Money Pit: Top Ten Most Expensive Divorces

The rich are different. Their divorces cost more.

What happens when the uber-wealthy can’t make the love work anymore? First, the lawyers make a lot of money. Second, they race to find a spot on this list of the world’s most expensive divorces.

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Bari Weinberger talks to eHealth Radio about Divorce and Impacts on your Health

Listen to interview with New Jersey family law attorney Bari Weinberger and eHealth Radio host Eric Michaels as they discuss Divorce and Your Health topics that include answers to the following questions:

1. How does divorce affect a person’s health?
2. What is divorce anger?
3. How common is domestic violence and what should someone who is a victim do to protect themselves?
4. How can people minimize the impacts of divorce?
5. What can parents do to minimize the impacts of divorce on their children?
6. What are some ways people can prepare for a divorce?
7. What do you advise people to look for when choosing a divorce lawyer?
8. How can people prepare for their 1st meeting with their lawyer?

Topics addressed in this radio interview can also be heard in our vitally-important video/webinar: The 5 Critical Risks of Divorce!

Summary Tips:

  • Keep it amicable. The more reasonable and amicable everyone is, the shorter the process and it can ultimately help lessen the overall cost, both financially and to the health and well-being of all involved.
  • Don’t get your children involved the more you get them involved the more resentful they will be and the more it will harm your relationship with your children.
  • Don’t be afraid to make compromises. A small compromise doesn’t need to translate into a weakness. A small compromise can often be recognized as a big gesture by the other party and can help move the process towards a quicker settlement. Try not to get caught up in the little battles and focus on the big picture.

Bari suggests, in her closing remarks, “Find a divorce lawyer who knows how to fight, but really appreciates how to listen to you, to know what you want and knows the best approach for you and your unique circumstances because every case is different and not every case should be a battle.”

Will New Jersey Voters Decide on Same-Sex Marriage?

With a vote of 8-4, the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, marking the first significant development in gay marriage rights since December 2006, when civil unions were enacted in the state.

In the debate before the vote, proponents of same-sex marriage relayed personal stories of discrimination and pointed out flaws in the current civil union law. (New Jersey’s civil union law is being challenged in state court by Lambda Legal, a national gay-rights advocacy group, which argues that civil unions in New Jersey don’t provide the same benefits and protections as marriage.)

Bill opponents argued that changes to the state’s marriage laws would diminish the meaning of marriage and quotes from the Bible condemning homosexuality and its supporters, NJ.com reports.

After the vote, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a first-term Republican, spoke out to say that he plans to veto the bill. He also challenged the State Legislature to instead put the issue on the ballot for voters to decide in the November election. A voter referendum on same-sex marriage is an “alternative path” to finally resolve the issue, Christie said. He then compared the gay marriage bill to a movie.

“We all know how this movie is going to end,” Christie, 49, told reporters after the Senate committee made its decision. “If they pass the bill, and they know this, it’s going to be vetoed. If they attempt to override that, the veto will be sustained. And they know that, so I’m trying to give them an alternate movie.”

If a statewide referendum on gay marriage were to occur, and the measure passed, New Jersey would become the first U.S. state where same-sex couples’ right to wed is approved by a public vote. Court rulings or legislation led to the gay marriage measures passing in the six states and the District of Columbia where it’s legal. Voters have rejected legalization in all 31 referendums on the issue, according to Freedom to Marry, a New York-based national advocacy organization.

Proponents of same-sex marriage are strongly urging Gov. Christie to rethink his veto plan. “Marriage equality isn’t like sports betting,” Sen. Raymond Lesniak, a Democrat, told the NYT, making reference to another amendment that was recently passed through a referendum. “It’s a civil right, which is already guaranteed in our Constitution. It’s up to the Legislature to guarantee these rights.” Lesniak sponsored the bill.

But if a vote on gay marriage happened today in New Jersey? It looks like it just might pass. Last week, a poll from Quinnipiac University (via the Wall Street Journal) found 52% support for gay marriage among New Jersey voters, the first time approval has edged over the 50% mark.

