December 18th, 2014

How Divorce Affects Social Security and Disability Payments

Amidst the frustrations and nuances in divorce, one of the greatest disagreements stem from the division of property. While properties such as a home or automobiles are rarely overlooked, it’s important that separating couples remember to consider Social Security and Disability payments when accounting for martial assets.

Two basic facts a person must consider regarding his or her disability benefits:

-Disability payments are distributed on a regular basis and are treated as earnings, not assets (for example, worker’s compensation). Therefore, Disability benefits are counted as income when calculating spousal support and child support.

-The aforementioned remains true until the disabled spouse reaches an age when he or she would have retired with a pension benefit.

A divorced person can be eligible for a portion of a former spouse’s Social Security or Disability benefits if specific conditions are met, based upon his or her work history. A person may still collect benefits if:

-The marriage lasted for at least 10 years.

-The former spouse must be presently qualified for Social Security benefits—retirement or disability.

-The former spouse pursuing benefits must be at least age 62.

-The former spouse pursuing benefits has not remarried.

If a spouse is qualified for his or her own retirement benefits, the government will pay from his or her own personal record first. However, if the ex-spouse’s benefit sum is higher, he or she will collect a combination of benefits equivalent to the greater amount.

The matter of marriage span is a frequent concern when divorcing couples consider Social Security or Disability payments. If a couple is nearing the 10-year mark, many feel delaying the divorce is favorable, in order to receive a former spouse’s Social Security benefits.

Divorce can become an incredibly tricky situation to navigate, especially when deciding asset division. It’s important that couples who receive Social Security or Disability payments consult with a professional to make sure both parties receive the intended martial assets.

Copyright © 2010 TotalDivorce, LLC. (as licensee). All rights reserved.

December 9th, 2014

Missouri Supreme Court to Decide on Same-Sex Divorce

The Missouri Supreme Court will decide if a same-sex couple married in Iowa can get divorced in the state of Missouri.

Attorney Drey Cooley, who represents a man identified as M.S., argued in front of state Supreme Court judges Wednesday that Missouri should dissolve the union, even though the state does not allow same-sex marriage.

The couple separated in August 2013. They requested for a divorce in January but a St. Louis County Circuit Court judge denied the petition, naming Missouri’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The case does not seek to address the legality of gay marriage in the state of Missouri. Cooley argues that Missouri can dissolve this same-sex marriage without also acknowledging the marriage.

Cooley’s client “just wants the same rights that anyone else would want to be in that situation—to get dissolved and move on.”

The state’s current ban has come into question recently: an October decision in Jackson County declared that Missouri must acknowledge same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Missouri’s Republican leaders have vowed to appeal the Jackson County decision, which Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster said he will not fight.

On November 4, St. Louis city Circuit Judge Rex Burlison found Missouri’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, motivating many same-sex couples to get married at city hall that day. Two days later, U.S. Circuit Judge Ortie Smith in Kansas City also ruled the ban unconstitutional.

Koster, who is for gay marriage, appealed both rulings, stating he is forced to uphold Missouri’s laws in court.

Cooley contends the state Supreme Court could avoid deciding the legality of same-sex marriage by ordering the union be observed like other out-of-state marriages for the intent of divorces. As an example, common-law marriages are not recognized in Missouri but can still be dissolved by a judge.

The U.S. Supreme Court may also hear arguments on same-sex divorce in 2015.

Copyright © 2010 TotalDivorce, LLC. (as licensee). All rights reserved.

December 2nd, 2014

Singer Scott Stapp’s Wife Files for Divorce

Musician Scott Stapp’s wife has requested a divorce from her estranged husband.

Jaclyn Stapp, 34, filed for divorce from the 41-year-old Creed frontman in November. She also asked a Palm Beach County, Florida judge to admit Stapp to a substance abuse facility, alleging her husband has been using drugs daily and had threatened to kill himself and harm his family.

Last week Stapp posted a longwinded video on his Facebook page stating he was broke, homeless, and currently living in a Holiday Inn; in the video he vehemently denied using drugs. The video has since been taken down.

According to TMZ, the divorce papers stressed that Stapp is “irrational, incoherent, delusional, psychotic, dangerous and needs to be involuntarily committed to a mental facility again.”

The papers suggest Stapp be held in a facility for 60 days, stating Stapp is “doing so much amphetamines, crystal meth and steroids that he has become a paranoid shell who has threatened to kill himself and harm his family.” Stapp was recently released from a 3-day psych hold.

