Divorce is devastating for families, especially for children. Unfortunately, an estimated 50% of marriages will end in divorce, a number which is mirrored in other developed nations. But if we want to understand the problem it’s important to look at the information in a little more detail.
It seems like every day psychological data is dissected, trying to get to the bottom of why relationships flourish or falter. A new study, conducted by Ohio State University researchers, claims that having several brothers and sisters stops divorces. In fact, it contends, the more siblings you have, the less likely you and your spouse will head to Splitsville. Continue reading
Bliss in Britain?
A recent U.K. study reports that couples on their second marriages are happier but are second marriages are less likely to end in divorce?
Divorce lawyers will tell you that Feb. 15 is one of their busiest days on their calendars. With Cupid’s favorite day on the horizon, we’d like to share with you some Valentine’s Day tips for divorce prevention, as compiled by the editors of Divorce Magazine. Earlier, we looked at six ways to enhance your marriage and preserve it for the long term. Today, we’ll continue with Valentine’s Day tips for divorce prevention.
Divorce lawyers will tell you that Feb. 15 is one of their busiest days on their calendars. With Cupid’s favorite day on the horizon, we’d like to share with you some Valentine’s Day tips for divorce prevention, as compiled by the editors of Divorce Magazine.
A recent story in the British newspaper The Telegraph described an interesting trend among senior citizens. So-called ”silver separation’’, the parting of couples in their sixties after as many as 40 years of marriage, is on the rise, bucking the general downward trend in divorce in the United Kingdom.
Back across the pond in the United States, there seems to be a similar trend. Continue reading
National statistics have the divorce rate in America hovering around 40 percent. Millions Main Street couples are contemplating the end of their marriages. Now, divorce has come to Sesame Street.
A new video starring Muppet “Abby Cadabby,” talking about her parents’ divorce debuted last month online, but Sesame Workshop – the non-profit group behind Big Bird and all his pals – has no plans to air it on the popular public television show. Instead, they offer a series of modules including videos and songs and tips for both kids and parents of divorce.
“Children of divorce often have questions that they may not know how to voice,” Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president for outreach and educational practices at Sesame Workshop, told the Chicago Tribune. “Or they come up unexpectedly and the parent may be caught off-guard and not know how to answer them. We really try, in these resources, to say, ‘It’s OK that these questions come up and it’s really important to help your child know they’re not alone,'” Betancourt said. “Some things will change, others will stay the same. We offer some basic facts that help children cope.”
The divorce modules are part of the Workshop’s “Little Children, Big Challenges” series, offering tips for parents guiding their 2- to 8-year-old children through life’s treacherous terrain. All in age-appropriate ways.
“Divorce can be a big challenge for both children and parents,” the site reads. “Though times may be difficult, children can emerge feeling loved and supported. You can all grow through these family changes and discover just how strong you really are.”
The multimedia kit, at the Sesame Street website, includes content such as “Two-Hug Day,” an online storybook about a boy who divides his time between his mom’s and dad’s houses; songs that help children understand their feelings; a guide for caregivers, extended family and friends; and tips for parents on getting their children to talk about the divorce – comforting them when they’re struggling and reaching out to key grown-ups in their lives for guidance and support. There’s even an app for that.
A group of educators and clinical psychologists advised Sesame Workshop, including JoAnne Pedro-Carroll, an internationally renowned researcher and author who has advised members of Congress and the White House staff on divorce issues, and Robert Hughes Jr., the head of the department of human and community development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“Sesame Street” the television program’s producers have been hedging on wither to tackle a subject as complicated as divorce. They produced an episode where Snuffleupagus, a huge, furry elephantine creature struggles to cope with his parents’ divorce, but test audiences didn’t respond well, producers say, so plans to air it were scrapped.
“It wasn’t the best way to deliver this kind of information,” said Betancourt. “Children who weren’t experiencing a divorce suddenly started having questions about it. This is a very targeted program, distributed through outreach or community engagement for families specifically experiencing divorce or separation and looking for resources.”
The online approach was decided to be a better delivery method, serving families that directly sought out the information.
The year that was 2012 ended with many journalists compiling top 10 lists of events from the past 12 months. Not to be outdone, online news site The Huffington Post published a story New Year’s Eve listing what it named as “The Most Fascinating Divorce Findings of 2012,” a compilation of divorce researchers’ results. Gathered from around the world, the “findings” began spirited comments form their readers. Let’s look back some highlights of what they found.
It’s not uncommon in today’s economy to have less-than-perfect credit. Financial difficulties plague all of us at some point in our lives, making loans for cars and homes harder to secure, and low interest rates seemingly out of reach. Everyone’s had to tighten their budget. Many have had to lean heavier than usual on their credit, getting into trouble with the banks.
