Tag: divorce international

Reducing Divorce Waiting Periods

With many countries and U.S. states, having divorce waiting periods, the District of Columbia’s recent legislation, which is reducing its waiting period, is big news. The D.C. Council gave unanimous approval to legislation that eliminated long waiting periods to file for divorce. The waiting period was considered especially harmful to survivors of domestic violence filing for divorce.

divorce waiting period

Waiting in Vain

D.C. law previously allowed a couple to divorce after six months of living separately, only if both parties mutually and voluntarily agreed to it. If a spouse contested the divorce, D.C. law required the couple to remain legally married for a year. Now if one spouse wants a divorce, they can file for one at any time — without any waiting period.

“It made no sense at all that someone might be chained to their abuser or their partner when they didn’t want to be. This was a common sense reform that allows people to move on with their lives and also provide some extra supports for survivors of domestic violence.”

The D.C. Council unanimously approved the bill in November 2023, and the new law took effect last week. The new D.C. law also requires judges to consider domestic violence history, including physical, emotional and financial abuse, when determining alimony or property distribution and it explicitly allows judges to award exclusive use of a family home to either spouse while awaiting litigation.

Florida Divorce Waiting Period

I’ve written about divorce waiting periods, and your rights in divorce before. Like the District of Columbia and other U.S. states, Florida also has a divorce waiting period of sorts. In Florida, no final judgment of dissolution of marriage may be entered until at least 20 days have elapsed from the date of filing the original petition for dissolution of marriage.

 The thinking behind waiting periods in Florida reflects the protective regard Florida holds toward the preservation of marriage and a public policy that marriage is the foundation of home and family.

In some cases the waiting period is longer. For instance, no dissolutions in Florida are allowed in cases of an incapacitated spouse unless the party alleged to be incapacitated has been adjudged incapacitated for a preceding period of at least 3 years. However, the court, on a showing that injustice would result from this delay, may enter a final judgment of dissolution of marriage at an earlier date.

Tired of Waiting

This change to the D.C. law will eliminate one of the many barriers people face when leaving abusive partners. The up-to-one year waiting period, which was established in the 1970s, was considered by many to be outdated and paternalistic.

Half of all states have a waiting period between the filing of divorce papers and when the marriage is legally dissolved, which can range from six months to even longer in some states. But why?

It has long been a recognized public policy by many states that encouraging and preserving the institution of marriage was a societal benefit. These days that notion may seem like an anachronistic legal concept. But the public policy underlying the presumption that marriage is a good institution still exists in many state statutes. Delaying a divorce then, comes from the theory that a couple, if they had more time, could preserve their marriage.

The Washington Post article is here.

Speaking on Interstate and International Custody

Honored to be speaking on interstate and international child custody issues at the prestigious Marital & Family Law Review Course in Orlando from January 26th to January 27th. I will be discussing federal and state statutes relating to child custody and family support, in addition to the Hague Convention on international child abductions. The event is co-sponsored by the Florida Bar Family Law Section and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Speaking International Child Custody

Interstate Custody

Parents move from state to state for various reasons. It is a subject matter I have written and spoken about many times. Whether children are moved by parents wrongfully or not, moving your children creates interstate custody and support and problems.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, and The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, can be critical laws to know in those cases.

International Child Abductions

What happens if your children are wrongfully abducted or retained overseas? If that happens, you must become familiar with the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, also known as The Hague Convention. This international treaty exists to protect children from international abductions by requiring the prompt return to their habitual residence.

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

If your children are wrongfully taken out of the country or wrongfully retained after the time for returning them passed, the Hague Convention can help you get them back.

Interstate Family Support

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

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

Certification Review Course

It is a privilege to be invited to speak on interstate custody and international child abductions at the annual Family Law Board Certification Review Seminar again. The annual seminar is the largest and most prestigious advanced family law course in the state. Last year’s audience included over 1,600 attorneys and judges from around the state.

The review course is co-presented by the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar, and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Registration information is available here.

International Child Custody and the Death Penalty

Whether a U.S. state court will have subject matter jurisdiction over a foreign order in an international child custody case turns on whether a parent is subject to the death penalty in the country originally granting child custody. That painful issue is addressed in a recent appeal from the state of Washington.

