Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Commuter marriages?

A recent article in the Detroit Free Press highlighted the concept of "commuter marriages" as couples who are unable to afford to move and/or sell their homes are faced with the reality of living apart (at least during the work week) so that one of them can work. Some live apart in different cities while others have to go so far as to live apart in different countries. It is estimated that approximately 3.6 million couples live such a lifestyle, usually so not to uproot the children.

This type of living situation poses a litany of challenges to couples and their marriage. Not only is it expensive to travel back and forth and maintain two residences, it usually forces one parent to be the primary household decision maker as well as caregiver of the children in the other's absence.

Interestingly, a 2007 article from Time.com states that the divorce rate for commuter couples is no different than those couples living together in a conventional manner. Similar to the scenario of a deployed service member who is away from his/her spouse for a prolonged period, couples tend to focus on the positive memories of one another when separated. Instead, the most challenging part may be when the couple finally reunites and must learn to live together again.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Michigan Uniform Support Orders

By: Kathryn M. Cushman

In Michigan, when child support and/or spousal support is ordered by the court, an document called a Uniform Support Order is entered which outlines the amount(s) to be paid by one party (the payor) to the other (the payee).

A Uniform Child Support Order contains a great deal of information, including the the number of children involved, the number of overnights exercised by each parent, the amount of ordinary medical support, base support and child care, if applicable. It also includes a breakdown of the percentage of the uninsured medical expenses for which each party will be responsible, calculated on a pro-rata basis.

It is very imporant to carefully review the support orders, even after they are entered, whether they are prepared by an attorney or by the court. Lately, we have seen several instances where mistakes were made, even by the court. In one case, we brought it to the court's attention and the error was immediately recitified without the need to file a formal objection to the order. In another case, the parties did not catch the mistake until several months later and unfortunately, the court enforced the order as it was written (even though the error was an obvious typographical error made by the court) as the parties failed to object to the order in a timely manner after it was issued. This proved to be a costly error for one party until the order could be modified.

For more information, contact us at Hickey, Cianciolo, Fishman & Finn, PC.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Documents Required During Divorce

By: Carole L. Chiamp

This is a list we provide to our clients which is of great importance to us in assisting them through their divorces.

Please read this list thoroughly and start gathering as many of these documents as you can, since many of them may be required from you or by you in the immediate future and it may take some time to obtain them.

A complete picture of the assets and income of both spouses is absolutely necessary. By providing us with the information and documents requested below, you will save time and money and will assist us in the preparation of pleadings and documents required in your case. In addition, possession of these documents will help in preventing your spouse from dissipating or secreting any assets.

The following documents should be gathered by you and be available for inspection and copying upon request:

Income Tax Returns. Personal, corporate, partnerships, joint ventures or other income tax returns, state and federal, including W-2, 1099 and K-1 forms in your possession or control from date of marriage or as far bas as possible during the marriage.

Banking Information. All monthly bank statements, passbooks, check stubs or registers, deposit slips, canceled checks, and bank charge notices on personal and business accounts, certificates of deposit, money management, and retirement accounts in your possession or control from banks savings and loan institutions, credit unions or other institutions, which have been or are maintained at any time for or by you, individually, jointly or as a trustee or guardian, and in which you sign or have had any legal or equitable interest.

Financial Statements. Financial statements submitted to banks, lending institutions or any other persons or entities, which were prepared by you or on your behalf at any time during the last five years.

Loan Applications. Loan applications and statements of loan accounts for all loans applied for, whether approved or not, for the period of the last five years.

Broker’s Statements. All statements of account from securities and commodities dealers and mutual funds maintained and received by you during the marriage and held individually, jointly or as a trustee or guardian.

Stock, Bond and Mutual Funds. Stock, bond and mutual funds certificates, held individually, jointly or as a trustee or guardian, including any stock brokerage accounts maintained and statements during the marriage.

Stock Options. All records pertaining to stock options held in any corporation or other entity, exercised or not exercised.

Pension, Profit Sharing, Deferred Compensation Agreement and Retirement Plans. Pension, profit sharing, deferred compensation agreement and retirement plans or any other kind of plan owned by you or by any corporation, in which you are or have been a participant during the marriage.

Wills and Trust Agreements. Wills and trust agreements executed by you or in which you have a present or contingent interest or in which you are named a beneficiary, trustee, executor or guardian and from which benefits have been received, are being received or will be received and which are or were in existence during the past five years, including inter vivos trusts. All records of declaration of trust and minute books for all trusts to which you are a party, including the certificates, if any, indicating such interest and copies of all statements, receipts, disbursements, investments and other transactions.

