Tag: Best Family Divorce Attorney

International Academy of Family Lawyers

I am honored to announce my admission as a Fellow in the International Academy of Family Lawyers. The International Academy of Family Lawyers is a worldwide association of practicing lawyers who are recognized by their peers as the most experienced and expert family law specialists in their respective countries.

IAFL

International family law has become predominant in our work as our firm increasingly focuses on complex divorce and jurisdictional issues, interstate and international family law, child relocation, and Hague international child abduction cases.

The primary objective of the IAFL is to improve international family law practice throughout the world. It pursues that objective in a number of ways: creating a network of expertise in international family law around the world providing its fellows with information about both international and national developments in the law; offering advice and assistance to the wider public; promoting law reform and, where possible, harmonization of law.

Fellowship into the IAFL is by invitation only. The process is a rigorous one, designed to ensure that the high level of expertise within IAFL is maintained. Membership has grown steadily, and the number of countries now represented is 60 and IAFL has over 860 Fellows.

More information about the IAFL is available from their website 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.

 

American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

I am honored to announce my admission as a Fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Among divorce and family law practitioners, Academy Fellows represent highly skilled negotiators and litigators who represent individuals in all facets of family law.

AAML

The areas of representation include divorce, annulment, prenuptial agreements, marital settlement agreements, child custody and visitation, business valuations, property valuations and division, alimony, child support and other family law issues.

There are currently more than 1650 Fellows in 50 states. To be represented by a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is to be represented by a leading practitioner in the field of family law.

The 1650 AAML Fellows across the United States are generally recognized by judges and attorneys as preeminent family law practitioners with a high level of knowledge, skill and integrity. Academy Fellows enjoy a reputation for professionalism, competence and integrity.

From my professional and personal experience, I’ve discovered that members of the AAML represent some of the finest attorneys I’ve worked with. I look forward to being active in this prestigious group.

Information about the Academy’s annual Institute, webinars, and the Marital and Family Law Review Course is available at the Florida Chapter’s website here.

The history and more information about the AAML is available on the national site 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.

Residency for Divorce

Ireland is currently working on the wording of what the Irish electorate will be asked to vote on in the upcoming divorce referendum. Residency for divorce is an issue about the amount of time a person has to live in a state, and in some cases, live apart from their spouse, before they can file for divorce.

residency for divorce

Luck of the Irish

If the luck of the Irish holds out and the referendum is passed, the government would introduce primary legislation on the time period before you can get a divorce, rather than having it in the Constitution which must be put to a public vote when changes are proposed.

Under the current system, married couples need to have lived apart for at least four years during the previous five years. The new proposals would see that reduced to two years, with the Irish Legislature, the Oireachtas, providing the legislation for this.

The referendum is due to take place on 24 May, the same day as the local and European elections.

Florida Divorce Residency Requirement

Ireland is not alone in having a residency for divorce requirement before spouses can file a case. Most U.S. states for example, have some kind of a durational residency requirement for the plaintiff in a divorce and others add to that a requirement you live apart first.

I’ve written about things to consider when planning for divorce before. Residency for divorce is a very important jurisdictional requirement in every case.

Generally, the non-filing party need not be a resident in the state in order for the court to divorce the parties under the divisible divorce doctrine. The court’s personal jurisdiction over the non-filing spouse is necessary only if the court enters personal orders regarding the spouse.

The durational domicile or residency requirement goes to the heart of the court’s ability to divorce the parties, because the residency of a party to a divorce creates a relationship with the state to justify its exercise of power over the marriage.

What are some of the time limits in the United States? For example, Florida has a six-month requirement for residency before you can file for divorce here.

By contrast, Iowa has a one-year residency requirement for all spouses filing in the state. The same is true for Maryland, which requires that at least one spouse be a Maryland resident for at least one-year before filing for divorce. Maryland law also requires the couple to live apart for at least 12-months before filing for divorce.

