Tag: Divorce Mistakes

No-Fault Divorce Around the World

A British woman who alleges she was “desperately unhappy” being married lost her divorce. Unlike Florida, many places require proving fault, you can lose your case, and have to stay married!

As the BBC reports, Tini Owens, 66, asked the Court of Appeal to overturn a family court judge who turned her down when she asked to divorce her husband Hugh Owens, 78.

You read that correctly. Of all of the issues facing you when you divorce: who gets custody, how will I support myself, what are the tax implications of alimony, in some places you could actually lose your request to divorce and have to stay married.

The appellate court judges in Great Britain upheld the trial judge’s ruling. Mrs. Owens claimed that her marriage had broken down, but Mr. Owens disagreed.

The Husband argued that the couple still had a “few years” to enjoy. And the trial judge agreed with him. The judge ruled the Wife’s allegations were “of the kind to be expected in marriage”. Parliament decreed “it is not a ground for divorce that you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage, though some people may say it should be.”

Florida is a “No-Fault” state. No-fault laws are widespread across the United States, but not everywhere. No fault laws have helped to reduce animosity in divorces by reducing the need to distort, lie, and air dirty laundry.

I’ve written about no-fault divorce before. Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. The only reason you need to file for divorce in Florida is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” But as the case of Mrs. Owens shows, in other places, that is not always true.

While Florida is a No-Fault state for divorce, it is interesting to know why people divorce. A recent study out of the UK reveals some surprising reasons why people divorce. Interestingly, adultery is a declining factor.

It appears that couples are less likely to cite adultery as the cause of a divorce than they were 40 years ago. However, claims of “unreasonable behavior” (a British term) have skyrocketed to more than 5 million divorce cases.

The BBC article is available here.

Property Division & Getting Your Name Off Title

Long after your divorce’s property division, you remember that your name is still on the deed and mortgage to your old home. It may be important to remove your name from title in order to buy a new home or get credit.

Getting A Court Order

One way to remove your name from title is to go back to the family law judge, and ask for an order requiring that your name be removed from the deed and mortgage. However, to remove your name from title, your ex-spouse will have to refinance the property.

A controlling issue in these types of cases is whether your spouse has the ability to refinance. If your spouse has bad credit, is unemployed, or gets turned down for a loan, it will be hard to force your ex to do something that can’t be done.

However, if your ex-spouse has the ability to remove your name off the mortgage, but has never bothered to, a court order could work. However, you whenever you file for an order in court, you are going to incur attorney’s fees and costs, and that could get expensive.

I’ve written about real estate and property divisions before. Unless your marital settlement agreement or final divorce decree is clear, there may not be any choice but to run back to court for an order.

However, if your name is still on title, your ex-spouse can’t sell the home unless you sign the deed over to her or a new buyer. Additionally, the home cannot be further mortgaged unless you sign on the mortgage papers too.

Selling the Home

If you and your ex agree to sell the property, the sale will usually require the payoff of the existing mortgage with your name on it. That would take your name off the loan and ownership of the home. The same is true if your ex refinances: a new loan should pay off the old mortgage, and a satisfaction of mortgage will be recorded.

Hidden Problems

There are other problems in a property division in which your name is still on title. In the even that your ex-spouse does not pay the mortgage timely, your own credit will suffer the late notices.

Additionally, if someone is hurt visiting your old home, that person will sue the record title owners for their damages. If your name is on title as an owner, you could be sued. Having liability insurance may be in order, which requires talking to an insurance agent.

My Florida Bar Journal article on property is here.

Divorce and Privacy

How private is your information after filing for divorce? Divorce and privacy come to mind after former Florida governor Charlie Crist announced his divorce from his wife Carole.

After nine years of marriage, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist has filed for divorce. For a career politician like Crist, divorce and privacy are important for career survival.

The former governor has taken the right tone: “I think the world of Carole. She’s an amazing person. It just didn’t work out for us,” the former governor told the Tampa Bay Times. “I wish all the best for her.”

Crist, 60, said the divorce should have no impact on his service. He and Carole, 47, own a condo in downtown St. Petersburg, and details about whether he will continue to live there have yet to be worked out.

Divorce exacts a heavy financial and emotional toll. For many people, including businessmen, politicians, celebrities and others, this means preserving your good name and legacy for future generations.

