A recent Florida Supreme Court case has been published that reviewed a case regarding Hooker v Hooker.  The issue of Donative Intent became an issue of the parties.  The Supreme Court of Florida did not decide the fate of the issue of donative intent of the spouses but rather the appellate standard of review of the trial courts decision on donative intent.

The Florida Supreme Court said in its opinion that the trial court was correct in using “competent and substantial evidence.” “So instead of just determining whether or not there was competent evidence to support the trial court’s decision, the 4th (District) erred by actually reweighing the evidence and substituting their own judgment,”

In California if an order is appealed, the appellate court must use a standard of review of determining if there is substantial evidence that will support the family law courts orders. The appellate court cannot retry the case they are only to make inferences to make sure the trial court did not error on the use of the law.

In Vakharwala v Vakharwala, a Supreme Court of Georgia case came up upon appeal. The issues that the husband appealed were orders of attorney fees, child custody modification and spousal support.  In addition, there was a prenuptial agreement the parties entered into prior to marriage. Mr. Vakharwala disputed the amount of attorney fees that were to be awarded to the wife.  He disputed the reason they were awarded and if they were the proper amount. In the prenuptial agreement the parties entered into prior to the marriage it stated that the parties waived any financial aid from the other party for spousal support. Therefore, Mr. Vakharwala appealed the attorney fee award to his wife during the divorce proceedings.  The appellate Court ruled in his favor as a result.  However, interestingly their ruling was based on the prenuptial agreement which waived spousal support.  A Georgia statute made it clear that attorney fees were often used as spousal support and were “intrinsic” to it function.  Normally, according to Georgia Code sections attorney fees are part of Spousal support.  Therefore any award to to a party of attorney fees was in fact spousal support.  So Mr. Vakharwala prevailed on appeal based on this Georgia statute. The wife should not have received the $60,000 in attorney fees because she had already received a temporary order for spousal support.

In California family Court besides awarding attorney fees as a sanction the attorney fees can be awarded as a way to help a divorce litigant hire an attorney when the other party is also represented by counsel during the divorce. This is a common practice in divorce proceedings to create a level playing field for all divorce parties.

The Court also did at the same time award wife sanctions for the husbands conduct that abused the discovery process and delayed the divorce proceedings.  Thus the wife prevailed in getting attorney fees through the other Georgia statute enabling a party to be awarded monetarily for the abuse of the court system by the other party.  Any prenuptial agreement that stated that there was a a waive of attorney fees under a normal setting would be ignored in this scenario.

Wynn v Craven is a Georgia Supreme Court case involving the collection of Child Support arrearages.  The mother Helen Wynn sought $72,000 in unpaid child support against Robert Craven, the father.  The father Mr. Craven was ordered to pay 20% of his income or a minimum of $100 per week.  By 2014 the mother was owed $72,000 in arrears after a total of 15 years of unpaid child support.  She had had on several occasssions written Mr. Craven the father and demanded payment of unpaid child support.  He often did make payments throughout the years however, he never paid enough to forgive his total amount of arrearages owed.  Mother filed a contempt lawsuit in 2014 claiming there was past due arrearages for child support.  The Father Mr. Craven in turn responded with the affirmative defense of laches.  The trial court held that because mother accepted an amount of $100 per month for a period of years she therefore acquiesced her chances to file a contempt action against the father giving up her right to the full amount of child support arrearages owed.

She then filed an appeal claiming that the trial Court erred in deciding the way they did. She argued that to allow the defense of laches basically lets the father get away without paying child support.  The appellate Court agreed.  The father alleges that there was a base of $100 of that needed to be paid and he did pay it.  However, the appellate Court ruled that the child support order also stated he was to pay 20% percent of his income which he did not pay.  Father also argued that there was a delay of 15 years before she filed her claim for arrearages.

