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>

Man Shoots Wife Before Divorce Trial

Arguably it can go without being said that a divorce may cause a negative psychological effect on those involved.  While many divorces end without long-lasting complications, many do not.  Dr. Robert Segraves, a psychiatrist that completed his residency at the University of Chicago Medical Center, points out that “divorced men and women had the highest ratings of mental disturbance” when compared to those married, single, or widowed.  For alleged murder suspect from Queens, Guerino Annarumma, 52, the mental affect of an impending divorce lead to a deadly altercation between his stepdaughter and estranged wife, Olga Annarumma.

The couple had been married for five-and-a-half rocky years, though they had been estranged since 2009.  Records show a history of orders of protection against Guerino and in October of 2009, Guerino was arrested and convicted of aggravated harassment for threatening to kill Olga.

According to Guerino’s grizzly account given to police, he shot and killed Olga’s daughter first before shooting and critically injuring Olga hours before their trial was scheduled to start. That trial should have began at 2 p.m. Monday in Queens Supreme Court, however, neither client showed. The NY Daily News reported that despite a history of violence, Olga’s lawyer, Helene Sherman was “in shock” when she heard the news, saying that she never thought Guerino would follow through on his threats.

As horrific as the account may seem, tales of domestic violence occur rather frequently.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, everyday 3-4 women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends and 1 in 4 women will experience some form of partner violence during their lifetimes.… <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.” In addition, Parker-Pope suggests that people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia related diseases sometimes form their own romantic relationships, such as retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s husband.… <Read More>

The Rise and Fall of Alimony in United States Courts

The origins of alimony can be traced back to English law where wives were considered property and husbands were viewed as property owners. The wife depended upon her husband to provide for life’s necessitiesand courts consistently ruled that the husband had the duty to support his wife after divorce.

Critical differences can be seen between past and present day divorces. England originally only granted divorces a mensa et thoro (from bed and board), which allowed a husband and wife to live apart, but the two parties were still legally married in the eyes of the law. Consequently, an English divorce meant that a wife was separated from her husband but still married and considered his property. The rights of a single woman were not restored to her and she was forever dependent upon her husband for support. As time went by, women became independent, divorce became absolute, but we have carried with it the English court’s policy of assisting with the support of the wife after the marriage is dissolved. This became known as alimony.… <Read More>

Disciplining Children v. Outright Beating: Where is the Line?

Earlier this month, a now-23-year-old woman posted a video on YouTube of her father, a family court judge in Texas (who, ironically, hears child abuse cases) who beat her after discovering his daughter was using the Internet on the home computer to illegally download music.  The video, linked here, is disturbing to say the least.  It begins with hearing the father off camera tell his wife, “go get my belt,” and continues for just over seven a half minutes of the father whipping his daughter on her legs and butt, while verbally abusing her.  … <Read More>