Life Insurance. Life Insurance or certificate of life insurance currently in existence, insuring your life or the life of any other person, in which you are named as either primary or contingent beneficiary, including any disability insurance currently in existence.

General Insurance. Insurance policies, including, but not limited to, annuities, health, accident, casualty, motor vehicles of any kind, property liability, including contents insurance in which you are or have been the named insured for the last three years.

Outstanding Debts. Documents reflecting all debts owed to you or by you, secured or unsecured, including personal loans and lawsuits now pending or previously filed in any court, showing the name of the debtor and/or creditors, the date each debt was incurred, the total amount and the unpaid balance.

Accounts Payable and Receivable. Accounts payable and receivable ledgers in your possession and control that are either personally or business-related, together with all accounts and journals.

Cash Receipt Books. Cash receipt books, calendar of events, retainer contracts with attorneys, evidence of budgets, cash projections, and other financial documents in your possession. This applies to all such items in existence during the term of the marriage.

Real Property. All deeds, closing statements, tax bills, appraisals, mortgages, security agreements, leases, and any other evidence (including monthly payments and present principal and interest balances) evidencing any type of interest or ownership, whether as owner, co-owner, fiduciary, trust beneficiary (vested or contingent), partner, limited partner, shareholder, joint ventures, mortgagee, developer, manager or otherwise, during the term of the marriage; together with evidence of all contributions, in cash or otherwise, made by you or on your behalf, toward the acquisition of such real estate during the marriage or thereafter.

Sale and Option Agreements. Sale and option agreements on any real estate owned by you either individually, through another person or entity, jointly or a trustee or guardian.

Personal Property. Documents, invoices, contracts and appraisals on all personal property, including furniture, fixtures, furnishings, equipment, antiques and any type of collections, owned by you individually, jointly, as trustee or guardian or through any other person or entity during the term of the marriage, together with the amount of their respective liens.

Motor Vehicles. Purchase orders, contracts, financing agreements, invoices, appraisals, lease agreements, registrations and payment books, and titles to all motor vehicles owned by you, individually or jointly, at any time during the last five years, including airplanes, boats, automobiles or any other type of motor vehicle.

Corporate Interests. All records indicating any kind of personal interest in any corporation (foreign or domestic) or any other entities not evidenced by certificates or other instruments.

Partnerships and Joint Venture Agreements. Any partnerships and joint venture agreements to which you have been a party during the marriage.

Employment. Any employment records, including social security statements, during the term of the marriage, showing evidence of wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions, raises, promotions, expense accounts, and other benefits or deductions of any kind which were, are or may be paid, available, credited or withheld for any purpose by any individual or entity or to which you were, are or may become entitled in the future.

Fringe Benefits. All records evidencing any benefits available to you or your spouse from any business entity in which you or your spouse have legal or equitable ownership interest, including without limitation auto, travel, entertainment, educational and personal living expenses.

Employment Contracts. Employment contracts under which you are performing services and/or rendering merchandise or materials or under which someone is indebted to you for services and/or merchandise and materials already furnished, during the past three years, including a list or description of any oral contracts.

Business Records. If you are self-employed, a partner or own more than 10% of the outstanding capital stock of any corporation, please produce financial statements, broker’s statements, life insurance, general insurance, outstanding debts and fringe benefits as specified above.

Charge Accounts. Charge account statements for two years controlled by you or your spouse or authorized for you or your spouse’s personal or business use, including all statements and receipts received by you in connection with the use of such charge accounts, together with a list of those businesses where you are or have been authorized to charge purchases to the account of another person or entity, during the marriage.

Memberships. Cards or documents identifying participation rights in any country clubs, key clubs, private clubs, associations or fraternal group organizations during the marriage, together with all monthly statements.

Judgments. Judgments and pleadings in which you have been a party, either as plaintiff or defendant, during the marriage.

Gifts. All records pertaining to gifts of any kind made to you or by you to any personal or entity, together with all records in connection with the transfer of personal property, by sale, gift or otherwise, during the marriage.

Charitable Contributions. Charitable contribution receipts, cancelled checks or other tangible evidence of charitable donations made by you or your spouse.

Medical. Medical bills, prescriptions, evaluation reports or diagnosis for treatment received during the last five years.

Telephone. Telephone can long distance charges received by you in the form of monthly telephone statements for telephone numbers which have been in your name or the name of any corporation, partnership or other entity, in which you are a major shareholder, officer or director for the period of the past two years.

Tapes and Photographs. All written memoranda, reports and photographs submitted to you or your attorney by any person other than you; all tape recordings and other evidence prepared from tape recordings made in connection with any electronic surveillance conducted by you or others on your behalf.