Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Divorce advice: the straw that breaks the camel's back

The Daily Mail has recently reported that some women endure years of infidelity and cruelty before calling time on their marriage over something which seems far less significant in comparison.
It follows news that Anne Sinclair - wife of former International Monetary fund MD Dominique Strauss-Kahn - is allegedly considering divorce proceedings following claims linking him to a call-girl network, despite previously standing by him when he was accused of sexual assault on a New York hotel worker earlier this year.
A similar story emerged about Demi Moore's decision to divorce Ashton Kutcher - not after his infidelities first came to light - but after claims that he spent their sixth wedding anniversary in a hot tub with another woman.
I frequently advise clients on grounds for divorce when there have been problems in the marriage for many years but it is one recent incident - relatively nondescript in comparison - which ultimately leads to the decision to divorce.
For more advice on divorce and financial settlements, follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_Experts

Monday, November 28, 2011

Divorce, Gandhi and Satyagraha

I recently saw the very creative production of the opera, Satyagraha, by Philip Glass and presented live by the Metropolitan Opera on HD in movie theaters. The opera is about Gandhi and his early efforts in South Africa. Satyagraha is a word he coined which roughly translated means force of truth. It was the name of Gandhi’s newspaper. It is derived from Satya - truth; implying openness, honesty, and fairness, Ahimsa - refusal to inflict injury upon others and Tapasya - willingness for self-sacrifice. I have always been fascinated by Gandhi but never thought of his principles and how they relate to mediation. It is obvious that the core principles of Satyagraha and mediation are the same. It is what I strive for in my mediations. I am now inspired to read more. There is a encore performance of the Opera on December 7, 2011 and you should consider seeing it. 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(237) 11/28/11

Friday, November 25, 2011

Botham's son on a sticky wicket?

It is story the stuff of which headline writers dream.

Liam Botham, son of a cricket legend, is going through the divorce process. A dog belonging to his new girlfriend, whose company runs 'adult parties', disappears while at the property occupied by his estranged wife and their 3 children.

Mr Botham must seek advice from his divorce solicitor and take care before making any accusations, particulary as there are children involved who would no doubt be upset to read any hostile comments made by him about their mother.

His divorce lawyer may suggest changing arrangments for the children who the story report he currently sees at the property, which is owned by his father Sir Ian Botham.

If a financial divorce settlement has not been reached and Mrs Botham is found to have taken the dog it may impact on her credibility if the case goes to court.

For more advice on divorce law follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hands off my assets

Today's Daily Mail reports the extreme steps taken by Karen Flook to prevent her ex getting a share of her lottery win as part of a divorce settlement.

Karen and her husband had separated but not started the divorce process when she discovered her £130,000 win. She heard the myths of divorce and sadly instead of taking expert divorce advice about financial divorce settlements she decided spend the lot.....and more!

The story tells of 2 Mercedes, 5 star holiday, Cartier watch...and 5 breast enhancements (to name but a few) which put the money literally out of her ex's reach when they did divorce. She, however, has been left owing around £60,000.

A specialist divorce solicitor would have been able to advise Karen on divorce law and the less extreme steps which she could take to protect her assets.

For more advice on divorce law follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The dangers of living and working together

It is reported from Scotland that the former partner of businessman Alan Savage is seeking damages from him because she gave up her job to come and live with him.  Since the relationship ended the lady in question has entered into a civil marriage in the USA, but has been unable to secure similar employment. 
The case is taking place in Scotland and the couple were not married.  The law on cohabitation in Scotland is also different to English law.   Nevertheless it highlights the issue of whether, on divorce or the end of cohabitation, one "spouse" can seek compensation from the other in respect of earnings for career prospects that have been damaged or put on hold directly because of the relationship.  In many cases, this will be because one partner, often (but not always) the wife, will have given up work to look after the children.
When considering financial settlements on a divorce, the concept of maintenance can often take this idea of compensation into consideration.  However, if a couple is not married, there is no legal requirement for maintenance and one party to the relationship can be seriously disadvantaged.  Despite calls from family lawyers to modernise the law in this area, the Government still has no plans to introduce legislation protecting unmarried couples when their relationship breaks down.
One possible form of protection that couples should consider is a cohabitation agreement which both can sign, regulating their affairs whilst together and if they separate.   For more advice on these and other related family law issues follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Demi and Ashton - the end of something sacred?

