Social Media and Kanye’s Divorce

Anyone wanting to know whether your social media posts could be used as evidence in your divorce should be following recent news. You would learn that Kanye West’s social media posts would likely become probative exhibits in Kanye’s divorce and child custody case.

Social Media Divorce

Meta Divorce

Kardashian, 41, filed for divorce from West, 44, in February 2021 after seven years of marriage. The two share four children together.

Some news outlets have been reporting that West has been going after Kardashian’s new boyfriend, Pete Davidson, in a flurry of Instagram posts, which Kanye later tries to delete.

Kanye has also shared text messages from Kardashian on his account and speaks about their divorce on the social media app.

When it comes to the divorce proceedings, social media posts are “fair game” and can be used in custody battles. Kanye West’s rants about his divorce could hurt his arguments on any custody and other parenting issues since he is clearly willing to put his own needs to express his feelings over their best interests

Florida Social Media and Divorce

I’ve written about the widespread use of social media in society, and how that impacts family law cases – especially when it comes to authenticating documents in a divorce court.

Some exhibits are so trustworthy they don’t even require a witness to authenticate. Evidence Rule 201 lists matters which a court must judicially notice, meaning a judge does not have discretion but to admit indisputable evidence.

The list is short and includes laws of the Congress and Florida Legislature; Florida statewide rules of court, rules of United States courts, and U.S. Supreme Court rules.

Rule 202 includes even more matters, but also provides judges leeway in deciding whether or not to take judicial notice. For example, the statute allows a court to take judicial notice of facts that are not subject to dispute because they are “generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the court”, and facts that are not subject to dispute because they are “capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot be questioned.”

But with the widespread use of fake social media accounts, you have to start to wonder whether the genuineness assumption of evidence in family court still stands. Anyone can set up a fake Kanye Instagram account.

The increasing use of electronic evidence at trial, and the ease with which it is impersonated and manipulated, pressures us to bolster foundational evidence more than ever.

Ye

Divorce proceedings typically entail a decision on custody, although Kardashian and West have agreed on joint custody of their children to date. However, if there were to be a custody battle, social media posts that don’t foster a healthy parent-child relationship could affect a judge’s decision.

Some social media posts can reflect a parent’s failure to facilitate and encourage a
close and continuing parent-child relationship with the other parent and that can impact the court’s ultimate determination of shared parental responsibility and timesharing.

Criticizing the other parent’s parenting, disparaging on social media a parent’s new significant other, especially when children are old enough to access and read social media, does not help facilitate a close and continuing parent-child relationship.

If one parent is disparaging the other parent on social media, that could be used as proof that Kanye, for example, is not willing to facilitate a close relationship between the children and Ms. Kardashian when he is with the children.

For his part, West has addressed criticism from many that he was attempting to besmirch Kardashian by divulging private messages and maintained that he has owned up to the mistake and is learning to better manage his impulses.

“Thank everybody for supporting me,” West recently wrote. “I know sharing screen shots was jarring and came off as harassing Kim. I take accountability. I’m still learning in real time. I don’t have all the answers. To be good leader is to be a good listener.”

In a separate post, West, also known as “Ye,” shared a screenshot of a comment that read: “That’s what a real man does; fight for your family Ye.”

“THANK YOU GUYS FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF MY FAMILY,” West wrote for his 12.6 million followers. “MY FAMILY MEANS MORE TO ME THAN ANY OTHER ACCOMPLISHMENT IN LIFE.”

Kim could try asking the court for a gag order restricting both parties from airing their grievances publicly during the divorce, but free speech is valued in this country.

The FOX news article is here.

 

Divorce is Crypto

Divorce is crypto when digital cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are involved. Be prepared for wild market price swings – as much as 40% – hard to trace assets on a decentralized network, the bankruptcy of the crypto currency exchange itself, and the ever-present risk of waste due to your spouse’s fraud.

Crypto divorce

Slum Dogecoin Millionaire

As the New York Times reports, Erica served her husband Francis with divorce papers and an automatic temporary restraining order that, among other things, prohibited him from transferring, concealing, or disposing of property without her written consent or court order.

However, after the divorce was filed, Francis initiated three bitcoin-related transactions. He wired money to Mt. Gox Company, a Japanese bitcoin exchange, to buy bitcoins. Then he arranged for his friends to buy bitcoins from Mt. Gox on his behalf without at the time disclosing the purchases.

