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You are listening to an excerpt from Ask the Experts on Talk 860 WWDB AM with host Steve O and weekly guest, LGBTQ legal expert Angela Giampolo.

This week Angela answers questions about divorce:

  • Are we seeing more gay divorces and why?
  • What are some of the unique pressures for LGBTQ marriages?
  • How does Angela counsel people to approach a divorce?
  • What are the benefits of mediation?
  • And, should you ever use a friend who happens to be a lawyer to help with your divorce?

 

Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:01)

You’re listening to an excerpt from Ask The Experts on Talk 860 Wwdbam with host Steve O and weekly guest LGBTQ legal expert Angela Giampolo. This week, Angela answers questions about divorce. Are we seeing more gay divorces and why? What are some of the unique pressures for LGBTQ marriages? How does Angela counsel people to approach a divorce? What are the benefits of mediation? And finally, should you ever use a friend who happens to be a lawyer to help with your divorce?

 

Speaker 2 (00:38)

Good morning, Philadelphia. And welcome to another Ask The Experts show where we bring you the finest experts in the fields of health, legal, financial and home improvement. And as always, our 10:00 opening show is our expert attorney Angela Giampolo. And we’re talking about LGBTQ law community as it pertains to estate planning, family law, employment law and real estate law. And as always, we want to welcome attorney Angela Giampolo. Good morning.

 

Speaker 3 (01:17)

Smiling Angela, as always, how are you?

 

Speaker 2 (01:23)

As always, where are we at today?

 

Speaker 3 (01:25)

Today we are in Philadelphia.

 

Speaker 2 (01:28)

Okay. So, Angela, I got to tell you that I got to know one of those texts. I know it was about the show because it was right after the show. It just says, thank you for bringing such a great show to our community. I was like, wow, I love it because Angela and I have spoken about God, if we can just touch one person. And Angela, you are definitely touching people in the Philadelphia area. And you should be pinching yourself every morning when you wake up because it really is. You’re doing an incredible service to the community. And I am so glad that we have you at your opening show. So tell everybody what’s going on with Giampolo law firm.

 

Speaker 3 (02:32)

Yes. So we’re gearing up for the summer, which always includes Pride Month, which we’re super excited about, especially with COVID the last couple of years and not really being able to have Pride festivals and Pride parades and whatnot. So fingers crossed that we get to have a full on fun summer. And the Caravan of Hope, my nonprofit, will be doing its made in voyage, two week cross country tour where the caravan will go to different cities around the country that we’ve identified that may not have an LGBTQ out attorney like the Mobile, Alabama, Fort Worth, Texas, type places, not New York, not San Fran, not places where you can throw a rock and find a gay lawyer, but instead the places where it may not be safe to be out. And so the caravan will go to these places around the country and ultimately provide legal services for two days per town. So sleepover, have people come, do anything that doesn’t need to be done in court we could do on the caravan. So transgender name changes, estate planning, family law. We can give consultations on the rest, like the employment law and anything that would require going to court, but ultimately we could perform legal services right there on the caravan.

 

Speaker 3 (04:03)

And so we’ll be doing that. We’re looking at about 13 locations over the course of the two week time period.

 

Speaker 2 (04:11)

Angela, I cannot believe the cities you’ve chosen. Pretty much. Yeah.

 

Speaker 3 (04:19)

That’s the whole point, right. I mean, Matthew Shepard, if I think back to the early 90s, Matthew Shepard and Laramie, Wyoming, those are the places that really need out representation and not even so much that I’m out. We could go in and out of that town with nobody finding out that they availed themselves to the services if they’re not out. The idea is to just bring legal services to underrepresented and underserved populations within the LGBTQ community. And that includes everyone that exists in rural areas in the United States as well as LGBTQ youth as we’re seeing with Don’t Say Gay in Florida and like similar legislation all over the country. But LGBTQ youth, LGBTQ seniors, people of color and trans people are the top four underrepresented and underserved subsections of the LGBTQ community. And then add living in a rural area and they’re just doubly screwed ultimately.

 

Speaker 2 (05:27)

Wow. This is just, in your opinion, as an attorney who deals with this every day, is there an uptick in gay divorces?