News has filtered through that Hollywood stars Demi Moore and Ashton Kuchar are to divorce, so ending their 6 year marriage.  The split is announced amid rumours of Mr Kuchar's infidelity and comments attributed to Moore about sacred vows and values.  Whilst it is unlikely that either will be financially prejudiced as a result of the split, Moore's reported comments will resonate with many separating couples.
In England, unless a couple has been separated for a period of at least 2 years, divorce proceedings can only be started if one spouse "blames" the other, either for their adultery or unreasonable behaviour.  Despite attempts to introduce a culture of "no-fault" divorce, the law remains as it has done since 1973.  Many divorce lawyers think this a shame as it often adds unnecessary levels of tension and emotion to a situation that is quite difficult enough for the families going through it.
Another consequence of the "fault" based divorce process is that it can extend the myth that the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage will in some way be recognised in any arguments over divorce settlements or how much time the children will spend with each parent.  The reality is that only in very, very extreme circumstances will behaviour be a factor in determining these issues.  The philosophy is, effectively, that there are two sides to very story and, simply, a court does not have the resources to investigate allegations.  Still less is there a "tariff" system for penalising either spouse. 
Decisions over divsion of financial assets and children remains the subject of fairness and what is in the best interests of the children.  Where possible, couples should try to work together on these issues as it will save them time and money as well as providing a more stable platform for their children.
For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rashomon and Divorce Mediation

One of my favorite movies is Rashomon. It is an Akira Kurosawa in which a crime witnessed by four individuals is described in four mutually contradictory ways. The film is based on two short stories by RyĆ«nosuke Akutagawa. The word Rashomon is now commonly used to describe the effect of the subjectivity of perception on recollection, by which observers of an event are able to produce substantially different but equally plausible accounts of it. I just heard it used today on NPR and I made my daughters watch the movie so they would understand the word. It is seen often in popular culture and has been used on All in the Family, Grey’s Anatomy, Happy Days, The Simpsons, How I Met Your Mother and many other TV shows. I once tried a case where a women was hit by a car as she was walking in a cross walk. There were three witnesses and each saw a different color traffic light. I am surprised I have not blogged about the Rashomon Effect before because it happens all the time in marriage and divorce. There is not much a mediator can do about the Rashomon Effect but recognize the effect and to have the parties agree to disagree. Neither party will ever convince the other party. They must Accept and move on.
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(236) 11/17/11

My Space or Yours?

A judge in Connecticut has ordered a husband and wife to swap passwords for their Facebook, My Space and online dating sites as part of their divorce proceedings.  The couple’s divorce solicitors can then hunt for online evidence of cheating and, if anything is found, it may be ammunition for a more favourable divorce settlement.

With more and more of us using social media to post photos online and get in touch with old friends, colleagues and classmates it’s no surprise that spouses are increasingly finding evidence of their other half’s indiscretions online.  If you live in England, rather than America, what impact will this evidence have on the divorce advice you receive?  Is it grounds for divorce?

In England the only ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.  This is proven by relying on one of five facts, including your spouse’s adultery.  If your spouse refuses to admit to adultery the only options are to change your divorce petition or to prove the adultery, which is easier said than done.  A family law solicitor can advise you fully on your options and help guide you through the divorce process.

For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @divorce_experts.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Boise Divorce Attorney (208) 472-2383 Family Law Lawyers, Domestic Relation

For an experienced Idaho Divorce attorney, located in Boise call (208) 472-2383, divorce, criminal law, DUI, bankruptcy, personal injury, probate, estate planning and business law.

Can you be your own lawyer?  This is a common question people ask me everyday.  The answer depends upon many factors, many having nothing to do with intelligence!  Seriously, though, can you be your own lawyer?  Many people represent themselves in Idaho courts everyday.  This, however, doesn't mean they are successful.  While it is true that no one knows your case better than you do, it is also true that you might not no or understand rules of evidence.  You may not know how or where to file court documents or in a timely manner.  You may end up making matters worse for yourself.

