Month: December 2016

Divorce and Chris Rock

Chris Rock surprised audiences at the New York Comedy Festival last week, taking the stage at the Apollo and telling the audience they’ll be seeing more of him on TV due to his divorce.

Rock joked:

“When you see me on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ . . . I’m not on crack, that’s just alimony!”

Rock finalized his divorce from his wife of nearly 20 years, Malaak Compton-Rock, this summer.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, the 50-year-old comedian opened up about how he’s faring since the 19-year marriage ended.

“I’m doing OK,” Rock told the paper. “You know, some days are better than others, some days you’re sad outta your f*cking mind. But my daughters are good and I’m only an hour away. Two houses close by. It’s good.”

Rock also addressed whether or not joking about the difficulties of marriage in his stand-up and films harmed the relationship in any way.

“Hey, I’m getting divorced now.” “Marriage is so tough, Nelson Mandela got divorced – he got out of jail after 27 years of torture, spent six months with his wife and said, I can’t take this sh*t no more.”

I’ve written about how to properly behave during the divorce process, and even how good relations with your Ex could save your life. Whether you’re in court or outside of court, how you treat yourself and spouse matters.

Take for instance, Erica Arsenault. Erica volunteered to donate a kidney to her former mother-in-law after her divorce. Erica made the incredible offer nearly 10 years after she divorced the woman’s son. They say the whole ordeal has brought a family separated by divorce closer than ever.

Chris Rock’s divorce hasn’t been the most peaceful one up to this point. According to divorce docs obtained by People, Rock claimed that his estranged wife had “repeatedly refused to permit [him] normal and usual access to the children, and has acted in a manner detrimental to the children’s best interests.

“Married guys know more about women than single guys. Single guys have girlfriends. Girlfriends are always auditioning, always on their best behavior. Wives are like Supreme Court justices. They do whatever the f— they want”

The Page Six article is here.

Gifted Children Can Cost You in Child Support

Every parent wants their children tested for gifted programming. But parents going through divorce may find that a gifted child could cause them to pay additional child support to develop their child’s talent.

A couple just found out that gifted children can cost more in a divorce. A New Jersey family court recently judge ruled that basic child support payments, which usually cover the costs of a child’s extra-curricular activities, may not be enough to help advance a child’s potential.

In the New Jersey case, the mother of the teen – referred to as Julie in the judge’s decision – asked her ex-husband to pay half of their daughter’s costs of pursuing an acting career, including clothing, travel, make-up, dues and coaching. Her former husband objected, insisting those expenses are covered by the $113 he pays in weekly child support.

I’ve written about child support in Florida before. In Florida, a court may adjust child support based upon deviation factors, which can include things like:

(1)  Extraordinary educational expenses, and

(2)  Meeting special needs, such as costs that may be associated with the disability of a child, that have traditionally been met within the family budget even though fulfilling those needs will cause the support to exceed the presumptive amount established by the guidelines.

The New Jersey Judge said:

While New Jersey’s child support guidelines say those costs generally are covered in basic child support, the guidelines also say additional financial support can be ordered to help pay for costs related to developing the special needs of a gifted child.

Courts generally recognize children’s special gifts in the areas of academics, athletics, technology and the arts. Determining giftedness can be slightly more difficult in the arts because an actor’s performance can be subjective – “mesmerizing” to some and “stale as a bucket of overpriced popcorn” to others.

He said it isn’t enough to have an “expert” testify to the giftedness of a child because the child may have extreme talent but may not have the drive, discipline or commitment to achieve that greatness.

“In this case, Julie demonstrates such an unusually heightened desire and ability, through her attitude, her confidence, and her willingness to work hard and commit,” Jones wrote. “In this respect, she is in fact a gifted child.”

The judge ordered Julie’s father, who earns about $33,000 annually, to pay an additional $5 a week toward her theater activities. Julie lives with her mother, who earns about $23,000 a year and who will also have to set aside $5 a week to pay for those additional activities, Jones said.

The New Jersey article is available here.

Interstate Custody Hague and UCCJEA

Parents move from state to state. Sometimes, children are moved by parents wrongfully, creating interstate custody problems. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and the Hague Convention on Child Abduction can work together in those cases as a recent New York case shows.

In New York, an appellate court recently reconciled the UCCJEA and Hague in the interstate custody case of Krymko v. Krymko. A husband and wife and child moved from Canada to New York.

After about five months in New York, the mother took the child back to Canada without the father’s consent and she promptly filed for custody there.

The father filed his own custody action in New York, applied for the return of the child under the Hague Convention, and instituted a Hague Convention case in Canada.

The Canadian court ruled that the child had been “habitually resident” in New York on the day that she was taken back to Canada, and ordered that the mother return the child to New York.