 

Speaker 3 (05:40)

Yeah. So I’d definitely say so. We’ve only been allowed to get married for the last six years. Right. And so at the outset, everybody got married. Some that had been together forever, some that had been together maybe ten to twelve years, some that had been together for five minutes and should not have gotten married. So immediately after marriage equality, we saw a big uptick in divorces because a lot of the wrong people got married the minute that it was legal, because it was like oxygen to our souls. We’re legitimized. And so I’m going to go out and do this thing that I’ve been told I can’t, whether it’s a good idea or not. And then sort of the climax or apex of marriage equality died down a bit. And then all the right people got married and did so rationally and thought out. And it wasn’t as a result of us being allowed, but really a thought out thing. And now that it’s been six, seven years, there’s nothing different about our relationships than heterosexual relationships. Like things happen and time goes on and things die down and people grow apart and all of that.

 

Speaker 3 (06:57)

So we’re starting to see sort of the natural uptick in LGBTQ divorces stemming from really it just becoming more and more normal. Those relationships are sort of coming to an end.

 

Speaker 2 (07:13)

There’s more marriages now, so I can understand the divorce rate going up.

 

Speaker 3 (07:19)

Right. Just proportionately based on pure math. Exactly. And then the length of time with which it’s been legal. So the amount of marriages entered into and then the length of time that it’s been legal will all contribute to be too.

 

Speaker 2 (07:34)

You just said something that it’s like heterosexual. But in a gay divorce, do you find the reasons any different at all? Because listen, Angela, I know you so well now a new client just doesn’t come in and sit down and wham you’re done because of your experience, you really get into your clients.

 

Speaker 3 (08:09)

The question was, do we get divorced for different reasons? The big difference that I would say is, again, percentage of couples that do not have children compared to our heterosexual counterparts, which is almost all right, have children. And where we sort of have that flipped a little less so. But there aren’t as many LGBTQ couples with children. So that is a big reason to stay together in a lot of relationships, stay together for the children, stay together until they’re of a certain age stay together. So I feel like with my clients, there’s not that built in anchor for a lot of my clients. For some, obviously there is, but there is not that built in anchor of let’s stay together for the children. So then it really becomes about the two people. And do we want this? Do we want to stay together for no other reason than the fact that we’re together? There’s no outside anchor. The pandemic definitely added an outside anchor more so than ever before. People deciding to stay together or not due to finances. I mean, people literally could not afford to get divorced in terms of what it meant for their health insurance, people losing jobs.

 

Speaker 3 (09:31)

So I feel like that was clear across the board, LGBTQ or not. But I would say the reasons do not differ. We’re all human. The only thing that does differ is statistically the amount of couples that have children versus not. But otherwise, all things being equal, the reasons don’t differ.

 

Speaker 2 (09:51)

I’m going to ask you a question, because I’m learning. This is a learning experience for me. Do gay couples have more pressure on them than people who are heterosexual?

 

Speaker 3 (10:08)

I think maybe within their family and social circles. Right. So straight people have been getting married for 350 years. If it works out, it works out. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. And then think about you being the gay person in your family. You came out, maybe it wasn’t a good coming out process, but your family came full circle and accepted you a few years later. But you had sort of a rough patch or difficulty. So now they’ve come full circle. They love you, they accept you all the things and they agree to go to your wedding. And now it’s their first gay wedding. The whole family comes to their first gay wedding. It’s a big deal. People are flying all over. Nobody ever says, oh, this is my first straight wedding, right? Like, it’s not a big deal. It’s just people aren’t excited like, oh, we’re going to a gay wedding, right? No, it’s just a wedding, right. But that’s not how family feels about going to their first gay wedding or a gay wedding or whatever. And so, yeah, I feel like all eyes are on that person, especially if there had been a family rift of some sort, that your marriage should last.

 

Speaker 3 (11:25)

Like, there’s an additional pressure of it was everybody’s first gay wedding. Like, all eyes were on me. I’m the only gay person my family knows. My relationship reflects gay marriage generally and just societal unnecessary illegitimate pressures and not pressures that I feel like everyone has. But I think there is an added level of shame, not that everybody goes through when their relationship ends. Right. Like, my marriage failed, but when all lies are on you as, like, the only gay person in the gay wedding and blah, blah, then it’s like, oh, my relationship failed and I sort of let down the LGBTQ community because people somehow think our relationships don’t last or something like that. So it’s totally illegitimate, but it’s just psychological and definitely a thing that some people deal with.

 

Speaker 2 (12:24)

Well, I know with the estate planning, you get into a lot of counseling. Do you get into much counseling when it comes to family law?