New York and several other states try to protect the privacy of litigants by granting document access only to litigants and counsel. This might create a false sense of confidence for clients though, because sometimes the other party leaks information purposefully.

I have written about the topic of divorce privacy before. It is very important to protect the privacy of parties to a divorce, and prevent identity theft, especially when Florida court rules make disclosure of sensitive financial information mandatory.

Some initial steps you can take to protect your divorce privacy include changing the passwords to your computer log-in screen, email accounts, social media sites, such as Linkedin and Facebook, and even your voicemail at work and at home. Change these passwords will help to keep your information private.

Florida recently adopted a confidentiality rule to better protect social security and bank account numbers for instance. But Florida court filings are not private. Privacy – and confidentiality of court filings – are easily overlooked issues when filing for divorce, and something you should be aware of in deciding to file.

The Miami Herald article is here.

Cheating and No-Fault Divorces

Not every state has no-fault divorce. That means you have to prove grounds, such as infidelity, and your divorce could take a decade or more. Why? Because you can waive grounds for divorce.

Mississippi is one of only two states without a true “no-fault divorce” law. If one spouse doesn’t want a divorce, he or she can often stave one off for a long time. In one reported case, it was more than a decade.

As WTSP in Tampa Bay reports, there’s an effort in the Mississippi Legislature to make some reforms to their divorce laws. But such efforts have failed in the past. A measure to create a “no-fault” divorce based on length of separation has already been watered down early in the legislative process this session.

Getting a divorce in Mississippi is difficult and expensive. Lawmakers and the religious lobby in this Bible Belt state have been reluctant to make it any easier or cheaper, mainly in efforts to uphold the institution and sanctity of marriage.

Yet, Mississippi still ranks continually near the top of states in its divorce rate — seventh highest in one recent study.

Experts say Mississippi’s antiquated divorce laws, little changed over a century, put low-income people at a disadvantage — particularly homemakers who don’t have resources to fight a lengthy court battle. They likely hurt the state’s overall economy, clog the courts and cost taxpayers.

In Mississippi, you still have to prove grounds for divorce, so a spouse who condones, or forgives marital fault can’t get a divorce unless the conduct happens again.

In a case of infidelity then, the non-cheating spouse who reconciles with the cheating spouse, may be found to have condoned the infidelity; and may have lost the grounds for divorce until it  happens again.

No-fault laws are 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.

I’ve written about no-fault divorce before. Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. The only reason you need to file for divorce in Florida is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” But as the case of Mississippi shows, in other states, that is not always the case.

The WTSP article is here.

How Not to Act During a Divorce

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Wednesday, July 13, 2016.

It takes two to make a good marriage, but one to make a bad divorce. Johnny Depp altered his tattoos of his wife to insult her because he’s angry. Does it matter?

Amber Heard went public with allegations that her husband Johnny Depp had abused her during their marriage. The story created some discussion about domestic abuse, victim-shaming and the cult of celebrity.

But how should Depp respond when faced with, what he claims, are groundless, domestic violence allegations: take the high road or insult his Wife in front of the children and in a very public way?

The actor chose the latter of course! Depp just showed off a new altered knuckle tattoo that reads: “SCUM” in place of previous one that read “SLIM”, his wife Amber’s nickname. He has also had his previous bicep tattoo of her, which looked like a pinup girl, blackened out.

The actor has not commented about the ink-job, but what does it matter? After all, tattoos on your knuckles and arms are meant to be seen, and are a constant billboard of what you were thinking, and if you’re an actor it makes world news.

Many people have also commented that this isn’t the first time. Winona Ryder, Depp’s previous love interest, also had a tattoo of honor dedicated to her on his body. But Depp had:

“Winona Forever changed to “Wino Forever”

Funny and classy!

But does altering your tattoos to insult your spouse matter in a divorce?

I’ve written about how to properly behave during the divorce process, and even how good relations with your Ex could save your life. Whether you’re in court or outside of court, how you treat yourself and spouse matters.

Something you should NOT do, for instance, is to attend a court hearing in your full Nazi uniform showing off your Swastika neck tattoo. Some people may find that offensive.


Something you should do is try to start better relations with your spouse. That could save your life. The divorce process forces you to view your spouse as an enemy. It is easy to let those feelings take over, and cause you to say things in front of your children that they should be protected from.

Steps you don’t want to take but should are things like: not yelling in front of your children, taking the high road when dealing with problems, and respecting your soon to be ex-spouse.

