Cruise Control

Protect your assets like a celebrity!

While Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini was recently successful in shielding his financial divorce documents from prying eyes, the same can’t be said for the financial terms surrounding the quickie divorce of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

According to oneUSmedia source, Katie walked away with no spousal support from Tom, or any share in Tom’s assets, certainly noteworthy considering he’s worth approximately 250 million US dollars.

All of which is not so surprising since the pair apparently inked an ironclad pre-nup, which no doubt specified no support or asset division in the event of divorce.

But before anyone sheds any tears for Katie, she will repeatedly be receiving child support payments of approximately $33,300.00 per month for their daughter Suri, until she turns 18 years of age.

Here in BC, the amount of child support is calculated by using the income of the paying spouse, and the Federal Child Support Guidelines.  I have no way of knowing how they calculated this amount for Tom.  (However, for those curious souls like me, if Tom was here working in BC and paying child support of $33,300.00 for 1 child, he would need to have an income of approximately $4,500,000.00).

However, just like here in BC, Tom is also responsible for additional expenses, such as Suri’s tuition, ($40,000.00 per year), medical expenses, etc.  In BC, Tom and Katie would share such expenses in proportion to their respective incomes, (and adjust annually), or they could simply agree to share them 50/50.

According to the sameUSsource, one of the divorce terms also specifies that Suri not attend any sort of “ residential school,” which has been interpreted by some as meaning a residential school associated with theschoolofScientology.  Not sure if that’s the correct interpretation, although I am fairly certain the exact nature of the “residential school” to be avoided, is clarified in the divorce settlement, otherwise Suri would have a difficult time eventually attending any long distance educational institutions, (such as college or university), and residing in residence.

For those of us non-celebrities contemplating a pre-nup, (also called a Marriage Agreement), it can be an extremely advantageous document to have in your pocket, (or purse), saving you legal costs, stress, and delay, in the event of a separation or divorce.

So take my advice, make like a celebrity, and get one!  Did I mention, I’m a family lawyer who prepares pre-nups and Marriage Agreements……?

P.S.  The family law regarding division of property, (and other matters), on separation are changing in March of 2013.  It’s a good time to review your options!

Poison Control

Don’t risk becoming the “hated parent” to your own children, as a result of your separation or divorce.  Learn the antidote to poisoned minds, and counter the negative impact of “parental alienation syndrome”.

It’s an area of family law which both as a parent, and a family lawyer, I find most troublesome, and frustrating.  Of course, I’m referring to the often bitterly contested issues of custody and access.

Children often become mere pawns, manipulated by one, or the other spouse, to suit their own legal agendas.  It’s something which has come to be called “parental alienation syndrome.”  It’s a condition whereby children are essentially programmed by one parent, the “loved parent,” to reject, and despise, the other parent, the alleged “hated parent.”

Tactics used by a parent can include both conscious, and subconscious, techniques to “poison” a child’s mind against the other parent.

How do you recognize this syndrome?

There are several key characteristics.  Typically, a child will constantly denounce the “hated parent,” and, if asked to explain, such negative feelings will be unable to provide any rational explanation.

There will also be an unquestioned, and absolute approval, of the “loved parent,” including sharing the “loved parent’s” description for the “hated parent.”  In addition, the description of the “hated parent” will often appear to be consistent, and unchanging, suggesting that the child has been coached, or prompted, by the “loved parent” to provide a negative description.

Finally, and perhaps most damaging of all, the “loved parent” professes that the child’s own wishes, and views, must be respected, including their desire not to see the “hated parent.”

While in my own experience, courts have been slow to recognize and address this syndrome, there may be a glimmer of light, at the end of the tunnel.  An Ontario Superior Court Justice fined a woman $10,000.00 for “poisoning” the minds of her children, against their loving father.

Specifically, the woman, the custodial parent, had refused to comply with several orders, which required her, to facilitate contact between the children and their father, and to undertake family counseling.

The court could also have awarded sole custody of the children to the father, but felt such action was not appropriate, since the youngest child, now 16, was “so attached” to the mother, and soon to be fully independent.

Unfortunately, as this case readily demonstrates, once the emotional and psychological damage is done, there is no force on this earth strong enough to compel a child to maintain, or develop, a relationship with the other parent, regardless, of how loving, or well meaning, that parent may be.

What do I recommend as an “antidote” for such “poisoned minds?”

Firstly, if you and your spouse are separating, or divorcing, keep the legal matters out of court, if possible.  Going to court creates considerable stress and pressure on both parents, and children.  Minimizing both, may help salvage your short, and long term relationship, with your spouse, and children.

Secondly, I recommend counseling for all parties.  If you are an employee, your employer may have a benefits program which provides personal and family counseling.  If it does, take advantage of it.  In most cases, it will be free of charge, as well as being confidential.

Thirdly, and perhaps most significantly, I believe changes in the Divorce Act are urgently required.  Changes such as removing the divisive term “custody,” and replacing it with a more neutral, but vital, concept such as “parental responsibility.”

But rather than address this particular issue, which has been researched to death, and potentially impact thousands of separating, and divorcing families, each year, the Federal Government has other priorities.

It’s no surprise many doubt the Federal Government’s commitment to families, me among them.

The contents, opinions, and observations, contained in Scott Taylor’s Kitchen Table Divorce, are strictly intended for general information and entertainment purposes only, and are not intended to be relied upon, or to replace, legal advice.

It is recommended you obtain legal advice from Mr. Taylor,(604-534-6361or info@underappeal.com), or another lawyer, with respect to your specific jurisdiction, and legal circumstances.