Divorce is a confusing process, but with a little help it doesn't have to be. What does it take to get divorces in Pennsylvania? The five parts of divorce are (1) Divorce, (2) Support and Alimony Pendente Lite, (3) Equitable Distribution, (4) Alimony, and (5) Custody.
Last week, a Swiss court ordered a Russian billionaire to pay more than $4.5 billion to his ex-wife in what constitutes the divorce in world history. The 47 year old Dmitry Rybolovev made his fortune from potash mining and is known as the "fertilizer king." He is also the owner of the French soccer club AS Monaco.
So the stock market is breaking new highs. One would think that the result should be happier home life as family portfolios start to bulge faster than Chris Christie's waist line, but the fact of the matter is that recent U. S. Census Bureau data shows that the divorce rate in the United States is skyrocketing. This revelation means one thing, instead of allowing money to assuage all wounds, couples are taking the opportunity to cash out when the going is good. And, because there's money in the coffers, there is money for the spouse who is leaving the marital residence to purchase a new house.
In a number of my recent divorce cases, I encountered situations wherein one party decides to remove or destroy marital assets prior to anyone filing for divorce. Obviously, when my clients found out, it caused significant conflict and added even more stress to the divorce process. The first question from my clients was, "what can we do to stop my spouse from doing this?"
In the last blog entry, I commented on some of the interplay between the Social Security system and divorce. Most notably, I discussed spousal and survivor benefits and what happens when a person divorces before or after the age of 60. However, there are a number of other novel situations that can arise depending on the circumstances of a divorce. For instance, if you are now single, but were married twice previously (each time for at least 10 years), the law permits you to choose which former spouse's benefits to claim if you do not elect to take your own.
As an equitable distribution in many of the divorce cases my firm handles one of the assets that needs to be addressed in equitable distribution is the parties' Social Security benefits. In any marriage that has lasted 10 years or longer and at least one party was contributing to Social Security, both parties are entitled to benefits. If only one spouse was paying into Social Security, the non-paying spouse will be entitled to spousal benefits. If a party claims spousal benefits at retirement, he or she is typically entitled to 50 percent of the full benefits of the wage earner. If for some reason the benefits are claimed early, this amount will be reduced.
Every morning I stop at the local coffee shop to get my shot of caffeine to start the day. Over the years, coffee shops have become more than a place you run in and grab a java, and then take off. In essence, they have become the new "water cooler" where the guys sit around and talk about inane issues, from sports to politics, to cars, just to pass the time before going to do what they do to make a living. (For whatever reason, it's all guys that hang out-I don't know why-but then again, I do know-no respectful women would be found dead around us.) Actually, the place I go is a little more interesting than that-mostly because of the different personalities that sit around and shoot the "you know what". They all know what I do for a living-so I get all of the "lawyer questions"-especially those relating to divorces. Some questions are more colorful than others, some just more crassly put because of the subject matter. Well come on, we are talking about "divorce" around men. (I'll spare you from hearing this diatribe next time I talk about the Coffee Shop (CS), but this is my introduction of the CS to the blogosphere so it's necessary).
At some point during Divorce proceedings, the parties and their Counsels must deal with the division of the marital estate or equitable distribution. Pennsylvania lawyers know that the marital estate is generally defined as that property that the parties obtain during the marriage and before separation. There are certain exclusions such as inheritances or gifts, but generally it is the property obtained plus any increase in value of property brought into the marriage.
A colleague of mine, who is a Pennsylvania as well as a Pittsburgh Divorce lawyer, recently had a situation in one of his equitable distribution cases that was very unique and unusual. It seems that the Husband left the residence in October of 2009, giving exclusive possession of the residence to his Wife. Of course, who ends up with the house during the separation of the married couple can sometimes be very contentious, but in this situation, the Husband was quite accommodating and thought nothing of allowing the Mother of his children to keep possession of the residence. The Wife was happy too.