Headline, May27, 2014

''' OH !' -O''' 


REMEMBER -MARRIAGES that thrive on money may wither with thrift. That, for sure,  -is one terribly depressing lesson form the world economic crises:

Which has bought a surge in business for  divorce lawyers  in former boomtowns such as London and New York. When one in both spouses is from a foreign country, divorce is not just sad but complicated too-

Especially when most assets may be in a third country, a pension in a fourth, and offsprings in a fifth.

Globalisation has made  binational  marriages,  once exotic, much more common among high-earning, highly mobile families. When they stop being  high-earning, life gets tricky. Louise Spitz of  Manches, a London law firm, has observed an ''exceptional period'';

''With redundancies in the City there has been a concomitant wave of marital upheaval.'' she says. ''Families used to live on huge bonus income are unable to continue with the commitments they have taken on  -housing and school fees and the cost of living the high life.''

Manches has taken on  eight more  divorce lawyers to cope with the extra work. A high proportion,  Ms Spitz and other lawyers reckon, of the once rich couples now breaking up include at least one foreign spouse.

So who sues whom for divorce and where? How much money will be awarded to whom?  Will it be collected?  And how? The answers are far trickier than most non-lawyers would imagine.

Take, for example this  lightly disguised but real life example : a wealthy philandering Texan Banker with a French wife. Formerly resident in New York, with a recently-lost good job and rented house in London, he now plans to move back to Texas.

His wife, newly suspicious and with no money of her own, wants to take the children home to France. She needs her family, she says. What she actually needs is urgent, specialist legal advice.

A London divorce settlement might give her many millions  -a house, school fees and maintenance, until the children are adults, or even indefinitely. An English court may well disregard a prenuptial agreement, particularly if one of the parties did not have independent legal advice.

And it will tend to care more about immediate needs than about whether assets were acquired during the course of the marriage, or predate it, or are the result of an inheritance. All assets are likely to be divided. If the wife is lucky, she may even be able to collect her share.

In the wife's native France, things will look very different. In her favour is that conduct counts  -so adulterous spouses will be penalised. In most other Western countries, divorce courts have given up attributing blame. Even domestic violence is often ignored, though it still counts heavily in some jurisdictions such as Florida.

But in the typical French divorce, any alimony  -also called maintenance-  will be less and for eight years at most; any prenuptial agreement will be binding.Only assets acquired during the marriage are up for grabs. If, in our example, the American husband moves to France, he will be expected to play an equal part in bringing up the children.

If the errant husband has the divorce filed in Texas, the tables are turned even more dramatically. The wife risks being left penniless. In Texas state law, alimony is usually minimal and temporary  -though child support, thankfully, is a federal matter.

In America, the law varies hugely between states. Most exclude from the settlement assets acquired before the marriage. Most exclude inherited property. In most states, judges will enforce prenuptial agreements  

If the Texan husband decides to file in New York, however, he may find the outcome startlingly expensive. As in some English court rulings, New York courts award one party a share of spouse's future earnings -assuming that they based on a qualification, such as an MBA or medical degree-

That was earned thanks to a joint effort in happier time. Yet New York law has one big catch: unless the parties have signed a formal separation agreement it requires proof of cruelty, adultery, or abandonment, whereas other states allow ''irreconcilable differences'' as grounds for divorce.

So binational couples in New York who want to end their marriage may find themselves unable to do it there, and squabbling about alternatives. Rules differ, too, on what constitutes a residency in particular jurisdiction. In hedonistic Las Vegas, six weeks is enough.

According to Jeremy Morley, an international divorce lawyer based in New York, hiding assets from a spouse is also much easier in some countries than the others. California, at one extreme, requires complete disclosure of assets. At the other extreme:

Austria, Japan and many other countries require very little disclosure. A Californian court, some years ago, ordered a husband to pay £390,000 in costs and penalties to his wife because he did not disclose some significant financial information.

In other jurisdiction, the assets could have stayed hidden.  

The Honour and Serving of the Post continues.

With respectful dedication to the Students of the world. See Ya all on !WOW! -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' Touch Your Heart '''

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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