123rf.com
123rf.com

For many children the best part of summer is summer camp. Camps can provide the opportunity to learn everything from computer skills to surfing.  And, as the saying goes, summer camp is the place where strangers become friends and friendships last forever.

For many divorced or separated parents, planning to send a child to summer camp requires additional consideration in order to coordinate schedules.  To that end, many custody orders provide timelines for discussing plans or selecting contact weeks.  Under the current Delaware Contact Guidelines,  the parent whose choice it is to select contact weeks over the summer must give the other parent written notice of his/her summer week selection between March 1st and April 1st.  Although April 1st is rapidly approaching, it is not too late to consider summer camps.  One helpful resource is The News Journal, which has published a list of summer camps in Delaware.

****************

Leslie Spoltore is a Partner with the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP.  Leslie practices in Fox Rothschild’s Wilmington, Delaware office.  You can reach Leslie at (302) 622-4203, or lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.

 

 

“Medical divorce” is a term coined some years ago to describe a divorce obtained for medical reasons. More specifically, according to a recent article by George Diepenbrock, researchers defined “medical divorce” as

an instance where one partner becomes diagnosed with a degenerative disease, such as early onset dementia. The couple could drain its assets, including retirement savings, to pay for treatment. However, some couples instead choose to divorce to shield one person’s assets. The sick partner would eventually qualify for Medicaid.

A study by two University of Kansas economists suggests there may be a link between the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) and a reduction in the number of medical divorces. The expansion under the ACA increased Medicaid coverage to include adults younger than 65 with incomes of up to 138 percent of the poverty guideline without consideration of their assets.  Donna Ginther, professor of economics, and David Slusky, assistant professor of economics, compared divorce rates prior to and after the expansion. They found that states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA experienced a “5.6 percent decrease in the prevalence of divorce among people ages 50-64, compared with those states that did not expand.” Given the policy change affecting the states that expanded Medicaid, the professors determined it is reasonable to assume that a reduction in medical divorces accounted for the decrease.

This reduction, however, may be short lived depending on any legislative changes enacted by Congress. The article notes that Professors Ginther and Slusky believe “that research on how certain policy changes – including potential reintroduction of asset tests for eligibility – have influenced individuals’ lives can be valuable as Congress considers how to move forward with the nation’s health care system.”

*********************

leslie_SpoltoreLeslie Spoltore is a Partner with the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP.  Leslie practices in Fox Rothschild’s Wilmington, Delaware office.  You can reach Leslie at (302) 622-4203, or lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.

 

 

1040 Tax Form with Refund Check and Cash.

Divorcing couples may face a number of questions at tax time.  Prior posts on this blog have highlighted some issues that are worth mentioning again:

*******************

leslie_SpoltoreLeslie Spoltore is a Partner with the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP.  Leslie practices in Fox Rothschild’s Wilmington, Delaware office.  You can reach Leslie at (302) 622-4203, or lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.

Syd with tennis ballAlaska recently enacted legislation authorizing judges to consider the well-being of animals and to allow judges to assign joint custody of pets. The Providence Journal has reported that Rhode Island is now considering similar legislation. Representative Charlene Lima recently introduced a bill that would require judges to consider the best interests of pets when deciding who gets custody of them in a divorce.

The First State is generally pet friendly. In fact, the Animal League Defense Fund ranked Delaware 15th in the nation for animal protection in 2016. However, as noted in my prior post, pets are considered to be personal property in a divorce here. We will have to wait to see if Delaware will follow the lead of Alaska and Rhode Island to change the status of our pets.  Stay tuned!

__________________________

Leslie Spoltore is a Partner with the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP.  Leslie practices in Fox Rothschild’s Wilmington, Delaware office.  You can reach Leslie at (302) 622-4203, or lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.

Parent-childJohn F. Kennedy said “children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”  He was right.  In Delaware, volunteer attorneys or volunteer advocates have the privilege of representing our most valuable resource in Family Court proceedings through the Office of the Child Advocate and the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program.  Senate Bill 188, which was passed by the General Assembly, will bring both programs under one office.   Specifically,

This bill transfers the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program to the Office of the Child Advocate creating one office in this State that provides legal representation to children. The bill updates the law to reflect the practices of the Office of the Child Advocate, including ensuring that the child is the party to the proceeding once legal counsel is appointed, that every child is provided legal representation, that the wishes of the child are a significant factor in the legal representation, and that the child’s rights are explained to him or her. Finally, this bill allows the Office of the Child Advocate to assist other Courts of this State in the rare instances where they need legal representation of a child, and will enable OCA to begin to establish volunteer attorney pools to assist in other areas of the law regarding children.

The Bill becomes effective on March 5, 2017.

The Court of Common Pleas has postponed the move of its E-Filing services.  That Court’s E-Filing services are currently available through the eFlex system but  will soon be provided through the File and Serve Delaware system. The transition, which was scheduled to take place on March 1, 2017, will now take place on April 2, 2017. More information on training and access to the system can be found here.

