Category Archives: Divorce

Demi-Ashton Divorce?

We’re reading about another possible celebrity divorce…Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.

If you’re thinking about divorce, we have advice from readers who have been through it. This is Divorce/Admin 101 – the administrative things you should be thinking about if you’re heading down this path.

For instance – one of our readers said:

“I took a two full weekend afternoons to pull together my system. I gathered up all my financial records, home inventory papers, budgets and monthly financial statements, and went to my office and sat in a conference room. I spread everything out to become familiar with each element.”

Here are more ideas on Divorce/Admin 101.

5 Steps to Prepare for Divorce

Rumors are swirling that Sandra Bullock will be pulling the plug on her marriage.  If you’re preparing for a divorce, Twin Cities family law attorney Jonathan Fogel suggests these 5 steps:

  1. Protect Your Children – Think of your children first.  Schedule meetings to discuss the divorce with your spouse outside of the household and seek a family therapist to help the children through the process.
  2. Organize Your Financials – Make copies of past tax statements, bank statements, etc. and keep that file outside the house. Sever joint bank accounts and don’t overspend!
  3. Organize Non-Monetary Assets – This means taking an inventory of family heirlooms that have been handed down. Look for that wedding gift list!
  4. Educate Yourself – Find an attorney who specializes in family law and preferably has a network of individuals to get you and your family through this process including therapists, accountants, insurance agents, etc.
  5. Take Care of Yourself – This is an extremely stressful time for all involved and it is important to find a support network you can trust to lean on throughout the process.

Jonathan Fogel is a Minnesota attorney with extensive experience handling divorces involving complex marital estates, spousal maintenance, custody, and post decree matters. You can reach him at Fogel Law Offices.

– Susan

Guy Ritchie – I love her, and she’s retarded

Guy Ritchie talks with Esquire about his life – and the writer sneaks in a couple of Maddona questions.

Ritchie says he still loves her and she’s retarded.

Hmmmm…..many people who are divorced probably share this sentiment about their ex.

If you’re starting down the ‘love-her-she’s-retarded’ path, here’s some advice from a reader on the admin side of divorce.

– Susan

New Mortgage Scams Surface

The TODAY Show aired another set of warnings about mortgage scams on May 27, 2009. The expert reports there are currently millions of Americans on the brink of foreclosure and some illegitimate “Foreclosure Consultants” are taking advantage of their dire situations.

  • WHN Tip: Contact your lender directly before you get behind in your mortgage payments. Ask for options to renegotiate the terms of your loan.

Real estate expert Barbara Corcoran outlined the newest scam along with several that have been wreaking havoc with desperate homeowners for months.

The latest scam involves President Obama’s Rescue Plan designed to help seven to nine million families avoid foreclosure. People are paying thousands of dollars to illegitimate counselors who promise to research facts about qualification and the application process. Of course, they don’t conduct the research and, instead, keep the money.

The information you need is free and can be accessed in two simple ways. First, the Internet site provides everything you need to know. Second, a call to 888-995-HOPE delivers the same assistance.

Make sure you are visiting a legitimate website. The scam artists often create websites with official-sounding addresses that may end with “.gov”. Don’t assume a site with this type of name is legitimate. If you have any questions about the legitimacy of a site, conduct a Google search with the name and the word “scam” or just search “mortgage scams”. Go to the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission sites as well.

One of the most dangerous scams is called “Bait and Switch”. An illegitimate counselor hands the prospect a document to sign. Instead of a mortgage application, the document is actually a transfer of title. Once signed, the scam artist owns your home and you are evicted.

A “Rent-to-Buy” scheme is equally dangerous. The representative offers to buy your home at a very low price and promises to sell it back when you get on your feet. In the meantime, they propose you pay rent. Soon, the rent soars well beyond your means, they own the home and you are evicted.

The “Middleman” scam preys upon your vulnerability and lack of self-confidence. Besides requiring you to pay thousands upfront, you are required to supply confidential information such as your social security numbers, bank account numbers and/or driver’s license details. (WHN NOTE: Never release your confidential information until you are certain the company is legitimate and it will not be used for identity theft.) The illegitimate counselor then tells you to “leave it to me” and collects your mortgage payments with a promise to pay the bank while they renegotiate your loan for you. Of course, they take your money and your confidential information and disappear. They had no intention of ever speaking with your bank.

In the “Bankruptcy” scheme, the scammer promises to work with the lender on your behalf. Instead, they file bankruptcy on your behalf and you lose both your home and your credit rating.

According to Barbara Corcoran, there are legitimate mortgage consultants in the country. WHN recommends that you start by working directly with your lender or the government. Again, the information is free and readily available. You can make a few calls or visit the legitimate websites to get the ball rolling without spending a dime.

There are websites to help identify scams and provide advice about how to safely deal with a mortgage renegotiation or refinance. One to visit is scambusters.

If you have questions or would like to share your experiences, please email me: Leann (at)

What Happens to Child Support When an Ex is Laid Off?

There are hundreds of thousands of newly-unemployed people in the U.S. We asked family law attorneys in several states for their advice, both for the ex who pays and the ex who receives child support.

Many of the attorneys recommended that the unemployed person contact the attorney involved in establishing child support immediately. (Note: The information WHN gathered is not to be used in lieu of legal advice. This information is not meant to replace legal advice, and it may not represent the laws in your state. This is only written to give you ideas about questions to ask your attorney and things you might expect to encounter during the process. Contact a trusted legal professional for any legal needs you may have.)

