Family Law Blog

“Hangry?” You Might Want to Avoid a Conversation with Your Spouse

Friday, April 18, 2014

We’ve all experienced it at some point. When you're hungry, your irritability and anger levels simply skyrocket. Those high levels of anger when you're hungry actually have a new name - “hangry.” According to new research, such hunger-induced irritability could also lead to marital conflict.

The researchers evaluated a group of married couples, and followed them over 21 days, during which time the couples’ blood glucose levels were monitored every night. They found that blood glucose levels were actually a very clear indicator of how angry the person would be with their spouse. Persons with low blood glucose levels- an indication that they were very hungry and needed a meal - were much more likely to be hostile with their spouse.

The researchers actually found that there was a link between low blood glucose level and aggression. In other words, it is highly likely that low blood glucose levels are linked to marital conflict, and contribute to domestic violence incidents. The researchers measured aggression by giving the subjects voodoo dolls representing their spouse, and asking them to stick pins in their dolls. The lower the blood glucose levels, the higher the number of pins that the subjects stuck into their dolls.

Sometimes, marital conflict or even an incident of domestic aggression may simply be the result of a body that is starved for fuel. Glucose fuels the brain, and when there's a shortage of glucose supply to the brain, there is a risk of not just aggression, but also irritability.

All in all, it’s just not sensible to pick up an argument with your spouse around meal times.

Student Loans and Divorce

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Most young students now graduate with thousands of dollars in debt, and there may be important questions about who's responsible for paying off those loans in the event of a divorce.

The question of who is responsible for student loans is critical in light of the fact that in 2012, college students, who graduated with bachelor's degrees, graduated with approximately $29,400 in school loans. The average debt is much higher in the case of students earning advanced degrees. In a marriage where both partners have student debt, the accumulated debt is bound to be hefty.

For the most part, your student loan is yours alone, and your spouse will not be liable for it in the event of divorce. If the student loan was taken out while you were single, the loan remains yours alone to repay, which means that you may be in for a nasty surprise when you get divorced, and have to go back to living the single life again. Those monthly payments that you make will become burdensome when you take into account your daily household living expenses, including rent, groceries, utilities and other expenses that may have been shared when you were part of a marital relationship. That's why it's vital that you make a complete analysis of all your potential monthly expenses during the proceedings, as soon as you make the decision to file.

If the student loan was taken out while you were in a marital relationship, things may be a little different. You will still be responsible for your own student loan, but there may be exceptions. California is a community property state, and debts that are incurred during a marriage may be considered joint debt. However, exceptions are typically made in the case of student loans, barring some cases, depending on when the loan was taken out and other factors.

Are You Twitting Your Way to Divorce?

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Persons who can't resist twitting their opinions regularly could be jeopardizing their marital relationship. A new study at the University of Missouri specifically focused on the risks to relationships from overuse of Twitter, and found that there was an association between relationship strain and Twitter use.

The association between Facebook and divorce has been investigated quite extensively. In fact, divorce lawyers have found an association between higher use of Facebook, and strain on a marriage, even ultimately leading to a divorce. In many cases, the result of such social media overuse is cheating on a spouse. In other cases, the relationship is strained because of the amount of time that one spouse may spend on the site.

Similar concerns also seem to exist in the case of Twitter. The results of the study published recently in the Journal Cyber Psychology, Behavioral and Social Networking found that excessive Twitter use leads to conflict between partners which can actually strain the relationship. There are a number of negative outcomes that were pointed out to in the study, including infidelity, breaking up, separation and divorce.

The researchers focused on 581 users of Twitter, who were questioned about their Twitter use, their relationship status, and the existence of any conflicts related to their use of the social networking site. All of the respondents were between the age of 18 and 67. The researchers found that subjects who admitted to being much more active on the site were much more likely to report relationship conflict, which ultimately often resulted in a bad outcome for the relationship. Persons admitted to cheating or fighting frequently with their partners over Twitter use.

As with any social networking site, Twitter use needs to be minimized especially since the platform works on bite- sized 140-character messages that can be exchanged between parties, increasing the risk of excessive use of the site.

About 8% of UK Fathers Unsure of Their Child's Paternity

Thursday, March 27, 2014

According to the results of a new British study, as many as 8% of fathers in the United Kingdom are not sure of their child's paternity. Additionally, 3% percent of mothers also admit that they have entertained doubts about the paternity of their child.

The study was based on a sample of more than 5,200 British parents above the age of 18. The survey was conducted by the DNA testing company, and also found that younger fathers aged between 25 and 34 were much more likely to be unsure about their child's paternity. These fathers had a doubt likelihood that was approximately 50% higher than the average. Fathers above the age of 55 were least likely to be unsure about the child's paternity. These persons had a doubt rate of just about 5%.

Among mothers, females between the age of 18 and 24 were most likely to entertain doubts about the paternity of their child, which was approximately 5 times more than the average rate. Older mothers above the age of 55 seemed to entertain the least amount of doubt about their children's paternity, with a rate that was just one- third of the national average.

Doubt seems to creep in more often in the case of homemakers. Mothers, who were not working, were more likely to be unsure of their child's paternity, compared to working mothers, with a rate that was as much as twice the average. On the other hand, mothers who had never been married were approximately 3 times as likely as the national average to be unsure about the paternity of their child.

Massachusetts Bill Could Ban Sex during Divorce

Saturday, March 22, 2014

An interesting bill that is pending passage in the state of Massachusetts could actually ban couples who are in the middle of divorce proceedings from having sex or even dating.

The legislation seeks to require that in divorce proceedings involving children, the party living in the home should not date or conduct a sexual relationship inside the home, until divorce proceedings are complete and all issues are settled. If the party does want to date, or have a sexual relationship inside the home, then he must seek the permission of the court.

The bill was originally filed in 2013, and must be considered by the state legislature by June 30. The bill was sponsored by State Senator Richard Ross who insists that he does not really support the bill, but has only sponsored it as a courtesy to one of his constituents. According to the constituent, he went through a bitter divorce, and believes that a bill like this would help protect children living in the marital home, during the divorce proceedings.

Obviously, this is just a bill, and for this to become law, it would have to be passed by the Massachusetts Legislature, and be signed by the governor. Whether the bill will pass the Legislature is anyone's guess.

However, this bill does raise one of the more important questions that people who are in the middle of a divorce often ask their attorneys - Does the divorce automatically put the brakes on dating, or are you free to see other people while the divorce proceedings have not yet been finalized?

The fact is that any personal or social relationships during a divorce can have a legal impact on your divorce case. For instance, it isn't uncommon for attorneys for the other party to spy on your activities to dig up dirt that can be used during the divorce proceedings, especially in child custody matters.

Teenager Who Sued Parents for Child Support Returns Home

Friday, March 14, 2014

It seems like a happy ending to a case that has provoking discussions on everything from child support to teen behaviour. A New Jersey teenager who filed a child-support lawsuit against her parents, demanding tuition as well as living expenses after being thrown out of her parental home, has now returned home. However, the lawsuit is still on, so this might not be the last we've heard of this matter.

18-year-old Rachel Canning had filed a lawsuit against her parents after they threw her out of the house last year. That action by her parents came as a result of her rebellious behaviour, including at least one case in which she was suspended from school. As a last resort, her parents ordered her out of the home. She filed a lawsuit against her parents, claiming living expenses as well as high school tuition expenses.

At the hearing in court which was widely publicized around the country, the judge called her “spoiled,” refusing to grant her request to order her parents to pay for her tuition and living expenses. Her father however, said that the doors of his home were always open for the rebellious daughter to return home.

As of now, it seems that Canning has returned back to her parents’ home, but her child-support lawsuit has still not been dismissed. This is a case that has strong potential for setting legal precedents, because under New Jersey law, non-divorced parents who are still living together, have never been ordered by a court to pay child support for a child. However, in cases of a divorce, child support agreements will include clauses for payment of tuition expenses and other expenses of the child he/she reaches the age of legal emancipation.

Hamm Divorce Finalized, Court Rules Tycoon Will Retain Controlling Interest

Monday, March 03, 2014

Billions of dollars’ worth of controlling interest in his oil empire was at stake as oil tycoon Harold Hamm, battled it out with his wife Sue Ann in their divorce case. Now, the judge has ruled in favor of Hamm, saying that he will not have to give up his controlling interest in the oil company as part of the settlement.

Hamm is the founder of Continental resources and a billionaire, and his controlling interest in Continental Resources was at the crux of the case. Hamm currently owns a 30% equity stake in Continental Resources, and news that he would have to give up his controlling stake as part of his divorce settlement, had rankled shareholders. Uncertainty loomed over the future of the company.

Now however, the judge has ruled as part of the order granting partial summary judgment, that the billionaire will retain as his own separate property more than 122 million shares of Continental. These are shares that he owned before he married Sue Ann. The judge has now ruled that those 122 million shares are considered premarital property belonging to Hamm.

Hamm’s marriage has been a volatile one. In fact, this is the third time that the couple has filed for divorce over the past decade. The couple has been estranged and living apart for the past 10 years, but so far, there has been no final statement on the kind of settlement that Sue Ann will receive. It is no doubt likely to be a very hefty settlement.

Next, the court will have to decide how to divide the value of the stock because it has grown exponentially over the course of their marriage. Until that decision is made, the tycoon must hold on to the shares, and will not be able to sell or transfer them.

More Senior American Couples Head to Divorce Court

Friday, February 28, 2014

Baby boomers are breaking records for divorce rates. According to data, American seniors above the age of 50 are now twice as likely to get divorced, compared to people of the same age barely 2 decades ago. Los Angeles divorce lawyers are increasingly coming across divorce cases involving seniors, who have been married for two or three decades or even more, who decide to end their marriage.

The reasons for divorce in the golden years can be quite different from those involved when the divorcing couple is in the 30s or 40s. In the case of a senior couple, it's not always financial reasons, or adultery that is the main cause of the end of the marriage. In fact, in the case of seniors, it's very often a parting of ways that usually begins to manifest itself when the children have grown up and left the home. Many seniors suffer from the “empty nest syndrome”, and may not be able to handle that their biggest accomplishment as a couple over the years - raising their children - is no longer the glue that holds them together. In the absence of joint interests or passions - which may not have mattered much when they were younger - an older couple may find that they have nothing in common anymore.

Additionally, compared to a young woman in her 30s or 40s, a senior woman above the age of 50 maybe well-established in her career. Financial independence does play a factor in an older woman's decision to file for divorce.

Back in 1990, according to experts, the rate of persons above the age of 50 getting divorced was less than one in 10. Currently, as many as one in four people consulting a divorce lawyer are above the age of 50.

As US Economy Improves, Divorce Rates Spike

Friday, February 21, 2014

As the US economy begins to improve, divorce rates that had been plummeting over the past few years, have begun to show an upward trend again. According to new data, as the employment situation improves and businesses report greater revenues, the number of couples who make that call to a divorce lawyer has also begun to increase.

This is a trend that California divorce lawyers have been expecting ever since the economy showed small signs of recovery last year. Just a few years ago, the economy was in a bad shape, and a poor financial condition prevented many couples from filing for divorce. Divorce can be a financially risky proposition, and there can be major differences to your overall financial health after a divorce. For example, assets are divided during the normal process of a divorce, and many people may not be in the frame of mind to make risky financial choices in a bad economy. Many people do not feel comfortable about making major financial changes to their lifestyle when there are fewer employment opportunities, and businesses are struggling.

However, it is a markedly different picture when the economy begins to improve. In such cases, many of those financial question that prevented couples from moving towards a divorce earlier do not seem so important anymore. In 2012, the number of Americans getting a divorce increased to 2.4 million after several years of increases.

Economists also believe that more divorces are a good sign for the economy, and boost economic growth. That's because when households split, new households are created, and that means a boom in house construction. Apartment rentals also go up, when fathers move out of the home, and rent apartments close to their former home to stay close to their children.

Court Rules Kansas Sperm Donor Must Pay Child Support

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Kansas court has ruled that a man who donated his sperm to a lesbian couple qualifies as the father of the baby, even though he signed off his paternal rights to the child. The court has ruled that he must make child support payments.

The case seemed uncomplicated enough until the baby was born. However, after the baby was born, the lesbian couple broke up, and one of them suffered an injury that resulted in her losing her job. She now does not work, and is reliant on public assistance. The woman was asked to name the father of the child in her application for assistance, and it was at that point, that the sperm donor’s name came up. The Kansas Department of Children and Families decided to take the donor to court, claiming more than $6,000 in past child support and expenses as well as future child support payments.

The court has ruled in favor of the state agency. The decision seems to have been based on a legal technicality. When the man answered the Craigslist ad for a sperm donor, he signed off paternal rights to the child, as part of the agreement with the lesbian couple. However, the artificial insemination was conducted without the presence of a registered artificial insemination expert or doctor. Under Kansas law, child support requirements are subjected to all fathers, except those who donate their sperm in an artificial insemination procedure that involves the presence of a doctor. Since this case involved artificial insemination in the absence of a doctor, the court ruled that the man did qualify as a father, and could not avoid his child support obligations.

What has made this case even more complicated is that the state of Kansas does not recognize gay marriage, and therefore, the woman who wanted to apply for state welfare, was not able to seek child support payments from her partner when they broke up. She was instead forced to look to the donor for payments instead.