Alabama Divorce & Family Law Attorney Blog

McAdam v. McAdam: On Divorce Settlement Agreements and Contempt of Court

Posted in Alabama Divorce

Sometimes a divorce settlement can be reached in an amicable manner in which parties agree to all terms and can go on with the rest of their lives without years of litigation.  Unfortunately, that is often not the case.  McAdam v. McAdam, an appeal heard in the Supreme Court of the State of Wyoming, was one of those cases.

money-problemsIn McAdam, Husband and Wife were granted a divorce under what is known as a stipulated decree.  The decree was granted by the trial court in May of 2011.  In that stipulated decree, both Husband and Wife agreed to list the martial home for sale with a professional real estate agent no later than 30 days after the court entered the decree. Continue Reading

Explaining Divorce to Your Children

Posted in Alabama Child Custody & Visitation, Alabama Collaborative Law

The decision to divorce usually arrives after months, years, even decades of complications and distance growing between married couples. While you and your spouse may have a clear understanding of why you have made the decision to divorce, the answers may not be so clear to your children. How much do you need to tell your children about the divorce? What reasons should or shouldn’t you provide when telling your children about the split? Though every situation is unique, it is important to consider the possible repercussions of revealing some or all of the reasons for divorce.

shoecarrierWhile you may feel the urge to share all of your emotions and feelings with your children, they do not necessarily need to know the deepest struggles of your relationship. Similarly, children do need to make sense of why their parents have decided to divorce—but how much is too much? For any child, from toddlers to teens, learning that their parents are divorcing can be devastating. When breaking the difficult news, there are a few strategies that will help you best communicate and to protect your privacy as well as the interests of your children.

Establish ground rules with your spouse. Regardless of who initiated the divorce or what feelings each of you have about the end, you should decide together and in advance what your children need to know. You should discuss and agree that neither will blame the other, agree that you won’t fight in front of the children, and you won’t expect the children to choose sides. Even if you are not getting along, you should make your children and what information you deliver a priority.

Make sure it’s definite and schedule a time to talk. You and your spouse should be clear on your decision to move forward with a divorce. Even if one party is reluctant, they should be aware of intentions to move forward and the reality of divorce. If you are considering divorce, our Birmingham family law attorneys can help you protect your rights and interests. Once you have made the decision, schedule an appropriate time and block out at least an hour to answer questions.

Reiterate key points. The primary message you should be sending to your children is that it is not their fault and that you and your spouse have made the decision together. Your children will likely want to know how the divorce will impact them, so it is important to reassure them, that even though you won’t be living together anymore, you will always love them and both parents will remain involved in their lives.

Reasoning and motivations. Your children may ask why you have made this decision, and a general answer is better than being overly descriptive about your partner’s shortcomings, lack of communication, or other issues that may have led to the divorce. You should let your children see that you are upset, but don’t make your children feel that they need to comfort you. Remember not to bad mouth your spouse during the divorce transition or after it is finalized.

More Blog Entries:

When Alabama Was the Quickie Divorce Capitol, March 26, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Lawyers Alarmed by Proposed Change in NC Law, April 29, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Online Co-Parenting Course Can Help Ease Transition

Posted in Alabama Collaborative Law, Birmingham Divorce

Parents who decide to separate or divorce know the difficulties of adjusting to co-parenting schedules. Deciding who takes the kids when, who stays in the family home, and how to best accommodate school and work schedules can be a hassle. All of these practicalities bound up in the emotional turmoil of a divorce can be complicated. Many U.S. states, including Alabama, are requiring couples with children to take a co-parenting course before they can formalize a divorce. According to a Reuters report on user reviews, the most widely used online program can be helpful.

According to researchers, conflict between parents before and during a divorce can also contribute to difficulties in adjusting for children and teens. Any conflicts that arise during co-parenting negotiations can also trickle down to children, having a negative impact. This is contrary to the belief that it is the divorce itself that leads to turmoil for youth. Previous research has shown that children whose parents can learn to cooperate and get along while co-parenting, fare better during and after a divorce.

Many couples who have been through divorce agree that the most difficult time is not after a divorce, but while a divorce is in progress. The period of conflict during separation is not just challenging for couples, but for children as well. Our Birmingham divorce and family law attorneys understand the challenges faced by our clients. We are committed to providing informed and strategic counsel to help clients achieve optimal results and find the best long-term solutions.