The rule sounds easy enough, but failure to adhere to the rule may cause the court to enter a divorce decree without having the proper jurisdiction. In that event the divorce decree could be called into question.

The Irish Journal article is here.

 

Set Up a Divorce Plan

USA Today reports that few people marry and then plan for divorce or death. But based on recent statistics, that is precisely what we should do. What are some things you should do to set up a divorce plan?

Set Up a Divorce Plan

The Statistics

Consider this: The average age of a widow in the U.S. is 59 and women divorce for the first time at age 30 (on average). Add to those statistics the fact that men tend to die five years before their spouses (76 for men versus 81 for women).

Most people have heard the statistic that “50 percent of marriages end in divorce.” That statistic seems to have originated in the 1980’s. Today, it is thought approximately 42-45% of marriages in the United States end in divorce (this does not include legal separations).

But when you break that down by number of marriages, you get some interesting additional facts. For example, while 42-45% percent of first marriages end in divorce, for second marriages around 60% end in divorce. Third marriages? Roughly 73% of third marriages end in divorce.

Planning

I’ve written about things to consider when planning for divorce before. The divorce statistics mentioned above really call for you to set up a divorce plan. A divorce plan should reflect goals, and the USA Today article has some excellent things to consider.

Get a planner

While most people run to a marriage counselor, what you may really need is a financial planner. Research shows that when the “money spouse” dies (typically the male partner), the “non-money spouse” ends up firing her investment manager over two-thirds of the time.

Review your Documents

Review your trust agreement every few years; if you don’t have a trust, get one. You may quickly realize your trust is outdated and go through a costly revision at just the time when you don’t need the added headache and hassle.

Keep 401(k) and IRA beneficiary forms. The bank may lose your beneficiary forms through the passage of time and through mergers and acquisitions.

Use a virtual binder

Consolidate your financial life on an aggregator.  Think of an aggregator as a virtual binder with a vault. All of your assets and liabilities feed into this software, and you have a real-time picture of your net worth and income from all sources.

Get a Postnup

These days, the postnup has become more important than ever. People are marrying when they are older, and better informed about the implications of marriage. Many people have married before. Because the divorce statistics for second and third marriages shown above are so high, more people are looking to sign postnuptial agreements.

The USA Today article on how to set up a divorce plan is here.

 

Divorce Court Circus

America’s Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, was reportedly yelling and cursing his way through his recent divorce court hearing in New York. The judge blasted both the ex-Mayor and his wife, Judith Nathan, for turning the room into a divorce court circus.

Divorce Court Circus

Big Apple Circus

According to news reports, Giuliani snapped “Goddamnit!” at one point when accused by a lawyer for Nathan of failing to pay a $21,000 in nursing home bill arrears for her mother, as promised.

“That’s total bulls–t! That’s total bulls–t!” he hissed at another point, when the opposing lawyer, Bernard Clair, later suggested that Giuliani’s reported mistress, Maria Ryan, could be the one to grant appraisers access to multiple Florida properties they’re fighting over.

How do you avoid turning your trial into a divorce court circus?

Florida Divorce

If criminal court judges see the worst people acting their best, family judges see the best people acting their worst. Divorces are stressful, and issues like child custody, relocation, and domestic violence can take their toll on people.

I’ve written about courtroom behavior before. Since you’re always being evaluated in court, and in light of the Giuliani divorce antics, what follows is a list of “dos” and “don’ts” to avoid your own divorce court circus. (These are true stories by the way.)

  • Don’t – Come to a custody hearing wearing your Nazi uniform – complete with swastika patch on the arm and leather boots – and demand a family court judge let you see your son.
  • Do – Dress in a neat and professional manner.
  • Don’t – Speak on your cellular telephone because judges hate ringing cell phones. Judges hate ringing phone during your testimony.
  • Do – Keep your cell phone ringer off, and if you absolutely need to have your phone on, put it on vibrate.
  • Don’t – Take off your pants and show the judge your rear end.
  • Do – Keep your pants on.
  • Don’t – lose your temper in court, give the middle finger salute, dare the judge to hold you in contempt while holding your arms out as if you are being handcuffed and then contact the judge’s judicial assistant, and call her: “You little mother******; you and the judge, that mother****** son of a b****.”
  • Do – Be Courteous to the Court staff. Court personnel make the courts run efficiently, and angering court officers won’t help your case.