Sources:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/25/nyregion/christie-wants-new-jersey-voters-to-decide-on-gay-marriage.html
http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2012/01/25/gay-marriage-bill-advances-in-nj-despite-veto-threat/
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/01/nj_senate_committee_advances_g.html
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-24/n-j-senate-democrats-have-votes-to-pass-gay-marriage-bill-sponsors-say.html

Bari Weinberger – The Voice of Central Jersey WCTCAM Radio Exclusive Interview

Central New Jersey’s 1450 WCTC AM Talk Radio Bert Baron talks to Bari Weinberger with this EXCLUSIVE interview aired yesterday, Tuesday, January 17, 2012.

Hear this on-air on-demand podcast radio interview and learn more about family law attorney Bari Weinberger. Included in the interview is a discussion about our vitally-important webinar: The 5 Critical Risks of Divorce!

Would Divorce Mediation Have Protected Celebrity Zooey Deschanel’s Financial Information?

Deschanel Gibbard Divorce & Financial Info“New Girl” star Zooey Deschanel filed for divorce on December 23, likely hoping that news of her split from husband, Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard, would not be buzz-worthy enough to make headlines during the holidays. The low-key star may have escaped public scrutiny, except for one key mistake: the divorce filing was accompanied by a copy of the actress’s personal financial information.

Not that she has anything to be embarrassed about. Far from being a Hollywood spendthrift, Zooey’s divorce documents show a money-savvy starlet who even gives regularly to charity. Her income and expense declaration, according to TMZ, shows that Zooey makes $95,000 a month on her hit TV sitcom, but only spends about $22,500 a month on such items as:

-Telephone, cell & e-mail – $300
-Groceries – $1,000
-Eating Out – $500
-Dry Cleaning – $600
-Utilities – $800
-Clothes – $2,000
-Charity – $1,500

Deschanel’s statements also verified that she has zero credit card debt, and has saved up $1,578,000 in the bank, $1,645,000 in stocks and $693,300 in property, bringing the 32-year-old celebrity’s net worth to a cool 3.9 million.

Other than demonstrating the value of spending relatively little and saving a lot, Zooey Deschanel’s case teaches anyone contemplating divorce a valuable lesson in privacy. Could she have done anything different to keep her financial information out of the public eye? Yes, if she had gone the route of divorce mediation or if her attorney had advised her to get the financials sealed as part of the divorce process.

Because mediated divorce is handled privately, and not in a courtroom, financial statements are primarily only seen by the mediator and parties involved, except of course if other experts are brought in — this can ultimately keep them our of public divorce records. Celebrities, athletes, and other high profile individuals are often counseled to seriously consider mediation as a way to protect financial and personal issues during times of divorce. But even for non-celebrities, maintaining privacy is important and, in this way, mediation holds a key advantage over litigation.

Another way divorce mediation helps? Zooey and Ben Gibbard married in 2009 and don’t have children. However, for couples with children, the more amicable tone of divorce mediation can help to preserve parent-child relationships (and make co-parenting easier), as opposed to litigation which can further sever the relationship. Also, divorce mediation enables you to set the terms of your divorce and gives you great flexibility in the final outcome of your divorce settlement. If a judge is deciding, you place yourself at the mercy of the court, which may not be best in your situation.

As for Zooey, we know the “New Girl” is new to divorce, but we hope she starts to get some better advice on how to handle the proceedings without the gossip grapevine having access to her every move.

For more information specific to the divorce mediation in New Jersey, please read our “Divorce Mediation” page and feel free to contact us with any questions specific to your marital situation.

Additional Resources From Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group on Divorce Mediation:
Blog Post: Seven Myths About Divorce Mediation

Resources:
Yahoo Finance – Zooey Deschanel Saves Her Pennies:
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/zooey-deschanel-saves-her-pennies.html
The Washington Post – Zooey Deschanel Files for Divorce from Ben Gibbard:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/celebritology/post/zooey-deschanel-files-for-divorce-from-ben-gibbard/2012/01/05/gIQA5nGXcP_blog.html
TMZ – Zooey Deschanel Financial Net Worth Divorce:
http://www.tmz.com/2012/01/04/zooey-deschanel-financial-net-worth-divorce/

