Friday, March 23, 2012

Older Couples Who Divorce Face Unique Challenges ~by Legal Pub

It has often been said that the reason divorce is so expensive is because it is worth it. However, older couples contemplating divorce need to think before they leap because elder couples have less time to recover from their mistakes. According to a study at Bowling Green State University, divorce rates for couples older than 50 doubled between 1990 and 2008. In fact, divorces for couples over the age of 50 now represent over one fourth of all U.S. divorces.

Health Insurance:

People who divorce after age 50 but before 65 when Medicare eligibility begins may face difficulty finding affordable health insurance. Consequently, any divorce settlement agreement needs to consider the individuals health and needs for insurance coverage.


Even if an IRA or a 401(k) is only in the name of just one spouse, the other spouse has a right to claim a portion of that account. That portion may vary according to the law of the state in which the divorce is filed. In community property states, both partners jointly own the retirement account even if it is only in one spouse's name. In non-community property states, retirement assets will be divided according to the divorce property settlement agreement. With older divorcees, it is important to get a fair share of retirement savings. Before agreeing to a division of retirement plan assets, remember that taxes must be taken into account when dividing assets.
Money can be withdrawn tax-free from Roth IRA accounts in retirement. There are tax penalties for early withdrawal. Furthermore, investments such as stocks rise and fall with the market. The parties need to specify if the division of assets is based on a percentage of the whole or upon a fixed dollar amount.

If a traditional defined-benefit pension (a pension that pay a steady monthly income during retirement) is involved, than a “qualified domestic relations order” (QDRO) may be necessary to tell the plan’s sponsor how benefits are to be divided. With a defined-benefit plan, it is necessary to obtain a copy of the summary plan description from the employer or plan administrator.

If a plan provides that an “alternate payee” may not receive benefits until the plan member retires, than you may need to negotiate for alimony or some other compensation to make up for lost pension income should the plan member choose to work past normal retirement age.
If a pension pays joint and survivor benefits, it may be necessary to determine whether the original spouse or a subsequent spouse is considered the survivor. Make sure that any money transferred from an IRA or 401(k) is handled as a trustee-to-trustee transfer in order to avoid penalties and taxes.


Longstanding life insurance policies can be valuable assets. If you are the spouse who is insured, do not stop paying premiums. A life insurance policy can be a valuable asset in divorce. Agreeing to continue funding the policy may reduce your future alimony payments or can be made to benefit the children. One missed payment could forfeit the coverage so try to make sure premiums are paid.


Health insurance for those over the age of 50s or early 60s can be expensive. COBRA allows divorcees to continue to receive coverage through an ex-spouse’s employer group plan for up to 36 months. A divorce agreement should specify who is responsible for paying the COBRA premiums. If you are close to 65, consider delaying your divorce until you qualify for Medicare.


Don't get stuck with a home that is larger than you need or one that you cannot sell at a reasonable price. Liquid assets are preferable to assets that are difficult to sell. If you choose to sell the house, one of the parties should reside in the home until it is sold.


After a divorce, change the beneficiary designations in your investment accounts and in your will. Remove your ex spouse from all joint accounts. Unless there is an order to the contrary, remove your ex from the list of beneficiaries of any life insurance policy that you may own. Nothing can be more frustrating to family members than seeing an ex spouse receive death benefits that were not intended to be shared with the ex.


Consult a family law attorney before you relocate. Divorce laws vary from state to state. It may be more advantageous to file for divorce before you move to a new state.

In sum, divorce is seldom pleasant. It is seldom a financial bonanza. Nevertheless, for older couples contemplating dissolution of marriage, planning is something that must take place. Failing to properly realize the unique circumstances of elderly divorcees can result in an avoidable financial disaster.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Just Whose Voice Called Out For Help, Zimmerman or Martin?

It all comes down to whose voice it is on the audio calling for help. Residents at the Twin lakes Retreat in Florida had become used to stolen bikes and grills. 28 year-old George Zimmerman offered to start a neighborhood watch. Now George Zimmerman is accused of shooting an unarmed Miami Gardens teenager. This has triggered racial tensions as Trayvon Martin, the teenager is African American.

Zimmerman took the neighborhood watch very seriously. He had a license to carry a weapon and regularly patrolled the area with his dog. Zimmerman was also studying criminal justice. Zimmerman was even credited with solving a few neighborhood crimes. But now 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is dead. Did Zimmerman have a false sense of authority that cost Martin his life? Trayvon’s family’s attorneys claim racial profiling in this gated community led up to the murder of Trayvon Martin.

