Tag: best divorce

The Simpsons and Benefits of Divorce

The Guardian reports on The Simpsons animated sitcom, its longevity, and its influence on western culture. But most importantly, what the Guardian finds really astonishing about The Simpsons is that Marge has not filed to divorce Homer yet.

Trouble in Springfield

If The Simpsons was rooted in any form of real life, and didn’t reset itself sitcom-style after every episode, it would be a harrowing drama about a woman trapped in an impossibly unhappy marriage.

In The Simpsons Movie there is a quiet moment where Marge sits on the bed, silently absorbing yet another energy-draining screed from her feckless husband, before admitting that her marriage has “aged me horribly”. What else would motivate her to divorce?

For starters, in 1992 Homer was actively considering an affair. In 1994 he deliberately revealed all of his wife’s innermost secrets to the whole town. Then in 1999 he got blackout drunk in Las Vegas and married a cocktail waitress. Worse, in 2004 he drove a car drunk, crashed it, and framed his wife.

Conversely, before marriage Marge was a brilliant, resourceful, academic young woman. She joined the police. She wrote novels. She briefly became mayor of Springfield. Unshackled from her awful marriage, there would be no stopping Marge.

Florida Divorce Benefits

I’ve written before that divorce comes at a high price. You walk away from your marriage with significantly fewer assets and retirement savings by virtue of the property division.

You can lose more if you have to pay support or alimony. Then there’s the emotional toll. But there may be a silver lining, some divorce benefits you were not aware of.

The Guardian suspects Marge may be better off after divorce, and there may be some truth to that theory. Divorce may have a few silver linings, some unknown or hidden benefits to take some of the sting away from an otherwise painful process.

The end of a marriage can mean the end of fights over money. That is a divorce benefit. There is no more struggle over which categories get priority in the budget; no more evenings spent fighting or pleading with a spouse to rein in spending.

Another benefit is that a divorce is one of the few times you can pull money out of your retirement account early and not pay an early withdrawal penalty. When the court enters a QDRO (a Qualified Domestic Relations Order) as part of a divorce, it allows for an early withdrawal from the account.

This money may be exempt from the typical penalty assessed, although income tax still needs to be paid if the money is not rolled into an IRA. Cashing out part of your retirement account can be very risky, but it gives you some benefit to your money you may not otherwise have.

Divorce could mean better investment returns. After a divorce, you have the opportunity to take over your own retirement planning and investments. Being the captain of your own financial ship could be a financial benefit in the long run. I have also written about there being some tax issues in divorce which may benefit you.

Sometimes you can structure your marital settlement agreement so that the lower-earning parent becomes the custodial parent, giving your student the best chance of qualifying for the most financial aid.

D’oh!

How would the Simpson children fair after divorce? Bart may be forced into taking on more responsibilities, which could curb his delinquent behavior. Lisa would see that there is a path in life that doesn’t involve being crushed by the weight of patriarchal expectations.

Lost in the Guardian article (as reported in the Los Angeles Times) is the fact that the Simpsons have been divorced before – for 12 whole seasons — according to various summaries of “Simpsons” episodes. In Season 8, Homer secretly divorced Marge because he believed she deserved better but then quickly remarries her at the end of the episode in a proper ceremony in front of all her friends.

Twelve seasons later, at the time of their second wedding, the Rev. Lovejoy’s license to officiate weddings had expired. So, unbeknown to them, the couple had apparently been divorced that whole time. It was an error they rectified, of course, by the end of the episode.

The Guardian article is here.

 

Politics and Reasons to Divorce

Given the current divisiveness in our country, it should not surprise us that politics can be one of many reasons to divorce in other parts of the world. This is especially true for a Palestinian peace activist who claims he was offered an unconventional proposition by his Hamas captors: divorce your wife and you are free to leave prison.

divorce reasons

A Saga in Gaza

According to reports, Gaza resident Aman had signed a marriage contract with the daughter of an exiled Hamas official right before the pandemic started. Hamas, is an acronym of Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-Islāmiyyah, which in English translates to Islamic Resistance Movement, and is the government ruling the Gaza Strip.

Two months after the marriage, Aman did not think he was doing anything subversive when he joined a Zoom call with Israeli peace activists. During the widespread closures at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Aman wanted to discuss the “double lockdown” he experienced in Gaza, which has endured 14 years of a tight Israeli-Egyptian blockade against Hamas.

“I wanted to let people know more how it is when you live under Israeli occupation and siege, deprived of the rights the rest of the world enjoys.”

