Parents’ Divorce May Forge Stronger Bonds Between Brothers and Sisters

Divorce can shake up familial relationships. It’s easy to leap to the conclusion that that is all bad.

But there may be a silver lining. One child of divorce, now an author, shares how her parents’ divorce actually bound her and her brothers together … forever.

To the point of earning the envy of parents of siblings who were not close.

Read more in this New York Times Style piece: The Secret to Sibling Success.


Shades of Domestic Violence … Aftermath …

Husband and Wife have four year old Daughter.

Unbeknownst to Wife, Husband and Wife’s marriage has hit the skids.

Husband allegedly sends text messages intended for a contract killer, instructing him to murder not only Wife but also Daughter.

Luckily, the text messages are misdirected to Husband’s former work Supervisor.

Supervisor takes the messages seriously, and reports them to law enforcement.

As a result, Wife and Daughter remain safe, and Husband is arrested on charges of criminal solicitation for first-degree murder., two counts.

Husband’s apparent motive is collecting on Wife’s $500K life insurance policy. Husband has reportedly been unemployed for a while.

Husband contends that he wrote the text message some time ago, in a moment of anger, but that he never sent it. Husband speculates that Daughter found the message on his phone and sent it.

The only marital strife Wife is aware of in her marriage is financial, due to Husband’s unemployment.

The above may have been a first episode of domestic violence in a family, seemingly completely out of the blue.

But further along the domestic violence spectrum, is this couple.

Boyfriend allegedly breaks into Girlfriend’s home, and viciously beats and rapes her.

When finished, Boyfriend warns Girlfriend that if the legal system punishes him, upon his release, he will find and kill her.

Boyfriend is indeed tried and convicted. He is serving a fifteen year plus sentence.

Girlfriends takes his threat to heart though.

She legally purchases a gun and applies herself to target practice.

She intends to be prepared for Boyfriend’s release from prison.

Ironically, she’s rather be prepared with a taser gun that would merely incapacitate Boyfriend.

But taser guns are illegal where she lives and conventional guns aren’t.

So she target practices. And files lawsuits mounting constitutional challenges to the taser gun bans drawing support from a recent Supreme Court decision.



Custody of the Family Pet Is Closer to Becoming a Thing

Husband and Wife are divorcing.

Miscellaneous property.

No kids.

Just Fido.

Adopted during the marriage.

Both adore him.

Neither can bear not to see him again.

Any animal lover can relate.

Other than American family court judges.

Who have stubbornly rejected treating pets as anything besides personal property, a thing to be distributed based solely on their monetary value.

That has been the divorce law of the land.

Until now.

Alaska has broken the ice. Finally.

From now on, Alaska family court judges will decide the “ownership or joint ownership” of family pets following divorce, based on the “well-being of the animal”.

This is a significant paradigm shift.

Consistent with cultural changes in recent years.

And numbers of private divorce settlement agreements.

And perhaps the occasional rogue divorce court ruling.

It remains to be seen though whether or, more likely, when, other states will follow in Alaska’s footsteps.


  1. this Washington Post article: In a first, Alaska divorce courts will now treat pets more like children and
  2. this [UK] Daily Mail article: Alaska divorce courts will now treat pets more like children – giving judges the power to determine custody .

The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Divide Retirement Benefits in Divorce

Husband and Wife divorce.

As part of their property division, or equitable distribution, Wife is awarded half of Husband’s 401(k).

Wife chases Husband for her share.

Then Wife chases the administrator of Husband’s 401(k) plan.

All to no avail.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Wife failed to obtain a QDRO, a qualified domestic relations order.

Prepared properly and entered at or before the final judgment of divorce, a QDRO is the key to the kingdom that is the ex’s retirement plan. A key that can be turned without having to tear out your hair or throw yourself on the mercy of your ex.

But there is a price tag associated with this key. Two actually.

The first is for proper preparation, often by an attorney who specializes in nothing but QDRO preparation..

The second is for administration by the ex’s retirement benefits administrator.

These fees may run roughly $1,000 to $2,000. Not a trivial sum.

