Monday, November 29, 2010

Mel Gibson in Court Again in Child Custody Fight

Mel Gibson has had a brilliant film career and seven kids with his ex-wife, but it is his eighth child he had with his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, that has kept him in the headlines lately. In late September, Judge Scott Gordon ordered Mel Gibson to pay $20,000 per month to Oksana in child support for their one-year-old daughter, Lucia. This was an increase of the previous amount of $5,000 monthly.

This month, Gibson and Grigorieva have twice been back in family court fighting for custody of their daughter. In an earlier proceeding, Gibson argued that he should be allowed to deduct a housing payment from the $20,000 child support payment. He has been paying $6,000 monthly for the home Grigorieva shares with her mother and Lucia. Judge Gordon ordered that Gibson pay the full $20,000 in addition to the $6,000 and ordered that he pay $60,000 in back support.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Michael Douglas's Wall Street Money Safe for Now

Michael Douglas's Wall Street Money Safe for Now


In 1987, Michael Douglas starred as the infamous Gordon Gekko in the hit movie, "Wall Street." Gekko had an uncanny talent for separating people from their money. Now, Douglas's ex-wife, Diandra, would like to separate Michael Douglas from some of his Gordon Gekko money. From 1977 to 2000, Michael and Diandra were married and they had one child together. In 2000, they divorced and as part of their settlement agreement Michael agreed to pay Diandra half of all the proceeds from film, television, and stage performances he did during their marriage. Diandra would also argue that she is entitled to half of any income related to those performances.

As a result, she has sued Michael Douglas for half of his earnings from the sequel to "Wall Street" made this year, "Wall Street: Greed Never Sleeps." After all, Michael starred in the original while they were married and he reprised his role as Gordon Gekko in this year's film. Had the role of Gordon Gekko in the 1987 film gone to another 1980s actor like Tom Selleck as Gekko P.I. or Harrison Ford as Indiana Gekko, Michael Douglas would not have been offered the role in the 2010 sequel.

Michael Douglas takes the position that Diandra is not entitled to earnings from post-divorce movies, whether they are sequels or not. Earlier this month Diandra's lawsuit was dismissed, but this will not be the end of the story.

Although they were divorced in California, Diandra filed her lawsuit in New York. A New York judge ruled that California was the proper place for the lawsuit because California has more familiarity with the legal and factual issues on the Douglas divorce. It is important to point out that this dismissal is not a decision on the merits of Diandra's claim, so she will be able to re-file her lawsuit in a California court.

As this story demonstrates, property division in divorce can be one of the most complex issues to resolve. The Douglas divorce was finalized in 2000, yet they are still arguing over marital property division. Ultimate resolution on this issue is going to have to wait until a California court has its say. All indications are that the decision will depend on an interpretation of California's unique marital property laws and the language in the Douglas's settlement agreement.

Source: Bloomberg: Michael Douglas Ex-Wife's 'Wall Street' Suit Is Tossed Over Venue Issue; Karen Freifeld, 11/15/2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Prenuptial Agreements: A Growing Trend in Family Law

When we think of prenuptial agreements, often the first thing that comes to mind is a celebrity or a business mogul like Donald Trump. However, a recent study done by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) shows that prenuptial agreements are not just for the rich and famous anymore.

Often times, property division is one of the most contested aspect of a divorce, whether or not the couple has substantial assets. Sometimes called antenuptial agreements, premarital contracts or simply prenups, prenuptial agreements are contracts entered into before marriage between spouses. The agreements detail how property will be divided in the event of a divorce.

The AAML study reported that 73 percent of attorneys have seen an increase in prenuptial agreements over the past 5 years. Of the attorneys who responded, 52 percent also saw an increase in women requesting prenuptial agreements. Why the increase? Are people becoming less trusting in the 21st century?
Possibly, but the increase in prenups has more to do with the economic situations of the parties. Many of the people requesting prenuptial agreements are entering a second marriage after a previous divorce. They have been through one property division contest, and would like to avoid another.
However, prenuptial agreements are not just for remarrying people. Many people tying the knot for the first time are requesting prenups as well. Since 1980, we have seen the average age that people marry for the first time increase. For men, the average age has climbed two years and is now at 26.8 years old. For women, the average age has increased three years and is now 25.1 years old.

