Month: October 2013

Adultery, No Fault and Interesting Reasons To Divorce

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Thursday, October 31, 2013.

Florida is a No Fault state for divorce. You don’t need a reason to divorce. Still, it is interesting to know why people divorce. A recent study out of the UK reveals some surprising reasons why people divorce, and adultery is a declining factor.

It appears that couples are less likely to cite adultery as the cause of a divorce than they were 40 years ago. However, claims of “unreasonable behavior” (a British term) have skyrocketed to more than 5 million divorce cases.

Unreasonable behavior include: making a spouse feel guilty for going out with her friends; a cross-dressing husband who decided to have a sex change; and a spouse withdrawing all the family savings and burning it in the bedroom.

The Guardian newspaper reports on a survey comparing the grounds for divorce in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s as well as the present day.

In the 1970s, 29% of marriages ended because of adultery, the latest figures show only 15% of divorces were down to infidelity. In the 70s unreasonable behavior was cited in 28% of cases but it now accounts for almost half of all divorces (47%).

In the 1980s – the yuppie era – had the most adulterous break-ups – with nearly one in three (29%) of all divorces granted due to cheating on a partner. In the same decade, almost one in five divorces were down to the husband’s infidelity.

While you only need to allege an irretrievable break in the marriage to file for divorce in Florida, it is always interesting to see trends in divorces over time, even when they are from overseas.

The Guardian article can be read here.

Religious Divorces . . . electric cattle prods not recommended

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Religious Divorces on Monday, October 14, 2013.

Each religion has its own requirements for completing a divorce. Islam has a waiting period. The Catholic Church has the Decree of Invalidity and other remedies so spouses are free to marry again. In Judaism, a husband must give his wife a “Get”. But if a stubborn husband won’t provide one, there may or may not be civil remedies in Florida courts. If there isn’t though, can you kidnap and use an electric cattle prod to coerce a husband into signing a Get? That’s a question now being answered in a U.S. District Court in New Jersey.

As the New York Daily News Reports:

Two rabbis plotted to kidnap Jewish husbands, torture them with electric cattle prods and force them to grant their desperate wives religious divorces, the feds charged Thursday. Rabbi Mendel Epstein, 68, of Brooklyn and Rabbi Martin Wolmark, 55, of Monsey, Rockland County, were among 10 people arrested in the barbarous scheme with tentacles that ran all the way to the rabbinical court. Epstein is accused of running an unholy crew that charged women trapped in marital limbo $70,000 to $100,000 to strong-arm their stubborn husbands into granting a Jewish divorce known as a “get,” a criminal complaint reveals.

According to reports, the police also arrested two other men – Ariel Potash whose role was to act as the wife’s agent to accept the get in the religious divorce ceremony, and a man identified only as “Yaakov” who was apparently one of the “toughs.”

The criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney paints a gruesome picture:

We prefer not to leave a mark,” Epstein allegedly told the undercover agent. “Basically the reaction of the police is, if the guy does not have a mark on him then, uh, is there some Jewish crazy affair here. They don’t want to get involved.”

Bad advice. The arrests came after two undercover FBI agents – one posing as a wife and the other as her brother – were charged $10,000 for approval by a rabbinical court of a kidnapping and $50,000 to $60,000 to pay those who roughed up the purported husband.

A rabbinical court in Monsey, New York, presided over by Rabbi Wolmark, actually approved the kidnapping plan last week by issuing a ruling (psak din) after the purported husband failed to respond to a contempt order (seruv) issued by the religious court.

CEO Divorces: Do you have to disclose divorces to shareholders?

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Monday, October 28, 2013.

divorced impacts everyone: the rich and poor alike. When a spouse is also the CEO of a company, are there more risks? When the CEO of Continental Resources was getting divorced, shares of his company dropped 2.9%. Conversely, when Rupert Murdoch announced his divorce, shares of News Corp gained 1.4%. Why?

In the Continental Resources case, shareholders learned that the CEO didn’t have a prenuptial agreement, and some investors feared control of his shares was at stake.

But in Rupert Murdoch’s case, the divorce announcement stressed the parties’ prenuptial agreement, that there would be no spin-offs, and a divorce would have “zero impact” on the company

A new study from Stanford Graduate School of Business has examined three potential ways in which a CEO divorce might impact the business and shareholders.