Take Action

  • WHN TIP: MOVE FAST. Child support issues may not move quickly through the courts – HOWEVER – you must take action quickly. Experts say that in Minnesota alone child support modification requests rose from 10,000 in 2007 to over 14,000 in 2008. Although courts are obligated to make support systems fair for all parties, the judges in Minneapolis’ Hennepin County are now faced with 1,000 cases per judge each year. This overload is one more sign of how the new economy affects our citizens.

From the office of Fred Adams ( in Dallas, TX comes an explanation about the urgency of taking action. “If the payor loses his job, file a motion to modify the child support immediately so that arrearages do not begin or continue to accrue,” he says. “Once an arrearage has accrued, the courts in Texas have no ability to reduce that amount.” Bottom line? “Be proactive,” he continues. “Child support can always be raised once he regains employment status.”

“If you are the recipient of child support and your ex loses their job, consider agreeing to a reduction on a temporary basis (after the court grants a Temporary Order) so that it will be easier to restore the child support to its original level once your ex becomes employed again,” Mr Adams advises. “Remember that informal agreements are not binding on the court. The agreement needs to be included in an Order entered with the court.”

There may be options available on a free or sliding-scale basis if fees will create a burden. “If a person becomes unemployed and can’t pay support, they should contact the court where the child support order was filed and see if these programs exist,” Sherrie Bennett ( of Seattle, WA recommends. “If there are free or sliding-scale self-help programs, often volunteers can walk an individual through the process and help fill out the forms to request a modification in child support.”

She also advises checking with the local bar association for the possibility of free assistance. “The most important thing for a person who cannot afford child support is to get into court right away rather than letting back support stack up. It is very difficult to dig out of a backlog later,” Ms. Bennett says.

If you are the recipient of child support and your ex becomes unemployed, there are steps to take. “Pursue the claim in Family court and make your ex prove they are unemployed and can’t find other work,” explains Douglas M. Colbert (DMC1NYLAWYER@AOL.COM) of New York city. “The burden of proof is your ex’s responsibility.”

In the meantime, Mr. Colbert recommends filing for welfare or any other government benefits you and your child(ren) are eligible for.

If you are in the same city as your ex, there are creative ways the unemployed spouse can help ease the stress of the financial situation until a new job is found. “You can use your time to help your ex with the child(ren)’s expenses while you look for work,” Carol Bailey ( in Seattle says. “Take on more child care responsibilities such as replacing a day care provider, driving the child(ren) to and from school and after-school activities. You can also volunteer for school, athletic and recreational activities so the other parent can work.”

Ms. Bailey also suggests trying to barter for goods and attempting to earn money doing things you’ve never been paid for before. Exchange skills for money, store credit or goods. Consider providing carpentry, painting, car washing, cleaning, editing, babysitting, elder care, bookkeeping, shopping, gardening and other services in exchange for necessities.

Of course, the most amicable way to deal with a situation such as job loss is to discuss it with your ex first.

Keith Allen ( in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, says, “Find out if your ex is willing to work with you to make an agreement either to suspend or modify support while you are unemployed. This reduces possible animosity, legal fees and/or lost wages. Modification levels are defined by state guidelines and you can find a ‘dissomaster’ child support calculator online. The guidelines are based upon either unemployment benefits or, if no benefits exist, whatever amounts the two parents can agree to.”

With that information in hand, the parents can draft a stipulation themselves, go to the Family court self-help clinic at the courthouse or pay a paralegal or attorney to draft the stipulation. To be finalized, the stipulation must be submitted to the court for signature, according to Mr. Allen.

He goes on to explain that, if the recipient parent believes that their ex is intentionally not working or not seeking re-employment, they can apply for County support which is based upon the recipient’s income level. The County will most likely seek reimbursement from the ex for any monies paid according to their actual income or ability to earn. The County will likely request and obtain a “seek work” order against the ex-spouse. The out of work parent should retain proof of all job applications to show the judge the efforts they are making to become re-employed.

If both parents lose their jobs, it is still mandatory to file any revised agreements with the court.

Remember to act immediately when there is a “change in circumstances” such as a job loss by either or both parents. Avoiding the issue will make resolution much more difficult.

If something occurs that affects your ability to pay or the amount you need to receive from your ex, speak with the attorney who assisted you with the original child support Order. If that isn’t possible, search for an attorney in your area at This site lists law firms including individual attorneys, their specialties and qualifications. Many offer free initial consultations.

Another resource is located at, the American Bar Association site.

  • WHN TIP: According to some national news reports, analysts predict that job losses will continue throughout 2009. Plan now in the event this happens to you or your ex. The children’s health and well-being are of utmost importance and changes in child support could pose a host of challenges for everyone involved.
  • WHN TIP: Whether you are employed or not, there is a great website for people who are interested in joining a group where the members share your interests. Not only will you have a chance to network and make new friends, you can get some valuable input from people who might share some of your experiences. The website registration is easy and free. You will be amazed by the number of groups meeting to play cards, learn meditation, lose weight, exercise and the list goes on and on. Try it out at Simply enter your zip code and your area(s) of interest for a sample of what is available. You can narrow it down by the number of miles you are willing to travel as well. The only cost would occur if the group you choose charges a fee. (During registration, click on the website’s policy statement to learn more.)

For information or to share your experiences, email me: Leann (at)

Madonna and Guy: Untying the Knot

Guy Ritchie needs a good divorce attorney as Madge seems to be pulling out all the stops.

When we talk with lawyers around the country, they say divorce comes down to dividing the assets and the kids.

A Minnesota lawyer named Jonathan Fogel wrote an article that talks about five key steps to take if you’re thinking about untying the knot.

It’s smart advice and it’s free.  Maybe we should forward this to Mr. Ritchie?