People are not marrying immediately after school as much, and are spending more time working before marrying. This gives people an opportunity to earn more, and bring more property to a marriage. When people bring more assets to a marriage, they want to protect them.

Whenever a couple divorces, a court must divide their property between the spouses. While prenups are a good tool to prevent property fights, they can often be subject to interpretation by the courts. Whether or not you have a prenuptial agreement, experienced family law attorneys understand Georgia marital property law, and can help you understand your property rights.

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune: More couples saying 'I do' to prenups; Jeff Strickler, 10/27/2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lil Wayne Slapped With Paternity Suit While in Jail

Lil Wayne Slapped With Paternity Suit While in Jail

On behalf of Edwards & Associates posted in Father's Rights on Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just days ago, Lil Wayne was released from jail after serving time for an October 2009 weapons charge. While he was still in jail, Lil Wayne received an unwelcomed message. The grandmother of an 8-year-old boy has filed a paternity suit against him claiming he fathered her grandson in 2002. If he is found to be the father of the boy, he may be on the hook for child support.

A court order required him to submit to a DNA test before September 10, but since Lil Wayne did not leave prison until November 5, the judge has pushed the DNA test deadline back to December 9. It is presently unclear why it is the grandmother, and not the mother of the child, who filed the paternity action.

We don't have any information on if Lil Wayne has acknowledged this child, or would like to be a part of the boy's life. If this is indeed his child and he would like to have visitation, it may become more complicated. For example, in Georgia, paternity can be established by DNA testing. However, paternity is only part of the issue if a father would like to be involved in his child's life. Paternity does establish that a man is a child's biological father, but that only obligates him to support his child. If a father wants to have visitation or custody rights, he must also request legitimation from a court.

Legitimation is the only way, apart from marrying the mother, that a father can have legal rights regarding his child. Without legitimation, a father can be required to pay child support, but the child's mother can deny visitation and communication with the child. Legitimation has some additional benefits for the father and child, including inheritance rights and the father's name being on the birth certificate.

Source: CBS: Lil Wayne a Free Man, but Was Hit with Paternity Suit Behind Bars, Says Report; Caroline Black, 11/10/10

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mother Arrested After Defying Child Custody Order

Mother Arrested After Defying Child Custody Order

On behalf of Edwards & Associates posted in Custody on Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A mother had lost custody over her 1-year-old daughter. She was ordered to turn the baby girl over to the child's father. She chose instead to make a run for it. Her plan was to pick up her other child at daycare and leave the area, but the daycare staff became suspicious and alerted authorities.

Monday morning, the mother was arrested and charged with interfering with the child custody rights of the child's father. The child, unharmed, is now being cared for by her father.

Child custody can be a highly emotional issue for obvious reasons. But, it is unfortunate the lengths some people will go in child custody fights. In this case, the mother could not or would not accept a court order and instead took the law into her own hands. Had she been successful in her attempt, she might have been committing parental kidnapping and would have prevented her baby from having her father in her life. Since she was thwarted in her attempt, she is being held in jail without bail and has greatly damaged any chance she had of regaining custody.

As this story illustrates, when a court makes a decision in the other party's favor, taking matters into your own hands is highly self-destructive. When a decision goes against you, experienced family law attorneys understand that child custody decisions are always subject to modification.

If a parent can show there has been a substantial change in circumstances that affects the welfare of the child, then the courts are willing to modify child custody orders. Some factors that can contribute to a change in circumstances include one parent moving, a change in a parent's life style, or the wishes of the child. Family law judges do have a great deal of discretion in making child custody decisions, and the process of obtaining or modifying a child custody order can seem confusing, but experienced family law attorneys are available to help.

