Archive for the 'General Divorce News' Category

February 6th, 2015

Wife Divorces Dad Over Down Syndrome Newborn

A New Zealand father was served divorce papers by his wife after he refused to give up his newborn son who was just diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Samuel Forrest’s son, Leo, was born on January 21 in an Armenian hospital. Upon his arrival, the doctors alerted Forrest to a “problem” with his son.

Doctors diagnosed Leo with Down syndrome, which initially shocked Forrest. However, upon holding his new son, the new father fell in love.

“They took me in to see him and I looked at this guy and I said, he’s beautiful –he’s perfect, and I’m absolutely keeping him,” Forrest said.

Forrest’s wife, Ruzan Badalyan, did not agree with him.

Due to Leo’s diagnosis, Badalyan told Forrest she would divorce him if he did not give up the child.

“I got the ultimatum right then,” he said. “She told me if I kept him then we would get a divorce.”

Armenia still lacks awareness about disabled persons: children are sometimes given to orphanages or boarding schools at birth. Forrest was unaware of Armenian hospital practices.

“When a baby is born that has an obvious difference, the child is most likely going to be abandoned at the hospital, left to the orphanage,” Hopscotch Adoptions director Robin Sizemore told the Huffington Post.

“My wife had already decided,” said Forrest, “so all of this was done behind my back.”
Badalyan has spoken to ABC News, only stating that she did give birth to a child with Down syndrome and that she has left her husband; she declined to give any further information.

Forrest has enlisted help via a GoFundMe page titled “Bring Leo Home.” He intends to move home to Auckland, New Zealand to raise his son in a society that better understands people with disabilities.

By Friday, Forrest has raised $321,329, which is more than five times his original goal of $60,000.

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.

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 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.

November 15th, 2013

Pope Francis Requests Survey on Views Towards Divorce in America


In a move that could signal a drastic change in the Catholic Church’s views towards divorce, Pope Francis asked his American bishops to conduct extensive polling of divorced members of the church, according to a report this week from CBS News.

Divorce has been a constant source of stress for the Catholic Church in recent decades, which has alienated many Catholics, and Pope Francis has made it known that he wants the Church to be more welcoming to all members, sources report.

And the Pope’s request for a comprehensive survey of Americans’ views on issues like divorce, same-sex marriage, and contraception, is an unprecedented move from the Vatican, according to experts on the religion.

“I think it’s definitely recognition that the teachings of the Church on these particular hot button topics are not being received as the Vatican would like them to be received,” said Father Martin, a Catholic expert.

American bishops were reportedly told to gather responses to a 38-question survey over the next three months. The responses will be mailed to the Vatican so Catholic authorities can review the information before holding a major summit on Catholic family life.

Church clergy, however, were quick to tell sources that the survey request does not necessarily signal an upcoming change in Church doctrine on these social issues.

But others believe the survey is a step towards potential changes in Church doctrine, or at the very least, a step towards discerning what Catholics actually practice in their everyday lives.

The survey reportedly asks questions like: “What questions do divorced and remarried people pose to the Church concerning the Sacrament,” and, “Is there a law in your country recognizing civil unions for people of the same sex and equating it in some way to marriage.”

In recent weeks, Pope Francis made waves by saying that the Church should reduce its single-minded focus on issues like contraception, abortion, and same-sex marriage, and instead focus on making people more comfortable with the Church.

Catholic teachings, however, leave little room for interpretation on these matters. For centuries, contraception has been considered a sin, and Church member who successfully divorce lawyer are not allowed to remarry in a Catholic Church.

And while the survey may not lead to dramatic shifts in Church policy, it at least signals that the Church is not a totalitarian regime, and respects the views of non-clergy.

In the words of Father Martin, the “great saints and martyrs were often not popes and bishops, they were lay people and they were people who were mothers and fathers and lawyers and doctors.”

