Month: May 2016

No Fault Divorce in Pakistan

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Monday, May 30, 2016.

In 1971, Florida passed its “no-fault” divorce law. Recently, a Pakistani court restored a law allowing Christian men to divorce without adultery charges.

The rationale behind no-fault laws was that requiring someone to prove legal grounds to dissolve the marriage was not serving any useful purpose.

I’ve written about no-fault divorces before. Historically in Florida, in order to obtain a divorce one had to prove the existence of legal grounds such as adultery.

This often required additional expenses on behalf of the aggrieved party, only serving to make the divorce process more expensive and cumbersome than it already was.

In the years leading up to the enactment of “no-fault” divorce, courts often granted divorces on bases that were easier to prove, the most common being “mental cruelty.”

Over time, the “no-fault” movement expanded to other states, although interestingly it only reached the typically progressive state of New York in 2010.

In Pakistan, the Lahore High Court restored a law enabling Christian men to adopt a ‘dignified way’ to divorce their wives.

Pakistani, Amin Masih, who wanted to divorce his wife but not on adultery charges, had requested the court to restore the provision undone by the military ruler 35 years ago.

Mr. Masih said he did not want to level the “false allegation” of adultery against his wife. He said the condition of accusing wife of adultery for divorce should be abolished for being unconstitutional and inhuman.

“There are just and reasonable grounds, other than adultery, to divorce a Christian woman,” he said.

Punjab government’s Assistant Advocate-General Anwar Hussain said the provincial government wanted to amend this controversial law, but it was not possible because of lack of consensus among the Christian community leadership.

The court was also told that in the past many Christian men and women changed their religion to divorce each other honorably. The existing law was detrimental to the dignity of Christian women.

The Hindu article is here.

Alimony Modifications & The Hoff

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Modifications on Thursday, May 26, 2016.

Divorce is not the end of the case. After divorce there are disagreements over custody and alimony modification that even David Hasselhoff can’t run away from.

Actor David Hasselhoff is asking a court to modify his alimony order that requires him to pay $21,000 a month in alimony to his ex-wife.

In 2006, Hasselhoff divorced actress Pamela Bach, his wife of 16 years. The couple has two daughters, whose support is above and beyond the monthly alimony payments.

He recently filed a modification request, asking the judge to do away with the required payments, or at least order a substantial reduction. He claims his former wife has done almost nothing to pursue employment since their divorce.

The Hoff also argues that he is now 63 years old, and wants to start making plans for his retirement. He worries that he will not be able to stop working if he is forced to continue paying alimony to his former spouse.

Retirement of a spouse is one of the many reasons people ask courts to modify their alimony obligations. I’ve written about the recent attempt to change the alimony laws to address this issue.

Under the proposed alimony bill, which was recently vetoed by the Governor, retirement would be a substantial change in circumstance if the payor reached the age for eligibility to receive full retirement benefits, or the customary retirement age for his or her occupation and has retired from that occupation; or retires early and the court determines that the retirement is reasonable based upon the obligor’s age, health, motivation for retirement, and impact on the obligee.

In Florida, in order to modify alimony, the obligor must show three fundamental prerequisites: a substantial change in circumstances, the change was not contemplated at the time of the final judgment of dissolution, and that the change is sufficient, material, involuntary and permanent in nature.

The Supreme Court of Florida has addressed the impact of retirement on support obligations in Florida. To determine whether a voluntary retirement is reasonable, courts must consider, in part, the payor’s age, health, and motivation for retirement, as well as the type of work the payor performs and the age at which others engaged in that line of work normally retire. There are additional criteria a court must consider as well.

The People magazine article on David Hasselhoff is here.

More Mideast News: Saudi Marriage Contracts

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Agreements on Monday, May 23, 2016.

Speeding into the 21st Century, Saudi Arabian brides will now get a copy of their prenuptial agreements, in the latest women’s rights breakthrough in the kingdom.

Another post from the Middle East. Women can now receive their marriage contracts. Saudi Arabian media is hailing this a “great step forward for women”! The disturbing reality is that Saudi women had no idea about their marriage rights before being wed.

This presented a problem, as women who married secretly have had to face frustrating legal wrangles with their husbands denying their formal relationships.

