Author: Thyden Gross and Callahan LLP

Don’t Touch That Thermostat!

by James J. Gross

So goodbye, goodbye
I’m gonna leave you now
And here’s the erason why
I like to sleep with the wiodwopen
And you kee0 the window closed
So goodbye
Goodbye
Gooobye

It turns out that thermostat settings are one of the biggest causes of conflict in marriages.  The wrong setting can cause one spouse to be too cold or too hot, and result in talks of divorce.

It’s not just mental either.  Scientists say that women have a lower body mass to surface area, slower resting metabolism and less muscle mass than men.  Therefore, they may feel more comfortable with warmer temperatures.

Financial considerations might come into play as well.  In the summertime, you can save between one to three percent on your air conditioning bill for each degree you set the thermostat over 72 degrees.

Is Your Spouse a Trump Supporter?

by James J. Gross

terThis morning my wife alerted me to an article in Harpers Bazzar last week called “If You Are Married to a Trump Supporter, Divorce Them” by Jennifer Wright.

“Supporting Trump at this point does not indicate a difference of opinions,” my wife said quoting the author. “It indicates a difference of values.”

“The problem is,” I replied, ”my spouse voted for Trump is not grounds for divorce in DC, Maryland or Virginia.

The Tissue Box

by James J. Gross

A new divorce client was in my office yesterday.  She didn’t cry as she was telling me her story, but she came close.

I was rummaging around the supply room next to the kitchen for some more ground coffee for the machine.   I happened upon a carton of tissue boxes.    I grabbed a box, went back to my office, and tossed them on my desk within easy reach of the client chair.

The tissue box is one of the most important things to have in your office if you are a divorce lawyer.  There are lots of tears in a divorce practice, but the stories are more interesting than say, “How do I get the most oil depletion allowance on my tax returns?”

Today I have already received calls from a client whose spouse said the police are on the way, a next-of-kin who wants to stop a cremation by an estranged spouse, and an opposing counsel who wants to enter into a consent order with respect to parenting time with the children.  It’s not even noon yet.  Better get another tissue box.

Selling Your Engagement Ring

by James J. Gross

We found another way to raise money for your divorce.  Worthy.com is a website that has online auctions where professional jewelry buyers will bid for the diamond in your engagement ring.

Unlike mining diamonds from the earth, which can harm indigenous peoples and the environment, Worthy.com mines the largest cache of diamonds on earth – us.  After all, there is no physical difference between a new diamond and a used diamond.

Worthy.com will grade your diamond, take pictures and post it for auction.

Crowdfunding Divorce

by James J. Gross

Can’t afford a divorce lawyer?   Need new furniture for your divorce apartment?  Plumfund.com is a website where you can ask people to contribute money for your divorce.

The site describes itself as “Free online crowdfunding for the people we love.”  It has different categories, from baby to funeral, to create a registry for your life events.

You can register your wedding and honemoon under the Honeyfund category.  I found the divorce requests under “divorce” by using the site search function.

Slow Rolling Divorces Over Health Care Debate

by James J. Gross

Are you putting off your divorce because you don’t know which way Congress is going to go on health care?  Some couples are according to divorce attorneys and financial planners.

Some spouses are entering into post-nuptial agreements while continuing to live together.  Others are delaying filing their papers with the court until there is clarity from Washington, D.C.

The Affordable Care Act prohibited insurers from charging more for people with pre-existing conditions.  Some of the various bills under consideration by Congress would end those restrictions.  Divorcing spouses who were in therapy or taking medication for depression might not be able to obtain health insurance.

 

 

Click Reply If You Want to Stay Married.

by James J. Gross

“Hubby, you know where I am, why don’t you visit me?” wrote Ms. Lin to her husband online.  She had moved out of his home because his family was unfriendly to her.

“I got into a car accident, I’m in the ICU!”

“Hubby, I’m in the hospital ward.”

“Hubby, why do you keep reading my messages but not replying?”

“Hubby, is it necessary for things to become so cold between husband and wife?”

“Hubby, are you just going to be so ruthless and not ask me anything?”

“Hubby, why do you treat me like this?”

There was no reply.  When Ms. Line recovered, she filed for divorce, and presented the messages to the judge.  The judge said that failing to respond to the messages showed the state of the marriage and the foundations of the union had fallen apart.  He agreed with Ms. Lin that it was heartless of her husband to read her messages without replying, and granted her a divorce.

The Motorcycle

by James J. Gross

When we were boys, my pal, Jerry, and I built a motorcycle one night. Somehow Jerry had gotten his hands on a motorcycle.  But it was in pieces scattered on the floor of his room. There were no instructions. Only a frame, a motor, gears, cables and hundreds of nuts and bolts. We had screwdrivers and wrenches. And we were young and insane with the possibilities of where that motorcycle could take us if we got it working.

We worked all night on that machine. We built it wrong, tore it down, bolt by bolt, and started over many times that night. We probably built a dozen motorcycles before we got it right.

By morning, we had a motorcycle. It didn’t look like much, but to us it was worth its weight in gold. We took it out for a test drive. That’s when we discovered a major design flaw. At the first stop sign, you had to disengage the clutch with one foot, and press the brake with the other foot at the same time, so there was no foot to put on the ground and hold the contraption upright.

That motorcycle taught me a lot about problem solving.  You have to keep working on it, all night long, if necessary.  This requires patience and persistence, focus and concentration.  You may have to tear down the solution and rebuild it several times to get it right.  Even then you may have to go back to the drawing board in the morning.  I’ve lost many night’s sleep solving chemical engineering problems, briefing cases in law school, and studying tax law. And now I’m solving problems in marriages, divorces and separations.  It’s as complicated as building a motorcycle.

Divorce Voids Revocable Trust Gift to Spouse in Maryland

by Michael F. Callahan

You should take action after a divorce to remove bequests to an ex-spouse in your will and other documents.  If you fail to do so, however, there are laws that provide that the judgment of divorce eliminates prior bequests or certain beneficiary designations to a former spouse. See Va. Code Sec. 20-111, 20-111.1, 64.2-412; Md. Code, Estates and Trusts Article, Sec. 4-105(4); DC Code Sec. 18-109 and Estate of Roscoe H. Liles, 435 A.2d 379; 1981 D.C. App. LEXIS 355.

But what if your estate planning was done through a revocable trust and not a Will?  In Maryland as of October 1, 2016, a judgment of divorce voids any term in a revocable trust that would distribute assets to the former spouse or appoint the former spouse trustee or trust advisor.  Md. Code, Estates and Trusts Article, Sec. 14.5-604.  Virginia and the District of Columbia do not have a similar law.

The effect of all these statutes on the treatment of a now former spouse in an estate plan is uncertain and incomplete and may be frustrated by federal law spousal protections. The savings statutes are no substitute for careful review of estate planning documents and beneficiary designations, and corrective action to ensure that you do not unintentionally include a gift to your former spouse.