Mediate This!

What Should I Know Before Getting Married, That I May Not Even Know I Should Know?

October 08, 2021 Matthew Brickman, Sydney Mitchell Season 1 Episode 39
Mediate This!
What Should I Know Before Getting Married, That I May Not Even Know I Should Know?
Show Notes Transcript

Get ready to have your mind blown. Matthew Brickman and Sydney Mitchell answer one of their most profound questions about divorce as they go over several key points:

  • Assume nothing.
  • Know who you are before you get married. 
  • Know who you're getting married to. 
  • Know the laws and statutes in the state you live in.
  • Don't take advice from anyone who isn't a legal professional in the state in which you're getting married and living in.

If you have a matter, disagreement, or dispute you need professional help with then visit iMediate.com - Email mbrickman@ichatmediation or Call (877) 822-1479

Matthew Brickman is a Florida Supreme Court certified family and appellate mediator who has worked in the 15th and 19th Judicial Circuit Courts since 2009 and 2006 respectively. But what makes him qualified to speak on the subject of conflict resolution is his own personal experience with divorce.

Download Matthew's book on iTunes for FREE:
You're Not the Only One - The Agony of Divorce: The Joy of Peaceful Resolution

Matthew Brickman
President iMediate Inc.
Mediator 20836CFA
iMediateInc.com

Mediate This!:

Hi, my name is Sydney Mitchell. I'm Matthew Brickman, Florida Supreme court mediator. Welcome to the Mediate This! Podcast, where we discuss everything mediation and conflict resolution.

Sydney Mitchell:

Welcome everybody to this episode of mediate. This I'm Sydney sitting here with Matthew and today we are going to be answering some of the questions that you, our listeners have been submitting to us about all things, divorce and mediation. So , um, let's just jump right in. If you do have a question in the future that you would love for us to dive into on an episode of mediate this, you can just send an email, submit your questions to info@ichatmediation.com. It'll get sent directly to us and we'll , uh, hopefully be able to answer your questions here. So I just want to dive right into this first one. Um, I'm gonna read it and then kind of provide some context as to why I'm so interested to hear your answer. Matthew, the first question says, what should I know before getting married? Then I may not even know that I should know I'm uh , I'm I totally can relate to this question because Matthew is , we've been doing this podcast and talking about all of these issues and things that seriously, some of which I did not even know existed. And I'm sure a lot of our listeners, you know, kind of were in the same place. Oh, I didn't know this happened . So I don't know how this works. Um, this is a big question. And as somebody who is unmarried single, I'm really interested to hear your answer. What are some things that somebody that's single should know before getting married? That they may not even have context around.

Matthew Brickman:

All right . So I'm going to answer this in two different ways. The first way I'm going to answer this is more or less , um , an introspective viewpoint. So what should you know, before you get married, you should really know who you are, because if you don't know who you are, how can you possibly share that with somebody else? You know, so many people that end up at my table for mediation, they basically it's like this Sydney . Hey, my name is Matthew. Hey, I'm Sydney. Who are you? Sydney? I don't know. Who are you, Matthew ? Well, I don't know. Hey, you want to get married? Yeah, let's get married and we'll find out together. Okay. So find you get married and life happens. Maybe you had some kids to it. You buy a home and as you keep growing, you end up not growing together. You grow apart because you start to realize, wait a second. I don't like that about them or that doesn't mix with my viewpoints, my religion, my morals, my politics, my likes, my dislikes. And so then people spend their entire marriage trying to change the other person. And the only people that you can actually change is yourself. You can only change yourself. You can't change other people. So I think with this, what do you need to know before getting married? You better know who you are. You better know what are your buttons? What sets you off? What are you willing to deal with? What are you not willing to deal , deal with? Because when you have that introspective of this is who I am, this is what I'm willing to put up with. This is what I'm not willing to put up with . This is what I could compromise on because it's not a deal breaker. Okay, fine. When you meet somebody, you can check off those boxes, usually on the first or second date and be like, okay, this is working or goodbye. And so I really think that the first thing that people need to know before getting married is they need to know who they are. Then they know what they're sharing with somebody else. And they can then take that and do a compare and contrast and figure that out. I think much sooner before they get married. So they don't end up in divorce.

Sydney Mitchell:

Right. Okay. So as we develop clarity around who we are, just a quick question, how have you observed couples that maybe did have that figured out and maybe did not have that figured out? Um, how have you observed that playing out in conflict resolution or lack thereof? Um, how has reaching that point of self-actualization knowing, you know, your likes, dislikes, passions, what you can tolerate, how has that, how have you observed that helping couples as they've tried to resolve conflict, potentially leading to divorce, and then how have you seen just those loose ends really just crumbling a relationship away?

