Family Courts Just Aren’t Interested So Much in Fault When it Comes to Equitable Distribution, or Property Division (If Ever)

“Wronged” spouses are always amazed and then shocked that here in Florida, a no-fault divorce state, the non-economic “sins” of a spouse (such as adultery) are generally not taken into account in equitable distribution, or property division.

New York state, on the other hand, remains a fault-based divorce state. The only one in fact.

But even in a state like New York, where “fault grounds” are alive and well, fault is not generally a factor in property division there either. For fault to influence equitable distribution, even in New York, the fault must be “egregious” and “shock the conscience of the court”.

What is egregious fault?

It is not deceiving your spouse into believing that a child who is the product of an affair is in fact your spouse’s child, New York’s highest court recently held. Not sufficiently shocking.

Examples of what is considered egregious fault in New York include extreme domestic violence and trying to bribe the judge presiding over the case.

So wronged Floridians should take some solace that, even in fault-based divorce, fault likely doesn’t affect the property division any more than it does here in Florida.

Read more in this Gotham Gazette article: Court Sets High Bar for ‘Egregious’.

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Mother Allegedly Allows Boyfriend to Beat Son to Death and Then Disfigure His Body

Florida Mother and Father have four year old Son.

Mother and Father are divorcing without lawyers.

Just another uncontested divorce.

Mother moves to Utah.

Father alleges in court papers that Mother is unstable and abandoned Son.

But couple agree on a timesharing schedule where Son lives with Father during the school year and with Mother during summers.

Son arrives for summer timesharing with Mother within days of Mother and Father’s divorce being finalized.

Mother’s Boyfriend allegedly beats Son for days as Boyfriend’s wedding to Mother approaches.

Mother and Boyfriend reportedly lock Son in a bedroom and head off to their wedding.

Son dies on Sunday.

Boyfriend allegedly bashes Son’s face and teeth in with a hammer to make identification of Son’s body more difficult.

Boyfriend reportedly wraps Son’s body in plastic and buries it in a canyon in Utah.

Mother is said to have reported Son as missing.

Mother and Boyfriend are arrested on suspicion of aggravated murder, desecration of a corpse, felony child abuse and obstruction of justice.

Boyfriend has a history of criminal convictions for criminal mischief, disorderly conduct and possession of drugs.

Read more in this Seattle Times article: Formal charges expected in death of Utah boy

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Divorce Marketplaces for the Newly Divorced Who Are Ready to Move On With Their Lives

You’ve made it through the divorce, with the possible assistance of services promoted at a Divorce Fair.

You’ve acknowledged or celebrated the divorce, possibly with a divorce party.

Now it’s time to start the rest of your life.

Vendors who’d like to be of assistance can be found at a Divorce Marketplace, such as a free expo scheduled in Houston next month.

Products and services represented will range from:

  1. cosmetic changes providers

  2. health improvement providers

  3. dating services

  4. travel services

  5. educational institutions

  6. business opportunities promoters

  7. child care providers

  8. elder care providers

  9. and more

Read more in this Out in Houston article: HOUSTON’S FIRST DIVORCE MARKETPLACE.

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Don’t Write Off That Prenuptial Agreement Prematurely

Prenuptial agreements (or prenups) should be as routine as wedding planning and marriage preparation.

Almost half of all marriages end in divorce.

Some divorces turn very, very nasty and very, very expensive.

A lot of that can be avoided with a sound antenuptial agreement.

If a couple is discussing incomes, bills, spending, savings, money expectations, money plans (and they should be), a prenup is just part and parcel of that conversation.

Every engaged couple should consider a prenup regardless of how little they may have today (things change), but an antenuptial agreement is especially worthwhile in the following situations:

  1. when either or both future spouses own significant assets at the time of marriage

  2. when either future spouse already has children from a previous relationship

  3. when one future spouse has an interest in a business

  4. when there is a considerable difference in the incomes of the two future spouses

  5. when there is a significant age difference between the future spouses

  6. when either future spouse agrees to support the other during their professional education or training

  7. when it is anticipated that either spouse will inherit property

Read more in this CNBC news article: Wedding season mantra: Till prenup do us part.

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UK Awards Nigerian Wife Long Residing in the UK Substantial UK Marital Property After Nigerian Divorce Leaves Her Homeless

Wealthy Nigerians are reportedly partial to the UK.

And so it was with one couple who eventually owned a home there, and whose five children were all born and educated there.

Six years after their marriage, Husband became an attorney and opened a successful law practice in Nigeria.

Twenty-odd years after their marriage, Husband and Wife separate.

Husband seeks and obtains a divorce in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Court awards now-elderly Wife practically nothing of the couple’s considerable marital estate.

As a result, Wife becomes homeless in the UK – and qualifies for legal aid in the UK.

