Hiding Assets? Not So Fast….

Somebody going through a contentious divorce can be very unpredictable. A person with a combative and calculating personality can make a divorce proceeding extremely unpleasant and difficult for all involved, including the courts. It is not uncommon for somebody like this to file orders of protection without merit, relocate children without consent, hide assets and underreport income. Liquid assets are often placed in foreign bank accounts, put into questionable investments or squandered. Once these funds are gone, they are unavailable for consideration during equitable distribution.

Hidden assets and income affect the victim spouse when a court is deciding an appropriate property division, maintenance and child support.  If a spouse hides or wastes income and assets, the victim spouse will not have the entire marital pot available for division by the court.  Instead, the victim spouse can only receive an equitable share of the diminished pot.  When this occurs, how can a court provide a remedy to a victim spouse?

In equitable distribution, the court maintains discretion over the degree and nature of the penalty imposed for failure to comply with disclosure orders. In some cases, after it has been determined that income and assets were hidden or wasted in contemplation of divorce, the court can decide that unequal distribution of marital assets is warranted by the egregious economic misconduct. Although this method provides the victim spouse with some redress, the victim spouse is never truly whole, since the award is being apportioned from a distorted marital pot.

Moreover, it has to be established that assets and income have been secreted and concealed for a court to order unequal distribution.  … <Read More>

No Prenup? Pay up!

To get a prenup or not to get a prenup, that is the question.

Asking for a prenup is a question that a future groom or bride will contemplate when thinking about marriage. Asking for a prenup could lay the seeds of distrust. However, not obtaining a prenup could put a person’s acquired property upon divorce in jeopardy. When is a prenup truly appropriate?

Usually, courts will uphold a prenup unless it is found to be unconscionable, obtained under duress or fraudulent. States differ on what is conscionable, duress and fraud. States such as New Jersey, require full and complete financial disclosure, while others, like California and New York, only require reasonable financial disclosure.

In California, for example, when a couple does not have a prenup and has been married for more than ten years, a court may award a spouse half of the community property in addition to spousal and child support. In other states such as New York, the courts  employ equitable division when dividing property. Courts that use equitable division look at different factors such as length of marriage, lifestyle during the marriage, and assets brought into the marriage by each spouse when determining the division of property. A prenup could potentially protect a person’s property and limit the amount of spousal support awarded. Courts will not, however, uphold a prenup stipulating child support, custody and visitation.

In the pending divorce of Kobe and Vanessa Bryant, Vanessa could receive up to half of Kobe’s reported $150 million dollar empire.… <Read More>

Till Alzheimer’s Do Us Part?

Alzheimer’s is an extremely terrifying and unforgiving disease. This disease severely affects a patient’s memory and intellectual abilities. In the later stages of the disease individuals lose the ability to carry on normal conversations, remember their surroundings and loved ones. In America alone it is estimated that 5.4 million people suffer from this catastrophic disease, and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Considering the above, what happens when your spouse falls victim to this disease? Tara Parker-Pope explored Alzheimer’s and divorce in her New York Times Blog titled “Love, Divorce and Alzheimer’s,” which can be found here.

When talking about Alzheimer’s and divorce two important questions come to mind:
1. Is it morally correct to divorce someone who has fallen victim to Alzheimer’s?
2. What kind of mental capacity does somebody need to commence/defend a divorce action?

The first question is almost certainly answered subjectively. Some people may find that divorcing a spouse who has Alzheimer’s is immoral; since, upon marriage one vows, “til death do us part.” It could be argued that we should care for our spouse until the end, because we would expect the same if the roles were reversed. The opposition argues that Alzheimer’s is death, in life; therefore, one is morally relieved of the sacred vow. Television Evangelist Pat Robertson created controversy when he advised a caller to divorce his wife who had Alzheimer’s. Robertson maintained, “I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but to make sure she has custodial care, somebody looking after her.”… <Read More>

8 Killed in SoCal over a custody dispute


On Wednesday October 12, 2011, eight people lost their lives at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach, California. According to the Los Angeles Times, Scott Dekraai entered the salon in the early afternoon and opened fired on the clientele and workers of the busy salon. Witnesses assert that the people in the salon fell to the floor and sought cover in the bathroom and closets. After Dekraai finished his heartless massacre, he escaped, but was shortly apprehended.

According to the article, it appears that Dekraai entered the salon looking for his former wife, Michelle Fournier. Dekraai and Fournier were involved in a bitter custody battle over the couple’s son.

Unfortunately, these types of atrocious events are not uncommon. On December 26, 2008, a man dressed as Santa Claus killed nine people who were attending a family Christmas party in Covina, California. The murderer, Bruce Pardo later committed suicide.  Like the massacre in Seal Beach, Bruce Pardo was enraged over a contentious divorce and custody dispute with his ex-wife, Sylvia.

Divorce and custody disputes can be extremely combative. Both parties involved have a lot on the line. Unfortunately, people going through these disputes lose sight of what is truly important, their children. Instead, individuals going through these types of disputes allow their anger for their ex-spouse cloud their judgment; sometimes making them do horrible things such as the above-mentioned massacres. In both cases, the children of the divorcing couple lost both of their parents over something that could have been resolved in a civil manner.… <Read More>