Regina’s Blog

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Regina’s Blog2016-11-01T18:59:38-04:00

Regina's Blog

GenXSmartie

This is a blog about relationships, and it covers dating, marriage, parenting, modern family dynamics and divorce as seen from the very personal perspective of a divorced divorce lawyer.

1406, 2019

Is Being Together, But Separate A Viable Option?

By |June 14th, 2019|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Gwyneth Paltrow has caused quite a stir this week with the revelation that she doesn't live full-time with her new husband, Brad Falchuk. But really people, this should not be earth-shattering news.  Several of my neighbors and a few of my colleagues have this arrangement, and none of them are Hollywood stars or mega millionaires-- but they are all over the age 45.  So while young newly weds are not likely to sign up for keeping separate homes (and perhaps that is driven more by financial reasons than anything else),  it's not surprising for those of us that are older and more set in our ways to want to keep a little space that is all our own-- especially when you have step family dynamics to contend with. If you can suspend judgment for a minute, allow me to be brutally honest: It's hard to share a bed, especially with someone that tosses and turns, has nightmares or snores, or simply hogs all the blankets.  I don't know about the rest of you, but a good night's sleep is a necessity for me to be able to function (and not be crabby) the next day.  Then there is the issue of cleanliness.  I grew up in a house where cleanliness is next to godliness, and while I am no where near as OCD as my mom, the surest way to piss me off is to leave a mess within plain sight or in common areas.  Next, we all have different eating habits, and while normally I would say what you eat is your business, that's not exactly the case with someone you live with-- because their unhealthy habits will inevitably concern you, and if you can't stand the smell of something they like such as coffee or hot sauce in my case, then this can be a real irritant.  Another sore point can be learning that your significant other has failed to cut the umbilical cord, and still needs to talk to his family every day, or worse is completely enmeshed with his/her ex.  But by far the greatest source of frustration is that not everyone feels the need to carry his/her own weight when it comes to finances and division of labor with chores, and while most of us will gladly go out of our way for our own children, that same level of generosity does not necessarily [...]

806, 2019

Father’s Day, It’s Complicated

By |June 8th, 2019|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , |

For 30 years, I managed to ignore Father's Day.  My dad was not around when I was growing up, and my mother's father died before I was ever born.  But then I had a son, and for many years (long after my own divorce) I helped him acknowledge Father's Day until he became old enough to do it himself.  However, when he was in kindergarten working on his family tree, he started asking questions I had long ago buried about my own father: was he alive or dead? Did he have any siblings?  What did his parents do?  Why did he leave Spain to come to the U.S.? Eight years ago, I decided to solve the mystery that my son's school project had unearthed.  I tracked down my father, who lives in Florida, and took a DNA test.  Afterwards, I met that whole side of my family-- including an uncle and his wife, along with their two daughters, and my brother from a different mother.  A couple of years later, I filed a Petition to add him to my birth certificate, much to my mother's chagrin.  Afterwards, over the course of several years, I have made huge efforts to spend time with him and my new-found family.  Eventually, with my father's help, I recently became a Spanish citizen. It's been a long and emotional journey to say the least, but it was important for me to get to know my father.  I needed to understand his past, forgive his transgressions, and accept all the good, the bad and the ugly that makes him the complicated character that he is in my world.  While my story might be a bit extreme, I do know this-- I am not the only one with "daddy issues."  Over 40% of children in the U.S. are now born out of wedlock, and millions are being raised by single mothers, who are often short-changed on child support.  Did you know that in the U.S. past-due child support totals about $115 Billion?  (See 5/21/19 article by Y. Wenger in the Baltimore Sun). We all know from our own life experiences that some men are never a part of their children's lives, while others are all-in, and then there's a whole range somewhere in between those two extremes, yet almost all the cards I see talk about being grateful for having the #1 Dad.  Sorry Hallmark, but [...]

206, 2019

Are You Celebrating Your Milestones?