Mt. Gox then ran into a few “regulatory difficulties” with the U.S. government. Federal agents froze bank accounts associated with Mt. Gox, seized millions of dollars, Mt. Gox suspended withdrawals, and went on to lose hundreds of thousands of bitcoins to hacking, embezzlement, or both.

As one expert testified at trial:

And my personal opinion at the time was only an idiot would leave his Bitcoins on Mt. Gox.

After entry of the divorce, Erica sought her half of the marital bitcoins. Only then did Francis disclose that the bitcoins were tied up in the Mt. Gox bankruptcy.

Florida Equitable Distribution

I’ve written about equitable distribution in Florida before. In divorce proceedings, in addition to all other remedies available to a court to do equity between the parties, a court must set apart to each spouse that spouse’s non-marital assets and liabilities. and in distributing marital assets, a family court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal one.

In addition, many courts, including here in Miami, have Administrative Orders limiting what spouses can do once a divorce is filed. Similar to California’s automatic restraining, neither spouse can conceal, damage, or dispose of marital assets, waste jointly owned funds, and the use funds after separation must be accounted for and justified.

Put plainly, both parties are accountable for all money in their possession after separation and during the divorce proceedings and any party who violates these rules will be required to render an accounting and may be later sanctioned for wasting a marital asset.

Under Florida law, misconduct in the use of funds causing the loss of funds can cause a court to assign the value of the loss into the property division scheme. There has to be evidence of intentional dissipation or destruction of the asset which resulted from intentional misconduct.

Brother, Can You Spare a Bitcoin

A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. Many cryptocurrencies are decentralized networks based on blockchain technology. They are historically not issued by a central government, rendering them theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation.

In divorce cases, similar to the days of hiding cash in a mattress, not reporting cryptos, or hiding them in online wallets, can make identifying and valuing cryptos difficult. But digital assets are not untraceable. Transactions are recorded on public ledgers called blockchains, enabling some analysts to follow the money.

There are forensic investigators who can track the movement of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin from online exchanges to digital wallets. In multiple cases they have been able to trace millions in cryptocurrency.

Back in California, in addition to hiding his bitcoin purchases and using friends as proxies, Francis’s failure to inform Erica about the Mt. Gox bankruptcy breached his fiduciary duty. Had he disclosed these facts Erica could have objected or protected her interest in the bitcoins.

The California Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court ruling that Francis transfer $22,500 in cash and 249.445 additional bitcoins to Erica, along with the corresponding bitcoin gold and bitcoin cash. Francis was also ordered to pay Erica’s attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in bringing her motion.

The New York Times article is here.

 

Equal Timesharing Bill Blowing through Tallahassee

The winds of change are blowing as the latest equal timesharing bill, CS/HB 1395, moves through Tallahassee. Many parents, lawyers, psychologists and other experts wonder whether Florida will start requiring equal timesharing in all child custody cases.

Equal Timesharing

Typhoon Timesharing

It seems as if each new Florida legislative season has turned into a new hurricane season, dropping invasive lobbyists into Tallahassee to change our native, home-grown child custody and alimony laws.

Not surprisingly, once again the equal timesharing bill is hidden inside an alimony reform bill. Regarding alimony, Florida currently recognizes five main types of alimony: temporary, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, and permanent.

In determining the type, amount, duration, and later modification or termination of an alimony award, the court has broad discretion but may only award alimony after initially determining that one spouse needs alimony and the other spouse is able to pay alimony.

For alimony purposes, this year’s House Bill increases presumptions relating to the length of a marriage, changes the types of alimony available, prohibits an award of alimony if the payor has met certain requirements for retirement before filing for divorce and prohibits an award of permanent alimony.

But few people – other than the experts and lawyers studying the bill – know that the alimony reform bill also creates a presumption that equal timesharing is in the best interest of a minor child. If passed, House Bill 1395, would codify into law a presumption of 50/50 timesharing between divorced parents. While this sounds fair, it poses a real risk to children.

Florida Timesharing

I’ve written on the legislative efforts to change to an equal timesharing state before. Historically, Florida courts have consistently ruled that a parent’s desire and right to the companionship, care, custody, and management of his or her children is an important interest that warrants deference and, absent a powerful countervailing interest, protection.

