Here are some additional considerations that divorcing couples may need to think about. Peruse the following headlines to see if any apply to you.
Any divorce that takes place between two people of different nationalities can be extremely expensive, and extremely complicated. Divorce proceedings work differently in the United States than they do in France, Japan, or other countries. It isn’t always clear which court will take jurisdiction, and one parent can often lobby for one court over another to try and gain more favorable laws.
If parents choose to fight it out in court, custody decisions can often take decades to resolve, and some won’t even be addressed until the children are grown. (The Economist, 2-7-2009) If you are handling a cross-border divorce, you should consult a lawyer and do your best to resolve differences outside the courtroom, because duking it out amidst International law won’t be much fun for anyone. You’ll both end up broke and bitter, while the lawyers buy a new private island with your children’s college funds.
When a family business is involved in a divorce
If you or your spouse operate a business together, this can complicate the process quite a bit. It also makes the stakes in a nasty divorce quite a bit higher. Many divorce lawyers comment that they see perfectly viable businesses fold during divorce, sending the business and its operators into bankruptcy, all because the divorcing spouses can’t compromise. You should also keep in mind that if business disputes in a divorce go to litigation, then your lenders, employees, co-workers or competition may find out every detail. When divorce details involving a business go public, it can potentially hurt the business.
Here’s the good news: there are many creative ways to resolve the situation, such as having one partner buy out his or her spouse, continuing to work together civilly, or operating together while retaining separate entities in terms of profit and management. All sorts of creative agreements can be drawn up to keep the business viable, so long as the spouses aren’t determined to tear it apart in their divorce wars. If you’re in this situation, you should consult a lawyer to find out what your options are.
Underwater mortgages & other side effects of a bad economy
When the economy is bad and couples are struggling financially, dividing assets and liabilities can be a lot trickier, and often takes longer. Getting the house in a divorce can now be a liability rather than an asset, and simply selling it can pose problems. “We have to work even harder to create an agreement that works for both parties,” says Kathryn Lanigan Pruitt, a board-certified family lawyer in Texas. “A house could sit on the market for a year or more, but someone still has to pay for it and possibly the home of the spouse who moved out, too. When it sells, who is responsible for the repairs? If there is a loss on the house, who is responsible? …While it is virtually impossible to draft an agreement that protects you in every possible situation, it is important to address common points of conflict in these situations in enforceable language. It is often harder these days to just get a divorce and be done with it.” (D Magazine, Oct. 2011, p. 128)
Summer homes and second properties
Issues regarding the division of property are typically determined by the laws of the jurisdiction in which the property is located. Therefore if you have property located in a different jurisdiction from where you’re filing for divorce, it may operate under separate rules.
Military disability payments & divorce
Many state courts are now including disability payments for veterans in divorce settlements, factoring them in as income when it comes to the division of assets and other financial property. Yet many argue that doing so is illegal. Title 38, section 5301(a) of the U.S. code states that payments “of benefit due or to become due under any law administered by the Secretary (of Veteran’s Affairs) shall be exempt from the claim of creditors, and shall not be liable to attachment, levy or seizure by or under legal or equitable process.” (Keenan, 2012)
Unfortunately, this is one of the many areas of law that as of this point depends on a judge’s interpretation of these statutes, and different judges have ruled in different ways on this issue.
DES Information on unique situations that may affect divorce such as international divorce, underwater mortgages, & business ownership.