By |June 2nd, 2019|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , |

If you are a fellow GenXer, whether you are ready to face it or not, we are fast approaching some major milestones.  Last year, I celebrated my 20th law school reunion.  This weekend, I returned to my undergraduate campus for the 25th college reunion, and next year I will be heading back to my high school for our 30th reunion.  Soon thereafter, although it is hard to admit it, in just a few years I will be turning 50 around the same time that my son will be graduating high school, which will make me (gulp) an empty nester. The way I see it, we can either let these moments pass us by, or we can rise to the occasion embracing the magnitude of each milestone and joining our friends in celebrating all that we have accomplished to get to this point in our lives.  Given those two choices, I am opting for the latter and in that vein, I agreed to be part of our law school's reunion committee last year, and through that endeavor was able to reconnect with a lot of my classmates leading up to our celebration.  This weekend, not only did I participate in my college reunion activities, but I actually led one of the events after my alma mater graciously asked me to do a talk about my children's book.  Next year, not only will I return to my prep school campus as an alumna, but also as an elected member of Andover's Alumni Council, whose mission is to inspire all alumni to live up to the Academy's values and remain engaged. All of my involvement might seem a bit over the top to some, but not if you understand where it stems from: survivor guilt.  I am a first-generation American, raised by a single mom in a not so nice part of New York City.  English was not my first language, but I was fortunate enough to learn quickly and at the age of 14 I won a scholarship to boarding school that changed my life.  I then became the first in my family to graduate college, and I put myself through law school.  When I started my legal career 21 years ago, I had nothing except a stellar education and over $115,000 of student debt. This past quarter of a century, the journey has not been an easy one for me, [...]

1105, 2019

What Are You Doing For Yourself This Mother’s Day?

By |May 11th, 2019|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , |

Being a single mom is super tough, and this I've known my whole life watching my mom be solely responsible for everything in our household while I was growing up with absolutely no safety net to catch her if she missed a step.  As a result, being a single parent was not at all what I wanted for myself, and yet it's exactly what I've had to face since my own divorce over a decade ago. Just managing your own life is hard enough-- juggling work, finances, household responsibilities, medical care, family obligations, finding time to travel, exercise or just catch up with friends when you are single is already a challenge, and on top of that the past 15 years I have also had to oversee all those things for a child, who looks to me for all his needs.  To be honest, it's been a tremendous load to bear, and incredibly scary and lonely at times. Having to face the fear of being a single mom has been the biggest challenge of my life.  Why?  Well because when facing any medical scare or risk of financial hardship, I was always painfully aware that I was not the only one that would be impacted.   But thanks to the examples created by my mother and grandmother, who were both single moms themselves, I did not allow myself to implode.  Rather, I came to accept that I come from a long line of strong and independent women, who honestly don't suffer fools well. And so it is that for over a decade I have just moved forward each day trying to keep my eyes on the prize- to help this child launch into adulthood.  Along the way, he has taught me so much about life, family ties, and most importantly unconditional love.  He awakened a self-less, patient and understanding side of myself that I never would have seen without becoming a mother, and so ironically I have come to accept that despite how crazy his dad can make me sometimes, if it were not for that man I would never have become the woman I am today. But since there isn't anyone else that is going to shower me with gifts on this day (or any other day really), if there is one thing I really want to emphasize to all single moms out there, it is this: you [...]

3004, 2019

Are You Struggling With Forgiveness?

By |April 30th, 2019|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , |

Everyone gets hurt or betrayed in some fashion regardless of gender, race, education, or socio-economic status, and as a result all of us struggle with forgiveness, which is not about pardoning the other person, but rather the process of letting go so that the injured party can move forward without being consumed by anger or the desire for revenge. How do you work through the process of forgiving? Well, first let's accept that it is not about forgetting or excusing bad behavior. It's not about becoming vulnerable again or continuing in a toxic or unhealthy relationship. Embrace the fact that it is a multi-layered process that will take time. Why make the effort? Because ultimately it is necessary to finding peace; it is a key component of love, and it is primarily a gift to yourself by lightening the load you have to bear in your heart. There are 3 keys steps towards forgiving: 1. Identify the source of your anger or pain; 2. Try to understand a person's motives or intent; and 3. Weigh all your options to find a workable solution to your situation. Along the way, ask yourself a few key questions: Who hurt or disappointed you? Where does that person rank in your life? What was the transgression? In other words, was there an explicit agreement breached or was it an expectation in your head that was not met? Why did this happen? There is a big difference between an intentional act vs. an accident.  Was there a break down in communication, was your agreement ambiguous,  or were you not clear about your expectations in behavior? As you cycle through the feelings of anger and sadness after someone has hurt you, keep that in mind that the opposite of love is not hate, but rather apathy.  Maybe make that your mantra-- because if you make apathy your goal, you will find that the sooner you detach from whatever hot mess is dragging you down, the sooner you can shed all that negativity, engage in more uplifting activities and tap into a more positive mind space. Ignore those that try to suggest forgiveness is a sign of weakness or foolishness.  It actually takes a lot of strength to let go of the past and put yourself back out there.  Get others to share their inspiring stories of forgiveness with you, and allow them to help you [...]

