It’s the last episode of our season and we’re going out with a bang. We introduce Pete’s new favorite acronym by way of Subsequent Lawsuits After Divorce (S.L.A.D.) and talk about all the ways you might find yourself back in court after your divorce is over. The law is made up of some confusing statements on responsibilities as they’re assigned in the divorce process and we outline the major buckets of circumstances that will see you working with your attorney again: appeals, parenting plan adjustments, and the biggie, contempt and enforcement.
Plus, we have a listener question that asks us to challenge the impact of the prenuptial agreement on the strength of the marriage. You don’t want to miss Seth’s answer!
Pete Wright: Welcome to How to Split a Toaster, a divorce podcast about saving your relationships from True Story FM. Today, we’re wrapping up our season with a special dish best served straight out of the toaster, SLAD.
Seth Nelson: Welcome to the show, everyone. I’m Seth Nelson, and as always, I’m here with my good friend, Pete Wright. What is SLAD?
Pete Wright: Well, this is your fault. It is our new acronym. I want to put it on a shirt. I want it everywhere. It stands for Subsequent Lawsuits After Divorce. Yes, you decided that was going to be our title. I blame you, sir.
Seth Nelson: Okay. I didn’t say make it into a T-shirt.
Pete Wright: It’s going to be a T-shirt and it’s going to have a line art drawing of your face on it.
Seth Nelson: Oh, man.
Pete Wright: It’s going to be amazing. I dream of these things.
Seth Nelson: We won’t be able to pay people to wear that shirt. That’s the shirt that’s like, oh, that’s the rag we use to wash the car.
Pete Wright: You know what, I think we are an aspirational show, if we are nothing else, Seth Nelson.
Seth Nelson: Absolutely.
Pete Wright: We’ve got a bunch to talk about today. You wanted to talk about subsequent lawsuits after divorce. I’m actually excited to talk about this, and I think I understand how to start. But I do have a passage I would like to read that had me … It really sets up this lingering frustration that you have given me about the legal system, and I think it sets up our conversation. Will you indulge me a little bit of narrative grace?
Seth Nelson: Little reading, bedtime story. Have at it.
Pete Wright: A bedtime story from Pete. This is from the book, Real World Divorce. The court has decided that one healthy adult should be a financial dependent of another adult, but the extent and period of dependency is left open. The legislature and the court have decided that the child should be a cash producing asset, but the ownership of that asset is uncertain and constantly reviewable. The court leaves open questions as to who will pay for certain of the child’s expenses. The court orders people to go about their daily lives in a certain way, but the only way to get these orders enforced is to keep going back to court and paying fees. Seth, that confounds me, not the individual words, I do know what they mean. The entire sentiment in here confounds me, sir. Doesn’t this set up the entire universe of subsequent lawsuits after the divorce?
Seth Nelson: It does. You found a great passage. Now all jurisdictions are different, but the theme, the feeling, that when you get your final judgment and you are so happy, like I’m done, I’m done with the litigation process, the only time that I’ve ever seen cases that are truly done is when there’s no minor children, neither spouse is going to pay alimony to the other, the only thing, not the only, they have divided all of their assets and debts before the final judgment is signed by the judge. So literally, there is nothing left to transfer. You don’t have to sell a house together. You don’t have to transfer a 401k or an IRA to the other party. No one owes anybody attorney’s fees or back alimony that might’ve been due during dependency. You’ve closed all your bank accounts. You’ve closed all your joint credit card accounts. You’ve closed all your memberships.
Pete Wright: You’ve deleted each other’s names out of your phones.
Seth Nelson: It is done.
Pete Wright: Yeah.
Seth Nelson: Things have to be agreed to and implemented to their conclusion for it to actually be done.
Pete Wright: So this is I think a really important thing that we need to say out loud, for me, that when you begin a divorce, unless all of those things can be true, the divorce process does not end when you sign on the line which is dotted. Right? The divorce process ends, could be years later.
Seth Nelson: I have been divorced now for almost 15 years. Technically, my divorce was over 15 years ago.
Pete Wright: But you still have a child together.
Seth Nelson: That’s right, and he’s 17.
Pete Wright: Yeah. You’ve got one more year.
Seth Nelson: Yep. And I do not argue with my former spouse about parenting issues. We have nothing to argue about. We work very well together. But I have cases, and I’m well aware of cases where kids are 16, 17 years old, and they may or may not want to go to the other parent’s home.