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

October 25th, 2013

Harvard Study Finds That Divorce Filings Could be Contagious


A Harvard study recently discovered that having a friend who recently filed for divorce could make you more likely to seek a separation from your spouse, according to an intriguing report from The Atlantic.

According to sources, researchers at Harvard, Brown, and UC-San Diego recently released the results of a long-term study that found people with friends who obtain a divorce are 75 percent more likely to seek a divorce.

And the trend seems to extend beyond close friends, too. According to the report, having an acquaintance go through a divorce increases your risk of divorce by 33 percent.

Due to these alarming results, the head researcher, Rose McDermott, writes that the divorce may “spread between friends.” She also observed that “[c]lusters of divorce extend to two degrees of separation in the network.”

The researchers discovered what they called “network contagion,” or the effect that the divorce of a close personal friend can have on one’s own relationship. Sources note that network contagion has also been found to play a role in people’s weight and the number of children they choose to have.

In addition, past studies have discovered that children from divorced parents are more likely to call a divorce lawyerchildren with parents who stick together.

This study, however, represents the first effort to gauge how a person’s social network influences his or her romantic relationships. And, remarkably, the influence not only extends to friends of a divorced couple, but also friends of those friends, with little regard for geographic distance.

The researchers hope their findings will help divorce professionals aid couples in reducing the negative effects of divorce. They also expressed hope that the findings would help strengthen the relationships of struggling couples.

According to McDermott, the researchers “suggest that attending to the health of one’s friends’ marriages might serve to support and enhance the durability of one’s own relationship.”

Of course, the study has been met with some criticism. Sources are quick to note that the researchers based their data on a survey of residents of Framingham, Massachusetts.

And despite the fact that this survey has been described by the Pew Research Center as “one of the country’s longest-running and most influential longitudinal surveys,” the surveyed group is more white, educated, and health than the median American.

As a result, the results may only apply to a certain subset of the American population. And while the social networking effects of divorce may certainly have a similar effect on other people, the data remains somewhat unclear.

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

October 17th, 2013

Five Mistakes People Seeking Divorce Should Try to Avoid


Divorce can be a trying time, especially for couples who choose to go it alone, so it may help potential divorcees to consider a few key mistakes to avoid when filing for divorce.

Of course, in order to help avoid some of these mistakes, many people choose to hire a divorce lawyer to help guide them through the difficult process.

A recent report from the Huffington Post suggests that people filing for divorce should avoid five common mistakes while going through the separation process.

First, the report says couples should meet with a financial planner before going through divorce mediation. Sources say many people fight, for example, to keep their homes, when they can’t afford the homes in the first place.

It’s much wiser to approach mediation, or any divorce negotiation, with a clear idea of the assets you can afford to keep after reaching a divorce agreement. Make sure what you’re fighting to keep is actually worth keeping in the first place.

Second, people preparing for a divorce should get organized before they tell their spouse the news. This doesn’t mean you have to be dishonest, it simply means that you should prepare for the pending financial stress.

To this end, before you inform your spouse of your decision, sources suggest making a detailed inventory of your financial records, credit history, and future job prospects. Planning before a divorce is just as important as the separation process itself.

Third, sources recommend creating a support network early in the divorce process. Filing for divorce may be a very wise decision for many people, but it can also be emotionally trying.

So your best bet is to consult the aid of a therapist, or share your burden with friends or family, well before you begin to experience emotional trauma. Emotional health, just like financial health, is best protected by taking preventative measures.

Fourth, sources advise couples to not file for divorce in the heat of the moment. Some couples may simply be experiencing a difficult time, and would be best advised to take a few weeks to honestly assess the state of their marriage.

Of course, many couples may quickly come to the conclusion that divorce is their best option. Still, it’s important to catalog the specific reasons why you want a divorce, so you’re not making a poor decision.

Finally, sources recommend sticking with your job and not reducing your hours. Judges frown on this behavior, especially when it appears that one spouse is trying to secure more alimony from the other.