Laches can be asserted only when it would be inequitable for a party to enforce their legal rights.  The appellate Court ruled that child support cannot be waived by inaction.  That Mom was asserted the rights of her child not her legal rights.

Jesse Jackson Jr.  has been going through a bitter divorce with his ex wife, Ald Sandi Jackson. They were married for 25 years and continue their courtroom drama.  He was a former U.S. House of Represenative.  His ex is trying through legal means and her lawyer to find out very personal information from Jesse Jackson, Jr. such as all his girlfriends he had during their 25 year marriage.  The lawyer is using the process of Discovery to further investigate these lurid details.  The divorce proceedings are currently being heard in Washington D.C. Jesse Jackson, Jr. through his lawyers has objected to the questions stating that they are irrelevant.  Sandi Jackson is tyring to get spousal support and attorney fees.

The change of Venue has been a hotly contested issue of the Divorce proceedings.  Jesse Jackson Jr. filed for Divorce initially in Cook County Illinois first.  Later Sandi Jackson filed for divorce in Washington D.C. where she lives.  There usually is a first in time rule dealing with which state or county will hear the divorce proceedings.  However, often the Judges of each Court will contact each other and decide based on all the evidence, witnesses and other issues which jurisdiction is better suited to maintain jurisdiction of the Divorce case.  Apparently, the issue of venue was a big problem for Jesse Jacksion Jr. as his children who are 13 and 17 were he alleged being harmed unnecessarily by his Sandi Jackson’s harmful public comments.  Rather than fight the venue of the case he conceded that Washinton D.C. would be the appropriate forum to litigate their divorce.

Jesse Jackson Jr. had to resign from the U.S. House of Representatives because he had missappropriated $750,000 from his campaign treasury.  He ended up going to prison for this crime.  In addition, Sandi Jackson as well went to prison for her involvement in the crime.  Interestingly, both parents had to do their prison time separately and at different times because they needed to take care of their minor children.

Alex Jones a right wing talk show host in Austin Texas is currently embroiled in a child custody battle.  Apparently he is quite outspoken and his on show persona is now in question.  The child custody battle with his wife Kelly Jones is using his outlandish character on air he demonstrates and bringing it to Court.   She is using his work persona and claiming that it reflects his parenting skills.  This accusation is quite effective in modern Child Custody battles where public figures or public comments or social media statements are used against a parent in a Child Custody battle.

Interestingly Kelly Jones the mother is not the primary custodian of the her three children. Alex Jones has been the primary custodian of the three minor children.  Recently the mother Kelly Jones has launched a change in custody bid against Alex Jones the sensational talk show host.  The Rollingstone Magazine has labeled him “the most paranoid man in America.”  In addition, he has questioned the landing on the Moon.   He has falsely accused high ranking members of the Democratic party of being involved in a Satanic Child Porn ring.  He did later apologize for the false accusations.  His outlandish behavior will and should be brought to the attention of the Child custody Judge.

Apparently the Judge has taken notice of his erratic and absurd behavior and has let Kelly Jones offer and bring evidence of Alex Jones use of marijuana with Joe Rogan on a podcast. Often Child Custody judges will defer to the children and have a child custody investigation begun to further investigate if the behavior of Alex Jones has influenced his parenting skills.

Often parties to a marriage buy a home and eventually when the divorce comes are trying to split the marital equities and debts.  One of the hardest assets to divide is the marital residence.  Why is it hard to divide? Often there is a dispute as to how to get the highest value for the marital residence after the parties have separated.  herein lies the case of Easley v Easley a Case out of Alaska Supreme Court.  It involves the divorce of the husband and wife who owned a marital home in Alaska.  The parties were divorce in 2008 and had divided all marital assets including the sale of the marital home.  Or so it seemed. As the husband Easley claimed although the sale of the marital home was ordered by the Trial Court the Husband did not sell the home and divide the proceeds.