Pete Wright: They suddenly get that choice.
Seth Nelson: It’s not a choice in good old great state of Florida. If they’re of sufficient age and maturity, as determined by the court to have an opinion, they can then state that opinion to the court. But the court doesn’t have to accept it.
Pete Wright: Yeah, okay. So this gets to the nature of my questions for you today. My understanding is that the reason you would go back to court after your divorce is, I’ll say finalized, me being a lack of an understanding of anything better, that you would go back, one, because something related to the kids, like you’re not getting child support that was ordered or agreed upon. Is that a broad enough category to say, "This is a thing to look out for"?
Seth Nelson: No.
Pete Wright: No?
Seth Nelson: Here’s what we’re going to look at. First off, if you go to a trial and you don’t have a settlement agreement, and the judge makes their ruling, and then will ultimately sign a final judgment, you can appeal, or the other side can appeal. So first, we have appeals. Then, other broad brush stroke categories, you finished it, you either agreed or you went to trial. No one’s appealing it. But it’s two years later, you come back to modify the final judgment, to change it. The areas in Florida family law, check your local jurisdiction, ring the bell, parenting plan, items dealing with kids can always be re-looked at. It’s a higher standard, but the courthouse door is open. It might be cracked open, but you can come back in.
Pete Wright: Well, what do you mean by higher standard? What is it that is going to trigger those doors to be kicked open?
Seth Nelson: In Florida, it has to be what’s called a substantial change in circumstances that was not anticipated at the time of the final judgment. So I got divorced when I was two, my kid’s now 10. I can’t come back and say, "Judge, my kid’s 10. It’s totally different parenting plan for a 10 year old than a two year old." Judge is going to be, "That might be true, Mr. Nelson, but we all anticipated that the child would reach age 10. You don’t get to modify."
Pete Wright: Yeah. Right.
Seth Nelson: Okay.
Pete Wright: I get it.
Seth Nelson: "Judge," I say, "I’m the dad. I got a great job offer, an amazing job offer. CNN called and wants me to be their legal analysis go to guy, and I need to move to Atlanta and spend time in New York. I can no longer live in Tampa to accept this job."
Pete Wright: That is a significant change in circumstances.
Seth Nelson: I want to change the parenting plan. That would be a long distance parenting plan. It’s called a relocation because in that case, I’m moving more than 50 miles than where I am now at the time of the file judgment. So that would make sense, right?
Pete Wright: Okay.
Seth Nelson: Judge, my spouse comes back into court and says, "Seth has been an amazing dad for the last 10 years. He’s really sick and he’s got a mental illness that’s causing X, Y, and Z, and it’s negatively impacting the child."
Pete Wright: Significant change, yeah, okay.
Seth Nelson: Right. Unanticipated.
Pete Wright: All right.
Seth Nelson: So we’ve got appeals. We’ve got parenting issues, contempt and enforcement. Judge, Seth was supposed to pay alimony. Seth’s supposed to pay child support. He’s not paying. Now you’re back in court arguing for the piece of paper to make them pay.
Pete Wright: Okay, contempt and enforcement. This is the thing that’s always kind of been noodling at me. Let’s say Seth’s not paying. The court says, "Seth, you have to pay." And Seth continues to say, "I’m not paying," or, "I don’t have the money," or, "I’m not going to be able to support you."
Seth Nelson: There’s a lot to unpack there. To get contempt in Florida, you have to prove I’m not paying, I go in there and say, "Judge, can’t afford it. Don’t have the money." The other side burden to show that I have the money to pay. And if I had the money, then I’m in willful contempt. I had it. I have it. I knew there was an order, I didn’t abide by it. It’s called indirect civil contempt because indirect, it doesn’t happen in the courtroom. So I’m not in contempt of court of looking at the judge and flicking him or her a bird.
Pete Wright: Lying.
Seth Nelson: Right. That’s right when the judge sees it, now you’re in contempt. Sir, I told you to stop talking, and I keep talking, you’re in contempt of court, direct. I saw it. I told you to do something, you didn’t do it, you’re in contempt. When you’re sitting in a courtroom, and the judge says, "Sir, you’re in contempt of court. Bailiff, take him away," you’re going to go sit in a cell for a minute or two.
Pete Wright: Okay. You get a time out.