“It is a very painful and personal matter for the family,” said Jason Brodie, Jaclyn Stapp’s attorney. “Jaclyn loves Scott very much. It is now apparent the seriousness of Scott’s health. Jaclyn has taken all the necessary steps to help him. She previously arranged for the appropriate treatment and will continue to try and help him. Her primary concern remains the best interest of their children. Jaclyn asks for privacy for her and her children during this difficult time.”

The couple married in 2006 and have to two children together.

Stapp has fought drug addiction in the past but seemed to be living a sober life in recent years. He previously attempted suicide twice, which he discussed in interviews with Rolling Stone and VH-1.

Creed rose to fame in the mid-90s and has sold more than 40 million records. They won a Grammy for best rock song for “With Arms Wide Open” in 2001. Creed last toured in 2012.

Copyright © 2010 TotalDivorce, LLC. (as licensee). All rights reserved.

November 26th, 2014

Mississippi To Hear First Same-Sex Divorce Case

The Mississippi Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on its first same-sex divorce case.

Lauren Czekala-Chatham and Dana Ann Melacon were married in 2008 in California. Last year, DeSoto County Chancery Judge Mitchell Lundy Jr. ruled that they cannot be granted a divorce as Mississippi.

“All same sex Mississippi couples lack a right to have their marriage recognized by the state regardless of whether newly arrived here, having lived here all their life or anywhere in between,” Assistant Attorney General Harold E. Pizzetta III stated.

However Czekala-Chatham’s attorney does not agree.

“Lauren does not seek to be married — she seeks a divorce. Lauren does not complain of Mississippi’s refusal to recognize her marriage…her complaint is that Mississippi law relegates her to a declaration of voidness, when a party to an opposite-sex marriage in otherwise similar circumstances would be entitled to a divorce,” her attorney was quoted by the Associated Press.

Since Czekala-Chatham’s appeal, U.S. District Judges overturned same-sex marriage bans in both Mississippi and Arkansas, stating the ban was unconstitutional.

Both U.S. District Judges put the enforcement of their decisions on hold in expectancy of appeals, meaning legal recognition of same-sex marriage in both states is still forthcoming.

That leaves Czekala-Chatham’s divorce case in limbo.

“It’s a very unfortunate predicament to be in, because you realize you cannot get divorced in your state of residence,” says Kody Silva, a Washington D. C. divorce attorney. “And the state you were married in will not allow you to get divorced unless you go back and essentially become a resident of that state.”

Silva states that, essentially, Czekala-Chatham would have to move back to California and become a resident in order to make her divorce legal. So instead, she appealed her case to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

“People get divorced. It’s a part of life. We don’t want it to happen, but it happens,” Czekala-Chatham says. “If we can get the state to recognize an out-of-state marriage, maybe down the road we can get them to recognize same-sex marriage and allow it in the state.”

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryan expects the state to appeal the State Supreme Court’s Tuesday decision.

Czekala-Chatham’s appeal is set for January 21, 2015.

Copyright © 2010 TotalDivorce, LLC. (as licensee). All rights reserved.

November 19th, 2014

New Oklahoma Divorce Classes Law Begins

A new law took effect in Oklahoma on November 1 that requires divorcing couples to attend a class if underage children are involved.

Couples with children, age 18 or under, seeking divorce on grounds of incompatibility will have to take a class on the effects of divorce in children. Additionally, they will have to pay to attend the class.

This measure was enacted in an effort to lower Oklahoma’s divorce rate, as well as to help children cope with their parents’ separation.

“I think that it is a good idea, I think parents will think about the divorce and impact that it has on the children and it will help them see the consequences,” said Teresa Deck, Director of Counseling at Oklahoma City’s Sunbeam Family Services.

The courses will include topics such as the effects of divorce on children, family violence consequences, reconciliation options, conflict-resolution and co-parenting strategies, as well as family service resources.

However, some experts have some serious concerns about the new law.

Oklahoma City attorney Gail Stricklin says the law presents a danger to victims of domestic violence who are attempting to leave an abusive relationship.

“We all want to encourage someone to get away from an abusive relationship, but if you are in the same parenting class, which in many counties is the only option, you are going to have some incidents,” Stricklin added.

At this time, the law gives no particular exemption for victims of violence. There is a general “good cause” exception, meaning a judge will decide which couples are exempt from attending the program.

Both partners must present a certificate of completion to move forward with divorce proceedings.

Classes will range between $15 and $60.

