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Gray divorce: A growing phenomenon for those age 50-plus

By Andrew Zashin*

While the overall divorce rate has dropped in recent years, the Pew Research Center found the divorce rate among adults age 50 and older in the United States has doubled since 1995. Reflecting societal changes and shifts in personal priorities that challenge the conventional notion of “till death do us part,” this phenomenon, coined the “gray divorce,” poses unique opportunities and obstacles for individuals seeking a fresh start in their older years.

Various factors contribute to this trend, including evolving attitudes toward divorce, longer life expectancies and shifting gender roles. As divorce has become more socially acceptable, and with people now leading active lives well into their older years, many individuals are reevaluating their relationships and reconsidering whether their partners align with their long-term goals, particularly if the other spouse has had an affair, is emotionally or physically abusive, or struggles with addiction.

Further, with more women than ever before attaining financial independence through participation in the workforce, and with individuals increasingly prioritizing personal fulfillment and happiness, many older individuals are electing not to stay in unhappy marriages “for the sake of the children,” particularly if their children have emancipated. Older couples also sometimes find that as they become empty nesters and retire, they have less in common than they once did. Additionally, as more and more individuals are living alone or in a retirement facility as they age, there is a reduced societal expectation that one spouse will serve as the other’s caregiver indefinitely.

Some notable examples of gray divorcées include Clint Eastwood (age 84 at the time of the divorce) and Dina Ruiz, Rupert Murdoch (age 82 at the time of the divorce) and Wendi Deng, Bill and Melinda Gates, Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott, and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver.

Gray divorce couples face some unique challenges as they look to end their marriage. While custody battles are less common because children of gray divorce couples are often older or emancipated, unique financial considerations often rise to the forefront in gray divorce cases. Many older couples have accumulated assets that require special attention when dividing the couple’s property, particularly if the couple desires to preserve some of their wealth for their children or for future generations.

Similarly, while all divorcing couples should update their estate planning following, or in connection with, a divorce, this is an especially important task for gray divorcées. Health insurance can pose a significant concern, especially if one spouse relies on the other’s insurance and is not yet eligible for Medicare. Dividing retirement benefits can also be complicated, particularly if a defined benefit or pension plan is already in payout status. Social security benefits, tied to marriage length and status, are also an important consideration for older couples looking to separate.

Despite the potential challenges, a gray divorce can mark both an end and a fresh start. As the landscape of relationships continues to evolve, gray divorce can serve as a path toward renewed happiness and personal growth. For those contemplating divorce in their later years, I encourage you to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney to explore potential issues and to enable you to make an informed decision.

This article originally appeared as a column for the Cleveland Jewish News.

2023-11-20T15:13:04-05:00November 20th, 2023|Divorce|

Can I Sue My Realtor for Not Telling Me About an Abusive Neighbor?

Newsweek – “Ask the Experts”

By Maria Azzurra Volpe On 10/7/23 at 7:00 AM EDT

Dear Newsweek,

I live in Southern Oregon and I have a neighbor with a small house and small backyard and 15 full-grown male huskies. He is not directly behind me but we share a corner.

Some background. Until August 27 last year, I was a surgical technician and owned two small businesses in Northern California. I have two sons, one of whom I have conservatorship over. He is 24 years old with high-functioning cognitive disabilities and lives with me. I am single and have been for many years. I ran my businesses while working full-time to provide for my family.

Everything changed on August 27, 2022. While out riding ATVs in the mountains of Northern California in an area called Dutch Flat with my younger son, who is 22, I took a turn way too fast and was thrown into a large cedar tree. I only weigh 100 pounds. My body wrapped itself around the tree and my life flashed before my eyes.

I was knocked unconscious and awoke to the sound of my panicked son’s voice. After a few minutes, I sat up and thought “holy cow I’m alive!” I knew I did have some damage but little did I know how much. I spent the next 6 1/2 days in the trauma ICU. I had fractured eight ribs, and punctured my lung. I’d also broken my pelvis on both sides, broken my lower back, and had a bad concussion, internal bleeding among all the scrapes and bruises.

After six months, I realized I would not be able to go back to work or my businesses, which meant I could no longer afford to live in California. Since travel was painful, we set out to find a house via virtual tours with a realtor in an area we wanted to move to.

After being outbid on home after home, we found a house in a good neighborhood that had been on the market for 141 days. We made a low offer knowing that it must need work. We had the house inspected and it turned out pretty decent.

