Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Divorce Settlement Chutzpah

How’s this for chutzpah?

Our friend and her ex just signed a divorce settlement in court. In an agonizing decision to be first and foremost a good mom, our friend signed in order not to prolong the divorce and subject her children to further acrimony.
She felt the settlement was kind of unfair--no alimony for her although she makes under $30,000 per year and her ex used to make $200,000 in the years before he quit working so he would show no income during the divorce proceedings. (See our book chapter on RAIDS). And, she really regretted being forced to sell the family home and split the proceeds 50/50 since she had used a gift from her parents to make the full down payment.
But, by far the most bitter pill for our friend to swallow was agreeing to give her ex half of the sale proceeds from the apartment she had solely owned outright since way before she had even met him. His lawyer doggedly insisted that the ex had put sweat equity into the apartment(he once replaced the float ball in a toilet)and that there would be no settlement whatsoever unless the ex got his "fair share" of said apartment.

Our friend gritted her teeth, reminded herself that getting the divorce over with was best for the kids,and signed. The ex and his attorney immediately approached her and said she could buy the ex’s apartment share back from him for $150,000.
She recently had an appraisal done on the apartment--it was worth a total of $250,000 before the market crashed, and here was her ex trying to get her to buy her own property back from him at an inflated price. Heck of a guy! His new girlfriend is soooooooo lucky to have latched onto such a winner! Hope she gets him to sign a pre-nup!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Can you keep your inheritance when you get divorced?

In the eyes of the law, there are two kinds of marital property: community property and separate property.

Community property is marital assets that were obtained during the marriage by either partner. All community property is divided equitably in a divorce. Separate property is individual property that you obtained before the marriage, and usually remains yours after a divorce.

In most states, an inheritance, even if you receive it during marriage, falls under the separate property clause. As long as the inheritance has not been commingled with joint marital assets during the marriage, it should remain in your own after a divorce.

However, a few states (known as community property states) consider an inheritance to be part of marital assets if it was received during the marriage. An inheritance ruling is difficult to dispute if you live in a community property state. The following states fall into this category:
* Arizona
* California
* Idaho
* Louisiana
* Nevada
* New Mexico
* Texas
* Washington
* Wisconsin

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Public Frenemy Number One: Cindy G. of Weston, MA.

We are outing Cindy G. of Weston, Massachusetts as a frenemy of the worst kind. Watch your back if you come across this turncoat traitor! We wish we could disclose her full name, but if you meet up with her hopefully you'll know what she's all about, full name or no.

Despite her Frida Kahlo unibrow, since she took off 30 pounds or so, Cindy is quite attractive and dangerously sweet on the surface. Plus she’s a good cook in that old fashioned red sauce baked ziti kind of way. She has two lovely daughters and a long, stable marriage with her 450 pound beached whale of a husband, Big Ric.

All the above constitutes her upside. Here's the underbelly: Cindy was until recently the longtime bff of a friend of ours. Then our friend’s husband began having an affair with a neighbor which led to the end of that marriage (and the neighbor’s). At first, Cindy was super sympathetic with her bff over the affair and the end of the marriage. When Cindy and Big Ric went out to dinner with the bff’s husband and his new girlfriend the blonde neighbor, Cindy reported that the blonde was unattractive with a bad nose job and has killer crow's feet. The bff was quietly very hurt that Cindy even agreed to double date with the new couple, but she enjoyed the gossip when Cindy reported back to her on the multiple interesting secrets the blonde neighbor divulged under the influence of alcohol—she’s been divorced three times; she gets sloppy after just one glass of wine; she's not really blonde; she always has sex on the first date; she used to weigh 185; her father is a twice convicted felon; she spends $5,000 every week on clothes; she’s 4’8" and wears custom made lifts in her shoes; she’s had three botched nose jobs and a boob job, and so on.

But then, Cindy, in a sudden treacherous shift, became bff’s with the blonde neighbor. Just like that, she decided to switch teams. Cindy and the blonde now shop together. They double date every Saturday night. They take vacations as couples together, although they have to travel separately since Cindy’s husband Big Ric is too fat to fly coach. And in the ultimate act of traitorship, yesterday Cindy showed up at divorce court in support of her former bff's ex.

That’s right, Cindy ditched her best friend of 20 years after the bff’s husband left her, and then Cindy became best friends with the husband and the new girlfriend. Hopefully what goes around comes around and Cindy will get her just desserts, though it is highly unlikely that Cindy’s 450 pound monster of a hubby will attract the eye of any woman still breathing.

Note: We have our own internal dispute as to whether the correct spelling is frenemy or frienemy, but either way, we all need to steer clear of girlfriends like Cindy--Amen!

Obama's sex appeal

I agree with some of those viewpoints, but not all.

Obama is ...

1. Cute? Check.
2. Devoted to wife and kids? Check.
3. Empathetic mediator? Check.

And I would add the following assets:

4. Megawatt smile
5. Amazing intellect
6. Great sense of humor

But I dispute that:

"He's like a woman." I think part of his appeal, subconscious perhaps for women, is that underneath that charm and grace is the ultimate alpha male. Let's not forget that with no family connections and at an extraordinarily young age, Obama KICKED ASS, running a juggernaut campaign, trouncing the competition with his unflappable, steely resolve, and making history by becoming the first back president. That takes enormous will and ambition. Obama is undaunted, a truly tough dude.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Crush on the President: Barack My World

Why are we women so taken with the 44th president? Not that we haven’t fallen head over heels before – we loved Bill Clinton even to the point of desperately, illogically trying to divert the blame for his wayward behavior. Our mothers’ generation was crazy for John Kennedy. My grandmother voted for Kennedy simply because he was handsome and a Democrat, no other credential necessary.
In 2009, women of all ages love Obama.
One of our friends says we love him because he’s so like a woman. He has incorporated the best of female characteristics. He’s slim, good looking, has long elegant hands, he’s well-dressed and well-groomed, he’s fit, he’s sensitive and empathic. He minimizes conflict, and looks for common ground. And he doesn’t take power for granted.
Another friend says women love the president because of his solid marriage, the way he looks at his wife and daughters with complete devotion, admiration and love. And then, back to my Grandma’s reasoning, there’s the fact that he’s just plain cute.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

How to wind up with a good man and avoid the players

A new study shows that refusing to sleep with a partner on the first date could be one of the keys to making a successful match.

Researchers used a mathematical model to show that more reliable men were willing to wait longer before having sex for the first time. By contrast, less suitable men were not as likely to continue dating.

Professor Robert Seymour, from University College London, who created the model, said: "Longer courtship is a way for the female to acquire information about the male. "By delaying mating, the female is able to reduce the chance that she will mate with a bad male.

"A male's willingness to court for a long time is a signal that he is likely to be a good male.

"Long courtship is a price paid for increasing the chance that mating, if it occurs, will be a harmonious match which benefits both sexes. This may help to explain the commonly held belief that a woman is best advised not to sleep with a man on a first date."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dating Opportunities Abound: Inaugural Festivities

Ladies- Yes, you can meet a good man on January 20, 2009! Check out the inauguration festivities in your area. Tons of events from dance parties to brunches are in the works and it’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and meet some new people at the same time.
Here’s a smattering of the kinds of activities being planned around the country. Google your town for your own local inaugural activities.

California: West Marin County 7:15 am - Sunrise Swim - Chicken Ranch Beach, Inverness. 8:00 am - Live Inauguration Screening and Breakfast, Toby's Feed Barn, Point Reyes Station. Pledge YOUR first 100 days of action on the Ball O' Hope 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm - Inaugural Ball, Soup & Bread Line, Music & Dancing - BYOBB (bring your own beverages and bowl) $10 - No one will be turned away. Dress: West Marin Formal. Hosted by: Point Reyes Books, Mainstreet Moms, Toby's Feed Barn, The Dance Palace, Point Reyes Nation.

Florida: Altamonte Springs (1/20/09) Presidential Inauguration Brunch at Hughey's American Grill, 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Brunch ($18.95/person) includes includes $10 admittance to the evening party celebration event (10:00 p.m. till 2:00 a.m.) with live entertainment.

