Sunday, October 31, 2010

Keep the Thanks in Thanksgiving

There are so many articles written on how to deal with the holidays when you’re divorced that they all seem to become redundant after a while. Being a child from a horrible divorce when I was 7 years old, and now being divorced myself with 2 children, I have seen some great holidays and some miserable ones. Every family situation is different and I believe there are a few common sense ground rules to follow.

First, don’t ask the children who they want to be with on a holiday. This puts them in a no win situation and makes them feel that they must choose a parent. Parents may think the child is old enough or should have some input, but until the child is living on their own, don’t ask. As adults we allow our emotions to get in the way of making rational decisions that involve the holidays and the children. Remember, the children now have their parents living separately and it wasn’t their choice.

Second, don’t use your children as pawns to keep them from the other parent. No matter how the holidays are split up between parents, think of the children. If Thanksgiving dinner is over, and the co-parent wants to take the children for dessert because they have family in town, it’s okay. Don’t say no just to punish the co-parent, as this in turn only punishes the children.

Lastly, don’t use the children to communicate with the other parent. This is an all around rule that needs to be consistent. Using the children to communicate and relay messages to the other parent puts them in a horrible position. Sometimes the children will agree to be that go-between because they feel guilty about the break up, don’t know how to say no, or are just nosy about what is going on. It’s not healthy for the children and may lead to emotional problems for them as they grow up.

I grew up in a divorced family where my parents expressed a strong dislike for each other. I, being the oldest, was the go-between when it came to communications between my parents. Back in 1972 when my parents divorced, there were no computers for emails and there were no cell phones for text messages. It was either a phone call or use the children to communication with each other. With technology today and the experiences I have muddled through, I have created Divorce Communications. There should be no reason to use the children to communicate as both parents sign up and communicate in a safe forum where everything is date and time stamped to maintain objectivity.

Have a safe a wonderful Thanksgiving and remember to enjoy the holidays with your children. Divorce is just an obstacle that will need to be navigated for many years, but just like any obstacle, it can be overcome. Move forward, enjoy your children, and live life to it’s fullest!


Applying for Disability Benefits – How It’s Decided If You’re Disabled

When evaluating your case, consider the following. The more you are educated about your case, the better prepared you are to present your case to the Social Security Administration.

1. Are you working?
If you are working and your earnings average more than a certain amount each month, we generally will not consider you disabled. The amount changes each year. For the current figure, see the annual Update (Publication No. 05-10003).

If you are not working, or your monthly earnings average the current amount or less, the state agency then looks at your medical condition.

2. Is your medical condition “severe”?
For the state agency to decide that you are disabled, your medical condition must significantly limit your ability to do basic work activities—such as walking, sitting and remembering—for at least one year. If your medical condition is not that severe, the state agency will not consider you disabled. If your condition is that severe, the state agency goes on to step three.

3. Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments?
The state agency has a List of Impairments that describes medical conditions that are considered so severe that they automatically mean that you are disabled as defined by law. If your condition (or combination of medical conditions) is not on this list, the state agency looks to see if your condition is as severe as a condition that is on the list. If the severity of your medical condition meets or equals that of a listed impairment, the state agency will decide that you are disabled. If it does not, the state agency goes on to step four.

4. Can you do the work you did before?
At this step, the state agency decides if your medical condition prevents you from being able to do the work you did before. If it does not, the state agency will decide that you are not disabled. If it does, the state agency goes on to step five.

5. Can you do any other type of work?
If you cannot do the work you did in the past, the state agency looks to see if you would be able to do other work. It evaluates your medical condition, your age, education, past work experience and any skills you may have that could be used to do other work. If you cannot do other work, the state agency will decide that you are disabled. If you can do other work, the state agency will decide that you are not disabled.

For more information,call our office at 803-929-0577 or email us at

Divorce and Home Inspections

Occasionally I come across a new and useful divorce tip. An October 27, 2010 blog by Jennifer Saranow Schultz in the New York Times was very good. See it at It suggests a home inspection before a couple gets divorced and before an appraisal. I have found that couples very often know that certain repairs need to be made but there could be repairs that they are not aware of. This could especially be a problem if as usually the case, retains 100% ownership of the house. Divorcing couples don’t like to spend more money but this could save them a lot in the long run. This is probably a good idea with other assets such as cars. I have a colleague, who suggests that each party also gets a physical before divorcing. As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM(193) 10/31/10

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health problem in the United States. Each year, traumatic brain injuries contribute to a substantial number of deaths and cases of permanent disability. Recent data shows that, on average, approximately 1.7 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury annually.

A TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury.