Yet Zimmerman did not work alone. He called police 46 times since Jan. 1, 2011 to report disturbances, break-ins, windows left open and other incidents. Nine of those times, he saw someone suspicious. On the night in question, Zimmerman called police dispatch and stated, “Hey, we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there’s a real suspicious guy at Retreat View Circle. This guy looks like he’s up to no good.” Zimmerman apparently reported that the black male was walking slowly, looked drugged and appeared to be looking at people’s houses.

Calls to 911 reported a scuffle and someone crying for help. A shot is heard. Subsequently, Trayvon is found face down on the ground near a pathway. Zimmerman told police that he was the one crying for help. He claims the unarmed Trayvon Martin started the fight and that he shot him in self-defense. Zimmerman has yet to be charged; however, the matter remains under investigation. In the mean time, racial tensions have skyrocketed. On at least two previous occasions, Sanford Police have been accused of giving favorable treatment to relatives of officers involved in violent encounters with blacks. Whether Zimmerman will be charged remains unknown. However, no matter what the result of the investigation, it is certain that someone will be upset with the outcome. Trayvon-Martin-

Update 3-20-12: Still no charges filed against Zimmerman; however, a 13 year old witness has surfaced. Austin McLendon was apparently standing less than 20 yards away from Martin when he was shot. He said he heard screams for help and than heard a gun shot. In another account, it is said that Austin saw a someone laying on the ground screaming for help. Police interviewed Austin early in the investigation so whatever he originally told authorities is likely to be most accurate.

Update 3-21-12: Trayvon apparently was talking to his girlfriend seconds before he was shot according to Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Martin's family. The phone call between Martin and his girlfriend allegedly describe the last moments of Martin's life. The statement of Crump has resulted in the involvement of the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the FBI. Outrage. Florida State Attorney Norm Wolfinger has also stated that he had ordered an "expeditious review" of the investigation "utilizing the investigative resources of the Seminole County Grand Jury, which will be called to session." You can bet it will center around the audio tape for the 911 call. 911 Video

It will also center on the 16 year old girlfriend's recollection of the phone conversation: "He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man," Martin's friend said. "I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run, but he said he was not going to run... Trayvon said, 'What are you following me for,' and the man said, 'What are you doing here.' Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again, and he didn't answer the phone." (ABC News.)
Emergency and nonemergency calls concerning the attack describe the following:
"These a**holes always get away," Zimmerman said.
Dispatcher: "Are you following him?"
Zimmerman: "Yeah."Dispatcher: "We don't need you to do that."

An altercation seems to be heard.... A few moments later several 911 calls flooded in and Martin is killed by a single bullet. Now the national protests calling for justice grow louder. Can a Grand Jury do its job based only on the evidence?

Update 3-24-12: President Obama has called for a full investigation of the matter. Mean while, does one witness support Zimmerman's self defense claim?

Update 3-28-12: Geraldo Rivera has publicly apologized for saying that Martin was partially responsible for his own death because he was wearing a hoodie. "I'll bet you money, if he didn't have that hoodie on, that nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn't have responded in that violent and aggressive way," Rivera said. Monday Rivera apologized to those who were offended by his remarks. "I apologize to anyone offended by what one prominent black conservative called my ‘very practical and potentially life-saving' campaign urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies."

Update 3-29-12: Spike Lee issues an apology to the McClain family as he erroneously retweeted their address as being Zimmerman's to 2500 followers. Is it ever right to harass friends and families of suspects or defendants?

Update 4-8-12: The special prosecutor investigating the killing of Trayvon Martin has decided not to convene a grand jury. The decision whether to file charges against George Zimmerman will be made by State Attorney Angela B. Corey. The former state prosecutor, Norman Wolfinger, recused himself from the case, saying that he was stepping away "in the interest of the public safety of the citizens of Seminole County and to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest." Gov. Rick Scott appointed Corey to replace Wolfinger. In the mean time, the investigation continues.

Update 4-20-12: A photograph released by ABC News shows blood on the back of George Zimmerman  head from two minor cuts. The photo was taken three minutes after Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, If valid, it may support the contention of a violent confrontation prior to the shot. Zimmerman allegedly told police that Martin punched him in the face, climbed on top of him and slammed his head into the sidewalk. When the local police arrived at the scene, they found Zimmerman with a bloody nose, swollen lip and lacerations in the back of his head. Although paramedics gave him first aid, he did not need to go to the hospital.  A judge set Zimmerman's bond at $150,000.