 

Speaker 3 (12:33)

Yeah, absolutely. If anything, just as much, if not more or very different type of counseling. And I always joke like a therapist is better, their hourly rate is less, and it’s what they do for a living. So I definitely try to shepherd my clients into therapy. But to the extent that I do legal counseling, like counseling that only I can help them with, it’s a lot about I’m certified in mediation, and I only do amicable uncontested divorces where we’re negotiating property settlement agreements and both sides want to come to the table to in some way negotiate an amicable dissolution. Right. Like, you think divorce, you think more negative. I like the word dissolution. So even counseling them about mentally, how to come to the process, how to approach the whole dissolution and negotiation of the dissolution process. So let’s say they’ve been together 16 years. If people could channel any ounce of love that they had for one another at the beginning of that 16 years, like, let’s just say they had a good six years or a good ten years. If they could channel any ounce of love that they had when things were good and channel that during the dissolution period, there would be no need for divorce lawyers.

 

Speaker 3 (14:04)

Everybody would figure their stuff out. Right. And so just counseling people, whether it was a mistake and obviously my caveat or disclaimer to all of this is there’s no excuse for violence. There’s no excuse for domestic violence if you’re stuck in an abusive emotionally or physical relationship. And what I’m saying obviously does not apply. But all things being equal, if you’re in a relationship for any significant period of time and it was at some point healthy and loving that to channel that time period in the dissolution period, especially when there are children involved will just help. Not even help. It will make the dissolution be amicable, less expensive, uncontested, and how you end that relationship legally and the steps you take legally, either from an offensive, defensive what have you will dictate your relationship with this person the whole rest of your life. No one forgets being taken to the cleaners by their ex and a divorce. So again, if you have children, the strategy that you move forward with in your divorce will dictate your relationship with this person moving forward. 

 

Speaker 2 (15:39)

Why are women ending their marriages quicker than men?

 

Speaker 3 (15:44)

Well, before I hop into that, I just wanted to finish the counseling piece. Just two more quick things on counseling people through a divorce. So obviously just entering into the dissolution with a mindset geared towards resolution that would be numero Uno. The other two pieces to that is not listening to your friends. Ultimately, at the end of the day, your friends are going to be very protective of you and wanting just your friends weren’t involved in the 16 year marriage or five year marriage and ultimately cannot provide guidance for you on a macro level that you should in any way be listening to as it relates to your divorce. So if it’s emotional and support and this that. But if it’s any advice like go for this or get that or do this or get 100% custody, anything like that, ignore friends. And that’s very hard to do, but they’re just not helpful towards an amicable resolution if that’s what you want. And thirdly, like I said at the beginning, get therapy. At the end of the day, this is a massive life transition. It’s right up there with death and dying, divorce, disability. It’s one of the top five.

 

Speaker 3 (17:04)

You’re going to need some sort of therapy outside of the legal process and so definitely avail yourself. So if you do those three things, if you enter into the dissolution process with a resolution minded mindset, don’t listen to friends. As awesome as they are, they are only going to help you spend more money on your legal defense and three seat therapy. And you should be good to go.

 

Speaker 2 (17:30)

I want people to understand this, Angela, that this advice that you’re giving comes from years and years and years of experience and people should really take heed to this is new. We’ve never even discussed this before. And you’re telling people your friends are your friends, but kind of leave it that way. Don’t mix friends with business. That just makes so much sense, right?

 

Speaker 3 (18:05)

I mean, you’ve already set up advisors all around yourself, right? You have a divorce lawyer that hopefully you trust, right? You have a therapist, which is an objective sounding board who you are paying to replace the friends that I’m telling you to ignore. So listen to them, get the support from them, get the consolation from them, get the wine from them and the free dinners from them and all of the things. But do not take their advice. And I don’t know how many times to your point over 15 years where I’m on the phone with a client and they’re like, well, what about the fact that he cheated? My friend says, that, okay, between Googling and your friends, I don’t want to hear any of it. Yeah, it definitely comes from years and years of experience surrounding yourself with a good financial adviser, a good accountant. You’re going to have a whole new set of finances either if you’re the wealthier of the two and you’re going to be paying out maybe of your retirement account. And we need to use a Quadro to get into your retirement accounts. And you want to know the true impact of dipping into your retirement account.

