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?

 

by Michael F. Callahan

The Maryland Court of Appeals has issued its ruling in Milton E. Jackson v Gayle S. Jackson., the case we have been discussing in this last series of articles.

Mr. Jackson was a federal employee with retirement funds under the CSRS system – a large pension, and no social security.  Ms. Jackson was a state government employee – covered by social security and a smaller pension.

Mr. Jackson’s argued that a part of his pension should be treated as social security benefits and not counted when equalizing the pensions of each party.

The Court of Appeals ruled that:

(a)  a state court could not divide social security benefits of a spouse in divorce because federal law establishing social security preempts that.

(b)  The trial court may not calculate and offset the value of a spouse’s future social security benefits from the other spouse’s pension benefits before division of that pension between the spouses in a divorce.

(c)  However, the trial court must consider the spouses’ respective entitlements to social security benefits in determining a martial award as an “other factor” under Maryland divorce law.

So in the end, the Court left a way around the prohibition against dividing or offsetting social security benefits.  It left it to the judge’s discretion to determine a marital award based on “other factors” including social security.  And the judge doesn’t even have to show how the marital award is calculated.   The judge just needs to say that all factors were considered.

 

 

An appellant who wants the trial court’s judgment suspended while the case is being appealed, must request a stay and post a bond to ensure that, if the trial court’s judgment is affirmed, there are funds to pay whatever is required.

For example, in the District of Columbia, Rule 8 of the Rules of the DC Court of Appeals governs.  To obtain a stay pending appeal the appellant must first file a motion in the Superior Court (the trial court) within thirty days of entry of judgment.  That court decides whether to grant a stay and on what terms.  The Superior Court’s decision on the stay is also appealable.

Prior to 2002, the law in DC had been that an appeal automatically stayed the final judgment of divorce.  Many interesting and potentially disastrous consequences flow from a stay of the judgment of divorce.  Except where noted below, these consequences are essentially the same in all three jurisdictions.  If the divorce judgment is stayed:

  1. You’re still married so you cannot remarry.
  2. If you die, your spouse is your widow or widower and has important rights with respect to your pension, 401(k) account, intestate estate (if you have no Will) and the right to elect against your Will if you have disinherited him or her.  In Virginia your spouse is entitled to a share of your augmented estate which includes non-probate assets and certain property transferred during your lifetime.
  3. If you and your spouse own the former marital residence (or other real property) as tenants by the entirety and the divorce judgment is stayed then you still own it in that peculiar old common law tenancy.  If you die, he or she takes the whole property, you cannot leave your interest in the home to the kids, you cannot borrow against or assign your interest, etc.
  4. In Maryland and DC you’re still earning marital property and increasing the marital portion of your pension and retirement accounts every day when you go to work.  If the case is remanded for a new hearing your further accumulation of money, property, pension credits, etc. may be on the table for equitable distribution at that future trial.

It’s definitely a case of “be careful what you wish for” when you seek to stay of a judgment of divorce.

Sometimes a party to a lawsuit is not satisfied with the trial judge’s decision. When that happens that person might want to file an appeal. Generally, and in all divorce cases in all three local jurisdictions, you can appeal “as of right.” You may not win but you can appeal.

The party who appeals is called the appellant. The other party is called the appellee. Often the appellee will appeal the portions of the trial judge’s decision that he or she is not satisfied with and become the appellee/cross-appellant.
In due course, if the appellant and, if applicable, the cross-appellant, do all the required filing correctly and on time, the appellate court judges will review the contested portions of the trial judge’s decision. The appellate judges give deference to the trial judge’s findings of fact because he or she saw and heard the witnesses and the appellate judges did not. Findings of fact are not disturbed unless they are “clearly erroneous.”

The appellate court judges do not give deference to the trial judge’s rulings regarding the law. If they conclude the trial judge was wrong, they reverse. Usually though, that means they remand the case back to the trial judge to conduct a further hearing, if necessary, and generally preside over the remainder of case consistently with appellate court’s ruling.