Legal policies and laws forcing parents into co-parenting classes support this belief. Advocates believe that the courses can help parents learn to communicate, minimize conflict, and help their children make necessary adjustments. Researchers and reviewers have accessed online parenting courses that meet court requirements, analyzing designs, content, and relevant information. Specifically, reviewers were seeking to determine whether the courses actually provided information based on scientific studies. According to reports, the content and quality focused on adjustment, adult adjustment to divorce, co-parenting, and legal information. There were also additional sections dedicated to specific issues including violence, substance abuse, and mental health problems.

Reviewers looked at a specific program provided by “Online Parenting Programs,” which is accepted by more than 850 U.S. counties. The courses were designed to provide instructional methods, encouraging users to reflect on certain topics and develop a plan rather than providing passive instruction which simply requires the user to read or listen. The review, published in the Journal of Divorce and Remarriage evaluated impressions of users and how they responded to the teaching. Parents who felt that the online program was a benefit were more likely to improve communication.

According to researchers, the online program not only satisfies court requirements, but it successfully provides content that can improve outcomes for parents and children. The program provides specific counsel and strategy, as well as information on specific issues like changes to family structure, dealing with co-parenting finances, and developing communication strategies between parents and children.

More Blog Entries:

Defining Equitable Distribution of Property in an Alabama Divorce, Oct. 14, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Preparation: Compiling a Secret Divorce Fund, Sept. 25, 2013, Birmingham Collaborative Divorce Lawyer Blog

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Posted in Uncategorized

Raising awareness of domestic violence is important to protect the rights of victims and prevent future abuse. Alabama’s “First Lady” Diane Bentley hosted a candlelight vigil the first week of October to kick off Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The First Lady was supported by dozens of advocates who also held candles in front of the State Capital to recognize victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence and divorce often go hand in hand. Making the decision to divorce can spark more severe instances of domestic violence and domestic violence can also lead to divorce. Individuals who are under a threat of domestic violence should consider their legal rights and options to get out of a dangerous situation.

The Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that there were more than 20,000 cases of domestic violence investigated in 2013. The organization also points out that nationwide, one in three women have been or will become a victim of future domestic violence or domestic abuse. The event included presentations by individuals who suffered from domestic violence first hand. Speakers offered their own experiences in attempt to reach out and to show that domestic violence can impact women, children, and men from all walks of life. Their hope is to stop it at the neighborhood and family level to put a nationwide end to domestic violence and abuse.

For women who are involved in domestic abuse situations, getting out is not only overwhelming and intimidating, it can be dangerous. Women who decide to leave their abusive partners or husbands are often at greater risk of assault. Our Birmingham domestic abuse attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of women and domestic violence victims. We can provide necessary legal support while also helping you seek  the community resources you need to stay safe during the transition. According to reports, the First Lady of Alabama vowed to make domestic violence prevention a part of her agenda when her husband, Robert Bentley, was elected governor.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved after the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence observed the first Day of Unity in October of 1981. The event was intended to connect victims, social workers, advocates, policymakers, and other individuals who are in the fight against domestic violence. The Day of Unity extended to one week, then a month, as it began to include local, state, and federal activities and events to raise domestic violence awareness. Some of these events include program sponsorship, educational events, and conferences. Other events are intended to pay respects to those who have lost their lives to domestic violence.

If you or someone you love is at risk of violence or is seeking to get out of a violent relationship or marriage, it is important seek out counsel, support, and advocacy. An experienced advocate can help protect your legal rights during divorce. Victims of domestic violence can also call the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic violence at 1-800-650-6522 for additional counsel and support. In the event of an emergency, victims of domestic violence should call 911.

More Blog Entries:

When Alabama Was the Quickie Divorce Capitol, March 26, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Lawyers Alarmed by Proposed Change in NC Law, April 29, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Billionaire’s Wife Seeks to Void Prenuptial Agreement

Posted in Prenuptial Agreements

For celebrities, athletes, and upper echelon earners, prenuptial agreements are not just a suggestion—but a necessity. Despite the popularity of prenuptial agreements among high-asset couples, enforcement is not always a sure thing. According to a recent CNBC report the wife of a hedge fund billionaire is seeking to void a prenuptial agreement. The couple had been married for 11 years before he surprised his wife by filing divorce papers. Now the wife has responded to her husband’s move for divorce by filing a petition with a formal request for sole custody of children, removal of the children from Illinois to New York, and most surprisingly to legal authorities, an argument that the prenuptial agreement finalized in 2003 was signed under duress and should be voided.

