Friday, January 25, 2013

Checkbooks, Marriage, and Divorce

The classic joke is “What is the biggest cause of divorce?  Marriage!”  However, in my experience as a mediator more divorces are caused by fights over finances than fights over infidelity.  With this in mind an article by Rachel Louise Ensign entitled “I Do – Now Hands of My Checkbook” in The Wall Street Journal Sunday section of the Arizona Daily Star caught my eye.  See the entire article at I have always been interested in how married couples handle their finances.  Some couples have all joint accounts. We do and have handled the entry problem by having two check books for one account. It resolves the problem of one checkbook and one spouse constantly forgetting to enter items.  Many couples have separate accounts and divide up who pays what bills.  Ensign cites a statistic that 31% of individuals who are married have separate checking accounts.  She also some parental wisdom which states that the secret to a happy marriage is separate checkbooks.    Ensign suggests some things for couples to consider.
1.   How are you going to split shared expenses?
2.   What do your portfolios look like together?
3.   What about assets such as property and businesses?
4.   What would happen if one of you died?
5.   Do you need a postnup?
Of course with the more and more people using credit cards and debit cards this may not be as important anymore or maybe there are just new problems!
As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at CDM (267) 1/25/13

Friday, January 18, 2013

War of the Roses

I recently was in another person’s vehicle when they were listening to KRQ 93.7 in Tucson, Arizona.  The station had a segment called War of the Roses.  I first thought of the English dynastic wars fought between the houses of Lancaster and York for the throne of England. Then I thought of the 1981 movie starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito.  A radio segment was new to me.   More about my thoughts about the program but first a little about War of the Roses on radio.  I checked it out on Wikipedia and found the following:

“The War of the Roses is the name of a radio broadcast radio skit, which is a registered service mark owned by the Capstar Radio Operating Company.

This bit is fake and acted out, either using a script or ad-libbed. This is done due to FCC rules that require broadcasters to notify people that they intend to tape them for broadcast.

The general format of the skit is that the host of a radio show calls man with an offer of free roses then asks the man where he would like to have them delivered. However, the girlfriend or significant other is in fact silently listening to the call the entire time, having previously been contacted by the host.

During the phone call, the host asks the suspect questions that will hopefully reveal the identity of the subject of their affair, and other questions that may help understand the nature of it. For example, the host will typically ask the suspect for one or two sentences to be used as an optional "personal message" to be included with the gift, before asking for the name of the desired recipient. Once the suspect gives up the name and reveals the secret relationship, the spouse or significant other is free to jump in and chastise the guilty party over the phone.

Often, suspects are confused and bewildered when confronted on the phone, because they are unaware that they've been taken in by a ruse, and often believe their significant other is really at home listening on an extension. Suspects who believe this continue with the prize dialogue with the radio station host and continue to embarrass themselves, unaware that the entire call is a prank.

Other suspects turn out to not be cheating at all, and end up sending the roses - and the embarrassment along with them - to their significant other who initiated the call.”

I was amazed that the people went along with and did not just hang up.  Also that the man who just sent flowers to someone other than his wife minimized the new relationship by saying it was nothing and usually wanted to get back with his Wife and dump the girl friend.  Only once so far did I hear a man dump his Wife for the girl friend.  I would have been interested when they called for man and asked who she wanted to send tickets to the Super Bowl to.  Not sure if the results would be different.  I also wondered why the men behaved that way they did and if there was a correlation between a Wife who will call in and the nature of her relationship with her husband.  Was a Wife who was calling in more “shrewish” and did her behavior drive the Husband away from her.  I guess we will need more research to answer these questions.

As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at CDM (266) 1/18/13

Friday, January 11, 2013

Marriage Penalty

The passage of the “Fiscal Cliff Act” or its real name American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 has reminded me of the tax marriage penalty.  This has not been discussed much.
The marriage penalty refers to the higher taxes required from some married couples, where spouses are making approximately the same taxable income, filing one tax return  than for the same two people filing two separate tax returns if they were unmarried. It works to the couple’s advantage when there is a large difference in their incomes. The source of this increase in taxes has its roots in the progressive tax-rate structure in income-tax laws where the combined income of the parties puts them in a higher tax bracket. This law probably discourages some people from getting married. Going back to the “fiscal cliff act,”  it increased marginal income and capital gains tax rates relative to their 2012 levels for annual income over $400,000 ($450,000 for couples) and  phased-out of certain tax deductions and credits for those with incomes over $250,000 ($300,000 for couples).  Note the items in parentheses.  If I understand the act properly a married couple’s tax rate increases when their combined income is in excess of $450,000.  If the same two people were not married it would increase when their combined income was over $800,000. Once again this encourages people not to get married. 
As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at CDM (265) 1/11/13