Archive for the ‘Love/No Love’ Category

Pre-Nup: I DO or I DON’T?

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

We’re approaching wedding season, kids, and that means one thing: our mother’s fingers will again start tapping the kitchen table wondering when one of her daughters will finally make her proud. But it also means that divorce lawyers are about to get 50% busier if statistics are to be believed.

He loves me not...

He loves me not...

Well Amy and I have a fun little piece about pre-nuptial agreements today on wowOwow, a fantastically cool website that’s worth checking out even if we were not featured today.

Here’s just a little teaser. More, as they say, after the jump:

Traditionally, in exchange for getting to dress up in a fancy white gown and walk down the aisle to become Mrs. Him, it was the doting bride who was asked to sign a prenuptial agreement, considered by many to be a skittish groom’s James Bond-like marital ejector seat. If he wanted out, the prenup easily and elegantly allowed him to bail from the wreckage with his satchel full of money intact. But these days women are frequently coming into marriages with more than their loving — if less financially secure — grooms. Across the United States, 22 percent of wives are out-earning their husbands, which means the assets in need of greater protection are those swaddled in white tulle… [To keep reading about this and the divorces of famous people, click HERE]

To Do or Not To Do… That Is the Question

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

One of the New York Times’s most emailed stories this week has to do with the fattening of women in couples. According to Nicholas Bakalar’s story, Study Says Women With Mate Get Heavier, though many smug marrieds tout the idea that their lives are fuller than those of their sad single friends, it seems “fuller” is really just a code word for fat assed. (Let’s see how smug you are when you’re struggling to button those pants, bitches!)

Anyhoo, why do we care about this story aside from its obvious human interest angle and because it made at least one of us feel a little more awesome about her spinsterhood? Well because it reminded us a lot of the newest question we answered for The Forward’s Bintel Brief. So without further adieu, let’s get to it!

Dear Bintel Brief

I know plenty of couples who have, for various reasons, chosen to partner instead of marry. These couples love each other, spend holidays with each other’s families, own property and pets together and some even procreate —  all without the legal contract. Some couples claim their reasons for doing this are financial, or that prefer not to be bound by an institution, while others value marriage equality so greatly that they wouldn’t think to marry until gay couples across the country can legally do so, too.

The recent split of Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins after more than 20 years together got me thinking: What are the legal ramifications of a non-marriage partnership ending? Are some of the couples I know perhaps destined to face troubles in court if their co-existing, non-state sanctioned relationships ever fizzle? Or, are these couples avoiding potential future legal issues by not walking down the aisle?

TAKEN BUT NOT MARRIED

And our response…

Dear TillDeathDoUsPartOrWeDecideWe’reBored:

It is true that not getting married prevents some legal disputes later. If the relationship ends, there is no community property to be divided so what’s yours is yours and what’s your former adored but now abhored’s is his/hers. Under social security laws, a divorced spouse may have rights to the other’s social security payments which the nonmarried ex would not have so that’s something else to fight about.

Here’s what NOT having a marriage license DOES NOT simplify:

1). If you have bought property together, like a house in which both of your names appear on the deed, you will still need to fight (maybe in court) over how to divide it.

2). If you’ve named your non-spouse as a beneficiary on your life insurance policies or your retirement savings plans, you will still need to change the designation even if you were never married to begin with.

3). If you have children together, there will be custody disputes and child support issues to be worked out regardless of the existence of a piece of paper. Anyone who watches Maury Povich will tell you that the baby daddy is the baby daddy even if the baby daddy is not the husband.

4). In some states like California — but not all — there may be a right to non-spousal support (a non-legal term for which is “palimony”).

So to recap: If the state-sanctioned relationship ends, you will be faced with community property issues, social security division under certain circumstances, joint property issues, child support issues, and spousal support issues. If the non-state-sanctioned relationship ends, you will be faced with joint property issues, beneficiary forms to change, child support issues, and non-spousal support issues. So without a marriage certificate, a breakup is slightly less messy.

But there are reasons to get a marriage license that have nothing to do with what happens if the relationship ends, but rather with what happens if the relationship continues. If you have a marriage license, you have rights under the law that nonmarried couples simply do not have. You have the right to receive health benefits under your spouse’s medical plan that is not federally mandated for nonmarried couples. You have the right to make decisions about your spouse’s medical care if your spouse should become incapacitated. You have automatic rights to property and to custody if G-d forbid your spouse dies without a will. And most important, you have the right to get your mother to quiet down already about when you’re going to make this legal. The bottom line is that while a marriage certificate does (slightly) complicate a breakup, it also simplifies a relationship.

Love (maybe),

Amy and Robin

Biggest Legal Stories of the Year… Beyond SO SUE ME, JACKASS!

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Well, seems our response to Worried Jewish Mother’s question has yet to be posted on the Forward’s website (and now we’re a bit worried we may have pissed off some Jews with our response…).  So in lieu of linking to our answer today, instead we’ll share Amy’s thoughts on the biggest legal stories of the annus horribilis that was 2009.

Here’s our girl on My Fox Philly (and though some might argue the point about the Madoff case, since it technically unraveled in Dec ’08, we think you’ll still have to agree that Amy’s hair looks particularly nice in this clip.):

Prenup — I Do or I Don’t?

Monday, December 14th, 2009

As we mentioned, we’re answering questions for readers of The Jewish Daily Forward’s Bintel Brief this month.

Here’s the first great question, and to see our response, click the  our response link below:

Dear Bintel Brief:

I just got engaged to the man of my dreams. He is five years older than I am, and he comes from a family of means. He also earns a much higher salary than I do. My fiancé recently told me that his parents, whom I adore, want me to sign a prenuptial agreement. I could see that he was really nervous telling me about his parents’ apparent wishes. He also told me that our relationship is more important than money — adding that if I strongly opposed the idea of a prenup, he wouldn’t force the issue (but that could, in turn, cause problems with his family).

In theory, I think all married couples should have an agreement like this. But in practice it’s feels terrible to be asked to sign one. It also makes me wonder what my fiancé’s parents think of me.

What should I do?

PERPLEXED BY PRENUP

Click me for Amy & Robin’s Response…

A Swing… and a Miss(tress)!

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Granted I have no idea what really happened, but here’s my theory: after his hugely pissed wife learned she’d been cuckolded, Tiger Woods fled his home early Friday morning to get away from his golf club-wielding spouse, got into his car, and, suffering from a blow to the head, backed into a fire hydrant in his SUV.

Now here’s Amy’s legal take on the whole brouhaha:

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do…

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
And I'm definitely not going to miss your morning breath...

And I'm definitely not going to miss your morning breath...

Particularly if Your Partner’s an Asshole.

Yes, that’s actually the title of our chapter on Love & Romance, or, more accurately “I Used to Be In Lust But Now Even Your Facebook Updates Make Me Want to Vomit In My Cereal.” In that chapter we discuss what happens when good love goes bad. As we learned, there are a lot of unhappy people in relationships, and we’re not just saying that because we’re bitter. (Or maybe we are, so what? Still true.)

In any event, we give a lot of advice to those who have recently broken up from answering the question as to who gets to keep the ring if an engagement busts up pre-wedding (the dude), to should I anonymously slag my ex in online forums? (No, too obvious and easy for you to get caught), to do I have to let my ex’s parents see our kids after the divorce? (Probably yes, even though they’re responsible for raising a horrible child themselves.)

We also offer financial advice to consider like canceling joint credit cards before your ex goes to Paris and rings up $100,000 in charges which you’ll be responsible to pay. (In that one instance, it sucked to be A-Rod.)

But in Saturday’s New York Times, Ron Lieber offers a really outstanding piece on the financial ramifications of divorce. And if this is something you’re considering, you should click this link and read the article because it offers a terrific number of protections and a check list of things for you to consider while you’re likely more concerned with licking your failed relationship wounds.

You Light Up My Life

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Virginia is for lovers? Honey, please! Amy discusses what one technologically savvy-if reality deprived Don Juan did for his lady yesterday outside the Philadelphia train station…

Blowing It For the Phillies

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Dear Susan Finklestein,

susan_finkelstein_20091027120913_320_240Thank you for you interest in purchasing World Series tickets at Philadelphia’s Citizen’s Bank Field. While we appreciate that you are a self-described, “DESPERATE BLONDE NEEDS WS TIX (Philadelphia). Diehard Phillies fan — gorgeous tall buxom blonde — in desperate need of two World Series Tickets. Price negotiable— I’m the creative type! Maybe we can help each other!” we are afraid that it is not the policy of the Phillies’ management to accept sex for seats. At least not from a married 43-year-old woman.

As it turns out, Mrs. Finklestein, offering sex in exchange for cash or a durable good is what we call “prostitution,” and though many of our players,  politicians, announcers, groundskeepers, bat boys, bathroom attendants, ticket takers, peace officers, hot dog slingers, beer sellers, foam hand handlers, peanut & cracker jack merchants, jumbotron operators, color commentators, base coaches, news anchors, cheesesteak traffikers, and at least half the loge level frequently employ the services of sex workers (and we’re talking all the freakin’ time, if you knows what I’m sayin’!), we need to arrest and embarrass you for this crime because we have our morals.

Until prostitution is legalized we cannot even accept a bartered blowjob, not even for tickets in the nose bleed seats. But we thank you for your inquiry and we hope that your time in lock up doesn’t dampen that Philly spirit.

Go Phils!

Sincerely,

Philadelphia Phillies Management

The Life Lessons Of Sleeping With an Underling

Friday, October 23rd, 2009
An interesting twist on the bunny boiling theme...

An interesting twist on the bunny boiling theme...

If you Google the words “affair with an intern” you will come up with more than 692,000 hits in a nanosecond, including the recent inclusions of David Letterman and Tennessee State Senator Paul Stanley (who may be rethinking his pro-abstinence platform right about now). So when news broke that ESPN anchor Steve Phillips had sex with a production assistant (and who had previously admitted to numerous extramarital affairs and had already faced one claim of sexual harassment in the 1990s), there was some thought that perhaps this should not come as news to anyone–particularly not to the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs. Phillips.

The fact that a 22-year-old aggrandized the affair with a married father of four into a life long love affair worthy of a letter to the wife explaining why “we” don’t want to hide this anymore, makes the whole thing more salacious (and pathetic, given that the 22 year old’s 15 minutes of fame have mostly been spent on media discussions of how chubby and unattractive she is.)

While the 22-year-old’s fake facebook friending of Phillip’s teenager is a twist which Glenn Close could only dream of back in the day when, if you wanted to go full on crazy, you had to boil the rabbit yourself, the real lesson here ISN’T that you should stop sleeping with P.A.’s and interns (since, as the pro-abstinence former Senator from Tennessee would tell you, that’s not so easy to follow.) The real lesson is one that is simpler: if you are going to screw bat-shit crazy 22-year-olds, DON’T DO IT WITH THOSE IN YOUR OFFICE since that elevates the whole mess from “big problem in my marriage” to “the biggest mistake I ever made.”

Perhaps after Steve Phillip’s last run-in with the sexual harassment officer didn’t end in death or dismemberment, he forgot how horrible an allegation like that can be to a career. But if you’re the average Joe Workerbee, the first office affair that ends badly will likely be the last in the dead-end now known as your former career.

Here’s the thing that most people forget when they sling around the words “sexual harassment”: sex with a coworker is NOT illegal—not even if a subordinate sleeps with a supervisor. It may be against company policy (more on that later), but it’s not illegal.

There are two types of sexual harassment: hostile work environment sexual harassment where the workplace is so permeated with sexual jokes, gestures, innuendos, etc. that it becomes a hostile and abusive work environment (even if there is no propositioning of any one individual) and quid pro quo sexual harassment where a supervisor premises job action on whether or not the target of his or her affection engages in a romantic relationship.

There are, in fact, many defenses to a claim of illegal quid pro quo sexual harassment, the most important being that it’s not harassment if it’s not unwelcome. (This poor deluded 22-year-old was so off her rocker it’s not a stretch to say that she actually WANTED to have sex with him.) Without the element that the romantic interest is unwelcome, it is virtually impossible to prove this claim. And a crazy-ass letter to a wife explaining why the intern should get to take her deserved place as the next Mrs. Phillips will likely end the discussion of whether or not she actually wanted “it.”

But here’s where your job ends if your affair ends badly: once an affair (not a sexually harassing affair, just your garden variety sex with a 22-year-old production assistant kind of affair) ends—and let’s face it, when she packs on 20 pounds and turns into the shrew who reminds you of your first wife, it will end—if you are the supervisor who gives her performance evaluations, your choice is either to give her the highest rankings of any underling who’s ever seen the inside of your offices, or else you risk the one claim she hasn’t forgone by sending you texts telling you she wants to get into your pants: RETALIATION.

That is, not only is it illegal to premise job action like a promotion or a demotion on acquiescence to sexual relations, it is also illegal to premise job action AFTER THE FACT on that basis. And retaliation is a claim that can be caused by either the actions of the supervisor-turned-former-lover OR by the company who looks into the matter and determines that they have a hound dog on one side and a bucket of crazy on the other and that they should fire both. Yes, Virginia, this is why most companies have a policy prohibiting romantic relationships.

Right now, Steve Phillips is sitting home wondering how he lost his marriage and his job over what amounted to probably no more than 30 minutes of pleasure in total, and this 22-year-old is STILL RIGHT THIS MINUTE at the same job she’s held all along in the offices of ESPN. Why? Because if she loses her job over this, there will be retaliation claims to follow.

While one has to wonder how many people are sitting at her lunch table at ESPN headquarters pretending they don’t want to find out more about Phillip’s birthmarks or pretending they don’t fear that the P.A. will be writing letters to THEIR wives spilling all of their own dastardly deeds, she does still get to come to work, a privilege that Steve Phillips lost when the whole thing imploded.

And speaking of nuptials…

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Our fab friends at EmandLo.com, Emma Taylor and Lorelei Sharkey, have been kind enough to excerpt our answer to a relationship oriented question on their outstanding site, www.EmandLo.com

And the question is…

What if, drunk and in Vegas, my boyfriend and I accidentally say “I do” before we come to our senses and realize what we’re doing? Shouldn’t that be counted as temporary insanity and therefore not legal?

What's Elvis doing here?

Mmm, tastes classy!

For the answer, click on over to www.EmandLo.com