Seth Nelson: Yeah, depending on the severity, how long that might be. So then indirect is you’re not in a courtroom. You’re out there, and I’m not paying my child support, I’m not paying my alimony. I’m not transferring. Now it gets a little nuanced. I’m not transferring an asset in equitable distribution. You ready for this, Pete?
Pete Wright: Yeah, please, lay it on me.
Seth Nelson: In the great state of Florida, if I have a bank account that has my name on it, and the judge award half of it to my wife, and I don’t transfer that money, equitable distribution in Florida is not enforceable by contempt. Why is that?
Pete Wright: This is it. That’s it. I have no … What’s going on?
Seth Nelson: Right.
Pete Wright: How does that happen?
Seth Nelson: Welcome to my world. That’s the way the law’s written. So as a lawyer, when someone doesn’t do that, I go in there and I say, this is me trying to be a clever lawyer, "Judge, I know I can’t get contempt. It’s sitting there. There’s an order. I want to garnish it. I want you to freeze that account, and I’m going to have the bank give me the money."
Pete Wright: Okay. Can they do that?
Seth Nelson: Yeah. The other thing I can do is say, "Judge, he owes my client $100,000. There’s $200,000 in the bank. It’s still in the bank."
Pete Wright: So the judge can make orders if you make a good enough case, the judge can order the bank to give you the money.
Seth Nelson: That’s right. And then you’ve got to bring in the bank and get an order for the bank to do it, and that happens all the time when people do collection work. So there’s just ways to do that. There’s also something called a money judgment. Judge, he was supposed to pay $100,000. He didn’t pay it. I just want a money judgment saying that he owes me the money. I know I have a final judgment that says he owes me, he’s supposed to transfer it. He didn’t, so he still owes it. I get what’s called a money judgment. The money judgment, I can then go to another hearing and get an order to take to the bank. Okay?
Pete Wright: All right.
Seth Nelson: So there’s all these procedural steps that gets very confusing and nuanced. And this is why people hate lawyers and hate the process because there might be two or three ways to get to the same thing, when all we want is the 100 grand that was already due and owing to us.
Pete Wright: Right. Well, and I think that goes to some of the negative opinions of lawyers. What you just described, if I wasn’t doing this podcast with you, it would be pretty easy for me to make you the vessel of my confusion and my rage, if I were in a divorce process.
Seth Nelson: Any legal process.
Pete Wright: I can totally see that, when in fact, you just told me something that is … I’m flabbergasted that isn’t more sufficiently noted in the law. That’s crazy.
Seth Nelson: Right. You would think there’s an order, you’ve got to do it, or there’s serious consequences.
Pete Wright: Right.
Seth Nelson: And we’ve talked about this before. I file a motion for contempt and enforcement. I have to serve it on the other person. Then I’ve got to set it for a hearing. And that’s three months out. And then I’ve got to go to the hearing, and I have to order a court reporter because if the judge makes a mistake, I want to have a transcript of what the judge did. And then I win my hearing, and then I have to submit the … Because the judges don’t write their own orders, I have to submit a proposed order, but I’ve got to show it to the other side first, and that takes 10 days. And then I submit it to the judge, but the judge is in a week long trial, and is working really hard, but doesn’t get to it for another week because I’m not the only case. I’m one of 5000 cases. And then I get the order, and all this time, they haven’t paid.
Pete Wright: May it please the court? Procedural question. Who writes the judge’s orders, if not the judge?
Seth Nelson: The lawyers.
Pete Wright: Like you?
Seth Nelson: Yeah. All the time. We get it done. The thing that I love to hear at the end of a hearing, I argue my case, they argue their case. If the judge starts out, "Okay, I’ve heard really great arguments from both sides," they compliment the lawyers, they say to the parties, "These are difficult issues. Mr. Nelson, I’m going to want you to write the order," I love hearing that because I won.
Pete Wright: Because it makes you a lobbyist.
Seth Nelson: No, because I won. They assign it to the winner to write the order.
Pete Wright: To the winner, that’s fantastic.
Seth Nelson: Yeah. So now I write the order. It’s a proposed order. I have to send it to the other side to see if they agree. And if they agree, we upload it to the judge. And the judge is going to look it over to make sure it comports with their notes. But if there’s no disagreement, it usually just flies right through.
Pete Wright: What kind of involvement does your client have in seeing those orders? Is that a thing that you kind of work with them on the process?