Florida law provides broad guidelines to assist courts in determining parenting and time-sharing of children based on the best interests of the child standard. It has been the public policy of Florida that each child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after separation or divorce, and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.

To meet that state policy, there has not been a presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or for or against any specific timesharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child, and no presumption in favor of a specific time-sharing schedule when the parties are unable to agree.

Just as each divorce is unique, and is treated in a unique way, each timesharing schedule for a family is treated in a unique way for that family. By taking each case individually, you have a better chance of creating a parenting plan that best fits the children involved.

Winds of Change?

But now Florida is facing a Category 5 change. House Bill 1395 amends Florida law to create a presumption that equal time-sharing (commonly referred to as “50/50 time-sharing”) is in the best interests of a minor child common to both parties unless otherwise agreed to by the parties. This would be for every case, instead of the case-by-case basis looking into the details of what is best for kids.

This year’s legislative session started on January 11, 2022 and is scheduled to wrap up on March 11, 2022. The bill provides an effective date of July 1, 2022.

The Tallahassee Democrat article is here.

Photographs as Predictors of Divorce

With the divorce month of January ending, many are wondering if there are signs a divorce is imminent. Well, new research may show that old photographs could be predictors of divorce and even indicate that a person is five times more likely to divorce than others.

Divorce Photograph

Don’t Forget to Smile!

A 2009 study published in the Motivation and Emotion journal found that the smile intensity in old photos can provide as a predictor of one’s likelihood of divorce later in life.

For one test, the researchers recruited more than 300 psychology alumni and around 350 general alumni, rating smile intensity in the participants’ college yearbook photos from 1 to 10. Researchers found that none of the people who fell within the top 10 percent of smile strength had gotten a divorce. But in the bottom 10 percent, one in four had experienced a divorce.

“Divorce can not only be predicted by photographs taken in early adulthood, but in childhood as well,” the researchers wrote in their study.

For a second test, the researchers recruited more than 50 individuals over the age of 55 and asked them to provide up to eight photos of themselves between the ages of 5 and 22. According to the study, only 11 percent of those who were analyzed to be big smilers had been divorced, compared to 31 percent of those who frowned in their old photographs.

Florida No Fault Divorce

The official term for divorce in Florida is “dissolution of marriage”, and you don’t need fault as a ground for divorce. Florida abolished fault as a ground for divorce. So, whether your husband or wife are frowning in that old photograph you have in your wallet, you don’t need to allege that as grounds for divorce.

I’ve written about divorce issues before. The no-fault concept in Florida means you no longer have to prove a reason for the divorce, like your spouse’s terrible smile. Instead, you just need to state under oath that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Before the no-fault divorce era, people who wanted to get divorce either had to reach agreement in advance with the other spouse that the marriage was over, or throw mud at each other and prove wrongdoing like adultery or ruining a perfectly good photograph.

No-fault laws were the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court. No fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.

Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. The only ground you need to file for divorce in Florida is to prove your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Additionally, the mental incapacity of one of the parties, where the party was adjudged incapacitated for the prior three year, is another avenue.

Say Cheese!

Overall, people who frown in old photos are five times more likely to get a divorce than people who smile, according to the study. Matthew Hertenstein, PhD, the lead author of the study and a psychologist at DePauw University, told LiveScience that the results of this study fit into a larger pattern of research that has found that many personality characteristics can be determined by small displays of behavior.

Smiling in photos, for example, has been correlated with a number of personality traits, including a generally happier disposition, per LiveScience.

As the study notes, people with higher levels of positive emotionality are more likely to “take advantage of opportunities, are more open to social relationships, are more capable of ‘undoing’ sporadic negative emotions, and appraise ambiguous events more positively.”

The researchers noted that their study only shows correlation not causation, so they can’t definitively say why people who frown in old photos are more likely to get divorced. But according to the study, there could be a number of reasons—all likely related to a less positive emotional disposition. “People high in positive emotionality may be more likely to seek out environments more conducive to happy marriages and may even seek out partners who are higher in positive emotionality themselves,” the researchers noted in their study.

Don’t look at your partner’s old photos and think you can decide the entire future of your marriage, however. The study researchers and other experts say smiling in childhood photographs is not always a surefire sign that a person will be a good partner.

“People who are narcissistic and a little bit hypomanic can be generally very happy. They’re life-of-the-party people. But they’re more focused on themselves and not so good at hearing others. In one-on-one relationships, they can be difficult partners. It’s all about them and their way.”