I am a Divorce Attorney, a criminal lawyer, a bankruptcy lawyer and so on.  It is what I do day in and day out.  Am I a plumber?  No I am not.  While I can read books on plumbing and even try my hand at it, I often have to redo the project several times and I often make matters worse.  Likewise, I am not an electrician, but I can read books on how to wire my house.  The problem is, I don't really understand electricity and how to wire and because I don't I will end up getting shocked.

If you need to get a divorce or file for bankruptcy or have a criminal matter pending against you - don't get shocked. It really makes sense to get an attorney who is experienced and knows the rules of evidence, knows the deadlines and knows the law.  It will cost you some money but in the long run you may end up saving money by having it done right the first time.

If you would like to speak to an attorney, please call (208) 472-2383.  You will be glad you did.

Friday, November 11, 2011

No 50:50 Split for fathers

A recent government report has rejected the suggestion that after a divorce children should divide their time equally between their parents.
Where children are involved a crucial element of any Divorce advice will relate to their welfare and how their best interests should be protected in any divorce settlement.
The law puts the childrens' best interests first and looks at each case on its unique facts - no one solution, such as dividing the childrens' time equally between the parents , will suit all families. The current law provides a checklist to help the courts make what can sometimes be extremely difficult decisions about a child's future if the parents cannot agree.
Family Law Solicitors  can provide advice and support relating to child issues  both in helping to reach an agreement or if this is not possible in dealing with the court process in this important area of family law. 
For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter@Divorce_experts

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Divorce Mediation and Good Behavior

After a mediation, I often see the couple speaking in the parking lot of my office. This happens so often that I now offer them the opportunity to talk in one of our conference rooms which is at least cooler. They often look different in the parking lot. More angry and agitated. I also recall that many years ago, I was doing mediation and for about 20 minutes, the couple spoke to each other and I said nothing. I suggested that they did not need me and they said something which helps explain the parking lot conversations in reverse and another use of a mediator. What the couple said was they needed me because they were on good behavior when I was there. I have thought I could make money and couples could save money if I could sell them a blow up doll version of me. I think the dynamics of this is that people behavior is better with strangers. Once you cease to be a stranger which happens after a while in mediation this is no longer the case. What is happening in the parking lot is that I am not there and they don’t have to be on good behavior and can say things unrestrained. That is why I have always felt there is a window of opportunity to resolve a case. Couples need to take advantage of this opportunity.
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(235) 11/10/11

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Recent divorce settlement - beyond reasonable?

There has recently been much press coverage in respect of the financial settlement awarded to Mrs Grubb by the Court of Appeal following her divorce from Mr Grubb.
The Telegraph Newspaper questioned whether the £4.4 million divorce settlement was beyond Mrs Grubb's reasonable needs and provided detail of the 9 bedroom country home which she would retain as well as a lump sum payment and child maintenance provision.
Although I have not yet been privy to the full details of this case, it is apparent that this was a lengthy marriage - some 26 years and involved considerable wealth in the region of £12 million.
In England the Court has a wide discretion and the family law judges have a list of factors that they must take into account and apply to each case before them.  Those factors, amongst others, include the income and financial resources available to the parties now or in the foreseeable future, the standard of living enjoyed by the family during the marriage and the length of marriage.
Therefore in many circumstances, what may appear as a settlement beyond most people's wildest dreams it will of course be relative to a couple's own personal circumstances.
The so called big money cases will invariably get much press attention but they will often have little impact, if any, on the average divorcing couple.  Each case needs to be considered on its own facts and therefore expert divorce advice from a specialist family law solicitor.
For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @ Divorce_experts.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Effect of Divorce on Bankruptcy in Idaho - Boise Divorce Attorneys - Idaho Bankruptcy Lawyers

What effect does Bankruptcy have on divorce?  As both a Boise Divorce Attorney and an Idaho Bankruptcy Lawyer, I hear this question frequently.  Although there is a fairly simple answer, it is actually a two part question.  First, what happens if you are seeking divorce and have filed or want to file for divorce? 

If you have been in serious financial straights during your marriage filing for bankruptcy might be a sensible solution.  During a marriage your debts are generally community debts with an obligation of the community to pay them.  For a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, if you wait to finalize your divorce (as far as debts are concerned) and file for bankruptcy together, you may be able to discharge a large portion of your debt, thereby making the debt division simpler and less financially straining.  You can also wait until after the divorce to file for bankruptcy but then you will incur a double bankruptcy fee as well as one party or the other may not meet the means test and therefore not be allowed to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy (the means test takes into account your family size to determine income limits for Chapter 7).

