Supreme Court Archives | Cordell & Cordell

Supreme Court Ruling Highlights Importance of Family Law Attorneys

supreme court rulingA U.S. Supreme Court ruling highlighted the importance of men choosing a family law attorney who will be resolute on all issues in pursuing and concluding a divorce.

In Hillman v. Maretta, the husband (Warren Hillman) failed to change his life insurance beneficiary after his divorce. Upon his death years later, his ex-wife (Judy Maretta), who was still listed as the named beneficiary from their marriage, ended up receiving the proceeds instead of his widow (Jacqueline Hillman) receiving the benefit.

Mrs. Hillman’s claim was denied because she was not the named beneficiary on her husband’s policy. Mrs. Hillman sued Ms. Maretta for the full amount of death benefits under the policy.

The failure of the husband to seek a qualified men’s divorce attorney to not only obtain the divorce but to also implement the divorce judgment resulted in this unintended consequence.

While the Hillman v. Maretta ruling focuses on the provisions applicable to a federal government employee life insurance program, many states and some private employers have similar provisions in their employee benefits in order to put the burden on the employee to keep their choices up to date and to keep the employer out of disputes as to who receives life insurance benefits.

Cordell & Cordell divorce attorneys routinely advise clients of the need to make such beneficiary changes upon the divorce, in addition to counseling as to other divorce implementation issues, and offer clients assistance in doing so should the client so desire.

The importance of having a qualified, licensed family attorney cannot be emphasized enough. The procedures in family court may seem simple and children-oriented, but they are complicated. The mistakes made from self-representation can have lasting, non-modifiable consequences. Contact us today to ensure you and your family are protected.

Irish businessman wins appeal in key divorce judgment

The problem that many American men face with divorce is that they feel too many of their hard-earned assets go to their wives following the split. A recent case in Ireland showed that this is not a problem that is confined to the U.S.

According to the Independent, a wealthy businessman in Ireland won a Supreme Court appeal that stopped him from having to pay more money to his ex-wife.

The news source reported that this ruling would have an impact on divorce in the country, as men who felt that they were unjustly forced to pay an unfairly large sum to their ex-wife may head back to court.

“Irish law does not establish a right to a clean break,” said the Supreme Court. “However, it is a legitimate aspiration.”

The ruling came as the businessman was forced to buy his ex-wife a second home on top of the €1 million house that she was living in, according to the Independent.

The Irish Times reported that the court ruled against the ex-wife in part due to the fact that she showed no attempt to invest any of the money in any type of “wealth-producing activity.”

Michigan Supreme Court targets child support flaws

The Michigan Supreme Court will work to examine potential flaws in the state’s child support system following three cases that were presented to the legislative body on Oct. 6, The Detroit News reported.

Several Michigan parents argued they were unfairly sentenced because the courts will not allow evidence showing that it was impossible for them to pay child support, according to the news source.

The cases were targeted at the difficult standards that are in place for parents that have their child support payments modified, as the lawyers noted that these were next-to-impossible to reach under the current law.

“You have to be in a coma or kidnapped by Afghani terrorists,” John Bursch, solicitor general for Michigan, told the news source after defending a client against the high standard of proof. “(Defendants) have an extremely high burden of proof.”

While this case was specifically centered around a woman who was charged with exorbitant fees despite her financial situation reported mental instability, a majority of these incidents feature men. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that men are granted custody in only 17.4 percent of cases and thus pay the vast majority of child support.

Spousal support award reversed in Tennessee Supreme Court

When Craig Gonsewski went through a divorce from his wife Johanna after 21 years of marriage, he was ordered to pay lifetime alimony to his ex-spouse. However, the Tennessee Supreme Court has absolved him of that duty because his ex-wife holds a stable job with considerable income, the Chattanoogan reports.

After the divorce, spousal support was denied because both parties were college educated with high-paying jobs, according to the news source, but on an appeal to the Court of Appeals, that decision was reversed and Gonsewski was forced to pay $1,250 per month in alimony until his ex-wife’s death or remarriage.

Then the state Supreme Court stepped in, unanimously voting to eliminate the lifetime alimony award because of Johanna Gonsewski’s stable finances and her significant amount of assets taken during the division of property. The ex-wife argued to the court that she could not maintain her previous standard of living before the divorce, which is a major factor in awarding alimony, but the Supreme Court disagreed.

According to WDEF, the divorce rate in Tennessee is above the national average, at 11.4 percent for men and 11.6 percent for women. The news source reports that spike could be due to the shorter divorce process in the state compared to other areas.