In some cases, wives have had trouble with the families of their husbands determined to deprive them of their inheritance and other rights following their husband’s death. The women had no formal evidence they got married since they did not have copies of their marriage.

Justice Minister Waleed Al Samaani said that the decision allows women to be fully aware of their rights and of the marriage contract conditions.

Under the minister’s decision, two copies of the contracts are given to the groom and the bride and each must sign to acknowledge they received it.

I’ve written about prenuptial agreements many times. Prenups can address many issues, including: Caring for a parent; Going back to school; Shopping habits; Credit card debt; Tax liabilities; Alimony and child support from previous relationships; and Death or disability.

In Saudi Arabia, the copy of the contract will also allow women to check all the details of the marriage contract, including the prenuptial agreement and the amount of money to be paid in case of divorce or the possibility for the wife to take up a job.

Last week, an Arab woman who got married with a rich Saudi businessman won a legal case against his family following his death after her lawyer successfully proved their formal marriage.

The wife had no copy of the contract and the husband’s family rejected her marriage claims. She eventually won the case when the lawyer was able to convince the two witnesses of the marriage to come forward and give their testimonies.

The 22-year-old woman, from an Arab country, was given SR67 million (about $17.9m) as her share of the inheritance. She and her husband were married for only one month when he had a heart attack and died.

The Gulf News article can be found here.

Ending Mideast Conflicts: ‘Mediation Before Divorce’ Rule

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Thursday, May 19, 2016.

The Middle East is an unlikely place for amicable settlements, but Israel just enacted new laws to help couples create divorce agreements by requiring them to mediate before filing in court.

Ynet, an Israeli paper, discusses the regulations. The rules – which include both mediation and educational components – are a part of Israel’s Resolution of Family Disputes Law, and were suggested by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.

I’ve written about mediation in the past. Mediation is a process where a neutral, third person – called a mediator – encourages and facilitates resolving your case. Consider it an informal meeting in which the goal is to reach a voluntary agreement.

Under Israel’s new regulations, any married individual approaching divorce – who wishes to file a couple’s dispute claim – will first have to submit a request asking to resolve the conflict.

The request will then be directed to the court’s social services unit, which will invite both parties to participate in 4 mediatory sessions without lawyers.

As part of the mediation, couples will receive information on the mediation process itself and on the legal proceedings that await them in case they do not reach an agreement.

In addition, couples taking part in the mediation will learn about the possible impacts that ongoing disputes can have on any children involved, and are guided to reach an agreement concerning child support, custody and property division.

The meetings will be free of charge, with the mediators being civil servants, most of them lawyers or social workers.

During the mediation period, both parties will not be allowed to file claims against one another, apart from requests for temporary relief aimed at keeping the status quo or requests for emergency relief.

If both parties do not reach an agreement, whichever party had initiated the proceedings will be allowed to submit a claim to the relevant court to discuss the matter further, while being allowed to continue the mediation process if they so choose.

Any additional meetings beyond this point will come at a cost, though it has been agreed upon that it will not be high. The new regulations will be instated for three years, during which their efficiency will be examined.

As the Minister of Justice said:

We need to remember that parental disputes cause damage especially for the children, and that it is our duty to protect them.

The Ynet article can be found here.

Speaking Tomorrow at Family Court Services

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Tuesday, May 17, 2016.

Tomorrow, May 18th, I will be speaking at the Lunch & Learn Series with my colleague Evan Marks, on the use of experts in paternity and divorce cases: “The Daubert Crucible.”


The Lunch & Learn Series is a fantastic series of presentations hosted monthly by Family Court Services, and this one will take place on:

May 18, 2016, from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm at the Family Division Courthouse located at 175 NW 1st Avenue 11th Floor Miami, Florida 33128.

The presentation is based, in part, on the article I published last Fall in the Florida Bar Commentator, The Daubert Crucible. In 2013, the Florida Legislature amended Sections 90.702 and 90.704 of the Florida Statutes to bind Florida courts to the Daubert standard for the admission of expert testimony and the basis for an expert’s opinion.

My co-presenter, Evan Marks, Esq. and myself, will answer the questions: What is the Frye Rule? What is Daubert? And why we all need to know.