Sadly, these are cases of what people have actually done in court, and all of these instances are documented. Consider the seriousness of the divorce process and the stress family everyone is under to do the right thing.

A New York State of Mind

Acting as the divorce court circus master, Supreme Court Justice Michael Katz chided:

“Mr. Giuliani!” “Don’t interrupt the proceeding. You have lawyers representing you”.

The Giulianis don’t get along well together. For example, he alleges that Nathan approached him at the Emerald Dunes Golf Club in Florida and took his photograph. Nathan’s side said it never happened and that Giuliani shouted at her and insisted he was at the club buying items for his girlfriend’s daughter.

The judge reluctantly stepped in to play peacemaker.

“Whoever is in the room first gets to stay in the room. If Mr. Giuliani is in one room in one of their common clubs, he can go to a different room and visa versa.”

Earlier, the judge scolded at the parties and lawyers:

“At this juncture in a case — it’s been almost a year since filings — the process calms down. Yet it’s still a circus.”

Asked outside court what was holding up the divorce, Giuliani said, “Her.”

The New York Daily News article is available here.

 

Can You Lose Your Job in Divorce?

A court in Israel just ordered the nation’s largest commuter bus company to fire an employee because he refuses to divorce his wife. The company has 30-days to comply. Why would you lose your job for refusing to divorce? What if it is a religious divorce?

Religious Divorce

Divorce on One Foot

A Jewish couple from India, who have been married for over a decade, immigrated to Israel with their only child. The Husband has been accused of abusing his wife, and the situation worsened after they moved. Three years ago, the Wife filed for divorce, reconciled, and then renewed the religious divorce.

Israel’s divorce law is based on the Ottoman Empire’s old millet law. Unlike the United States, where divorces are handled by family courts, in Israel there are parallel courts involving divorce, the religious court and family court.

Additionally, divorce court may depend on which religious community you belong to because religious courts have jurisdiction of their own religious members. This means Muslims are divorced in Sharia courts, Christians divorce in ecclesiastical courts, and Jews divorce in Jewish courts.

In Judaism, religious law requires husbands to grant their wives a “get” – a Jewish bill of divorce to be a valid divorce. Ten months ago, a rabbinical court ordered the Husband to grant his Wife a divorce. But he refused, unless she waived her right to their joint property.

Florida Divorce and Religion

I’ve written about the intersection of religion and divorce a few times. Religion, religious beliefs, and religious practices are generally not considered in Florida divorces. Surprisingly for many, even when child custody is an issue, there are no specific statutory factors in determining custody on religious grounds.

Currently in Florida, child custody decisions are based in accordance with the best interests of the child.

As it relates to religion, Florida courts have decided that there must be a clear, affirmative showing that religious activities will be harmful to the child for religion to be a factor.

Egged On

The religious divorce court has imposed various financial sanctions on the Husband for refusing to divorce, including requiring him to pay his wife $410 a month as a sanction. But he still refuses to divorce her.

Last week, a panel of rabbinical judges granted the Wife’s request and ordered an Israeli bus company to fire the Husband within 30-days.

Yad L’Isha praised the decision. “Every creative solution like this gives great hope to other women that there are other ways to release them from the prison of their marriage”. Yad L’Isha is the world’s largest organization dedicated to helping women unable to obtain a Jewish divorce.

The Haaretz article is here.

Photo courtesy of Rickjpelleg

 

Alimony Humbug

Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders is ending ‘a certain romance’ and just filed for divorce from his wife Breana McDow-Helders after two years of ‘crying lightning.’ But alimony may not be an issue in this short-term marriage. Why?