Source: Pasco mom arrested after abducting daughter, authorities say; 11/8/2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Former Major Leaguer Arrested for not Paying Child Support

Former Major League outfielder Elijah Dukes has fallen on hard financial times. On Wednesday, he appeared in court, clad in an orange jumpsuit. He offered the Judge Liz Rice tears and apologies in a, but he could not offer the approximately $143 thousand he owes in child support.

At a past hearing in May, Dukes informed the court that he had spent all but $1,500 of his retirement account. The judge ordered him to pay what he had in child support, but Dukes did not pay and failed to appear at several later hearings. On Monday, Dukes was arrested on contempt of court charges.

Judge Rice said to him, "Mr. Dukes, we're not holding you in jail because we like to see you in an orange jumpsuit. All we want you to do is honor your commitment to this court and your family." She ordered Dukes to be released, set a new hearing for November 22, and ordered Dukes to bring financial records. Judge Rice added, "You can't just throw a bunch of documents at your lawyer and say, 'You do the Accounting.' You do it."

The case of Elijah Duke's illustrates what can happen when a parent ignores child support obligations. When a father's financial situation changes, and he can no longer afford his child support obligations, he cannot simply ignore it and hope it goes away. That strategy often leads to an arrest for nonpayment. Family law judges are willing to work with a father who is going through financial difficulties, but when a father does not pay, and does not inform the court, judges are also willing to issue an arrest warrant.

When a father's financial situation takes a turn for the worse and he can no longer afford to make child support payments, an experienced family law attorney can help. Family law attorneys understand that when an involuntary loss of income happens to a father, as has happened to Elijah Dukes, a lowering the child support payment is made possible by bringing a motion to modify to the court.

Source: St. Petersburg Times: Former Tampa Bay Ray Dukes offers tears, excuses, but no child support; Dan Sullivan, 11/4/2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dwyane Wade's custody battle begins

Dwyane Wade's custody battle begins

Associated Press

The appointed attorney for Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade's two young sons has recommended to a Chicago court that the NBA star be awarded custody of the children.

Wade and ex-wife Siohvaughn Wade returned to court on Wednesday, this time to begin the trial that will decide custody of their boys, ages 8 and 3. Attorney Lester Barclay, the boys' representative, filed a pretrial memo outlining three recommendations he plans to make during trial, with one caveat being Siohvaughn Wade should agree to undergo "extensive therapy" as part of any scenario.

"At trial it is my intention, based on the best interests of my clients, the minor children ... to be with" Dwyane Wade, Barclay wrote.

The court does not need to follow Barclay's advice, though it's fairly common for the suggestions of a child's representative to at least be weighed in such cases.

Barclay's recommendations included residential custody primarily with Dwyane Wade; joint custody with at least one of the boys attending school in Florida; or sole custody for the 2006 NBA finals MVP.

The Heat guard signed a new six-year contract worth about $107 million with the Heat in July, doing so on the same day longtime friends and fellow NBA stars LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined the Miami roster.

Dwyane Wade was awarded "physical possession" of his sons in June by another judge in Chicago, who found that an emergency order was merited because Wade's time for visitation with his children "has been frustrated on an ongoing basis as a result of continual interference" by his now ex-wife. Their divorce was finalized in June, although custody and financial matters remain undecided.

In the June ruling, the court cited three instances, one in March and two in May, where Dwyane Wade's visitation schedules were altered by his ex-wife. Siohvaughn Wade has made claims that her sons are abused when in their father's custody.

Following a break for Rosh Hashanah, the trial will resume Monday with opening statements and other motions. Siohvaughn Wade is expected to be the first witness when testimony begins Tuesday.

Dwyane Wade expects the trial will last for at least a full week, which means he may not return to South Florida until just before the Sept. 28 start of Heat training camp.