TAX CUTS AND JOBS ACT (TCJA) OF 2017 COMPLICATES POTENTIAL SETTLEMENT OF DIVORCE CASES

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The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) enacted dramatic changes to several tax issues that directly impact how divorces are settled. If you are a high wage earner, or you’re married to one and you’re contemplating getting a divorce, there’s almost a sense of urgency toward you understanding the financial aspects of your divorce and when to file your marital settlement agreement, should you and your spouse reach one.

Heather L. Locus, an owner and wealth manager at Balasa Dinverno Foltz LLC in Chicago, defines on her Website why this could be important to you. “Many high-net-worth couples may want to move quickly in order to preserve some important financial options,” Locus writes. “Couples who finalize their divorce agreements this year have many more options since the most significant rules impacting divorce go into effect on New Year’s Day 2019.”

In a previous blog we dissected how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 dramatically affects spousal support payments. After January 1st, 2019, all payments between former spouses in executed divorce agreements will be treated in much the same way as shared income was during their marriage. In other words, spousal support and unallocated support payments of any kind will no longer be tax deductible by the payor spouse nor will they be taxable to the recipient spouse. It is similar to how child support payments have always been dealt with in family law. No deductions permitted.

An article written for familylawyermagazine.com entitled, New Tax Law Helps & Hurts High-Net-Worth Divorce Cases, Locus, CPA, CFP, CDFA, reminds us that there are other changes to the new tax laws and how they will impact the way divorces are settled, and they should be kept in mind when negotiating a divorce settlement. They are:

  • The Personal Exemption. It was reduced to $0 for all taxpayers this year but may return to a $4,000 exemption in 2026 unless laws change again.
  • State and Local Taxes. Deductions for state income and property taxes above $10,000 combined are gone. However, this results in fewer taxpayers being subject to the AMT.
  • Moving Expenses. Unless one of the divorcing spouses is a member of the Armed Forces, expenses incurred separating one marital household into two are no longer deductible.
  • Legal and Professional Service Fees. Tax preparation, investment advisory fees, and your legal fees incurred for tax planning and to obtain taxable alimony are also gone. Some other changes — such as the raising of estate values subject to inheritance taxes — may indirectly impact high-net worth divorce negotiations as the need for advance estate planning vehicles such as Life Insurance Trusts and Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs) are reduced.

PERSONAL EXEMPTIONS HAVE BEEN ELIMINATED

As Locus stated above, the new tax laws eliminate personal exemptions for the tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, and ending December 31, 2025. During this eight-year period, divorcing parents will not be able to utilize the personal exemption for dependent children, which means there will be no more negotiating which parent will be eligible to take it.

Before this year, tax filers received a deduction from income for their personal exemptions, including themselves, their spouse, and their children. In divorce and separation agreements it was common for parents with children to negotiate who could use the personal exemption deduction for income and in which year, but not anymore.

CHILD TAX CREDIT INCREASES

Even with the changes in the tax laws divorcing parents will still be able to negotiate which parent will be allowed to claim the “Child Tax Credit”, and which parent will not. Similar to negotiating for personal exemptions, someone involved in a divorce would want to negotiate which spouse gets to claim the “Child Tax Credit”. An income deduction merely reduces taxable income. A “Child Tax Credit” provides a dollar-for-dollar reduction of tax owed. It is an important negotiating tool, and the TCJA doubles the “Child Tax Credit” from $1,000 to $2,000 for children under the age of 17.

Possibly of more importance, $1,400 of the $2,000 credit is refundable to the filing spouse, whereas in prior years the “Child Tax Credit” was not refundable. The “Child Tax Credit” might now be more useful than ever in divorce settlement negotiations because it immediately reduces taxes owed and it is partially refundable.

FAMILY RESIDENCE BECOMES MORE EXPENSIVE

The new limits on deductions imposed by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 will make the prospects of being able to afford to keep the family residence a more challenging proposition. If you took out a home mortgage to acquire your home after December 15, 2017, the TCJA now requires mortgage interest deduction to only be available for interest paid on up to $750,000 of debt on first and second homes combined. However, if your loans for first and second homes combined was created prior to December 15, 2017, you are grandfathered in. This means you have a $1 million limit for interest deductions.