We arrived at the home in April of this year to immediately find out why this house had been on the market so long. Something that the inspector and our realtor failed to mention. We went into the backyard and were instantly met at the corner of the fence with 10-12 barking and growling huskies. Even our Great Dane ran back to the house.

Fast forward to now. We never get to sleep through a night because of the howling and barking, which is affecting my recovery. It’s constant throughout the day. But the worst thing of all, the owner will not pick up the feces of the dogs. His backyard is all dirt and slopes downhill towards mine and my neighbor directly behind him, so needless to say the poop runs downhill. If you can imagine the amount of urine and feces produced by 15 huskies, it’s bad!

Both my son’s bedroom and mine face the backyard. We are unable to open the windows due to the smell. And the flies are in the thousands, making it impossible to sit on our backyard patio. After inquiring with the other neighbors, there have been many complaints but nothing has been done. I’m a pretty feisty person, and because the market was so hot, we paid a pretty penny for this house and I wasn’t having it. We confronted the neighbor with the complaints and in a very vocal and obscene way he told us to mind our own business. So all of us neighbors on every side of him called animal control and tried to get the ball rolling, thinking that if everybody complained, maybe something would be done. It had been months, and nothing had changed.

But we began to notice that he hits and kicks the dogs, and they do not look healthy. So I went upstairs and started filming from the window. I collected hours and hours of video and took it in. And finally, we are getting results. It turns out he has never licensed or vaccinated any of the dogs. He has been kicked out of two rental places for the same reason and has incurred thousands of dollars in fines. He thought by buying the home he currently lives in he would go unnoticed. The dogs are still there, but the county is working on having them removed and rehomed. Some of the neighbors are complaining that property values have been affected and are talking lawsuit. So I guess that’s something and the dogs will go to better homes.

Karen, Southern Oregon

When You Catch The Offending Neighbor in The Act, Do Not Hesitate to Call The Police

Featured Expert:
Andrew A. Zashin is the managing partner of Zashin & Rich, where he leads the firm’s family law and international family law practice groups. He has represented parties in some of the rare family law cases heard by the Supreme Court.

I am sorry to learn of your circumstances. The neighbor in question has created intolerable conditions for you, and all of those who live near you. This situation must come to an end, not just for the people in your neighborhood, but also for the dogs in his possession. These animals would be better off as “rescues” and both the dogs and humans in the area would be happier and healthier if this particular neighbor would change his or her ways. So, what should you do?

It seems you have already taken some proactive and productive steps. Specifically, you have organized your neighbors. You have confronted the bad neighbor about the environmental conditions they are responsible for creating. Sadly, this has not been enough.

But it is a first and necessary step. If the neighbor in question is a tenant, I would raise the stakes by speaking to their landlord. It is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure that their tenant is not a community nuisance. Second, you have not only physical proof, that is, the surroundings, but also documentary evidence, and videos you can take to court that prove the unnecessary cruelty meted out to dogs in this neighbor’s possession. This was a smart move.

You should also document the noise, both at night and during the day. Most communities have ordinances regulating the amount of noise permitted and when it is permitted. Noise pollution, like other kinds of environmental pollution, affects the quality of people’s lives. It is something that local governments should, can, and will regulate. Further, when you catch the offending neighbor in the act, do not hesitate to call the police. Most probably the police will make it the dog owner’s job to control his pets.

Third, you have learned that beyond the neighbor’s mistreatment of the dogs, he has not vaccinated his pets, which creates a hazard to others in the neighborhood. This has brought forth a county investigation. One hopes that the country will act to remove the dogs from this negligent owner immediately.

Finally, you mention “lawsuits.” I think you and the neighbors would be well advised to hire a lawyer and pursue several causes of action against this neighbor. Specifically, the diminution of your respective property values comes to mind as a perfect case for damages. Pursuing damages, collectively, for the lost value of your properties is the kind of incentive that often changes people’s bad behavior.

This article originally appeared on Newsweek – “Ask the Experts.”

2023-11-10T13:38:03-05:00October 7th, 2023|Neighbor Disputes|

22-year high mortgage rates another hurdle for divorcing couples

By Andrew Zashin*

As mortgage interest rates soar to a 22-year high, divorcing couples face yet another hurdle as they work to disentangle themselves from one another. With the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate exceeding 7%, divorcing couples must make increasingly complicated decisions regarding property division, housing arrangements and the overall financial stability for both parties involved.