Matthew Brickman:

Well, it's interesting because you know, usually people will figure that out after the fact, right? Like, okay. Just like I said, like, okay, you get married. You're like, ah , I don't really like this. That's not who I am. That's not what I believe. And you're actually opposite of that. We're not growing together. We're growing apart. Usually when they get to may, it's, you know, it's already falling apart. They're not interested in figuring out how to put it back. Um, but what is interesting is I point out to them that, okay, if you look at who the other person is, and that's what you don't like, don't go get in the same relationship again like that. And I'll tell you, Sydney , I've actually done divorces for the same people in a second. And even in a third marriage where they've called that , they said Matthew did such a great job in my divorce. Um, I need your help again. And I'm like, okay, what happened? And they married the same type person. And unfortunately, when you don't know who you are, then you take the same broken you into a new relationship and you think it's going to magically or mysteriously work itself out. No , it's not. It's the same broken you. One of the things that I did , um, which, which was really, really amazing after I got divorced. So of course, most divorced people are not calm and collective. They're usually hurt. They're broken, you know, you and I have talked about the four D's that lead to divorce. You know, I think we talked about that, like episode two , um, pretty early on. Yeah. And so a lot of times, you know, people are just very, you know, hurt and they're angry. I was, when I got divorced, I was, and one of the first things that , um, that I did was I took an angled , uh, anger management course now, not that it was court ordered, I wasn't violent. None of that. I was just angry and I was always off. I was, but, you know, I mean, look, when people are angry, usually it does more damage on themselves and the other person, because my ex did, wasn't there to be the butt of my anger, nor did she care. And her life just kept on going yet. I kept myself in my own little prison. Right. And so I took anger management and started to learn, who am I, what am I buttons? What do I like? What do I don't like, what was interesting was I used to get very upset when someone said, well, Matthew, you know, that's a button. I'm like, no, it's not, I didn't even know what my buttons were. So now guess who knew my buttons? Oh, my ex-wife knew my button. My kids knew my buttons, but I was in denial that I even had buttons. And so I think it's very important before you get married, to know who you are, know what makes you tick? No , you know, just know who you are. That's why a lot of , um, a lot of people do, you know , premarital courses, right. They do a lot of premarital courses. A lot of, I mean, a lot of governmental agency. I know in Florida, they require a premarital course. Um, and , um, there's some good bandwidth of , I mean, some of them are just there for, yeah. I would just let's, let's just take a course and check a box. Some of them are really deep. Um, and they really help you figure out, wait a second, are you really compatible with this person? And those courses, I think really do help people figure out who they are. Um, prior I know that , uh, my father was doing , uh, marriage counseling for years and years and years. I remember hearing stories. He said, you know, a lot of people went through his marriage counseling and they called off the wedding because through the premarital counseling, they found out that this is, this is headed for destruction before. Hello , because they're not compatible. These things came out in premarital counseling. Now

Sydney Mitchell:

What a great tool. I mean, it's unfortunate that some relationships ended, but it goes back to knowing who you are .

Matthew Brickman:

No, who you are. And what's interesting. Sydney is, you know, all right . So I'll be honest with you. I did not make it through my father's premarital counseling at first. I was like, yeah , I want my dad because my dad is brilliant. So I wanted my dad to do my premarital counseling, like, oh yeah, we got through two weeks. And we said, that's it we're done with this. Why? Because all the red flags were going off going, this is not the right relationship. This is not going to work. It is wrong. Don't even start it. And we didn't want to hear it because love is blind. And I think it's deaf, dumb and stupid , um, at times, and we would go into it with those rose colored glasses. We wanted what we wanted. We weren't willing to know who we were prior. Now keep in mind. I was 21 years old, 21 year old, even knows who knows what they want and who they are for the rest of their life. I was very young, but still did not make it through my father's premarital counseling. Now here's, what's interesting. Did not make it through my father's premarital counseling with my second wife, either two weeks into it. I mean, like couldn't get through lesson do . And it was like red flags everywhere. Now, Mary and I have now been together for like 14 years. We have done lots of counseling, post marriage, and we are finally in a phenomenal place and still doing our own self help working on our relationship. I mean, it's never ending, but like, you know, but, but here's the thing. The premarital courses are, should be designed to help you know, who you are, what your buttons are, what, who, you know, are you compatible? If not luck , don't get into a relationship and try to spend the rest of your life. Changing that person. There are plenty of other people go find someone you're compatible with. Right. Okay. Now let me answer this in the second part. The second part. What should you know, before you get married? No . The laws in the state that you're getting married and living in, is there legal separation? Is there , uh , you know, what are the rules for divorce? You know, what is it, you know, what is the time sharing or custody in your particular state? And let me explain to you why that's important. I have, I'm going to need you. I need you to break all that down now . Yeah. So , so I had a mediation , um, about three or four weeks ago and the parties were from New Jersey. Okay. Now let me just back up. You and I have talked about this extensively, but for those listeners that this may be their first episode that they're catching. I haven't gone and listened to the others . Family law is still run state by state . There's there there's no federal family law except for the defense of marriage act. So every state has their own laws when it comes to marriage and divorce and kids and child support and all that. So I had a couple, they were from New Jersey. They met New Jersey dated in New Jersey and then moved to Florida, living together, not married, living together. They got married, then had some kids house. They both had careers. And then they decided, you know what, this isn't working. So what happened? The husband then moved out and got a job in New York city. So he moved, they did their own long distance parenting plan, no courts. They didn't make , they never filed for divorce. And so this went on and on and on and they were gonna have a couple things were fine. And this went on for 10 years. Oh wow. Wow. She met somebody and she wants to get married. The problem is she's married. She's already married. Yeah . So she needs to get divorced. So he has now since then retired and moved back to Florida. Okay. So they file for divorce. Here's the problem they've been separated for over 10 years, but in Florida, everything that they accumulated from the day that they signed their marriage certificate into the day that they filed the divorce papers is marital. They were from New Jersey and up in New York and New Jersey, they have legal separation. We don't have legal separation. So when it came time to dividing up his pension, which he accumulated a hundred percent up after they separated, it was still within the confines of the marriage. And she got half. No , your laws do not assume, oh, we're from New Jersey. There's legal separation. We're living in Florida. There's legal separation. No, there's not. No . The laws in your state. I had another mediation recently where the mother and the father never married. It was a paternity action. Moved from Connecticut or no, sorry, sorry. They actually set up their paternity agreement and timesharing , um , child support and everything in Connecticut. Okay. Then mom wanted to move down to Florida. Mom moved down to Florida with dad's consent. You and I have talked about relocation. We've talked about that back when we were discussing in the, in the parenting plan, but he , he consented to the relocation. Um, she moved down in a year and a half later, he moved down. Okay. Now they've got to do. And then, and then they, they domesticated. Or they, they transferred their case from Connecticut to Florida. So then they left the rules of Connecticut family law. Now they're under the rules of Florida. Family law rules are completely different. All of a sudden the way the child support is calculated is different. The way that the parenting plan and the time sharing is different. And we, you know, we don't have, you know , uh, we w we've we've talked about this. We no longer have in the state of Florida primary and secondary parenting, but she was the primary parent with primary decision-making and now he has filed for 50, 50 time sharing was shared parental. There's no reason that he can't have it. They live , um, they live, what was, I think he bought a home. I want, it was like less than three miles away. So like totally doable. Right? And the child is like seven. Um, and it's not like the child never knew dad because they both lived in Connecticut. She had, I think it was 60%. He had 40%. Then there was a long distance plan, but the child would, would stay with him for the summer. I mean, so, you know , it wasn't like the child didn't know dad . So all of a sudden, based on Florida law, running the child support calculations, she's refusing to give 50, 50 time sharing because her child support is being cut from $800 a month to just under $500 a month. She's already working full time going. Now I'm gonna have to work a second job because I can't even make ends meet. So she's fighting the timesharing because of the money and the whole time going, I should have never transferred this from Connecticut. I should've never tried, look know your laws before you get in. Unfortunately, 50% plus marriages end in divorce. It's not going, oh, you know what? I'm not going to give it my all. No, you should never go into a marriage going, okay. Just in case which look, that's why people do prenuptial agreements, but still know your laws. Because these are things that you don't even know that you should know that you should know in the event, assume nothing, you know, assume nothing. And here's the other problem. The other problem, talking to friends and family, friends, and family, and other states giving you advice going , do you need to do this? You need to do that. Know your state's laws because what they may be advising you is not even legal. It's not even the law that is applicable. Uh , I'll tell you something else. So there are still a couple of states that have common law. Now it used to be that, for example, my wife and I, if we'd never got married, but we lived together longer. It used to be a time period, longer than seven years. Then there was an assumption that, okay, you know what? They're married just by common law. Right? Um, so, so there's , there's still a number of states out there that still have common law, but it's not a time period. If you, if like, if, if I went to a party or if I went to church or if I went to work and just said, Hey, this is my wife, Mary. And it's been five minutes. It's been a week . It's been a month. It's been a week, not seven years. There's an assumption. We're married. But here's the, here's the weird, what do you mean by assumption? What does that, what does an legal, there's a legal assumption that, Hey, look, if they're passing themselves off as married people, without having to go do a ceremony and file a marriage certificate, they're married. So then they inquire all the same legal. Exactly. If we wait, wait, wait, wait, I'm gonna blow your mind. But let's say for example, that Mary and I are living in one of these states and we never actually filed a marriage certificate. We never had a ceremony. We never legally got married, but because of common law, just because we're living together and we're passing ourselves off as husband and wife, as my husband Natty , this is my wife, Mary. Okay, fine. There's there's an assumption. You're you're, you're married so fine. If one day Mary says, you know what, Matthew, this isn't working anymore. I'm just going to leave you. Can't just leave. You have to file for divorce. Wow. I know. So before there's no documentation. There's an , I know that's Sydney . That's why I look, but look, that's the question. What should I know before getting married? No laws where you live. Is there a separation legal separation? Is there common law? What's the timeshare . I mean, one of the things that I did with my daughter. Okay. So my daughter got married in , uh, 2020. One of the things that I did with her and her husband was I did some of their premarital. I took them through financial stuff. I took them through boundaries, which that is a book I highly recommend to people because that will help you learn who you are. Um, but one of the things that I, that that talked through is like, okay, what are your ideas with kids? How many kids do you want to have? You know, who's going to be working, who's going to stay at home. Who's going to be paying this. How are you guys going to be doing, you know, just talking through the logistics. And then also my daughter , uh , many years ago when she was in, I think it was middle school actually came to work with me for mediation, sat through an all day mediation. I think she was in middle school to S you know , um, because she was writing a paper on what is my daddy did. And so she got to come and watch and watch the divorce. I mean, it was like being a fly on the wall. She got to sit in the corner and watch what I do. And since then, you know, that really opened her eyes to okay. If it doesn't work. Okay. So I'm not going to see my kids every day. Okay. What is child support look like? Okay, wait a second. There's no alimony in my state. Um , like, you know , no, no, no. What you're getting into