For over two hours, Aman and his group of peace activists, the Gaza Youth Committee, talked about coexistence with dozens of Israelis peace activists. As word of the Zoom meeting leaked out, social media filled with angry comments branding him a traitor.

Some urged Hamas to act. It did, and the Zoom meeting landed him in a prison cell known as “the bus,” and ultimately ended his marriage.

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, if your spouse is either out in the streets demonstrating, or worse, attending a Zoom call with peace activists, you don’t need to allege that as grounds for divorce.

I’ve written about divorce reasons before. 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.

Searching for Reconciliation

Aman said that after his Zoom meeting, he and seven members of his group were summoned to Internal Security, the agency that deals with dissidents and people accused of spying for Israel. The questions focused on the Zoom meeting and who might have been behind it. Aman was accused of collaborating with Israel — a crime punishable by death.

Then the questioning took a strange new turn. Just two months earlier, Aman had signed a marriage contract with the daughter of an exiled Hamas official based in Egypt.

The couple did not have time to celebrate their wedding with a formal ceremony due to the coronavirus lockdown, but they were considered married under Islamic law.

Aman said she believed in the message of peace and joined his team in several discussions with Israelis. He asked not to publish her name, fearing it could bring her harm. Aman said his new wife was arrested with him, but they were quickly separated. “She doesn’t want you,” an officer told him. “It’s better you both divorce.”

For two months, he said, he resisted the pressure to break up. On June 28, she finally visited, telling him she had been released on bail.

“This was not the woman I knew. It was clear she was under heavy pressure.”

In mid-August, he said he finally signed the divorce papers after he was promised he would be released the next day. Yet he remained in captivity for two more months. On October 25, Egypt opened its border with Gaza to allow a Hamas delegation to travel to Cairo.

The next day, a Hamas court convicted Aman on the vague charge of “weakening the revolutionary spirit.” He was released on a suspended sentence. Only then did Aman learn his wife had been taken with the Hamas delegation to Egypt and turned over to her family. The Associated Press contacted the woman, who confirmed she was forced into the divorce and wanted her husband back.

“Now I have my personal battle: return to my wife.”

The ABC news article is here.

 

Is January Really Divorce Month?

January is usually reserved for kicking bad habits and beginning work on those New Year’s resolutions. But some parts of the internet, this blog included, have suggested that January has earned it’s nickname as “divorce month.” Is there truth to it? The New York Times recently investigated.

divorce january

‘Tis the Season?

There is no doubt that divorce is a seasonal phenomenon. From Thanksgiving until New Year’s, lawyers’ offices can slow down with new filings because people have decided to put off until after the holidays their decisions to separate.

A Google trends search for “divorce last year returned that it was – ever so slightly – most popular from January 6th to January 12th. The term has peaked at various times though, from March and September too!

A 2016 study by the University of Washington analyzed divorce filings in Washington state from 2001 to 2015 and found they peaked in March and August, following the winter and summer holidays.

Florida No-fault Divorce

Divorce rates started to increase in the 1970s when baby boomers started divorcing at higher rates and the introduction of no-fault divorce laws.

I’ve written about no fault divorce before. No-fault laws are the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court. In Florida 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. Gone are the days when you had to prove adultery, desertion or unreasonable behavior as in England.

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.

Adultery can be the cause of a divorce, but can it impact the outcome? Since Florida became a no-fault state, the fact that, “she (or he) is sleeping with a co-worker” doesn’t hold much traction in court any more.

Some states still have fault-based divorce, and some of the common fault-based grounds for divorce are adultery, desertion, extreme cruelty, incarceration for conviction of a crime, institutionalization for mental illness, and a spouse’s continued abuse of drugs or alcohol.

New Year’s Resolution?

Not everyone thinks January is divorce month. Some people think it is a perception of the end of the year slow-down, and that the comparison makes it appear to be a big month for filing.

However, divorce timelines can also be impacted by state. In Georgia, divorces can be granted in as little as one month, or could take years. In California, there is a mandatory six-month waiting period for a divorce to be finalized.

When you file for divorce, you may impact everything financial including taxes. Your marital status on the last day of the year can determine how you file your taxes. If a state has a rule regarding your filing status and separation, that could be a reason for a January filing.

Responsibilities for children, lack of romance, incompatibility and money problems are all big drivers of divorce. Many people feel there is an uptick in divorce filing around anniversaries and Valentine’s Day too. The answer to the question “is January really divorce month?” is, maybe.

The New York Times article is here.

