What Happens to the Higher Education Degree Earned During the Marriage in a Divorce?

Work your fingers to the bone supporting the family while your spouse goes to school to eventually bring more bacon home to the family.

… Then get dumped when your spouse finally receives his or her sheepskin.

It’s a classic drama that plays out over and over again.

The exploited spouse views that degree as a commodity that he or she in essence bought for their spouse.

But is the degree itself property that has an intrinsic value that can be divvied up on the marital balance sheet?

Most states say no, Utah and Florida among them.

What about the understanding of the expected quid pro quo between the spouses?

Well, this varies from state to state, but it’s best not to expect too much based on an implied understanding or even a verbal agreement.

As in other areas of life, there is just no substitute for a solid written contract reflecting the expectations of both parties.

In Utah, a divorcing wife recently went outside of her husband’s divorce case to file a separate civil lawsuit for breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

While some have criticized taking this dispute outside the family court, the Utah Court of Appeals held that the wife could press her civil suit but that she would have to prove a written contract.

Not surprisingly, the couple never hired attorneys to draw up a formal legal contract. But there reportedly were a series of e-mails back and forth that may be deemed to constitute a contract.

Of course, even where there is no written contract and the degree per se may not be divisible, there may be more than one way for the exploited spouse to skin the cat. For example, the professional practice founded upon the degree may have a value that can be divided. Or the degreed spouse’s income may be split up, with a portion going to alimony. Or the exploited spouse may at least be reimbursed for the money spent on tuition to obtain that degree.

Read more in this Salt Lake City Deseret News article: Little redress available for ‘support’ spouses.

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Financial Planning for Blended Families

After the divorce. Before the remarriage.

Second and subsequent marriages are more likely to fail than first marriages.

At the same time, each spouse in a second marriage is more likely to enter the union with assets, debts – and children.

Making things more complicated.

A prenup is the way to think through, negotiate and agree upfront who gets what in the event of a divorce – or death – of a spouse. The surviving spouse. His kids, her kids, their kids, a combination of all of the above?

Before the marriage, either party can walk away if agreement can’t be reached – unscathed, at least financially.

But the instant the “I dos” are exchanged and wedding gifts received, there is no turning back and the other spouse and/or a court have a say in who gets what – and escape is less likely to be unscathed.

Read more in this Kiplinger’s article: Blended Family Finances.

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Multiple Deployments to Iraq Challenge Military Marriages and Kids

The war in Iraq has been putting a strain on soldiers’ marriages.

Over fifteen percent of all soldiers in Iraq plan to divorce their spouses. The rates are dramatically higher among those on subsequent deployments, in proportion to their number of deployments and the length of their tours of duty.

Impending departures, deployment after deployment. Rushed visits home squeezed in between them.

Widespread post traumatic stress disorder. One soldier confesses that his wife and family have told him that he is “not as loving” since his return from the Iraq war.

Domestic violence in the military appears to be up – and incorporates techniques learned in military training. Incidents mar visits home and departures back to war, some escalating to killings.

The military sponsors various support groups and classes. But it just isn’t enough to meet the need.

Even children of deployed soldiers are at ever-increasing risk of abuse or neglect with each successive deployment of a parent.

Read more in this Fort Mill [SC] Times article: As wars lengthen, toll on military families mounts.

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New York Orders of Protection Extended to … Pekin Ducks

A Long Island Duck, of the Pekin variety – along with its owner, has been granted an order of protection by a Long Island court.

The order will remain in effect until 2016 – longer than many orders of protection protecting human victims of domestic violence.

The man under the order was also sentenced to a year of confinement for aggravated cruelty to an animal.

More severe consequences than are inflicted on many domestic abusers of humans.

The man shot the duck with a pellet gun.

After the incident, the duck stopped laying eggs for a time.

The duck’s family now plans to relocate with it to Arizona.

Read more in this Newsday article: Circles the Pekin duck is moving off Long Island.

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Japanese Family Law Throwback to Another Era

Japan may be a modern country technologically. But not legally, according to reports.

In approximately 80% of divorce and paternity cases in Japan, the father loses all parental rights, excluding the “right” to pay child support. In the remainder of cases, it is the mother who is stripped of her parental rights.

Visitation? That’s not a concept that is part of Japanese family law.

When parents break up, the “other parent” fades out of their children’s lives. Another family member may even adopt their children without their consent.

How does a parent win custody in Japan?

One alleged way to get a leg up on a custody award in Japan is to abscond with the child, even across international boundaries.

Statistics suggest that some 10,000 children in Japan have no access to their foreign parent.

Japan is a not yet a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Although there are rumors that it will adopt the convention in a couple of more years, one has to wonder whether it will really matter.

Japanese family law is in need of a paradigm shift. Without that, change may be a pipe dream.

Japan did sign the Convention of New York, the purpose of which was to assure children access to both parents. It didn’t.

Family law activists in Japan are lobbying for a long overdue overhaul of the Japanese family law.

Read more in this Singapore Straits Times article: Over 160,000 Japanese children split from one parents every year.

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Briton Publishes Divorce Settlement on Web to End Hostile Speculation

A wealthy British advertising executive and publisher, husband and father, divorced his wife.