Divorcing couples often have an emotionally charged time determining what to do with the family home (also called the “marital residence”). Traditionally, there are two primary ways of addressing a family home encumbered by a mortgage during a divorce. In the first option, one party keeps the home and refinances the mortgage to remove the other party’s name from the debt and to buy that spouse out of any equity that they have in the home. In the second option, the parties sell the home, pay off the mortgage and divide the proceeds.

With interest rates at a 22-year high, however, the first option is becoming increasingly less desirable as the party looking to refinance can end up with significantly higher monthly payments under the current rates. While one may think that has caused parties to default to the second option and sell the home, falling housing prices and the anticipated downturn in the housing market have deterred some parties from selling their homes at this time, particularly if the sale may lead to a loss.

This has led couples to embrace creative solutions regarding jointly-owned property. Some couples opt to continue owning the property together, and in some cases even continue to live together, until refinancing becomes more appealing. Some eligible parties have explored mortgage assumption, the process of transferring an existing mortgage to another party. Other parties are deciding not to refinance and are electing to remain on the mortgage while the spouse remaining in the residence repays the other spouse’s portion of the equity over time.

The decision to “wait out” the market or extend the time frame for refinancing post-divorce, how-ever, does not come without risks and difficulties. A party that agrees to remain on the mortgage risks credit score implications and may face difficulty immediately qualifying for another mortgage. This may prevent that spouse from securing a new residence until their name is removed from the underlying mortgage on the marital residence.

High mortgage interest rates do not just impact property division in divorce. A higher interest rate environment might lead to tighter budgets and financial strain, affecting each spouse’s financial stability post-divorce. This can influence negotiations over spousal and child support payments.

Ultimately, mortgage interest rates can significantly impact divorce proceedings, shaping decisions about property division, housing arrangements and support. As couples and their legal and financial representatives navigate the complexities of the divorce process, they must consider the potential effects of these mortgage interest rates on short-term and long-term financial outcomes. By weighing these economic realities, individuals can make informed decisions that set the stage for their post-divorce financial well-being.

This article originally appeared as a column for the Cleveland Jewish News.

My Neighbors Are Throwing Dog Poop In My Yard

Newsweek – “Ask the Experts”

By Lucy Notarantonio On 8/13/23 at 6:00 AM EDT

Dear Newsweek,

I’m 73 years old and I live alone. I have owned the property for 34 years and 11 years ago, my neighbors from hell moved next door. They are in their 40s.

For for the first eight years, at least three or four times a week, I would have 10 to 30 or more kids in my front, side and backyards with the parents outside. They would be having parties and blocking my driveway at all hours of the day and night.

The dad used to walk through my backyard when he pleased so I rang his wife to complain. I have also called the police on a regular basis but that never did any good.

The police would talk to them but as soon as the officer would leave, they’d go right back into my yard. The kids would get bats and start hitting rocks and golf balls at my house. Then they would get mad because I called the police.

The most recent incident occurred a few months back, I was working in my yard and found a lot of dog poop. I had seen the man shoveling dog poop in his yard the night before. I called the police and they told the police that my property line is wrong and that is their property and they can do what they want.

I even took my property survey to the police to prove my property line is where I said. They rent the property so they should have spoken with the landlord about the property line instead of being so mean and evil.

So finally after 11 years they get a citation and I built a privacy fence on their side only because at this time I can’t afford to fence all of my property. But the fence is extended almost all the way to front of my house, about 15 feet away from the curb.

Next time they decide to be a Karen, harass me, bully me or cause me any more mental stress we will be in court. After 11 years of hell it was time to get the owner of the property involved and I only communicate with him. I feel that at my age and with my health, I don’t need this kind of treatment and I need to find a way to legally deal with these people.


Get a Lawyer and Gather Concrete Evidence

Featured Expert:
Andrew A. Zashin is the managing partner of Zashin & Rich where he leads the firm’s family law and international family law practice groups. He has represented parties in some of the rare family law cases heard by the Supreme Court.

Dear Reader,

I am sorry to learn of your situation. Sadly, what you are experiencing is more common than you might imagine. Unfortunately, the steps you have taken to appease your “neighbors from hell” have proven fruitless. I will suggest some additional actions.