Custody Death Penalty

Desert Heat

The Father, Ghassan, appealed a Washington state court’s jurisdiction and award of custody of his child, ZA, to the Mother Bethany. Ghassan and Bethany married in Saudi Arabia in 2013. Bethany is a U.S. citizen, and Ghassan is a citizen of Saudi Arabia. The couple had one child, ZA, in Saudi Arabia.

In 2017, Bethany filed for divorce in Saudi Arabia. In January 2019, a Saudi judge granted the divorce and custody of ZA to Bethany. But then in April, the father sued for custody of ZA on behalf of the paternal grandmother. The parties had a bitter custody battle in which the father accused Bethany of gender mixing, adultery, and insulting Islam.

The father presented damning evidence in the Saudi family court, including photographs of the mother in a bikini in the U.S., and a video of her doing yoga.

Adultery, insulting Islam, and insulting Saudi Arabia are crimes in Saudi Arabia which carry the death penalty. The Saudi judge derided Bethany as a foreigner, who embraced western cultural traditions, and even worse, lamented the child spoke fluent English!

The Saudi court awarded custody to the paternal grandmother who lived with the father. Bethany wisely reconciled with her ex, and convinced him to give her custody rights in exchange for her forfeiting child support. With the father’s permission to travel to Washington for a visit with her family, the mother and daughter left the sand dunes of Arabia for the Evergreen State.

The Battle Near-ish Seattle

Bethany filed a petition for temporary emergency jurisdiction under the UCCJEA and then a permanent parenting plan and child support. The father moved to dismiss for lack of personal and subject matter jurisdiction. In the alternative, he asked the court to enforce the Saudi Arabia custody order and waiver of all financial rights.

The family court denied enforcement of the Saudi order and the mother’s waiver of child support. The family court ruled that Washington had jurisdiction in a custody case if “the child custody law of a foreign country violates fundamental principles of human rights.” The father appealed.

Then in 2021, Washington amended its UCCJEA to add a provision that Washington need not recognize another country’s custody order if:

the law of a foreign country holds that apostasy, or a sincerely held religious belief or practice, or homosexuality are punishable by death, and a parent or child may be at demonstrable risk of being subject to such laws.

On appeal, the Washington Court of Appeals applied Washington’s new amendment to the UCCJEA. The Court of Appeals ruled that a Washington court need not enforce the Saudi child custody decree, and may exercise jurisdiction over custody, because Saudi Arabia punishes “apostacy” by death.

The Court of Appeals found that ample evidence supported the family judge’s ruling that the mother faced a death sentence if she returned to Saudi Arabia for her religious and political beliefs. Additionally, the father did not dispute that Bethany could receive the death sentence on her return to Saudi Arabia.

The unpublished opinion is here.

Comity and an International Divorce in Texas

International divorce cases may require recognition here, or comity, as one couple from Pakistan discovered. After a woman received nothing from her husband’s talaq divorce in Pakistan, she then sought a property division in a Texas divorce from her real estate developer husband. Is the Texas family court required to recognize the Pakistan divorce decree as valid?

Comity International Divorce

A Scam in Pakistan?

The former wife, Azhar, and her former husband, Choudhri, were married in Pakistan. At that time, Azhar lived in Pakistan and her husband lived in Texas. After obtaining her visa, she traveled to Houston where they lived together as husband and wife.

The Wife returned to Pakistan to renew her visa. Reports claim she was tricked into going back to Pakistan so her husband could take advantage of Sharia Law to divorce her. While she was in Pakistan, he initiated a talaq divorce, the results of which meant she got nothing from the marriage.

Texas Hold‘em

The Wife filed for divorce in Texas, and the Husband tried to dismiss the case. Following the hearing, the trial court denied the Husband’s motion to dismiss based on comity, finding:

“enforcement of the certificate of divorce issued in Pakistan would be contrary to Texas public policy and would, if enforced, violate the Wife’s basic right to due process.”

Around the same time, the former wife was also challenging the Pakistan divorce in the Pakistan courts. At first, the Pakistan trial court ruled in the former wife’s favor, declaring their divorce void. But the former husband appealed, and the Pakistani appellate court reversed and dismissed the wife’s case. On appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the high court affirmed.

