Tag: Divorce & Privacy

Can Divorce Privacy Fly?

Singer R. Kelly no longer needs to wonder can divorce privacy fly in his case. We now know his legal name is Robert S. Kelly, and a lot of embarrassing information he wanted kept private. Although the files were initially sealed by the court in his divorce case, they have been opened to the public by an appellate court.

divorce privacy2

Surviving R. Kelly’s Divorce

In 2006, R. Kelly filed a petition to dissolve his marriage with wife Andrea. In June 2013, the family court entered an agreed order directing that the entire court file be sealed because of a “serious likelihood of the media culling through the record for the purpose of revealing painful, potentially scandalous, details.”

In 2019, radio station WBEZ and the Chicago Tribune filed a joint motion to access the sealed court files after a more than $160,000 in unpaid child support landed the singer in jail, and just three weeks after Kelly was jailed while gathering the cash to post bond on criminal sexual abuse charges tied to allegations by four women.

Kelly and his former wife have been battling over finances for more than a decade, with the embattled R&B singer and his reality TV star ex each claiming poverty at times, the unsealed divorce filings show.

Among other revelations, Kelly was repeatedly accused of falling behind on child support and he sought to reduce them, claiming he had seen a “steady decline in his popularity” due in part to his “age, drastic decline in record sales, increased album purchase prices …. and the overall economic downturn.”

In response, Andrea Kelly tried to have his child support payments increased, saying he had “gone to great extents” to hide his income and assets. She also noted in the filing that her pay from the reality TV show “Hollywood Exes” wasn’t sufficient to pay the bills.

Kelly’s attorneys revealed that the singer faced a tax liability of more than $7 million and that the mortgage on his house in suburban Olympia Fields — often mentioned as the site of his alleged improper sexual encounters with teenage girls — had been foreclosed.

As long-standing allegations of predatory sexual behavior against Kelly gained public attention, his former wife accused him of withholding payments as punishment for her speaking out about his alleged abuse. In turn, Kelly has said her public allegations have made it difficult for him to earn money.

Florida Divorce Privacy

I’ve written on divorce privacy issues before. Divorce privacy is an issue that comes up a lot. Divorces in generally, and court records themselves, are public events, and the filed records of court proceedings are public records available for public examination.

Both the public and the media can challenge any closure order by filing the appropriate motion in court. The closure of court proceedings or records should only occur when it’s necessary to comply with established public policy, to protect trade secrets; or to protect children in a divorce among other reasons.

In addition, Florida has new rules protecting sensitive data from public view. This includes protecting Social Security, Bank Account, Debit, and Credit Card Numbers because if those numbers are included in a document, they may become part of the public record.

If information is absolutely required, there is a rule with procedures for sealing and unsealing of court records. Also, the Clerk of Court has the authority to redact or make confidential only specific information.

If sensitive information has already been filed in Court Records, you must complete and submit a “Notice of Confidential Information Within Court Filing” in order to remove or seal it.

“When a Woman’s Fed Up”

Andrea hinted at the long legal tussle in comments for the Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly,” which featured multiple women accusing Kelly of wrongdoing and amplified the wave of public backlash against the singer.

“People think that I’m living this great, lavish life, but they don’t understand,” she said. “… People just think oh, you know, she wants to come forward now because the checks stopped. … The checks have been over for a very long time.”

Originally, the family court order allowed public access “to the entire court file, including the redacted documents and noting the sealed documents” beginning on August 13, 2019.

But then the court clerk placed material in the public file that the court had ordered to be sealed and the court thereafter restricted further access in the best interest of the children.

WBEZ appealed and the appellate court reversed finding the right of the public to review court records is supported by constitutional guarantees and case law.

“Litigation is a public exercise; it consumes public resources. It follows that in all but the most extraordinary cases complaints must be public. Consequently, judicial proceedings in the United States are open to the public.

Access to judicial records is not absolute, and every court has supervisory power over its own records and files, so it may deny access at times. The party opposed to public access must establish both that there is a compelling interest favoring a closed file and that the protective order is drafted in the least restrictive manner possible.