Seth Nelson: Yeah. I do. I write the order up and I say to my client, "This is what the judge decided. I’m going to submit it to opposing council. Do you have any views on it?" They hire me to do that stuff. And there’ll be nuances in there that I’ll explain to them. But yeah, no, judges don’t necessarily write their own orders.
Pete Wright: I was just thinking in terms of the process. What would I expect? And that would be a surprise to me, you were doing that. That’s fascinating. Okay, all right. So we’ve talked about appeals, parenting plan, contempt, and enforcement. Is there an everything else? Or is there another broad category we need to put in here before we move on?
Seth Nelson: That’s everything.
Pete Wright: Those are the big ones.
Seth Nelson: Contempt and enforcement. Now there’s all sorts of what I call procedural motions, which are kind of leading up to appeal. Judge makes a ruling, and you’re not necessarily required to file these to make sure you don’t lose your right to appeal. Judge makes a ruling. You might do a motion for reconsideration. You might do a motion for clarification.
Pete Wright: Is that pretty much, I don’t agree with you, I need you to rethink it?
Seth Nelson: Well, right, reconsideration is like, "Hey, judge, you might’ve missed something," or, "Hey, this new case came out that wasn’t there at the time that we had our hearing, and that impacts our right." Clarification, sometimes you write an order, and the other side doesn’t agree, and you submit competing orders to the judge, or you lay out in a cover letter, here’s where we disagree. And the judge picks and chooses and does what they think is right, and they write it, and you read it. And it’s a bit maybe, say there’s something ambiguity in it. I’m just looking for clarification, judge. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I just don’t understand what you’re ordering my client to do.
Pete Wright: Sure, sure.
Seth Nelson: Right? And it’s never like you just pick up the phone. It’s filing a motion. You’ve got to write. And I always think of this. This is what I teach my young lawyers. And I’m talking to my clients, I explain this to them. When we file a motion, think of the word motion. We want somebody to move. That somebody is the judge, and what we want the judge’s motion to be is with their hand, we want them to sign an order. That’s the motion I’m looking for from the judge, to sign an order in our favor. So a motion should lead to an order, and there’s a whole lot of stuff in between.
Pete Wright: All right. But at least we get A to Z, even if we don’t have all the letters in between.
Seth Nelson: Exactly. Exactly. But here’s the problem. Let’s just start with the first one on appeal. I don’t do appellate work. I’m going to send you to another lawyer. Now some trial lawyers will do appellate law, and some don’t.
Pete Wright: What is the major sort of categorical difference between appellate work and your kind of work?
Seth Nelson: You’ve obviously heard of the United States Supreme Court, Bush V. Gore.
Pete Wright: Rings a bell.
Seth Nelson: Right? Right?
Pete Wright: Yeah, okay.
Seth Nelson: Those were lawyers standing in front of a panel of judges, and they are arguing that the lower court, that the judge made a mistake. You don’t have witnesses. You don’t have depositions. You don’t have discovery. You take the record that was created in the trial court, the evidence presented, what people said, the argument, legal arguments that were made. You take that whole body and you appeal it to another panel of judges, and those judges are going to look at the record, look at the case law, look at what was presented, to determine whether the lower court made a mistake. So here’s the easy way to think about it. On sports, we all see instant replay and it goes to the booth in New York, that’s the appeals judge.
Pete Wright: Okay, they’re in a booth.
Seth Nelson: Right. They’re not having the play run again. They’re not asking the coaches what they think. They’re looking at it. They’re analyzing what they see against the rules of the game, IE, the law, and they’re determining whether what the refs called on the field was correct. That’s what appeals court do.
Pete Wright: They don’t even want to meet any of the other players.
Seth Nelson: They’re not allowed to.
Pete Wright: They’re not allowed to, okay, all right.
Seth Nelson: It’s done.
Pete Wright: Okay. So when you’re thinking about this in terms of the average sort of family law workload, how many divorces would you say go through an appeals process like this in some way, shape, or form?
Seth Nelson: Very few.
Pete Wright: Very few.
Seth Nelson: Yes.
Pete Wright: I would not have expected that.
Seth Nelson: Here’s why. Only about 10% of the cases actually go to a trial.
Pete Wright: Oh, sure.
Seth Nelson: So you’re not going to appeal anything that wasn’t tried because if it wasn’t tried, the judge didn’t have the opportunity to make a mistake because you’ve settled your case. So then you take that number and you shrink it down even more because it’s expensive.
