The rules of Jenga are simple. First, you stack the 54 wooden blocks to create a tower; then, you slowly begin removing blocks from the tower and move them to the top of the tower. The player who removes a block from the tower, causing it to topple over, loses the game. Practicing family law is akin to playing a game of Jenga. In Jenga, the tower structure continually evolves throughout the game. Sure, there may be a gap in the tower here and there as blocks are removed, but the game’s primary goal is despite the gaps, the players work to keep the tower intact. Quite often in family law the established nuclear familial unit is changing. Gaps become evident with a separation or divorce as one household evolves into two. Despite these changes, family law attorneys strive to counsel clients to embrace the gaps and work to create a new normal in the children’s best interests without ultimately toppling over. Yet, just as in Jenga, sometimes toppling over is inevitable. Luckily, many resources are available for clients who find themselves in need of rebuilding their tower. Continue reading →
With many North Carolina families forced to spend more time together as a result of lockdowns or unemployment from COVID-19, some couples are finding they no longer want to be married. Spouses are experiencing fear of being exposed to COVID, fighting over finances, and many other minor issues. If you find yourself in this situation, one of the first steps in the divorce process is to legally separate from your spouse. If you are not sure of how to become legally separated, seek the advice of a family law attorney. Continue reading →
Cook v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo. 201948, 2019 WL 2011087 (2019)
(a) Facts: An unmarried couple had a child. A New York court awarded custody to the mother. The order was silent on the tax exemption for the child. The parties orally agreed that the father could claim the exemption.
The father took the exemption. The IRS disallowed the exemption and assessed a deficiency. The husband appealed to the Tax Court. Continue reading →
In re Kiley, 595 B.R. 595 (Bankr. D. Utah 2018)
(a) Facts: Husband and wife were divorced in Utah. The divorce decree awarded the wife a lump-sum payment from the husband’s retirement plan and ordered that she be named as the plan’s survivor beneficiary.
Hoak v. Plan Adm’r of Plans of NCR Corp., 389 F. Supp. 3d 1234 (N.D. Ga. 2019)
(a) Facts: Two wives were divorced from their husbands. Both husbands were members of a senior executive retirement plan. The plan provided that survivor benefits would be paid to the “eligible spouse” of each plan participant. “Eligible spouse” was defined as “the spouse to whom the Participant is married on the date the Participant’s benefit payments under the Plan commence.” 389 F. Supp. 2d at 1278. Continue reading →
Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. McDonald, ___ F. Supp. 3d ___, 2019 WL 2419659 (E.D. Mich. 2019)
(a) Facts: Husband wife were divorced in Florida. Their divorce decree incorporated a property settlement agreement providing that the husband would name the wife as beneficiary of his employer-provided life insurance.
Despite the agreement, the husband named his second wife as beneficiary of the policy. Upon his death, both wives claimed the proceeds, and the insurer filed an interpleader action in federal court.
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Culwick v. Wood, 384 F. Supp. 3d 328 (E.D.N.Y. 2019)
(a) Facts: Husband and wife were divorced. Their divorce decree incorporated a separation agreement. The agreement provided:
[T]he Husband shall otherwise retain all pensions and annuities acquired by him at any time, including during the term of the marriage. . . . The Wife waives any claims she might have in and to these benefits including the right to be named as a survivor beneficiary.
384 F. Supp. 3d at 335. The agreement further provided that “nothing herein contained shall require either party to renounce or disclaim any gift, devise or bequest which he or she may be given by the other’s Will, Trust, or other document.” Id. Continue reading →
Christopoulos v. Trout, 343 F. Supp. 3d 812 (N.D. Ill. 2018)
(a) Facts: Husband filed a divorce action against wife in Illinois. Immediately thereafter, he changed the beneficiary of his employer-provided group life insurance, naming a series of relatives in varying percentages.
The wife immediately asked the divorce judge to order the husband to name the children as beneficiaries. The trial court properly entered a handwritten order granting the relief requested.
Garcia Tatupu v. Bert Bell/Peter Rozelle NFL Player Ret. Plan, 296 F. Supp. 3d 407 (D. Mass. 2017), aff’d, 747 F. App’x 873 (1st Cir. 2019)
(a) Facts: The husband, a former NFL football player, was divorced from his wife in Massachusetts in 1997. The decree incorporated a separation agreement, which provided: Continue reading →
Separation can leave you lonely and adrift. There might be a few people you can turn to in Greensboro, but be careful who you share the details of your divorce with. What might seem to be a therapeutic release can turn out to be a train wreck. Here are a few more people that can seem less tolerable during your time of troubles. Continue reading →