Monday, August 22, 2011

Monetary and Non-Monetary Contributions to the Marriage

One thing that makes getting divorced when you are older complicated is that there are more assets to divide.  Henry Silverman, 68, of New York, married Nancy Silverman, 66, in 1978.  In their 30 years of marriage, Henry built Cendant Corporation into a multi-billion dollar company that provides car rentals, travel reservation services, real estate brokerage, and hotel franchises.

Then he got a divorce in 2008 and soon after became engaged to yoga instructor Karen Hader.  In dividing up the marital assets, Henry submitted that he was an innate genius and Nancy had no part in his financial success.  He alone, through his unique personal traits, was responsible for accumulating a $450 million fortune during the marriage.  To support his theory, he submitted affidavits from three psychologists who would testify at trial about his intelligence.

State Supreme Court Judge Laura Drager rejected the evidence, saying that although “the husband brought to his work innate abilities and acumen that helped cause the business to succeed,” the wife also contributed by “managing the couple's domestic and social life and raising their daughter, and the social introductions and other efforts she claims to have made that assisted the husband in business.”

Article submitted by James J. Gross

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Fade Away Divorce

With Social Security and entitlements under debate, baby boomers are hitting their 60’s, and guess what else?  They are getting divorced.

Long term marriages account for nearly a quarter of divorce filings in recent years.  This is attributed to many factors, including the growing financial status of women, and couples drifting apart after the kids are gone.

Many of these “gray divorces” are less hostile than the usual divorce.  The marriage ends with a fade away divorce rather than a divorce by crisis.  The parties just want to separate their finances and move on with their lives. Another interesting statistic is that once divorced, more boomers are staying single.

Source:  KansasCity.Com
Article submitted by James J. Gross

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Using Social Media in Your Job Search

If you are suddenly facing a divorce and you are 50 years old or more, you will have to make many changes in your life.  Among the most important will be finding a job/career if you will have to work.  It is pretty common, for people going through a divorce later in life, to need to work to support themselves and their family.  Many Baby Boomer spouses have been staying at home and taking care of kids for years.  Even if they worked when they were younger, their skills are rusty and their old jobs have been filled or abolished.   In addition, the Boomers may have different interests now, or maybe they never liked their old jobs in the first place.

For any number of reasons, Baby Boomers are now starting over with a career and need to know how to go about it. The Internet is the natural starting point.  Get help if you need it, but use the assets of the Internet to expand your search abilities.   I suggest the following premises as you start out:

  • Be careful.  The Internet can capture and replay your mistakes very easily.  Make sure you think before you speak or write something.  You will be judged by what you say and do on the Internet and by what your pictures show on the Internet.  A lot of party pictures and stories may not convey the image you want.
  • Be targeted.  Think about who you want to hire you and  the best way to reach your potential employer.  Use whatever tools you can find that will bring you into contact with acceptable employers.
  • Be creative.  Think outside the box and find appropriate ways to distinguish yourself from the myriad of other candidates.  Don’t just use the basic information everyone else will.  Try to approach each potential employer uniquely and show that you have taken the time to research their business.

How Can You Use Social Media?

Make sure you research and determine what media your industry relates to and then watch it for a while before you jump in.  Here are a few possibilities, but there are many more and there are new tools and sites created constantly, so keep looking around.

