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Westlake Legal Group > Family Law

Life Insurance Beneficiaries and Divorce

Guest post by Makeda Fikremariam

Commonly the Supreme Court doesn’t hear cases regarding domestic relations, but Sveen v. Melinchanged that pattern. Mark Sveen had been married to Kaye Melin for 10 years when they divorced in 2007. During their marriage, Sveen had made Melin his primary beneficiary on his life insurance. Also during that time, in 2002, Minnesota passed the Revocation-upon-divorce statute which automatically removes an ex-spouse from the insurance once the owner has passed. The complication arose because Sveen had passed in 2011, but his insurance was signed before the statute was in order and Melin was still listed. The argument became, does applying the statue after the contract was signed violate the Contract Clause?

 

This was passed to the Supreme Court as the lower courts disagreed on who should remain listed on the policy. The District Court sided in favor with the children, naming them the primary beneficiaries,while the 8th Circuit agreed with Melin. There’s a two step process in determining the constitutionality of this application. However, the Supreme Court felt that it didn’t violate the first step as the statute did not impair the pre-existing contractual goal and expectations. They also noted that the statute serves as a default, as the policyholder could submit a form to retain their ex-spouse. Justice Gorsuch, in his dissenting opinion, was against this point as he found that the law should redirect owners to ensure attentiveness in regards to their policy. He also noted that there are people who wish to keep their ex-spouses listed for a variety of reasons. For more information, please read Naomi Cahn’s piece in the George Washington’s Law Review: https://www.gwlr.org/sveen-v-melin/.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Find My Location – Helpful or Harmful?

Guest post by Makeda Fikremariam

 

Technology nowadays seems to be following humans into every corner of their lives. Many are introduced with the intent of making lives easier; whether it be to find your car, phone or even yourself. However, a New York Times article revealed another side that not many of us associated with these usually helpful applications. They reported that there are more than 200 apps available that can monitor one’s location and activities. While that doesn’t necessarily seem scary at first, it can be for abuse survivors. This fear was brought to life when Yessenia Suarez and her family were killed by her husband after he discovered her affair through these apps. Unfortunately, there are more cases where these programs have been abused. With technology constantly updating, the courts haven’t been able to keep up with their progress. For lawyers to include such usage as evidence, extensive and expensive training is required for the police departments. To make the inclusion even harder for lawyers, the Supreme Court is determining how easy the information should be accessed. Carpenter v. United States is trying to answer the question of whether obtaining locations without a warrant is a violation of the Fourth Amendment which deals with search and seizures. While the case hasn’t been decided yet, trainings are still being issued for lawyers to become more familiar with technology in relation to abuse and stalking.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

New Tax Law Eliminates Alimony Deduction

For divorcing couples, alimony was a deduction that the payor could deduct from his/her taxes.  However, with the new tax bill, starting in 2019, alimony will no longer be deductible.

The result of this change may make spouses reluctant to pay, and will hurt those spouses who depended on the income of the wage earning spouse. Another side effect will be timing – one side may want to rush the divorce before 2019 and the other side may want to delay.

 

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

New Surrogacy Law in DC

In April, a new law for surrogacy became law in the District of Columbia.

Prior to the passing of this new law, all parties to surrogacy agreements were subject to a fine up to $10,000 and a one year prison term. This ban had been in place for 25 years, and D.C. was the only jurisdiction making surrogacy a criminal offense.

Opponents of surrogacy argue that the practice is unnatural and exploits women.  Concerns in some western European countries have made compensation for surrogacy illegal. Supporters of surrogacy say that it represents a rare chance for to make families for some people.

The new D.C. law streamlines the process for would be parents, and allows them to be named on the birth certificate, so they can avoid filing for adoption after the birth. The law applies to any would-be parent, regardless of sexual orientation and biological relation.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Kids Staying in House After Separation or Divorce

I have heard of a few people already doing this.  I thought it was an interesting idea – the kids stay in the home, while the parents move in/out based on the custody arrangement.

I wonder if more families will start looking into this option. Interesting article from the New York Times.

 

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Kentucky Judge Recuses Himself from Adoption Case

A judge in Kentucky has said he will recuse himself from adoption cases involving homosexual parties.  The judge stated that he will be doing so “as a matter of conscience” because he feels that under no circumstances would it serve the best interest of a child to be adopted by a same sex couple.

But does this violate ethics rules? Isn’t a judge sworn to uphold the laws of the land? If he cannot do so, how is he honoring his oath?  Interesting development in Kentucky – we will have to see how this plays out.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Judge Orders Custody to Three Parents

An unconventional family had a child and then became involved in a custody battle in New York.   The parties involved are: (1) a married couple, man and wife, and (2) their neighbor, a female.  The three were reportedly involved in intimate relations and considered themselves a family.

The neighbor female gave birth to a boy, whose biological father was the neighbor.  The married couple eventually filed for divorce, after the two women moved in together.

The Judge in New York awarded shared custody to all three parents.  To read more of this interesting story, click here.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com