Family Law Blog

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.

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.

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.

Religious Conservatism Contributes to Higher Divorce Risks

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Traditionally, religion has been found to act as a buffer for divorce risks because most religions tend to discourage divorce and encourage spouses to stay together. However, in many of those states that are very heavily religious, like Southern States, divorce rates are actually much higher than they are in the liberal states, like California and Massachusetts. For years, researchers have believed that the harder socio-economic conditions in the southern states possibly contribute to a higher risk of divorce for people who live in these states. However, research sheds new light on the matter.

According to a study that will soon be published in the American Journal of Sociology, persons living in so-called “red” states that are traditionally conservative by nature, seem to have higher divorce rates. What is surprising is that you don't necessarily have to be hard-core religious to have a higher divorce risk in these red states. Even non-religious people here seem to be at a higher risk for divorce.

According to the research, the answer to this mystery lies in the fact that such religious conservatism often forces young people to get married early. Many young persons in these societies are pressured to get married early, through lack of access to emergency contraception, a focus on abstinence, and frowning upon premarital relations. Even nonreligious people may feel the pressure to get married quickly, because the most desirable catches disappear quickly from the market.

In such situations, younger people may end up getting married much before they are psychologically prepared for the huge life change that marriage is. At this age, they may not be ready to shoulder the responsibilities of married life as well as children in the family.

Not surprisingly, many of them find themselves in a divorce court just a few years down the line. It is this pressure on young persons to get married quickly, that could be at the core of the higher divorce rates in the Bible belt.

Domestic Violence Rates Higher in Police Families

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The rates of domestic violence, murder and suicide are higher among the families of those people who are entrusted with the responsibility of preventing such crimes in the general population. According to an analysis of data by researchers at the University of Utah, the rates of these offences, including domestic violence, were much higher among police families.

According to the researchers, over the past decade, they have been researching murder-suicide trends, and in the course of their research, they have analyzed as many as 730 murder-suicides across the country. In their analysis, the researchers found evidence of something called” suicide contagion,” in which a person who is considering suicide, believes that his family will be devastated by his suicide, and therefore, goes ahead and murders his other family members.

Many of these cases, according to the researchers, have family issues, like entangled or disturbed relationships, at the core of the issue. Usually, there is a spousal estrangement, divorce, separation or evidence or some other family law-related matter that is to be found at the root of such incidents. The researchers say that the number of incidents that their data analysis has thrown up does not even constitute the tip of the iceberg, and that there is much more data to be analyzed from around the country. They plan to continue their studies into such domestic violence and homicide risks in the police force across the country.

The researchers also believe that domestic violence rates are higher in police families, because officers very often do not know who to ask for help with a family-related problem, or believe that asking for help could be misconstrued as a sign of weakness. Society very often expects police officers to be robotic, in control of their emotions all the time and always on duty. People seem to forget that officers are human beings, and could be going through family issues at home that could affect their psychological state of mind.

Los Angeles Child Support Case Gets Tainted by Attempted Murder

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Continuing in a growing trend of child support, divorce and child custody cases gone terribly wrong, a Los Angeles father is being accused of trying to kill his ex-wife, during a particularly contentious child custody battle.

33-year-old William Wallace of Santa Ana was recently charged with attempted murder with premeditation, and solicitation to commit murder. According to the accusations against him, he tried to hire an undercover detective to kill his ex-wife.

According to the charges against Wallace, in August he hired a private investigator to discover unknown information about his ex-wife, so that he could use this information against her in a child custody/child support battle with her. However, during the course of their discussions, Wallace allegedly asked the investigator if he would be willing to refer someone who could kill his wife and then dispose of her body.

He later met with an undercover detective, and asked him if he was he could help him carry out the murder of his ex-wife. According to the charges against him, he told the detective that was willing to pay up to $30,000 for the murder. He even showed the detective a picture of his wife, so that she could be identified and killed.

Wallace seems to have believed that it would be much more financial advantageous for him to dispose of his ex-wife in this manner, than to continue to pay child support payment or to settle the dispute in an illegal manner.

For California divorce lawyers, it has been fairly troubling over the past few months to see a series of incidents, many of them in California, involving violence committed by spouses in the middle of a divorce or child custody battle. Divorce can be a traumatic and stressful event, and in such cases, it's recommended that the parties involved obtain psychological or emotional counseling to help deal with this major transition.

Child Custody Dispute Has Horrific Ending

Saturday, December 28, 2013

No one could have guessed when they saw 35-year-old Dmitri Kanarikov walking with his three-year-old son up to the roof of a 52 story apartment building in New York that his intentions were so horrific. A few minutes after they reached the roof of the high rise, Kanarikov proceeded to throw his three-year-old child off the building. The child fell on the lower rooftop of another building close by, and died. Dmitri followed this by jumping off the building himself.

This murder-suicide has shocked the nation, and already, a possible motive for Kanarikov’s actions has emerged. According to his ex-wife and the mother of his child, the two were involved in a nasty child custody dispute.

The couple’s divorce had been finalized in August after four years of marriage, which was followed by a hostile and often contentious child custody battle over the custody of the child and the home.The divorce is believed to have been linked to her husband’s split personality change as he became more violent and controlling. Initially, there were attempts at reconciliation, but those failed, and after some incidents of verbal assaults, the wife was ultimately forced to get a restraining order against her husband.

According to the mother, she had pleaded with the judge not to allow Kanarikov unsupervised visitation rights to the child, because he had a history of temper tantrums, and she had been the victim of domestic incidents earlier. However, the judge granted visitation rights, and those visitation rights kicked off in December. By the time of the horrific incident, Kanarikov had already had two separate unsupervised visits with his child, and according to the mother, those two visits went off perfectly well without any untoward incidents.