 

Five Ways to Improve Your Divorce

While your performance never faltered before, after you enter into a divorce, you can become overwhelmed by the competition for your attention. Forbes magazine reports on five way to improve your divorce and maintain your productivity.

Improve Divorce

1. Build an emotional support network outside of the office. From both an emotional and a practical standpoint, keeping conversations about your divorce out of the workplace is smart. Of course, you need to talk with those involved in collecting the requisite documents—an HR representative, for example—but those discussions should be factual in nature. Talking about the personal and emotional aspects of your divorce should be reserved for close friends or family members outside of work.

Don’t neglect your need for emotional comfort during this time. Divorce is stressful. In addition to having a strong support network, make sure you hire a lawyer who makes you feel empowered and comfortable, who helps you understand the divorce process and is accessible when you need counsel.

2. Be cooperative and realistic in your efforts to work with the other side. If you or your spouse take positions in your divorce that lead to additional court appearances, your productivity will be affected, because those appearances will take you away from your office. In fact, even preparing the paperwork with your lawyer can take you away from your job for hours at a time. You can minimize this time away by approaching your divorce pragmatically, organizing as much as you can in your off-hours, and being as straightforward and transparent as you can be in terms of the documents and information you produce. If everything becomes a tug of war, with subpoenas being issued and every aspect of the divorce litigated, you will be diverting precious time and energy from your career.

3. Allocate a certain amount of time each day to addressing divorce-related communications. As much as you might like to wait until you get home at night to handle divorce matters, reality sometimes dictates speedier replies. Divorce matters are generally handled during working hours, and if your lawyer has a question or information to share, your delayed response could mean a slowdown in the process. Set aside a block of time during the day when you can read and respond to related emails and place necessary phone calls. Keep a running list of to-do items and questions for your lawyer so that you can jot them down when they occur to you throughout the day and then put them out of your mind until later. Sending your lawyer just one comprehensive email a day with all of your questions and concerns will improve your productivity as well as your lawyer’s (which can also save you money!).

Florida Divorce

I’ve written on various divorce issues. In Florida, a divorce is called a “dissolution of marriage.” Florida is also one of the many states that have abolished fault as a ground for dissolution of marriage.

The only requirement to dissolve a marriage is for one of the parties to prove that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Either spouse can file for the dissolution of marriage.

Although no-fault divorce is Florida law, the process of going through a divorce can be grueling, and will eat into your productive time. Part of the stress comes from the fact that the divorce process can be very emotional and traumatic for couples as well as their kids.

4. Have separate work and personal email accounts. This is, of course, good advice whether you’re going through a divorce or not. Nothing can distract you faster than seeing personal emails popping into your inbox all day long. In fact, you may even want to create a new account specifically dedicated to divorce correspondence. Then, when “Divorce Management” pops up on your calendar, you can get straight to all divorce-related matters and take care of them during your allotted time slot.

Likewise, keep any divorce-related documents in their own secure folder on your computer so you can access them at a moment’s notice rather than having to spend time hunting them down.

5. Keep your lawyer apprised of any blackout dates on your calendar. If you travel for work or have certain must-attend meetings or events, make sure your lawyer is aware of these as soon as they are scheduled so you can avoid conflicts with any necessary court appearances or other important meetings related to your divorce. Being unable to meet key business obligations can not only set back your productivity but also damage your standing in the eyes of clients, your manager or your peers.

The Forbes article is here.

 

Young Folks and Divorce

It’s June, one of the most popular months of the year to marry. So, let’s talk about young folks and divorce. In 2017, around one million couples in the U.S. called it quits. That may seem like a lot of divorced couples, however the rate of divorce — just like the rate of marriage — is down. But is it really?

divorce and marriage

We don’t care about the young folks

What is happening today is that younger married couples are less likely to split up than they once were, driving the trend. But, at the same time, the rate of divorce for older generations has increased in a phenomenon known as “gray” divorce.

Divorces hit a historical high point in 1979, when 22.6 marriages out of every 1,000 broke up, according to researchers at the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green University.

By 2017, the rate had dropped to 16.1 divorces for every 1,000 marriages. That’s a decrease of 29% from the high point and the lowest the divorce rate has been in 40 years.

One cause, researchers believe, is that people are delaying marriage.

“There’s a fear of divorce or a specter of divorce looming large in people’s mind. They don’t want to make a mistake. They’re waiting longer to get married to divorce-proof their marriage.”