The second question is what happens if neither party files for bankruptcy until after the divorce?  Once you are divorced the community debt that has been assigned to you becomes your separate debt and each individual is obligated to pay that debt and is solely responsible for it.  So, if your ex-spouse files for bankruptcy you don't have to worry about a dischargeable debt becoming your responsibility.  Where bankruptcy after divorce has important issues is for spousal support, or alimony and child support.  Ordinarily a debt is given priority in bankruptcy if it is recorded and once recorded it's priority is based upon "first in time, first in right".  The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of  2005, however, gives priority for unpaid spousal support and child support over all other creditors, even tax debt.  This prevents using bankruptcy from a way of getting out of paying alimony or child support. 

If you have divorce or bankruptcy issues and need to speak to a Boise Divorce Attorney or an Idaho Bankruptcy Lawyer, please give us a call at 208-472-2383 and see what we can do for you.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Friday, November 04, 2011

Is Hugh Finding Out How Expensive Children Can Be?

It has been reported in the media that Hugh Grant's former girlfriend, Tinglan Hong, has recently given birth to their daughter. Given that they were not married, Ms. Hong has limited financial claims against Hugh. She is not entitled to the equivalent of a divorce settlement for herself. The only claims that she can make are on behalf of their daughter. However, not only will Hugh be obliged to pay generous child maintenance for his daughter, Ms Hong could apply to court and request that Hugh provide a house and a car and meet other expenses until their daughter is an adult. Hugh may well have taken legal advice, as it has recently been reported that Ms Hong is now living in a £1.2million house owned by Hugh's cousin and has recently acquired a £40,000 Mercedes. Although Hugh is no doubt delighted to have become a father, he may now be finding out just how expensive having children can be. Read more divorce advice on our family law blog or follow us on Twitter@Divorce_experts.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Divorce and Mediation Rings

The divorce ring was brought to my attention by my younger daughter. I have previously blogged about Divorce Ritual at

The ring is another aspect of Divorce Ritual. The ring pictured above is made of 18K gold and diamonds and was created by Spritzer and Furman. It is available at Alice Kwartler Antiques. The divorce ring costs $3,200. The ring costs more than many divorce mediations I have done. Pity the man who has multiple divorces and must buy a few rings. I can hear wife two saying “You bought one for wife one! I want one too!” I did not think there would be a mediation ring but there is. Jennifer Kahn Jewelry in Vermont has one on her web site. See picture of it above. There is no price for the mediation ring but her other rings are about $65. As usual, mediation is less expensive than litigated divorce. I think you can tell the two rings apart. 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(234 11/3/11)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Spare The Bullshit

The story is appalling. 13 year-old Hanna, adopted from Ethiopia by Carri and Larry Williams, tortured and beaten by her parents until her young body could take no more. A younger adopted brother, also beaten and tortured by the parents. Investigators and prosecutors proclaimed it was one of the worst cases of abuse they had ever seen.

Paradise, CA. Lydia and Zariah, from Liberia, beaten repeatedly by their adoptive parents Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz. Zariah requires hospitalization to recover from the abuse, 7 year-old Lydia dies from the trauma after 7-hours of being beaten, interrupted only for prayer.

These two tragedies have a few common themes: all of the parents believed in the philosophy of “spare the rod, spoil the child”, explicitly advocated for in the book “To Train Up A Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl (1994). All of these adults also identified themselves as devote Christians.

In the introduction of his 1994 book, Pearl states “…the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules, the same techniques God uses to train His children.” In another section he explains, “Any spanking, to effectively reinforce instruction, must cause pain.” There is a section entitled “obedience training”. Pearl’s gives explicit descriptions of objects parents should use to “discipline” their children. This includes a 15” long, 1/4” diameter plastic plumbing line. Both the Schatz’s and the Williams’ used a plumbing line like this to beat their children.