Why you might ask did he not sell the home back in 2008 when the judge ordered him to do so? The husband sat on his hands for 7 years claiming he was denied his due process rights in the order to sell the family home.  The husband Kevin claimed the legal defense of mutual mistake as to why he did not sell the marital home.  The home had declined in value and of course he did not want to sell the valuable asset at the time it was ordered.  He also claimed that he was denied his due process rights.

Now the argument for Due process violations has as far as I have ever seen in Family Law Cases showed up on appeal claiming that Mr. Easley was denied his notice and opportunity to sell the family home. Mr. Easley claimed there was actual prejudice, However, the Alaska supreme denied the actual prejudice.

The Alaska Supreme Court held that Mr. Easley had numerous opportunities to be heard in Court on the sale of the marital home.  Since the Court ordered sale in 2008 Mr. Easley was in Court in 2009 arguing that the sale could not go through due to mistake of fact. In 2014 he was back in Court arguing that there was no date to sell the home.  In addition, in 2015 he was in Court twice regarding if there was unnecessary delay in the sale of the marital home.  The court at that time found there was a delay and ordered the sale of the home. The further came to the conclusion that there was not due process violation because each time Kevin went to Court he knew that his ex wife wanted her share of the proceeds of the marital home. Therefore the due process argument failed.

The last argument Mr. Easley threw before the Alaska Supreme Court was the allegation of inequitable distribution of marital proceeds of the sale of the house.  Again the Court held that there was no inequity as far as his spousal support payments to his ex wife.  He attempted to claim that the spousal support payments should be credited against the sale of the house.  However, the Court found that the spousal support payments were a separate order for the division of the sale of the house proceeds.

It finally has happened.   I guess some would say the inevitable.  But Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner have finally called it quits after what appeared to be an on again off again relationship.  Jennifer Garner filed a Petition for Divorce.  She did not put an attorney on the Petition for Divorce which is unusual for a high profile couple.  Jennifer Garner and Ben affleck filed a Joint Petition for Divorce and both are seeking joint physical and legal custody of the three minor children. The couple separated June 30, 2015 almost two years ago.  It appeared from the public’s eye that the couple was trying to work things out for the children’s sake.

There is a big issue yet to be determined and that is spousal support.  Apparently Ben Affleck made much more money during the marriage than Jennifer Garner.  Therefore he will be obligated to pay Jennifer Garner either a lumps sum spousal support payment or monthly payments for a period of time yet to be determined.  In California a marriage over 10 years will garner life time spousal support payable by one spouse to the other.  In the case of Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck there marriage was over 10 years so Jennifer Garner might be in for a substantial financial reward depending how she negotiates the divorce.

It also has been stated that she and Ben filed as their own lawyers which often takes away alot of animosity and litigation that having lawyers might cause. However, in the case of Ben and Jennifer they have approached the Divorce amicably and by filing as their own lawyers they are keeping up this amicable and calm approach to their divorce.  In addition, what is important to them has always been their children.  By both requesting joint legal and joint physical custody they both are invested in the best interest of their children.

The appellate court vacated a family law courts decision awarding an adoption to the Tammy and Edward Dalsing who had cared for Braelynn Pucket who is three years old since she was weeks old.  They were granted an adoption and became adoptive parents until the biological father Andrew Jack Meyers went to court and filed and appeal. The appellate court stated,  “We vacate the family court’s finding that father’s consent was not required for the adoption and the family court’s order granting foster parents adoption of child,” reads the appellate court opinion. “We find the record does not contain clear and convincing evidence showing father willfully failed to visit child.”

“[Myers] was never in court – he was never allowed to come,” his lawyer, Melinda Butler, told Fox News in February. “He was incarcerated in another state and was never transported.”

At the time Braelynn was placed in the care of the Dalsings, Myers was incarcerated in Virginia on two contempt of court charges, two fraud, bank notes or coins charges and one probation violation.