First, document everything that happens in real time. If you see your neighbors shoveling dog feces into your yard, take a video of it. Take pictures. Telling anyone about what happened later is one thing. Proving what they did, capturing the offending parties in the act, with verifiable details of where and when—documenting the time and place with background or audio by calling out to them on video—is an entirely different matter altogether. Then, armed with this evidence, go to the police supervisor. It will be much harder to ignore a complaining citizen with concrete documentation.

Second, get a lawyer. Dealing with a matter like this should not be expensive. The cost, however, seems insignificant compared to the misery these neighbors are causing you. A simple letter from a lawyer manifesting your seriousness to neighbors, the police, and the landlord, may resolve the matter. Such a letter, putting the responsibility on the landlord to control his tenants, will take the burden off your shoulders and put that burden on the landlord, where it belongs. The landlord is the person, after all, who allowed these tenants to rent his or her property and behave like this in the first place.

Finally, your lawyer, armed with the video and photographic evidence you have already collected, is in a better position to file a lawsuit if necessary. It is realistic that your lawyer, either through negation or litigation, can recover your legal fees and expenses from the landlord. I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck.

This article originally appeared on Newsweek – “Ask the Experts.”

2023-11-10T13:38:03-05:00August 13th, 2023|Harassment, Neighbor Disputes|

Law’s Andrew Zashin weighs in on Florida family dispute

Lakeland man claims ex-wife abducted son in Brazil

The Ledger (subscription required): Andrew Zashin, adjunct professor of law, weighed in on the case of an international family dispute surrounding the case of a Florida father who filed a challenge when his ex-wife took their son to Brazil after filing for divorce. “The Hague Convention itself is not about custody, it’s about jurisdiction,” Zashin said. “It’s about forum selection—which country gets to decide the custody of a child or children. And by not having filed the Hague petition (sooner), he surrendered the jurisdictional argument to the courts of Brazil.”

This article originally appeared as a post on the daily by Case Western Reserve University.

2023-11-10T13:38:03-05:00July 31st, 2023|Uncategorized|

Insurance revenge: an unfortunate weapon of vindictive partner

By Andrew Zashin*

Couples sharing auto, health and homeowner’s insurance, or who have named each other as beneficiaries of life insurance policies, face the task of disentangling these policies if they choose to divorce or otherwise separate. As break-ups often bring out the worst in people, however, vindictive partners may try to weaponize these policies to cause harm or exert control over the other party. This destructive and manipulative tactic is referred to as “insurance revenge.”

Insurance revenge occurs when a partner intentionally undermines the other party’s financial security by tampering with insurance policies. This can include canceling policies without consent, removing beneficiaries, manipulating coverage, or failing to pay premiums, leaving the other party vulnerable to potential financial and health risks. By targeting insurance policies, the individual aims to create financial instability, disrupt healthcare coverage, or cause emotional distress to their former partner.

Insurance revenge can have severe consequences for the victim, both financially and emotionally. Manipulating or canceling insurance policies can leave the victim exposed to unexpected expenses, loss of coverage, or financial ruin. If the offending party tampers with health insurance policies, the victim may face difficulties accessing necessary medical care and treatment. Destruction or sabotage of insured property can result in significant financial losses and emotional distress. Further, tampering with insurance policies may complicate divorce proceedings, leading to extended legal battles and increased stress for both parties, but particularly the victim.

How can you protect yourself from insurance revenge? First, stay in regular contact with your insurance providers throughout the separation. As soon as you are aware of the impending separation or divorce, notify your insurance providers in writing about the situation. Request that they immediately inform you of any modifications or cancellations made to the policies and require your consent for any changes.

Next, you should gather and maintain thorough documentation regarding all insurance policies, including copies of the policies themselves, premium payment records, and any correspondence related to the policies. This evidence is critical in assessing any changes made and supporting your case if insurance revenge occurs.

Further, if you are going through divorce proceedings, I encourage you to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can help you understand your rights, navigate the complexities of divorce proceedings, and protect your interests. If you are concerned about insurance revenge, talk with your attorney about obtaining temporary court orders to preserve the status quo regarding insurance policies until the divorce is finalized.

If you suspect insurance revenge or notice unauthorized changes to your policies, promptly report the incident to the insurance carrier, and your attorney if you have one. They can help you take appropriate legal action and address the issue. You may also want to consider obtaining independent insurance coverage if you currently hold joint policies with your partner. This will provide you with greater control over your policies and reduce the risk of tampering.

Insurance revenge during can have devastating long-term consequences. By employing protective measures such as maintaining regular communication with insurance providers, gathering documentation, and seeking legal advice, however, individuals can mitigate the risk of falling victim to insurance revenge and protect their emotional and financial well-being.

This article originally appeared as a column for the Cleveland Jewish News.

2023-11-10T13:38:03-05:00July 21st, 2023|Divorce, Insurance, Insurance Revenge|

Dangers of over-reliance on AI in the legal profession

By Andrew Zashin*

Artificial intelligence programs like ChatGPT are transforming the world as we know it. While people worldwide are using these programs to solve math problems and generate travel itineraries, these tools also have the potential to revolutionize the workplace.

In the legal field, AI tools have the potential to transform the profession. From summarizing complicated legal theories to analyzing data, AI tools may enable lawyers to perform a variety of tasks with greater speed, accuracy and efficiency. Blind reliance on the current AI programs, however, presents serious risks. Recently, two New York lawyers faced potential sanctions after they submitted a ChatGPT generated court brief that cited to six “nonexistent cases” and “bogus quotes” that ChatGPT invented. This forces us to pause and look at the potential benefits and pitfalls of utilizing AI in the legal field.

At the outset, AI-powered tools can automate time-consuming tasks, such as legal research, document review, and even due diligence. By automating repetitive tasks, AI can save lawyers significant time and reduce costs associated with legal proceedings. If legal research, document review, and contract analysis can be completed faster and more efficiently, law firms can handle more cases and allocate resources effectively. Streamlining these processes also allows lawyers to focus on more complex and strategic tasks.

AI algorithms can also process and analyze vast amounts of legal information and data with precision and consistency, reducing the risk of human error. By extracting valuable insights from large volumes of documents, court cases, and precedents, AI has the potential for more accurate legal research, contract analysis, and case prediction. This enables lawyers to make well-informed decisions, build stronger cases, and identify patterns and trends that may be missed by human analysts.

But as the New York lawyers learned, using AI does not come without risks. AI systems lack the ability to exercise human judgment, intuition and empathy, meaning that these tools sometimes struggle to accurately replicate nuanced interpretation of the law and to contextualize important decisions. AI tools may also fail to explain the rationale behind specific outcomes.

The reliance solely on AI may also overlook critical legal factors and ethical considerations. The New York case has caused some to question if lawyers need to disclose their reliance on AI tools in the course of their work, particularly if the AI system ultimately provides incorrect legal advice or recommendations. Law firms will also need to give careful consideration to the privacy and security challenges that arise when utilizing these tools to handle confidential and sensitive information and data.

Ultimately, the use of AI in legal proceedings offers the potential for significant benefits, including enhanced efficiency, improved accuracy, and time and cost savings for clients. Lawyers utilizing AI tools, however, must weigh the limitations and potential risks associated with AI, and, in these early phases of the AI tools must carefully review any information or documents generated by these tools. If used correctly, AI will likely serve as a valuable tool that augments the capabilities of legal professionals by improving their overall efficiency and accuracy.

This article originally appeared as a column for the Cleveland Jewish News.

2023-11-10T13:38:03-05:00June 16th, 2023|Artificial Intelligence|

My Homeless Daughter Keeps Getting Pregnant—What Should I Do?

Newsweek – “Ask the Experts”

By Maria Azzurra Volpe On 6/3/23 at 6:00 AM EDT

Dear Newsweek,

I would appreciate any words of advice. I have a daughter who has three children and was living with her dad and stepmom sleeping on their couch for the last eight months, not trying to find a job.

She and her children have no routine, they make a mess and don’t listen. Two weeks ago, her stepmom found out she is pregnant again. Her father and stepmom asked her to leave.

I’m her mom and I live in a two-bedroom apartment where I’m raising two grandkids from my oldest daughter. I let her come stay for a few nights and it was just too much. I can’t allow her and her three children to live with us in our two-bedroom.

Plus I cannot financially afford to take care of four more people. It’s not my responsibility to take them in, but she is constantly telling me she has nowhere to go.

This is her fault for keeping on getting pregnant, not working and just being lazy. Is this my responsibility? I’m heartbroken over this. I’m heartbroken over my grandkids. Any words of advice?

Barbara, Texas

I Would Prioritize My Grandchildren’s Well-Being

Featured Expert:

Andrew A. Zashin is the managing partner of Zashin & Rich where he leads the firm’s family law and international family law practice groups. He has represented parties in some of the rare family law cases heard by the Supreme Court.

