Tag: board certified divorce lawyer

Strategy if Your Spouse Files for Divorce

There is some strategy for you to consider if your spouse asks you for a divorce. MSN discusses some things you could do immediately to protect your personal and financial interests. Obviously, it is difficult to focus on money when your marriage is ending, but you need to make sure that you reach a fair and equitable divorce settlement too.

divorce strategy

A Few Good Moves

You wouldn’t end a business partnership without first determining that all assets were divided fairly. The same holds true for dissolving a marriage. Focus on the following things immediately if you learn that your spouse is planning to end your union.

Hire a good attorney

According to MSN, hiring a lawyer is crucial. Your goal: Find an experienced advocate who will put your personal and financial interests first. Never share the lawyer with your spouse. Make sure you feel comfortable with the attorney.

Get referrals for attorneys from your trusted friends, family members and business associates, but keep in mind you want a lawyer who specializes in family law and divorce, preferably someone board certified as a specialist by your state’s Bar Association, and who is very involved in the legal community.

Monitor your credit reports

Protect yourself by preventing your spouse from running up large or unnecessary bills at this time. For now, at least, you may be responsible for half of any joint expenses.

“You know your spouse better than anyone else. If you know they’re not trustworthy, or they have a gambling problem, or you both are in a lot of debt, that tells you there are financial warning signs.”

Monitoring your credit score and credit reports before, during and after a divorce will ensure that your credit is safe and that no one else is using your name to borrow.

Florida 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.  I’ve written about divorce before. In order to divorce in Florida, you need to file a petition for dissolution of marriage in the family court.

The no-fault concept in Florida means you no longer have to prove a reason for the divorce. 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 abuse.

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.

But there is some additional strategy to protect yourself.

Consider Closing joint accounts

To protect your credit rating, you may want to consider closing credit accounts that your spouse has access to. The idea is to prevent your spouse from incurring large debts before the divorce is final.

With joint credit cards, you are liable for any debts taken on by your spouse, says Sarah Carlson, a certified financial planner in Spokane, Washington.

If your spouse can’t pay the debts he or she runs up on your joint accounts, you may be held responsible.

Determine how much money you’re entitled to

When people divorce, many financial issues are tied to the size of the marital estate. To help you determine which assets you’ll be entitled to in a divorce, you’ll need to understand how much you and your spouse are worth, separately.

“For example, identification of an income-producing asset may be helpful for determination of child support and maintenance issues, while also affecting the division of the marital estate”.

Your job: Find out which assets are in your name and which belong to your spouse.

Protect your savings

It is easy to use up your cash quickly in a divorce. Safeguard your joint assets by asking your financial institutions to require two signatures for withdrawals.

“We generally don’t advise doing this with a regular joint checking account that is continuing to be used for household expenses, because that can become cumbersome. But we do advise dual signatures for any savings or investment accounts.”

Keep things as friendly as possible

Starting your divorce on an amicable note will make the proceedings easier and less time-consuming. From the beginning, work to keep things civil.

When you spend time bickering over minor issues, the only people who benefit are attorneys billing you by the hour.

“If ever there was a time to pick your battles, this is it. If you fight over every detail of your divorce, the fights will be never-ending, and that will impact your emotional state and your wallet.”

Talk with your children

The needs of children sometimes can be overlooked when parents divorce.

The best way to break the news of a divorce to children is for both parents to explain that their relationship is changing, making it clear that both parents love the children and the parents respect each other, says David T. Pisarra, a family law attorney in Santa Monica, California.

The Mayo Clinic advises parents to spend time explaining to children what is happening. Let them know that the separation isn’t their fault and that you will continue to care for them.

The MSN article is here.

 

Divorce Strategy During the Pandemic

Divorce strategy during the pandemic is on people’s minds because, even in the best of times, marriage and relationships are hard work. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the pandemic has produced a pressure cooker inside homes, straining even strong partnerships and, experts say, likely breaking others.

divorce covid strategy

The Virus Among Us

Families are cooped up, with spouses trying to work while also taking care of their kids. Job losses, caring for at-risk elderly parents, arguments over what’s safe, and disagreements over school reopening are all taking a toll.