  1. You Tube.  You have to be very careful to be appropriate, but this can be a strong attention getter if it’s well done.  You may need professional help in putting together some short videos, but you can really connect with well-done products.
  2. LinkedIn.  This won’t work for all jobs, but for professional careers and some others, this can be very effective.  There is a huge number of people who are on LinkedIn and you can do research on a company and other employees (including interviewers, sometimes), so you can be prepared to apply.  There are discussion groups for many different subjects on LinkedIn.  If you can join in the discussions and contribute with give and take, you can make some connections who might help you get hired somewhere.  It’s a good site where you can get to know others with similar career interests.
  3. Listserves.  If you can find some listserves touching on your field of interest, this can be a good way to meet others, get to know them and get to be known.  You need to be able to contribute to the discussions.  You should be able to get some very useful information on the career as well as companies in your field.
  4. Twitter.  You can follow local people in the field you are interested in.  If you can contribute to discussions and add something interesting and useful, perhaps some links, you can develop relationships that could lead to work.  You should carefully target your field and your geographic area.  Don’t try to just get the highest number of followers by using some secret trick – it won’t work and it’s not worth anything to you anyway.
  5. Facebook.  This is mainly listed because so many people are on Facebook now.  You can make new connections and you can re-connect with old friends.  Build  relationships, and job opportunities could be the result.  But, you should be very careful what personal information you publish, what information you let others read and what pictures are shown.  There are often very embarrassing disclosures on Facebook that just shouldn’t have been put there.  Be careful and think before you post!
These are just five elements of “social media”.  They provide great opportunities for Baby Boomers and others to creatively search for employment, but don’t limit yourself to just these approaches.  New tools and apps are coming out all the time, so keep looking and trying new methods.  Good luck in the job search! 

Article submitted by Dick Price 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Older Dads

There is an emerging brotherhood of men in their 40s, 50s or 60s, according to the Tucson Citizen, who are raising young children.  Some of them have adult children and grandchildren as well.  They can get the senior discount and the child’s discount at the same place.

Many men in the Baby Boomers generation married young, worked hard and built their careers.  Then they got divorced and may have remarried a younger spouse who wanted children.

“These men are doing it the second time around, often with women half their age,” says Michael Kimmel, a sociologist at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y. He calls the phenomenon “serial paternity.”  For some this is an opportunity to repeat their child-rearing experiences, and in some cases, to get it right the second time.

The men interviewed said it was worth it, even with sleepless nights and cranky kids.  Most have more time, more patience and more financial resources than when they were younger.
Health was a concern.  Most of the fathers said they exercise regularly to keep up with their kids.

Article submitted by James J. Gross

Monday, May 23, 2011

Creative Paths to Solutions for Divorce Later in Life

The traditional approach to divorce is for each party to hire an attorney and then go through some fairly standard issues, including the division of marital assets and debts and dealing with the care of and access to the children (if they are under 18).  For couples who may have been married for quite a while or  who are older, it may be necessary to rely on additional resources.  These long-term couples have special concerns that need more than just cursory and standardized attention.

5 Additional Professionals Who Should Be Considered

  1. Divorce Financial Planner.  Many couples, after a long-term marriage, have accumulated substantial assets and complex business, retirement, and investment property interests. Taking a figurative saw and cutting everything in half is usually not the best solution, for many reasons.  Instead of arbitrarily doing something like that, the parties could retain a joint or individual Divorce Financial Planner to help them determine the best mix of assets for each, considering the tax implications and the relative needs and abilities of the parties.

  2. Personal Coach.  Every divorce is difficult for many different reasons and sometimes parties need an unbiased “coach” who can help them stay on track and make good decisions.  Many business people use coaches and they can be a great resource to bounce ideas off of and to help keep things in perspective.  Coaches don’t provide therapy, they work with you to identify and accomplish your goals.

  3. Career Planner.  In many long-term marriages, one of the spouses has often been a stay-at-home parent, which puts that spouse at a disadvantage in joining the job market later in life.  Sometimes previous work experience doesn’t seem as appealing as it may have been 20 or 30 years before, or there could be health issues that interfere, or the spouse may just not be up-to-date with technology in that field.  It can be pretty overwhelming to suddenly have to find a job, so getting a professional evaluation first and then getting guidance as you follow through the process of finding a job can make all the difference for you.  Be willing to take some tests and then add skills if you need to.

  4. Counseling.  You may want to see a therapist for a while to deal with the emotional issues you run into while going through a divorce.  People usually experience a range of emotions, including denial, anger, depression, and acceptance, among other things.  Counseling for one or both parties can be very helpful.  You don’t have to be crazy to benefit from counseling.