The 2017 tax laws also affect how divorcing spouses will deduct their home mortgage interest payments. According to the IRS the new law suspends from 2018 until 2026 the deduction for interest paid on home equity loans and lines of credit, unless they are used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan.

This means the deduction for home equity indebtedness has been repealed, unless the home equity indebtedness qualifies as “acquisition indebtedness” — ie. it was used to acquire, build, or improve a primary or secondary residence. As written, the repeal of the home equity interest deduction does not have a grandfather provision. This means all equity loan interest, regardless of when the loan was originated, will no longer be deductible if the proceeds of the equity line were not used to buy, build, or improve the primary or secondary residence.

THE WINDOW IS CLOSING

Due to the many changes in the tax laws suffused with much confusion that surrounds the new rules, your ability as a divorcing spouse to tailor your divorce agreements to suit your particular financial needs will disappear in 2019. That’s why you might want to seek guidance from a family law specialist now. Please be warned that many otherwise competent divorce lawyers are not up to speed on many of the new tax changes. So don’t assume that just any family law attorney is capable of guiding you to the best tax results in your divorce. Contact a specialist in family law who is up to date on the latest tax changes that might affect you.

 

 

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WILL GOD’S AGENDA STIFLE DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE IN CALIFORNIA?

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Ah, us liberal Californians, you got to love us or leave us, but we’re going to look good either way. That’s because we work hard at it. It takes time and ambition to soak up sun like George Hamilton and remove lines in our faces like Jane Fonda. We like buttocks surgeries because they make us look like Ms. Bumbum and vegan diets because they make us look thin in our mirror’s reflection. Some of us spend lifetimes and fortunes never succeeding but always finding better ways to look even better in our quest to entice the other side.

California lifestyles say “rich” while we work endless hours to make the kind of money it takes to attract a like inclined individual from the opposite sex. This is how it was taught back in the 70s and it’s how it’s still being played out by many today. Once we set our magnet tentacles into this new person of interest, we can then work on what we’ve spent a lifetime being programmed into dreaming about — tying the proverbial knot with a White Knight and living happily ever after.

We see it happen all the time on the Disney Channel. It’s embedded into the romantic subplot of inane stories designed to program underdeveloped minds. Of course eventually, after we’ve grown up and had our own kids and family dissension has set in and everyone’s kind of gone off in different directions; when the lightening juice of love and lust of overrun hearts that got us together in the first place has simply dried up, stark reality can be very painful. That’s when we put the alcohol and pain medications down and get on our PC or mobile phone device and hire the best divorce lawyer our money can buy. We pay her handsomely to undue “it” at all cost. For many, divorce is by far the easiest segment of the cost of doing life here on the Gold Coast.

HAVE THE WINDS OF DIVORCE SHIFTED IN CALIFORNIA?

The skies have changed in California and it has nothing to do with the smell of sun tan lotion and chemtrails. There was a Red Tsunami of Evangelical Christian proportion that has swept through our state along with the 2018 Midterms, overturning tiny little blue umbrellas and flooding castles made of champagne sand. Liberals have been diagnosed with spinning heads and PTSD. With this overtaking of Biblical proportion comes an attempted reform of values centered around Christian Doctrine, of which many Californians generally aren’t really that familiar.

Thus it seems like a good idea for all married Californians – or non married Californians who are thinking about getting married – and all divorce attorneys to understand the divorce game is undoubtedly about to change forever. No matter how we look at it Jesus and Church inspired voters are back in town and there’s no reason to believe they’ll be leaving anytime soon. Thus they promise to spread tremendous influence affecting all aspects of our lives.

THE EVANGELICALS HAVE SET UP SHOP

The New York Times talked about how the Evangelicals have set up shop in and are fighting to retake California. That’s a fact. They say they’re tired of being stepped on and they’re aiming straight for our hearts.

Try to imagine Jesus espousing conservative political undertones, while bringing back his messages to a state with vast evangelical pockets of population. This equated to many Christians recently running for city council seats, mayorships, and every level of government to help effect change in California. Change is happening whether we voted for it or not.

The mission is pretty simple. It’s about faith and Jesus with a parallel message of conservative cause. The conservative approach opposes hot button issues like same sex marriage and abortion. It supports conversion therapy which is intended to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In 2012, California passed a law restricting the practice on minors.