Judges will decide how many hours are necessary on a case by case basis. The program must be finished within 45 days of the initial divorce filing.

Copyright © 2010 TotalDivorce, LLC. (as licensee). All rights reserved.

November 11th, 2014

$1 Billion Verdict in Oil Tycoon Harold Hamm Divorce

In one of the biggest U.S. divorce judgments, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm has been ordered to pay his ex-wife nearly $1 billion in their divorce settlement, according to a court filing on Monday.

Oklahoma Special Judge Howard Haralson issued an 80-page ruling following a nine-week divorce trial that ended in October. According to his decision, Harold Hamm is to pay Sue Ann Hamm $995.4 million in “property division alimony.”

The ruling states that Harold Hamm, 68, will pay Sue Ann Hamm $322.7 million by the end of the year. He will make minimum payments of $7 million each month starting January 2015 until the remaining balance is paid.

Sue Ann Hamm, 58, has already received roughly $25 million since the case was filed in 2012, the court said.

Harold Hamm was granted over $2 billion in marital assets, including over 122 million shares of Continental stock, which values around $1.3 billion. Judge Haralson’s ruling allows Harold Hamm to maintain his 68% stake in the company.

The couple’s marital home in Oklahoma and most of its contents were awarded to Sue Ann Hamm, valued at more than $4.9 million. She was also given their Carmel Valley, California ranch, assessed at $17.5 million.

Harold Hamm was given ownership of “Star” and “uno,” two horses stabled at the California ranch. He is ordered to move the animals within three days.

In addition to the couple’s $750,000 Branson, Missouri home and $10 million jet, Harold Hamm “requested that he be awarded certain family pictures, a few books, guns, shotguns, some pictures, geode in quartz display and his hand tools,” according to the divorce papers.

Sue Ann Hamm sought support alimony, but Judge Haralson denied her claim, stating that her portion of the marital estate “represents a substantial sum of money.”

The couple had been married since 1988 and had no children. They married with no prenuptial agreement.

Harold Hamm drove the growth of Oklahoma City’s Continental Resources since 1990; the company is the leading oil driller in Bakken Shale play of North Dakota and Montana, the largest U.S. oil discovery decades. He is believed to own more undergrown oil than any other American.

Copyright © 2010 TotalDivorce, LLC. (as licensee). All rights reserved.

November 7th, 2014

Supreme Court Urged to Rule on Same-Sex Marriage

There is a serious push for the Superior Court to again consider the constitutionality of same-sex marriage after a federal appeals court upheld bans in four states on Thursday.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati ruled 2 to 1, overturning lower-court decisions in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The 6th Circuit is the first appellate court to uphold state bans since the Supreme Court blocked part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.

Attorneys for plaintiffs in the 6th Circuit appellate case say they plan to ask the Supreme Court to hear their arguments.

In September, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated a lack of disagreement in the appeals courts made Supreme Court review of same-sex marriage unneeded. She stated “there will be some urgency” if the 6th Circuit supported a ban on the issue.

Roughly one month ago, the Supreme Court rejected appeals from five states requesting to maintain same-sex marriage bans.

Thursday’s ruling from the 6th Circuit states that the changing the legal definition of marriage should be decided by democratic process, not by judicial procedure.

“Surely the people should receive some deference in deciding when the time is ripe to move from one picture of marriage to another,” wrote Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton.

The opposing judge, Martha Craig Daugherty, proposed Sutton and Judge Deborah Cook may have intending on urging the issue up to the Supreme Court.

“Because the correct result is so obvious, one is tempted to speculate that the majority has purposefully taken the contrary position to create the circuit split,” Daugherty wrote.

The Supreme Court has to decide by mid-January whether it will hear the case in time to make a ruling by June. If the court declines to take up the issue, the case will be pushed to the following terms and most likely will not be ruled upon until June 2016.

Copyright © 2010 TotalDivorce, LLC. (as licensee). All rights reserved.

October 31st, 2014

Ricki Lake Files for Divorce

Ricki Lake has officially filed for divorce from her second husband, Christian Evans.

The former talk show host, 46, filed a divorce petition on October 16, citing irreconcilable differences, according to Los Angeles County court documents. She is reportedly paying spousal support to 42 year-old jewelry designer.

The couple started dating in 2010. In 2011 she described Evans to People Magazine as a “normal guy. We met through my best friend. He’s a nobody but he’s somebody to me. He’s everything to me.”