The Best Life article is here.

How the Covid Pandemic Impacting Divorce and Custody

Anyone interested in how the Covid pandemic is impacting relationships, divorce, and custody cases, read Holly Ellyatt’s feature article “Arguing with your partner over Covid? You’re not alone, with the pandemic straining many relationships” in CNBC.

Covid Custody

I am quoted in the story, which examines how disagreements over Covid restrictions, child vaccination and even the very existence of the virus have seen some relationships pushed to breaking point, according to family law experts and psychologists:

Ron Kauffman, a Board-certified marital and family attorney based in Miami, told CNBC he has also seen “a sharp increase in disputes between parents arguing during the pandemic.”

The disputes often fall into three categories, Kauffman said: “Appropriate quarantine, following mask mandates, and vaccinations.” And they manifest in arguments about timesharing or visitation; i.e. the amount of time each parent spends with their child or children, he added. “When parents are separating or already separated, Covid has become a nuclear bomb to frustrate someone’s timesharing.”

Child Custody and Vaccines

Generally, shared parental responsibility is a relationship ordered by a court in which both parents retain their full parental rights and responsibilities.

Under shared parental responsibility, parents are required to confer with each other and jointly make major decisions affecting the welfare of their child. In Florida, shared parental responsibility is the preferred relationship between parents when a marriage or a relationship ends. In fact, courts are instructed to order parents to share parental responsibility of a child unless it would be detrimental to the child.

Issues relating to a child’s physical health and medical treatment, including the decision to vaccinate, are major decisions affecting the welfare of a child. When parents cannot agree, the dispute is resolved in court.

At the trial, the test applied is the best interests of the child. Determining the best interests of a child is no longer entirely subjective. Instead, the decision is based on an evaluation of certain factors affecting the welfare and interests of the child and the circumstances of the child’s family.

In Florida, a court can carve out an exception to shared parental responsibility, giving one parent “ultimate authority” to make decisions, such as the responsibility for deciding on vaccinations.

Ellyatt also discusses the well-known fact that the divorce rate has increased during the pandemic, how children can become a particular source of conflict and anguish in a break-up and the argument for vaccinating children being more complex than for adults, and the issue of Covid vaccines for children becoming another area of conflict for some parents.

The CNBC article is here.

Messy Divorce in Mesopotamia

A messy divorce is underway in Mesopotamia. Florida is a no-fault divorce state. But, in states and countries where fault must be proven to obtain a divorce, Iraq is making headlines after a newlywed husband filed for divorce because of the song his wife played at their wedding.

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

Some are calling it the most urgent divorce in the history of Ur. News reports show that a husband is seeking to divorce his wife because at their wedding party the bride played one of the most provocative and popular songs to flow out of the Euphrates river valley.

According to the Gulf News, the Wife chose the song “Mesaytara.” The title translates to ‘I am dominant’ or ‘I will control you.’  The lyrics are even more provocative and include:

“I am dominant; you will be ruled under my strict instructions; I will drive you crazy if you looked at other girls on the street; Yes, I’m dominant; You’re my piece of sugar; As long as you’re with me, you’ll walk under my command.”

The song is performed by Lamis Kan a popular singer from Egypt. The song appears to be the main reason behind the couple’s divorce at the wedding.

The official ‘Mesaytara’ music video is available here.

The bride was reportedly dancing to the rhythm of the song, which the groom and his family considered a provocation. Therefore, the groom entered into an argument with the bride and her family, following which he ended up divorcing her. The incident took place in Baghdad, but is rattling all of ancient Babylon.

Florida No Fault Divorce

I have written about the causes of divorce before. The official term for divorce in Florida is “dissolution of marriage”, and you don’t need fault as a ground for divorce. Florida abolished fault as a ground for divorce.

So, if your spouse has committed fraud, adultery, or worse, wants the band to play the “Baby Shark Dance” at the wedding party, you don’t need to allege that as grounds for divorce.

The no-fault concept in Florida means you no longer have to prove a reason for the divorce, like your spouse’s political activism. Instead, you just need to state under oath that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Before the no-fault divorce era, people who wanted to get divorce either had to reach agreement in advance with the other spouse that the marriage was over or throw mud at each other and prove wrongdoing like collaboration or weakening the revolutionary spirit.

No-fault laws were the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court. No fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.

Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. The only ground you need to file for divorce in Florida is to prove your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Additionally, the mental incapacity of one of the parties, where the party was adjudged incapacitated for the prior three year, is another avenue.

You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’

Remarkably, this latest divorce out of Iraq is not even the first time that Lamis Kan’s “Mesaytara” led to the divorce of newlyweds in the Middle East. Last year, a Jordanian man broke up with his finance during their wedding celebrations after she played the song.

According to a video circulated on social media last year, the young man was heard screaming at his wife, who posted a picture of him kissing her hand, along with the song.

The song exposed the husband to an embarrassing situation in front of his friends and family, who stated that he was a “happy rabbit” instead of an “unhappy lion”.

In yet another incident, Lebanon witnessed a similar incident years ago due to the song “I love you Donkey”. According to local media reports, A groom divorced his wife at the wedding after she danced to the song.

The groom said that the bride told him to prepare a surprise for him in the next song in a bid to show that she “loves a donkey”. The groom said that he felt great anger after hearing the song, which prompted him to divorce his bride immediately without hesitation.

The Gulf News article is here.

Upcoming Speaking Engagement on Interstate and International Jurisdiction

Honored to be asked to speak on interstate and international jurisdiction at the 2022 Marital & Family Law Review Course. The program is live this year at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center from January 21, 2022 to January 22, 2022.

Limited rooms are still available and an additional block of rooms was just made available at the nearby Courtyard Orlando Lake Buena Vista. The prestigious Certification Review course is one of largest and most popular CLE presentations, and is a partnership between the Florida Bar Family Law Section and the AAML Florida Chapter.

Interstate Child Custody

Family law today frequently involves interstate child custody, interstate family support, and The Hague Convention on international child abductions.

Parents are increasingly moving from state to state and country to country for various reasons. Whether children are moved by parents wrongfully or not, that moving makes interstate and international child custody complicated. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, and The Hague Convention on Child Abduction, can work together in those cases.

Florida and almost all U.S. states passed the UCCJEA into law. The most fundamental aspect of the UCCJEA is the approach to the jurisdiction needed to start a case. In part, the UCCJEA requires a court have some jurisdiction vis-a-vis the child.

That jurisdiction is based on where the child is, and the significant connections the child has with the forum state, let’s say Florida. The ultimate determining factor in a Florida case then, is what is the “home state” of the child.

International Child Abductions

I have written about the Hague Convention before. All family lawyers have to become more familiar with the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, also known as The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. This international treaty exists to protect children from international abductions by requiring the prompt return to their habitual residence.

The issue of international child abductions is also a fast-moving area of law. The U.S. Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in a case less than two years after issuing its last Hague Convention opinion.

The Hague Convention applies only in jurisdictions that have signed the convention, and its reach is limited to children ages 16 and under. Essentially, The Hague Convention helps families more quickly revert back to the “status quo” child custody arrangement before an unlawful child abduction.

Interstate Family Support

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act is one of the uniform acts drafted by the Uniform Law Commission. First developed in 1992, the UIFSA resolves interstate jurisdictional disputes about which states can properly establish and modify child support and spousal support orders. The UIFSA also controls the issue of enforcement of family support obligations within the United States.

In 1996, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, which required all U.S. states adopt UIFSA, or face loss of federal funding for child support enforcement. Every U.S. state has adopted some version of UIFSA to resolve interstate disputes about support.

Certification Review Course

It is a privilege to be asked to speak on interstate jurisdiction and international child abductions at the annual Marital & Family Law Review Course again. The annual seminar is the largest and most prestigious advanced family law course in Florida. Last year’s audience included over 1,800 attorneys and judges from around the state.

The program is live this year, will not be broadcasted, and space is limited.

Register for the remaining spaces here.

Child Support and the 8,000 Year Travel Ban

Family laws are ancient and modern. Over the years, wise judges have learned to maintain the status quo by preventing parents from leaving the country during a case. But one Australian father, who allegedly owes millions in child support, just received an 8,000-year travel ban. This travel ban prevents him from leaving the holy land until the year 9999 in his ongoing international divorce.

Israel Travel Ban 2

Thou Shall Not Leave the Jurisdiction

Noam Huppert, a 44-year-old citizen of Australia was married to an Israeli woman and they have two young children together. The family court in Israel issued a “stay-of-exit” order against Noam, sometimes referred to in Israel as a “Tsav.” He apparently cannot lift the travel ban order – and leave the country – until he pays his outstanding child support payments.

