Settling your divorce case out of court is almost always better than a divorce trial.  But so many people don’t know how to use principled negotiation techniques to reach a settlement.    Here are some examples of the wrong way to respond to an offer:

Give an Ultimatum.

I received a response to a divorce settlement offer last week that was dead on arrival.  It said its terms were “non-negotiable”.  I have never seen that work.  Instead it closes down the settlement discussions.  The same can be said for deadlines pulling the offer, like “You have one week to say yes to this counteroffer or it is revoked forever.”  A lawyer I know expressed a better attitude when he said, “Everything I’ve got is negotiable.”

Respond Indirectly.

If you receive an offer that numbers the issues, like (1) child custody, (2) child support, and so on, don’t start your response by telling me that your spouse won’t agree to a visitation schedule. Respond in the same order, using the same numbers, and propose a visitation schedule that you want.  Save the blame for court.

Throw Out Everything.

I have received more than one letter from opposing counsel that my client‘s offer is ridiculous or unreasonable or unacceptable.   What am I supposed to do with that?  It would be more helpful for them to say which items are unacceptable and propose a counteroffer.

Go Backwards.

The purpose of negotiation to is reduce difference between offer and counteroffer until you reach a settlement.  If you are increasing the difference, you are not going anywhere.  Once you have offered alimony of $2,000 a year, it will be impossible to get your spouse to accept $1,000 a month in the next round of negotiations.

The right way to respond to an offer of settlement is through principled negotiations.  That means you respond specifically and directly only to the items in dispute, state your objections clearly, and propose compromises.

Pistol Annies
It takes judge to get married, takes a judge to get divorced
Well the last couple years, spent a lotta time in court
Got my name changed back (yeah yeah)
I got my name changed back (yeah yeah)
Well I wanted somethin’ new, then I wanted what I had
I got my name changed back (yeah yeah)
Well I’ve got me an ex that I adored
But he got along good with a couple road whores
Got my name changed back (yeah yeah)
I got my name changed back (yeah yeah)
I don’t wanna be a Missus on paper no more
I got my name changed back (yeah yeah)
(Here we go)
I don’t let a man get the best of me
Spent an afternoon at the DMV
Got my name changed back (yeah yeah)
I got my name changed back (yeah yeah)
Now who I was ain’t who I be
I got my name changed back (yeah yeah)
(That’s right)

The tall beauty strode into my shabby downtown office like she owned the place.  I wasn’t complaining.  She had booked a half hour consult and my rent was due.

Her voice was sultry with a foreign accent.  “My husband is behaving strangely.  We never talk anymore.  He is always tweeting on his cell phone or watching Fox News.  We lead separate lives.  It’s like we are roommates.  What do you think it could be?”

Divorce lawyers are the repository of cynicism in the world.  I broke it to her gently.  “The French have an idiom.  Cherchez la femme.  It means, ‘Look for the woman’.”

Her eyes started to tear up as I handed her the box of tissues.  A gesture I had repeated hundreds of times in this office.

I read that 42% of Republicans believe President Trump has been faithful to his wife.  I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that none of them were divorce lawyers.

I could see this case calling for stormy weather and a big retainer.

 

 

Gold digger: a woman who becomes or tries to become romantically involved with a rich man in order to get money and gifts from him.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

A Belgium tabloid has called Princess Tessy of Luxembourg a gold digger after she filed for divorce from Prince Louis.  What do you think?

The couple met while they were serving in the army in Kosovo. They have been married for 11 years and have two children.  The Princess spent her time raising the children and working for charities in Britain on behalf of young women and teenage girls.

She filed for divorce on the basis of the Prince’s unreasonable behaviour.  Her attorney said she made a fair and sensible proposal for a settlement and it was rejected.  The terms of the proposal are restricted by the court.

The Princess lose the title of princess and royal highness once the divorce becomes final.  She also stands to lose the home in London, where she lived with Prince Louis and raised their children.