Michael Pearl is a preacher from Tennessee who founded No Greater Joy Ministries, Inc. with his wife Debi. Pearl’s website states he holds a BS from Crichton College (field of study isn’t offered) and on the “meet the Pearls page” he is listed as a graduate of Mid-South Bible College in Memphis. Mid-South’s website describes the college as preparation for individuals wanting to go into Christian ministry work. Programs offered include Bachelors degrees in Christian Education, Christian Ministry, and Christian Leadership. Notably absent is any degree related to child development.

It is curious that Pearl’s website is full of ads for visitors to spend their hard-earned dollars at his store, complete with the lure of free shipping on orders over $75. A visit to the store allows you to buy books on topics from marriage to child rearing to “Holy Sex”, comic book bibles, audios, videos, software ministry tools, and NGJ’s Home in a Business Box. It seems that Michael and Debi Pearl are getting rich off of their “ministry”. Interesting is their ability to sell themselves as “experts” on such a diverse array of topics. No one, however, forced parents to adhere to Pearl’s misguided and dangerous advice on parenting.

What is most appalling in these stories is the thoughtlessness and lack of discernment exercised by individuals seeking parenting advice. When it comes to raising children, one would hope that parents wouldn’t believe any piece of rubbish published or on the Internet. Why wouldn’t a parent want a qualified expert giving advice on how to effectively discipline and raise children? Would you go to a preacher to have your annual physical exam? Following Pearl’s advice on parenting and discipline makes about as much sense. Pearl states he is an expert on parenting due to raising 5 children and having 18 grandchildren. Carri and Larry Williams had 8 children; Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz had 6 biological children and 3 adopted children. Clearly, being a parent does not make you an expert on parenting or a decent human being.

It’s time to stop the bullshit. Listening to any crackpot that comes along to justify your sadistic tendencies is wrong. Physically harming an innocent, defenseless child is morally corrupt. Comparing training animals to raising children is insane. Anyone who advocates carrying around a pocket switch to beat your child with should be vigorously questioned and avoided. Violence teaches violence. Viewing your child as the enemy is a clear sign that you need professional help.

Children do not need to be “controlled” or “obedient”. Children learn by exploring their environment. Raising your children in a loving home, teaching them to care about others, and offering them security and safety is the job of parents. Children who are shown respect will treat others with respect. Children who are raised as Pearl advocates turn into adults with anger and mental health issues that will spill over to future generations. Teaching our children coping techniques, setting and enforcing appropriate limits and boundaries, and practicing what you preach go a long way toward raising good, productive, loving children.

Shame on Michael and Debi Pearl for using religion as a ruse to make money. Shame on the Pearl’s for spreading ignorance that maims and destroys innocent children. We are all responsible for our actions and behaviors. Parents need to be educated and trained on appropriate, effective and humane ways to raise their children. It is the responsibility of parents to protect and care for their children. In my next article I will review research by the experts on appropriate parenting techniques. Get the facts.

Kimberly A. Kick, LCSW
Copyright © 2011 Divorce Communications. All Rights Reserved.

Disclosure - What's mine is not necessarily yours

The recent press coverage of Lisa Tchenguiz and her divorce from Vivian Imerman highlights one of the most difficult and controversial issues for divorce lawyers, particularly with regard to financial settlements, namely how to deal with someone who is not giving full documentary disclosure of their finances.  In particular, the question arises as to when, if ever, can one party obtain and use undisclosed information belonging to the other.
The Tchenguiz/Imerman case remains the latest word on the subject and the position is not necessarily a happy one.  Essentially, if one party does not comply with their duty to provide full disclosure, the other cannot just take their paperwork unless they would normally have access to it.  Many couples will have important financial documents filed wher both can access them.  It may also have been the case that, prior to the divorce, wives would have access to their husband's papers (and vice versa).  The problem arises if one party steps beyond that threshold and "breaks in" to a locked study, desk or computer and then passes any documents on to their lawyer.  The lawyer may then be compromised and cannot look at the documents.  In some cases, the lawyer may no longer be able to act.
The old adage that "two wrongs do not make a right" applies, although it can seem very unfair that a person who is deliberately not complying with their duty of disclosure can then cry "foul" against their spouse party for producing relevant information.  It is a timely reminder of the court's clear message that parties should not take the law in to their own hands.  Anyone who has such concerns should discuss what they can and cannot do with their lawyer before taking any action.
For more divorce advice follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts