John C. Mayoue practices in family law matters, specializing in complex and difficult cases.


Family Law Prof Blog

The Risks of Being a Family Law Judge

The Kidman-Urban Prenup

Post-Nuptial Agreements on the Rise

Unmarried Couples May Get Rights Under British Law

Sir Paul's Divorce May Help British Pre-Nups Take Hold

Viagra Helps Husband Defeat Wife's Divorce Claims

The TomKat Pre-Nup

Study Shows Devastating Effects of Divorce on Finances

Anna Nicole Wins in the Supreme Court

Caught on Tape

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

John Mayoue Gives Tips for Couples Wanting to Save Long Term Marriages

In response to the recent Al-Tipper Gore split, many couples are seeking advice on how to save marriages that may be experiencing problems even after multiple years together. Atlanta divorce attorney John C Mayoue offers the following tips for couples wanting to save long term marriages:

  • Continue to develop common interests, try new things together

  • Find a good counselor to understand whatever physical and emotional changes are taking place in your life

  • Attempt to discuss and resolve long term lingering issues

  • Make time to communicate about goals in life and how to achieve them

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

John Mayoue Quoted in USA Today: Al Gore Divorce

Atlanta divorce attorney John C Mayoue was quoted in USA Today this week as an expert in late-stage divorce.

Divorce attorneys and relationship counselors around the country say they've been seeing more "late-stage" divorces among Baby Boomers. And it's not because the kids have grown up and moved out.

These separations occur well after the nest has emptied. Breakups after 30 or 40 years of marriage, as in the case of Al and Tipper Gore, stem from a variety of factors, including longer life spans, different generational expectations about marriage, and feelings about divorce, personal fulfillment and happiness, divorce and marriage experts say.

"It's the whole phenomenon of living longer, of having sex longer, of being healthier, oftentimes of being wealthier and feeling that they can easily pursue a no-fault divorce," says divorce lawyer John Mayoue of Atlanta. "I think we're seeing persons in long marriages questioning whether in fact there's a better life out there."

Mayoue says he has seen an increase in such splits over the past five years.

"Baby Boomers are part of the 'Me Generation' ó what's better for 'me.' I think we're going to see more late-stage divorce in this country."

Read the entire story: "Al, Tipper Gore split puts focus on late-stage divorces"

May 2010

Should You Get a Prenup?

The state of Georgia sees more than 30,000 divorces each year that cost around $36,000 on average. Can a prenup help you avoid this situation? Most couples chose to get a prenup for one of the following reasons:

  • they are older
  • they were previously married
  • they have children from a prior marriage
  • they are expecting a large inheritance or fortune from a family business
  • they are successful in their careers and want to keep what they've earned

Even if you don't fit into one of these situations, you may want to consider a prenup anyway, just in case. If a decision to end the marriage has been made, a prenup can ensure a quick, inexpensive divorce. If nothing else, prenups are a memorializtion of marital expectation and can well lead to less misunderstanding and a stronger marriage from the beginning.


April 2010

Legal Problems for States That Donít Recognize Same Sex Marriage

Mass. Ruling on Same Sex Marriage to Have Impact Nationwide

The repeal in 2008 of a 95-year-old Massachusetts law that had barred same sex marriage of non-residents in that state and the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in California aren’t isolated matters.  The rulings will have enormous legal ramifications nationwide.  Quite simply, many of the “rules” that govern the success of heterosexual marriages affect same-sex marriages the same way.  Chief among those are money, property and children.

The law had barred out of state residents from marrying in Massachusetts if their union would have been invalid in their home states.

There’s no residency requirement to get married in California or Massachusetts, meaning you don’t have to live there to get married there.  Same sex couples from across the nation will marry in California or Massachusetts and then relocate back to their home states, bringing with them their children, their credit cards, and their property. They’ll borrow money to purchase homes together, buy minivans, and register their kids in school.

But with a national divorce rate around 50 percent, the wave of same sex marriages following these rulings will likely be followed in years, months, or weeks, by a wave of same-sex divorces.

Same-sex divorce won’t be an issue in California or Massachusetts, but what happens when a same-sex couple seeks to divorce in states that don’t recognize same sex marriage in the first place?

Legally, and by public policy, many states simply do not recognize same sex marriage.  The issue has the potential of creating a same-sex divorce crisis in our nation’s courts.   Consider that when a couple is legally married, states have specific guidelines for these issues. 

  • In recognized divorces, the courts must look at issues of property division, child custody issues, and division of financial assets.  Practically, people married in California or Massachusetts will live in many other states with children and property.  How will the courts determine support if, for example, one spouse works full-time and the other stays home to take care of the children?
  • When the issue of marriage is unclear, how does the court divide the house?  Who gets custody of the kids?  How do they determine visitation?
  • What happens when a same-sex couple has a child in a public school?  The principal of the school is going to insist that someone be designated as the custodial parent of the child to make decisions.  The schools will have to go to the courts to seek a ruling.   As practical matter, judges won’t be able to simply decline to make decisions about children.  They’ll have to make decisions that will begin to legally recognize the legal rights of same-sex unions and same sex dissolutions.

Those opposed to same-sex marriage will have to deal with the practical realities that same-sex couples living in their states, with children and property owned between them, are going to split up.

At some point, “trial” cases will begin entering state courts nationwide.  People will come to the courts looking for legal remedies and the lack of recognition of same-sex marriage is going to cause chaos in the courts.

As a practical matter, in the long term, courts in states that don't allow same sex marriage may have no choice but to treat couples as actually being married.  It’s already happening.  As Massachusetts did this week, New York will soon recognize gay marriages that take place in other states. That decision will implicitly say that the state of New York will recognize same sex divorce. 

Twenty-seven states have a constitutional ban on same sex marriage, but as cases work their way through the system, this acceptance of same-sex divorce may end up being a "de facto" recognition of same sex marriage.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Risks of Being a Family Law Judge

As we've reported before, the most rancorous, emotional and contested legal battles in this country are waged in the nation's family law courts. That what makes the recent shooting of a Nevada family law judge at once shocking and tragically predictable.

Earlier this month, Judge Chuck Weller, a family law judge in Reno, was shot and critically wounded in his office by a man who apparently was upset over a ruling the judge had issued in a divorce case.

A Texas television station recently interviewed judges in East Texas about just how dangerous their jobs are. These judges' opinions are very apt, because in February, 2005, a Tyler, Texas, man - embroiled in a bitter child support dispute - opened fire outside the Smith County Courthouse and killed his ex-wife, a bystander who tried to intervene, and wounded several others before police shot him dead. Here's what the station reported:

Smith County Judge Randall Rogers and Gregg County Judge Robin Sage have been on the bench for more than 15 years. They say violence towards family law judges is getting worse.

"In family court we do highly emotional things, as a judge I have to take someone's children away," says Judge Sage.

Both say since the Smith County Courthouse shootings, just 15 months ago ... There has been additional security measures to the courthouses.

"The security measure have gotten better but they've just got a long ways to go," says Judge Rogers.

Judges interpret the law and sometimes those interpretations anger people. As a result, judges are often the focus of attack - but mainly from political attack. Many conservative "reformers" accuse judges of political activism from the bench and in doing so have created a strong bias against judges among a sizable portion of the population.

It seems to me inevitable that more and more people might believe some of this hype to the point of thinking that a judge might act out of personal animus instead of judicial impartiality.

The Kidman-Urban Prenup

Actress Nicole Kidman and country singer Keith Urban got married last Sunday. In reporting on the wedding, the media had several features on the couple's pre-nuptial agreement, as if that were something unusual or a bad omen.

It's not, on either account. As I have said several times, a pre-nuptial agreement is very common, even among couples who don't include an A-List Hollywood player. It's common sense, given the fact that many people, like Nicole, enter a second relationship with considerable personal property - property, which for a variety of sound financial reasons, should be kept away from the marital estate.

Terms of the agreement are apparently in dispute (Ms. Kidman's publicist is contesting the accuracy of the reports.) But it appears that Ms. Kidman - who the papers say is worth $150 million - offers her new husband a financial incentive for staying married to her, agreeing to a high- six-figure sum for every year they remain married. But Nicole can leave the marriage without paying a cent should Keith uses illegal narcotics or drinks excessively.

To me, this agreement seems a very wise precaution for a woman who is marrying an ex-cocaine addict - and who was once married to someone as frivolous as Tom Cruise.

Post-Nuptial Agreements on the Rise

On a subject related to prenups, there's news that more couples in south Florida at least are turning to the prenup's lesser-known cousin, the post-nuptial agreement.

According to the Palm Beach Post, more and more family law attorneys in South Florida are being asked to help couples sign these agreements, which are exactly like prenups except, of course, for the timing.

Just as with prenups, many post-nups are negotiated by couples who are marrying for the second, third - or more - time. Quite often they do so at the insistence of adult children who want to keep inheritances from their parents intact and not shared with step-relatives.

Post-nups are especially useful in Florida, where widows and widowers can challenge a spouse's will and lay claim to a third of the spouse's estate, which could throw a monkey wrench in any inheritance bequest. A post-nup closes that loophole and protects the kids' inheritance from any surprise attack by step-mom.

Post-nups also - like the Kidman-Urban agreement above - contain what I call "relationship clauses" that are designed to ensure the couple remain married. This could include penalties if one of the spouses is unfaithful.