 

So goodbye, goodbye
I’m gonna leave you now
And here’s the erason why
I like to sleep with the wiodwopen
And you kee0 the window closed
So goodbye
Goodbye
Gooobye

It turns out that thermostat settings are one of the biggest causes of conflict in marriages.  The wrong setting can cause one spouse to be too cold or too hot, and result in talks of divorce.

It’s not just mental either.  Scientists say that women have a lower body mass to surface area, slower resting metabolism and less muscle mass than men.  Therefore, they may feel more comfortable with warmer temperatures.

Financial considerations might come into play as well.  In the summertime, you can save between one to three percent on your air conditioning bill for each degree you set the thermostat over 72 degrees.

Can’t afford a divorce lawyer?   Need new furniture for your divorce apartment?  Plumfund.com is a website where you can ask people to contribute money for your divorce.

The site describes itself as “Free online crowdfunding for the people we love.”  It has different categories, from baby to funeral, to create a registry for your life events.

You can register your wedding and honeymoon under the Honeyfund category.  I found the divorce requests under “divorce” by using the site search function.

Are you putting off your divorce because you don’t know which way Congress is going to go on health care?  Some couples are according to divorce attorneys and financial planners.

Some spouses are entering into post-nuptial agreements while continuing to live together.  Others are delaying filing their papers with the court until there is clarity from Washington, D.C.

The Affordable Care Act prohibited insurers from charging more for people with pre-existing conditions.  Some of the various bills under consideration by Congress would end those restrictions.  Divorcing spouses who were in therapy or taking medication for depression might not be able to obtain health insurance.

 

 

When we were boys, my pal, Jerry, and I built a motorcycle one night. Somehow Jerry had gotten his hands on a motorcycle.  But it was in pieces scattered on the floor of his room. There were no instructions. Only a frame, a motor, gears, cables and hundreds of nuts and bolts. We had screwdrivers and wrenches. And we were young and insane with the possibilities of where that motorcycle could take us if we got it working.

We worked all night on that machine. We built it wrong, tore it down, bolt by bolt, and started over many times that night. We probably built a dozen motorcycles before we got it right.

By morning, we had a motorcycle. It didn’t look like much, but to us it was worth its weight in gold. We took it out for a test drive. That’s when we discovered a major design flaw. At the first stop sign, you had to disengage the clutch with one foot, and press the brake with the other foot at the same time, so there was no foot to put on the ground and hold the contraption upright.

That motorcycle taught me a lot about problem solving.  You have to keep working on it, all night long, if necessary.  This requires patience and persistence, focus and concentration.  You may have to tear down the solution and rebuild it several times to get it right.  Even then you may have to go back to the drawing board in the morning.  I’ve lost many night’s sleep solving chemical engineering problems, briefing cases in law school, and studying tax law. And now I’m solving problems in marriages, divorces and separations.  It’s as complicated as building a motorcycle.

by James J. Gross

Ryan Giggs will ask an English divorce court for more than 50% of millions that he has acquired during his marriage due to his special skills in football, or soccer as we call it in America.  The argument failed last week in Randy Work’s “genius” claim.

We have something similar in Maryland which you can argue if you have made special contributions in your marriage.

In Maryland,when distributing marital property: the court must consider, among other factors;

— the contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family.  Section 8-205 (b)(1) of the Family Law Article of the Md. Code

and

— how and when specific marital property or interest in property was acquired, including the effort expended by each party in accumulating the marital property or the interest in property.  Section 8-205 (b)(8) of the Family Law Article of the Md. Code

by James J. Gross

Randy Work, an American financier, is appealing an award that the English Courts made to his wife, Mandy Gray, last year of 140 million pounds, which was half the martial estate.  He claims that he should get two thirds because it was his financial genius that created the wealth.

Under English law, a court can make less than an equal division if it would be unfair to disregard the conduct of one party to the marriage.

In Maryland, the court can adjust the equities of property distribution by making a marital award based on certain factors that must be considered.  One of the factors includes the efforts of each party in accumulating marital property.

But another factor is the contributions of each party, either monetary or non-monetary, to the well-being of the family.  If one spouse took care of the home and children while the other spouse advanced his or her career, who is to say those contributions are not equal?  How would you divide this estate?