But the retirement benefit to be shared is likely a substantial sum of money.

And the red tape involved in getting to it without a properly prepared QDRO is … substantial. Very.

Sure, it would be better if QDROs didn’t cost as much as they do.

But paying for them is a lot less expensive than having to go back to court to try to collect by other means.

Read more about QDROs in this Bloomberg Personal Finance article: The Divorce Penalty: This 401(k) Fee Can Add Insult to Injury .


Timing May Be (Almost) Everything When It Comes to Classifying Property as Marital or Not

Older Woman and Younger Man start a brief relationship, and Older Woman becomes pregnant.

Older Child is born and couple breaks up. Amicably.

A couple of years later, Older Woman wins the lottery and becomes a millionaire – twelve times over.

The following year, the couple takes a vacation together with Older Child and … Older Woman gets pregnant, again.

They discuss marriage.

But Older Woman insists on entering a prenuptial agreement to protect her winnings.

It is apparently consistent with the testimony of both in the Australian family court that Older Woman transformed into a name-dropping socialite.

Younger Man consulted with an attorney and did agree to enter the prenup.

The couple did marry.

And the marriage ultimately did not work out.

During the divorce, Younger Man attacks the prenup as coerced.

In particular, Younger Man testified that Older Woman taunted that she would block Younger Man’s access to their children if he didn’t sign the prenuptial agreement.

The Australian family court judge found Younger Man more credible and likeable than Older Woman.

But the law is the law. The lottery was separate premarital property to begin with.

The Younger Man felt free to consult with an attorney, and did so.

And already successfully took Older Woman to court over co-parenting issues with Older Child.

So, on top of everything else, the asserted coercion fell flat.



Father Pursues Timesharing By … Forcibly Breaking into Mother’s Home

Oregon Father and Mother have Children together. Father and Mother split up.

Father and Mother apparently are unable to agree on timesharing arrangements.

Father’s notion of how to deal with that situation is, allegedly, to … break into Mother’s home.

Perhaps this was not the first poor solution that Father had attempted.

Because Mother was ready for him … with a gun.

Which Mother reportedly discharged in Father’s general direction.

Father promptly took off – after allegedly breaking several of Mother’s car’s windows – only to be arrested when he surrendered himself to law enforcement authorities a few days later.

Father now faces several criminal charges and is confined pending payment of a $50,000 bond.

Hopefully it goes without saying that Father’s conduct will not help him in family court anymore than it will find favor in criminal court.

Why Father didn’t simply file for timesharing in family court in the first place is a mystery. He would almost certainly have saved himself a great deal of money and heartache … and likely been granted substantial timesharing.

Read more in this Portland [OR] KATU 2 TV news article: Man wanted after rampage over child custody dispute turns self in.


How to Get Your Name Off the Marital Mortgage After Your Spouse Buys Out Your Share of The Marital Residence

Husband and Wife own marital home together.

Husband and Wife are both borrowers on the mortgage of the marital home.

Now Husband and Wife are divorcing.

As part of their divorce settlement, Wife transfers her interest in the marital home to Husband.

And Husband agrees, among other things, to refinance the mortgage on the marital home or to sell the home and to pay off the mortgage …within two years.

Fast forward two years.

Of course, Husband has neither refinanced the mortgage on, nor sold what was the marital home. What he did do was transfer the marital home to a trust.

Where does that leave Wife?

Well, if the settlement agreement was adopted into a final judgment as is typical, Husband has both breached the agreement and violated or defaulted under the final judgment or decree of divorce.

So Wife does have solid options. But they require her to take Husband to court.

Wife should prevail in court. But this is probably not where Wife wanted to be two years after her divorce was final.

The pity here is that this particular scenario was so very easily avoided.

There was absolutely no reason for Wife to relinquish her interest in the property at that time. Period. No ifs, ands or buts.

Ideally, both Husband’s and Wife’s transactions would have been completed prior to entry of final judgment. That really is best.

But the ideal situation from a legal standpoint is not always practical, or does not always meet the couple’s personal agendas or timelines.

But even Plan B would have been far better for Wife than what she did.

