Author: Thyden Gross and Callahan LLP

Connections

by James J. Gross

“You’ve got the facts in each paragraph but nothing is tying them together,” said my boss.  “You are missing the connections.”

My first lesson in legal writing came fast after law school.  The assignment was to write a report for the Federal Communications Commission.  I learned the value of connecting words and phrases that make your writing flow and carry the readers along so they are nodding their heads in agreement by the end.

It was about that time that I read The Magus by John Fowles, in which the protagonist discovers that he has been looking at life as a series of events, like mountaintops.  But his girlfriend sees the relationships between the events.  She sees not only the mountaintops, but the valleys that connect them.

Facts are powerful mountaintops.  We all like to think we weigh the facts and make rational decisions.  But relationships between the facts may be even more powerful.  Our decisions may be based on subconscious connections that we are unaware of.

One of the things I like about our law firm is that we have people who see the mountaintops and people who see the valleys between.  That is some of our lawyers see the facts clearly and others see the relationships.

We joke about it and say we have a Partner in Charge of Feelings.  But when you are dealing with emotionally charged issues like divorce, children, betrayal, and money, feelings can be the driving force.   So by all means, get the facts.  But don’t forget the connections.

 

 

Snoring Can Get You a Divorce in England

by James J. Gross

To get a divorce, you have to have one of the reasons spelled out in the law.  These are call grounds for divorce.  One of the grounds for divorce in Maryland, for example, is cruelty and excessively vicious conduct.  California has irreconcilable differences.  And England calls it behaviour.

The Daily Express reports that in the past, unreasonable behavior usually meant money problems or drinking too much.  But the definition has expanded in modern times.  Here are the top unreasonable behaviours in England today:

  1. Partner’s illness
  2. Snoring
  3. Going to the gym too much
  4. Being ungrateful for all the work their partner does
  5. Being hopeless with money
  6. Disagreement over respective politics
  7. Food fanaticisms
  8. Fishing
  9. Sex – either not enough, being offered too much, or loss of interest
  10. Suspicion other party messing around
  11. One partner wants to travel, the other doesn’t
  12. The party puts their mother before their spouse
  13. Spending too much time online or on the phone
  14. Not helping with children
  15. Refusing to to give up smoking

 

Get the Facts First

by James J. Gross

Most mornings before the courthouse opened, all the lawyers and judges could be found at the Silver Spoon Diner.  Although they would soon be battling it out, there was a convivial atmosphere in the diner, among the clink of dishes and the babble of discourse.

Judge Cullen sat across the booth from attorney Clark.  Clark took some papers out of his briefcase.  “What would you do in this case?” Clark asked the judge.  “I’ve got paystubs that say the husband pays $300 a month for health insurance and a year end statement that says he paid $5,000.  Which one should I use for the child support guidelines?  Should I just use the one most favorable to my client?  Or prepare two guidelines and let the court decide?”

Judge Cullen blew on his coffee to cool it, then opined “Get the facts first.”

“What do you mean?” asked Clark, taking a bite out of his blueberry muffin.

“Does the husband have an attorney?” Judge Cullen inquired.

“Yes,” answered Clark.

“Then call the attorney and ask why there is a discrepancy in the health insurance premiums on the pay statements.”

Clark reached for his cell phone inside his suit jacket which was on a hook attached to the booth.  He dialed the number and had a brief convesation over the din of the diner.

“Well?” said the judge.

“He says the husband took her off his health insurance after the first few months of the year so the premiums went down.”

“Mystery solved,” said the judge, handing the bill for his coffee to Clark.

 

 

 

Just Like Me

by James J. Gross

When I was ready to hire the first employee for my law firm, if you had asked me what I was looking for in an employee, I would have told you “Why, someone just like me.”

What a mistake that would have been.  Can you imagine two headstrong, stubborn attorneys, full iof themselves, arguing and debating all day long?

When I was  younger, and before my enlightenment, I knew I was always right.   People who didn’t think the way I thought were simply wrong.  Now I see the value in having partners who each view things a little differently than me.  For example, in a divorce, I might decide no child custody evaluation is needed.  One of my partners, a litigator, might say we need the evaluation in order to get the child’s preference into evidence at trial.

People make a similar mistake when looking for a spouse.  They look for someone like themselves.  First, no one will be exactly like you.  There will always be different agendas and your thinking will not always sync.  You can try to control the situation and persuade your spouse that your view is the correct one.  I guarantee that will not be a successful relationship strategy.

The enlightened approach is ‘viva la difference”.  Enjoy and embrace the fact that your spouse thinks differently than you.  That is what makes life interesting, richer and joyful.

 

 

 

Why Make a Will This Year?

by Michael F. Callahan

Will 2018 be the year you make a Will and complete your estate and disability planning?

If you kick it down the road another year it won’t matter … unless 2018 is the year you die or become incapacitated or disabled.  In that case, those you care about will wish you had planned better, especially if they are financially dependent on you.

If you don’t make a Will before you die you leave an “intestate” estate.  The state has rules governing who gets your property, who has priority for appointment as your personal representative and how any of your property received by minors will be managed.  If you are confident that you and your loved ones will be perfectly satisfied with the state’s choices about all this, you don’t need a Will.

If your beneficiary designations on life insurance, retirement accounts and other financial accounts are based on the state of your family and finances five, ten or more years ago, payment from your financial assets may be delayed or directed to the wrong people.

If you have an inadequate financial power of attorney, or none at all, a court proceeding called guardianship of property may be necessary to manage your property at a cost of thousands of dollars and many wasted hours.

If you have an inadequate advance medical directive and health care power of attorney, or none at all, health care decisions may be adversely impacted.

If you decide you are going to take care of these matters this year, contact Thyden Gross and Callahan, LLP.   We can help.

Arguing the Case

by James J. Gross

I used to argue like my son.  He knows he is right and you are wrong.  He won’t give up until he wins.

I hope he gets over it.  It took me plenty long enough.

I’ve told him about this poem from my childhood:

Convince a man against his will,

He’s of the same opinion still.

People think if they repeat something enough times or talk long enough, you will finally smack your palm against your forehead and say, “Oh, now I understand!”

What you miss when you do this are other ideas and ways of looking at things.  When you can hold your own point of view and respect and listen to another point of view, life is much richer and abundant.

Candy Crush Divorce

by James J. Gross

We have yet to hear of a divorce over Candy Crush, a popular video game in the U.S.  But a husband in Turkey has filed for divorce from his wife of 23 years claiming she is addicted to a game called rummikub, also known as Okey, via Facebook.

The husband, who demands 50,000 Turkish liras in compensation, says in his complaint, ““She talks with other players while playing the game on Facebook. She showed unfaithfulness. I was insulted.”

The wife denies his claims and states, “Playing rummikub is not an act of unfaithfulness.” She says she was humiliated by her husband and counter demands 100,000 Turkish liras for damages.