2204, 2019

A Divorce Lawyer Reveals The Craziest Divorce Case She Ever Experienced by Jeremy Brown on Your Tango

By |April 22nd, 2019|Categories: Regina in the News|

The divorce process doesn’t always have to be messy. But it often is. And amidst the intense emotions that surround the dissolution of a marriage, things can sometimes go wildly off the rails. Regina A. DeMeo, a family law attorney in Bethesda, MD with more than two decades of experience, knows this all too well. She relayed one of the wildest divorce sagas she ever encountered, and the lessons that it can teach.

804, 2019

How Balanced Is Your Budget?

By |April 8th, 2019|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Now that tax season is almost over, we should all have a pretty good grasp of our income and major expenses. The key now, whether you are on your own or with a partner, is to figure out whether you are saving enough or spending too much, and make appropriate adjustments as needed. When I began practicing family law 20 years ago, I had no idea how much time I would be spending with my clients reviewing household budgets.  In fact, after educating people on the law, an inordinate amount of my time is often spent on financial literacy, which is a skill that many seem to lack regardless of race, gender or education. In all divorce cases, whether in mediation or divorce court, we spend a significant amount of time analyzing budgets and determining whether a person's expenses are reasonable compared to his/her income. While we understand that a separation throws a household budget off kilter for a while, we want to see that each person has done his/her best to mitigate the damages, including maximizing income and curbing discretionary expenses.  If someone is spending more than 30% of his/her gross on housing, that will be something that needs to be explained-- along with any major deviations to the norm for other necessary expenses, including food, medical care, transportation, and clothing. Why do we care so much about budgets? Because ultimately, the goal really is for each party to be self-supporting, and for the kids' needs to be met to the best of each parent's capacity.  When awarding spousal support in jurisdictions likes MD and DC that lack a set formula, the driving issues are (1) the recipient's reasonable need for assistance (after s/he maximizes his/her own income potential) vs. a payor's ability to provide financial assistance after meeting his/her own reasonable obligations, including any child support payments. Going through a divorce is a harsh way to learn about your rights and obligations in family law, as well as the importance of a balanced budget.  If you are like me, more focused on preventive medicine vs. opting for emergency surgery, now is the time to reach out to a professional that can help you figure out how to 1) maximize your income; 2) cut expenses; 3) balance your household budget; 4) improve communications with your partner on all these topics or 5) explore legal alternatives (like a prenup or [...]

304, 2019

Should You Consider a Prenup Before Saying “I Do”?

By |April 3rd, 2019|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , , |

Wedding season is about to ramp up, and for all those engaged couples that are contemplating a prenup NOW is really when you need to start that process.  To reduce the chance of having these agreements challenged or possibly invalidated later in court, matrimonial attorneys will always encourage clients to work on full disclosure with ample time for each party to consult his/her own counsel, and with a strong preference for the final signing to occur at least 30 days BEFORE you say "I do." Many wonder if they need a prenup, which I believe is akin to a safety belt.  Do I want the car to crash? Of course not, but just in case I put that seat belt on every time I get into my car.  So now if you know the odds of a first-time marriage lasting are about 50/50, and less than 30% of second marriages last, don't you think it's prudent to invest in a document that provides for an orderly separation in the event things do not work out? Some worry about the cost.  Well, a prenup probably costs less than what most engaged couples spend on flowers, and unlike those floral arrangements, which will be dead and discarded within days of the wedding, an agreement that defines what is joint vs. separate, and sets limits on any potential alimony claims, will live on until the parties death or divorce, unless they agree to modify or nullify it sooner than that. Another common concern I hear is how to even bring up the topic.  Admittedly, it's not an easy topic to bring up compared to where you should go on your honeymoon.  But it should not be awkward to talk about a prenup-- because you just need to be clear that this is about addressing a concern you and/or your family and business partners have, and that you need some financial security and peace of mind.  If your soon to be partner for life can't understand that this is important, and won't try to help address key issues you want to cover in an agreement, these should be some pretty big red flags that you don't want to ignore. If you find it difficult to discuss money issues with your partner, go get some professional advice.  If you are not on the same page about money, go meet with a financial planner.  If it's [...]

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