How does that bode for other conservative values supported by the Evangelical Christians, and the Catholic Church, that intersect with contradicting liberal values practiced by many longtime Californians? We know those who support abortion and same-sex marriage are willing to march into the streets and protest in support of their beliefs. We also know what Jesus and the Church have always taught about divorce and remarriage, and that makes for great conflict for many who like to divorce and remarry quickly in California.

The teachings expressed by Jesus, the Church, and Evangelical Christians similarly offend many core liberals. Jesus is about sanctity of matrimony. Many Californians are about looking tanned, making money, divorcing and moving on to new relationships, and not necessarily in that order. Something is going to have to give eventually here and no matter what it is we are going to witness change, on many levels, marriage and divorce being a major one.

JESUS, THE CHURCH, DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE

It is taught that Jesus elevated the act of matrimony to the status of a sacrament. This means a valid marriage between two baptized people is considered a sacramental marriage that cannot be dissolved, writes Fr. Richard Heilman at romancatholicman.com. Divorce is out of the question if you belong to the Catholic Church.

In an article entitled, What Jesus And The Church Have Always Taught About Divorce & Remarriage, Fr. Heilman writes that if “anyone so married attempts to divorce and remarry, he enters a state of perpetual adultery which is a mortal sin.” This of course can lead to many family problems for Catholics. But how many mortal sinners would those rules make out of us ordinary citizens who live and marry in California? Do we really have to be a church member to be a mortal sinner? Could these rules some day apply beyond the Church into everyday life? And does the rule apply equally to men and women?

Jesus appears to speak on behalf of men when he said: “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery” (Luke 16:18, cf. Mark 10:11-12). That’s a lot of adultery for men to watch out for, transgenders need not apply. This is about a “man” and “woman” who have commingled their lives through holy sacrament. Through the Church’s eyes they are bound for life.

According to God’s law once we make the sacrament of marriage we are bound to it for the life of either party. Paul seems to have spoken for women on the issue when he said: “Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives … Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive” (Rom. 7:2-3).

“Adulteress” is a situation for the Church to be handled from within the institutional framework. It has been through the turn of many centuries and cultures. This does not apply to California divorce courts or “man’s” laws. Fr. Heilman notes that these strictures only apply to sacramental marriages – those between baptized people. For marriages involving an unbaptized party, a different rule applies (1 Cor. 7:12-15).

Although various cultures have allowed for divorce legally Jesus and the Church have always been consistent with their message. The Greco-Roman culture, for instance, allowed for easy divorce and remarriage although Church Fathers proclaimed Christ’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. This is the same thing the Catholic Church has done today in our over-the-counter divorce culture (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1614-1615), Fr. Heilman writes. Many churches have modified their teachings to accommodate the pro-divorce ethos that dominates modern culture, but the Catholic Church remains consistent in teaching what Jesus taught.

Under marriage today a baptized couple can “remarry” after divorce only if the Church finds that a valid sacramental marriage never existed in the first place (a decree of nullity; see CCC 1629), Fr. Heilman writes. The “remarriage” is actually their first marriage. If, however, the parties were genuinely and sacramentally married, they may in some cases live apart and even obtain a legal separation, but they are not free to remarry (CCC 1649). A divorce is simply out of the question.

AN ACT OF GOD

This is “not a command of men”, but one that “comes directly from Jesus Christ”, Father Heilman writes. As Paul said: “To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) – and that the husband should not divorce his wife” (1 Cor. 7:10-15). This is an important issue that many Californians will be looking at under an entirely different light than they have in the past. Times have changed. “American culture” is transforming back to American culture. After all, we were once a nation created under God.

Divorce will never again be looked at with the same liberal attitude we in America have displayed since the 1960s “cultural revolution”. Things have changed since then and that continued transformation just might begin to accelerate for the good of us all.

 

 

HOW MUCH GOLD DOES THE U.S. REALLY OWN AND HOW MUCH WILL IT COST US?

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Two weeks ago we published an interesting article regarding the situation where the U.S. may or may not have enough gold to back our new U.S. currency when it debuts on the international financial marketplace. The United States Federal Reserve Note is soon to be history and it’s only a matter of time before it is replaced with a new U.S. currency that will have to be gold backed.

We received many positive responses regarding the article one of which was from a former client who works in the international institutional banking industry, which is completely different than the commercial banking industry we have become used to here in the U.S. These are the organizations that deal in assets with banking institutions that fund national central banks all around the world. These are the entities that own the real assets of the world, not the green backed paper with the ink that’s printed on it that we trade here in the West and call value.

Rita and I hadn’t spoken with each other for some time but she said she liked my article and it felt like old times. A mutual friend had sent the link of my blog to her. Back in the good ol’ days I used to tease Rita and call her “Lovely Rita meter maid” because she was a very lovely lady. She still is and very bright, a well educated woman who has always been very supportive of my writing. But this time she said there was “a problem” with some of the information I had provided. She zeroed in on the amount of gold I claimed the United States government claimed it owned. I thought the focus of her response to be odd since I had researched my information impeccably, but it was right at the center of what my article was about and I had to respect it. She was very succinct in what she said.

Regarding the actual amounts of gold in the United States I wrote that, “America claims to hold 8,133.5 tons of physical gold in its official reserves.” The disagreement my former client has with this figure is that she believes it is actually much lower. “I think the total amount is not the massive amount quoted with the real figure being far below the quoted figure,” Rita writes.

It is a fair response and I know Rita knows exactly of what she speaks. She’s been working the international financial industry game a long time, much of her time these days spent dealing with computers, financial documents, attorneys, banking officials, and members of international law enforcement. She’s precise with her work and provides specific statistics.

The problem is there is one factor that no one appears to have caught on to, Rita writes. “That is that the World Gold Council has stated that there have only been about 165,000 MT (metric tons) of the precious metal ever produced.”

That “official” figure had oddly grown since 2010 in amounts that make no historical sense. “Back in 2010 the figure was 135,000 MT (metric tons), so there is a 30,000 MT addition in 8 years which practically is just not possible because all the gold mines in the world cannot produce that much gold in 8 years, which is 3,750 MT per year,” Rita writes.

Rita is an international banking and precious metals expert and I trust her experience and reasoning for the steep increase in physical gold in U.S. possession. She’s saying that somehow Uncle Sam obtained it illegally. “Therefore I can only assume that the US is adding in some of the gold that they have stolen,” she writes. “In which case the real figure for the U.S. gold holdings is likely to be somewhere between 1,000 MT and 1,500 MT, if that.”

There are several disturbing prospects raised by Rita the first of which is that if she is correct, and the U.S. does in fact only have 1,000 MT to 1,500 MT of gold, then how does that figure suddenly rise to the 8,133.5 tons of gold I cited in my article? That’s the official figure. Or is the officially stated 8,133.5 MT figure a lie?

Rita writes that, “Russia and China are snapping up everything sold by the global legal bullion Markets, so the big question is, ‘Where has the United States suddenly got their gold from?????'”

DO WE HAVE THE GOLD OR DON’T WE?

If it’s true, that America has dramatically increased our amounts of gold assets, beyond the gold industry production capabilities, then how did we do that?

Rita says it’s obvious that we stole it from her clients. She sites specific U.S. military assets as being used in the transporting process. “We have calculated a loss of 1.2 million MT of gold from my clients’ banks,” Rita writes, “which we have traced as having been stolen by American interests, and shipped out … by U.S. Navy ships and U.S. Air Force C17 and C130 aircraft.”

Rita sites specific instances of United States government agents in the U.S. military as being responsible for stealing American gold from other countries around the world, particularly Asia and Europe, and bringing it back to American soil (or elsewhere). She also says we steal gold out of South America, The Middle East, and Africa. She says it’s been going on for a long time.

Which of course brings us back to: How much gold does America really have? Do we have enough gold to back a new currency to replace the Federal Reserve Note? If not, where are we going to get it from since the U.S. dollar is being replaced globally, and other countries aren’t going to sell us valuable assets like gold for worthless paper?

And if we do have enough gold to back a new U.S. currency, how did we get it? How much did we pay for it? Do we have receipts? Or did we steal it? And if so, wouldn’t we have to pay it back?

WHO’S GOING TO PAY WHOM FOR WHAT GOLD?

The number repeatedly stated by the government and media for the U.S. national debt is $21 trillion. Who is going to pay that off when the U.S. dollar crashes?

Michigan State University economist Mark Skidmore and Catherine Austin Fitts, former assistant secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD), claim that another $21 trillion has come up missing from audits of HUD and the Department of Defense (DOD). That’s another $21 trillion in debt our children and our children’s children are never going to be able to repay.

That’s $42 trillion of debt that we know America owes and then if we have to pay for the gold that Rita says was stolen by our government, how much would that cost us? How much would the interest alone be? To whom would we have to pay it back? And does that mean our families are going to be indentured servants in perpetuity?

 

 

DOES THE U.S. HAVE ENOUGH GOLD TO BACK THE NEW U.S. DOLLAR?

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The U.S. dollar as we know it is about to be replaced by a new currency. We don’t know when. It could be this year, or maybe next year, we don’t know. The question is not if? the Federal Reserve Note (U.S. Dollar) will be replaced but when? When it does, it’s going to have to be gold backed with value. Real assets like gold will have to back the new U.S. dollar at least in part for America, and Americans, to get back onto the global financial carousel with economic independence and the ability to coexist with foreign currencies that are backed by gold.

The important question to us as Americans with family members to provide for and a desire to see our spending power grow is how much if any gold does the U.S. actually possess? A legacy of secrecy still surrounds how much gold America has, author James Ledbetter, editor of “Inc. magazine” and the author of “One Nation Under Gold: How One Precious Metal Has Dominated the American Imagination for Four Centuries”, writes for the Los Angeles Times. “Some of the conservative and libertarian figures who demand that the Federal Reserve be audited, for example, grumble that there may be a lot less gold — maybe none! — in Fort Knox than official numbers allow,” Ledbetter writes.

Others believe U.S. central bank vaults possess more gold than America’s been letting on to. On August 21, 2017, Bloomberg reported that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had paid a rare official visit to Fort Knox to in fact confirm the nation’s gold stash.

Is our financial inventory in tact? U.S. Treasury Secretary says it is, sort of.

“I assume the gold is still there,” Mnuchin, a former Hollywood producer, recently told an audience 40 miles north of the U.S. Bullion Depository. After the visit, the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury playfully reassured America that the treasure was still secure. But is it? What if Mnuchin is wrong? Or lying? And what if the U.S. really doesn’t have enough physical gold to back the greenback?

DO WE REALLY HAVE ANY GOLD?

Our President appears to believe in a gold standard but he has expressed doubts as to America’s status as a present legal custodian of the precious metal. “We used to have a very, very solid country because it was based on a gold standard,” Ralph Benko of Forbes cites President Trump in March 2016 as telling WMUR television station in New Hampshire, “but it would be tough to bring it back because we don’t have the gold. Other places have the gold.”

Other places have the gold and America does not? Could that be true?

As if doubling down on our president’s position regarding America’s gold possessions Benko cites Trump as telling GQ: “Bringing back the gold standard would be very hard to do, but boy, would it be wonderful. We’d have a standard on which to base our money.”

Which makes it all seem obvious that there’s no way the U.S. actually has the gold to back a new currency, right? Wrong, Ralph Benko writes, objecting strongly to the President’s position saying Trump has been misled to believe that “we don’t have the gold. Other places have the gold.” The United States, Germany, and the IMF have about as much gold as the rest of the world combined, Benko informs us, with America having well more than Germany and the IMF combined.

America claims to hold 8,133.5 tons of physical gold in its official reserves. Fifty-eight percent is reportedly held in Fort Knox, Kentucky, 20 percent at West Point in New York, 16 percent is said to be at the U.S. Mint in Denver, Colorado, and five percent is held at the New York Fed, an RT article says.

Singapore’s BullionStar precious metals expert Ronan Manly is quoted as telling RT that America’s actual gold reserves are likely much smaller.

“The entire story around the U.S. gold reserves is opaque and secretive. There has never been a full independent audit of the U.S. gold reserves, and the custodians of the gold, the U.S. Mint and the Federal Reserve of New York will not let anybody into the vaults to view the gold or to count it,” Manly told RT.

Besides, even if there were gold in American vaults there’s a very serious question as to the purity of the precious metal.

“Even the details that have been provided on the supposed U.S. gold holdings show that a majority of the gold bars are low purity and in weights that don’t conform to the industry standard ‘Good Delivery’ gold bar specifications,” Manly is quoted as telling RT.

This would make the gold un-tradable on the international market because of its low quality. There have been rumors that in the past the U.S. government has attempted to pay off debts with China using tungsten bars painted gold. China was reportedly deeply unimpressed with this payment method and returned the tainted bars back to the U.S.

WHERE WILL AMERICA GET GOLD TO BACK ITS NEW CURRENCY?

Like they say, if you’ve got it, show it. There’s a major question as to whether America actually does have the gold to back a new U.S. currency. If we don’t, where are we going to get it and how much will it cost?

President Trump has already told us that we don’t got it and someone else does. We know Russia has been buying up gold like there’s no tomorrow. China’s Royal Families and Elders are said to possess tremendous amounts of “unofficial” gold and other precious treasures from the ancient past. If we don’t have it in the U.S., would we get our gold from Asian countries in spite of the trade wars, billions of dollars in tariffs, South China Sea military standoff, and North Korea?

Or would we get our gold from Russia whom we’ve been targeting with the nuclear war drum roll for decades? Would Russian President Putin just forgive the United States for bringing the Communist Curtain down upon all Russian people in 1991, the destruction of the ruble, and the deaths of more than a million Russian people whose lives depended upon it, and just give the U.S. another 70 million metric tons of gold as the Russian Tsar reportedly did back in 1913 to help gold back the Federal Reserve Bank and the U.S. dollar?

There are rumors, myths, and stories that there are other greater hoards of golden wealth stashed out there in other countries belonging to someone that has yet to be legally established in the public eye. Might they lend a few million ounces of precious metals to Uncle Sam to help us in a time of need? Or not?

The rest of the world is turning to a gold standard. Our president and members of congress think gold backing of the U.S. currency would be a good idea. The Federal Reserve Bank and the Federal Reserve Note are breaking. The U.S. dollar and all markets tied to it are exploding into thin air on a global scale. Who’s going to give America its gold and save us? Who’s going to give our families a break?

Singapore’s BullionStar precious metals expert Ronan Manly is quoted as telling RT that America’s actual gold reserves are likely much smaller.

“The entire story around the U.S. gold reserves is opaque and secretive. There has never been a full independent audit of the U.S. gold reserves, and the custodians of the gold, the U.S. Mint and the Federal Reserve of New York will not let anybody into the vaults to view the gold or to count it,” Manly told RT.

Besides, even if there were gold in American vaults there’s a very serious question as to the purity of the precious metal.

“Even the details that have been provided on the supposed U.S. gold holdings show that a majority of the gold bars are low purity and in weights that don’t conform to the industry standard ‘Good Delivery’ gold bar specifications,” Manly is quoted as telling RT.

This would make the gold un-tradable on the international market because of its low quality. There have been rumors that in the past the U.S. government has attempted to pay off debts with China using tungsten bars painted gold. China was reportedly deeply unimpressed with this payment method and returned the tainted bars back to the U.S.

WHERE WILL AMERICA GET GOLD TO BACK ITS NEW CURRENCY?

Like they say, if you’ve got it, show it. There’s a major question as to whether America actually does have the gold to back a new U.S. currency. If we don’t, where are we going to get it and how much will it cost?

President Trump has already told us that we don’t got it and someone else does. We know Russia has been buying up gold like there’s no tomorrow. China’s Royal Families and Elders are said to possess tremendous amounts of “unofficial” gold and other precious treasures from the ancient past. If we don’t have it in the U.S., would we get our gold from Asian countries in spite of the trade wars, billions of dollars in tariffs, South China Sea military standoff, and North Korea?

Or would we get our gold from Russia whom we’ve been targeting with the nuclear war drum roll for decades? Would Russian President Putin just forgive the United States for bringing the Communist Curtain down upon all Russian people in 1991, the destruction of the ruble, and the deaths of more than a million Russian people whose lives depended upon it, and just give the U.S. another 70 million metric tons of gold as the Russian Tsar reportedly did back in 1913 to help gold back the Federal Reserve Bank and the U.S. dollar?

There are rumors, myths, and stories that there are other greater hoards of golden wealth stashed out there in other countries belonging to someone that has yet to be legally established in the public eye. Might they lend a few million ounces of precious metals to Uncle Sam to help us in a time of need? Or not?