1. Loss of control or influence. A CEO might be forced to sell or transfer a portion of his or her shares as part of equitable distribution, lump sum alimony or by agreement. Selling shares can reduce a CEO’s influence and impact decisions regarding corporate strategy, asset ownership, and board composition. Shareholder reaction to loss of control will vary.

2. Divorce impacts productivity, concentration, and energy levels. Divorce is stress. Generally, it is well known that employee divorces impact their productivity. In extreme cases, the distraction of divorce can lead to premature retirement.

3. Divorce can change appetite for risk. A sudden change in wealth – through loss of equity in the company they are running or other investments outside the firm -can alter an executive’s risk appetite, and impact decision making

Is divorce still a private matter? For most people it is. But if you are the CEO of a publicly traded company, perhaps in the future your divorce might be a matter which has to be disclosed to shareholders.

The Stanford Graduate School of Business article can be read here.

Gray Divorces: Divorcing after 50

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Thursday, October 24, 2013.

So much for “till death do us part.” While the overall divorce rate has gone down, it’s doubled for couples over age 50. For the first time, more Americans 50 and older are divorced rather than widowed. Sociologists call them gray divorces.

In 1990, less than 3% of Americans older than 50 were divorced. By 2000, about 12% were. According to the latest Census Bureau’s estimate in the American Community Survey, in 2011 over 15% were divorced, while 13.5% were widowed.

In 1990, 1 in 10 persons who divorced was 50 or older. By 2011, according to the American Community Survey, more than 28 percent (more than 1 in 4) who said they divorced in the previous 12 months were 50 or older.

As the New York Times reports:

Researchers at Bowling Green warn that the rising divorce rate among older Americans has serious implications that go well beyond the couples themselves. Like widowhood, divorce can contribute to economic strain and poor health, placing a larger burden on children and, given shrinking family size, on institutional support from government and other sources.

“Staying together until death do us part is a bigger challenge than it used to be because we expect so much more of marriage than we did in the past, and we have so many more options when a marriage doesn’t live up to those expectations.

Think about it from this perspective:

“If you are a healthy 65, you can expect another pretty healthy 20 years. So with the kids gone, it seems more burdensome to stay in a bad relationship, or even one that has grown stale.”

Are women to blame:

Women have long been more sensitive to – or less tolerant of – a mediocre relationship than men and so another big factor is that with their increased work experience and greater sense of their own possibilities, they are less willing to just ‘wait it out.

What about the men?:

“Viagra is another reason – men are able to satisfy younger women. And people are living longer and they can get out and still have a life.”

Several other factors may be to blame, including:

  • Societal acceptance of divorce
  • Increased economic autonomy of women
  • Lengthening life expectancies
  • Less education is big risk factor
  • Shorter marriages less than 10 years.

Nonetheless, they say that if the rate remains constant, we can expect a 25 percent increase in the number of people that will experience divorce among Americans 50 and older.

Do you carry the Divorce Gene?

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Wednesday, October 16, 2013.

Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce. This means that you do not need grounds – like “mental cruelty” or “adultery” – to file for divorce. But scientists are finding that there may be fault for broken marriages, and the fault resides in our genetic code.

One gene involved in the regulation of serotonin can predict how much our emotions affect our relationships. The study was conducted at UC Berkeley:

An enduring mystery is, what makes one spouse so attuned to the emotional climate in a marriage, and another so oblivious?” . . . “With these new genetic findings, we now understand much more about what determines just how important emotions are for different people.”

Researchers found a link between relationship fulfillment and a gene variant, or “allele,” known as 5-HTTLPR. All humans inherit a copy of this gene variant from each parent.

Study participants with two short 5-HTTLPR alleles were found to be most unhappy in their marriages when there was anger and contempt. They were most happy when there was humor and affection.

By contrast, those with one or two long alleles were far less bothered by the emotional tenor of their marriages.

“We are always trying to understand the recipe for a good relationship, and emotion keeps coming up as an important ingredient,” said Levenson, who heads up a longitudinal study that has tracked over 150 married couples for more than 20 years.

The new findings don’t mean that couples with different variations of 5-HTTLPR are incompatible, but couples with two short alleles are likelier to thrive in a good relationship and suffer in a bad one.