There are ways to restore credit, so called “second chance” loans. But what happens when you throw child support payments into an already shaky credit score?
Child support payments can make a second chance auto loan harder to come by – even if you are on the receiving end of those payments.
Parents receiving child support payments could reasonably expect that income could positively impact their debt-to-income ratio, thus making them a better credit candidate. Here’s the catch, though: child support income can’t be garnished, so second chance auto lenders could be hesitant to consider it as part of their overall income. In the lender’s eyes, that child support income does not shine in a favorable light.
The good news is there are specific conditions where a lender may consider your loan if you’re getting child support payments:
- If you, the borrower, have additional income that can be garnished
- If you have long-term residence stability (you’ve lived at your current or past addresses for several years); and “situational” bad credit versus “habitual” bad credit. Situational bad credit can be brought on by something like a medical emergency; habitual bad credit means you never pay your bills on time, for example.
- If you can provide proof of your child support income, like copies of the court order or divorce decree outlining the amount and length of your payments.
As we’ve seen, child support can complicate getting a second chance car loan. A borrower’s best chances revolve around catching up on payments and consistently making them timely, and have at least one year on your current job. This shows stability. Also, responsibility with child support payments can show lenders you’ll be responsible with a car loan, too.
According to a report earlier in the Associated Press, over 1,000 Virginia families should soon be seeing their share of a $913,866 settlement between the state and a bankrupt child support collection company.
Attorneys for the state filed a motion in Richmond Circuit Court earlier this month, seeking an order to allow the Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) to begin writing checks to the needy families. First, a judge must sign an order authorizing distribution of the funds. Thomas M. Wolf, a private attorney who represented the state in the case against the now Texas-based Supportkids Inc., told the AP that he expects “the unopposed motion to be granted soon.”
According to court documents obtained by the AP, victims of the organization’s misdeeds will recoup 55 percent of the money that Supportkids was accused of illegally skimming from their child-support checks. Individual payments will range from $1.53 for a family in Norfolk, Va. to $12,637 for a family in Scottsville, Ky., according to an exhibit attached to the motion.
“I think it’s a great outcome,” Wolf said.
The lawsuit was filed in 2008 and claimed that Supportkids illegally used misleading “withholding orders” that appeared to be government-issued to get child support payments withheld from noncustodial parents’ paychecks. The company allegedly extracted fees often exceeding 35 percent from those paychecks.
“They were getting the custodial parent to assign child support payments to the company, and that’s not legal or enforceable in Virginia,” Wolf told the AP. “Child support belongs to the child, not the custodial parent, so the custodial parent can’t assign it to someone else.”
Supportkinds filed for bankruptcy soon after the lawsuit was filed. Fortress Value Recovery Fund, a New York-based hedge fund that had invested money in Supportkids, seized many of the company’s collection contracts and accounts on the eve of the bankruptcy. Fortress later entered a consent decree with the state of Virginia. Supportkids and the law firm representing it returned $913,866 to the state.
John A. Burlingame, an attorney for Fortress, declined to comment on resolution of the case.
Curiously enough, another private child support collection company from Texas bought Supportkids’ remaining assets and assumed the name Supportkids Services Inc. The successor company signed a legal agreement not to engage in illegal collection activities in Virginia. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has been charged of misrepresenting child support enforcement statistics by political rivals, in efforts they claim to skew the Lone Star State’s performance statistics into a positive and misleading light.
Wolf praised the state attorney general’s office and the Division of Child Support Enforcement for pursuing the case, saying it will deter other companies from engaging in similar conduct, and help make the system more helpful to noncustodial parents just scraping by.
“Any actions that impede the Commonwealth’s efforts to lawfully and fairly collect child support must be addressed,” Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine said at the onset of the lawsuit in 2008.
The lawsuit charged that Supportkids interfered with “the orderly enforcement of support obligations” and “tracking of support payments” in three major ways:
- Supportkids, Inc. sent wage-withholding notices to employers of noncustodial parents, referring to itself as “Child Support Enforcement,” a name easily confused with Virginia’s “Division of Child Support Enforcement.”
- Supportkids, Inc. unlawfully directed the employer to send payments directly to the company’s office in Texas, rather than to Virginia’s DCSE.
- Supportkids, Inc charged the custodial parent a 34 percent fee before forwarding the remainder of the payment to the custodial parent, regardless of whether it has undertaken any work on behalf of the parent to collect such payments.
Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell said SupportKids’ practice disrupted DCSE’s coordinated system for enforcing child support. “There are noncustodial parents who are not being credited for the support they pay to their children,” he told WSHV-TV. “Some noncustodial parents were improperly having wages withheld by two withholding orders: one obtained through the DCSE and one through Supportkids, Inc.”
For the 1,000 plus families duped in the scandal, finally, justice will be served. Along with their checks.