Talking About Marriage & Divorce…

Talking Divorce and Marriage week 12-30-2011Which celebrity power couple announced their divorce after being married for just over a year–and which celeb is on tap to make a huge payout to a former spouse? What happened to make an Italian couple the oldest divorcees in the world? And what new details were revealed this week about a prominent politician’s divorce? After scouring the web for the latest news, views, and tweets from the world of marriage & divorce, here’s the scoop on this week’s headline-grabbing stories:

Celebrity Divorces:

Katy Perry and Russell Brand won’t be ringing in the New Year with their wedding rings on, after Russell filed for divorce in California on December 30, 2011, citing irreconcilable differences. Divorce rumors began to swirl around the comedian and Teenage Dream singer when it was reported that they had spent this year’s holiday season living apart.

According to TMZ,  Russell indicated the couple have “community property assets”, a sign the star couple did not sign a prenuptial agreement, or the one they did sign doesn’t cover all of the earnings and other assets they accumulated since their October 2010 wedding.

In other Hollywood news, Mel Gibson officially became single again this week, but not before paying out half of his estimated $850 million fortune to ex-wife Robyn Moore in what is being called one of the largest divorce settlements in history.

Because the couple didn’t have a prenuptial agreement, Robyn, 55, was legally entitled to half of everything he earned during their marriage and she is also entitled to 50 per cent of Mel’s future film earnings. According to the OC Register, Mel now joins such fellow celebs as Paul McCartney and Tiger Woods when it comes to high payout divorce settlements. In 2006, Paul McCartney paid former wife Heather Mills a sum of $50 million after arguing with the judge that his assets were not as great as Heather claimed. In 2010, Tiger Woods paid Elin Nordegren $100 million after their five-year marriage ended in scandal.

Sources & Resources  this week for Celebrity News:
http://www.tmz.com/2011/12/30/katy-perry-divorce-russell-brand/
http://www.ocregister.com/articles/divorce-333206-gibson-fortune.html

In Political News:

Newt Gingrich’s campaign still denies that it was the former Speaker of the House who sought a divorce in 1980 from first wife Jackie Battley Gingrich, an issue that has been the basis of personal attacks in the lead up to the Republican primary race. But as CNN reports, recently unearthed court documents show that not only did Newt file for divorce, citing the marriage as “irretrievably broken” but Jackie Gingrich responded to the complaint by asking the judge to reject her husband’s filing, stating, “Defendant shows that she has adequate and ample grounds for divorce, but that she does not desire one at this time.”

Newt Gingrich maintains that his wife requested the divorce, with daughter Jackie Gingrich Cushman bolstering this account in an op-ed she wrote last year. Until they were located last week, the Gingrich divorce court documents had been hidden in an undisclosed location due to security concerns, says the Clerk of Court for the Carroll County Superior Court in Carrollton, Georgia.

Sources & Resources this week for Political News:
http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/26/politics/gingrich-divorce-file/index.html

Worldwide:

Are we about to set a new record for the world’s oldest divorce couple? A few days before Christmas, a 99-year old Italian man, identified by lawyers only as Antonio C, was rummaging though some papers when he discovered a set of love letters from the 1940s written by his wife of 77 years, Rosa C, 96, to the man she had a secret affair with all those decades ago. Though Rosa came clean about her past indiscretions, Antonio immediately filed for divorce. The couple have five children, a dozen grandchildren and one great-grand child. If the divorce does go through, Rosa and Antonio will become the world’s oldest divorcees, displacing current record holders,  Bertie and Jessie Wood, both aged 98, from the UK.

Sources & Resources this week for Worldwide News:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8982958/99-year-old-divorces-wife-after-he-discovered-1940s-affair.html

Marriage in Tweets:

As seen in Twitter this week:
Marriage isn’t until dislike do us part; It is until death do us part. Choose your spouse wisely #Marriage — via @marriage4

Some wise words to consider as we welcome 2012.

Happy New Year!