Pete Wright: Yeah. Once you’ve gone through the process of going through a trial, by the time you get around to rethinking things, the dollar signs might have an impact.
Seth Nelson: And unlike Bush V. Gore, where the ballots were cast, in a family law case, things keep happening. The kid keeps getting older, someone still doesn’t pay. So I know of a nightmare case that’s gone on for 10 years.
Pete Wright: Wow. So cases that don’t go to trial, they can still have … You can still sue over some facet of the divorce that hasn’t been met up to, these other categories.
Seth Nelson: Well, if it doesn’t go to trial, you settle. There’s a final judgment, that’s a court order. Someone doesn’t pay their alimony, contempt and enforcement.
Pete Wright: So contempt and enforcement.
Seth Nelson: Somebody loses their job, changes-
Pete Wright: Significant change-
Seth Nelson: In circumstances.
Pete Wright: In circumstances, parenting plan, perhaps.
Seth Nelson: Perhaps, but definitely child support, and potentially alimony. There’s all these things that are constantly changing. Someone gets a really good job, a new job. Their child support can go up.
Pete Wright: All right.
Seth Nelson: So there’s always ways to modify. I know some lawyers, they hate all of these post judgment issues so much, they don’t touch them. They don’t take the case. They only do the original divorce, and then they move on.
Pete Wright: And then they move on. Well, this is a different thing that we’re talking about then, than you not doing appellate work.
Seth Nelson: That’s right. That’s right. I’ve still got to go fight in the trial court some more. So here’s the thing that I want people to understand though, because we’re getting all lost in all these different things, post judgment, and appeals, and what’s contempt and enforcement. Am I in the trial court? Am I in the appellate court? It gets nuanced and confusing and overwhelming. This is why you really need to think about what is the return on the investment, the cost benefit analysis, before you go back to court. Do you want to call up and say, "He was supposed to pay 50% of gymnastics. Gymnastics cost me 250 bucks. He didn’t pay." I would tell you no. One, make your notes. Make sure that you sent him the receipt, that you did it in a timely manner, that you got the response, no, or he failed to respond, that you followed up, and keep your little spreadsheet. Keep your checklist. Make it all nice and neat. Don’t call the lawyer on the 125. When he doesn’t pay, and it’s four grand that he’s tallied up over the last year or two-
Pete Wright: Suddenly, you have a pattern.
Seth Nelson: Now it’s worth calling a lawyer.
Pete Wright: Post divorce circumstances, let’s say you, like your circumstances don’t change personally in terms of your job, but you remarry and your new spouse makes much better money.
Seth Nelson: Okay, so this is a huge hypothetical that I’m getting remarried. I’ve got to find someone, I don’t want to say dumb enough to marry me, because if my girlfriend marries me, that I’m calling her dumb, so I don’t know where I’m going with this. I’m going to get in trouble for that one.
Pete Wright: That’s a hypothetical. Is there ever a circumstance in which a new spouse would ever be roped in? It just doesn’t exist.
Seth Nelson: Not in Florida. The new spouse’s income is not applicable. Now people will play games, and all of a sudden, someone had a business, and now they get married. And now they’re saying they’re not working, and the spouse is getting all the money. Okay, when you’re playing hide the ball, but you marry someone, whether they’re making money or not, it should not be applicable to child support. It could have an impact on alimony. One, if you’re receiving alimony in the great state of Florida, and you get remarried, unless your settlement agreement says anything else, your alimony stops.
Pete Wright: Oh. Okay. That’s good to know.
Seth Nelson: Yeah, especially if you’re receiving alimony. So it’s not uncommon for lawyers to get phone calls on people that get along, that says, "My former spouse, I get along with her. She met this great guy. I like him. We vacation together. They’re not getting married because I’m paying alimony. What do you suggest, Seth?" I’m like, "Give them a nice wedding gift." They’re like, "What do you mean?"
Pete Wright: Move along.
Seth Nelson: I said, "Buy out your alimony." If you’re paying for another 10 years at $1000 a month, that’s $12,000 a year, 10 years, that adds up. Can you give her a lump sum now? Can you give them a lump sum now that is time value of money with some interest, and you discount it because she’s getting it all now, or he’s getting it all now? And you’ve got the assets to do it, you pay it off, everyone lives happily ever after. And someone said, "Why would I pay early?" I said, "Well, because it’s modifiable." What happens if you lose your job? What happens if your former spouse becomes disabled and can’t work, and now you’re paying for longer? There’s all these things. I like finality. And it’s hard to get finality in family law.