TBI may result in neurological and mental impairments with a wide variety of posttraumatic symptoms and signs. The rate and extent of recovery can be highly variable and the long-term outcome may be difficult to predict in the first few months post-injury. Generally, the neurological impairment (s) will stabilize more rapidly than any mental impairment (s). Sometimes a mental impairment may appear to improve immediately following TBI and then worsen, or, conversely, it may appear much worse initially but improve after a few months. Therefore, the mental findings immediately following TBI may not reflect the actual severity of your mental impairment (s). The actual severity of a mental impairment may not become apparent until 6 months or more post-injury. We will fully evaluate any neurological and mental impairments and adjudicate the claim. (

For more information, visit our site, Metts Law Firm, LLC or call 803-929-0577. You may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if you are unable to work for any reason.

If You Are Denied Social Security Benefits

If you are denied Social Security benefits, it isn’t the end of the world. The Social Security application process has several stages of appeal, any of which can overturn the initial decision and give you the benefits to which you are entitled.

The vast majority of applications for Social Security disability will be denied. Even if you have a strong case, the Social Security Administration may deny your claim if you don't prove your disability under the Social Administration guidelines.

Over 60% of claims are denied at the Initial stage. The Social Security Administration allows you 60 days to appeal this decision. If you decide to appeal, your claim enters the Reconsideration stage.

The Social Security Administration rejects over 80% of Reconsideration applications. If you choose to appeal again, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The Hearing stage often times represents your best chance of obtaining disability benefits, and it is important to prepare properly. Having a competent disability advocate or Social Security attorney can significantly increase your chances of being approved at this third stage.

If the Social Security Administration has denied your claim for Social Security disability and you would like to appeal, or if you have any questions or concerns regarding your benefits, please contact us for a consultation at 803-929-0577. We offer in office and phone consultations when needed.

VA Disability Compensation: Tips On Working With Your Service Representative

Whether you are seeking a claim for post-traumatic stress disorder or an injury on the job, it is always an advantage to have an experienced veterans service representative assist you in the prosecution of a claim for VA disability compensation. Regardless of the nature of the disorder underlying a claim for benefits, these individuals are familiar with veteran’s benefits law and procedures, and can provide more effective representation than trying to handle the claim yourself.

Keep in touch: You should talk to your representative at least once per month while your claim is pending. Whenever you get mail from the VA, call your representative to make sure that he or she has received a copy (as required by VA regulations) and that you understand exactly what it means.

Ask questions: If you do not understand something about your claim, ask about it. Part of your service representative’s responsibility is to ensure that you understand the claims process.

Exercise your judgment: Your service representative is supposed to act in your best interests. However, you are the ultimate decision maker with respect to your claim. Your service representative will tell you if he or she disagrees with what you want to do and why. They can make recommendations, but must do as you instruct.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Most Expensive Divorces

I always thought high profile litigated divorces settlements were high but did not know how high. Finally, I thought to Google and found a Wikipedia page on Most Expensive Divorces. It listed the following listed below at They are not adjusted for inflation and I am not sure if they include attorney’s fees. Needless to say when I Googled “Most Expensive Mediations” the closest I got was “Most Expensive Medications.” By the way, Alexion Pharmaceutical's Soliris, at $409,500 a year, is the world's single most expensive drug!
• Rupert Murdoch's divorce from Anna Murdoch; reputedly "the most expensive divorce in history" at $1.7 billion
• Adnan Khashoggi's divorce from Soraya Khashoggi; estimated at $874 million
• Craig McCaw's divorce from Wendy McCaw; estimated to exceed $460 million
• Michael Jordan's divorce from Juanita Jordan; estimated to exceed $150 million and was considered by Forbes Magazine to be "the most expensive celebrity divorce" in history, as of April 2007
• Charles Edgar Fipke $200 million
• Neil Diamond's divorce from Marcia Murphey; estimated at $150 million
• Harrison Ford's divorce from Melissa Mathison; estimated at $118 million
• Greg Norman's divorce from Laura Andrassy; estimated at $103 million
• Tiger Woods' divorce from Elin Nordegren; estimated at $100 million
• Steven Spielberg's divorce from Amy Irving; estimated at $100 million
• Madonna's divorce from Guy Ritchie; estimated at $90 million
• Kevin Costner's divorce from Cindy Silva; estimated at $80 million
• Kenny Rogers divorce from Marianne Rogers; estimated at $60 million
• James Cameron's divorce from Linda Hamilton; estimated to exceed $50 million
• Paul McCartney's divorce from Heather Mills; estimated at $48.6 million
• Michael Douglas' divorce from Diandra Douglas; estimated at $45 million
• Ted Danson's divorce from Casey Coats; estimated at $30 million
• Donald Trump's divorce from Ivana Trump; estimated at $25 million
• Lionel Richie's divorce from Diane Richie; estimated at $20 million
• Mick Jagger's divorce from Jerry Hall; estimated between $15 and $25 million

As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM(192) 10/8/10