This presentation addresses the new statutory changes to §90.702 and §90.704; how the new Daubert standard differs from the old Frye rule; the lingering Constitutional problem, recent Florida appellate cases applying the Daubert standard; how the judge’s role in admitting expert testimony has changed; and the new Rules’ impact on the admissibility of expert testimony in Family Division cases.

The event is sponsored by Family Court Services. Family Court Services was developed to assist family law judges and general magistrates with some of the Court’s most difficult family cases, reducing case delays while tending to the unique needs of divorcing parents and their children.

CLE and continuing education credit for judiciary, attorneys, mental health professionals, mediators and professional interpreters are also available.

You can register here.

Don’t forget to bring a lunch.

Florida Collaborative Family Law Process

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Agreements on Monday, May 16, 2016.

Divorce is not easy. Fortunately, Florida has joined several other states adopting the Collaborative Law Process, an alternative to traditional notions that divorce must be a war. Here’s what is involved.

I’ve written about various types of alternatives to traditional divorce cases. Under the new collaborative law, the following issues are subject to resolution through the collaborative law process:

-Marriage, divorce, dissolution, annulment, and marital property distribution;

-Child custody, visitation, parenting plans, and parenting time;

-Alimony, maintenance, child support;

-Parental relocation with a child;

-Premarital, marital, and post-marital agreements; and


There was a recent article in the Tampa Bay Times about the collaborative process and the new law. The Collaborative Law Process Act creates a pathway toward a more civil and less contentious way for couples to change the status of their relationships.

Essentially, each spouse retains a specially trained collaborative attorney. Then, both parties would hire a mental health professional – to guide both of them toward an emotional outcome – and an independent financial adviser.

Then, everyone – the spouses, their attorneys, and the retained professionals – sit down and examine all the relevant issues. Everyone shares documents and information.

This process is private and confidential in stark contrast to a litigated divorce, where testimony and evidence may be considered to be in the public domain.

It is a voluntary process, and all issues are explored and settled via negotiation. Either party can put an end to the collaborative process at any time, but there are consequences to that; if litigation follows a failed collaborative process, neither lawyer can represent their client in the litigation, and the professionals cannot be deposed or testify in that action.

Therefore, unlike any other alternative dispute resolution process, the lawyers “have skin” in working toward resolution versus conflict.

Collaborative law is a new way of doing business for everyone involved. But, there are a few steps that remain before the statutes created by the Collaborative Law Process Act become effective.

The Florida Bar must submit the collaborative rules of procedure and rules of professional conduct that lawyers in the state must follow in order to practice collaborative law, to the Florida Supreme Court for approval and implementation, making the collaborative process more accessible for Florida families.

The Tampa Bay Times article is here.

Florida Prenuptial Agreements

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Agreements on Wednesday, May 11, 2016.

Here are some statistics: the average wedding costs $20,000; June has the most weddings; $8 billion is spent on honeymoons. Marriage is expensive, which is why you may need a prenuptial agreement.

Many think prenuptial agreements are for the wealthy. But, you don’t always enter a marriage with riches, or guarantees that the bliss will last. It might not be a bad idea to have a plan in place.

Prenuptial agreements, or “prenups,” are contracts entered into before marriage that outline the division of assets in case of divorce or death.

They resolve things like alimony, ownership of businesses, title of properties, and even each spouse’s financial responsibilities during the marriage.

There are many other concerns that can be addressed in the contract:

– Caring for a parent

– Going back to school;

– Shopping habits

– Credit card debt;

– Tax liabilities;

– Alimony and child support from previous relationships; and

– Death or disability.

I’ve written about the need for prenups before. There are times when a prenup is a “must-have”:

1. When one person enters the marriage with significantly more money or assets than the other

2. When one or both future spouses have family money or inheritances,

3. When you want to keep parts of your finances separate: such as separate bank accounts, and a joint account for paying household bills.

One of the points of a prenup, is that if money in the bank becomes mixed, accounting for any increase or loss becomes very difficult to trace and unwind if you end up in divorce court.