Susan Myres, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), which represents 1,600 members nationwide, says she expects new divorce filings to increase somewhere between 10% and 25% in the second half of this year.

Florida, unlike many state courts have been processing divorce and custody filings and are back to a manageable case flow. Many AAML member attorneys are reporting that we have received more queries than normal since the pandemic in March.

More than one-quarter of adults said they know a couple likely to break up, separate or divorce when the coronavirus pandemic ends, according to an Ipsos poll of 1,005 people conducted at the end of July.

In Charlotte, N.C., one attorney has consulted with 263 new clients on divorce issues from April to July compared with 217 clients in that same period a year ago, says Nicole Sodoma, founder and managing principal of the firm.

Summertime is usually when separating parents make the transition to two households, giving themselves time to acclimate before the school year begins. But courts have either been closed or backed up, she says, and many clients have felt stuck. “It’s added stress to an already stressful situation,” she says.

Florida 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.

I’ve written about divorce and the Coronavirus before. In order to divorce in Florida, you need to file a petition for dissolution of marriage in the family court. No grounds are necessary, such as “COVID-19” or “my house is a pressure cooker.”

The no-fault concept in Florida means you no longer have to prove a reason for the divorce. 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 abuse.

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.

The Pressure Cooker

In some cases, tensions created from the effects of the shutdown, quarantine, and pandemic, can mount into violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline says total contacts—calls, texts and online chats—increased 9% to more than 62,000 in the period from mid-March to mid-May, compared with the same period a year earlier.

Spouses who experienced greater external stress, from work stressors to financial problems, had lower relationship satisfaction than couples with fewer external stressors.

Even in the most communicative partnerships, there is more stress. “We have a strong marriage,” says Courtney Westling, a public-schools official in Portland, Ore. “But this has not been easy.” She and her husband of seven years, Mike, have spent recent months negotiating new work spaces in their home as well as child care for their sons, ages 3 and 5.

Strategy for Stress

The Covid pandemic has put strain on households and is testing marriages and relationships. Here are a few strategies.

Keep in mind this is a unique situation. When your spouse does something that upsets you, it’s easy to veer into blaming it on some character flaw. That is not a good sign. Couples that tend to see “situational attribution,” do better.

“If I have the mentality that this is because of the situation and not my partner, that should be beneficial.”

Think twice about big relationship decisions. Clients under marital duress should take a step back and pause. Recognize that everyone is under added strain, and that a partner’s on-the-surface behavior may really be about something deeper.

Maybe what you don’t recognize is that your spouse is actually anxious about the uncertainty, maybe his job or some underlying health issue, and it causes them to act out. But that doesn’t mean it’s the end of a marriage. That’s particularly true in a relationship that had previously been solid, she says.

“Recognize that we are not living in ordinary times.”

Don’t forget to play! The world feels heavy right now, and so it is more important than ever to find joy. Take advantage of the added time with your partner to find moments to laugh and have fun. And if those moments don’t come to you, make them. You need to create moments of play.

“Go out for a run, listen to a podcast together, spend time in nature. Play is not only how children learn, but it is also how we refresh ourselves.”

Creating lighthearted moments is also a useful tool in reminding ourselves what attracted us in the first place to our partners. Remember that this is the same person, but this is just a short period in time.

The Wall Street Journal article is here.

 

Divorce During the Pandemic and Good Coronavirus Information

Law offices are open, and court hearings are being held, even contested and uncontested divorce cases, but all remotely. So, if you need help with any divorce or family law issue, the coronavirus is not stopping you. Lastly, there’s some good coronavirus information on taxes and pools to be shared.

Zoom pool

Reasons to Divorce

Yahoo has a recent article about all kinds of things that can lead to a split, from the token celebrity-cited “irreconcilable differences” to a messy affair, or the loss of anything remotely close to the spark you felt in the good old days.

While the reasons for a divorce are unique to the relationship, here are the issues that a divorce lawyer and psychologist say pop up most often:

Communication

You typically hear reasons for divorce like money disagreements, commitment issues and the other things but these problems are also rooted in a breakdown of communication.

Falling Out of Love

According to one study nearly half of recently divorced couples cited a lack of love or intimacy as the reason for their separation. Instead of one big betrayal, sometimes just growing apart and losing your romantic feelings can end a marriage.