One scenario in which a court may deny public access is where the court finds that a public hearing may be detrimental “to the child’s best interests.” In a dissolution of marriage case, the court may order the sealing of records of “any interview, report, investigation, or testimony.

Here, the appellate court found redacted documents that didn’t contain confidential information relating to the parties’ children’s medical care, nor otherwise support the court’s concern for the best interests of the children.

The documents also did not refer to a child of either party, and they didn’t provide sufficient information to identify any specific other child. At best, redaction merely protected R. Kelly from embarrassment, which is an impermissible basis to withhold material from the public.

In light of the strong public policy in favor of public disclosure of judicial proceedings, we therefore hold that the circuit court abused its discretion in redacting paragraphs 26-29 in the body of count II of the March 2014 motion, and the corresponding prayer for relief in count II.

The Reason article is here.

*Photo credit Andrew Steinmetz

 

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.

 

Proving Income for Alimony in the Big Apple

Former New York City Mayor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, filed for divorce and set off a rancorous battle, in part, over how much income the former Mayor actually makes. Proving his income is important for determining her alimony and can be a tough question in the Big Apple.

income divorce big apple

It’s up to you New York

In caustic legal proceedings the couple has battled over many things like kitchen renovations, splurges of $7,131 on fountain pens and $12,012 on cigars. But the primary issue is Mr. Giuliani’s current income.

His wife believes that Mr. Giuliani left his law firm, Greenberg Traurig, in 2018, a month after the divorce was filed, and chose to work for President Trump pro bono in order to reduce any future alimony.

Mr. Giuliani earned $7.9 million in 2016 and $9.5 million in 2017, funding the couple’s roughly $230,000 a month lifestyle. In 2018, the year he began working for the president, Mr. Giuliani’s earnings dipped to $6.8 million, and he has suggested that this year’s income will be well below that.

Mr. Giuliani now gives his wife $42,000 a month, as well as covering other bills, including the carrying costs for their properties, as ordered by Judge Katz in February. Mrs. Giuliani must pay for the landscaping at their home in Southampton.

Mrs. Giuliani says she had no choice but to take him to court, to prove what he is actually worth financially and to get what she believes she is fairly entitled to.

Florida Alimony

I’ve written about the very public circus-like Giuliani divorce before, and on the subject of alimony in Florida. In every Florida dissolution of marriage case, the court can grant alimony to either party – husband or wife.

Not many people realize there are several types of alimony in Florida: bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent alimony.

Florida courts can also award a combination of alimony types in a divorce. Alimony awards are normally paid in periodic payments, but sometimes the payments can be in a lump sum or both lump sum and periodic payments.

In determining whether to award alimony or not, the court has to first make a determination as to whether a wife or a husband, has an actual need for alimony, and whether the other party has the ability to pay alimony.

Proving the ability to pay is one of the central issues in the Giuliani divorce right now because his income dropped right before he filed for divorce. Typically, courts consider any type of earned income or compensation — that is, income resulting from employment or other efforts — along with recurring passive income, such as dividends on your investments, in establishing the amount of support you will be responsible to pay.

In Florida, once a court determines there is a need and the income available to pay alimony – sometimes referred to as the ability to pay alimony – it has to decide the proper type and amount of alimony. In doing so, the court considers several factors, some of which can include:

  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
  • The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
  • The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate.

But, after establishing a need for alimony, how much income is there to determine ability to pay?

Life in the Big Apple

Mrs. Giuliani said in an interview.

“I feel betrayed by a man that I supported in every way for more than 20 years, I’m sad to know that the hero of 9/11 has become a liar.”

But to hear Mr. Giuliani’s circle and his legal team tell it, Mrs. Giuliani’s endgame tactics are merely an extension of her personality, which they have not and do not describe kindly.

They portray her as being a social climber through marriage, someone who rose from her background as a nurse by marrying twice, before meeting the mayor of New York City.