“Individuals with two short alleles . . . may be like hothouse flowers, blossoming in a marriage when the emotional climate is good and withering when it is bad.”

“Conversely, people with one or two long alleles are less sensitive to the emotional climate.”

Participants in the study consisted of a group of 156 middle-aged and older couples whose relationships were followed for over 20 years.

For spouses with two short 5-HTTLPR alleles (17% of the spouses studied), researchers found a strong correlation between the emotional tone of their conversations and how they felt about their marriage.

For the 83% of spouses with one or two long alleles, on the other hand, the emotional quality of their discussions bore little or no relation to their marital satisfaction over the next decade.

While we won’t argue genetic fault in divorce papers any time soon, it is interesting how the study of the human genome shows how our DNA plays a greater role in our actions than we ever thought. News about the UC Berkley study is here.

Same Sex Divorce: The Future is Nearer

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Same sex/GLBTA on Wednesday, October 9, 2013.

Florida prohibits same sex marriages and same sex divorce – even if the marriage was entered in a state in which such marriages are legal. What happens if you are a Floridian who married in a state where same sex marriages are legal, but now want to divorce?

As the New York Times reports, a taste of what a Florida same sex divorce will look like may be found in Mississippi of all places. A woman is asking a Mississippi court to dismiss a divorce petition filed by the wife she married in California. Her argument:

Mississippi can’t grant the divorce because it doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages.

The couple, Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham and Dana Ann Melancon, went to California to marry in 2008 while living together in Mississippi. Czekala-Chatham still lives in Mississippi, but Melancon moved to Arkansas.

Czekala-Chatham filed for divorce in north Mississippi’s DeSoto County Chancery Court on September 11, 2013, and wants Mississippi to recognize her marriage so she can get a divorce there.

Melancon filed a motion to dismiss her divorce petition based on Mississippi law, which like Florida, prohibits same sex marriages:

Any marriage between persons of the same gender is prohibited and null and void from the beginning. Any marriage between persons of the same gender that is valid in another jurisdiction does not constitute a legal or valid marriage in Mississippi.

Even though the parties were legally married in California, the State of Mississippi lacks any legal basis to grant the Plaintiff a divorce because there is no marriage to dissolve under the laws of this state.

What can Czekala-Chatham do if she wants a divorce? One thing is she can file for divorce in California:

Same-sex married couples who got married in California but do not live in California and live in a state (or states) that will not dissolve a same-sex marriage, can file to end their same-sex marriage in California, regardless of these residency requirements.

However, the lack of residency may stop a California court from deciding property ownership, alimony and children’s issues.

The Texas Supreme Court recently said it will consider whether it has jurisdiction over same-sex divorce cases and scheduled oral arguments for Nov. 5. At least two same-sex couples have filed for divorce in the state, which does not permit gay marriage.

Floridians in same sex marriages, who have wondered what their options are in the event of divorce, should keep an eye out on what is happening right now in Mississippi and Texas. That could be our future.

Are Stay at Home Dads Overhyped?

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Timesharing/Visitation on Tuesday, October 1, 2013.

With the new alimony reform bill percolating in Tallahassee, there is talk of creating a legal presumption that child custody with children should be equal between moms and dads. There is a common perception that more dads are choosing childcare over careers. But is this a trend, a bubble, or drop in the pan?

According to the Census, the number of stay-at-home dads has more than doubled over the last decade and a half, from about 76,000 in 1994 to 189,000 as of last year.

So does that mean stay at home dads is a significant change?

Not really. Among all married couples with children under 15, only 0.8 percent includes a stay-at-home dad. And as the Atlantic reports, even that small percentage overstates the importance of the stay at home dad phenomena:

First, we’re living in the age of the single parent. More than half of births to women under 30 happen out of wedlock, and women disproportionately end up taking care of those children.

Second, even among two-parent households where women work, the percentage of men acting as the primary caregiver has actually declined slightly.

Third, as the Pew Survey notes, women in dual earner households spend 12 hours a week on childcare on average, compared to just 7 for men.

The rise of stay-at-home dads sounds good, but it may be a lot of hype:

A decade ago, you could pack every stay-at-home dad into the University of Michigan’s football stadium. Now, you’d just need Michigan and Ohio State’s.

Worse, over the last 15 years, men have collectively stopped taking on more child care giving responsibilities, not take on more of them.