“The total in the year 2013 was roughly 7.5 million shekels (roughly $3.34 million)”

Israel’s laws regarding child support may be ancient, but why 8,000 years? It has been reported that placing the travel ban’s expiration date of 9999  in the court order was probably because it was the highest possible date that fit in the field and he owed a lot of child support.

The US State Department regularly includes a warning about travel. The civil and religious courts in Israel actively exercise their authority to bar certain individuals, including non-residents, from leaving the country until they pay their debts or other legal claims against them are resolved.

The US State Department also warns travelers that the US Embassy is unable to cancel the debt of a US citizen or guarantee their departure from Israel when they face a travel ban from leaving the country until debts are resolved.

Mr. Huppert, who works as an analytical chemist for a pharmaceutical company, told the Australian news service NewsAU that Israeli courts had ruled he owed 5,000 shekels per month for each child until they turned 18.

Florida International Divorce

I’ve written about international divorce issues before. International divorce frequently involves understanding various issues in foreign laws, and especially, jurisdiction. Jurisdiction involves questions about who sues whom, where do you sue, how do you sue for international divorce, and what country’s laws apply.

Which country’s laws apply can be tricky, and even well represented clients can end up owing big. Recently a British court ordered the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, to pay his ex-wife Princess Haya bint al-Hussein more than $728 million in one of the largest divorce settlements ever handed down by a British court.

Rules against wrongfully abducting or retaining children in a foreign country, or leaving the jurisdiction, is a problem in every divorce – especially in international cases. One of the ways courts in Florida prevent child abductions and secure the payment of child support is travel bans.

So, in any proceeding in which there is a parenting plan involved, if there is a risk that a parent may remove a child from the state or country, or simply conceal the whereabouts of a child, courts have a lot of options at their disposal.

The powers of Florida courts to prevent the wrongful removal of a child can be as simple as ordering parents not to remove the child without the notarized written permission of both parents and a court order, limiting travel to Hague Convention countries.

In addition, Florida courts can require parents to surrender the child’s passport, place the child’s name in the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program of the United States Department of State and/or post a bond or other security as a financial deterrent to abduction.

But parents can also lose their travel privileges in the United States for owing unpaid child support. For instance, the U.S. Department of State issues passports to U.S. citizens for foreign travel. If a parent owes more than $2,500 in past-due support, the Department of State automatically denies any application for a U.S. passport until the past-due child support is paid. This includes requests to renew, replace or add pages to an existing passport.

Woe to the shepherd who abandons the flock

In Israel, the family court in a divorce case can issue a ban on the children or a parent leaving the country when one of the parents requests it. The reason a ban can be issued by a court in Israel is because of the fear that one of the parents will take the children abroad and never return. This is especially true in a country such as Israel, with many immigrants.

Israeli courts can also issue the travel ban when a husband refuses to give his wife the “Get”, or as in the case of the Australian father, when a father refuses to pay, or is late on, the monthly children’s support.
It is possible to leave by legal means if a travel ban is in place. Similar to other jurisdictions, a father would have to provide guaranties and guarantors in order to leave the country.

Israel’s government allows you to check if you have a travel ban on their website to avoid a court ordered travel ban from interfering with your travel.

The Australia News Corp article is here.

Christmas and Holiday Timesharing

Christmas and the holiday season mean lots of timesharing with the family. The divorce and family law firm of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. will be closed on December 24th for the Christmas holiday. We will re-open at 9AM on Monday, December 27th. We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

Christmas Timesharing

Before the arrival of Christmas is the time to resolve child custody and timesharing problems so you can enjoy your family on the holidays with minimum stress. Below are suggestions to make your holiday timesharing issues a little easier:

• Alternate. Some families alternate the holiday every other year. If you get the kids this year, next year will be the other parent’s turn. Having a regular plan to fall back on can eliminate the potential for what is fair.

• Be flexible. An easy holiday schedule for everyone may require some changes from the normal visitation schedule.

• Be respectful. You may not want to be friends anymore, but you need to figure out how to communicate with your ex without all the emotional baggage.

• Don’t mix issues. Do not bring up unrelated issues which could make a problem free Christmas dinner impossible. Set aside your differences until after the holiday season.