Prenuptial agreement requirements may vary by state, but the majority of states have similar requirements to validate a prenuptial agreement. No prenuptial agreement can be made in duress and each party must have independent counsel to ensure that their rights are properly represented. Full disclosure of assets and liabilities must be made well in advance and both parties must also have capacity to sign the contract. Every state may impose additional requirements but the bottom line is that prenuptial agreements can be challenged on a number of grounds. In this case, the prenuptial agreement will play a critical role in the divorce settlement. Invalidation of the contract could result in a windfall for the billionaire’s ex-wife.

Whether you are in a high-asset divorce, considering a prenuptial agreement, or have questions about an existing prenuptial agreement, it is important to have a clear understanding of your rights and responsibilities. Our Birmingham divorce lawyers are committed to protecting the rights of our clients and in creating legitimate prenuptial agreements that will hold up in court. Our legal team will take the time to review your assets and interests and develop a strategic course of legal action to protect your rights.

According to Forbes, the Citadel hedge fund founder has a net worth of $5.5 billion. His wife is professionally successful in her own right, a Harvard Business School graduate who previously ran her own investment firm. Since the couple married, the hedge fund owner’s wife primarily spends her time raising the couple’s children. Throughout their marriage, the couple continued to make public appearances at social events, though court documents allege that the hedge fund owner moved out in February of 2012 and spent little time with the children. This could impact his rights to custody in the future.

The prenuptial agreement was signed the day before their wedding in Versailles in July of 2003. According to the filings, there was no draft of the document presented until shortly before the wedding. His financial details were not disclosed and a fight broke out between them. His wife alleges that she signed the contract under duress, which could be grounds for invalidation. Additional court filings from the wife allege that her husband surprised her with the divorce petition while she was on vacation with her children. While they were away, he moved furniture from the family home and took pieces of valuable art from their Chicago home.

The stakes for invalidation of the prenuptial are high. If the agreement remains in place, she will be entitled to $50 million. If invalidated, she could be entitled to up to half of the $5.5 billion.

More Blog Entries:

When Alabama Was the Quickie Divorce Capitol, March 26, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Lawyers Alarmed by Proposed Change in NC Law, April 29, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Children of High-Income Families May Be Hit Harder By Divorce

Posted in Alabama Child Support, Alabama Divorce, Uncategorized

The financial status of a family at the time of divorce can create very different challenges. Low-income families may struggle with the transition of dividing a family income. Wealthier families will also have to shift their standards of living. While it may seem that low-income families have a harder time with divorce, a new study suggests that children of wealthier families suffer more behavioral problems in the event of divorce. According to a Times Magazine report on a study published in Child Development, children may suffer disparate impact, depending on their family income, their age, and whether they have been incorporated in a blended family after divorce.

whitefenceResearchers at Georgetown University used a national sample of 4,000 children who were divided among three groups by income. Researchers then studied the impact of divorce and change on each group. Children in high-income families suffer from more behavioral problems after a divorce. Regardless of your family’s financial status before or after a divorce, transition can be challenging. Our Birmingham family law attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of parents facing divorce. We understand the varied challenges you may face and will help protect your financial, personal, and legal interests.

According to researchers, children from wealthy families are likely to act up and have more long-term behavioral problems after divorce. While the authors of the study have not said conclusively why this may be the case, they have offered suggestions. One theory is that fathers who are breadwinners will often move out of the house, causing a significant reduction in household income. Many of these children will also have to change schools or move into new neighborhood. The change in living standards combined with the instability can take its toll on children. Authors also suggest that children in lower-income families may not be impacted because divorce is more common among low-income families. For these children, divorce may be more normative and less stressful.

Researchers wanted to point out that age does play a role in how much divorce will affect behavioral problems. The behavior changes and differences between the three groups were only noticeable in children younger than five. There was no impact on children between the ages of 6 to 12. Children who were older than 6 who had blended families also showed improvements in their behavior. This comprehensive study combined with other studies show that there are many factors that can impact how a child will react to divorce as well as whether the divorce will cause behavioral problems.