Sydney Mitchell:

Where people, you know, for the person that may have asked this question or others that are asking this question, where can they get access to all of this information

Matthew Brickman:

Online? All of it's online , every single state. So, so for example, I do mediations all over the country and I've done them in other, and I've done in other countries. So for example, when I've done divorces in Tennessee and Minnesota and New York and Wyoming and Montana, when I've done them in other states, look, I'm in Florida. Most of my business is Florida. So I know Florida law, but I actually had, it was interesting. The very first virtual mediation I had, which was back in oh nine, it was an out of state mediation. Well, I had my Florida forms that I use for mediation, my parenting plan, child support. So I did their mediation. Um, what I did was I Googled Tennessee family law statute and it pulled up the statute . I was able to just read through, okay, how do you know, how do they do child support? Do they have primary, secondary parenting? You know, basically Sidney , you and I in this podcast have given everybody the tools of all the check marks that they need to to know, like, okay, I need to know parenting. I need to know child support. I need to know, you know, like we've gone through the entire parenting plan. Right. And that's a really good thing to then go and look at a statute and say, okay, what does it say for timesharing ? What does it say for child support? What does it say for Alabama ? What does it say for equitable distribution? And so being that you and I have gone through that and also given them the terms and defined the terms for them. Now, it's sort of, it should help the listeners be able to go and find that information. But yet all you do is you just Google, then the , you know, your states, family law statute, just know every state is different. If you think, for example, that one, couple that came down from New Jersey. What they w what I would have said to them was, okay, you guys want to legally separate, that's Google legal separation in Florida and see if it, if it is a thing, oh, it's not a thing, you know, we should probably just file for divorce. Great. No harm, no foul. They weren't really together anyway, you know? Um, but yeah, so Google's a great, great place. And so what I had to do with that first mediation was, again, I filled out all my forms. So I went , I looked at the statute. I knew what the law was, so I was able to help them negotiate. But then when I submitted my forms, the judge kicked it back, goes, this isn't our form . I had to go on to their clerks website, download their forms and paste and put it in there for the judge to sign off on it. Because they've got, you know, every , every place has their own forms. I don't tell you something . Even the judge, even the rules inside Palm beach county and the different judges, certain judges want certain things. They want to see certain things. Some judges are like, I am going to go through and actually look at the financial affidavit and the child support guidelines worksheet, and make sure that these match up , like every penny matches up, everything's been disclosed. Some of them will be like, oh, you figured it out yourself. Great. I don't have to.