Back in Texas, the trial court entered a new order recognizing the Pakistan Supreme Court’s judgment that the divorce was valid. The Texas court dismissed the wife’s divorce action, and dismissed her property division claim with prejudice.

The wife appealed, arguing the trial court should not have granted comity to the Pakistani divorce because she was not personally served, and was only provided notice five days prior to the divorce by publication in a local circular.

In some cases, American courts may defer to the sovereignty of foreign nations according to principles of international comity. But U.S. states are not always required to give full faith and credit to foreign country judgments. For instance, a U.S. court will often decline to recognize a foreign divorce judgment if it was obtained without due process.

On appeal the Texas court found the original order dismissing the Texas divorce was made prior to the Pakistan Supreme Court’s involvement. The second Texas trial order recognizing the Pakistan Supreme Court was deserving of comity, and the Texas appellate court affirmed.

The opinion is available from MK Family Law here.

Child Abduction and the Grave Risk Exception

Few people outside of international family law attorneys know that even if a child abduction is proven, courts don’t have to return a child if the grave risk exception, or another treaty defense, is proved. The grave risk defense took center stage at a recent appeal of a child abduction case.

brazil child abduction

Garota De Ipanema

The mother, Dos Santos, and the father, Silva, met in 2011 in Brazil. They have one child together, a daughter who was born in 2012 in Brazil. The three lived together in Brazil until April 2020, when the parents separated.

In August 2021, the mother left Brazil with their daughter and traveled to the United States. The mother did so without the father’s consent to move the child permanently. to the US.

After he learned that his daughter was in the US, the father filed an application with the Brazilian central authority for the return of his child under the Hague Convention. The Brazilian government referred the matter to the United States Department of State-the United States’s central authority under the Convention.

No one disputed at trial that the mother wrongly removed her daughter from the her habitual residence in Brazil and from the lawful joint custody of her father, and abducted her to the US. Normally, that would mean the child would be promptly returned to Brazil.

But the mother claimed returning their daughter posed a grave risk that the child will be exposed to physical or psychological harm or an otherwise intolerable situation.

Hague Child Abduction Convention

I have written and spoken on international custody and child abduction under the Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The Convention’s mission is basic: to return children to the State of their habitual residence to require any custody disputes to be resolved in that country, and to discourage parents from taking matters into their own hands by abducting or retaining a child.

The removal or the retention of a child is to be considered wrongful where it is in breach of rights of custody under the law of the State in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention; and at the time of removal or retention those rights were actually exercised, either jointly or alone, or would have been so exercised but for the removal or retention.

While there are several defenses to a return of a child, the grave risk defense is one of the frequently relied on, and misunderstood defenses available under the Convention.

Mas que nada

Generally, the Hague Convention has six exceptions. In the recent Brazilian case, the mother alleged the grave risk defense. Under this defense, return to Brazil is not required if there is a grave risk that return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.

However, the grave-risk exception is narrowly construed and has a higher burden of proof than most of the other defenses. At the trial, the judge found that the mother had failed to establish that the child will face a grave risk of physical or psychological harm should she be returned to Brazil.

Without an established exception, the trial court granted the father’s petition for return of the child to Brazil

The Mother appealed and the appellate court reversed. The mother described an altercation between the father and her subsequent boyfriend which may have been videotaped. But the video recording was not brought in as evidence. The court also heard from two other witnesses who saw the mother with bruises and a witness who testified about threatening social media messages.

Importantly, the trial judge didn’t believe the father’s testimony. To the appellate court, that meant the trial judge should have considered the father’s testimony as corroborating substantive evidence that the mother’s allegations were true.

Because the trial judge thought there were some issues with the father, including “anger management issues” and “making threats to people”, a majority of the appellate panel felt the trial judge mistakenly felt her hands were tied.

The appellate decision is here.