Alimony Humbug

R U Mine?

According to the divorce papers filed, Breana and Matt separated at the end of October. Matt is asking for joint legal and physical custody of their daughter.

Some reports though, Helders says they’ve mutually agreed to not pay each other spousal support after their two-year marriage.

Florida Alimony

Alimony is a frequently written about subject in Florida. Spousal support is governed in Florida by a statute. The alimony statute requires judges to consider several factors, including the duration of the marriage.

The duration of the marriage is an important factor to consider in awarding alimony. For purposes of determining alimony, there is a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than 7 years.

By contrast, a moderate-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of greater than 7 years but less than 17 years. Not surprisingly, a long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or greater.

The length of a marriage is measured from the period of time from the date of marriage until the date of filing of an action for dissolution of marriage. This can be important, for example, after a marriage of short duration, permanent alimony would not usually be available unless the trial judge makes written findings of exceptional circumstances to award permanent alimony.

Worst Nightmare

The couple got hitched in Italy back in June 2016. They have a 3-year-old daughter together. It’s unclear what led to the split.

Matt and Breanna started dating way back in 2011, and they got engaged in 2013 before tying the knot in Europe.

Matt is one of the founding members of the indie rock band, and he’s recorded six studio albums with the Arctic Monkeys. The band has also been nominated for five Grammy Awards.

He has played drums and provided backing vocals on all six of the band’s studio albums. Matt also provided the drum tracks on Iggy Pop’s 2016 studio album Post Pop Depression and played on Lady Gaga’s 2016 album Joanne.

The Daily Mail article is here.

Photo credit Bill Ebbesen

Rules for a Divorce Announcement

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie announced their divorce last week. Being the world’s richest man, a divorce announcement is big news. But as the Wall Street Journal reports, there are rules to writing one.

divorce announcement

“Alexa, read me a divorce announcement”

In a world of social media, where personal news like divorce can spread to millions in minutes, the days of sitting down and privately explaining to friends and family your decision are over.

For CEOs, its also a matter of re-assuring shareholders, employees, and customers that they won’t experience any turbulence.

Announcements allow you to frame the narrative of your case: to set the tone and story so others don’t have to guess what’s going on or how you approach divorce.

“Alexa, what do you need to divorce”

I’ve written on various topics about divorce. There can be good and bad divorces. How you announce your divorce these days has dramatically changed. This change has given you a lot of power over how your break-up is perceived by others.

But does it matter? Historically to obtain a divorce, you had to prove legal grounds such as adultery. This often-required additional expenses making the divorce process more expensive and cumbersome than it already was.

Florida Statutes actually still provide that these things may be considered in certain circumstances in the award of alimony, equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities, and determination of parental responsibility, but courts give them little consideration from a legal perspective.

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.”

In Florida, either spouse can file for the dissolution of marriage. You must prove that a marriage exists, one party has been a Florida resident for six months before filing the petition, and the marriage is irretrievably broken. Because of the advent of no-fault divorce, your announcements should be focusing on things other than the cause of the divorce.

“Alexa, write an announcement”

You don’t have to be famous to announce your divorce. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow invented the catchy phrase: “conscientious uncoupling” in her divorce announcement from singer Chris Martin. That announcement put a good spin on her divorce. But, there are some other good rules to follow.

Rule One

Wait until the decision to split is final. If you’ve announced your divorce and then reconcile, it could get awkward.

Rule Two

Announce publicly after you’ve told your children, family and close friends. Remember the point is to own the narrative, so get your message out ahead of gossip and speculation.

Rule Three

Strike a positive tone — remember that your children and family will be reading it — and present a united front.

Rule Four

Don’t lie. If you don’t love your ex, don’t say: “Although we still love each other we need to move on.” It’s enough to state that it just didn’t work out.

The Wall Street Journal is available here.