Sydney Mitchell:

Yeah . And are the statutes per state changing often? I know we've talked about different periods of time over the last couple of decades, that there are some, some primary things that have changed in regards to child custody and things like that. How often are a lot of these , um, you know, are a lot of these rules changing.

Matthew Brickman:

I that's a good question. I don't know that. Um , I don't know, but, you know,

Sydney Mitchell:

I

Matthew Brickman:

Mean , I don't, I don't know, but okay. So if it were Mason, okay. If it were major us, even knowing what I know with all the information that I know, I would always go to the statute regardless, because look, somebody could be listening to this podcast. Now in 2021, somebody could listen to it in 20 22, 20 23, like podcasts are out there for years forever, literally. Right? So, you know, somebody may listen to our podcast and then in their particular state, like they may change a law. You know, this is not legal advice. I'm not giving legal advice here, even, you know, as we go through and talk about the parenting plan, no I'm telling you from that standpoint and the point of view of a mediator, if you need legal advice, consultant, attorney, where you live , um, or go look at your own, you know, even people that come to me that are what we call pro se and you and I have talked about that term before, where it means I'm represented. So there's no attorneys involved. I send them, you know, when , when, when they, when they approach and say, Hey, Matthew, you know, we want you to take me through a divorce or a paternity action. I send them their , uh , petitioner, respondent packet. I send them my step-by-step how to do this on your own packet. And then I send them a PDF of Florida law. I print it. I , you know, it's like 90 something pages. I always tell them in the email , do not print this out. It's like 90 something. Pages is for your reference only. But if you're going to represent yourself, you need to know your states . Now I do believe it's been a long, long time. I think if my memory is right and my memories fade may as I get older. But I think I have a link in my book that I wrote a number of years ago. That is on iTunes. It's called, you're not the only one. I think towards the back of the book, I actually have a link to go to. It's like, if you can then click on whatever state you're in and pull their stuff of their family. Yeah. And that would be the most recent, because it's just a link that then says, okay, you want Tennessee, you want Florida, you went to Texas, you want Arizona, you went to California, like whatever, and you can click your different state . It'll take you right to that's it . I think it's in my book. Um, if not go get the book anyway, cause it's, it's a good read and it's free.

Sydney Mitchell:

Um, if you can't find the link, you can just Google it.

Matthew Brickman:

Yeah. Yeah. If you can't find a link, just Google, like your state family law rules , um , and then luck . So yeah, I mean, that's sort of a long answer. It's a two part answer.

Sydney Mitchell:

I think those are, those are key, you know, know who you are that kind of brings in the , you know, I imagine if I were to be the one asking this question, I would be probably more, you know, asking about the second part of your answer. You know, what are the laws in my state, those types of things that you need to know. But man, that first point know who you are. We cannot forget the importance of that. I think that I, so I'm so glad that you brought that up because I think there are so many relational dynamic issues and things that we, that we don't consider. We're so concerned with the legal, but at the end of the day, you're two people who are joining your lives. And that is such a key point to this question. I'm so glad that you brought that up.

Matthew Brickman:

Well, and then I'll , I'll just finish with that real quick is the problem though, is if you don't do the first one, the second one is inevitable, right? I mean, if you don't know who you are, you don't know what you're sharing and you don't know what your buttons are, then you better know what the laws are because it's probably not going to last, you better know what the laws are. Um, so yeah, there's, there's, there's the answer to question number one, occasionally Sidney and I will be releasing Q and a bonus episodes where we will answer questions and give you a personal shout out.

Sydney Mitchell:

If you have a comment or question regarding anything that we discuss, email us@infoatichatmediation.com that's info@ichatichatmediation.com and stay tuned to hear your shout out and have your questions answered here on the show

Matthew Brickman:

For more information about my services or to schedule your mediation with me, either in person or using my I chat mediation virtual platform built by Cisco communications. Visit me online at imediateinc.com. Call me at (561) 262 -9121 Toll-free at (877)822-1479. Or email me at mbrickmanatichatmediation .com .