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Life, Love, and Family Law: Valentine's Day at FindLaw

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on February 09, 2015 5:59 AM

It was no accident that our ancestors pinned Valentine's Day on February's shirt: he or she lucky enough to have a lover in frigid, antsy February has cause for celebration, indeed. -- Tom Robbins

How do you love From the Managing Editor posts? Let us count the ways. OK, that might be exaggerating just slightly, but I do hope you are ready to get back to reading after our little hiatus in January to recuperate from the holiday madness. And now it is time for our next bit of holiday frenzy, Valentine's Day -- FindLaw style.

I am often scorned by friends and family as an unredeemable sap for loving V-Day the way I do. But I don't hold with the scoffers who say it is a manufactured Hallmark holiday. Sure, the modern iteration is a little Hallmark-y, and worse. But as you may recall, the day was originally a saint's day, named for the Roman martyr Valentine. According to one version of the story, this early Christian imprisoned in Rome, passed a note of love to his jailor's daughter. Of course there are pagan roots to the holiday as well. So don't feed me any conspiracy theories about this being a corporate holiday, people have been exchanging valentines as far back as the early 1400s.

Holla: We Want Prenup

In the legal business, we are more often brought into affairs of the heart when something goes wrong, or at best, when planning for something going wrong is needed. I am of course talking about the much maligned prenup.

The prenup, or more formally, the prenuptial agreement, is part and parcel of any FindLaw Valentine's discussion. Obviously, a prenup is a must have for the rich and likely to divorce (read: all of Hollywood and most of L.A.), but what about the rest of us, the 99 percent? A prenup, as difficult as it is to talk about, makes a lot of sense for people marrying where there are assets like a family-owned business at stake. Think about that one for a sec: What happens to the mom-and-pop bakery when mom and pop split? Much like a will, a little pain and planning leads to a lot less hurtful (and expensive) family squabbling later.

Heartbreak Hotel

Prenup or no, sometimes divorce is inevitable. There is no such thing as a good divorce, but there is such thing as a reasonable one. What makes a reasonable divorce? A commitment to put the kids first. A sense of fair play in separating property. An understanding that to keep your children healthy and happy, they have to have access to healthy and happy parents, whenever possible. We have so many resources for couples who are un-coupling (not to be too Gwyneth and Chris) that I can't possibly list them all here. However, if you need some basic information, take a look at the articles in our Family Law section on Divorce and Child Custody and blogs examining all facets of these topics. Of course when it comes right down to it and you need a lawyer, you can go right to the directory and start talking to lawyers as soon as you want.

Back to the Hearts and Flowers

OK, enough of the rough stuff. Let's go back to discussing some of the lovelier aspects of love and Valentine's. Like if you break an engagement, who gets to keep the ring? Hmm, that didn't come out the way I wanted at all. Before we all need to go drown our Valentine's Day sorrows in a bottle of champagne (or the fine California version) and stuff our faces with Ladurée chocolates, keep this in mind: what will be will be. And if not, there's always us darned lawyers.

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