Articles Posted in No Fault Divorce

If you are in the process of obtaining a divorce, you are probably focused on getting on with your life. However, you also need to spend some time thinking about the important documents governing your death.

It is important to update all of your estate planning documents during or after your divorce. These documents include: your trust, will, and powers of attorney.

Most estate plans list an individual’s spouse in decision-making positions (trustee/personal representative/power of attorney), but also as the individual receiving most, if not all, of the assets. Upon the finalization of a divorce, you want to ensure that your ex-spouse is not making any decisions on your behalf, or receiving any of your valued assets. If left unchanged, you risk your children (or other individuals that you wish to receive your assets), having to fight it out with your ex-spouse in court.

Highest/Lowest Divorce Rate by State:
The State with the highest divorce rate is Nevada, with 14.7% of marriages ending in divorce.
New Jersey, on the other hand, has the lowest divorce rate, at only 9.1%.

Top Reasons to Marry:
1.) Love,
2.) Making a lifelong commitment,
3.) Companionship,
4.) Having children, and
5.) Financial stability
Top Reasons to Divorce:
1.) Lack of commitment,
2.) Too much arguing,
3.) Infidelity,
4.) Marrying too young, and 5.) Unrealistic expectations
Average length of first marriage before divorce: eight (8) years.
Average time between divorce and remarriage: 3.8 years.
Average length of second marriage before divorce: 8.5 years.

Women in Divorce:
About one in five women fall into poverty after divorce.
Three out of four divorced mothers don’t receive full payment of child support.
About one in three women who own a home and have children when they divorce lose their homes.

As long as an individual was married at least 10 years, was divorced, and is currently single, he or she can collect Social Security benefits on an ex-spouse’s earning record as if they were still married. This applies even if the former spouse has remarried.

An additional benefit for spouses born on or before January 1, 1954, is that a divorced individual can restrict their claim to spousal benefits and allow their own retirement benefit to continue to grow by 8% per year, until they attain the age of 70. Unfortunately, individuals born on or after January 2, 1954, will be applying for all available benefits. This means that they will receive the higher of the spousal benefit, or their own benefit, but do not have the option to restrict their claim.

For more information on how divorce affects retirement decisions, contact the attorneys at SMDA, P.C. at (586) 264-3756.

Family debt as a percentage of disposable income has increased from 70 percent in 1980 to over 110 percent by 2011. With the rising amount of debt in American families, the need to plan for the division of these debts has become a major focus in divorce settlements.

Unsecured Debt Liabilities:
-File documentation and financial affidavits with the Court as quickly as possible on the balances of all debt – credit cards, lines of credit, mortgages, and vehicle loans.
-Order and review the most recent credit reports.
-Cancel all joint credit cards as soon as possible, to reduce the risk of the other spouse running up credit card debt.
-Make the payment, and closing, of joint debt a priority during settlement agreements.
-Consider joining a credit reporting warning service to signal any new credit being initiated during and after the divorce proceedings.

Secured Debt:
-If a spouse is accepting responsibility for a debt and will not hold the title on the asset that secures the debt, attempt to find other methods of guaranteeing the payment of debt.
-Match secured debt to the underlying asset in the distribution of marital assets.
-Examine the debt and maintenance costs of all secured assets to determine if keeping the asset is affordable or advisable.

According to an August 6, 2014 ABC News article, some states are worse than others in terms of filing for divorce. The top 7 worst states for divorce are as follows:

In Nebraska, the State requires a filing fee of $157.00 and 420 days to process the divorce. A year’s residency is required, which is followed by a two-month cooling off period. People in Nebraska tend to get married around 26-years-old, and on average, the marriages last almost 23 years.

New York:
Not only does New York require a $335.00 filing fee, but the minimum processing time is 360 days. Until 2010, New York also required fault to file for divorce; however, they have now joined 49 other states in allowing no-fault divorce. New York requires a “breakdown period” of six months, but no physical separation.

Shortly after I posted a recent blog about “No Fault Divorce”, I received a question while I was on the radio (690 A.M. with Bob and Rob Allison’s ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ program. . .Fridays at 9 a.m.) talking about No Fault Divorce issues. I was asked about the phrase “Irreconcilable Differences”. That is a phrase we hear frequently in the media when Hollywood couples are divorcing. Keep in mind, those divorces are typically in California where the law regarding pleading requirements is different.

In Michigan, among other things, the typical divorce complaint will state that “there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved”. In fact, there is a specific law or statute that prevents parties from stating specific reasons for fault in the divorce complaint. The reason behind this prohibition is to try and encourage parties to resolve their differences with decorum particularly when there are children involved. The divorce process is not designed to embarrass one party or the other. If you are seeking revenge against your spouse, you are likely to be disappointed with the end result.

As I have said before, I will tell you “how it is”. . . I will not give you false hope that you’re going to punish your spouse for all of his/her misdeeds. On the other hand, if your spouse is being unreasonable, then aggressive strategies may be necessary to “motivate” him/her to reach a proper resolution.

Most people going through divorce have heard the phrase “No Fault Divorce”. No fault divorce means that the courts do not care whether someone “caused” the divorce. . . if a husband or wife wants a divorce, he/she will be granted the divorce whether the other spouse wants it or not. It does not matter if someone caused the divorce.

Still, the question of fault almost always comes up. The most common causes of divorce are financial mismanagement/dishonesty and infidelity. . . other causes include drug abuse, alcoholism, verbal or physical abuse and other forms of psychological abuse. If you are a victim of any of these forms of fault, you should discuss the situation with your attorney to determine what options are available to you to protect your interests (financial, physical/mental well-being) during the divorce process (i.e. exclusive use of the marital home, ex-parte orders to preserve marital finances and status quo, etc.).

The other question many people ask is whether they will gain an advantage if the other spouse is at fault. This is a complex question. As stated, courts do not care who is at fault. But, if there is fault, you will have to decide how to pursue it or how to defend it. This can be very costly. You will have to undertake a cost/benefit analysis with your lawyer. I always put all options on the table for my clients and that helps them decide.

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