Lack of Intimacy

There’s nothing shameful about a dry spell, but a total lack of physical affection —sexy times and long bear hugs included — can cause serious disconnect. People start telling themselves like, ‘Okay, well the lack of intimacy, I can handle that.’ But ultimately it just becomes too much for them.

Florida No Fault Divorce

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

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

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

Over time, the “no-fault” movement expanded to other states, although interestingly it only reached the typically progressive state of New York in 2010. Whether or not it is intimacy or communication, you do not need to list a reason for a divorce other than an irretrievable break in the marriage.

Other Common Reasons to Divorce

Not Ready For Marriage

While you want to be in it for the long haul, maybe you rushed down the aisle or weren’t fully in tune with yourself when you said “I do”. That’s when a crop of clashes—think: differing values, emotional baggage from past flings, and a lack of real trust—pop up and put you on the road to divorce.

Addiction

Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, or another damaging vice, substance abuse is often a factor in divorces. If a partner doesn’t want to get help or they become a threat to their partner’s safety, it’s often a straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Financial Problems

Disagreements about finances make matters dicey, especially when it gets in the way of working together as a team. Someone might think their partner spends too much, another might be worried about their partner’s debt, and, in some cases, couples can’t compromise about what to spend their money on. Over time, the strain gets to be too much. What’s mine was once yours, but not anymore.

Lost Sense of Self

What you want can change over the course of a marriage. Very often in relationships, a partner has been sacrificing what they want and need for the sake of keeping the marriage together. Whether that’s passing up a job opportunity or getting lost in the role of “Mom,” the marriage could take you down a path you don’t identify with all that much anymore. It’s one thing to compromise, but it’s another to lose sight of your individuality completely. If you do, you might resent your partner and want out.

Good Coronavirus Information

Tax Day

Today would traditionally be tax day, but this year, the IRS is allowing Americans to wait to file until July 15. You can also defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed.

Swimming Pool Hearings

Broward County Judge Dennis Bailey offers some coronavirus advice to us lawyers: Don’t appear for Zoom hearings shirtless or still in bed under the covers. Also, putting on a beach cover-up won’t hide from the judge that you’re poolside in a bathing suit.

The Yahoo article is here.

 

Divorce Planning During the Coronavirus and Some Good News

We have been experiencing a surge in divorce inquiries. Just about everyone has been ordered into quarantine, and living in such close proximity is taking a toll on some marriages and relationships. But there’s another reason: simple divorce planning. Also, for fans of ‘The Office’, Jim has “Some Good News” for us during the coronavirus.

Divorce Planning Coronavirus

Divorce Planning and Market Timing

For many, the divorce inquiries are taking place while the market has dropped and people are losing their jobs. If that sounds counter-intuitive, consider this: when you divorce and your assets are worth less and your debts are up, you may pay less, so now may be a great time to divorce . . . if that was your plan.

This opportunity to divorce is particularly attractive to those whose divorce was a matter of timing. Now may be a great opportunity to finalize a settlement agreement if businesses or shares of stock can be managed back to their former value after the crisis passes.

For others, the concern is about settlement terms they agreed to before the downturn and their ability to afford the settlement terms when they have less pay. Clients are viewing the current financial crisis as an opportunity to negotiate an advantageous divorce settlement.

In only days, we have increased calls from anxious and stressed clients who are confined to living in quarantine with their soon-to-be Ex and children who they have to home school.

Shelter in place orders are putting a huge strain on relationships, particularly if there was already tension and issues between couples. This is only being heightened by the financial impact of restrictions on people’s businesses and incomes and the uncertainty they face as a result.

Florida Divorce Planning during the Coronavirus

I have written about the phenomenon of divorce planning, and especially divorce filings at the beginning of the year, many times before.

The first few months of the year are known for divorce filings, January is even nicknamed the “Divorce Month” in Florida. Researchers recently did an analysis of American divorce filings and found that there is a spike in divorces in January.

The spike in divorce filings is followed by a peak in late March. What’s happening at the beginning of the new year that causes people to both marry and divorce?

