In Greenwich, Connecticut, publishing mogul Peter Brant has filed new pleadings in his divorce from Victoria’s Secret model Stephanie Seymour.

He alleges that she is spending $257,000 per month.  Her clothing bill alone is $50,000 a month.  She must have a big closet.

I can’t feel too sorry for Brant, though.  He is worth about $489 million.

Read more here.

At ABC News, Alice Gomstyn has an article about women who are angry about having to pay alimony to men.  As a result of more women become primary breadwinners in the family, the number of American men receiving alimony has climbed, from 7,000 in 1998 to 13,000 in 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Now that the economy has gone from boom to bust, some of these high earning women are feeling pinched by their alimony payments.

In Maryland, if only one party wants a divorce, they can get it eventually.  A two year separation is grounds for divorce under Section 7-103(a)(5) of the Family Law Article of the Maryland Code.

That is why I say it takes two people to get married, but only one to get divorced.

Fault, or as the statute says “the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties”, is a factor the court can take into consideration in alimony and property determinations.

So is a divorce always the fault of one person, or are both parties at fault in some way?  This is the question asked at where you can register and vote and leave your comments.  Or you can tell us your opinion in the comment section below.

The first image broadcast by network television was a picture of Felix the Cat.  I remember watching Felix on tv when I was a kid.  He had a Magic Bag of Tricks and whenever he got stumped by a problem, he would reach into his bag and pull out some tool or device that would help him solve the problem.

I wish I had a Magic Bag of Tricks in real life.  A lawyer can do a lot of things, but sometimes the tools in my toolbox are limited.  Clients look to their lawyers to solve all sorts of problems.  But first you have to have a problem that the law recognizes as a problem.  For example, I wrote recently that not every marital agreement is recognized by law as an enforceable contract.

The law does not provide a remedy for every wrong.  There is no legal tool that will turn your difficult spouse into a nicer, more reasonable and responsible person.   I can get alimony and child support and property, but I probably cannot recover damages for the hurt you felt during your marriage.  The court can give you a visitation schedule, but it can’t make your child want to visit with you.  I can’t make your spouse settle on your terms and I can’t make opposing counsel return my calls if they don’t want to.

As a mediator said to one of my clients, “I only have a pen, not a magic wand.”

“I promise to send you 30 pounds a month,” said Mr. Balfour to his wife,  before he set sail for Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) on assignment as an English civil engineer in the early 1900’s.  Mrs Balfour’s doctor said that she should stay in England for her health rather than return to the jungle climate of Ceylon.

“I think it is better that we stay separated,” wrote Mr. Balfour, and he stopped the payments.  Mrs. Balfour obtained a divorce and alimony.  In addition, she sued him for breach of contract for the 30 pounds a month he had promised her.

The lower court held that Mr. Balfour had to continue to pay her as agreed.  The Court of Appeal unanimously reversed, finding that there was no agreement enforceable in law.

Although the judges’ reasons differed, the heart of their analysis was that married couples make agreements all the time, to pay an allowance, for example.  The court said that not all domestic agreements rise to the level of a contract enforceable by law.  Balfour v Balfour [1919] 2 KB 571

TGC Attorney James J. Gross will speak at the Commission for Women tonight at 7:00 pm on Negotiating a Separation Agreement with Your Spouse.

The seminar will include the advantages of an agreement over a contested divorce, what to include in an agreement, tips and tactics, strategies for negotiation, the different stages of negotiation and different negotiation techniques.

The cost is $20.  Call (240) 777-8300 for more information.  The Commission for Women is located at 401 N. Washington Street, Rockville, Maryland.

The Latin word “alimonia” means food, support, nourishment, sustenance.

The Latin word “alere” means to nourish and the Latin suffix “monia” signifies action, state, or condition.

Mr. and Mrs. Woodcock lived in Wicomico County, Maryland, until Mrs. Woodcock left the marital residence and moved to her parent’s home in Baltimore.  She filed for alimony in Baltimore claiming that Mr. Woodcock had forced her to move out.

Upon being served with the complaint, Mr. Woodcock filed his complaint for divorce based on desertion in Wicomico County and a motion to dismiss his wife’s suit in Baltimore for lack of jurisdiction.

The Baltimore judge said that the general rule in the statute is that a suit must be filed in the county where the defendant resides.  An exception to the general rule is a suit for divorce which may be brought in the county where either party resides.  When two courts have jurisdiction over a case, the first court keeps the case and a second court cannot interfere.  Since Mrs. Woodcock filed first, she should have won.

However, Mrs. Woodcock had filed a suit for alimony, not divorce, which fell within the general rule so it should have been filed in her husband’s county.  The Baltimore judge dismissed her complaint for alimony and gave her permission to refile an amended complaint for divorce, which she did.

The husband appealed and the Maryland Court of Appeals said slow down.  Since the first case for alimony was filed in the wrong county, it didn’t count.  That meant the Wicomico court had jurisdiction over the case when the husband filed for divorce there.  And the Baltimore court couldn’t get it back by an amendment to the alimony complaint.

Woodcock v. Woodcock, 169 Md. 40; 179 A. 826 (1935)

The prince ran off with his secretary.  The princess sued him for divorce based on adultery and desertion.   She got custody, child support, alimony, lawyer fees, the castle and half the kingdom.  And then they lived happily ever after.

Although President Obama promises taxes will be lower for 95% of taxpayers, a question I get from time to time is, “Can I save taxes by getting a divorce and just living together?”

Many two-income family taxpayers pay more taxes as a married couple than they would by filing separate tax returns as single individuals.  That’s called the marriage penalty.

The answer is you might save a little bit on taxes, but how much will a divorce cost you, both in terms of dollars and the good will of your spouse?

First, Congress has eliminated the marriage penalty for married couples making less than $132,000 and roughly equal incomes.

If a married couple earns $150,000, with equal incomes and a standard deduction, the marriage penalty is $500.

If they earn $200,000 under the same circumstances, they will pay a marriage penalty of about $787.

And there are other financial benefits to staying married, including inheritance taxes, insurance and Social Security, that you would lose if you got a divorce.  Finally, if you divorce in one year and remarry in the next, the IRS may disregard the divorce and require you to file as married anyway.

Source:  Post by Sue Shellenbarger