Articles Posted in Marriage

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In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the United States to recognize same sex marriage.  Numerous states thus enact differing laws regarding the ability of same sex couples to marry infile000224065590-300x200 their states, with numerous states  passing laws to ban same sex marriage, and various states over the years, voting to allow same sex marriage.  Some states began to allow same sex couples to enter into “civil unions”.  New Jersey did so in 2006.  In 2012, Governor Chris Christie vetoed a potential law in New Jersey that would have allowed same sex marriage.

In 2012, President Obama became the first president to endorse same sex marriage, but stated that the legal decision should be up to the states.  In 2011, however, the Obama Administration had already instructed the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), leading to the Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor.

As family law practitioners, this blog has followed much of the evolving law on same sex marriage. In 2013, James Yudes wrote a blog about the decision in United States v. Windsor to strike down as unconstitutional provisions in the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), which defined “marriage” as only a legal union between on man and one woman as husband and wife , and defined the word “spouse” as referring only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.  In 2013, I also wrote a blog post about the case of Lewis v. Harris, 188 N.J. 415 (2006), in which the Supreme Court of New Jersey  held that the Legislature should afford same sex couples the same rights as married couples, either by allowing same sex couples to marry or creating an alternate solution.  New Jersey became the fourteenth state to recognize the right of same sex couples to marry.   In 2015, my former colleague wrote a blog about the milestone decision of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Supreme Court held that that all states must (a) no longer prohibit same-sex couples from marrying, and (b) must recognize same-sex marriages validly entered into.  The right of same sex couples to marry became the law of the land in the entire country.

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If only for a sliver of time, a joyous occasion made everyone in the world forget all of its trials and tribulations. North Korea, Gaza, the Mueller investigation, MS13 – mere distractions. A dividedRoyal-wedding-300x169

nation, a divided world came together as one to witness the Royal Wedding between Price Harry and Meghan Markle to share in the magic, the pageantry, their unbridled love. Questions like whether there was Russian collusion or if Iran has nukes were insignificant when compared to what kind of wedding gown would Meghan be wearing, who was on the guest list, or what color pocketbook would the Queen be carrying. What else would be important enough to get me up at 4am on a Saturday morning? As I am still basking in the afterglow (i.e. hangover) of the Royal Wedding festivities, the family lawyer in me caused me to ponder some important (although many would say crass and heartless) questions. What is the likelihood that Harry and Meghan will live happily ever after? Did they sign a pre-nup in the tragic event they do not?

Historically, divorce was frowned upon when it came to members of the Royal Family. King Henry VIII went so far as to break away from the Catholic Church and turn to beheadings to rid himself of unsuitable wives. The Church of England’s opposition to divorce among Royals necessitated an Act of Parliament in order for couples to formally divorce. Even after divorce became legal, it was not until the middle of the 20th century that divorce became an accepted reality, and its stigma lessened – mirroring to a larger extent the attitudes toward divorce in this country. The divorce rate in England is similar to that of the United States; however, if the track record of the Royal Family is any guide, the likelihood of Harry and Meghan’s marriage enduring is not very positive. Just look at Queen Elizabeth’s children: Princess Anne – divorced; Prince Charles – divorced; Prince Andrew – divorced. Are there reasons for this – living in a fishbowl; having to conform strict rules and norms; maintaining the jet-set lifestyle? While most of us will never experience these things, their impact upon a relationship and marriage must be significant. Just ask the late Princess Diana. Furthermore, while this is the first time down the aisle for Prince Harry, Meghan Markle’s prior marriage ended in divorce, and statistically, the divorce rate for second marriages is higher than for firsts.

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During the New Year’s season we often reflect on the blessings we have received over the course of the last year and give thanks. Many of us visit family during this time and if we are fortunate enough our parents. This past week, the Sixth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the United States District Court in the case of Sun Life Assurance Co. v. Jackson that involved the distribution of a deceased father’s life insurance policy proceeds to his daughter even though he failed to change the beneficiary designation to his daughter from his brother. Continue reading

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file0001610872997-212x300Marriage is not as popular as it once was.  Based on 2011 data available to the Pew Research Center, barely half of all adults in the United States were married, which was a record low.  In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married.  Contrast that with 2011, where only 51% of adults aged and 18 older were married.  In addition to higher incidences of divorce and cohabitation  in this century, as compared to 1960, another significant reason for the decline in the overall number of married adults, is that people do not marry as young now as they did in 1960.  Continue reading

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Summer is over. The kids are back in school. The normal routine has returned to your life.  This is a comparatively calm time for most households. There are fewer stressors, a little more “me time”0HFF1UYS9S-300x200
and a lot less “rock ‘n roll” than during the summer.  It is a good time to take stock of where you are, what you have accomplished and for those with marital difficulty the State of the Union. Continue reading

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For attorneys and litigants alike, the legal fees attendant to the handling of a divorce matter are an important consideration. When it comes to legal fees, time is money. Because our Rules of Court prohibit the handling of divorce cases on a contingent fee basis, legal services are billed based upon the actual time spent working on the case at an hourly rate and charged against an initial retainer amount to be paid by the client. When prospective client asks how much in legal fees the divorce will cost, I explain that there are too many variables to give a precise estimate, including the number and complexity of the issues involved, the level to which those issues are contested, the reasonableness of the other spouse and/or attorney in regards to their positions, cooperation and/or course of conduct during the process, and the extent litigation or court involvement is needed to resolve those issues. Continue reading

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Summer is upon us. Summer brings with it holidays, family time, holiday preparations and expectations, and some stress brought on by kids being home for the summer.  The reality is thatcohdrankntmbstn7-300x256 families that have problems often argue and fight at holiday time. The summer is unkind to rocky relationships.    Continue reading

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This is another of a series of blog posts in which I will be highlighting some of the more commonly asked questions of divorcing clients as to whether they can or can’t do certain things in regards to aspects of their financial or personal affairs. Once again, the thoughts expressed in this blog post should not be construed as being in the nature of legal advice, but merely serves as an overview of things to consider if you are a client asking these questions or a lawyer confronted with how to respond to them. Now let’s get to my next two commonly asked questions. Continue reading

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SlashI was recently perusing a periodical and came across a story about a celebrity musician who was claiming he was never married to his wife of 15 years because of a known snafu in her earlier divorce paperwork. The headline stated “Slash claims he was never married to wife of 15 years”. (http://www.metro.us/entertainment/slash-claims-he-was-never-married-to-wife-of-15-years/zsJpjE—wsgif5AIi7dW6/). For those of you who don’t know, Slash, who’s legal name Saul Hudson (which better calls to mind the fictional character Saul Goodman of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul”),  is the prolific lead guitarist of the recently reformed rock group Guns N’ Roses.  Continue reading

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On September 20, 2016, the Internet was buzzing with reports of Angelina Jolie-Pitt filing for divorce from her long time partner of twelve years and husband of two years, Brad Pitt. The demise ofJoliePitt Angelina Jolie-Pitt’s and Brad Pitt’s two year marriage raises questions about the division of their assets in divorce. “The couple have six children together–and more than half a billion dollars worth in cumulative earnings,” according to Forbes.com. “Since their marriage in 2014, the duo have earned a combined $117.5 million before taxes and fees, per Forbes’ estimates. Continue reading