Angry Judge William Watkins Suspended for Four Years Without Pay

Folks, I don't usually reprint other articles on my blog.  However, this one along with the inciting video is worth the read and watch! 

Bottom Line: Judges, as well as attorneys and litigants, need to be held responsible for their actions.

 

From the ABA Journal:

An admittedly intemperate family court judge has been suspended
without pay for the remaining years of his term by the West Virginia
Supreme Court of Appeals.

In one angry rant from the bench
that has been viewed on YouTube more than 200,000 times, Putnam County
Circuit Court Family Law Judge William M. Watkins III repeatedly told a
pastor appearing before him to "shut up." And this was far from the only
time he spoke to parties using inappropriate language, according to the
opinion (PDF) filed Tuesday by the supreme court.

In one hearing, the opinion says, when speaking to a woman who was
seeking an order of protection against her then-husband in a domestic
violence case, Watkins blamed the woman for "shooting off your fat mouth
about what happened," told her to "Shut up!" and then continued:

"Shut up! You stupid woman. Can’t even act properly. One more word out
of you that you aren’t asked a question you’re out of here, and you will
be found in direct contempt of court and I will fine you appropriately.
So, shut your mouth.You know I hate it when people are just acting out
of sheer spite and stupidity."

Click here to read the entire article

 

Prenuptial Agreements: What The Heck Are They?

Wedding kiss photoxpress Prenuptial agreements are agreements between prospective spouses made in preparation of marriage. In marriage, each person has certain legals rights, such as property rights or spousal support (aka alimony). In order to modify these legal rights, the prenuptial agreement is used, which results in a person giving up certain rights which they would otherwise have acquired by reason of the marriage. Courts are increasingly recognizing prenuptial agreements due to rising incidence of divorce and remarriage.


It's A Contract Just In Case the Marriage Winds Up In Divorce

Contract 002 photoxpress Prenuptial agreements are like contracts. And like any contract, a prenuptial agreement must be in writing and signed. It is very important to use an attorney to draw up a prenuptial agreement because problems arise when things are not specifically and carefully spelled out. For example, where a husband and wife enter into a prenuptial agreement that says: “wife agrees to waive all rights that she would otherwise be entitled to because of such marriage; and she waives any right to all property.” In this case, if the wife seeks alimony, the husband will have a problem if he tries to enforce the prenuptial agreement because it does not clearly state “no alimony,” although the prenup does clearly state a waiver of any right to property.

 
Break up photoxpress A common agreement in a prenuptial agreement is the amount of spousal support (i.e., in the event of divorce, wife gets $2,000/month alimony and medical insurance for life or until she remarries). In some states such as California, parties can even agree to a waiver of alimony, so in the event of divorce, no alimony will be paid.

Child Custody & Support Cannot Be Included in Prenup — Ever

Sad child photoxpress Sad little girl photoxpress

One thing parties may not agree to in a prenuptial agreement is with regard to child support or child custody. Because the state has a strong interest in child welfare, the right of a child to support may not be adversely affected by a prenuptial agreement and is therefore not allowed.

The Prenuptial Agreement Must Hold Up In Court – Read On!

Gavel and magnifier photoxpress

Signing a prenuptial agreement is only half of it. The other half is whether the agreement is valid. A prenuptial agreement is valid if it provides full disclosure; it is fair and reasonable; and was entered into voluntarily by both parties (no fraud, no duress). Sometimes however, courts will enforce a prenuptial agreement that may be unfair so long as there was full disclosure. Because things are NEVER black and white, it is so very important to use a lawyer to prepare your prenuptial agreement or you may find yourself fighting a losing battle in the gray areas. I also highly advise using a lawyer to review a prenuptial agreement if you have been asked to sign one.

Questions? Concerns?

For a Free Consultation please contact Attorney Lowell Steiger immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"  


*Since
my law practice is based in California, I'm addressing California law.
 Your state's laws may vary so please consult an attorney for
clarification of your state's law as it applies to you!

Divorce and Alimony: What Is It and What Factors Affect It?

Broken marriage     First of all, what is Alimony?*  Generally speaking, it is the money paid by one ex-spouse to the other for support under the terms of a court order or settlement agreement following a divorce.  Alimony is also called "spousal support" or "maintenance."  