Wife then sues Husband in the UK for a share of the marital assets located in the UK under an unusual UK statute directed at just such a situation as Wife’s.

The lower UK courts struggles with Husband’s jurisdictional challenges and policy concerns about relitigating matters already litigated in other jurisdictions

But the UK Supreme Court reverses, finding that Husband and Wife had strong ties to the UK throughout their marriage, which should have supported jurisdiction over their divorce under the UK’s more equitable laws.

And, consistent with the spirit of those laws, the UK’s highest court awards Wife 275,000 UK pounds.

The case is expected to capture the attention of affluent Nigerians for whom the UK is a second, if not primary, home.

Read more in this [Nigerian] Next article:UK divorce ruling sends message to rich Nigerians.

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National Missing Children’s Day

The US Department of State reminds the world that yesterday was National Missing Children’s Day, in recognition of children abducted abroad by a parent or other family member.

Thousands of children are abducted overseas by loved ones each year.

Last year, more than 2,000 children were abducted to or from the US alone. Many of them have not yet been recovered.

The Department of State is uniquely qualified to draw attention to this issue as the Central Authorty for the US designated under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Claims by parents left behind in other countries are directed to them under the Hague Convention. And American residents whose children have been abducted out of the US also turn to them for assistance.

Read more in this US Department of State press release: National Missing Children’s Day.

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Post-Divorce Murder-Suicide Thought to Be Over Valuable Real Estate Transferred to the Former Wife, As Court-Ordered, to Make Up for Substantial Child Support Arrearages

Fatal domestic violence incidents, particularly murder-suicides, are becoming an epidemic, according to a representative from one central Florida shelter for domestic abuse victims.

In 2008, there were two murder-suicides in Orange County, Florida. In 2009, ten. Orange County reportedly has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Florida.

The most recent area incident was the killing, allegedly by an ex-husband, of his ex-wife and her new husband. Twelve years after the divorce.

The couple had five children together, but there also appears to have been a history of domestic abuse.

The former husband allegedly just began shooting at the door of his ex-wife’s home one morning.

The suspected motive: the former husband had been $200,000 behind in his child support payments, so the court had awarded the former wife a rental property that was worth over $1 million. When the former wife sold the property, she collected the entire net sales proceeds.

Read more in this WDBO-AM news article: Domestic violence murders becoming an ‘epidemic’ and this WFTV 9 news article: Child Support May Be Motive For Triple Murder.

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What You Should Do Promptly Once You Know It’s Over

When it hits you that your marriage is not going to make it, no matter how distraught you are, it’s important to take care of business while you may still have the opportunity.

  1. Ensure that you have some liquid cash flow from marital assets

  2. If possible, take measures to secure your accounts, so that your partner doesn’t clean everything out

  3. Make sure you will receive copies of all account statements as they are issued

  4. Gather copies of important financial records ans store them in a safe place

  5. Secure your personal items

  6. Consult an attorney about your rights

  7. Consider notifying your children’s school or daycare provider about the change in your children’s family life

  8. Maintain your personal safety

  9. If your partner is civilized, maintain a dialog

Read more in this Australian News article: It pays to act quickly after divorce.

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Starter Marriages: Often End with Divorce, Before Baby Carriages

First there were starter homes. Now, we have “starter marriages”.

For those not in the know, those are short first marriages.

Typically not generating children or property.

Probably generating debt.

Generally not making it to the fifth anniversary.

The problem: The couple was in love with the notion of getting married … more than each other. The “romance” was all about the wedding … an expensive wedding.

Neither planned or considered beyond the Event.

Making eventual divorce highly likely.

Read more in this [Boston] WBZ NewsRadio 1030 article: Generation X: Starter Marriages.

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Husband Still Faces Being Held in Contempt Even Though Court Subsequently Modified the Court Order in Such a Way That Husband’s Alleged Violation Would No Longer Violate the Order

I previously posted in Can Family Court Preclude Either Parent From Merely Exposing Their Child to that Parent’s Religion, Even if the Other Parent Has Ultimate Decisionmaking Authority Over the Child’s Religion? about an Illinois Husband facing contempt for reportedly baptizing his Daughter and taking her to Catholic church services, despite the couple’s prior agreement and a court order requiring that the Daughter be raised in the Jewish faith and prohibiting the parents from exposing her to other religions.

Husband’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss the contempt allegation on constitutional grounds, but the Court denied that motion.

The couple’s divorce has since been finalized, with the Court ultimately ruling that Husband can take Daughter to church during his timesharing.

So is Husband off the hook for contempt?

No, Husband still faces being held in contempt for openly violating the Court’s prior order, even though that order has since been modified.

If that seems puzzling, the essence of contempt is willful disobedience of a court order.

Read more in this Chicago Breaking News Center article: Judge won’t toss contempt charge against dad who took daughter to Mass.

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