According to some reports the beginning of the year and the holiday season are often a tricky time for couples whose relationships have been under pressure for a while.

Add in the intense time spent together, financial pressure, extended family critiques and unrealistic expectations (nothing worse than happy people’s Facebook posts) – and it can spell disaster for some relationships.

Planning Ahead for Divorce during the Coronavirus

For many couples, government shelter-in-place orders have thrown them into a completely different way of living, changing the dynamics of their relationship entirely, and introducing a whole new set of complications and concerns.

While some may find that working through the uncertainty brings them closer together, others are not as lucky, and have been forced to face underlying issues that may have been bubbling under the surface.

You should consider consulting a board certified marital and family lawyer to consider your options and discuss what to do while you’re in quarantine and once the crisis passes.

The vast majority of people inquiring are people who were already on the fence and thinking of filing for divorce, and now the harsh reality of being at home with their partners has pushed them to breaking point.

For those that were planning to leave, but now can’t, this is an extremely challenging time. There are also those who agreed to separate but haven’t yet done so or filed for divorce. Worse still, being locked down together is causing a lot of strain and pressure.

Some have stayed married due to the financial loss they would suffer if they broke up the family, but are seeing the financial crisis as their long-awaited opportunity to leave and take advantage of the dip in wealth for a divorce settlement,’ she explained.

Coronavirus: Some Good News

Fans of ‘The Office’ will be please that there is some good news to report from Jim. So, I’ll let actor John Krasinski talk about some good news on his home-made channel SGN.

His video is here, and includes an interview with Steve Carell to mark the 15th anniversary of ‘The Office.’

 

Will the Philippines Legalize Divorce

We sometimes take it for granted that a toxic marriage, which can destroy your life and the lives of your children, can be amicably resolved here. That’s not true everywhere. There’s a new bill to legalize divorce in the Philippines — the only remaining state aside from Vatican City that has no divorce law.

Legalize Divorce

‘Thrilla’ in Manila

Many in the Philippines have been advocating for the passage of a divorce bill.

“Divorce is not a monster that will destroy marriages and wreck marital relationships. Let us be clear about this — the monsters that lead to the demise of a marriage are infidelity, abuse, financial problems, lack of intimacy and communication, and inequality.”

Despite this development, religious groups, pro-family advocates who were present in the hearing, and even fellow lawmakers expressed their disapproval of the measure.

Florida Divorce

I’ve written about attempts to criminalize divorce before. Divorce, of course, is legal in the United States. However, traditionally it was made difficult by having to prove “fault.” This required spouses to prove either adultery; abandonment for a certain length of time; prison confinement; a spouse is physically unable to have sexual intercourse; or that the other spouse has inflicted emotional or physical pain (cruelty).

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.”

After divorce became legal, the concept of proving fault gave way to no-fault laws 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. “Reduced” the need, not eliminated the need.

Dragged into the 21st Century

A Philippine church official has expressed surprise over the speedy acceptance of the bill in that would legalize divorce.

“I was surprised at the speed at which the committee accepted the bill. I was expecting exhaustive deliberations and discussions would be conducted on the measure.”

Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon described the acceptance of the proposed measure as alarming. Earlier, the Catholic Council of the Laity of the Philippines issued a statement expressing opposition to the divorce bill.

The group said the Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly provides that divorce is “immoral” because it introduces disorder into the family and into society.

The CNN 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.

 

New Year Divorce Surge

Market Watch is reporting on a consistent pattern: divorce filings surge in January as people decide to start their New Year with a clean slate, helped by a stressful holiday period and, perhaps, even more stressful in-laws.

NYE Divorce

Happy New You

In general, many family lawyers report a rise of nearly one-third in business in the New Year. The president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, says he typically sees a spike of 25% to 30% every year in January.

That’s not only true for the United States, but around the world. Similar trends are seen in the U.K.: one in five couples plan to divorce after the holidays, according to one survey of 2,000 spouses by legal firm Irwin Mitchell.

Being cooped up in a house for several days when a marriage is experiencing serious problems — while dealing with the pressure to put on a happy face for the kids and visiting relatives — takes its toll on the most stoic of couples.

Holiday time is usually a time when we get a spike in consultations and in being retained by clients. Holiday time is usually fraught with a lot of tension, emotion and financial issues, which is usually the trigger.

Florida Divorce

I’ve written about the rise in new years divorce filings, and many times the holiday season can highlight problems. What should you do? 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? We offer free consultations, but even when there is a charge, it is well worth the fee to get accurate information.

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.

As Market Watch further reports, there is good reason for treating a divorce like a calm business deal. Don’t rush to file. Think about your end game. Many people file quickly out of anger perhaps after learning of a spouse’s misconduct. But it’s better to be strategic.

New Year, New Priorities

If not planned correctly, divorce can be one of the most financially devastating life events, so get an up-to-date assessment of your spouse’s accounts.

“It may be illegal to open another person’s mail, but you can, however, make a note of the financial institution that mails statements. If you give your attorney those names, we can subpoena that information.

Lawyers are cautious about taking on clients who refer to their attorneys as a pit bull or a shark. “Sometimes, people might say that because we’re tough, but if you go in with all guns blazing and start in a mean, aggressive manner, you automatically create a very adversarial situation.

That could increase the cost of the divorce — which could vary between $25,000 to $100,000, depending on the assets involved, the lawyer’s fees and where you live — by double or even triple, he says. “Be courteous and respectful. The key is to avoid escalation.”

It may be that divorce is not the best option, particularly if one partner doesn’t have company health insurance. Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $18,142 this year, up 3% on last year, with workers on average paying $5,277 towards their coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Menlo, Calif.

Premiums for Obamacare are expected to rise 22% next year for the benchmark silver plan. Some health insurers won’t insure both parties on the same policy if the couple has legally separated so people report.

Avoid serving your partner with divorce papers during the holidays, especially if you have children. As they grow older they’ll hate that holiday memory forever. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do some preparation in the meantime.

In Florida, you can file for divorce and you have a period of time before you have to serve the papers. Most unhappy spouses wait until after the turkey has been carved, the gifts have been unwrapped, and the new year has started.

The Market Watch article is here.

 

Divorce and Financial Infidelity

One in five people in a relationship say their partner is financially irresponsible, and that they’re 10 times more likely to divorce for financial reasons, according to a new survey released from insurance comparison website Policygenius. Will running up excessive debts and other forms of financial infidelity be an issue in your divorce?

Divorce and financial infidelity

Financial Survey

The survey polled 2,005 adults in relationships and asked them questions like “What financial information do you and your partner know about each other?” and how they deal with money as a couple. The findings revealed that only 50% of people know their partner’s credit score, and yet 78% of those surveyed manage joint finances.

“If you’re at all doubtful about transparency, get a credit check. If they don’t give you permission to get a credit check, you’re in trouble. Know everything about your own finances, your mate’s finances and have a plan for how you’re going to work together to budget effectively and save for the future.”

The reality is that most couples openly commit financial infidelity: 12% of people in a relationship have hidden a purchase from their partner; another 20% say they’d spend $500 without telling their significant other and what’s worse, 16% said they don’t know anything about their partner’s money situation, according to the survey.

Florida Divorce Debts

I have written about divorce debts and other forms of financial infidelity before. In Florida, liabilities such as credit card debts – even if it happened without your knowledge – may be treated as any other kind of debt.

Generally, in divorce proceedings the court has to set apart to each spouse that spouse’s nonmarital assets and debts, and in distributing the marital assets and liabilities between spouses, courts have to begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution.

Some of the relevant factors for justifying an unequal distribution include the economic circumstances of the parties, the duration of the marriage and the intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition.

A common complaint in divorce is that someone will steal or destroy assets once they learn that a divorce has been filed, or run up huge credit card bills. This could be found to be dissipation or waste.

Other forms of dissipation include:

  • Incurring major gambling losses;
  • Excessive spending on alcohol or drugs;
  • Conveying marital property to family members or friends below cost with the intent to reacquire the undervalued asset post-divorce;
  • Destroying big-ticket personal property; and
  • sustaining losses concerning a sham investment.

If a judge determines there was an intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets, the court can divide the remaining marital property and credit or debit accordingly.

Husband and Wife Money Summits

Financial infidelity and fights about them are increasingly a pain point in relationships, particularly when one person is tight with money and the other spends more liberally. People are twice as likely to describe themselves as savers and their partners as spenders, according to separate data from SunTrust Bank.

Because of these woes, some couples are enrolling in financial therapy to get on the same page about finances. Money summits have sprouted up around the country to help couples talk about daily budgets, divvying up financial responsibilities, debt and financial goals, like saving up for a baby, a new home, retirement or for vacation.

There are little things couples can do every day to maintain a financially healthy relationship, whether it’s carving out hour-long money dates to talk openly about what you’ve spent that week and why, or to plan ahead for future expenses.

“Decide in advance how you will handle major purchase decisions together,” said Brittney Castro, a certified financial planner. “For example, some couples agree to discuss every purchase over a certain amount of money. Hurt feelings may arise from the surprise of an expenditure, rather than simply that the money was spent,”

The Fox Business article is here.

 

The Great Chinese Divorce Fraud

Divorce rates are rising in China for many reasons, but one recently uncovered reason is found in a family which divorced 23-times in one month! The new Chinese divorce fraud is the hot ploy to avoid Chinese property laws and make money.

Chinese Divorce Fraud

23rd Time is a Charm

Unlike older generations who may have settled for an unhappy marriage, divorce is no longer socially taboo in China. That may have led to one family in the city of Lishui to take the new divorce fraud to extreme lengths, churning through 23 divorces and weddings in a month.

Divorce is becoming simpler in China. Couples can either register a divorce with the civil affairs authority, indicating they have agreed to go their separate ways, or they can sue for divorce through the courts, which can rule on custody of children and how to dispose of any assets.

In the first six months of this year, 1.85 million couples registered for divorce with the civil affairs authority alone, an increase of more than 10 per cent compared with the same period last year. Three decades ago, in 1986, 460,000 couples registered their divorces with the civil affairs authority. By 2016, that annual number had risen to 4.15 million.

However, the Lishui family was not divorcing for typical reasons. The Chinese government has limited each household to a maximum of two apartments. Other notable policies allow potential home buyers who don’t already own property to make much lower down payments as well as enjoy lower tax and mortgage rates.

The new divorce fraud was aimed at getting more money from the government and developers when the Lishui family house was demolished for a new development. Under the system, each member of the household would be entitled to 40 square meters of space in the new development.

In China though, the preponderance of fake divorces in any given city may indicate the failure of real estate policy at the local level.

Florida Divorce

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.

The Great Fraud of China

It all started with Mr. Pan, who lived in the house, remarrying his ex-wife, and allowing her to qualify for the compensation plan. Two weeks later, he divorced her and married his sister-in-law, adding her to the plan. On it went, with each new family member enlarging the amount of space to be awarded as compensation, until government authorities discovered the house suddenly was home to 13 people, and promptly arrested 11 of them.

While it’s an extreme case in property-obsessed China – where would-be home buyers have to navigate a shifting array of property curbs – it’s probably more understandable given home prices in Lishui have surged as much as 31% in the past two years.

According to the compensation policy, people living in the village slated for renovation — even those who were not property owners — would be given minimum compensation of one 40-square-meter apartment as long as their household registration, or hukou, had been filed within the village by April 10.

When interrogated by police, Pan’s father — who had been party to the sham marriages and divorces himself — said he had assumed the family’s actions were legitimate since they had not violated China’s marriage law. “In doing this, we were just trying to get more compensation.”

According to the chief marriage lawyer at Beijing Yingke Law Firm:

Just because a person is following one law doesn’t mean they’re not breaking another. The family used a legal avenue to achieve an illegal end. The marriage law doesn’t forbid marriages and divorces — but in this case, the family used marriages and divorces as a means of committing fraud. While they didn’t violate the marriage law, they acted against the criminal law.

In April of this year, home buying policies in select urban areas were further tightened. Now, regardless of whether a divorced person is buying their first or second property, banks will evaluate them based on both their property ownership status and mortgage records — meaning even if they have no property registered in their name, an apartment they’re hoping to purchase can still be considered a second home, subject to a higher down payment and mortgage rate, if they have made previous mortgage payments.

The Bloomberg 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.