And once she found her third husband, Mrs. Giuliani was accused of pushing her new husband’s children and many of his nearest friends away in an effort to control him.

“She has put 20 years into this relationship,” said her friend Andrea Ackerman, a real estate agent from whom she has purchased six homes. “She is not folding. Not this time, uh-uh.”

If there is one regret for Mr. Giuliani as his life once again upends in public, it is that his personal problems end up ensnaring the people around him, he said in an interview:

“Everybody’s life around you is being disrupted. You get the pain of that, but also you get the satisfaction of what it means to be in public office — they don’t. There is a certain amount of guilt in that.”

The New York Times article is here.

 

When Mama Grizzlies Divorce

Citing “incompatibility of temperament” and that “they find it impossible to live together as husband and wife” Todd Palin filed for divorce from former Alaska governor, one-time vice-presidential candidate, and self-described mama grizzly, Sarah Palin, his wife of 31 years.

Divorce Grizzly Bears

Alaska The New Frontier

In a document filed in Anchorage Superior Court, Todd Palin, 55, asked to dissolve the marriage, citing an “incompatibility of temperament between the parties such that they find it impossible to live together as husband and wife.”

The divorce filing uses initials rather than full names, but identifies the couple’s marriage date and the birth date of their only child who is a minor, Trig Palin. The filing asks for joint legal custody of the child.

The Palin family rocketed to national prominence in 2008 when Republican presidential nominee John McCain chose Palin as his vice-presidential candidate, making them household names and focusing the country’s attention on their hometown of Wasilla.

The marriage of the uber mama grizzly, Sarah and her husband Todd, a commercial fisherman, snow machine racer and oil field worker, was frequently on display in TV interviews, reality shows, books and other media appearances.

Florida Divorce

Alaska is a “no fault” divorce state, which allows for divorce on the basis of an “incompatibility of temperament.” This means that even if your spouse is entirely opposed to ending your marriage, you can still request, and receive, a divorce from the Court if you allege what the Palins alleged: “incompatibility of temperament between the parties such that they find it impossible to live together as husband and wife.”

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.

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.

Some people think no fault divorce is one of the main reasons for a high divorce rate. Despite the recent legislative moves around the world to make all divorce no-fault, there is also a counter-movement to return to the old “fault” system to promote families.

North to the Future

Since leaving office, Sarah Palin has kept a low profile in Alaska politics, while maintaining a national profile through her books, speaking engagements and social media presence.

The two have been married since 1988 and have five children: Track, Trig, Bristol, Willow and Piper. Todd Palin’s filing asks for shared custody of Trig, who has Down Syndrome. Todd Palin, unlike his famous political wife, has largely steered clear of headlines since she burst on the national scene during 2008 presidential election cycle.

He was in a snowmobile accident in 2016, in which he suffered broken and fractured ribs and a collapsed lung, a broken shoulder blade, a broken clavicle, and leg injuries. It was one of the few times the husband made headlines.

The couple’s children have also lived in and out of the spotlight over the years. Track Palin, their eldest son, was sentenced to a year in custody last year after a female acquaintance said he told her that she could not leave his house in Wasilla, took away her phone and then hit her in the head.

In December 2017, Track Palin was accused of breaking into his parents’ home and leaving Todd bleeding from cuts on his head, authorities said. He pleaded guilty in June 2018 to a lesser charge in veterans court.

The couple’s daughter Bristol Palin briefly starred in MTV’s “Teen Mom” franchise but quit the series in April. She said in her announcement that the reality series wasn’t a good fit for her and that “walking away from this show allows God to rebuild me (and my little fam) in the right direction.”

Bristol Palin was 17 when she found out she was pregnant with her son, Tripp, who she had with former fiancé, Levi Johnston. She also has two daughters, Sailor Grace and Atlee Bay, with former husband, Dakota Meyer.

The Anchorage Daily News article is here.

 

Divorce Court Circus

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

Divorce Court Circus

Big Apple Circus

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

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

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

Florida Divorce

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

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

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

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

A New York State of Mind

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

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

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

The judge reluctantly stepped in to play peacemaker.