And, according to him, the rumors started. He abandoned them, leaving them with nothing, and so on.

Rightly or wrongly, he believes he has been maligned, criticized, scorned … speculated about.

Yet he believes the settlement was generous, and resents the whispers behind his back.

So, while most wealthy folks going through divorces are more likely to be looking to seal their court files from public scrutiny, this man decided to strike back in a very public way.

He launched a website intended to set the record straight about his divorce.

On the site, he purports to disclose the terms of his divorce settlement.

He hopes it will quell the wild rumors.

Time will tell.

Read more in this UK Independent article: Businessman puts divorce deal on web to stop ‘rumour mill’ and this [India] Economic Times article: Millionaire posts divorce details on net to stop rumours.

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Application. Divorce Final Judgment. Mortgage Application Package Complete.

Your divorce is finally final. Now you can move on with your life.

Maybe you’d like to start over with a new condo or house. You find the perfect place.

You begin working with a mortgage broker. In the course of your chit-chat, you mention you were just divorced.

Don’t be surprised when your mortgage broker asks you for a copy of your … final judgment of dissolution (also known as divorce decree).

How come?

  1. If you are receiving alimony and / or child support, you may be relying on those payments to fund your new mortgage payments. And your lender may have to rely on your ex to make those support payments for you to keep your new mortgage loan current. Your lender will likely need to see proof of your ex’s legal obligation to pay, the mechanism by which he or she pays (direct payment or wage garnishment, for example) and your ex’s payment history.

  2. And if you are paying alimony and / or child support, a portion of your income is spoken for and unavailable to make your new mortgage payments. The same is true if your ex is still in your old house with your kids and your name is still on that mortgage, especially if you are obligated, under your decree or because you co-signed, to continue making payments on that existing mortgage. Your lender will likely want proof of exactly how much of your income is yours to apply toward new your mortgage payments and what existing mortgage payments you are (potentially) liable for.

Read more in this WalletPop article: Mortgage Confidential: Why lenders want to see your divorce decree.

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Abducted Florida Baby Dies in Panama with Father

Husband and Wife meet right here in Southeast Florida. Wife confides that she is an illegal immigrant.

Husband and Wife marry. Husband sponsors Wife for a green card.

Marriage breaks down.

Husband asks for postnuptial agreement. His apparent intention was that it serve as a divorce settlement.

Proposed agreement reportedly removed custody of any future child of theirs from Wife.

Wife refused to sign agreement. Husband threw Wife out of house.

Then took her back. And so on.

Child was born. Divorce began.

Wife was awarded primary residential custody of Child. Until the day Homeland Security showed up and instructed her to turn Child over to Husband despite the Court’s order.

Husband apparently put Homeland Security onto Wife, claiming to have learned of her illegal status only after the marriage.

Wife was detained for some time and threatened with deportation. Wife was eventually freed, due to Husband’s history of domestic violence.

But when Wife returned to their home, Husband and Child had vanished. Husband claimed to be in Panama with Child.

Wife had never consented to issuance of a passport to Child, so Husband’s story seemed questionable.

Wife obtained court orders requiring Husband to return Child to her custody. To no avail.

About nine months later, Wife got word that Child, now almost 2 years old, had died of pneumonia in Panama.

There were some seeming irregularities in Husband’s and the attending physician’s accounts of how Child died and the circumstances leading up to Child’s death. Wife believes Husband was negligent in caring for Child.

Wife plans to sue Husband over Child’s death. And hopes that he is prosecuted for passport fraud and parental kidnapping.

But none of that will bring Child back …

Read more in this NBC6 TV article: S. Fla. Mother Wants Answers To Baby’s Death In Panama.

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Credit Crunch 2008: This is the Time to Divorce, According to the Statistics

Couples with at least $10 million in assets are flocking to divorce courts this year.

The reason? They are feeling the pinch of the credit crunch and generally weak economy.

In New York State, the situation has fueled the biggest spike in divorce filings in nearly thirty years. The last such spike resulted from the introduction of additional grounds into New York’s fault-based divorce scheme.

Folks in NYC’s sometimes high-flying financial sector have gone from multimillion dollar bonuses to … no bonuses at all this year. Life changing.

And marriage changing – challenging.

No longer flush with cash for the distraction of grandiose entertainment, wealthy couples are reduced to … fighting.

Marriages of the wealthy reportedly are not so much inspired by romance as those of other economic statuses. So, when the applicable inspiration diminishes, it’s off to divorce court – in droves.

So anyone seeking a divorce now should find themselves in really good company …

Read more in this [UK] Times article: Credit crunch raises divorce rate for America’s superwealthy.

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Father of the Bride Accused of Murdering the Bride

Extended Pakistani family live in Atlanta. Father arranges marriage of Daughter.

Daughter wants out of marriage. Daughter files for divorce.

Father very upset. So …

Father allegedly strangles Daughter with a bungee cord…

Father is charged with murder, but maintains his innocence.

Father asks Court for accommodation so that he can follow Muslim beliefs in jail.

Read more in this Assyrian International News Agency article: Muslim Man Kills Daughter for Refusing Arranged Marriage and this Atlanta Journal Constitution article: I’m innocent, says man held in daughter’s death.

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