Annulment Denied, Even Though Husband Thought He Was Marrying a More Well-Off Wife Than She Turned Out to Be

Australian Husband and Wife marry.

Husband is under the impression that Wife holds substantial property.

Several months after the wedding, Husband learns that Wife’s holdings are less substantial than he had thought.

Husband seeks an annulment, arguing fraud by Wife.

At trial, the court rules that there was no fraud as to the nature of the occasion of the wedding. The court finds that Husband had the power to consent to marriage and did in fact agree to marry Wife.

Since there was no fraud as to the fact of marriage or identity of the bride, the Australian court holds that the marriage is not subject to annulment.

Read more in this Sydney Morning Herald article: Till debt us do part case dismissed.

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Marriage and Divorce in 2010

There’s actually less divorce than we generally hear.

The percentage of first marriages that fail is now at forty percent. Not fifty percent, as widely believed.

The two most likely causes of any divorce are money and affairs.

On the other hand, money (or, actually, lack of it) is forcing a certain percentage of couples who want to divorce to stay together during this recession.

Especially the drop in home values. But also the actual cost of divorce and the tax impacts.

Read more in this Houston Fox 26 KRIV TV article: 2010 Bucks Marriage and Divorce Trend.

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Texas Husband Charged with Murdering His Three Children During Timesharing … After Previously Allegedly Abducting Their Children Abroad for a Year and Abusing Wife for Fifteen Years

Texas Husband and Wife have stormy fifteen year marriage.

Husband allegedly physically abuses Wife throughout it.

Husband and Wife have three Children together.

In 2006, Husband, intoxicated, carrying a gun, chases Wife into Daughter’s room, and threatens to shoot and kill Wife … if she doesn’t reveal the name of a man Husband believes asked her out.

Husband then gives the gun to Wife, and asks her to shoot him. When Wife disarms the gun though, Husband beats her.

That incident drives Wife to seek a domestic violence restraining order against Husband.

That incident also leads to Husband being convicted of assault on Wife. But the court withholds adjudication in the case.

In 2008, Husband allegedly abducts the Children to Pakistan. But Wife is able to secure their return to the US after about a year.

Wife files for divorce from Husband.

A guardian ad litem is appointed by the court to look out for the best interests of the Children.

Neither the guardian ad litem or Wife opposes unrestricted visitation by Husband.

In their divorce, Husband is awarded timesharing with Children.

And during Husband’s timesharing, Husband allegedly murders all three Children.

And wounds himself as well.

Husband is now charged with three counts of murder.

October is national domestic violence awareness month.

Read more in this Houston Chronicle article: Slain kids’ mom tells of abusive marriage.

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Often Overlooked Issues in Divorce Settlement Proposals and Property Divisions Made By Family Court Judges

Evaluating a divorce settlement proposal isn’t always as straightforward as one may think.

In appropriate cases, it may be well worth it to have a financial advisor and/or tax advisor review a settlement proposal before it is finalized.

One commonly overlooked issue in cases where spousal support and / or child support is involved is assurance to the support-receiving spouse that the support-paying spouse is maintaining a life insurance policy to secure the paying spouse’s obligations.

Of course, it is good to require the paying spouse to provide proof on an annual basis that the policy remains in good standing and full force and effect.

But what if the ex refuses to furnish that proof in years following settlement (or final judgment)?

There are a couple of ways to address this possibility without the receiving spouse having to bring a contempt proceeding.

One way is for the receiving spouse to be designated as the actual policy owner. As owner, the receiving spouse will always be informed of the status of the policy. Even if their ex is ordered to and/or agrees to pay the premiums.

The other way is for the policy to be nonmodifiable and noncancellable without thirty days’ notice to the receiving spouse. There is typically a surcharge for this provision.

But it may be well worth it. This way the ex cannot just pull the plug on the policy without the receiving spouse’s knowledge.

Both approaches accomplish the objective, without the receiving spouse having to chase their ex for proof of the status of the policy.

Then, at least if the receiving spouse does bring a contempt action, they will know that it really was necessary to reinstate the policy and that they will have solid proof of the lapsed status of the policy.

Another important consideration in some cases are tax impacts of alternative divisions of property. Different assets are treated differently for tax purposes.

And this can have a big impact on the ultimate “bottom line” of a settlement or judicial disposition of property by a family court judge … if either party puts on evidence for the divorce court judge to consider regarding tax bases, tax treatments and tax impacts associated with the different marital properties and alternative property divisions in the divorce.

Read more in this Holland [MI] Sentinel article: Making Cents: How to come out a winner in a divorce.

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Calculating Child Support When One or Both Parents Earns Very High Income

Different states approach child support calculations differently.

Some base the support amount on both parents’ incomes, such as Florida. Some look only to the paying parent’s income.

Some look to gross income, others net income.

Some use a guidelines chart of support obligations at various income levels, such as Florida. Some apply a percentage to the reference amount.

That’s complicated enough.

States that use guidelines charts generally only specify support obligations at incomes within a certain range, representing portions of the spectrum that are relatively typical.

But not every parent’s income is within the typical range. Some people earn less and some people earn more.

And guidelines support obligations are not specified outside of those typical ranges.

So how is child support calculated for those with incomes outside those typical ranges?

In Florida, a flat percentage is applied to the additional income above the maximum guidelines income.

But Connecticut’s child support guidelines do not provide clear guidance as to how to calculate child support when the parties’ incomes exceed the maximum income under their guidelines.

Because of that omission, a trial court, in effect, pulls out of thin air a percentage to apply to one wealthy couple’s excess income over the guidelines. In this particular case, the couple’s income exceeds the guidelines amount by a substantial margin.

Husband appeals from the trial court’s ruling.

And the appellate court reverses, finding the trial court’s approach to constitute an arbitrary abuse of discretion.