    Okay, there are many factors that affect the amount and duration of alimony.  While this is not a complete list, it pretty much covers all the general bases.  Keep in mind that every marriage is unique and it is the combination of the factors below which will influence the spousal support determination. 

Factor Description
Length of the marriage Generally alimony lasts for a term or period, that will be longer if the marriage lasted longer. A marriage of over 10 years is often a candidate for permanent alimony.
Time separated while still married In some U.S. states, separation is a triggering event, recognized as the end of the term of the marriage. Other U.S. states (such as New Jersey) do not recognize separation or legal separation. In a state not recognizing separation, a 2-year marriage followed by an 8-year separation will generally be treated like a 10-year marriage.
Age of the parties at the time of the divorce Generally more youthful spouses are considered to be more able to 'get on' with their lives, and therefore thought to require shorter periods of support.
Relative income of the parties In U.S. states that recognize a right of the spouses to live 'according to the means to which they have become accustomed', alimony attempts to adjust the incomes of the spouses so that they are able to approximate, as best possible, their prior lifestyle.
Future financial prospects of the parties A spouse who is going to realize significant income in the future is likely to have to pay higher alimony than one who is not.
Health of the parties Poor health goes towards need, and potentially an inability to support oneself. The courts do not want to leave one party indigent.
Fault in marital breakdown In U.S. states where fault is recognized, fault can significantly affect alimony, increasing, reducing or even nullifying it. Many U.S. states are 'no-fault' states, where one does not have to show fault to get divorced. No-fault divorce spares the spouses the acrimony of the 'fault' processes, and closes the eyes of the court to any and all improper spousal behavior.  California is a "no-fault" state
Gender of the recipient In general, women are more likely to be granted alimony than men, due that (usually and historically) men make more money than women, and men are less likely to have gaps in employment due to childrearing.

Broken hearted marriage

For a Free Consultation please contact Attorney Lowell Steiger immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"  


*Since my law practice is based in California, I'm addressing California law.  Your state's laws may vary so please consult an attorney for clarification of your state's law as it applies to you!


Divorce: What Is Community Property? It’s Mine, No It’s Mine. Well, Which Is It?

Splitting the house     Community Property laws vary from state to state.  Does Community Property Law apply in your state? Well, here's the list: 

  • California*
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

So, what then is Community Property? Simply defined, "Community Property" is all real and personal property, wherever situated, that has been acquired during marriage by a married person while domiciled in California* unless the property was his or her separate property.

    Wait! The word "unless" is in that definition.  Yes, the "unless" part is very important when dividing property upon the dissolution of marriage.  What, then, is "separate property?"  "Separate property" is all property of either spouse, owned before the marriage, or acquired after marriage by gift, inheritance, or descent, together with the rents, issues, and profits of such property.

    Here are some examples of separate property:

  • Property one spouse owned before the marriage
  • Gifts received by one spouse before or during the marriage
  • Property acquired during the marriage in one spouse’s name and never used for the benefit of the other spouse of the marriage
  • Inheritances received before or during the marriage
  • Property that the spouses agree in writing is separate
  • Property acquired by one spouse using separate property assets with the intention of keeping it separate, and
  • Certain personal injury awards

Divorcing couple Asset division is serious business and needs to be handled by an attorney.  What one spouse thinks is theirs may not be theirs!  For example, during the course of a 30 year marriage, Aunt Lettie left her entire $15 Million estate to her loving niece Jenny.  When Bob and Jenny decide to divorce, Bob is feeling pretty good because he's going to walk away with $7.5 Million!!!  Wrong Bob.  That inheritance is belongs to Jenny 100%.  This is separate property.

Feel free to consult my office if you're planning to get a divorce (or if you're in the throes of it now). Please note that Community Property v. Separate Property is just one of the complex issues in a marriage dissolution.  The issues of custody, child support, alimony, separation v. dissolution/divorce, restraining orders, retirement plans and/or tax consequences must also be addressed.

For a Free Consultation please contact Attorney Lowell Steiger immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"  


*Since my law practice is based in California, I'm addressing California law.  Your state's laws may vary so please consult an attorney for clarification of your state's law as it applies to you!