Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Spousal Support and Child Abuse

Ed Abar was convicted of raping his stepdaughter over 16 years starting when she was 9 years old. When her mother, Carol Abar, found out what was happening to her daughter, she divorced Ed. Since Carol was the higher earner, she was ordered to pay Ed spousal support of $1,300 per month. Ed spent more than a year in jail for the rapes. A judge stayed the spousal support payments when he was in jail. He is now out of jail and seeks the reinstatement of the $1,300 per month in addition to approximately $30,000 in back-pay. At the time he was sent to prison, Carol had already paid him $22,000.

It does not appear that the judge has granted Ed’s request for spousal support, but the case caught the attention of Assemblywoman, Melissa Melendez who has introduced legislation (AB 681) which would prohibit spousal support from being awarded to a spouse who has been convicted of a violent sexual felony of a child of the marriage. Currently, while domestic violence between the spouses is taken into account when determining spousal support, child abuse is not technically a factor to be considered.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Collecting Child Support Internationally?

On June 18, 2013, the House passed H.R. 1896, International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act of 2013. This Bill, in part, amends the Social Security Act, to allow the United States to comply with the Hague Convention for the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. This bill will allow child support to be collected when one parent and the child(ren) live in one country and the other parent lives in a different country as long as both countries are members of the Hague Convention.

The next step to ratify the bill is for the Senate to adopt and enact similar legislation for this treaty. The Department of Health and Human Services is already working on moving the legislation forward.

This should make collecting child support easier because, if passed, the custodial parent may be able to receive some assistance and take advantage of some of the collection resources provided by the non-custodial parent’s country of residence in order to collect child support from the non-custodial parent.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Celebrity Support Woes.

Charlie Sheen is trying to reduce his child support payments to ex-wife Brook Mueller. Mueller and Sheen’s four year old twins were taken from Mueller by social workers in early May and placed with Sheen's other ex-wife, Denise Richards. Richards is expected to extend the temporary custody another six months while Mueller completes her rehab program and completes the necessary classes to regain custody.

Sheen currently pays Mueller $55,000 per month in child support for the twins and $30,000 per month in mortgage, taxes and insurance payments for the house that the twins and Mueller live in. Sheen requests a reduction in child support since the twins are not in Mueller’s custody. Sheen is a high earner at $739,075 per month, and he already pays the twins’ school and medical expenses and therapy. Sheen argues that Mueller has no expenses for the children at this time since he is covering all the expenses and she does not have custody of them.

There may be authority for Sheen’s argument and he cites the case involving his former co-star, Jon Cryer who made a similar request in 2009 when his ex-wife was arrested for allegations of abuse and the court reduced her visitation to monitored visitation. Cryer was able to reduce the child support from $10,000 to $8,000 per month.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Health Care and Child Support

To follow up on my post from last week about health insurance, there are other options other than allowing coverage to lapse. There are assistance programs available at low cost.  Health care does have an effect on child support. One or both parents are often required to maintain heath insurance coverage for any minor children as long at it’s available at no or little cost through their employer. "Available at no or little cost" is loosely interpreted and essentially any out of pocket expenses will be considered reasonable under this definition. Through the Affordable Health Care Act, various options may be available to parents who need assistance for health insurance coverage for minor children.

Starting as early October 1, 2013, parents can choose new insurance options through Covered California. (See This will be for coverage that will start January 1, 2014. The program shall allow financial assistance for qualifying families including Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and through tax credits that will help pay the premiums.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Health Insurance after Divorce.

About 115,000 women per year lose private health insurance in the months following a divorce and more than half that (approximately 65,000) will lose coverage long term.

Typically, the court cannot prevent an insurer carrier from ending coverage for a divorced spouse of the named insured because they are no longer "related to" the insured. There may be other options available such as COBRA continuation health coverage which gives former spouses the right to temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates if certain criteria are met. COBRA coverage is paid for by the beneficiary and it can be quite expensive, though it is generally less than individual private health insurance. COBRA costs for health insurance are typically the full cost of the coverage for the beneficiary including the cost to the employee and cost to the employer plus 2% for administrative costs.

COBRA conversion benefits are only available for a set amount of time and will terminate after the maximum period has ended.  If arrangements are not made in advance of COBRA ending, there will be a break in coverage. There may be options available for affordable health care and planning in advance for the anticipated lapse in health care coverage will minimize the length of time uninsured.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

When can we come home? International custody issues.

Shauna Hadden from Agawam, Massachusetts divorced her husband, Donizete Machado in 2009. Hadden has full custody of their 6 year old daughter, Ava. Machado moved to Brazil where he is from. On May 21, 2013, Hadden took Ava to Brazil to visit her father and extended family.

While in Brazil, Machado who purchased the tickets, then cancelled the return flight. The police came to Hadden’s door with guns demanding her and Ava’s passport which she gave. Machado filed paperwork in Brazil for custody of Ava. A Judge denied Machado’s request for immediate custody and for someone to bring Ava to him, but granted supervised visitation with Ava. According to Hadden, Machedo has not exercised any visitation. He had until July 5 to exercise visitation under the court order.

In the meantime, Hadden and Ava have been effectively "trapped" in Brazil, unable to leave without resolution of the pending case. Her visa will expire at the end of summer.

International custody issues seem to be more common lately. Even with custody orders, issues can arise. Before taking a child or allowing a child to go to a different country, consider having orders for each particular trip with a remedy if the child is not returned.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Looks Like A Romantic Summer!

Three years after my post noting that boomers and post-boomers seem to be much more comfortable with the idea of "tailoring" their marriage by way of a pre-marital agreement, the economy is slowly emerging from the doldrums, same-sex marriages are happening again in California, and, based on the number of calls I'm getting about relationship planning and pre-nups, Cupid is working overtime.