Beautiful No Fault Divorce

Divorce lawyers hear many reasons for filing for divorce. “My spouse is too beautiful”, however, is a new one. But it does not matter as most states abolished fault as a ground for divorce. But in some state legislatures there is an effort to overturn our system of no-fault divorce.

beauty no fault divorce

In the eye of the beholder

A prominent right-wing commentator, Steven Crowder, is making waves this month after he complained his ex-wife started the divorce process on her own. Crowder emphasized the divorce was against his will, and is blaming the no-fault system of divorce:

“Since 2021, I’ve been living through what has become a horrendous divorce. . . This was not my choice. My then wife decided she didn’t want to be married anymore. And, in the state of Texas, that is completely permitted.”

Crowder’s comments come on the back of recent proposals by state legislatures to overturn no-fault divorce laws on the books in Texas, Nebraska, and Louisiana. The repeal of no-fault divorce would hit Zambian husband, Arnold Masuka, hard.

Masuka has taken the extraordinary step of seeking the dissolution of his marriage because his wife is exceptionally beautiful.

This surprising revelation left officials and witnesses in awe at a local court in the Zambian capital city of Lusaka. The newspaper, Zambian Observer, reported that during the divorce proceedings, Masuka shocked those present in court when he candidly expressed to the judge that his wife, Hilda Muleya, possessed a beauty that had caused him countless sleepless nights.

The sheer allure of his wife had become an overwhelming source of anxiety for him, leading him to make this unconventional request. Masuka explained to the court that he lived in a state of perpetual fear, constantly worried about the possibility of losing his wife to another man.

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. Interestingly, given the recent attack on no-fault divorce, it was former Governor Ronald Reagan of California who signed the nation’s first no-fault divorce bill.

The no fault divorce law eliminated the need for couples to fabricate spousal wrongdoing in pursuit of a divorce; indeed, one likely reason for Reagan’s decision to sign the bill was that his first wife, Jane Wyman, had unfairly accused him of “mental cruelty” to obtain a divorce in 1948.

I’ve written about divorce and infidelity issues before. The no-fault concept in Florida means you no longer have to prove a reason for the divorce, like your wife’s exceptional beauty. 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.

Lost in Lusaka

Masuka’s increasing fear of his wife’s beauty had grown so intense, that he found himself hesitating to leave his wife Hilda unattended. He stopped going to work, and was totally consumed by the nagging thought that his wife might be lured away by other suitors.

In Masuka’s eyes, Hilda, originally from Gokwe, Zimbabwe, was the epitome of beauty. Among all the women he had encountered in his life, none had captivated him quite like her. This powerful attraction had become both a blessing and a burden, fueling his insecurity and prompting him to take this unusual legal recourse.

As the court listened attentively to Masuka’s heartfelt plea, it became evident that his intentions were driven by genuine concern for his wife’s well-being. However, whether the dissolution of their marriage was a viable solution remained to be seen.

Ultimately, the fate of Arnold Masuka’s marriage rests in the hands of the court, which will consider the implications of his request for dissolution.

The Nigeria World article is here.

International Child Abduction Compliance Report

Each year, a country’s compliance with laws governing international child abduction is evaluated in a report issued by the U.S. Department of State. These annual reports show Congress the countries determined to have been engaged in a pattern of noncompliance. They also show if any countries cited in the past improved.

Compliance Report

2023 Report

Under the Hague Convention, the U.S. State Department is tasked as our Central Authority. The Central Authority facilitates implementation and operation of the Hague Convention on child abduction in the U.S.

After passage of the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, the State Department was later assigned the duty of submitting annual Action Reports on International Child Abduction to Congress on the specific actions taken in response to countries determined to have been engaged in a pattern of noncompliance.

In 2022, a total of 165 abducted children were returned to the United States.

The 2023 Annual Report is an overview of the Department’s efforts to support the resolution of international parental child abduction cases.

The Department also reports on their work with foreign governments and authorities to promote procedures to encourage the prompt resolution of existing international abduction cases. The aim is that, in general, international custody disputes should be resolved in the competent court of the country of the child’s habitual residence.

Countries which don’t meet their Convention obligations, or fail to work with the U.S. to resolve child abduction cases, can face “appropriate actions.”

Florida International Child Abduction

I’ve written and spoken about international child abduction compliance under the Hague Convention before. The Hague Convention seeks to deter child abductions by a parent by eliminating their primary motivation for doing so: to “deprive the abduction parent’s actions of any practical or juridical consequences.”