Dear Barbara,

I’m sorry to hear that you are going through this difficult situation. It is clear that you are torn between wanting to help and the practical challenges that come with taking your daughter and grandchildren into your already full household. Here are a few ideas that may help.

First and foremost, if I were you, I would prioritize my grandchildren’s well-being and best interests over my daughter’s when considering this complicated situation. While you may understandably feel resentful towards your daughter for her choices and lack of responsibility, try to separate your disappointment from the needs of the children. They are helpless victims in this situation.
Barbara, you did not mention a father to any of your grandchildren. Is there one in the picture? Is there a child support award for one or more of your grandchildren? Perhaps this should be a front-burner issue. Why should all of the financial burden rest on your daughter’s, and your family’s, shoulders? If there is no child support order in place, I suggest that you help your daughter find a competent family law attorney immediately.

As their grandparent, you have a special bond with your grandchildren and want what is best for them. Children require stability, routine, and a nurturing environment to thrive. Given your limited space and financial constraints, it might also be beneficial to explore alternative solutions that can provide your daughter and her children with temporary support while she works towards gaining stability. Encourage her to seek assistance from local social services, community organizations, or government programs that can help provide her with housing, job training, or educational opportunities. In doing so, you are still showing concern and support for her, while also ensuring the well-being of your grandchildren.
If your daughter is unable—or unwilling—to provide your grandchildren with these essentials, you may need to seek other options to provide them with a stable and secure living situation. This may include contacting the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Throughout this process, it is important for you to maintain open lines of communication with your daughter, if possible. Express your concerns and boundaries clearly, emphasizing that while you may not be able to provide immediate shelter, you are willing to support her in finding the resources she needs to get back on her feet. Offer to help her with her job search or connect her with relevant support networks in your community.

It is also essential to take care of your own well-being, too. This situation can be emotionally draining, so seek support from friends, family, or support groups who can offer guidance and lend an empathetic ear.
As a final thought, while it may not be your responsibility to take in your daughter and her children, your grandchildren are lucky to have a caring and supportive grandparent in their lives. By providing support, guidance, and assisting in finding resources, you can help your daughter and her children work towards a more stable and independent future.

This article originally appeared on Newsweek – “Ask the Experts.”

2023-11-10T13:38:03-05:00June 3rd, 2023|Child Support|

I Sued My Neighbors, Now They Are Harassing Me—What Should I Do?

Newsweek – “Ask the Experts”

By Maria Azzurra Volpe On 5/21/23 at 6:00 AM EDT

Dear Newsweek,

I have neighbors who were new six-and-a-half years ago. From the very first day they were here, they began harassing me and trying to run me off of my property. I am 58 years old, disabled, and on a fixed income.

After three years of continuous harassment, including directing a high-intensity spotlight into my home for 584 days and nights, I was forced to file a lawsuit, pro se. After Covid and all the usual delays, we were to have a trial in October of 2022.

I was on my own against four grown bullies with good jobs and their attorney, so we settled before the trial and they paid me $2,000. They are not supposed to harass me anymore, but in the meantime, they installed two flag poles next to the property line and the flag clips make a harsh, annoying metal-on-metal banging noise.

It doesn’t affect the neighbors because they are only here on the weekends. I have to listen to it all day long and cannot go in my yard at all without hearing it. I can even hear it in my house. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

The most amazing thing about this is that the two couples, the harassers, who own the property have very good jobs. One woman works for a children’s hospital as a database manager and her husband is a civilian employee at a U.S. Army arsenal. The second couple consists of an advanced-practice registered nurse, and her husband is a business owner.

I would love to know what I am supposed to do about this. They have no intention of letting me live in peace.

Jackie, Arkansas

Document Any Incidents of Harassment

Featured Expert:
Andrew Zashin is an adjunct professor at the School of Law, Case Western Reserve University, and a managing partner at the Zashin & Rich law firm.

Dear Jackie,

I am sorry to hear about your situation. It is unfortunate that you have had to endure such persistent harassment from your neighbors, and I understand how frustrated you must be with the ongoing noise from their flag poles. There are, however, a few things that you can do to address the situation and hopefully find some relief.

First, review the terms of the settlement agreement that you reached with your neighbors in court. If the agreement specifically prohibits them from engaging in any further harassment or disruptive behavior, you may be able to take legal action if they continue to cause problems.