New Year, New Life: Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey

Free Video - 5 Risks of DivorceResolved to move forward with your divorce in 2015? It’s not uncommon to consider the new year a time for a new life. January 1st has many taking first steps towards much needed changes in their lives. The first step typically taken when dissolution of marriage is desired is to file a Complaint for Divorce, essentially one spouse’s request for the court to grant a judgment of divorce. In the Complaint for Divorce in New Jersey, the filing party must provide the ground for divorce, or the reason (or reasons) why the marriage needs to end.

There are a number of acceptable grounds for divorce in New Jersey. New Jersey divorce law does include both fault and no-fault grounds, however, the terms of a final settlement are not necessarily determined based on fault or no-fault in a divorce (find additional information in our articles about contested divorce and uncontested divorce in New Jersey).

As you start to think seriously about filing for divorce, you should consider which of the following grounds apply in your situation, such as:

– Irreconcilable Differences: Because this is one of New Jersey’s “no-fault divorce” grounds, irreconcilable differences simply mean that there has been a breakdown of the marriage that has lasted at least six months and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. Without specific accusations, or laying blame on one spouse, citing irreconcilable differences may help to make the divorce process less contentious.

– 18 Month Separation: If you and your spouse have lived in different houses for 18 consecutive months or more, you may be eligible to file for divorce on the basis of separation. Because this is New Jersey’s other no-fault ground for divorce, you do not need to detail why you separated, but at the end of 18 months you will need to file a sworn statement that you and your spouse have been living separate and apart, in different houses, for 18 months or more and that you do not expect to reconcile. Be aware that living in the same house in different bedrooms does not fulfill this requirement.

– Extreme Cruelty: Prior to the implementation of Irreconcilable Differences, this was by far the most common ground for divorce in New Jersey, partly because extreme cruelty (despite the harshness of the wording) is subjective enough to cover both mild and severe forms of cruelty. For instance, extreme cruelty can describe a situation in which domestic violence is present, but it can also apply if one spouse simply feels that he or she has not received adequate emotional support for the past several months. When cited as a ground for divorce, extreme cruelty may be as expressive or understated as one would like it to be. However, it must offer enough detail to convince the judge that it would be unreasonable to expect the filing party to continue to live with and remain married to their current spouse.

– Adultery: If this ground for divorce applies, New Jersey requires that the complainant in an adultery divorce case state the name of the person with whom the extramarital affair was conducted. This person becomes known as “the correspondent” and will be sent a copy of the Complaint, which he or she can then dispute. If the correspondent’s name is not known, the person who files must give as much information as possible to describe this person. Evidence of adultery includes receipts for hotels and gifts, eye-witness accounts, photos, love notes and cards, and private investigator reports.

– Desertion: According to New Jersey divorce law, Desertion is different from Separation in that Separation requires “separate and apart” living conditions. Grounds on Desertion do not have to be separate and apart living conditions. This ground tends to arise when there is “willful cessation of sexual relations”.  Note the emphasis on the word  “willful” under this ground for divorce, which also can include “willful departure.” Desertion has a reduced time period too, requiring at least 12 months under its guidelines.

– Voluntary Addiction to Narcotic Drugs: Addiction is defined as a dependence on narcotics for a period of 12 or more consecutive months immediately preceding the divorce filing. If you choose this ground, you may need to provide evidence of the addiction.

– Habitual Drunkenness: As with drug addiction, drunkenness and alcohol abuse may be used as grounds for divorce. Evidence of alcoholism may also be part of your pleadings.

– Mental Illness: According to New Jersey statutes concerning divorce, this ground applies when one spouse has been institutionalized for mental illness preceding the filing of the Complaint.

– Imprisonment: If your spouse has been in a prison after marriage, this ground for divorce may apply in your situation. You can file a Complaint while your spouse is still in prison. If you wait until after he or she is released, you can still file using this ground, provided the two of you are no longer living together with the intent to reconcile.

– Deviant Sexual Conduct: This ground refers to sexual conduct engaged in by one spouse without the other’s permission or consent. The exact nature of the deviant sexual conduct is undefined under current New Jersey divorce law.

Which grounds for divorce best applies in your case? Every divorce case is unique, so it is vital for anyone filing for divorce in New Jersey to be represented by an accomplished New Jersey Family Law attorney who can offer professional guidance on the advantages and disadvantages of using certain grounds for divorce.