• Pick your battles. Christmas may even be more important to you than Easter is to your ex-spouse. Don’t fight just for the sake of fighting.

• Protect the children. Your children’s memories of Christmas morning should be about family, food and fun. They should not be forced to witness you and another parent arguing.

• Plan. Start talking about the holiday visitation schedule sooner rather than later, the longer you wait the harder it can be.

Going through a divorce during the holidays is always stressful. But the weather has cooled and the kids are on vacation. Try to make the holidays the best time of year.

Cheap Online Prenups

A segment aired on the ABC television show Shark Tank about a company selling cheap online prenups. There is no question a contract can be done cheaply online – especially when no lawyers are involved.  But lawyers  hired to create, or challenge, or defend real world prenuptial agreements can tell you if the cheap, online prenups are worth it.

Cheap Prenup

“He who represents himself, has a fool for a client”

No one likes to read the fine print on websites they visit. But, maybe you’re the kind of person who is comfortable getting a medical diagnosis from WebMD! Even if you are, you may want to avoid unpleasant surprises and look through the website’s “Terms of Use” (the agreement every user must agree to and abide by in order to use a website or service).

Websites may advertise that their online legal services and prenuptial agreements are prepared by “family lawyers.” However, if you look at the website’s Terms of Use, they may likely reveal that the prenups they are selling you – which will govern years of alimony payments, the division of all your property, tax consequences, and your life after marriage – were created without any “legal advice.” Or my personal favorite: no law was considered about your situation when drafting your prenuptial agreement.

Prenuptial agreements are important documents. So, if you don’t care that your cheap, online prenup did not take into consideration any law, let alone any changes in the law, or that any of the information is current, a cheap online prenup may fit nicely next to your online medical diagnosis.

Florida Prenuptial Agreements

I’ve written about prenuptial agreements before. Prenuptial agreements are not just for tech billionaires, celebrity actors and rock stars. Prenups are about much more than just resolving who gets that expensive Montana ranch acquired during a marriage.

Any couple who brings any personal or business assets (or debts) into their marriage can benefit from a prenuptial agreement. They are important to have in place before a couple starts investing in businesses, buying properties, and accumulating mountains of debt.

But just having a prenup is not sufficient. That’s because prenups are frequently challenged in court. Florida has both case law and a statute to help lawyers, judges and the parties determine if a prenuptial agreement is enforceable.

Florida adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. The UPAA requires that all premarital agreements be in writing and signed by both parties. It is enforceable without consideration other than the marriage itself.

Couples wanting to sign one can enter into a premarital agreement with respect to their rights and obligations in any of their property, whenever and wherever acquired or located; their right to buy, sell, use, transfer, or otherwise manage and control their property and the disposition of their property if they separate, divorce, die, or any other event.

Because prenuptial agreements may be challenged in court, Florida courts must consider things such as fraud, duress, coercion, in addition to the unfairness of the agreement, and whether there was any financial disclosure.

Good, Cheap, or Fast? Choose Two

Prenuptial agreements are very technical and one size does not fit all. They are particularly important to protect your future income, children from another marriage, potential inheritances, businesses and your business partners, other assets, and your sources of income.

The last thing that you want to do is wonder if you are protected by a cheap, online prenup; one which may not be enforceable on its face. As mentioned above, Florida adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. The UPAA is Florida’s recognition that there is not always uniformity in how prenups are enforced, challenged and defended.

There are many nuances in the law of prenups which can differ from state to state. For instance, some provisions in a prenup which are available in one state – such as the ability to waive temporary alimony – may not be available in another state. There may also be differences between states about the sufficiency of the financial disclosures required.

There are also questions about privilege and confidentiality. In Florida, communications with your attorney are generally privileged. This means that communications between a client and their lawyer can be confidential. This can also mean that, absent some exception or waiver, neither an attorney or a client can be compelled to divulge confidential communications made during the rendition of legal services.

What do online, cheap prenup websites offer? As the websites plainly tell you, they are not your law firm. So, communications between you and the website are probably not privileged communications under the attorney-client privilege or work product doctrine.

This could result in your communications not being protected. And if your prenup gets challenged in court, you may be in the uncomfortable position of watching someone you thought was your lawyer testify against you.

One cheap, online prenup website said it best:

“Any Legal Information provided is not a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney licensed to practice in an appropriate jurisdiction.”

The JDSupra article is here.