Pete Wright: Right, right. As the case you have made. Believe it or not, Seth, we have a listener question.
Seth Nelson: I don’t know what to say. I’m excited. You just told me last week, "Seth, I’m going to put up a button for ask a question," and here we are, not even a week later.
Pete Wright: We have a question. It’s a good, and I think related question. It is a two part question. And one of them is directly to you personally, Seth Nelson. I’m going to read part one first.
Seth Nelson: Let’s be clear. I didn’t know we had these questions until right now.
Pete Wright: I know. I have given you no preparation at all.
Seth Nelson: This is a pop quiz in its greatest extent.
Pete Wright: Terrible podcast partner, that’s me. Here we go. Hey guys, I heard Pete talking about the show on the What’s That Smell Podcast, and I thought I’d throw two questions your way. This is from listener, Amy D. Number one, I think you’ve talked at prenups on the show before. But I wonder if you think that prenups could in any way make the divorce more fragile. I’m recently successfully divorced and we had a prenup, his idea. And I wonder if the prenup gave him a sense that the marriage was somehow disposable, like he didn’t care for it as much because he didn’t have as much at stake. I hope I’m making sense. What do you think?
Seth Nelson: Amy D, thank you for the question. You’re making absolute sense. There’s studies on this. I don’t know the numbers, the percentage of people that get divorced is higher, potentially higher when you have a prenup.
Pete Wright: Really? I would not have been able to predict that response. I thought she was making a mountain out of a mole hill.
Seth Nelson: It’s partly because what Amy is talking about. I know the outcome. Now I will share with you that I think it is a mistake to stay in a marriage that is not what you hope and want it to be because you’re afraid of an outcome in divorce court.
Pete Wright: Sure.
Seth Nelson: Right?
Pete Wright: Right.
Seth Nelson: So knowing the outcome, it does have a higher sense of, higher number of divorces on people that have prenups or post nups. It does make the divorce process easier.
Pete Wright: Sure, I imagine, everything’s pretty much decided.
Seth Nelson: As long as we’re not challenging the prenup, which I’ve had cases where we do.
Pete Wright: It happens.
Seth Nelson: When a client or a bride signs the prenup on the hood of the limo in her dress outside of the church, that’s under duress, probably not enforceable.
Pete Wright: But that’s how great movie scenes are made, Seth. There’s a sense of urgency to the scene.
Seth Nelson: Exactly. And she’s pregnant and about to have the baby.
Pete Wright: And she’s pregnant, that’s right, that’s right.
Seth Nelson: Let’s really get urgent.
Pete Wright: Yeah, no, lock it down. That’s fascinating.
Seth Nelson: Amy D, great question though. I think that I don’t know what happened in your case specifically. I don’t know what his view was, getting married, or why he wanted a prenup. But the sentiment that you’re expressing, I would agree with that. There is some sort of, for lack of a better word, clarity or comfort of knowing what the outcome might be, which then makes it not as fearful, because not knowing has fear. And if you’re not as fearful in the process, maybe it’s easier to get that get out of jail free card, for lack of a better phrase.
Pete Wright: Part two of Amy D’s question. Seth, as a divorced dad in what sounds to be a fun relationship with a new partner, what do you honestly think of marriage? Is there anything in the way of you getting married again down the road? Sorry to be so personal, but I’m wandering a bit through my own feelings on this. Thanks for a great show.
Seth Nelson: Well, thank you very much for that question, and for complimenting the show. I am a hopeless romantic. I cannot wait to get married again to my girlfriend, Susie. I’m going to get in a whole lot of trouble on this one now. I hope that we will do that one day. There’s been no decisions made. There’s nothing imminent happening on that. I think that a lot of people start out saying, "I’m never getting married again. Why bother? I will be in a committed relationship." There are all these things that people will go through. None of those thoughts and feelings are wrong. A lot of millennials are like, "Why am I getting married?" They’re waiting longer to get married. They’re waiting longer to have kids. So I don’t think, though we joke about marriage is the leading cause of divorce, I certainly don’t think that people should just nix it. I think it’s your own personal views. To me, and I’ll answer this very personally, Amy D. I think it’s different. I think it’s different when you’re married than when, oh, this is my partner. And let me tell you, my girlfriend, God bless her, she’s known for a long time that I’ve wanted to get married, and she is brilliant, and she believes in civil rights. And the day that the Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was now a thing in the United States, and that not allowing gays to become married was unconstitutional, I looked at my girlfriend and I said, "That argument now goes away from you." And she said … Because the longest time, Amy D, she was telling me, "I’m not getting married because I’m standing with my gay and lesbian friends. If they can’t get married, I am not getting married." So that one went out the window.