The appellate court’s rationale is that, as income rises dramatically, the percentage of family income allocated to children’s needs declines and, therefore, the trial court’s approach results in an arbitrary transfer of Husband’s income to Wife.

The appellate court also takes exception to awards of hefty percentages of speculative future bonuses.

This holding is consistent with recent legal trends operating to keep the lid on and even to reduce child support awards.

Read more in this Connecticut Law Tribune article: Limits Set On Child Support For High Wage Earners.

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Ex-Husband Faces Jail for Deducting Alimony Payments He is Supposed to Pay Taxes On

Massachusetts Husband and Wife divorce.

Husband, who is an attorney, is required to pay Wife alimony.

By default, alimony payments are deductible by the paying spouse and includible as income to the receiving spouse.

Husband allegedly deducts Husband’s alimony payments from his income taxes for 2004 through 2008.

But, in their settlement agreement, which was adopted in a court order, Husband and Wife had reportedly agreed that the alimony payments would be taxable to Husband rather than to Wife. This is permitted under the Internal Revenue Code.

Accordingly, Husband shorted the government by over $132,000 in income taxes. Bad enough.

Husband dug himself deeper into the hole by allegedly showing investigators a forged court order and misrepresenting facts in an effort to cover the truth up.

As a result of which, the government has charged Husband with tax evasion.

The maximum sentence for this charge is five years’ confinement, plus three years of probation, and a quarter of a million dollar fine.

Read more in this Needham [MA] Times article: Needham man charged with evading $132,216 in income taxes.

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How to Fit Divorce into Your Finances

A divorce financial analyst poses the question: can you afford to divorce?

In truth, sometimes the question is: can you afford / stand / survive not divorcing.

In which case the question should be: how can you become able to afford to divorce?

For most people, they probably can afford to divorce. But they will probably benefit from, if not have to, make some financial adjustments to their lifestyle.

Hopefully, the positive emotional and psychological adjustments in their lives will more than make up for the possibly less positive financial adjustments.

But everyone should go into a divorce situation with their eyes wide open, having considered how their lives will change and what the costs will be.

Some of the questions to ponder:

  1. post-divorce budget:
    expenses – basic necessities, necessary amenities, dispensable luxuries
    income from all sources – work, child support, alimony, etc. less taxes
    leaving surplus or deficit
  2. tradeoffs in property division: are you better off to stay in the house or pass on it for liquid assets (this is more complicated if you are upside down, as so many people are these days)
  3. consider your financial future a few years down the road, and your path there

Read more in this Denver KUSA NBC 9 News 6am article: Too broke to break up.

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Florida Husband Allegedly Intentionally Exposes Wife to HIV Through Unprotected Sex

Florida Wife asserts that, before their marriage, Husband represented to Wife that he is free of any sexually transmitted diseases.

Husband and Wife have intimate relations – without protection.

Wife allegedly later learns that Husband is – and was – HIV-positive.

Wife now accuses Husband of intentionally misleading Wife about his medical status and acting maliciously.

Wife has filed for divorce from Husband in Florida family court. They have been married one year.

Wife is healthy at this time, but there is a cloud of uncertainty hanging over her now.

Read more in this New York Post article: Wife accuses Roberto Alomar of exposing her to HIV.

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Florida Baby Remains in Child Protective Custody After Being Shot By Uncle

Southwest Florida one year old Baby is shot by his Uncle, apparently accidentally.

Baby is expected to make a full recovery from his wound.

But, as a result of the incident, the Florida Department of Children and Families removes Baby from his Mother’s care and places him in child protective custody.

A restraining order is entered against Uncle.

Mother is allowed supervised timesharing with Baby.

Mother is reportedly following the case plan ordered by the Florida juvenile dependency court, including taking parenting classes.

There are concerns about Mother’s ability to protect Baby if Uncle is released from confinement.

But Mother believes she is prepared to resume caregiving for Baby.

Mother undergoes an evaluation by a psychologist, but the report is not ready yet.

The court orders the Mother to attend child custody mediation pending the psychologist’s report.

Mother reportedly was expected to enter a plea in this juvenile dependency case, but reportedly changed her mind during a routine status check hearing and is now seeking a trial.

Read more in this WBBH NBC TV 2 News article: Last minute decision left mom without custody of son.

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But It’s An Emergency …

When people contact a Florida family law attorney, they very often have a serious personal situation.

There may be domestic violence.

They may have been abandoned without a cent to their name.

Their home may be on the verge of foreclosure.

They may be unable to get access to their children.

And on and on.

Frequently, these people will characterize their situation as an emergency, and request that the court deal with their serious situation on an emergency basis.

Lawyers call that “emergency relief”, which is typically dispensed at an “emergency hearing”.

So, what is an emergency in the eyes of the Florida divorce court?

The truth of the matter is that the Florida family court’s perception of an emergency is quite different from that of the man or woman, mother or father, on the street.

In Palm Beach County, severe financial distress is not an emergency.

Withholding of access to children, even on an extended basis, does not create an emergency.

In fact, the vast majority of serious situations are not deemed an emergency by the Florida divorce court.

In Florida’s family court system, classification as an emergency is generally reserved for matters of life and death. Of a child.

Another type of emergency is imminent unlawful removal of a child from the Florida divorce court’s jurisdiction.

Not too much else. Although whether a situation is an emergency is evaluated on a case by case basis.

Mischaracterizing situations as emergencies to the Florida family court won’t get you far … and may even hurt your position in your case. It wastes the Florida divorce court’s most precious resource: time.

When in doubt, it is prudent to consult an experienced Florida family law attorney about whether your self-styled emergency is likely to be deemed an emergency by the Florida divorce court system.

Read more in the local rules of your county’s Florida family court.

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