The rest of the world is turning to a gold standard. Our president and members of congress think gold backing of the U.S. currency would be a good idea. The Federal Reserve Bank and the Federal Reserve Note are breaking. The U.S. dollar and all markets tied to it are exploding into thin air on a global scale. Who’s going to give America its gold and save us? Who’s going to give our families a break?

 

 

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WHAT IS FAMILY LAW MEDIATION?

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What is divorce mediation?

Family Law mediation is one of the more common methods of negotiating to settlement the legal issues that arise in a divorce. It is not going into court and litigating each issue tooth and nail. In divorce mediation matters, you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse may hire a specialist in family law as mediator, someone who will meet with you in an effort to resolve your differences and come to a negotiated agreement. The family law specialist acts as mediator and facilitator who will help you and your spouse resolve your issues in a fair and equitable manner.

Mediation of a divorce is an important option both parties should consider as it saves costs and stress for both parties. Mediation is designed to help both parties and has a long list of benefits for families. The benefits include, but are not limited to:

• Mediation usually costs much less than litigation which may require a series of court hearings.
• With your direct participation, mediation should result in a comprehensive settlement of all the issues in your matter.
• Mediation is confidential, meaning there is no public record of declarations or financial information.
• A lawyer of your choice can still give you legal advice during your mediation.
• Your spouse and you are in control of the entire process of mediation.
• The mediation process allows time for you to improve communication with your spouse.
• Mediation will help minimize the emotional damage children may experience during their parents’ divorce.
• Maybe most importantly, mediation allows you to negotiate the terms of your agreement based on your own ideas as to what is fair in your situation and what is best for your family as a whole as opposed to having a solution imposed upon you by a family law judge that is based upon impersonal legal principles.

Mediation is not for all divorcing couples. Matters where there is a history of domestic violence or an imbalance of power between the parties may not be right for mediation. But if your spouse and you are willing to communicate and compromise with each other in a rational manner with open minds you could mediate.

Your Divorce Mediator should be a specialist in family law who will help the two of you stay on track with the issues and in tune to one another, to listen to each other, to respect and understand each other’s opinions. It is important to listen to your spouse’s perspective and to be willing to compromise. Compromise is key to reaching a fair and mutually beneficial settlement in the mediation process.

Being able to empathize with your spouse’s position is important. Hopefully your spouse will do the same. They will feel what it’s like to be you. The idea is that you reach an agreement based on trust and understanding where both of your best interests, and those of the children if there are any, are taken into account and addressed.

This mutual understanding will be drafted by the mediator into a settlement agreement. If children are involved, a parenting schedule or a parenting plan will be needed. Other legal documents will be drafted such as a Petition for Dissolution or Legal Separation, and Financial Disclosure documents. The mediation process allows you and your spouse to decide the terms to live by in a divorce, terms that you agree to live by, without your family having to suffer through the negative emotions and financial costs of a courtroom trial.

THE COST OF MEDIATING VERSUS LITIGATING

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Mediation is on the rise in resolving family law related and divorce issues simply because most people can no longer afford the good fight in family law court. The economy is spiraling downward and the United States dollar is losing its purchasing power at about ten percent per annum. Divorces can be expensive when two parties refuse to communicate in a rational and civil manner and they want to let their lawyers do their talking for them.

When you decide to hire a lawyer to litigate your family law case, Discovery will be conducted by your two attorneys. Subpoenas will be issued and hearings will be scheduled. In the end, attorneys’ fees will multiply. The litigation process can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars and if two parties have enough to fight for, then six figures in attorneys fees is not unheard of.

The difference in the costs associated with mediating a family law settlement yourself through mediation versus litigating family law matters with hired professionals can be dramatic. Of course the complexities of each particular family law matter will dictate much toward the legal work that needs to be performed, but mediating a family law matter, or most legal matters for that matter, could be resolved for less than half the cost of a litigated case.

The costs generally associated with mediation include, but are not limited to, both parties meeting together, not individually, for consultation with a mediating attorney, and then the follow up meetings with that attorney in an effort to resolve the issues in dispute. When a settlement is reached the mediating attorney will prepare a settlement agreement negotiated by you. The preparation of additional associated documents will be required, such as a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation, Disclosure Documents, and specific Waivers.