When facing divorce, it is normal to be concerned about how your decision can impact the life of your children. While there are some steps you can take to reduce the impact, the most important action is to protect your legal rights and financial interests through strategic advocacy. An experienced attorney can review your case, identify your objectives and pursue the best course of legal action through negotiation and settlement or litigation.

More Blog Entries:

When Alabama Was the Quickie Divorce Capitol, March 26, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Lawyers Alarmed by Proposed Change in NC Law, April 29, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

96-Year-Old Woman Marries, Lawsuit Filed Over Legitimacy and Estate

Posted in Alabama Divorce, Assets and Debts, Financial Issues, Marriage

While you may fall in love at any age, getting married at some ages can raise legal questions. Those who are under 18 are unable to get married without parental permission. A recent case involving the marriage of a 96-year-old woman raises questions about the age of consent for older adults. According to the Associated Press, a legal dispute has arisen between the 96-year-old woman’s daughter and sister who took their mother to marry her 95-year-old husband. According to the attorney on behalf of the daughter, the woman had been declared legally incapacitated and that the other sister’s decision to facilitate the decision was improper, therefore nullifying the marriage.

handsAn Alabama Public Radio report details the facts of the case involving a dispute over real estate, personal property, as well as the costs of care and living for the elderly woman. Our Alabama divorce attorneys are dedicated to raising awareness to protect the rights of clients and their loved ones. We will take the time to review the facts of any case, identify your objectives, and determine the best course of action to achieve optimal results. Our attorneys are committed to providing strategic representation and to staying abreast of family law legal trends in Alabama and nationwide.

For children with ailing parents, caretaking may involve personal and medical care as well as financial planning. Watching an elderly parent get married without full capacity can threaten financial stability. At the same time, you don’t want to take away your parents’ rights or choices in old age. In this case, the judge did rule that the process of the marriage was improper, but he did not want to nullify the marriage or break up the marriage. Rather than strip away the marital right, he decided to remove both daughters as legal guardians and assign an attorney. The new attorney has the task of investigating the marriage and taking necessary action to protect the interests of the 96-year-old newlywed.

If after an investigation, the attorney finds the marriage is not benefiting the woman or her estate, she will pursue either a divorce or an annulment on behalf of the elderly woman. In an interview, the attorney stated that she would not end the marriage unless she found damaging information. In this case, a post-nuptial agreement would deny the husband access to the estate; however, the attorney stated that if the marriage is beneficial, then the new husband should have equal access to the estate.

According to the report, the couple met over 10 years ago while buying lottery tickets. One of the tickets was a winner and the two have been together ever since. The couple was married earlier this year and are the oldest interracial married couple in the country. With the aging population in the United States, it is not unlikely that there will be future disputes involving marriage and older adults, especially the elderly who may be vulnerable to financial exploitation.

Contact Birmingham divorce and family law attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

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When Alabama Was the Quickie Divorce Capitol, March 26, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Lawyers Alarmed by Proposed Change in NC Law, April 29, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Amicable vs. Messy Divorce? For Children, it May Not Matter

Posted in Alabama Collaborative Law, Alabama Divorce

Psychologists, family counselors, judges, and many lawyers will often discuss the benefits of an amicable divorce. Collaborative divorce is a growing area of family law allowing divorcing couples to negotiate their settlement and come to lasting agreements without going to court. While the trend towards amicable divorce (even “conscious uncoupling” in the case of Gwyneth Paltrow) is gaining traction,  a new study suggests that “amicable” divorces are just as damaging for children as those that are considered “messy.” This could undermine evidence and even government reports that point to conflict as the primary issue for children of divorce.

shoecarrierResearchers will often seek to find answers when it comes to the impact of divorce. For couples who are contemplating divorce, the numbers and surveys can be overwhelming, especially when you are trying to account for your own security and the interests of your children. Our Birmingham family law attorneys understand the conflicts faced by divorcing parents. While you want to protect your own interests and security, you also want to make the best decisions for the future of your children. As experienced advocates, we will take a strategic approach to review your case and objectives, identity the best legal course of action, and aggressively defend your rights and interests.