The removal or the retention of a child is to be considered wrongful where it is in breach of rights of custody attributed to a person, an institution or any other body, either jointly or alone, under the law of the State in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention; and at the time of removal or retention those rights were actually exercised, either jointly or alone, or would have been so exercised but for the removal or retention.

The Hague Convention is implemented in the United States through the International Child Abduction Remedies Act. Then in 2014, the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act was signed into law.

Even if a country is a signatory country and treaty partners with the U.S., returning a wrongfully retained or abducted child may still be complicated because some signatory countries are not complying with the Convention. That is where the State Department’s annual reporting comes in.

ICAPRA increases the State Department’s annual reporting requirements. Each year, the Department not only submits an Annual Report on International Child Abduction to Congress, it submits another report on the actions taken towards countries determined to have been engaged in a pattern of noncompliance.

Don’t cry for me, Argentina

The State Department reports include both countries where there is a treaty relationship with the United States under the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention, and countries where no treaty relationship exists, such as Russia.

The 2023 Action Report reviews the results of cases which were resolved the previous year. Some of the countries in our hemisphere which failed to regularly implement and comply with the Hague Convention include Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, and Peru.

The Convention has been in force between the United States and Argentina since 1991.  In 2022, Argentina had continued to demonstrate a pattern of noncompliance.  Specifically, the Argentine judicial authorities failed to regularly implement and comply with the provisions of the Convention.

As a result of this failure, 50 percent of requests for the return of abducted children under the Convention remained unresolved for more than 12 months. Granted, there was only 2 abduction cases in Argentina. One case was resolved with the return of the child, and the other one is still unresolved after a year. Argentina was previously cited for demonstrating a pattern of noncompliance in the 2015-2022 Annual Reports.

ICAPRA also adds steps the U.S. can take when a country refuses to cooperate in the resolution of overseas abduction and access cases involving American children. The steps can include: a demarche (a petition or protest through diplomatic channels); public condemnation; delay or cancelation of official, or state visits; suspension of U.S. development assistance; and even the withdrawal or suspension of U.S. security assistance.

The 2023 Report is available here.

Divorce Waiting Period

Many U.S. states, including Florida, have a waiting period before you can divorce your spouse. In India, the Supreme Court just ruled that it can enter a divorce without a waiting period in cases of irretrievable breakdown of marriage.

Divorce Waiting Period

India Divorce Waiting Period

The Supreme Court’s judgment relates to a 2014 case filed in the top court, titled Shilpa Sailesh vs. Varun Sreenivasan, where the parties sought a divorce under Article 142 of the Indian Constitution.

The procedure to obtain a divorce by mutual consent is laid down in Indian law, which states that both parties can file a petition for dissolution of their marriage by presenting a decree of divorce to the district court, on the grounds that they have been living separately for a year or more or that they have not been able to live together or have mutually agreed to dissolve their marriage.

However, both parties seeking divorce have to wait between 6 to 18 months from the date on which they presented their petition to obtain the divorce decree. The waiting period for divorce is given so that the parties have ample time to withdraw their plea.

After the passage of the mandated period and hearing both parties, if the court is satisfied, it may conduct an inquiry and pass a decree of divorce, dissolving the marriage with effect from the date of the decree. However, these provisions apply when at least one year has elapsed since the marriage took place.

Additionally, divorce can be sought by either spouse on grounds like adultery, cruelty, desertion, religious conversion, insanity, leprosy, venereal disease, renunciation, and presumption of death. In circumstances of exceptional hardship or depravity, a divorce petition may be allowed under Section 14, even before the lapse of one year since marriage.

Florida Divorce Waiting Period

I’ve written about divorce waiting periods, and your rights in divorce before. Like India and other states, Florida also has a divorce waiting period of sorts. Although it’s not as long as other states  or India’s six to 18 month policy. In Florida, no final judgment of dissolution of marriage may be entered until at least 20 days have elapsed from the date of filing the original petition for dissolution of marriage.

The thinking behind waiting periods in Florida reflects the protective regard Florida holds toward the preservation of marriage and a public policy that marriage is the foundation of home and family.

In some cases the waiting period is longer. For instance, no dissolutions in Florida are allowed in cases of an incapacitated spouse unless the party alleged to be incapacitated has been adjudged incapacitated for a preceding period of at least 3 years. However, the court, on a showing that injustice would result from this delay, may enter a final judgment of dissolution of marriage at an earlier date.

Patience is a virtue, impatience a vice

In India, the mandatory six-month waiting period under can also be waived by filing an exemption application before a family court in a motion for the court to pass a decree of divorce. The high court has ruled:

“Where there is a chance of reconciliation, however slight, the cooling period of six months from the date of filing of the divorce petition should be enforced. However, if there is no possibility of reconciliation, it would be meaningless to prolong the agony of the parties to the marriage.”

Accordingly, if a marriage has broken down irretrievably, the spouses have been living apart for a long time unable to reconcile their differences, and then they mutually decided to part, it is better to end the marriage to enable both spouses to move on with their lives, the court said.

While the parties can approach the family courts for initiation of divorce proceedings, this process is often time-consuming and lengthy, owing to a large number of similar cases pending before such courts. If the parties wish to opt for a divorce more expeditiously, they can approach the Supreme Court for the dissolution of their marriage.

The Indian Supreme Court also aims to clarify whether the application of its powers would extend to all divorce cases; and whether it could be used in cases where one of the parties is not consenting to the divorce. For this, the court appointed senior advocates for assistance in the case.

The Indian Express article is here.

Dissipation and Soccer

Hiba Abouk, the wife of Moroccan soccer star Achraf Hakimi, filed for divorce only to discover she may be the victim of a massive dissipation of marital assets. Many are wondering if Abouk will walk away empty-handed after her husband passed all of his assets to his mom.

Dissipation Divorce

Red Card?

Hiba Abouk was born in Madrid, and is the youngest of four children. She is also a successful actress, and has amassed a small fortune throughout her career in television. The 36-year-old Spanish model is approximately worth $3 million.

Achraf Hakimi is one of the highest paid Moroccan professional soccer players, and is currently playing for Paris Saint-Germain and the Morocco national team. He began playing for Real Madrid Castilla in 2016, then signed with Inter Milan, and after helping the club win the 2020–21 Serie A title – their first in 11 years – signed with Paris Saint-Germain. Hakimi’s wealth is estimated to be around $70 million, as per media reports

The pair started dating in 2018 and got married in 2020. Together, they have two boys. But then in March 2023, a 24-year-old woman filed a complaint against Hakimi accusing him of raping her in his house in Paris while his wife and two sons were away on holiday.

French prosecutors indicted Hakimi on rape charges after he was questioned by investigators. Hakimi’s mother has claimed that the charges against her son are false, and she is confident that her son is innocent.

Abouk filed for divorce after returning in March 2023, but to her shock, her husband had no properties or money in the bank in his own name. According to reports Hakimi had registered all of his assets in his mother’s name and may even have assigned to his mother most of his salary.

Florida Dissipation

I’ve written about dissipation of marital assets and unequal distribution of assets before. In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, when distributing the marital assets between spouses, a family court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors.

Some of the factors to justify an unequal distribution of the property include things like the financial situation the parties, the length of the marriage, whether someone has interrupted their career or an educational opportunity, or how much one spouse contributed to the other’s career or education.

Another important factor is whether one of the parties intentionally dissipated, wasted, depleted, or destroyed any of the marital assets after the filing of the petition or within two years prior to the filing of the petition.

Dissipation of marital assets, such as spending marital funds on extramarital relationships (buying expensive gifts for a girlfriend) or putting the family home in mom’s name, or excessive gambling are examples which happens a lot. Less common are schemes like transferring all of your assets and assigning 80 percent of your income to a family member. Misconduct may serve as a basis for assigning the dissipated asset to the spending spouse when calculating equitable distribution.

Misconduct, for purposes of dissipation, does not mean mismanagement or simple squandering of marital assets in a manner of which the other spouse disapproves. There has to be evidence of intentional dissipation or destruction.

Dissipation Soccer

A Rat in Rabat?