In 1963, the average woman married at around age 20, but by 2017, the median age at marriage was 27 for women and 29 for men. Using data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics and the American Community Survey, Bowling Green researchers calculated annual rates of divorce for girls and women ages 15 and older by dividing the number divorced in the past 12 months by the number divorced in the past 12 months plus the number currently married and then multiplying the result by 1,000.

We don’t care about the old folks

When couples choose to divorce in their 30s or 40s, they still have time to recover financially, because adults at that age have several years, if not decades, left in their careers.

But when divorce occurs when a couple is in their 50s or later, careers may either be coming to a close or are completed, and spouses are often living on fixed incomes provided through Social Security or retirement benefits.

I’ve written about this subject before. Here are some things to consider:

Valuing the Marital Estate – By the time a couple enters the golden years, they may have gold to divide, including businesses, retirement funds, and vacation homes. Valuing these assets can be difficult. The value of a business may not be apparent from balance sheets, and the sale or transfer of assets may have tax consequences. As a result, a financial advisor may be an important component in the divorce.

Medical Care – Health insurance is often tied to the employment of one spouse. With aging comes diminishing health, and declining cognitive ability. Courts may need to intervene if one party has dwindling capacity to handle their own affairs.

Long-Term Arrangements – Legal arrangements, such as wills and trusts, need to be reviewed to make sure they reflect post-divorce wishes. The same is true for long-term care, such as medical directives, living wills and trusts.

Retirement Plans – After 20 years of marriage, retirement plans can be substantial . . . and complex. Retirement plans vary in kind, and they all have different restrictions, tax consequences, distribution and vesting rules.

Lifestyle adjustment – Younger couples have time to re-accumulate wealth after divorce, but in Gray Divorces, the spouses have less time to re-establish themselves financially. One or both may be close to or in retirement, and face living on half of what they earmarked for retirement.

Talking only me and you

Researchers also examined the trends by age group and found that the drop in divorces has been driven by younger people. The greatest decrease they observed was among 15- to 24-year-olds, whose divorce rate dropped by 43%. The rate for 25- to 34-year-olds also dropped substantially, a decrease of about 30%.

After that, the rates of “gray divorce” more than doubled. For 55- to 64-year-olds, it climbed from 5 divorces per 1,000 marriages to 15 divorces per 1,000 marriages, and for those 65 and older, it rose from 1.8 to 5.

For comparison, the researchers also calculated marriage rates. In 1970, nearly a decade before the divorce peak, there were 76.5 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried women. In 2017, the rate had dropped to 32.2 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried women, a decrease of 58%.

 “The script was high school, maybe the military or college, and then you settle down,” Dr. Jordan said. “Now, it’s high school, maybe the military or college, maybe some period of self-discovery.”

That doesn’t mean fewer people have been pairing up or even delaying entering into romantic partnerships. But instead of marrying right after high school or college, more couples have simply moved in together, usurping marriage as the most common relationship experience in young adulthood.

Forty percent of women who wedded for the first time between 1980 and 1984 lived with their husband before they married, according to the Bowling Green researchers. From 2010 through 2014, 70% did.

That suggests for more couples, “I do” has morphed into, “I might.” But when they finally pledge “till death do us part,” they mean it.

The Wall Street Journal article is here.

 

New Divorce Expert Witness Rule

Many people know that in 2013 Florida passed a law which changed the divorce expert witness rule and how experts could testify in family law cases. A few people warned that the new law may be unconstitutional because of the way it passed. Fewer people know that in 2018 the Florida Supreme Court threw out the new rule. Even fewer people know that last week the court changed it all back.

Divorce Expert

The Frye Pan

People rely on all sorts of expert witnesses in divorce and family law cases, maybe more than most areas of law. Routinely, people will come to trial with accountants, psychologists, and other experts in tow.

Since 1923 courts have relied on the Frye Rule, which states that expert opinion based on a scientific technique is only admissible where the technique is generally accepted as reliable in the scientific community.

In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court adopted a new standard which requires trial judges to screen expert testimony for relevance and reliability. The “Daubert test” developed in three product liabilities cases. The plaintiffs tried to introduce expert testimony to prove products caused their damages. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately tightened the rules for admitting expert testimony

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

In 2013, the Florida Legislature amended the Florida Evidence Code to start following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Daubert standard for the admission of expert testimony and the basis for an expert’s opinion.

I’ve written about the Constitutional problem with the way the legislature created the new law. When the legislature passes a law encroaching on courtroom practice and procedure, the laws are unconstitutional. However, the Legislature can enact substantive laws.