Update 5-16-12:  Early media reports stirred up a lot of racial tension.  Was the purpose of such half truths to create a media frenzy to increase ratings?  Myth 1:  This was a white on black crime.  Truth 1: George Zimmerman is a Hispanic mix.  His skin color is not all that much lighter than Trayvon Martin's. Friends of Zimmerman claim he has friends of all races and is not a bigot as suggested by the media.  Myth 2:  The police never arrested Zimmerman or took him into custody.  Truth 2:  A few weeks after the incident Zimmerman is seen on video in the police station in handcuffs.   It is only after the states attorney said there was not enough evidence at that time to pursue prosecution that Zimmerman was released.  Myth 3:  The police video showed no injuries to Zimmerman.  Truth 3:  Enhanced video documented two cuts to the back of Zimmerman's head. Myth 4:  Zimnmerman sought no medical treatment.  Truth 4:  Zimmerman was treated at the scene for cuts and an injury to the nose by emergency personnel.  The next day he saw his family physician.  He had a broken nose, black eyes, cuts on the back of his head and a minor back injury according to medical records compiled by his doctor, ABC News reports    Myth 5:  Travon had no injuries to his hands so therefore no struggle occurred. Truth 5:  Recently released autopsy reports document broken skin on Trayvons hands consistent with punching someone.

Neither Trayvon nor anyone else deserved to die that day and this tragedy certainly could have been avoided. But people need to stick to the facts and quit sensationalizing these unfortunate incidents in order to stir up a media frenzy.  The original prosecutor did not feel there was enough evidence to pursue charges.  Yet under public pressure, a new special prosecutor known for liberally charging defendants was appointed to the case.  Keep in mind that our system of justice demands that every person is presumed innocent unless proved otherwise after a fair trial by a jury of his peers.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Morocco's Moronic Law to Blame For Death of Rape Victim?

Sometimes the law just doesn't make sense. Other times, the law can have detrimental consequences, especially in a country like Morocco. Consider Amina Filali, a 16-year-old female rape victim. She committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist. Amina claimed to her mother that she was physically beaten during the five months of her forced marriage to her rapist yet her mother only advised patience. Now, there is finally some strong momentum to change Morocco's laws which allow rapists to marry their victims in order to avoid prosecution.

Amina Filali ended her own life by swallowing rat poison rather than continue to be married to the rat who raped her a year earlier. The forced marriage was a consequence of Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code which allows a "kidnapper" of a minor to marry his victim to escape prosecution and preserve the honor of the woman's family. Others say an Article 475 marriage is only recommended by the judge if both the victim and both families agree. However if the families agree, marriage can be forced on the victim by the families to avoid scandal. (The loss of a woman's virginity outside of marriage is a huge Scarlett letter on the whole family. Whereas, marriage restores the woman and her families honor.)

The law is difficult on rape victims when it comes to trial. The Moroccan system of justice requires the victim to prove she was raped. If she fails to meet her burden of proof, the victim can be prosecuted for debauchery. Furthermore, even if successful in the prosecution, there is a chance the rapist can avoid punishment by marrying the victim. Consequently, many rapes are believed to be unreported. Sounds like the winds of change need to blow through Morocco real soon.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stupidity in Afghanistan Is Costing Lives

Utter stupidity in Afghanistan is costing lives. First it was the burning of the Qurans. That cost the lives of six U.S. soldiers. Now a U.S. Army sergeant opened fire on Afghan villagers as they slept. 16 people, mostly women and children, were murdered. This senseless act of violence has reignited fury at the U.S. presence. Atrocity is too kind of a term. This was cold blooded murder. The Taliban has promised revenge and U.S.-Afghan relations are at an all time low.

Why are American troops still fighting in Afghanistan? It has been 10 years of conflict. Osama bin Laden is dead.The local Afghanistan people don't want us there. Recent video purportedly showing U.S. Marines urinating on dead Taliban militants has only added fuel to the fire.Violent protests have resulted in the death of 30 Afghans and 6 U.S. service members. Sunday's massacre began around 3 a.m. in two villages in Panjwai district. The village is about 500 yards from the U.S. base.