  5. Medical Evaluations.  Unfortunately, as people age, they experience some medical issues that can be permanent or temporary.  Medical needs can make a large impact on the outcome of a divorce case in terms of property division, insurance, debts, spousal support and other issues.  Sometimes it’s hard to face medical issues, but they are real and you and your family will do better in the long run if the facts are out on the table.

What to Do

You don’t necessarily need to hire all the suggested experts listed above, but you should carefully consider your situation with an open mind.  You and your attorney should identify your needs and concerns and then at least interview any experts who might be helpful.  When your next 20 or 30 or more years are at stake, you need to be very thoughtful and willing to be non-traditional.  Get help and don’t just expect the attorneys and judge to figure out the best solutions.

Article submitted by Dick Price

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Better Ways to Divorce

People who have reached their fifth decade have accomplished many things. They are advanced in their careers, have acquired assets and liabilities. A great many have commenced families and have accumulated a great many life experiences. Also, from their friends they have heard great horror stories about how expensive and debilitating acrimonious divorces can be. Among their life experiences, people 50 or older know the value of attempting to go through a complicated process in an effective and less costly fashion. They understand that there may not be an alternative to divorce, but there may be alternatives in the way they become divorced.

There are a range of options to choose from and methods of dispute resolution for divorcing couples that require no attendance in court and that assist them in maintaining control, leave the decision-making in their hands, and hold out the prospect of reduced conflict, expense, and time. Those options include:

  • Negotiation
    Negotiation enables divorcing spouses to retain attorneys to reach agreements for them through correspondence or at roundtable meetings. Each party with their chosen lawyer can prepare an informed settlement proposal that he or she believes is fair and share that proposal with the other party. Thereafter, the parties negotiate those positions and proposals through attorneys' letters or "roundtable" meetings, adjusting them until acceptable solutions are reached.
  • Family Mediation
    Family mediation assists separating and divorcing couples to reach mutual decisions without court intervention with the aid of a neutral, professional, third party who has been trained in mediating divorces. The mediator facilitates communication and guides divorcing parties in the process of identifying issues, exploring available options, and assists them in arriving at an agreement acceptable to both spouses without offering legal advice or advocating positions for either party.
  • Collaborative Divorce
    This process assists separating and divorcing couples to resolve their differences respectfully, together in private and without the threat of court action. Family lawyers and other professionals trained in the collaborative divorce process provide a safe environment in which positions are formulated, goals developed, and agreeable results obtained. This process enables separating and divorcing couples to make informed decisions and work strictly towards settlement at their own pace and without the threat of intervention by a divorce court or a judge.

It is for each couple to decide which is the best option for their separation and divorce. There may not exist an alternative to divorce, but the way you divorce and react to a divorce is your choice. Utilizing an alternative method for dispute resolution for your divorce may be one of the wisest decisions that you make.

Charles D. Jamieson, Esquire practices Marital and Family Law in adversarial and collaborative cases in West Palm Beach, Florida. He is Board Certified in Marital and Family Law by The Florida Bar. Trained and experienced in Collaborative Law, Charles D. Jamieson has been an attorney for over 30 years. To learn more about him and his divorce and family law blog, visit his website:

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Bulletproof Prenup

“The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won't sit upon a cold stove lid, either.” - Mark Twain 

Clients who have been burned in a divorce are frequently reluctant to enter into marriage again without a premarital agreement.  Usually, there are assets to be protected and children’s welfare and inheritances to be considered by both parties when you are over 50.

“I want this prenup to be iron clad and not breakable under any circumstances,” clients tell their attorneys.

First the bad news.  There is no such thing as a bulletproof premarital agreement.  It is a fantasy that clients have based on watching movies and tv.  No one can guarantee your prenup will hold up in court or that some judge somewhere will set it aside.

Now the good news.  There are some things you can do to improve your chances that your prenup will withstand a challenge.  Among the first and most important of these is disclosure.

