The AICPA/AAML National Conference on Divorce is an annual event that offers unparalleled opportunities to gain comprehensive insights on the financial aspects of divorce in the company of some of the Country’s top Divorce Attorneys and Chartered Public Accountants. As well as offering the advantages of a forum to network and learn from peers, expert speakers have previously presented on topics as diverse as Intellectual Property, healthcare and issues specifically encountered by women and LGBT couples. Jon Fields will be attending this year’s conference in New Orleans, May 2016. Fields and Dennis LLP looks forward to the insights this event will doubtless bring, as we anticipate returning to our practice with new perspectives and deeper professional insights on some of the most pressing and complex issues that our clients face.
To Litigate, or Not to Litigate, That is the Question
If you are going through a divorce, there are many things to consider. It is a difficult time, emotions are high, and you are confronted with a number of decisions that you may not be in the best state of mind to make. Now, no two divorces will be identical, so while having a support system who has “been there” can certainly be helpful, their situation may be extremely different then yours.
There are a variety of factors that can contribute to a divorce, and depending on how the decision was come upon, you and your ex may be on civil terms, but other times, if the relationship ended badly, communication and compromise may be impossible concepts to wrap your mind around. Because each divorce is different, each course of action is also different. While some couples have relatively simple cases without much contention between spouses, other couples may have more complex divorces that require careful and strategic planning. Read more.
The Vineyard, Valuation, and Present Divisions
After a trial, a Probate and Family Law Court entered a divorce judgment (1) valuing the husband’s 25% interest in a Martha’s Vineyard property at 25% of the market value of the property and (2) awarding a present interest in that property to the wife. The Appeals Court reversed.
On the issue of valuation, the appellate court noted that, while there was evidence of the market value of the entire Martha’s Vineyard property, there was no evidence as to the husband’s 25% interest – simply valuing it at 25% of market value was without basis.
Further, since the Court acknowledged that the husband’s interest was unlikely to be sold and unlikely to generate income for him, ordering the husband to make a present payment to his wife for $360,000 is “plainly wrong and excessive.” While the law strongly favors present payments to “if, as, and when” payments, the law also recognizes that where a present division would cause an undue hardship to a party, it is inappropriate. Elliott v. Elliott, 2011 Mass.App.Unpub. LEXIS 992 (September 6, 2011)
Wife’s Misconduct Results in a Disproportionate Asset Split or Conduct Counts if it’s Really, Really Bad
Conventional wisdom has it that bad conduct doesn’t really matter in an equitable division case except to the extent that it has a financial impact. Tell that to Donna Wolcott.
One night in 2006, while Mr. Wolcott was ill and in a “weakened state,” Mrs. Wolcott plied her usually-abstinent husband with alcohol, causing him to fall off a boat. Mr. Wolcott had to swim a mile to shore and walk for several hours before he got help. The fall caused him severe injuries – a broken nose, upper jaw and wrist, four broken teeth, and a “blown-out knee.” Then, when he returned home, Mrs. Wolcott forced her injured husband to sleep on the couch because his “breathing” bothered her. Shortly afterwards, while he was still recovering, Mrs. Wolcott asked him to move out of the house.
Mrs. Wolcott’s next action suggests that, even though her husband was now out of the house, she was still bothered by his breathing. In fact, she proceeded to solicit his murder, telling a cousin she wanted Mr. Wolcott to “disappear” and asking him if he knew anyone in the Mafia. Luckily for Mr. Wolcott, the cousin demurred. The husband was spared the bullet.
Mrs. Wolcott’s lesser offenses – an adulterous “sexual affair,” a “foolhardy landscaping plan,” and $24,000 worth of unnecessary plastic surgery.
Not surprisingly, the judge wasn’t enamored with the sociopathic Mrs. Wolcott and awarded her only 10% of the marital estate. She appealed and the Appeals Court affirmed the decision. Wolcott v. Wolcott, 2011 Mass.App LEXIS 16 (January 6, 2011).