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Leroy and Mynell Gassaway married in 1952.  They separated in 1979.

In their DC divorce, the trial court divided marital property upon consideration of the fact that Leroy’s mother owned a house and that Leroy was the only heir and would inherit the property.  After all, “opportunities for the future acquisition of assets” is one of the factors a judge must consider in dividing martial property.

On appeal, however, the court said this was not an equitable way to divide property.

In Mumma v. Mumma, 280 A.2d 73, 76 (D.C. 1971), this court ruled that gifts to the husband from his parents could not be considered in determining his income for purposes of computing his alimony obligation, presumably, because any expectation of gifts is inherently speculative and thus could not be counted upon as a predictable portion of the husband’s annual financial return.  Accord Scott v. Scott, 645 S.W. 2d 193, 198 (Mo. Ct. App. 1982) (despite history of gifts to wife from parents, court property declined to consider “such an uncertain source of funds as future gifts” in computing her alimony award).  The same reasoning is applicable to anticipated gifts of real property or other assets, e.g., though inheritance.

The court recognized decisions from some courts ruling otherwise, but rejected this approach as “mischievous”.

— Gassaway v. Gassaway, 489 A.2d 1073 (D.C. 1985)

These celebrities are ringing in the New Year with a divorce:

Chris Rock, 49, comedian and actor, filed for divorce from Malaak Compton-Rock, 45, after 19 years of marriage.  The couple has two daughters, ages 12 and 10.

Giada De Laurentiis, 44, celebrity chef, announced on her Facebook page that she is ending her marriage with fashion designer Todd Thompson.  They have been married 11 years and have one six year old daughter.

Actor, Jeremy Renner, 43, and his wife, Sonni Pacheco, 23, model and actress, are headed for divorce after 10 months of marriage. They have a 21 month old daughter.

What else will 2015 bring?

Pets can become an issue in a divorce.  Although the parties may treat their pets like children and argue over custody and visitation, the courts do not.  The law views pets as personal propety like a chair or a lamp.

After losing a dog in a divorce, an English lawyer, Vanessa Lloyd Platt, created a “Pet Nup” which sets forth the agreement of the parties with respect to their pets.

You can view and download the Pet Nup for free, but remember it would have to be modified for Maryland, Virginia or DC.

My oldest son entered high school this year.  He said he likes it.  He is very confident, outgoing and popular.  He takes after his mother.

I told him I didn’t like high school very much.  I was shy, introverted and not a member of “the in crowd”.  I was a geek, a nerd, a brainiac.   I wore thick, horn-rimmed glasses.

I mentioned this conversation to an old friend that I’ve known since high school.  He said, “Really?  But you had it pretty good in high school.”

That set me to thinking.  I was the star of two school plays. I dated the valedictorian of the class ahead of me.  I won an award for poetry and an award for math and science.  I worked as a disc jockey at the local radio station.

He was right.  I had a pretty good time in high school.  I just never knew it.

If you are going through the worst of times due to a divorce or separation, remember, “To change your world, just change your mind.”  You may find yourself going from the worst of times to the best of times.

While driving to the office this morning, I turned on “The Kane Show” on Hot99.5 FM.  Kane invited callers to tell him and his entourage about a relationship dispute and they would decide who was right and who was wrong.

What a great idea!  I have often said that people in relationships have different agendas and they need a good conflict resolution system.

Marriage counselors can help, but they cost money, and frequently tell you that you are both right (in alternative universes), which may be true, but  it is not very satisfying.

Divorce is the ultimate conflict resolution system, but it has some serious drawbacks.  It’s expensive and time-consuming.  Sometimes the judge doesn’t tell you who was right and who was wrong.  And even when the judge does tell you, the judge frequently gets it wrong.

So we have decided, as a public service, that you can post your relationship conflicts in the comments section, and we will tell you who is right and who is wrong.  We reserve the right to be arbitrary and capricious, but at least it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Sue Ann Ham was awarded nearly a billion dollars in her divorce from energy tycoon Harold Hamm in Oklahoma.

But her attorney says that’s less than 6 percent of the couple’s estimated $18 billion wealth.

She is planning to appeal.

A study out of Emory University by Andrew M. Francis and Hugo M. Mialon takes a look at wedding expenses and divorces and finds some interesting relationships.

You are more likely to get a divorce if you spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on a wedding ring than those who spent more than $4,000 or less than $2,000.

People who spent $20,000 or more on the wedding were more likely to get a divorce than those who spent less than $10,000.

Promising that his wife would not get anything from him in his divorce, including child support, Steven K. Zinnel, 50, of California, filed bankruptcy in 2005.  He also asked the FBI to investigate his wife.

That backfired when investigators learned that Zinnel himself was hiding millions of dollars of business and real estate assets in other people’s names.

Federal officials said he was a narcissist and accused him of fraud on both the bankruptcy and family courts.  He was sentenced to 17 years and eight months in prison, fined $500,000 and forced to forfeit $2.8 million in assets.

Honey Maid, which makes those delicious graham-crackers, is celebrating families that have been reconfigured by divorce.

The company’s new advertising campaign is intended to send a message that: “Just because a family has broken up doesn’t mean they are broken.”

Gary Osifhin, a marketing director with Honey Maid’s parent company, Mondelez International, points out that one in ten of the 73 million children in America live with a step-parent.  And 42% of American adults are part of a blended family.

The morning of the divorce trial, lawyer Fred Holmes, woke up at 5:00 am without an alarm clock.

He stumbled downstairs to feed the cat and the fish.

He put away the dishes from the dishwasher, fixed himself a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, and added some fresh blueberries and skim milk.  He made a fresh cup of coffee with the Netpresso machine and poured in some Amaretto flavored cream.

He flicked on the tv to watch the morning news while he ate his breakfast.  The international situation was desperate as usual.

Then he did 15 minutes of P90X Plyometrics and 100 pushups in sets of 25 with a few minutes rest between each set.

After a shower and shave, he picked out a white shirt, red power tie, and his best grey suit.

He drove to the office.  He polished his shoes to a high black gloss.  He threw his pen, phone, yellow legal pad and files into his litigation bag.  Then he drove to the courthouse.

The judge asked, “Is Counsel ready for trial?”

Fred said, “Ready, Your Honor.”