Consider consulting with an attorney to discuss your options and determine if there are any legal avenues available to you. While this may end up being costly, it may be worth it if it brings you peace of mind.

Second, you should try speaking with your neighbors directly, or through an intermediary, and politely express your concerns about the noise from the flag poles. They may not know how disruptive it is for you, and they may be willing to make changes to reduce the noise or relocate the flag poles, especially if they are at risk of violating the agreement that you reached in court. From duct tape to foam or rubber-covered flag clips, there appears to be many cost-effective, noise-reducing solutions for loud flag clips. They may be willing to purchase the same if it means not having to go back to court.

Next, you could consider mediation with your neighbors. A neutral third party can help facilitate a conversation to address the issue and find a solution that works for both parties.

If speaking with your neighbors directly or through a third party does not resolve the issue, you may need to consider taking more drastic action. This could include filing a complaint with your local government or homeowners association, or even seeking a restraining order in court if you continue to feel threatened or unsafe.
In any case, it is important to document any incidents of harassment or disruptive behavior from your neighbors and keep track of any communication or attempts at resolution.

Keep a record of the times and duration of the noise from the flag poles, as well as any other incidents that occur. You could also consider recording the noise with your phone, or another recording device, to use as evidence. This can help strengthen your case if legal action becomes necessary.

This article originally appeared on Newsweek – “Ask the Experts.”

2023-11-10T13:38:03-05:00May 21st, 2023|Harassment, Neighbor Disputes|

‘Postnups’: New tool in Ohio divorce lawyer’s toolbox

By Andrew Zashin*

Most people have heard of prenuptial agreements. These are contracts that couples enter into before walking down the aisle that outlines what happens with respect to the parties’ finances in the event that the marriage ends due to divorce or the death of either party. On March 23, a similar tool known as postnuptial agreements will be available to married couples in Ohio.

Until this year, Ohio law prohibited postnuptial agreements, often referred to as “postnups.” This meant that married people could not enter into contracts regarding their obligations to one another. This also meant that married couples could not amend prenuptial agreements even if the prenuptial agreement contained an error or if circumstances changed that rendered the prenuptial agreement unfair or obsolete. Now, a 60-year-old couple that entered into a prenuptial agreement in their thirties can freely amend or modify that agreement to align with their current goals and circumstances.

In addition to amending a prenuptial agreement, there are many other reasons why a couple might consider signing a postnuptial agreement. One of the most common reasons is to address changes in the couple’s financial circumstances. Maybe one spouse plans on opening a business. A postnuptial agreement can clarify that the business will remain that spouse’s separate property, along with any debts associated with the business. If one spouse stopped working during the marriage to care for the parties’ children, a postnuptial agreement can create a structure for payment of support to compensate the spouse for the wages lost while staying home to care for the children. Postnups can also be helpful for couples who are experiencing marital difficulties who want to clarify their financial rights and obligations in the event of a separation or divorce.

Like a prenuptial agreement, postnuptial agreements will identify which assets are considered the separate property of each spouse and which assets are considered marital property. A postnup can also establish which spouse will be responsible for paying off certain debts, such as credit card balances or student loans. Postnups can outline the amount of spousal support to be paid in the event of a divorce. Postnups can also outline the amount that a spouse will receive in the event of the death of the other spouse during the marriage. Postnuptial agreements cannot be used, however, to make decisions related to child custody or child support. These issues can only be decided at the time a couple decides to end the marriage based on the best interests of the child at that time.

Like prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements require certain elements in order to be enforceable. The agreement must be in writing and signed by both spouses. It must be entered into freely without fraud, duress, coercion or overreaching. It must be made with full disclosure or with full knowledge and understanding of the other spouse’s property. A postnuptial agreement also cannot promote or encourage divorce.

Ultimately, Ohio’s adoption of postnuptial agreements provides married couples with a new way to protect their assets and plan for the future. While postnuptial agreements are not appropriate for every couple, they can be an important tool for couples who want to ensure that their assets are distributed in a way that they both agree on. Couples considering a postnuptial agreement should work with an experienced family law attorney to create an agreement that is legally binding and meets their needs.

This article originally appeared as a column for the Cleveland Jewish News.

2023-11-10T13:38:03-05:00March 16th, 2023|Post-Nuptial Agreements, Prenuptial Agreements|
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