s a feeling of “What now?” among empty nesters and many decide the path to greater fulfillment means starting an entirely new chapter in their lives.  Second, overall, there is greater acceptance of divorce in society.

Of course, the main issues that older couples face in a divorce action are different than younger people.  When younger couples split, the primary focus is often on child custody, visitation and support.  Frequently their assets are minimal although their debts can be substantial.  In contrast, with a “gray divorce” the emphasis is usually on property division and spousal support.  Older couples with long term marriages frequently have acquired homes and have substantial savings, investments and retirement benefits.  Some couples will have the added complication of a business.  Often these assets are deemed 100% community property, meaning that husband and wife are entitled to equal shares upon division.  However, that principle is deceptively simple.  In reality, careful attention must be paid to the valuation of these assets.  Husband and wife often disagree on the value of assets and sometimes the characterization of property, that is, whether is community, separate or a mixed asset.  To resolve these issues, it is often necessary to obtain professional assistance from experts such as appraisers, forensic accountants and pension benefit specialists or actuaries.  The division of retirement benefits can be particularly thorny, and often a specialized document (and court order) will be required called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).

If you are considering a divorce, please feel free to contact me for a initial consultation (e-mail is best).  We will meet in my office and discuss your goals, issues in your case and how general divorce concepts apply to them, any trouble spots I might see, and how the court procedure works.  In addition, I’ll try to answer any questions that you have.  There is no obligation and the initial meeting is discounted to $100 for up to an hour.  I am confident you will find the consultation very helpful and informative.  And remember, the earlier in the process you contact me the better.  In fact, the best time to consult is me is before any paperwork has been filed!

— Michael

P.S. – Andrew Cherlin recently published a book that delves into recent U.S. marital trends in great detail.  It’s called The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America TodayGiven the relative instability of marriages, the data suggests some surprising application to child custody disputes.    

Photo Credit: 5652482 © Frenk And Danielle Kaufmann | Dreamstime.com

Where do men go after a divorce? Survey says …!

I saw this (100 person) survey on Family Feud this morning:

Q:  A man goes on a honeymoon after his wedding, where does he goes after a divorce?

The top seven answers were listed on the board.

  1. bar or strip club
  2. las vegas or vacation destination
  3. to another women
  4. court
  5. golf course
  6. friends
  7. home to momma (2)

Contestants tossed out these answers that were strikes: a brothel, therapy or counseling and a speed dating service.

Is anyone surprised by the survey results?  If you are a divorced guy, where did you go after your divorce?  I wonder what women do?  I don’t imagine their top destination is a bar or strip club.

— Michael

P.S. I believe this show originally aired on 05.19.10.  A transcript of the episode can be found here.

07-07-07, Divorce Rates and Upcoming Charity Events!

This past Saturday was 07-07-07 of course, and all around the world, couples in love were tying the knot at a frenzied pace hoping to gain an extra lucky edge for their marriage.  According to Theknot.com, a popular wedding site, the number of marrying couples was estimated to be 31,000 in the U.S. alone which is twice as high as the average summer Saturday.  While this type of “insurance” against failure may strike some as grasping at straws, it might not be a bad idea given the relative frequency of divorce in this society.  After all what can it hurt?

Related to this, how many times have you heard that “50% of marriages end in divorce!”  This idea has become so commonplace, it’s practically accepted as The Gospel now.  There’s no doubt many marriages do fail.  However, statistically it’s not as simple as that.  It’s better to compare the annual rate of divorce in a population over time to get a truer picture.  The National Center for Health Statistics determined that for 2005, the divorce rate in the United States was 3.6 per 1,000 members of the population with forty-six states and the District of Columbia reporting.  The same agency reported that the marriage rate for the same year was 7.5 per 1,000 of population.  This is the source of the popular 50% statistic cited above.  However, it is erroneous to conclude the divorce rate is 50% because the people getting married are not the same people getting divorce in the vast majority of cases.  Although these two figures seem related, and our mind wants to “connect the dots” they cannot be used together to calculate the divorce rate.  In 2003, the divorce rate was 3.8 divorces per 1,000 so in fact, the incident of divorce has dropped slightly.

I was curious whether California’s average was higher or lower than the national average but unfortunately the Golden State is no longer reporting it’s divorce information to NCHS.  The last year data is available for is 1990 when the rate was 4.3, only slightly higher than the current national average.  By far, the state with the highest divorce rate is Nevada where the rate is 11.4.  I suspect a transitory population lured by the promise of plentiful jobs and relative high wages in the booming Las Vegas area and high incidence of substance abuse and gambling addiction factor into this astonishingly high number.  Surprisingly, the state with the lowest rate was New Jersey coming in at 3.0 per 1,000.  If you can stand the urban decay, smog, grime, toxic contamination and toll roads, and you want something more concrete to maximize your chances of marital success than “777”, move to the “Garden State.”  A chart based on Census data that compares the divorce rate in all states can be found here.

If you already know are one of the “unlucky” ones and wish to get out of an unhappy marriage, please contact me.  I can provide you with solid representation in your divorce matter at a reasonable cost.  I have been practicing in the area of family law for nearly fifteen years in the greater Sacramento area.  My cases have ranged from simple “no contest” cases to complex matters with couples that were highly conflicted over custody, support or property division issues.


Looking for something to do?  Here are some fund raising events for worthy causes coming up soon in the Sacramento area:

Saturday, July 14, 2007 at Raley Field — Swing for the Cure to benefit Susan G. Kormen.  Bring out your business or organization to help raise money to find a cure for breast cancer.  Part of each packet sold goes to the Sacramento affiliate.  This is sponsored in part by Chevron.

