My Ex Keeps Following Me

In most states, stalking is against the law, and often has a direct correlation to violent acts which can include destroying property and injuring the target.  If you are being stalked by your ex, make sure you document the dates and times, and locations of the incidents.  If the stalking continues, you should immediately notify your local law enforcement or speak with an attorney.  In the meantime, let your neighbors know what is occurring so they can keep a watchful eye and report any suspicious activity.  Only exit in areas that are well-light.  If you work late, have a co-worker or friend take you to your car.  Sometimes keys have alarms, so keep your keys safe to set-off your car alarm.  Noise is often a deterrent.  You can even keep your keys near your bed and use them as an alarm device if the stalker escalates and enters your home uninvited.  Sometimes you can obtain an Order of Protection if you  can prove to the Court that you are in reasonable apprehension of bodily injury, or you have been a victim of one of the offenses listed in Section 40-15-201 M.C.A.

Restraining Orders, Uncategorized

Can my spouse divorce me if I do not want the divorce?

The fact that you do not want this divorce will not prevent your spouse from divorcing you. The Court only needs to conclude that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences, and you have no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. That is a fairly easy standard to meet in Montana. If one party makes the claim that you have irreconcilable differences with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation, the Court will grant the Petition for Dissolution.

Montana is referred to as a “no fault” divorce state. This means that when your spouse files for divorce, he or she is not required to prove fault on your part. For example, your spouse does not need to allege adultery, abuse, or abandonment. The Court will not consider such allegations as a basis for granting divorce.

If you find yourself in a position where you are having difficulty accepting the prospect of divorce, you should visit with your Pastor, a counselor, or a psychologist to help you sort through your feelings.

I have seen numerous divorces where one party does not want the divorce, and often the reluctant party will be passive-aggressive, or take some other actions to slow down the divorce process. Sometimes the reluctant party will simply be unreasonable, and will reject reasonable settlement offers or fail to turn over necessary information to the other side to slow down the process. This type of behavior only prolongs the inevitable and unnecessarily drives up the costs and expenses. It also creates more ill will between the parties. This type of behavior does not make anything better – it just leaves both parties more bitter.

A divorce can be emotionally painful when one person wants the divorce and the other person does not. Occasionally, both people realize the marriage is not working, and both want the divorce. However, more often than not, one person wants the divorce and the other spouse is less enthusiastic.

So, can a person get a divorce without consent. The answer is, “yes.”

Divorce

When can I file for an Order of Protection?

You can file for an Order of Protection if you are in “reasonable apprehension of bodily harm” from your partner or family member.  You can also file for an order of protection if you are the victim of one of the following offenses by a partner or family member:

Restraining Orders

Child Support Modification

The question that I often answer is how long do I have to wait to modify my child support? That often depends. Sometimes child support can be modified after so much time has passed, or sometimes child support can be modified sooner, and for other reasons.
 
Before child support is modified, you need to meet certain criteria. Sufficient grounds for modifying child support include the following:
 
– A substantial change in circumstances

– The need to provide for the child’s health care needs

– Thirty-six (36) months have passed since the child support order was issued

– Thirty-six (36) months have passed since an administration hearing was granted (under Section 40-5-277 M.C.A.)

– Thirty-six (36) months have passed since an administrative order was issued denying a modification because of the applicant’s failure to meet certain criteria for the modification

– A change of custody of the child

The million dollar questions is often, “What constitutes a substantial change of circumstances ?” A “substantial change of circumstances” includes but is not limited to the following:

– A 30% increase or decrease in one parent’s income

– The adoption, emancipation, or death of a child in households where more than one child are the subjects of the guideline calculation, if the existing order is not a per child amount

– A permanent move of the child from one parent’s home to the other parent’s home that is in writing

– A permanent move of the child from one parent’s home to the other parent’s home as ordered by a court

– A permanent move of the child from one parent’s home to the other parent’s home that has continued for ninety (90) days prior to the review for child support

– Developmental or special needs of the child that were not considered in the original order

– Evidence that the original child support order was set without reference to the Child Support Guidelines

Additional information can be obtained through Montana Child Support Enforcement Division at www.dpphs.mt.gov/csed/

Child Support

Income Used for Calculating Child Support

Clients often ask the question about whether the income used for calculating child support is just limited to taxable income.  The answer is quick and easy, “NO!”