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

October 10th, 2013

Affordable Care Act Could Lead to Increase in Divorce Filings


The Affordable Care Act, also known by the more loaded term “Obamacare,” may expand health insurance to millions of uninsured Americans, but could also have some unintended consequences.

One of these potential consequences is that the rate of people filing for divorce could rise, thanks to the financial freedom potentially afforded by broader access to health coverage, according to a report from the Washington Times.

According to sources, fear of losing health insurance is one of the primary reasons couples choose to stick together and refrain from filing a divorce.

And this fear of losing health insurance is supported by a recent finding by the University of Michigan that, every year, roughly 115,000 women lose their health insurance after reaching a divorce settlement.

The Michigan study also discovered that 25 percent of divorce women who lose coverage through their former spouse’s insurance fail to find new health insurance for at least six months after completing their divorce.

Even though the workforce continues to grow more diverse, many women still do not have employment outside the home, or work for companies that do not provide health coverage. In addition, the cost of getting COBRA coverage through a former spouse’s plan can be incredible expensive.

The problem is particularly acute for middle-income women eyeing a divorce. Low-income women are often able to turn to Medicaid, and wealthy women can simply afford their own coverage. And older women tend to have an even more difficult time securing insurance after divorce.

But this calculation could soon change, if the Affordable Care Act is as successful at broadening access to health care as it promises. And if it indeed expands access to health care, many couples who have decided to stick together for health insurance reasons could decide to finally split, sources say.

When the law kicks into gear on January 1, 2014, women mulling a divorce can enter the healthcare exchange to determine if they’ll be able to find affordable health insurance. If so, many couples may decide to go their separate ways.

Of course, while the new law could help many struggling couples, it could also create complications for filers and their divorce attorneys.

Sources believe the government’s health care plans could leads to lower alimony settlements, and could also lead to arguments about the quality of plan the spouse paying alimony can afford. But the law also offers much promise for couples who have stayed together out of financial necessity.

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

October 3rd, 2013

Man Upset With Divorce Allegedly Injects Young Son With Heroin


A man in Washington state who was reportedly distraught over his pending divorce allegedly tried to kill his 4-year-old son by giving him a dose of heroin, according to a shocking report from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Sources say the man going through a divorce, 37-year-old Eric Lehtinen, was discovered by his estranged wife on a bed in a locked Redmond, Washington, house with his young son. Both the man and his son were reportedly unconscious.

After making the startling discovery, the mother reportedly removed a blanket from her son and found a syringe filled with what looked like drugs on his chest, according to documents filed with the local court.

When emergency medical personnel arrived on the scene, both the boy and the father were non-responsive. The boy was immediately taken to Seattle Children’s Hospital, where he is currently seeking treatment. Sources do not know if he will suffer long-term damage from the incident.

Shockingly, medical staff at the children’s hospital reported finding puncture wounds on several parts of the boy’s body.

And blood tests revealed traces of ketamine, morphine, and codeine in his system, in addition to heroin.

Sources say Lehtinen is already out of the hospital, but is sitting in jail after being charged with attempted murder in the first degree. His bail was set at an appropriately lofty $3 million after prosecutors argued that he was extremely dangerous.

In their words, a man “who is willing to inject his 4-year-old son with heroin in an attempt to kill” his own son is “dangerous man willing to do anything.” The judge didn’t disagree with this assessment.

Ten days before the child was overdosed with a cocktail of dangerous drugs, he was reportedly living with his mother in San Francisco. The mother and her husband had been married for six years, but she had filed for divorce months before.

According to reports, one of the reasons the woman filed for divorce was her husband’s drug addiction, which included abuse of heroin.

But her husband claimed that he was clean, so the mother let her son stay with Lehtinen while she visited Seattle for a job interview.

Lehtinen, however, was distraught over the pending divorce, and court documents say that the father poisoned his son in a terribly misguided effort to delay the end of his marriage.

But, if anything, Lehtinen sealed the end of his marriage, and possibly the end of his relationship with his child. If he is found guilty of attempted murder, the father could be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison, sources say.

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