Alabama Divorce & Family Law Attorney 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.

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

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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Richter v. Richter: On Personal Jurisdiction in Divorce Cases

Posted in Alabama Property Division

Richter v. Richter, a case from the Alaska Supreme Court, involved a couple who were married in 2010 in California.  They separated in 2011 and filed for divorce. At trial, the husband (“Defendant”) argued that the court lacked jurisdiction over him, because he was a resident of Idaho.
As your Birmingham divorce lawyer can explain, in order for a court hear a case, it must have jurisdiction over both the subject matter and the parties involved in the litigation.  In the case of a divorce, the parties are normally required to have lived in the state for a statutory length of time before the court in that state has jurisdiction to hear the case.  In Alabama, at least one of the spouses must be a resident of the state, and the court must have personal jurisdiction over at least one of the parties.
In Richer, that state required that the parties live in the state for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.  According to court records, both the wife (“Plaintiff”) and Defendant were helicopter pilots and their respective jobs required frequent travel.  Defendant claimed that he moved to Alaska six years prior to getting married, but he was only there seasonally.  He testified that he had an Alaska driver’s license for the past three years, applied for state fund dividends (for which he was denied), and listed Alaska as his state of residence on his federal income tax forms.
His claim for lack of personal jurisdiction was based on the fact that both parties traveled frequently and did not reside in the state for any continuous six-month period prior to filing for divorce. Plaintiff testified that Defendant rented out his house in Idaho and transferred all of his belongings to Alaska, and that, while he discussed moving back home, he never did until the parties separated.
The trial held that it did have proper personal jurisdiction over Defendant, because he was a resident of the state based upon all facts in evidence.  The remainder of the trial involved the party’s martial assets and debts.
The main point of contention was in regard to a $100,000 loan from Defendant’s mother.  Prior to the marriage, Plaintiff had more than $100,000 in high interest debt.  According to testimony, Defendant’s mother offered to help out with this debt.  Plaintiff, on the other hand, testified that his mother gave him the money to invest, and eventually the couple decided that the best use for the money was to repay her high-interest debt. Her debt was paid off via wire transfer, and the couple made payments to Defendant’s mother from their joint account. The trial court believed Plaintiff’s account that it was a joint marital decision to use the money to repay the loans.
On appeal, the court held that the trial judge was correct in deciding that the court had personal jurisdiction over Defendant.  The court also held that the debt to Defendant’s mother was joint marital debt.  One of the reasons was that, regardless of whose idea it was to use the money to repay the loan, the couple treated it as a martial debt by using their joint bank account to repay the loan.
Contact Birmingham divorce and family law attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.
Additional Resources:
Richter v. Richter, August 1, 2014, Alaska Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:
Divorce and Debt Negotiation: Making a Clean Break, July 10, 2014, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Dalton v. Dalton: On the Rules of Evidence in Divorce Proceedings

Posted in Alabama Child Custody & Visitation

Dalton v. Dalton, an appeal from the Supreme Court of Maine, involved a couple who were married in 2002 and divorced in 2013.  The couple had three children together at the time of this action, including a ten-year-old daughter and a set of twins who were seven years old.
Our Birmingham divorce attorneys understand that a dissolution of marriage where there parties have minor children can be a complicated and emotionally difficult process.
After a two-day hearing, the trial judge granted the couple a divorce based upon grounds of irreconcilable differences.  In the State of Alabama, a divorce on grounds of irreconcilable differences is referred to as a “no-fault” divorce.
In Dalton, the trial court included in its order a finding that the mother had used a degree of unreasonable force that went beyond the bounds of the law when disciplining a child. The court also found that she used emotionally abusive methods to control her children, and that she did not control her behavior, nor did she seek appropriate mental health treatment.
Based upon this finding, the trial court ordered custody of the children to be granted to the father and cited that the mother was a safety concern.  The court further held that the mother did not understand the detrimental effects her behavior was having on the children.  The mother was limited to three supervised visits per week with her children and a daily phone call. The judge told her that if she received treatment for her issues and made sufficient progress, she would be granted more opportunities to see her children.
According to court records, the mother chose not to seek treatment and, instead, filed several post-judgment motions with the court to modify the visitation and custody award. During a hearing on these issues, during which there were many sustained objections from the father’s child custody attorney, the judge denied all of her motions on grounds that she had not made sufficient progress with her mental health and parenting issues.