The E-news Online article is here.

Avoiding the Biggest Divorce Financial Mistakes

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Monday, April 28, 2014.

Perhaps my favorite newspaper is the Wall Street Journal. Last week the WSJ ran a discussion about the biggest financial mistakes in divorcefrom expert financial consultants I wanted to share. Here’s what they had to say:

Ted Jenkin is a co-CEO and founder of oXYGen Financial, a financial advisory firm. Ed finds the number 1 mistake among divorcing couples is their lack of consideration around liquidity of assets.

It’s pretty common after a separation that one spouse will end up with the primary residence. While the math may show a true 50/50 split, the reality is that one of the spouses will be stuck with a paper asset that could be tough to dispose of.

For Charles Rotblu, vice president with the American Association of Individual Investors, the biggest financial mistake divorcing couples make is not settling quickly.

My first job in finance was with a firm specializing in the valuation of closely held businesses. We were hired to give an expert assessment of what a business was worth. A few cases dragged on because one or both spouses were more concerned with inflicting financial pain than moving on. All this served to do was to drive up the legal costs of the divorce.

Eleanor Blayney is consumer advocate of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. She worries that when strong emotions are put in the same cauldron as financial decisions, you have a recipe for disaster.

When spouses see money as the way to exact emotional revenge, the costs of divorce can be devastating. Find ways to separate the fury from the finances can protect both partners’ financial futures.

For George Papadopoulos, a wealth manager:

Getting a qualified divorce attorney to be on your side and look out for your own best interests is a must.

Michelle Perry Higgins is a financial planner and principal at California Financial Advisors.

You want to avoid making decisions on the basis of sentiments like “He can have everything, I just want this over” or “She can have the house, since the divorce was my fault.” To avoid this outcome, don’t rush through the divorce proceedings, organize your financial, estate and personal affairs and put all the information in one location, and then meet with your financial planner and divorce attorney to discuss your options.

I’ve blogged sound advice from other experts before. This advice is sound: (1) don’t fall into the liquidity trap, (2) proceed quickly to avoid running up legal fees, (3) Don’t let emotions cloud your judgment and (4) Get an expert divorce attorney.

Some Common Divorce Mistakes to Avoid

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Board Certified Lawyer on Saturday, October 13, 2012.

During the first meeting with divorcing clients, I frequently bump into similar problems. Many clients make some common mistakes, and some of the suffering associated with divorce can be self-inflicted, or at least avoidable. Below I’ve listed some of the frequent mistakes I see, in the hope, you can avoid them.

Not reading your prenuptial agreement

If you are going to sign a prenuptial agreement before your marriage, you should take the time to speak to a board-certified specialist in marital and family law. The prenup may, nor may not be, in your best interests, but almost always favor the richer and more powerful party. Florida adopted the UPAA (Uniform Premarital Agreement Act). The rules for drafting enforceable agreements are now pretty clear, although the date of your agreement can have a big impact on which law applies. Alimony waivers remain somewhat problematic, because a trial court has the authority to disregard some of them. However, appellate decisions are moving towards upholding them.

Adding someone to the title of your non-marital property

Property owned prior to marriage is your non-marital property. As long as the other spouse is not joined in title, your property will remain non-marital, with one very important qualification: If there is a mortgage on the property that is paid down with marital funds, the marital estate may have a claim to the enhancement in value to your non-marital property. If you transfer the title from you alone, to you and your spouse, you may have converted the asset to marital property.

Commingling Property

Commingling is a little like adding your spouse to your non-marital property. If you want double the price of your divorce, even if you have a prenuptial agreement, mingle all of your non-marital investment accounts money together into one account. Commingling creates a host of issues and an accounting nightmare. If you want to claim your non-marital property funds in a commingled account, you will be required to do an expensive and difficult trace of the funds using a forensic accountant. A safer way to maintain your non-marital funds is to keep them in a separate account. If you need to make cash infusions into a marital account, realize that you are probably kissing the funds goodbye.

Misplacing Important Documents: prenups, bank records, property records and investment accounts

Record keeping is not fun but has gotten a lot easier with scanning hardware and software. Bank records, investment records, tax returns and prenuptial agreements represent evidence which will become a part of your case.

Hopefully, you can avoid some of the problems I frequently run into when interviewing potential new clients.