Disclosure means that each party reveals their financial condition, that is income and wealth, to the other.  The way to evidence this is to attach detailed financial statements to the prenup.  If you fail to make a complete disclosure, your spouse may say he or she never would have agreed to the terms of the prenup if they had known your true financial condition.  And this might be grounds for a court to invalidate the prenup.

Article submitted by James J. Gross

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Divorce As a Medicaid Planning Tool?

Many happily married seniors are facing a previously unthinkable proposition:  terminate their marriage or risk losing a majority of their savings to medical expenses, leaving both of them with little savings to enjoy their twilight years, regardless of how well they planned in advance.  How can this happen?  With medical technology ever improving, allowing us to live longer, most individuals will spend at least a few years in a nursing or retirement facility during our lifetimes.  With the baby boomer generation approaching retirement age, more and more of us will fall into this category.  How will these long-term care expenses be paid?  The choices are private savings, long-term health care insurance, Medicaid or a combination.  This is where the dilemma occurs.
For example, consider a devoted husband and wife living financially comfortable in retirement.  Husband has a series of strokes and reaches the point physically where wife can no longer care for him.  He must move indefinitely into a retirement facility where staff is available to care for him on a full-time basis.  How will his care be paid?  The couple can pay for his care but at $6,000 per month or more the money can be depleted quickly.  The couple may have long-term care insurance; but most people don’t, and unless you purchase it at a fairly young age, it may be cost-prohibitive for older individuals.  The couple doesn’t want to deplete all of their savings leaving wife destitute.  So what then?  This is when Medicaid enters the picture.
Medicaid is the safety net available to pay for medical and long-term care expenses for individuals after they have exhausted their available funds.  What about for husband and wife?  This is where our dilemma becomes clearer.  Medicaid looks at the assets of both a husband and wife if either of them needs to apply for Medicaid.  This is so that the applicant spouse cannot transfer all assets to the community spouse and then plead poverty.  The problem is that the community spouse’s assets are put in jeopardy.  Medicaid’s answer is to allow the community spouse to keep the house, a car and half of all the liquid assets, but there is a cap of about $110,000 ($109,560 for 2010), adjusted yearly for inflation.  Assets can be given away, but this must be done at least 5 years prior to Medicaid application.  For example, our hypothetical couple has a house worth $150,000 and $850,000 in savings.  Medicaid allows wife to keep the house as long as she is living there and $110,000 of the liquid assets.  She also gets to keep her income and possibly keep some of husband’s income.  Will this be enough for her to comfortably maintain her standard of living?  What other options are there?
Long-term care insurance not only provides money to pay for long-term care but provided your state, like Ohio, participates in a long-term care partnership program, may allow wife to shelter an additional amount of the couple’s assets equal to the value of the long-term care policy.  What if long-term care insurance is unavailable or unaffordable?  Divorce is a viable option that needs to at least be considered.  Consider our couple with the $150,000 house and $850,000 in investments.  If they stay married, she can keep the house if she resides there; but if she sells it, she may have to use the proceeds for husband’s care.  She can keep $110,000 of the $850,000 in investments.  How would she fare if they terminate the marriage?  Assuming the assets are divided equitably, she would receive $500,000 in assets, much more than if they had stayed married!
What is the solution?  Obviously long-term care insurance is the best solution, but this is not always an option.  Another is transferring assets out of husband and wife’s names at least 5 years before either of them have to apply for Medicaid.  However, most people don’t want to give up ownership and control of their assets.  A final option is divorce.  However, unpleasant as it may seem, under certain situations, it may be in the best interest of both husband and wife to consider this option in order to ensure that the community spouse is taken care of and can maintain financial stability.
Here is a link to an interesting video of a segment from the TODAY SHOW televised on March 13, 2010, on this very topic.

Article submitted by Robert "Chip" Mues, written by his partner, Joseph E. Balmer. Joseph E. Balmer is a partner with the Dayton, Ohio law firm of Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues. He has concentrated his practice in the areas of elder law and estate planning for over 20 years. He is board-certified as a specialist in estate planning, trust, and probate law by the Ohio State Bar Association.