Plan B is that Wife could have given Husband a deed of her interest at the time of his refinance (or joined in a deed to a third party at the time of their sale to a third party).

If the delay of Wife’s deed became a real sticking point for some unusual reason, there is still another, better option for Wife than giving Husband her deed prematurely:

Instead, Wife could have executed her deed early and placed the deed in escrow with an attorney or other reputable escrow agent (such as a title company, real estate brokerage, etc.), to remain in that third party’s possession unless and until Husband performed his obligations.

Upon Husband’s default, the escrow terms could have required that the deed be returned to Wife. Wife holds onto her leverage.

Although a bit more complex, use of an escrow agent could have paved the way to an even better option – for Wife.

Husband and Wife could have jointly executed a deed to an unspecified third party, to be held in escrow for up to two years, until Husband’s successful refinance or agreed upon sale to a third party.

After two years, if Husband defaulted in his obligations, the escrow terms could have required that the deed be released at the closing of a sale arranged by Wife.

This would have eliminated the need for Wife to go to court to force a sale of the property if Husband failed to refinance or sell after two years.

Read more in this Washington Post article: Breaking up a mortgage after a divorce can be tricky.


Divorce Isn’t Hard Only on the Couple and the Kids

A therapist speaks to some sometimes overlooked victims of divorce: the in-laws / grandparents.

At the very least, their child’s divorce will be disruptive. At worst, it can dramatically change their lives going forward.

Family holidays will be different.

Time with grandchildren may be diminished.

Or increased. In the form of child care.

Financial assistance may be sought.


Some Suggestions:

  1. Offer emotional support
  2. Recommend counseling. From professionals.
  3. Be neutral as between the couple.
  4. Never put down your child’s spouse.
  5. Be cautious with offers of financial assistance .. and meticulous.
  6. Help the grandchildren cope.
  7. Don’t drop or turn your back on your child’s spouse

Read more in this San Luis Obispo [CA] Tribune article: How to deal with your adult child’s divorce.


For Many People, The Time is Finally Here …To File for Divorce

The statistics tell the story, at least part of it.

Divorce filings surge throughout the first quarter of every year. That’s indisputable.

As for why, that is anecdotal, conjecture.

One attorney posits that tax refunds provide couples with the funds to pay for divorce.

There certainly is some truth in that for some couples.

But the more powerful forces driving the surge are likely emotional more than financial.

Unhappy couples, particularly those with children, often tough out the last couple of months of each year – the holiday season – for the sake of the children.

Divorce statistics typically reflect a dip in divorce filings during the holiday season.

But the couples who stay together for the kids, or appearances, are often especially miserable during the holidays, whether due to the pretense or just too much time off and togetherness.

With the arrival of the new year, they are often chomping at the bit.

Some have even made the arrangements in advance and just need to “pull the trigger”.

Others are first ready to begin their preparations in earnest now.

Circumstances permitting, this can be a perfect time to:

  1. update your designation of health care surrogate or proxy or medical power of attorney
  2. update your will and estate plan
  3. close joint bank and credit card accounts
  4. update insurance beneficiary designations where appropriate and re-evaluate types of coverages for gaps as well as amounts
  5. review your investment portfolio against your current individual needs and objectives and
  6. get a handle on your expenses and income and create a budget



9 Red Flags That You’re in a Psychologically Abusive Relationship

1. Interaction with your partner makes you feel worthless, uneasy, exhausted, etc.
2. Your partner puts you down in a mean-spirited way
3. Your partner lies to you habitually
4. Your partner has to hold onto all the power in your relationship
5. Your partner raises his voice all the time
6. Your partner is always critical
7. Your partner makes light of their mistreatment of you
8. Your partner plays you like an instrument and
9. Your partner has you blaming yourself for their bad behavior

This type of emotional abuse may be damaging over time, just as much as physical abuse. It may also be accompanied by or escalate into physical abuse at any time.

Therefore, attempting to work on this issue or to extricate yourself from the problem should be handled with great care and planning for safety.

Read more in this CheatSheet article: 9 Signs You’re in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship.