January 21st, 2015

Judge Grants Kentucky’s First Same-Sex Divorce

A Kentucky judge has granted the state’s first same-sex divorce, despite a state law banning the recognition of gay marriage.

Judge Joseph O’Reilly allowed the divorce of two Louisville women who were legally married in Massachusetts. This is the first ruling of its kind in the state of Kentucky.

Kentucky’s law does not recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in any other state; however, O’Reilly ruled that disallowing same-sex couples to divorce violates a Kentucky constitutional law granting equal rights of all people.

In O’Reilly’s eight-page ruling that dissolved the marriage of Alysha Romero and Rebecca Sue Romero, the judge also said that Kentucky divorce law mandates it to be “liberally construed” to encourage “amicable settlements” of disagreements between spouses.

Alysha Romero said she was happy that she and her former spouse would not have to incur the expense of travelling to Massachusetts to obtain a legal divorce.

“I am happy the judge made the right decision,” she said.

Romero’s lawyer, Louis Waterman, added, “I am just thrilled with Judge O’Reilly’s courage. I think he had a lot of chutzpah to do what he did.”

Douglas Haynes, Rebecca Romero’s attorney, said his client was also pleased with the decision but declined to further comment.

O’Reilly issued the ruling on December 29, but apparently waiting to release his statement to the public so his verdict was final and could not be challenged, according to Waterman. The decision cannot be appealed and is now precedent in Jefferson County. While the ruling can be cited, it is not governing in other cases across Kentucky.

Kentucky law states marriage of same-sex couples in another jurisdiction “shall be void” in the state, and that all rights allowed “by virtue of the marriage, or its termination, shall be unenforceable in Kentucky courts.”

Waterman argued that the denial of a same-sex divorce inconsistently impedes on the state’s prohibition of gay marriage by allowing one to continue.

The Romeros married in Boston in 2009; they moved to Kentucky in 2011. Their divorce was filed in 2013.

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

January 14th, 2015

Actor Gary Oldman to Divorce Fourth Wife

Actor Gary Oldman and his fourth wife Alexandra Edenborough are getting divorced.

Singer-songwriter Edenborough, 36, filed paperwork in Los Angeles on Friday, January 9, according to People Magazine. The court documents cite “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the divorce.

The separation date is listed as “TBD.” According to Oldman’s spokesman Douglas Urbanski, the couple has been separated for over a year. They “have agreed to an amicable divorce” and “remain on warm, friendly terms,” Urbanski added.

“Alex and I had several great years together, and we shared a great love during that time; but there is big difference in our ages and ultimately that gap inevitably revealed different lifestyle interests,” the 56-year-old actor said in a statement. “While I have been sad about this for over a year, I am grateful for the good times we did have, and we remain friends. Of course I wish Alex the best happiness in the future.”

According to court documents, Edenborough had neither listed her separate property, nor their community property. She will amend the divorce petition once assets have been “ascertained.”

Edenborough is also requesting Oldman pay spousal support and her attorney fees. She has asked the court not award Oldman spousal support, additionally.

Oldman and Edenborough married on New Year’s Eve of 2008. The 56-year-old actor had been married three times previously: Lesley Manville from 1987 to 1989; Uma Thurman from 1990 to 1992; and Donya Fiorentino from 1997 to 2001.

The couple did not have any children together, however Oldman is father to two children with Fiorentino and one child with Manville.

Oldman is best known for his roles of James Gordon in the recent “Dark Knight” Batman trilogy, Serius Black in the “Harry Potter” series, and Sid Vicious in “Sid and Nancy.”

In an 2004 interview with the U.K.’s “The Independent,” Oldman was quoted, “I’m not proud that this is my fourth marriage. But this is a good one. Hopefully, my last one.”

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

January 6th, 2015

Is There a Surge in January Divorces?

With an influx of divorces filed on the first Monday of the month, January is arguably the most popular month to file for divorce.

January 5 has been unofficially dubbed “Divorce Day” in England, and Americans are seeing the same increase in January divorce filings after the holiday season.

“The surge happens on Divorce Monday,” James McLaren, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, tells MarketWatch. “We see a significant increase in people seeking out divorce advice and, ultimately, filing. The number of filings is one-third more than normal. That begins in January and probably goes into early March.”

Currently 1 in 5 U.K. couples plan to divorce after the holidays, according to a recent survey conducted by legal firm Irwin Mitchell. So far this month, divorce filings are up 27 percent, states the report.

McClaren says that many couples are hesitant to split up and disrupt their families during Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas or New Year’s. Additionally, people wait until January to file for divorce due to court closures during the holiday season.

“Those things are very difficult to arrange when there’s only three weeks of court time available,” McClaren states. “You do not want to file a divorce case and be faced with the inability to get into court.”

As per Boston psychotherapist Abby Rodman, many couples feel expectation about the end of the year holidays.

“You convince yourself that it’s only right to give your kids one more holiday season with their family intact, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” says Rodman.

Coincidentally, dating website Match.com reported January 4 to have the highest amount of activity for online dating traffic—which peaked at 8:52pm Eastern Time.

The company typically sees a 38 percent increase in new client registrations between December and January.

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

December 29th, 2014

Chris Rock Files for Divorce

Chris Rock has filed for divorce from wife Malaak Compton-Rock after nearly 20 years of marriage.

“After much contemplation and 19 years of marriage, Chris and I have decided to go our separate ways,” Compton-Rock said in a statement, according to People.

“My children remain at the center of my life, and their well-being is my top priority. It is in this spirit that I sincerely ask that their privacy and the privacy of our family be respected during this transition in our lives.”

Rock’s attorney, Robert S. Cohen, has confirmed the separation.

“Chris Rock has filed for divorce from his wife, Malaak,” Cohen said in a statement. “This is a personal matter and Chris requests privacy as he and Malaak work through this process and focus on their family.”

In his comedy acts, Rock has been outspoken and candidly sharp about marriage.

“Nelson Mandela got divorced,” Rock once said in a routine. “He got out of jail after 27 years of torture, spent six months with his wife and said, ‘I can’t take this [expletive] no more.'”

In 2010, the couple defended their marriage and denied claims that Rock fathered a child out of wedlock.

According to People, a source close to the couple stated: “This was a long time coming. Chris has known it wasn’t salvageable for a while. He was the one to file because he knew it was time to just move forward already.”

Rock, 49, wed Compton-Rock, 45, in 1996. They currently reside in Alpine, New Jersey. The couple is parents to two daughters, Lola Simone, 12, and Zahra Savannah, 10.

Rock began his career as a standup coming and appeared in several small film roles before joining the case of Saturday Night Live in the early 1990s. He produced the award winning series “Everybody Hates Chris” and starred in many prominent films and HBO comedy specials.

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

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.