Avoiding Future Arguments

Arguments about money are a known predictor of divorce. In order to avoid that, it is better to discuss with each other the terms of a prenuptial agreement when times are good. Difficult talks about money can uncover things that could be disastrous if put off until several years into the marriage.

The wedding and honeymoon will be expensive, and the courtship phase can conceal potential problems. Discussing financial issues can bring couples closer together when it matters most, and reduce the chance of a bitter financial argument later.

The wedding statistics article is here.

Child Support for College Kids

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Support on Monday, May 9, 2016.

An Italian court ordered a father to support his 28-year-old son. The Italians call it “Bamboccioni” – spoilt big babies. Must Florida parents pay child support to a 28-year old “child”?

According to Britain’s Telegraph, the Italian father went to court protesting supporting his adult son. He was challenging a term of his divorce settlement, that said he must pay for tertiary education.

The son completed his degree in literature, taking several years longer than expected to finish the course, and enrolled in a post-graduate course in experimental cinema in Bologna.

The father argued that his son should get a part-time job and start paying his own way. But the civil court ruled that the cinema course is in keeping with the son’s “personal aspirations” and must be paid for by his father.

Around 65% of Italians aged 18 to 34 still live with their parents, the highest percentage of young stay-at-homes anywhere in Europe.

The problem of adult children taking their parents to court for money is so acute that the Italian Association of Matrimonial Lawyers has called for an age limit to be set by the Supreme Court in Rome.

I’ve written about parents having to support their children into adulthood before. In Florida, the duty to provide support for a child is based upon the child’s incapacity and the child’s need of protection and care.

A parent’s legal duty to support his child usually ends at the age of majority – 18. But, a parent will still owe a duty of support to an adult child in extraordinary circumstances, such as when the child suffers severe physical or mental incapacitation.

Recently, Florida’s child support statute was changed to require all judgments awarding child support to include a provisions stating that child support will terminate on the child’s 18th birthday unless the court finds otherwise, or it is otherwise agreed to.

To extend support beyond age 18, there must be a child who is dependent due to mental or physical incapacity that began prior to age 18; or the child has reached 18, is still living at home, attending high school, and reasonably expects to graduate high school before age 19.

The difficult question is what kind of mental or physical incapacity justifies an extension of child support. If a child lives at home and is suffering from a mild physical disability or a moderate psychological disorder, would that be severe enough? Obviously, Bamboccionis are not going to justify the award.

The Telegraph article is here.

Divorce & Social Security

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Tuesday, May 3, 2016.

If you had to rank a few things people dislike, taxes, death, retirement and divorce would be high on the list. However, there are a few major things about divorce you should be aware of. Social Security benefits for instance.

As MarketWatch reports, there are a lot of factors which need to be taken into account when making divorce decisions; especially social security benefits.

Marcus Dillender, an economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and author of Social Security and Divorce Decisions, notes, people should be aware of the fact that Social Security provides spousal benefits to divorced people if their marriages lasted at least 10 years.

“For people planning on divorcing around the 10-year mark of a marriage, Dillender said, waiting a few months may result in higher Social Security payments if their spouses’ earnings records are higher than their own.”

I’ve written about retirement and divorce issues before. According to the Social Security Administration, even if you are divorced, you can receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record (even if your ex-spouse has remarried) if:

– Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer;

– You are not married;

– Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older;

– The benefit that you are entitled to receive as an ex-spouse, is greater than the benefit you would receive based on your own work record; and

– You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

Collecting ex-spousal benefits does not affect the ex’s benefit or that of their current spouse if remarried. Also, unlike spousal benefits, both ex-spouses can collect this benefit off the other’s record at the same time.

Are you Entitled to Your Ex-Spouse’s Benefits?

In certain situations, if you have been divorced at least two years, you are “independently entitled” to ex-spouse benefits. This means that even though your ex-spouse may not yet have applied for benefits, but can qualify for them, you are eligible and can receive ex-spouse benefits.

For people between the ages of 35 and 55 – a group which accounts for more than half of divorces – the likelihood of being divorced increases by almost 6% as marriages cross the 10-year mark.

Not all spouses are aware of how Social Security works with respect to marriage, divorce, death and remarriage. But they should be.

The article in MarketWatch can be read here.