Income for child support calculations is not just limited taxable or Adjusted Gross Income that is reported to the IRS. For the purposes of determining child support, actual income is much broader and different from taxable income. A.R.M. 32.62.106 (1) explains that: “Income for child support includes actual income, imputed income, or any combination thereof which fairly reflects a parent’s resources available for child support. Income can never be less than zero.”

Since the child support guidelines include actual income, the Montana Child Support Guidelines take into account income from whatever source derived, subject to a few exclusions. Actual income can include the following:

-salaries, wages, and tips
-commissions, bonuses, and earnings
-profits and dividends
-severance pay
-pensions
-periodic distributions from retirement plans
-draws or advances against earnings
-interest
-trust income
-annuities
-royalties
-alimony or spousal maintenance
-social security benefits
-veterans benefits
-worker’s compensation benefits
-unemployment benefits
-disability benefits
-earned income credit
-other government payments and benefits
-history of capital gains that exceed capital losses

For example, you have worked and lived on the family farm for years and receive only a $ 20,000.00 salary. However, your truck is paid for by the farm. Your gas and insurance are paid for by the farm. You live free of charge at the farmhouse, and don’t pay for your own electricity, gas, and other utilities, as they are paid for by the farm. The economic benefits that you receive in the form of your free vehicle, gas, insurance, housing, and utilities could be added to your $ 20,000.00 salary for the purposes of your child support obligation. If the evidence suggests the value of these free benefits is $ 7,000.00, your income for child support purposes would be $ 27,000.00, not $ 20,000.00

Child Support

Facebook — The New “Exhibit A” in Divorce

Who isn’t using Facebook, Twitter, or some other form of social networking these days?  When I review an intake form, I cannot help myself from looking at the box which shows my client has a MySpace, Match.com, Twitter, Facebook, or some other online account that isn’t so innocent.

 

Then, I experience “flashbacks,” “PTSD” or something of the sort. I remember when I was in court, sitting at counsel table, along with my client who looked like a great “Exhibit A” in a pair of khaki pants, dockers and a white shirt.  I was feeling pretty good about the case until the other attorney handed me a stack of my client’s Facebook postings. I never saw a case bottom out so quickly!!! 

The picture that I was painting for the Court and the picture that Facebook was painting were contradictory. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, Facebook won! My client no longer looked like the parent of the year! Facebook showed him to be a womanizing, partying fool who had a string of relationships and scantily clad women. Each of these women had postings of their own terms of endearment for my client. Then, there were the pictures of all the alcohol, partying and tattoos. Facebook proved to be a gold-mine for the other attorney. I had never heard of Facebook until that day in Court! What an eye-opener! 

This social networking evidence is often the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. If you are on-line with a play-by-play of your day, posting all day long when you are supposed to be exercising visitation with your kids, what are your kids doing while you are online? You were late picking the kids up for visitation on Saturday morning, and guess what, you post about your all-nighter and hang-over on Friday night. (Never mind that you are a reformed alcoholic, who quit drinking, and told the Court so in a sworn affidavit that has been previously filed by your attorney!) 

Sometimes while going through a divorce or a separation, it is easy to brag about your newly found freedom, romances, and conquests. A post or two of the new girlfriend on your lap with a neon light in the background is sure to get your ex mad! Maybe your ex will even want you back! Although those thoughts may result in momentary happy hormones as your fingers fly across the keyboard, and you hit “post,” your attorney may be less than enthusiastic about your creativity. What happens when you bring your new girlfriend to Court to testify, and she is dressed in a conservative suit that would made Jackie O proud? All of a sudden, your new girlfriend does not look so stellar on the witness stand when the opposing counsel introduces the photo of her at the local tavern.

Below are good rules of thumb to follow when posting on social networking sites while going through a divorce or custody battle:

RULE 1: DO NOT POST ANY INFORMATION UNLESS YOU COULD SHARE THAT SAME INFORMATION WITH YOUR GRANDMOTHER, YOUR PASTOR, AND GRADE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL.

RULE 2:  IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, POST NOTHING!

Even if you think your posting is innocuous, think again – a judge may be reading it some day!

Divorce, Facebook and Social Networking