The mother brought the child back to New York but asked New York to dismiss the New York case because New York was not the “home state” of the child under the UCCJEA.

I have written on custody issues before, and I will be speaking at the Marital & Family Law Review Course in January on the UCCJEA and the Hague. The Review Course is the premier advanced, continuing education opportunity for marital and family law attorneys in Florida.

The “home state” is generally defined under the UCCJEA as “the state in which a child lived with a parent . . . for at least six consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child custody proceeding.

The mother claimed that the child had been in New York for only five months before being taken back to Canada.

The New York court held that, even if the time in New York was less than the required six months, the subsequent stay in Canada, was found by a Canadian court to be wrongful.

Accordingly, the stay in Canada would be deemed to be a “period of temporary absence” within the meaning of the UCCJEA, which should be added to the prior period of five months so as to constitute the required six-month period.

Additionally, the New York court noted that even if the six-month rule had not been satisfied, New York had initial custody jurisdiction because Canada declined the case.

The case illustrates the interplay between the UCCJEA and the Hague Convention when dealing with interstate custody issues.

Divorce and Living Longer

The oldest person in the world, Emma Morano of Italy, credits her longevity to a diet of raw eggs and divorce from her husband. Is there a positive side to divorce?

According to New York’s WPIX 11 T.V., Morano celebrated her 117th birthday on Tuesday and is now the only person alive to have lived through three centuries.

She was born Nov. 29, 1899, in the Piedmont region of Italy, back when King Umberto I reigned. Morano became the world’s oldest living person in May after American Susannah Mushatt Jones died at the age of 116.

When she was a teenager, a doctor suggested that Morano eat raw eggs to combat her anemia. She followed a stringent diet of two raw eggs, one cooked egg, a little minced meat and pasta for the past 90 years. With age, her diet has been cut down to just two eggs a day and some cookies.

The other secret to Morano’s long life: separating from her husband in 1938, decades before divorce was even legal in Italy, she says. Morano’s one true love was killed as a boy during World War I, and she did not intend to marry anyone else, she told Italian media outlet La Stampa in comments confirmed by her niece Antonietta Sala.

But she eventually married after her future husband forced her to do so. “He said, ‘If you’re lucky, you marry me, or I’ll kill you,'” Morano told La Stampa. A year after her 6-month-old child died, she left her husband. “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone,” she told the New York Times.

I’ve written about the positive aspects of divorce in the past. The rise of divorce internationally, for example, has been an indicator of and force behind social changes that have improved prospects for women, reduced gender inequality, and fueled development.

All of which suggests that the more people are able to get out of bad marriages, the better off their societies are likely to be.

So, the more common divorce becomes in a society, the less of a stigma it’s likely to be. Conversely, divorce causes greater unhappiness in societies where it’s rare.

The period before a divorce people report low life satisfaction, but the period after it is comparatively satisfactory, especially for women as Emma proves.

The WPIX 11 story is here.

Alimony Reform . . . Chicago Style

When it comes to divorce, the adage: “for richer or for poorer” may determine how much alimony gets paid. Illinois recently revamped its family laws, including reforming alimony, and switched to the no-fault system.

In a Chicago divorce, the multimillionaire founder of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, are battling over whether the wife needs more than $400,000 a month for her living expenses.

As the Chicago Tribune reports, while the superrich duke it out over a standard of living most people will never experience, a shift in Illinois divorce law aims to reduce conflicts in dissolving marriages and establish better equity for former spouses with more modest incomes.

The policy changes are driven by attempts to correct past injustices that often left ex-wives with little money and no viable way to support themselves after years of raising children, divorce attorneys said. They mark the first major revamp of Illinois divorce law in almost 40 years.

The first comprehensive change in alimony law in Chicago took effect this year and reflect other cultural shifts. The biggest change is that the old grounds for divorce – like adultery, bigamy and cruelty – have largely been eliminated, moving Illinois to a no-fault divorce system.

The new law also eliminated the words “custody” and “visitation,” replacing them with “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” That means parents must propose and accept an agreement on who will have the kids when, and how the parents will jointly make decisions about their children’s education, religion, health and extracurricular activities.

In addition, for the first time, Illinois’ divorce laws have set a formula for determining alimony. Additionally, the duration of maintenance, which was left to the judge’s discretion before; now depends on the length of the marriage.

Wealthy spouses fighting over riches attract media attention, but it’s far more common for poor couples to wrestle with the increased expense of maintaining two households instead of one.

In Florida, I’ve written about past legislative efforts to modify our custody and alimony laws. Last year, Governor Scott vetoes a bill that would have modified custody and alimony.

The bill was emotionally divisive, but had broad support in the Legislature, passing the House by a comfortable 74-38 margin and the Senate by a 24-14 vote in March 2016.

The Chicago Tribune article is here.