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

Earlier, the judge scolded at the parties and lawyers:

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

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

The New York Daily News article is available here.

 

Communicating During Divorce

The divorce between Jersey Shore star, Jenni “JWoww” Farley, and her husband, Roger Mathews, is getting uglier. Communicating during divorce, especially when you have children, is never easy. Are there lessons to learn from South Jersey?

communicating during divorce

Communicating ‘down the shore’

The Jersey Shore actress released a long statement on her website, accusing her ex of physical abuse and allegedly putting their two young children in harm’s way.

In a video message released the following day, Mathews said her “rant” was “highly erroneous” and “had many lies in it” and then he posted copies of legal documents he says his attorneys sent to the divorce judge.

Mathews posted a lengthy written message on his website:

You painted me as a woman beater. The facts are these. No one, man or woman, husband or wife has the right to put their hands on each other. I take responsibility for that night in question, and one other night that I can think of that, I pushed you. You edited out your actions and violent behavior prior to me pushing you which I knew you would do.

Not to be outdone, JWoww’s team then said in a statement that the accusations he makes in the documents are “laced with false statements.”

Florida No-Fault Divorce

I’ve written about communicating during divorce before, and the “good divorce” too. 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.

Florida Statutes actually still provide that these things may be considered under certain circumstances in the award of alimony, equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities, and determination of parental responsibility.

However, case authority shows little consideration from a legal perspective, relegating them to more of an emotional appeal. But just because Florida does not require a showing of fault does not mean you should go out and create fault either!

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

In Florida, either spouse can file for the dissolution of marriage. You must prove that a marriage exists, one party has been a Florida resident for six months before filing the petition, and the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Fist Pump!

For Jersey Shore cast members, whose way of life was “GTL” (gym, tan, laundry) communicating during divorce is not the time to pull punches. But should they be making these online admissions?

We look like a–holes to the world. We are. We are both a–holes.

Mathews also added:

You claim in your rant that I put our children in harm’s way by filming myself and driving. I was doing 20 miles an hour leaving my buddy’s development, but I will concede that that was not well thought out and I will absolutely refrain from doing that in the future. It’s hypocritical of you however cause you are on the phone constantly while driving and doing your makeup and texting.

Communicating during divorce can be ugly and spiral out of control. Many would be surprised to learn divorce lawyers and judges are not spoiling to see a good fight.

The E Online article is here.

 

Divorce Privacy

Like any optimist, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison is hoping divorce privacy laws will keep his personal history from impacting his campaign to become Minnesota attorney general. That may be difficult with the Star Tribune suing to unseal his divorce records.

Divorce Privacy

Minnesota Allegations

Ellison and his ex-wife, Kim Ellison, divorced in 2012. The related records have been sealed, so the public cannot access the information. The efforts to unseal the divorce records follow allegations by Ellison’s ex-girlfriend, Karen Monahan, that Ellison domestically abused her in 2016.

Ms. Monahan, a Sierra Club organizer, reportedly said she suffered “emotional and physical abuse” during their long-term relationship, including an incident in which she said Mr. Ellison dragged her from a bed and screamed obscenities at her.

The Star Tribune argued that, given the public interest around that situation and Kim Ellison’s public support of her ex-husband, the divorce records are a matter of concern to voters.

Divorce records are typically public, but judges will often agree to seal them if both parties to the case agree and no one else objects.

Florida Divorce Privacy

I’ve written on divorce privacy issues before. Divorce privacy is an issue that comes up a lot. Divorces in court are public events, and the filed records of court proceedings are public records available for public examination.

Both the public and the media can challenge any closure order by a divorce court. The closure of court proceedings or records should only really occur  when it’s necessary to comply with established public policy, to protect trade secrets; or to protect children in a divorce among other reasons.

Florida also has new rules protecting sensitive data from public view. This includes protecting Social Security, Bank Account, Debit, and Credit Card Numbers because if those numbers are included in a document, they may become part of the public record.