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Child Custody and Protections for Deployed Service Members

Posted in Alabama Child Custody & Visitation

Divorce is always complicated and personally challenging, but for service members, the process of divorce can be even more difficult. In addition to the complexities of asset division, service members who are stationed overseas may find it more difficult to protect their rights in custody disputes. A recent interstate dispute involving child custody has raised the issue of the rights of service members dealing with complex family legal issues and the Service Members Civil Relief Act.

The Service Members Civil Relief Act temporarily suspends any judicial and administrative proceedings and transactions that would adversely impact the rights of service members during military service. Our Birmingham custody dispute and divorce attorneys are dedicated to representing military members and spouses who are facing divorce or other family law disputes. We are familiar with Alabama family law as well as federal law that protects the rights of service members, including the Service Members Civil Relief Act.

According to Navy Times, a Michigan judge threatened to put a deployed sailor in jail if he didn’t show up for a custody hearing. His lawyer cited the Service Members Civil Relief Act and requested that the case be stayed, but the judge said the law allowed her to place the child under the mother’s care until the case is resolved. The service member was ordered to fly his daughter from his home in Washington to Detroit where the mother is located. The wife of the service member, and stepmother of the child, has refused to comply with the order. An attorney representing the sailor has requested that the court immediately consider a motion for peremptory reversal of the judge’s ruling.

The custody order would be in effect until October 24th, the date of the custody hearing, two days after the sailor is scheduled to return home from duty. A provision under the law grants service members a 90-day window to appear in court for cases that involve child custody. The law was introduced by service member advocates who saw injustice in the civil legal system, especially regarding family disputes. The law is intended to protect service members from losing their custody rights because of deployment.

Service members have long been at a disadvantage when it comes to custody disputes. In addition to the Service Members Civil Relief Act, there are also protections under the National Defense Authorization Act, which states that current and future deployment cannot be a factor when a court is making custody determination decisions. This bill was passed by the House this year and is still awaiting Senate approval. If you are a service member who is facing divorce or custody dispute, it is important to have a clear understanding of your rights and obligations under state and federal law. While service members have historically been at a disadvantage in custody disputes, there are federal protections that can help protect your rights and the best interests of your children. Service members serving their country should not have to face penalties or lose custody of their children as a result of deployment.

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

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

Facing Divorce at a Young Age

Posted in Alabama Child Custody & Visitation, Alabama Divorce

Divorce can occur at any stage of life, whether you are in your twenties or facing retirement. Couples who married young and who are considering divorce while still in their 20s or early 30s will likely face different challenges than their older counterparts. If you are young and considering divorce, it is important to have a clear understanding of your rights and obligations as you move forward. While it may be difficult to watch others getting married as you watch your marriage dissolve, understanding your rights and options can help you prepare for a better future.

When divorcing at a young age, it is important to protect your personal and financial interests and your rights involving children. Our Birmingham divorce attorneys understand the complex issues faced by younger couples who have decided to dissolve their marriage. Whether you own a home, want to protect custody, or are concerned about the division of credit card debt, we are here to help.

In addition to the legal struggles faced by young couples, many also face pressure and judgment from outsiders. Religious couples may worry about the implications of divorce. Remember that your situation is unique and that it is important to make the best decisions for yourself and your family. Some marriages cannot be repaired and it is best to make the decision as soon as possible so that you can move forward and start a new life. Some marital issues, including addiction or alcoholism and abuse, will not improve over time. Victims of domestic violence and other deeper problems in the home should get professional help as they transition through divorce.