The cost of litigating your family law matter would certainly be much more time, emotion, and cost consuming. In the litigation model, the preparation of financial documents and mandatory disclosure compliance can run several thousand dollars. Your attorney will need to draft motions and sometimes fight to get the other side to pay your attorneys’ fee. Experts may have to be hired.

Then there’s the cost for the time to actually go into court for appearances and hearings. If required, co-parenting classes and/or the preparation of a parenting plan can add thousands to your final legal bills. A trial could cost $10,000 and upwards, an appeal another $15,000. Many people choose to mediate their family law issues because of the savings both monetary and emotional, and the fact they can play a direct part in forming their family law solution.

Divorces Rise as Economy Improves

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Recent Spike in Divorce Filings Tied to Economy

Like everything else, divorce statistics are cyclic. With the U.S. economy reportedly on an upswing after a six-year recession, couples continually unable to resolve financial problems are deciding to call it quits. The federal government’s National Center for Health Statistics reports a rise in divorce filings for the third year, reportedly signaling a recovery of the ‘great recession,’ which reportedly hit rock bottom in 2008. Finances are frequently one of the most common stressors in many relationships. Marriage further complicates many ‘financial issues’ faced daily if the couple is out of sync in their views and practices of  personal finance. While one partner in the marriage may be frugal with money, a partner who is reckless with finances could instigate financial woes that the couple must resolve together. If weathering the debt storm as a couple becomes impossible, the next step might be dissolution.

Many options are available for divorcing couples when both parties wish to remain amicable. Couples who are not able to end the marriage amicably will need a ‘traditional divorce,’ requiring an attorney who will fight their battle before a judge to protect their marital interests. Using a board-certified family law specialist to represent a party in the process allows for informed decisions about the dissolution process and settlement. Simple divorces can be complicated for litigants representing themselves. Because of this, many do-it-yourself cases languish in the court system for years.

Cooperative and Non-Traditional Divorce

Rent-A-Judge, Mediation, Collaborative are all non-traditional paths to divorce many couples take when they are agreeable to ending the marital contract. Divorce can affect the quality of a person’s  lifestyle for the rest of his/her life. So whatever method is chosen, it is necessary to be informed of the options and how they work.

Rent-A-Judge

Private judging, known as “Rent-a-Judge,” involves a private process in which divorcing parties give a private individual the power to hear and decide their case. Private judges are an ideal alternative for wealthy couples who want their dissolution settled privately, quickly and amicably.

Mediation

Mediation is used to settle disputes as well as divorce while remaining flexible and confidential. With mediation, a neutral third party works with the couple to develop a settlement agreement. The neutral third party is known as the mediator. The mediator assists the couple in their decision making process. Mediators help keep the couple focused on the issues at hand while keeping them on track toward a settlement. Sometimes agreements come easy and sometimes they take time and a lot of work. When agreements are hard to reach, it’s the mediator’s job to intervene. Mediation has the ability to help the couple learn to communicate again and possibly make their post-divorce relationship better than their married one.

Collaborative Dissolution

Collaborative divorce was designed to resolve conflicts in a mutually agreed-upon process. Rather than turning the decision-making power over to a judge or other third party, control of the dissolution process is kept with the people directly involved in the marriage. Clients and their individual attorneys are at the heart of helping explore solutions for planning into the future. If children’s issues are part of the marital dispute, their needs are always placed first. Through the collaborative process documents are drawn up consensually and a settlement agreement is not signed until both parties are comfortable with the final agreement. The respective lawyers are disqualified from representing either party in any future family related litigation if the collaborative process fails.

When Divorce Requires Hiring An Attorney

If your situation requires the expertise of an attorney, remember that you must be prepared to share intimate details about your marriage, finances and personal life.  A big complaint about family court is that the process is too complicated and there are too many time consuming forms and procedures. Organizing your personal finances and important documents in chronological order will assist your legal team to help keep your finances intact and your legal fees down. Do not confuse your attorney with your therapist. When calling your attorney the time clock is ticking whether you have an actual legal question or if it’s just to complain about your spouse.

Your attorney should share your views and philosophy on divorce, especially if it is your intent to keep things cooperative and non-adversarial. If you make sure your lawyer understands you want an amicable divorce upfront, that’s what you will get from a board-certified family law specialist.

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