Saturday, July 21, 2007 at the American River Parkway — Eppie’s Great Race to benefit Sacramento County Therapeutic Recreational Services (TRS).  This annual event gives you the chance to run (5.82 miles), bike (12.5 miles) and paddle (6.35 miles) from Sacramento to Rancho Cordova.  It’s advertised as “The World’s Oldest Triathlon.”  There’s also a Kid’s Duathlon at 10:00 a.m. sponsored by Kaiser Permanente.  TRS provides training in leisure, social, community and independent living skills to individuals ages five and up with mental, physical, developmental, emotional and sensory impairments or special needs.  Even if you can’t race, there’s opportunities to help with the race including setting up, paperwork, working in refreshment stands and more.  Contact the TRS at 916-381-0255 or via e-mail at saccotr@sacparks.org for more information.

Saturday, July 28, 2007Chefs for Charity “Sip & Savour” Event to benefit the Virginia Tech Foundation.  Local area chefs with big hearts are sponsoring this function.  The evening will consist of a tapas recipe challenge, gourmet food and wine tasting reception, live cooking demonstration and silent auctions with a truly impressive assortment of good including limited artwork, entertainment and sports collectibles, designer jewelry and ladies accessories, exotic getaways and more.  Live music will be provided courtesy of Sacramento’s “Inner Soul Band.”  Tickets cost $30.

— Michael

Michael W. Crosson, Attorney at Law
Family Law, Bankruptcy, Small Business Matters & Intellectual Property
Representing clients in the greater Sacramento area, including Placer, Yolo & El Dorado Counties

Bobby Brown Free After Paying Child Support

bobbybrown_mugshot

Last week Pop singer Bobby Brown (My Prerogative, Don’t Be Cruel) was freed after spending three nights as a guest of the Norfolk County Jail in Massachusetts for failure to pay over $19,000 in back child support and court costs.  Brown was recently arrested while watching his daughter’s cheerleader competition at Attleboro High School.  Originally it was reported that Brown didn’t exactly do it on his own.  Washington D.C. Radio Station Hot 99.5 agreed to pay the arrears plus expenses in exchange for a week’s work at the station.

However, as often happens with Bobby Brown, drama surrounding the event unfolded and his lawyer Phaedra Parks stated the station “did not pay a penny toward Bobby Brown’s bail.”  She stated the monies were not received until days later and “promptly returned upon receipt.”  According to Parks, “There was never a signed contract or any formally executed agreement regarding Bobby’s appearance on 99.5.  This appears to be a publicity stunt at Bobby Brown’s expense.”

But not so fast!  Hot 99.5 posted an email alleged to be from Ms. Parks where she clearly states, “My Client Bobby Brown would like to appear on your show as proposed earlier.  Please advise when we can expect the money.”  This was on the Thursday before the money was wired.  The station also posted an email from the day before that appears to confirm the essential terms of the agreement.   At this point, both parties have mutually rescinded the offer.

A poll on Hot 99.5’s website shows that 89.74% of visitors thought Bobby “did them wrong.”  I agree with those people.  Looks like a contract to me!  Now the station has decided the money could better be used locally and decided to “pay it forward.”  Hot 99.5 is giving $1000 to 20 people who express a need for it so long as they also pledge to do something to make the world the little better.  What a great idea and better use for the funds!

There’s a few good lessons here.  One, if you don’t pay your child support, you can go to jail!  This is true in California as well as many other states.  It can happen as a result of civil contempt proceedings as well as criminal enforcement actions.  In California, under Penal Code Section 270, someone who “Willfully omits to furnish without lawful excuse” can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and serve one year and/or pay a $2000 fine.  In other states, the penalties can be much higher.  For instance, in Montana, in some cases, failure to pay child support is treated as a felony and a parent can be sentenced for up to ten years in prison and/or pay $50,000.  In Oregon, it is also a felony and one can be sentenced for five years and pay a file up to $100,000.  The Center on Fathers, Families and Public Policy created a chart with the help of a attorney that contains an overview of all the criminal statutes for nonpayment of child support.  If you would like to check your state, click here.

Two, it’s good to keep in mind a contract doesn’t necessarily have to be a “signed” or “formally executed” as Bobby Brown’s attorney was implying.  In fact, sometimes courts will enforce contracts that are entirely oral in nature.  Here there were writings back and forth and it appears there was a “meeting of the minds.”

If you are a parent who is not receiving child support, or a parent who has fallen behind in child support and wants to get back on track, please contact me for a consultation.  It’s better to deal with these things sooner rather than later.  Often I can help you!  I can also assist with small business disputes over contracts and other matters.


I received in the mail some flyers from Kids’ Turn for a six week workshop that some of you may be interested in attending.  It’s called “Divorce Education for Children and Parents.”  According to the flyer, the workshop will consist of six 90 minute weekly sessions for children ages 4 through 14, and their parents.  Children meet in groups according to their ages while parents attend groups at the same site.  Parents of the same family meet in separate rooms and when appropriate, both parents are strongly encouraged to attend.

The benefits of this workshop include:

  • Improved communications between parents and children leading to reduced conflict
  • New insight into how children experience divorce, both during and after the divorce
  • Powerful strategies for helping your children cope more effectively with separation or divorce

The workshop starts April 21, 2007 and the location is TBD but will be centrally located.  For more information or to register online, visit the Kids’ Turn website or call 800.392.9239.  There is a sliding scale for parents and no fee for children.  No one is turned away because of inability to pay!

I encourage all divorcing parents to take advantage of these opportunities to reduce conflict over custody and visitation issues and help make the dissolution process less stressful and traumatic for children.

— Michael

P.S. — If you can’t attend the program or don’t live in the Sacramento area, don’t fret.  A book based on the acclaimed Kids’ Turn program has been published.  It’s called Good Parenting Through Your Divorce and it’s available through Amazon.  The second edition came out last December.