*********

Leslie Spoltore is an attorney with the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP.  Leslie practices in Fox Rothschild’s Wilmington, Delaware office.  You can reach Leslie at (302) 622-4203, or lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.

30807004-alimony-word-in-white-3d-letters-on-a-ball-or-sphere-of-money-to-illustrate-financial-spousal-suppor[1]The recent decision in the case captioned R.S. v. W.E., Del Fam. Ct., No. CN10-05981, Kerr, J. (Jan. 4, 2017), warns Family Court litigants that failure to comply with discovery can have consequences. In this case, R.S. (“Wife”) was seeking (among other things) alimony. Leading up to the hearing date her ex-husband, W.E. (“Husband”) issued discovery asking for the production of documents. Husband asked for documents related to her income. In addition, he asked for an updated list of her expenses and “[a]ll documents supporting each and every monthly current expenses you wish to have the Court consider in calculating alimony….” Id. at 1. Despite the issuance of an Order on June 10, 2016 compelling the production of documents, Wife failed to produce the documents regarding her expenses. With regard to her income, she produced only a profit and loss statement from her accountant with no supporting documentation.

When the parties appeared for the ancillary hearing on January 4, 2017, Husband made a motion in limine to preclude Wife from presenting evidence relating to her income or her monthly expenses. The Court granted Husband’s motion stating:

Pursuant to 13 DEL. C. § 1512, the Court may award alimony to a dependent party. While the court can alleviate the prejudice to Husband in Wife’s failure to provide supporting documentation for her profit and loss statement by either attributing Wife with her gross receipts or attributing Wife with income from the Wage and Labor Survey, the same cannot be done for her expenses. Husband is severely prejudiced by Wife’s failure to provide documentation pursuant to the Requests on her expenses. Husband would have been able to prepare for questions regarding her expenses had the documents been provided. Wife did not even provide a bare list of expenses to Husband’s counsel or to the Court in the pretrial. If there were a lesser sanction which would address Wife’s failure without prejudice the Court would enter the lesser sanction. However, there is no lesser sanction.

Thus, the Court cannot permit Wife to testify as to her expenses. Without evidence as to Wife’s monthly expenses, dependency cannot be established as Wife’s reasonable needs cannot be determined. Wife was informed by the Court at the pretrial conference that she needed to provide the opposing party with certain documentation. In addition, two Motions to Compel were filed against Wife during a time when Wife was represented by Counsel. Therefore, the Court finds that Wife was aware that she needed to produce documentation relating to her income and expenses but failed to do so. Id. at 3 – 4.

Since the Court was unable to determine Wife’s reasonable needs, alimony was set at $0 per month.

The entire Letter Decision and Order may be found here.

**************

Leslie Spoltore is a Partner with the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP.  Leslie practices in Fox Rothschild’s Wilmington, Delaware office.  You can reach Leslie at (302) 622-4203, or lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.

There is no dispute; going through a divorce can be difficult. For some, coming home to a wagging tail is just what the doctor ordered on those stressful days.

What happens to your pet in a divorce? As a prior post explained, pets are considered personal property in Delaware. If the owners cannot agree on what to do, the court can award the family pet to one party or the other.

Syd puppyRecognizing that pets are more like family members than furniture for many, Alaska is taking a different approach. Alaska has amended its divorce statutes to consider the well-being of animals and to allow judges to assign joint custody of pets. It also allows the court to include pets in domestic violence protective orders. Pet lovers and advocates are thrilled with this development. We will have to wait and see if other states follow suit.

 

**************

Leslie Spoltore is a Partner with the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP.  Leslie practices in Fox Rothschild’s Wilmington, Delaware office.  You can reach Leslie at (302) 622-4203, or lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.

 

 

 

The Court of Common Pleas has announced a change to the Delaware State Court’s E-Filing system. The Court of Common Pleas will be moving its E-Filing services from its current eFlex system to the File and Serve Delaware system on March 1, 2017. The announcement, which contains information on training and support, may found here.

*********

Leslie Spoltore is an attorney with the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP.  Leslie practices in Fox Rothschild’s Wilmington, Delaware office.  You can reach Leslie at (302) 622-4203, or lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.

As 2017 draws near many people start to consider their resolutions, promises to themselves, of things they want to accomplish in the next 12 months.  Eric Solotoff, a Partner in our Roseland, New Jersey office recently authored an interesting post entitled “The New Year’s Resolution Divorce.”  The topic, which seems to resonate with readers, examines the phenomenon of spouses who add filing for divorce to their “to do” list for the new year.

**************************

Leslie Spoltore is a Partner with the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP.  Leslie practices in Fox Rothschild’s Wilmington, Delaware office.  You can reach Leslie at (302) 622-4203, or lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.