To learn more about starting the divorce process, which grounds to state in your Complaint for Divorce, or for general questions about divorce in New Jersey, please contact us.

Military Divorce Rates on the Rise in 2011

Military divorce rates reached a record 12-year high in 2011, with one in every 27 married troops getting divorced this past year, according to a new report from the U.S. Defense Department. The military divorce rate of 3.7 percent now stands slightly higher than national divorce rate of 3.5 percent and officials expect to see this number continue to rise as troops return home from service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among the revealing statistics contained in Defense Department data:

  • Members of the Air Force have the highest divorce rate (3.9 percent), up slightly from 3.8 percent in 2010.
  • The U.S. Marine Corps is the only service branch to see a decline in divorces: the 2011 divorce rate stood at 3.8 percent, a slight dip from 3.6 percent in 2010.
  • Among officers, the divorce rate lifted to 2.1 percent in 2011 from 1.9 percent in 2010.
  • Among enlisted service members, the divorce rate remained flat this year at 4.1 percent.
  • Overall, there were approximately 30,000 military divorces in 2011, data shows.

Interestingly, gender also played a significant role in rising military divorce rates, with women in the military demonstrating the most divorces overall. As USA Today reports, close to one in 10 marriages of female service members, or roughly 10 percent, ended in divorce this past year.

Officials also predict that military divorce rates will likely remain high as troops continue to return from the Middle East and reunite with families and spouses from whom they have been apart.

“As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan draw down, we’re going to put more families together who haven’t been used to being together,” a spokesman for the Army Office of the Chief of Chaplains said at a press conference this week.

Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group has extensive experience helping our servicemen and women through their divorce matters, whether or not they remain on active duty. We understand the intricacies unique to each branch of the armed forces and appreciate the need to obtain resolution with honor and dignity.

For more information specific to the military divorce process in New Jersey, please read our “New Jersey Out-of-State, International, Military Divorce” page and feel free to contact us with any questions specific to your marital situation.

Sources:
USA Today News – Military Divorce Rate Increases: http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/story/2011-12-13/military-divorce-rate-increases/51888872/1

Ending New Jersey’s 72-hour Marriage Waiting Period May Boost Business & State Revenue

Wedding chapels may soon be jockeying for space on the Atlantic City boardwalk if proposed state legislation to end New Jersey’s 72-hour waiting period for couples seeking a marriage or civil union license becomes law.

Why end the wait? Introduced by Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D-Camden) and state Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), proponents of the marriage waiting period rule change say zero-wait weddings will give the state a competitive edge in the wedding tourism market and boost business in Atlantic City, Cape May and other New Jersey resort wedding destinations.

“This bill provides New Jersey’s small weddings market with a shot in the arm,” Greenwald said in a press statement on his website. “By gaining a competitive edge over our neighboring states, we will create jobs and jump-start the small businesses that make up New Jersey’s wedding and tourism industry.”

The proposed bill will also allow couples to apply for marriage or civil union licenses anywhere in the state, rather than the city in which they live, a move that possibly sets the stage for Atlantic City to become the Las Vegas of the East Coast for spur of the moment weddings. But if a couple marries on the fly after a night of high rolling and then wakes up in a state of not-so-wedded bliss? The bill gives them an easy out: proposed legislation allows for a marriage annulment without cause within 30 days if either a husband or wife requests it, according to NJ.com report.

Our own Bari Weinberger suggested, “From an economic perspective, there seems to be little doubt that it will be beneficial to local businesses. My concern is that if the bill requires a special annulment clause different from the current annulment provisions, it may be flawed from a cultural perspective.”

In the United States, 27 states have no waiting period for issuing marriage or civil union licenses. If passed, New Jersey would join Connecticut and Rhode Island as the only states in the Northeast without a marriage waiting period. Two of New Jersey’s neighboring states, New York and Delaware, both have 24-hour waiting periods.