If information is absolutely required, there is a rule with procedures for sealing and unsealing of court records. Also, the Clerk of Court has the authority to redact or make confidential only specific information.

If sensitive information has already been filed in Court Records, you must complete and submit a “Notice of Confidential Information Within Court Filing” in order to remove or seal it.

Close Race

The Star Tribune argued that, given the public interest around that situation and Kim Ellison’s public support of her ex-husband, the divorce records are a matter of concern to voters.

Divorce records are typically public in Minnesota, but judges will often agree to seal them if both parties to the case agree and no one else objects. The Ellison campaign released a statement from Kim Ellison on behalf of both her and Keith Ellison.

“Our divorce simply isn’t the public’s business, and therefore, when we separated, we jointly asked the court to seal the file. Now, one month before a closely contested election for Minnesota Attorney General, a conservative group wants to probe our divorce file in search of something to use against Keith in this race. I am disappointed that the Star Tribune would choose to file this motion.”

Polls show this is a very tight attorney general race. A poll released September 16 shows Republican challenger Doug Wardlow and Ellison with 41 percentage points each. The Star Tribune/Minnesota Poll released September 19 shows Ellison with a five-point lead. That is still within the margin of error.

The Star Tribune article is here.

 

Avoid the American Hustle

As if divorce wasn’t bad enough, the FBI warns the most common targets of dating scams are divorced women over 40. Women are courted online, and after weeks of intimacy, money is missing. This post contains a few post-divorce tips to protect yourself

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

According to an Atlantic magazine article, scams are abundant, and Derek Alldred seems to have scammed at least a dozen women out of about $1 million since 2010.

He used different names and occupations, but the identities he took on always had an element of financial prestige or manly valor: decorated veteran, surgeon, air marshal, investment banker.

Con artists have long known that a uniform bolsters an illusion, and Derek was fond of dressing up in scrubs and military fatigues. He tended to look for women in their 40s or 50s, preferably divorced, preferably with a couple of kids and a dog or two.

The age of the internet, with its infinitude of strangers and swiftly evolving social mores, has also been good for con men. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, which tracks internet-facilitated criminal activity, received nearly 300,000 complaints in 2016.

Of those scams, more than 14,500 were for relationship fraud, a number that has more than doubled since 2011.

Divorce Tips

I’ve written about practical tips after your divorce before. Consider that once the lawyers, are gone, who is there to guide you on the many questions? There are some immediate steps to take to ensure your hard-fought interests are protected – and your financial documents reflect your new marital status.

Once your divorce is final – meaning a final judgment is entered – you should review and revise, if necessary, the following legal and estate planning documents:

  • Trusts
  • Powers of Attorney (property, healthcare, HIPAA, etc.)
  • Will
  • Life insurance policies
  • Retirement accounts

What can happen if you don’t?

One example is common. If your ex-spouse remains the beneficiary of your life insurance policy and you pass away, the proceeds will go to your ex-spouse instead your children.

The opposite can also be true. In Florida, the plain language of the documents controls. To the extent your or your former spouse claimed a right to remain as the beneficiary under a life insurance policy – as a condition of the dissolution of marriage – your rights can be waived.

The Sting

The FBI warns that in many scams, women are courted online by men who claim to be deployed in Afghanistan or tending an offshore oil rig in Qatar. After weeks or months of intimate emails, texts, and phone calls, the putative boyfriend will urgently need money to replace a broken laptop or buy a plane ticket home.

According to the Justice Department, only 15% of fraud victims report the crimes to law enforcement, largely due to shame, guilt, embarrassment, and disbelief:

You feel really crappy about yourself,” Missi told me, then slipped into a tone that sounded like the mean voice that lives inside her head: “I’m a stupid woman; I’m a dumb, dumb, dumbass.

One excellent way to dispel yourself of any con-man fantasies, however, is to spend some time with the people they’ve hurt. Their victims are negotiating ruined credit scores and calls from collection agencies.

Several were so flattened by the experience, they’ve had old medical problems flare up or have struggled to go back to work.

The Atlantic magazine article is here.