The Army staff sergeant from Joint Base Lewis-McChord Washington, acted alone. He returned to the Afghan base after the shooting and turned himself in. He is in custody at a NATO base in Afghanistan. The sergeant was assigned to support a special operations unit of either Green Berets or Navy Seals for purposes of promoting village stability. Apparently, this sergeant had just been cleared to return to duty after having suffered a head injury. Perhaps there was a medical reason for his insanity. In the meantime Karzai said, "This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven."

The U.S. needs a faster exit strategy. President Obama's plan calls for troops to leave at the end of 2014. In the wake of the Quran burnings, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, visited troops and urged them not to give in to the impulse for revenge. Now, nothing short of a complete withdrawal will ease the tensions.


According to a recent report by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than 1.5 million complaints about fraud upon folks over the age of 50. Scammers are targeting baby boomers in record numbers. Boomers probably number inexcess of 75 million people and they tend to have some inherited wealth as well as equity in their homes. Wealth combined with cognitive decline spells potential victim. The Wall Street Journal expects that 2011 was be a record year for prosecuting fraud. Defrauding Boomers. Readers, when it comes to investments, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is a scam!

Happy Returns

A Texas infant who vanished eight years ago has been found alive and well. Police have arrested his former baby sitter, Krystle Rochelle Tanner, 26, who is accused of kidnapping him. The boy's mother, Auboni Champion-Morin is ecstatic.Tanner had been the 8 month-old child's godmother when he disappeared in 2004. The case went cold in 2006. CPS recently investigated Tanner and the mystery has apparently been solved. For other people who were lost but are now found, please follow this LINK.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It Is Still Rape If It Is Unwanted! ~by Legal Pub

Legal Pub brings you this serious video on "Woman's Day" which is a European holiday. This ad running in the U.K. is designed to educate young women that any non consensual sex is in fact rape. In Europe, the ad is very controversial as many suggest that it goes too far. Here, we don't see any controversy at all. If the sex is unwanted, it is rape! While these two commercials are dramatic, something has to be done to educate teens that unless sex is consensual, it is rape. Click on the photo of the short skirt photo for a short video.

The website below is very graphic. If you click on the link you will see a dramatic reenactment of a date rape. This is for educational purposes only:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

9-Year-Old Is Sorry His Negligence Seriously Wounded His Classmate.

The nine year old boy who brought a .45 caliber handgun to school on February 22, 2012 was in court again. He says he's sorry. As you may recall, this 9-year-old took a handgun to Armin Jahr Elementary School in Bremerton. The gun accidentally discharged and seriously injured another third grade classmate, Amina Kocer-Bowman. Sorry The youngster plead guilty to possession of a gun, bringing a dangerous weapon to school, and reckless endangerment. Under the plea agreement, the boy will be required to complete 48 hours of community service, before serving 12 months of probation. The victim's father was not pleased with the sentence.

The gun accidentally discharged when the boy slammed the backpack down. Amina Kocer-Bowman, an 8-year-old classmate, was seriously injured by the bullet. She remains in serious condition. HeraldNet. The boy will probably testify against his mother, Jamie Lee Passmore, and her boyfriend, Douglas Bauer, who allegedly allowed him access to the gun.

The boy was represented by Eric John Makus.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

B.P. Settlement Will Get Them Past Oil Spill Disaster

When the April 2010 gulf oil spill occurred, many thought it would be the end of B.P. After all, spill related costs were projected as high as $200 billion! But those in the know suspected that this too would pass and the company would survive. LINK. Now, settlement appears to be a reality.

It is now projected that total costs will be around $50 billion assuming that the class-action suit is resolved. The settlement will require B.P. to pay $7.8 billion will likely win favor with our federal government, which controls access to oil reserves. This could end up being a huge benefit to B.P. But it won't be easy to forget the blowout of the Macondo well which destroyed the Deepwater Horizon rig and killed 11 workers. Two hundred million gallons of oil polluted the water and disrupted thousands of lives and businesses. The spill also killed wildlife and closed vast down areas of commercial fishing. However, the settlement will help tens of thousands of victims, including fishermen who lost work and cleanup workers who got sick. It is expected that the federal court in New Orleans will approve the settlement in order to keep things moving forward.

B.P. expects to pay the victims using the $9.5 billion dollars remaining in trust fund to pay claims of victims. The trust has already paid out $10.5 billion. The recent settlement does not conclude lawsuits with federal, state and local governments or resolve environmental damage. Those claims may take another $25 billion to fully resolve. But at this point, B.P. can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Update 3-10-12: Lawyers are ready to battle over legal fees! LINK