Entries Tagged as 'equitable distribution'

Mediating Difficult Divorce Situations

On May 9, 2014, I was honored to serve on a panel to discuss mediating difficult divorce mediation scenarios at the NJAPM Annual Divorce Seminar.  We talked though (and encouraged audience participation) situations including nesting, reimbursement requests for breast enhancement surgery just prior to the divorce, threats made by one party against the other in mediation and more.  Thanks to Joan Geiger for leading the panel and to my fellow panelists Pamela Zivari and Gabrielle Strich.

Bill Restricting NJ Inheritance and Matrimonial Matters where a Crime was Committed Signed into Law

As I wrote about previously, the bill in the New Jersey Legislature restricting inheritance and matrimonial matters where a serious crime has been committed was signed into law by Governor Corzine last week.  Among the provisions of the new law:

  • Prohibits courts from ordering retainer or counsel fees of a convicted attempted murderer or conspirator be paid by the intended victim of that crime.
  • No person convicted of murder, manslaughter, criminal homicide, or aggravated assault could receive alimony if the crime results in death or serious bodily injury to a family member of a divorcing party, and the crime was committed after the marriage or civil union.
  • A person convicted of an attempt or conspiracy to commit murder could not receive alimony from the person who was the intended victim or be awarded equitable distribution.  The bill defines “family member” as “a spouse, child, parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, first cousin, grandparent, grandchild, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, stepparent, stepchild, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister, whether the individual is related by blood, marriage, or adoption.”
  • A parent of a decedent would lose all right to intestate succession and all right to administer the estate if:
    1. The parent refused to acknowledge the decedent or abandoned the decedent when the decedent was a minor by willfully forsaking the decedent, failing to care for and keep the control and custody of the decedent so that the decedent was exposed to physical or moral risk without proper and sufficient protection, or failing to care for and keep the control and custody of the decedent so that the decedent was in the care, custody and control of the State at the time of death;
    2. The parent was convicted of committing any of the following crimes against the decedent:  (a) sexual assault; (b) criminal sexual contact;(c) endangering welfare of children;
    3. The parent was convicted of an attempt or conspiracy to murder the decedent; or
    4. The parent abused or neglected the decedent and the abuse or neglect contributed to the decedent’s death.

Amazingly, none of these were illegal despite the fact that this conduct should shock the conscience.

Divorce During Tough Economic Times

One of the things I’ve begun to see in my divorce mediation practice is the difficulty of equitable distribution with martial homes that have little equity value, no value or even negative equity.  These are situations where the value of the mortgage(s) plus any home equity loans exceed the market (sale) value of the home.  So to sell the home pursuant to a divorce, the couple would need to potentially take a loss and then have no money coming from the sale for a downpayment on a new home.  In the “good old days” (2007 into early 2008), this wasn’t a problem as most people had equity in their homes.  Thankfully, I haven’t had any divorce clients who are facing foreclosure, but I am sure that will be coming.

There are ways to work around equity problem and mediation is often helpful in doing so.

Two recent articles have addressed the problems this has caused.  The first is an AP article about couples staying together because of the economic times.  One couple in the article is described as living in the same house, not speaking to each other except through their lawyers.

Despite the close quarters, the couple rarely cross paths. Linda Melville said they hadn’t spoken to each other for a month before meeting about their divorce in late November. “The only conversation that takes place is via the lawyers,” she said. “Even negotiating a day to do laundry.”

I’m not sure how they can afford lawyers to do the talking but can’t afford to live apart or sell the home.

The other article is the opposite happening in China.  Reuters reports:

Fears of a prolonged recession in China have triggered a sharp increase in divorce inquiries addressed to lawyers and financial advisers, state media reported on Monday, with timing a key issue.

Wealthy spouses were keen to strike a deal while asset values were low, the China Daily quoted the director of the China Divorce Service Center, Shu Xin, as saying.

Divorce has been on the rise in China, with 7 times the amount in 2007 as in 1980.

If you’re considering a divorce but do not think you can afford it, you may want to consider mediation.