Sources:
Assembly Democrats News Release – 11/29/2011:
http://www.assemblydems.com/Article.asp?ArticleID=4695

Surviving the Holidays After a Divorce

For most of us, the holiday season conjures warm, fuzzy images of special meals, family gatherings, and children unwrapping presents. But what happens when divorce turns these cherished traditions upside down? If you are divorced or separated, it is all too easy for the holidays to feel lonely, stressful, and downright depressing. But it doesn’t have to! If you are newly single–with or without kids–here are some easy tips for making the post-split holidays fun and enjoyable.

1.  Prepare to Feel Emotional

Family therapists report a sharp increase in appointments with recent divorced individuals and families during the month of December. It’s little surprise why. Holidays are a unique time of the year and thinking back to all those Thanksgiving meals at your in-laws is often a potent reminder of the “good old days” before divorce. Be ready to experience a mix of emotions, from anger and resentment to jealously, depression, and sadness. Make an appointment with a therapist as needed, but in the meantime, be prepared to have an emotional reaction to everything from Christmas songs on the radio to sappy holiday TV specials. As a way to cope with post-divorce holiday depression, one divorce therapist has his clients recite: “I am human; I will probably feel sad; and I am ready!”

2. Create New Traditions

To maintain equilibrium during what can be a very difficult season, think about this first year after your divorce as a chance to celebrate the holidays in new ways, whether it is sharing a meal with friends and neighbors, volunteering, attending special holiday events in your community or place of worship, or seeing members of your own family. If you have children, keeping certain traditions–like opening presents of Christmas Day or lighting the Chanukah candles–is important for feelings of family continuity and security, of course. But establishing new rituals can be a powerful way to honor the family you are right now.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Alone

If you don’t have children, or if your kids will spend the holiday with your spouse, recognize that there are worse ways to spend the holidays than by yourself. If you have the day off from work, fill the day with activities that are sure to lift your spirits. Rent a few comedies, get some exercise by going for a walk or hitting the gym, and do things that make you feel satisfied and happy, whether it’s fixing something around the house, reading, or playing with your dog.

4. Keep the Family Intact

Are you on reasonably good terms with your former spouse? If you have kids, you may want to consider spending parts of the holidays together as a way to acknowledge and honor the family that was, and most likely still remains, a huge part of your children’s memories, say family therapists. Attend your children’s holiday concerts at school together, invite him or her to come over for brunch or a gift exchange or for whatever tradition you shared as an intact family. However, don’t force it. If there is lingering hostility between the two of you, it may be best to skip the get together–and the stress and tension you would likely all feel.

5. Be Flexible

When kids are involved, try to work out holiday child custody arrangements well in advance, but stay open to making sure these plans remain what is best for your children. If this the first holiday season since your divorce, children can, depending on their age, have the same or stronger emotional reaction as grown ups when trying to cope with this new situation. It may be very important to your child to see his or her other parent on the holiday. Even if you can’t stomach the thought of sitting in the same room as your spouse, try to come up with a solution for your child’s sake. Get input from your child as to how he or she would like to spend the holidays, but to avoid disappointment or a scarring experience, do all the negotiating behind the scenes with your spouse. Bottom line, your child does not need to hear tense phone calls discussing what you will–or won’t do–during the holidays.

6. Do Something Different

Who says you need to eat cranberries and stuffing from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve? View this year as a way to redefine your holidays and celebrate on your own terms. Have you always wanted to go to a yoga retreat? Travel to a warm destination in the middle of December? Be a ski bum for the week? If you are newly single, and the thought of being around your married friends and family members just seems like too much, considering setting out on your own. You may be surprised by the number of other singles you meet and how much fun having a non-holiday can be. If you have other single or newly divorced friends, invite them along for an adventurous kick off to your new life.

7. Greet Your New Life

If your annual holiday greeting card was accompanied by a family portrait, photos of the kids, and a letter running down the highlights of your year, there is no reason not to continue with this tradition. Have a friend take a great photo of just you (or you and your kids) having fun and include it in this year’s mailing. This simple gesture can be a wonderful gift to friends and family to let them know that you are surviving–and thriving–in your post-divorce life.

If you find that you need help managing child custody issues or post-divorce matters this holiday season, please call us at (973) 520-8822 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.