Regardless of your reasons for ending the marriage, your rights and financial security are a priority. In addition to protecting your assets, you want to be sure that you get the spousal and child support you need. If you are the breadwinner or sole provider, you also want to be certain that your support obligations are manageable. If you and your spouse own a home, you will have to decide whether to keep the family home or sell it and split the assets. Many young couples also have student loans or other debts. Remember that debts are considered marital property so it is important to understand what obligations you may face regarding shared debts.

In addition to financial concerns, young couples with children will have the stress of determining custody and visitation arrangements. If you are divorcing young it is likely that your children are young too. Even if your children aren’t old enough to understand divorce, they may be impacted by the stress of moving or new custody arrangements. Putting the best interests of your children first can help you and your spouse come to an amicable and long-term solution. An experienced advocate can also help you protect your rights to custody and visitation. Divorce at a young age can be difficult, but for many couples, marriage too young can result in a broken union. Taking an honest look at your marriage will help you make the best decisions for yourself and your children.

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

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

Divorce Trend: Social Networking Clauses in Prenuptial Agreements

Posted in Financial Issues, Marriage, Prenuptial Agreements, Uncategorized

Prenuptial agreements are one way to clearly outline how assets and debts will be divided in the event of divorce. Clarifying these details from the outset can help to better understand expectations between both spouses, while protecting your rights in the event of a marriage dissolution.

While prenuptial agreements primarily outline financial agreements in the event of divorce, new “social media clauses,” spell out how spouses are allowed to behave online. According to reports, a new trend of social media clauses in prenuptial agreements involve the inclusion of language about posting unflattering or embarrassing information on social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumbler.

Few people get married expecting the union to fail, and even fewer can imagine a person they once cared for so deeply trashing them online, ruining their reputation, business prospects and more. Unfortunately, the reality is 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce. Whether a marriage lasts six months or 20 years, both spouses have time to accumulate information, data and photos that their spouse does not want made public. Our Birmingham divorce lawyers are experienced with representing individuals who are facing divorce. In addition to providing advocacy through the divorce process, we can also counsel couples prior to marriage and devise a prenuptial agreement to secure personal and financial well-being in the event of divorce.

Social media applications are growing in popularity, and the risks of certain kinds of exposure are worth addressing. Essentially, a social media clause in a prenuptial agreement is an extension of the non-disparagement clause, which existed long before Facebook or Twitter. The purpose of a non-disparagement clause is to restrict both parties from taking action or making statements that might negatively impact the other.

To create the most effective social networking clause, both parties should be specific about which websites are applicable, and what cannot be posted without consent. Some clauses may stipulate there is to be no release of pictures (particularly those with nudity) absent both parties’ express consent. Such clauses can apply during and after a marriage is finalized.

Other contracts have gone so far as to limit what kind of online or social media relations a spouse can have during the marriage. For example, a provision may state that a spouse cannot tweet, text or communicate with a new ‘friend’ without consent. In general, the clauses can help protect individual parties from defamatory or derogatory comments, or social media displays that call into question the other spouse’s reputation. Still, it’s not entirely clear  how such clauses will hold up in court. What is a violation to one spouse may seem harmless to another.

The prenuptial agreement is, simply put, a legally binding contract between two parties. When there is a violation of that agreement, the “victim” must be able to prove financial damages, including how a damaged reputation could amount to lost clients or business. In the end, including a social media clause could serve as a warning to keep both spouses on best behavior when divorce becomes a possibility. If this limits the contentiousness of a proceeding, it could ultimately save both parties money, as disputes may be more amicably resolved.

If you are facing divorce, you should be careful of what you post online, regardless of whether a prenuptial agreement is in place. You may find your online posts and discourse to be effectively used against you.  A social media clause in a prenuptial agreement could preserve your privacy and prevent disparaging comments made by a spouse. In the end, you can help protect your own reputation, business, and personal relationships though advanced legal planning.

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

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