When one branch of government encroaches on another branch, Florida traditionally applies a “strict separation of powers doctrine.” Given that the Evidence Code contains both substantive and procedural provisions, there is a question whether the Legislature violated the separation of powers doctrine.

The Florida Evidence Code contains both substantive and procedural provisions, so there was a suspicion that the Legislature violated the separation of powers doctrine when it amended the code this way. At the time however, that issue has not been accepted by the Florida Supreme Court to date. The latest decision corrected that.

Frying Frye

The Florida Supreme Court, as part of its Constitutional rule-making authority has the power to adopt Legislative changes to the Evidence Code. As we saw before, the Court previously refused to adopt the Daubert amendments, to the extent that they are procedural, solely:

“due to the constitutional concerns raised” by the Committee members and people who opposed the amendments.”

This year, without re-addressing the correctness of the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling in DeLisle v. Crane Co, and after noting that DeLisle did not address the amendment to section 90.704 made by section 2 of chapter 2013-107, the Court chose to recede from its prior decision not to adopt the Legislature’s Daubert amendments.

The Court remarked that the Daubert standard has been routinely applied in federal courts since 1993, a majority of states adhere to Daubert, and caselaw after Daubert shows that the rejection of expert testimony is the exception rather than the rule.

Citing to Animal House, one of the dissenters to the majority opinion, newly appointed Justice, Robert J. Luck, poked fun at the High Court’s swift rule change:

Like the little-known codicil in the Faber College constitution, the concurring opinion cites section II.G.1. of our internal operating procedures, which provides that “the Court, on its own motion, may adopt or amend rules.” Id. (quoting Fla. S. Ct. Internal Op. Proc. II.G.1.). According to Westlaw, no court, including ours, has ever cited this language or any part of section II. Ever.

Effective immediately, the Florida Supreme Court adopted the amendments to section 90.702 as procedural rules of evidence, and adopted the amendment to section 90.704 to the extent it is procedural.

The Supreme Court opinion is available here.

 

Why is this Divorce Different?: Passover Divorces

It’s common knowledge that divorce filings increase after the holiday period from November through New Year’s. We are not alone. In Israel, the rate of people filing for divorce before Passover is three times as high as during the rest of the year.

The Bitter Herbs of Passover Divorces

According to the Jerusalem Post, the reason for this increase in Passover divorces is the number of stresses that surface around the holidays. For example, there could be a question of where a family will hold its Seder.

The stress of the Passover season will sound familiar to anyone who deals with the stress during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

There is a lot of sensitivity around relationships with extended family. Additionally, there is too much to do and greater financial demands during the holidays.

To help alleviate these stressors, it is important to plan in advance.

Having a Sweet Florida Divorce

I’ve written about divorces and their causes before. Passover divorces are similar to any other religious holiday in which you are cooped up in a house with your in-laws during the holidays, when your marriage is having problems. The holidays can take a toll on the best couples.

During the holidays, people try to put on a happy face for the kids and visiting relatives. And after seeing other families on Facebook and Instagram – the idea of perfect looking families haunts many couples who wonder why their lives don’t look as happy.

“Beware that the holiday period invites many hours that couples are together, which can lead to conflicts arising. Don’t make impulsive decisions on ending a connection during the holidays. Persevere until afterwards and then look at the situation with a new perspective.

Is there a way to make Passover divorces sweet like charoset? Whatever the reason for your problems, there are a few things that anyone looking into divorce for the first time needs to know to help them through the process.

Prioritize

Line up your priorities for life after the divorce. Is it finding a home? Is it retiring? Getting a job? Managing your special-needs child? Consider writing down your most important goals.

Consult

Even if you aren’t certain you need to hire an attorney, or filing for divorce at all, it is a good idea to meet with an expert in Florida’s divorce and family laws. Who better than someone certified by Florida as an expert in marital and family law?

Alternatives

Litigation is something to avoid. It’s time-consuming, contentious and expensive. The majority of divorces end up settling.

There are many forms of alternative dispute resolution out there, including collaborative divorce, mediation, and informal settlement conferences.

Is there a shank bone in a Vegan Passover?

Back in Israel, in addition to the increase in new applications for Passover divorces, there is often an increase in the number of religious Jewish divorces – called “Gets” – that are finalized.

This is because of “the feeling that the holiday time’s a time to finish things and start fresh. It affects the state of mind.

A wife and a husband hold different religious standards and deciding where the kids should be can push them over the edge. The Jerusalem Post reported how last year a woman insisted on having a vegan Seder and her husband would not agree. This led to divorce.

The Jerusalem Post article is here.