Pete Wright: Yeah.
Seth Nelson: I had to go the United States Supreme Court.
Pete Wright: You had to go to Supreme Court.
Seth Nelson: But I think you just need to decide for yourself what type of relationship you want to be in, and for how long. I’ve got some friends that are like, "I’m a five year guy. I date people for five years, then I’m out." I’ve got other people that say, "I’m never getting married again, but I want to be in a committed relationship." I’ve got other people that get married within a year or two. And I would tell you there, slow down a little bit. Do that self healing. Do that work. But if and when I get married again, Pete, I can’t say you’ll be invited to the wedding because I’ll be lucky to get invited to the wedding. I’m literally worried about that, but you’ll be one of the first to know.
Pete Wright: Well, I’ll tell you, I already knew the answer to this question that you’re a hopeless romantic. I’ve known you a long time. And I knew that answer, but I really think it’s important to say that from you, because my bias is that there are a lot of attorneys out there who have been divorced and become the kind of jaded bull dog attorneys. And there just seems to be a lot of stereotype around that.
Seth Nelson: Right. If they’re doing that, they haven’t done the hard work that we’ve talked about and the show.
Pete Wright: Yeah. I think so.
Seth Nelson: I mean, I’ve talked about it before. I think for me, getting comfortable being alone has made me a better person and made me a better partner to Susie, understanding and communicating much better than I ever have, and figuring it out. And I think all those things make a very powerful connection and bond. And I will also share with you, I am not about some big wedding. It’s not like you’re in your 20s and you think that’s what you have to do. I mean, whatever works for you and for your spouse to be, keep it simple.
Pete Wright: Yeah. Well, Amy D, I have to tell you, place of honor at the head of the table for you as the first person to find the ask a question button. And everybody else, please find the button. Send us questions, howtosplitatoaster.com. You’ll find it right there in the header.
Seth Nelson: And I’ll take the legal questions, the personal questions, any questions you want to throw at us. I have a feeling Pete’s not going to let me know until we’re here.
Pete Wright: I’ll bet even Susie would start taking questions if we asked nicely. She’s a real game player.
Seth Nelson: Now that I think about it, I think Susie’s going to start asking you questions. So if my boyfriend does this, this is going to be a problem.
Pete Wright: Yeah. If she starts submitting questions with just variants of the name Susie, Susanna wrote this week. I can’t wait. This is wonderful.
Seth Nelson: My boyfriend, the short, Jewish bald lawyer, asking for a friend.
Pete Wright: We’re up for a little bit of a break as we hit the heat of the summer. Everybody, go on vacation. And while you’re there, listen to back episodes. And then when you come back, we’ll be back with more episodes. It’s going to be great. You can find the show anywhere fine podcasts are served. Once again, howtosplitatoaster.com. Jump in there, ask us a question. Seth’s got all the answers. And I’ve got everything else.
Seth Nelson: Didn’t say they were the right answers.
Pete Wright: Thanks for listening. We appreciate your time and attention. We’ll catch you in just a little while, right back here on How To Split a Toaster, a divorce podcast about saving your relationships.
Speaker 4: Seth Nelson is an attorney with Nelson Koster Family Law and Mediation with offices in Tampa, Florida. While we may be discussing family law topics, How to Split a Toaster is not intended to, nor is it providing legal advice. Every situation is different. If you have specific questions regarding your situation, please seek your own legal counsel with an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction. Pete Wright is not an attorney or employee of Nelson Koster. Seth Nelson is licensed to practice law in Florida.
Seth Nelson is a Tampa based family lawyer known for devising creative solutions to difficult problems. In How to Split a Toaster, Nelson and co-host Pete Wright take on the challenge of divorce with a central objective — saving your most important relationships with your family, your former spouse, and yourself.