Evans and Lake got engaged in 2011 and secretly married in a covert Southern California ceremony in April 2012.

According to the LA Times, the couple already has a written agreement regarding the division of joint property.

This is the second divorce for “Dancing With the Stars” alumni Lake. She was previously married to illustrator Rob Sussman from 1994 until 2005. The couple had two children: Milo, 17, and Owen, 13.

Lake’s career started as an actress. She starred in several John Waters movies, such as Cry-Baby, Cecil B. Demented, and Hairspray—her film debut.

In 1993, at age 24, Lake hosted a daytime tabloid talk show titled “Ricki Lake.” She was the youngest person at the time to host a talk show on television. “Ricki Lake” ran between 1993 and 2004.

The show focused on sensationalized personal problems and topics such as romantic relationships, family discord, racism and revealing secrets. Many episodes also revolved around LGBT issues.

Lake has openly talked about her inconstant weight, which has been a frequent media target. She tweeted on Monday about her divorce:

“One of the only good things about heartbreak.. The lbs that are lost. This #shapeshifter has gone in the other direction. #thankful.”

Copyright © 2010 TotalDivorce, LLC. (as licensee). All rights reserved.

October 21st, 2014

No Agreement on Same-Sex Marriage, Divorce at Vatican

After a two week long meeting at the Vatican aimed at improving outreach to modern families, the Catholic Church released a document Saturday that drastically revised previous phrasing on homosexuals and divorced families.

Pope Francis had convened over 200 bishops in a special assembly, known as a synod, to debate how the church viewed diverse families, including single mothers, gay couples, divorced and remarried couples. The draft of a “relation” was delivered at the end of the congregation.

An initial draft, released October 13, included a three-paragraph section at the end entitled “Welcoming homosexual persons.” The early writing detailed how the Church should be “accepting and valuing their (homosexuals’) sexual orientations” and that gays have “gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community.”

Conservative bishops expressed alarm to the first draft; the text released to the public on Saturday renamed the section “Providing for homosexual persons,” and changed references to same-sex “partners” to “these people.”

The updated version also states that the Church must meet gays with “respect and sensitivity,” but ultimately emphasizes there is no comparison between the marriage between man and woman to a same-sex union.

“In seeking to be merciful, some want to open up Catholic teaching on marriage, divorce, civil unions, homosexuality in a radically liberalizing direction,” said conservative Cardinal George Pell, as reported by the New York Times. “We’re not giving in to the secular agenda.”

While the synod’s writing is not a final decision, it assisted in opening debate within the Church, as Francis had aimed. The majority of bishops approved the initial draft, but a vote of two-thirds is mandatory for the assembly’s agreement.

Francis published the report revealing the vote tallies on each section, so to be transparent to readers.

The next synod will be held in October 2015 when a final relation will be issued.

Copyright © 2010 TotalDivorce, LLC. (as licensee). All rights reserved.

September 25th, 2014

Kris and Bruce Jenner Divorce

Kris Jenner has officially filed for divorce from Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner, ending their 23-year marriage.

The documents were filed Monday, September 22 in the L.A. Superior Courthouse, citing irreconcilable differences. The filing came 11 months after the pair announced their separation exclusively to US Weekly.

The couple’s relationship and recent troubles have been documented on popular reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” The program focuses on Kris’ daughters from a previous marriage, Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian.

Kris and Bruce, 64, were married in 1991 and are parents to daughters Kendall, 18, and Kylie, 17. According to the L.A. courthouse, Kylie was the only child listed on the documents.

As reported by People Magazine, Kris has requested physical and legal custody of Kylie. Additionally, she has asked to keep all her jewelry and any assets obtained after their separation. Kris requested all other assets be divided at a future time.

While the couple had officially announced their separation last October, court papers list their separation date as June 2013.

“We will always be the best of friends, because that’s the dynamic of our relationship,” Kris told People, October 2013. “We definitely get along as a family and with the kids; we’re so connected in that way. We love each other.”

Months after revealing their split, Bruce and Kris were still seen at events together. Throughout the separation, Bruce still made appearances on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”

Kris couldn’t specify what lead to the eventual divorce.

“I don’t think it was the pace of life. We’ve always gone 150 miles per hour, and Bruce has more energy than anybody,” she said. “I just think it has evolved. I really can’t put my finger on it. We’re just happier now.”

Kris filed the documents “in propria persona,” meaning without legal representation.

Copyright © 2010 TotalDivorce, LLC. (as licensee). All rights reserved.