According to media reports, Abouk filed her divorce claim and demanded half of the World Cup star’s fortune before she discovered the bitter truth: that Hakimi’s mother had it all. Media reported that court officials have told Abouk that her husband legally owned nothing and that all his millions, and even his PSG salary, were registered under his mother’s name.

Morocco World News reported last year that Hakimi was the sixth highest-paid African footballer, earning more than $215,000 a week. However, his wife was astonished when she was told by the court that more than 80 percent of his salary is credited to his mother’s bank account.

He appears to have no properties, cars, or jewelry registered in his name. After the financial disclosure, Hakimi is now entitled to seek half of his ex-wife Hiba Abouk’s net worth, which is rumored to be $3 million.

Hakimi’s lawyer, Fanny Colin, said that her client being indicted was an “obligatory step for any person being accused of rape,” and would allow the footballer to defend himself.

The Morocco World News article is here.

The Importance of Divorce Jurisdiction

The jurisdiction where you file your divorce can be of extreme importance. File in the wrong jurisdiction, and your divorce can be deemed a nullity. In Afghanistan, where divorce is taboo, the Taliban have started to void divorce judgments granted under the previous government.

Divorce Jurisdiction

Trouble in Kabul

Reports from Afghanistan are flowing in about women, who were abused for years by their ex-husbands, who have now had to go into hiding with their children after the Taliban tore up their divorce decrees.

A small number of women, under the previous US-backed government, were granted a legal separation in Afghanistan. However, when Taliban forces swept into power in 2021, husbands claimed they had been forced into divorce and the Taliban are ordering women back to their husbands.

“My daughters and I cried a lot that day. I said to myself, ‘Oh God, the devil has returned.”

The Taliban government, which imposes strict Islamic law, has placed severe restrictions on women’s lives that some have called “gender-based apartheid”. Afghan women have been denied education, restrictions on movement, and a lack of participation in the economy.

Importantly, lawyers say that several women have reported being dragged back into abusive marriages after Taliban commanders voided their divorce judgments.

Florida Divorce Jurisdiction

I have written about jurisdiction in Florida divorce cases before. In Florida, there is no common law right to a divorce. Divorce in Florida is formally called a “dissolution of marriage”, and the cause of action for dissolution of marriage is entirely dependent on Florida Statutes.

The only true jurisdictional requirement imposed by statute in Florida is to show that one of the parties to the marriage has resided six months in the state of Florida before the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage.

The importance of meeting the statutory requirement is important as it allows you to obtain recognition of your divorce judgment in other states under the full faith and credit clause of the United States Constitution.

Although Florida’s residency requirement sounds simple enough, it is a jurisdictional requirement which must be alleged and proved in every case. Failure to do so, renders your divorce null and void.

Bad News in Kunduz

According to the UN’s mission in Afghanistan, nine in ten women will experience physical, sexual or psychological violence from their partner. However, divorce is considered more taboo than domestic violence is in Afghanistan. Worse, the culture remains unforgiving to women who part with their husbands.

Under the previous US-backed government, divorce rates were steadily rising in some cities, where the small gains in women’s rights were largely limited to education and employment.
As awareness grew, women realized that separating from abusive husbands was possible.

Under the US-backed regime, special family courts with women judges and lawyers were established to hear such cases, but the Taliban authorities have made their new justice system an all-male affair.

Divorces under the new Taliban government are limited to when a husband was a classified drug addict or has left the country. In cases of domestic violence, or when a husband does not agree to a divorce, divorce is not permitted.

Child marriages are also an ongoing phenomenon in Afghanistan. In one case, Sana was 15 when she married her cousin who was 10 years older than her. With the help of a free legal service project Sana won a divorce from her husband in court — but her relief was shattered when Taliban commanders came knocking.

Threatened with losing custody of her four daughters, she returned to her ex-husband who by then had also married another woman. She escaped after he announced the engagement of her daughters to Taliban members.

The oppressive measures against women in Afghanistan are aggravating the economic woes of the country. A report by the International Crisis Group states that many western countries, and even private donors, have canceled donations fearing backlash from funding such an oppressive regime.

India’s NDTV article is here.