 

Speaker 3 (19:18)

If you are the lesser earning of the two and you’re getting a big lump sum settlement instead of monthly alimony, how to make that lump sum span times so that in six months you’re not left without any money and you don’t have a job, financial advisor and or accountant. If you’re a business owner, you have your therapist for your mental health and true objective sounding board, you have support from your lawyer, obviously, for all things legal, and then your friends for the emotional support, but not advice.

 

Speaker 2 (19:57)

And you’re talking about friends. We kind of talk about this before the show, the things that we want to talk about. And I have these things that go through my mind, and I’m thinking, sometimes people hire an attorney not because they’re great, but because they’re friends. And I’m just thinking for the first time, I think I’ve heard you talk about mediation. Can people if they have a friend who’s an attorney, can they come to you just for mediation?

 

Speaker 3 (20:37)

Yeah. So here’s the thing with mediation. So I am certified in mediation and I’m a lawyer. Not all certified mediators are also lawyers. You could have a background in social work or psychology and then get an advanced certification or degree in mediation. And now you are a mediator, and people come to you, you mediate, you hand them a term sheet. Okay, here’s what you guys agreed to. Then you take that term sheet to a lawyer who then drafts up the property settlement agreement based on your term sheet, and then does the divorce. So if you guys are at an impasse and you’re unable to go straight to a lawyer to come up with the PSA, the property settlement agreement or marital settlement agreement, whatever it’s called, where you are, then you go to a mediator first or a lawyer. Mediator who represents one of you puts together the term, she puts together the property settlement agreement and then files for the divorce. You save money by not needing the mediation piece and being amicable enough that you come up with a term sheet at the kitchen table and then go directly to the lawyer that implements everything.

 

Speaker 3 (21:57)

Or one of you works with a lawyer. So a lot of times I will work with one of the people and I represent one of the people. We come up with the property settlement agreement, the term sheet, we provide it to the other. The other takes that to a lawyer and then gets that reviewed by a lawyer. But it wasn’t two lawyers going back and forth. It was me and my client. And then the two in the relationship coming up with the terms. And all I did was memorialized the terms and then provide them an agreement which the other one went and got reviewed by a lawyer. And then both lawyers sign attorney certifications saying that they represented you. The reason I don’t recommend going to a friend for that is you need to sign off on the attorney certification so you don’t want just one lawyer because then the other one could say, I didn’t understand this. You went to your friend. It was under duress. Right. So imagine I’m your friend and you come to me and I draft it for you and you hand it to your spouse. And your spouse just signs it but says she didn’t understand anything.

 

Speaker 3 (23:06)

Well, it wasn’t negotiated at arm’s length. So ultimately, your friend may be a litigator, a corporate attorney, and not do family law. So you have like a heart surgeon working on your foot. So that’s what’s wrong with using a friend. That’s a lawyer. And secondly, it could go to the enforceability of the agreement itself. It could potentially not be enforceable because the other person could say they didn’t have a lawyer. So don’t go to a friend. And thirdly, especially if you’re not paying the friends, the lawyer friend is not going to care and really throw something together for you. You get what you pay for. And any lawyer who says, don’t worry, I won’t charge you because your friend is not doing as good as they were if they were hired by somebody. So my three reasons for not using.

 

Speaker 2 (24:01)

A friend, Angela, this is going to shock you. You know what I hate about this show?

 

Speaker 3 (24:07)

That it only lasts 30 minutes.

 

Speaker 2 (24:09)

Yes, that’s right. And it’s like got to have so many more questions. Hey, save them for easy next week, right?

 

Speaker 3 (24:17)

Exactly.

 

Speaker 2 (24:19)

So tell everybody your phone number and how they can reach you.

 

Speaker 3 (24:23)

215-6452 415. And my website giampololaw.com and I [email protected]

 

Speaker 2 (24:31)

You know, a lot of people know Angela. I don’t endorse all of our experts. I think it’s special when you endorse maybe one or two. I endorse attorney Angela Giampolo, whether it’s yourself or a friend or a family member, when it comes to LGBTQ law, she is the best at it. Angela, thank you again. I will see you next Tuesday for more as the expert, Angela thanks so much. Thanks and I’ll talk to you next week.

 

Speaker 1 (25:10)

Be sure to tune in every Tuesday at 10:00 a.com when Angela Giampolo is the guest on ask the experts on 860 wwdbam and [email protected]

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