According to a recent study, the impact of divorce on children seems to be the same, regardless of whether parents maintain cordial or amicable relations. This study undermines a previous government-back consensus that conflict in divorce can harm children and that parents should attempt to “remain friends.” The study, carried out by U.S. academics was the first in 20 years to examine how the behavior of separated parents may impact the lives of children. The study examined 270 parents who were divorced or separated in a state that compelled divorcing parents to participate in co-operative co-parenting.

The research, published in the journal Family Relations, found that children of divorced parents were more likely to suffer from behavior problems or drug abuse. Many had other difficulties including anxiety or depression. Researchers found that the likelihood of these symptoms did not diminish, even if parents had an amicable split.

When contemplating divorce, you and your spouse may be amicable at times, fighting at others, and inconsistent about how you feel or how to proceed. Once you decide to move forward with divorce, you may feel completely at odds with the best course of action and how to protect your children’s best interest. For parents who are looking to resolve a divorce with their children in mind, a new study may shed light on how the actual split will impact their children. The bad news is that a divorce can negatively impact your children. The good news is that there is no “right” way to divorce. All families must do the best they can to work towards lasting solutions. Still individual spouses must take informed and strategic legal action at the outset to protect their rights, interests, and their children.

More Blog Entries:

When Alabama Was the Quickie Divorce Capitol, March 26, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Lawyers Alarmed by Proposed Change in NC Law, April 29, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Rumpel v. Skaggs: Issues that Arise when One Spouse Owns a Share of a Business

Posted in Alabama Property Division

Our Birmingham divorce lawyers understand that when one spouse owns a business with other people, there may be significant litigation required to value the marital assets.

taxesRumpel v. Skaggs, a case from the Supreme Court of Kentucky, involved a husband and wife who were married in 1994.  At the time of the wedding, the husband (“Plaintiff”) was working as a police officer.  Plaintiff retired from the police two years later with a full pension.

After retirement, Plaintiff, along with a business partner, formed a corporation to purchase several acres of land.  The land was a strip mall.  They leased three of the commercial spaces to unrelated businesses.  One of the business was a bar.  The majority of the strip mall was used for two house bingo halls that were rented to non-profit organizations for the purpose of hosting gambling.  Plaintiff’s company also ran a snack bar in the bingo halls. The company formed a subsidiary for the snack bar, so that it would be separate from the real estate holdings.

Plaintiff’s wife (“Defendant”) quit her job to work as a full-time homemaker. She also cared for Plaintiff’s grandson who she later adopted.  After this time, one of the employees of the company pleaded guilty to stealing more than $300,000 from her employers.  As part of her sentence, the employee agreed to pay back $2,000 per month, though she was only able to make partial payments.
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Balogh v. Balogh: Prenuptial vs Postnuptial agreements

Posted in Divorce Property Division

In Balogh v. Balogh, an appeal argued before the Supreme Court of Hawaii, the parties were married in 1981.  At the time of the wedding, the wife owned two properties in New Jersey.  She sold one of the properties in 1992 for just less than $90,000.  The other property was a vacant lot that she had purchased for just under $30,000.
The husband, at the time of the marriage, owned a piece of property that he soon sold for $40,000.  According to the husband’s testimony, the couple built a home on the wife’s vacant lot.  Both husband and wife were highly educated.

During the marriage, they couple would regularly vacation in Hawaii and eventually purchased a vacant lot for $280,000 in 2002.  The couple took out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) on their home in New Jersey to purchase the lot in Hawaii.
As your Birmingham, Alabama divorce lawyer can explain, cases involving premarital assets that get comingled with marital assets may require significant litigation when trying to reach a property distribution.

In Balogh, the parties sold their home for $545,000 and moved to Hawaii so that the wife could care for her elderly parents. The couple took the money from what remained from the sale of their home after repaying the HELOC plus an additional $350,000 from their joint savings to build a house on the vacant lot.
While construction was supposed to take two years, there were many problems during the construction process, and, eventually, the contractor walked off the job and filed (inappropriately) a mechanic’s lien on the property in the amount of $150,000.  To make matters worse, the homeowner’s association attempted to assess a $350,000 penalty on the couple because they had not completed construction within the required two-year period.  The couple was forced to pay an additional $60,000 to additional contractors, but the home was still not finished, though the couple was able to move in at this point.
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