In the modern day and age of the internet and facebook, instagram, twitter and all other sorts of social media outlets people have fallen into the trap of airing their dirty laundry during their divorce to the public to view and offer ill fated advice.  Do not trust the 3rd party input from social media.  Do not rely on a layman opinion regarding your divorce or family law matter that may negatively impact you during the divorce proceedings.  If you have spent the time and resources to hire a family law attorney and then head to facebook or other social media to share your intimate experiences about your divorce or all other issues regarding your dissolution of marriage then you are asking for a lot of trouble.

Studies have shown that leaking personal information to the public seeking affirmation of your personal business during a divorce can lead you down a very troubling and damaging road that cannot be undone.  Airing dirty laundry should be done to a friend on the phone but not to the public where the divorcing parties have access to your personal business that might not be so flattering to you during the divorce proceedings.  Do not undermine your lawyers efforts to effectively fight for your rights to spousal support, child support, child custody and property division as well as any custody issues you are vigorously fighting for by posting pictures of you out partying or drinking alcohol.  And do not post provoking pictures of your new boyfriend or girlfriend when you are trying to fight for your credibility in Family Law Court.

Julia Rodgers, founder of Holistic Divorce,  states “Couples should keep divorce-related issues away from the public. Doing this gives them the power to control the narrative and solidifies their case. In this age where comparison and blame-shifting is rife, couples are tempted to tell the world who’s at fault. However, doing this helps nobody.” This statement is very true.  Using social media to play the blame game and cast blame at the other spouse during the divorce only will in the end hurt you from achieving what you want to succeed from doing. That is to walk away from the divorce without losing all your assets and keep your personal life in tact.

Often the grounds for divorce in the United States and in California is irreconcilable differences.  Family law courts do not require that there is a fault to get divorced. However, under a new law in Mississippi would permit a spouse to allege domestic violence as a ground for divorce in that state.  The bill has been opposed by other house members who do not want to permit a  new domestic violence ground for a divorce in that state.  The bill which was sponsored by senator Sally Doty of the Mississippi Senate would like the statute to permit spouses to only have to prove that emotional and financial abuse occurred.  In addition the Statute would include that “habitual cruel and inhumane treatment” be grounds for divorce as well.  This would be a monumental law permitting spouses to only show some sort of abuse other than physical abuse.  Normally to prove Domestic Violence the party would have to show some sort of reasonable threat if imminent violence or some sort of stalking.  To permit the element of emotional abuse would definitely make proving domestic violence much simpler. That is the concern of  representative Andy Gipson of Mississippi State Legislature who feels another law adding emotional and financial abuse would be duplicative and add nothing to the current law in place. He adds that we do not need to add to an existing divorce law that already includes domestic violence elements in the statute.  His argument states that their is a history in the Mississippi Court system that have held for a victim of domestic violence who can prove there was habitual and cruel inhumane treatment over a period of time. This opposition by Gipson seems to be the issue between he and Senator Doty.  She further states that the new Domestic violence codification under the Mississippi divorce law would allow one witness and one incident to be permitted to prove the grounds for domestic violence under the divorce law. This new element permitting only one instance of abuse to occur as all that is needed to establish domestic violence in a divorce in Mississippi can be crucial in assisting a victim in getting a divorce.  The purpose stated Wendy Mahoney the executive director of the Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence was to make the ability of getting a divorce a little easier for those parties who are victims of domestic violence.  And to show only that one occurrence is all that is be needed to prove domestic violence to get a divorce would be a significant change for the better Wendy Mahoney believes.  Representative Gipson strongly believes that the new addition to the current divorce laws would destroy the stability of marriage and make it easier for people to get divorced.  However, Senator Doty’s fight was fulfilled as the Mississippi State Legislature had passed the bill allowing domestic violence as a ground for divorce.  In addition, one key element that was added included the provision for one key witness as all that is needed to prove domestic violence.  This means that the victim themselves was all that was needed as evidence in Court to establish their case.