Idaho: Moscow (1/20/09) Marimba music and food beginning at 6 p.m., rebroadcast of President Obama's inaugural speech at 7 p.m., and dancing until 10 p.m. Cost is $5 per person. Money raised will go to the Sesitshaya Marimba band scholarship, Sojourner's Alliance shelter and food banks in Latah County. Hosted by the Latah County Democrats.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How to avoid a second divorce

S. and her widower boyfriend fell in love and planned their retirement together two weeks after they started dating; in less than a year, he cruelly dumped her. The only consolation for the heartbroken S is that she discovered who he really was before tying the knot for the second time. Hers is a cautionary tale that explains why the divorce rate for second marriages is so high. Here are the stats:

* Divorce rate in America after first marriage is from 41% to 50%.
* US divorce rate after second marriage is from 60% to 67%
* After 3 marriages the US divorce rate is from 73% to 74%

Why do subsequent marriages fail? Research shows that the second marriage divorce rate greatly increases if you’ve been in a relationship with a person for less than a year.

It has also been proven that both men and women want to be married and connected regardless of the misery they suffered in their last marriage. Loneliness can drive anyone to seek relief in their second marriage and few people are thinking straight when they remarry too quickly.

The burning desire to “not be lonely” creates such a hunger that people fall in love with the idea of being in love, rather than with their partner as he or she really is. They are "blinded by love."

And romance is a powerful drug. It can keep you in a trance right up until the moment you say "I do" for the second time.

But once you’re married, that romance gradually gets replaced with the predictability of married life, and either the problems you thought you left behind by getting your first divorce, or the previously unseen flaws and shortcomings of your new spouse, eventually undermine the second marriage.

The central message of our book is that divorced women must take the time to rebuild their lives and get comfortable with themselves before they can have a successful new relationship. Two more caveats: don't rush into any relationship, and resist the temptation to fantasize about the future with your new love. It's easy for partners to feel warm and lovey-dovey for awhile, but after about a year, they reveal whether they or not they REALLY want to be in a relationship.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dating the Widower: Too Much Too Soon

What happens when a widower suddenly starts his life over with an all-consuming new relationship?
Back in September, we heard from a guest blogger-- our friend S. from Colorado who was known to us prior to that moment as the most cynical, jaded, anti-man woman we knew. She had been burned out by a long marriage to a bipolar chiropractor and subsequently had a long-term relationship with a compulsive womanizer. When she broke that dead-end situation off, she landed up with a seemingly sweet, if boring, man, who at the last moment, after they had decided to move to another state and had signed a lease together, broke out in a rabid case of commitment phobia and took off.
Half a dozen dateless years later, here she was on our blog gushing about the wonderful widower she met on E-Harmony. After just two weeks of dating, these two soulmates were already making retirement plans together.
The relationship blossomed and grew throughout the autumn, but as the holidays approached he became nervous anticipating his 23-year-old daughter’s reaction to finding out that he was now dating. Although an adult, the daughter is an only child whose mother had died less than a year before after a long battle with cancer. S. felt sympathetic toward the young woman, so she advised her boyfriend to wait to discuss their relationship until the daughter came home for Christmas so he could talk to her in person.
From the moment the daughter arrived home, S. never heard from the guy. He instructed her not to call him, not even on his cell, and not to email him. He didn’t want his daughter to pick up any clues before he was ready to tell her. S. felt as if she was conducting some sort of clandestine affair with a married man.
Finally, in a desperate, forbidden action, she called his cell. He told her that he hadn’t been able to discuss his dating with his daughter yet, but there was something else he needed to tell S.
Weeks before, he had confided that due to some complicated story regarding botched surgery, he was unable to have sex without using Viagra. S. had told him that she loved him and this was fine with her.
Over the phone, he told her his doctor now said that taking Viagra could be life threatening to him, and that he should never ever have sex or even get aroused again. S. was in love and reassured him they would find a solution. But he insisted that he wanted her to move on and have a normal life without him. She became hysterical crying and all he could say was, “I thought you never cried. I didn’t know you were so emotional.”
With that, he disappeared. Never called or emailed, never said goodbye.
I have no idea what all of this was about except I can’t help thinking he scared himself off by moving ahead so fast with a relationship so soon after his wife’s death.
On the other hand, my Aunt Millie has been with her boyfriend Sumner for over a decade. When they began seeing each other, she was already a widow for fourteen years and was clearly finally ready to date, but Sumner's wife had died only three months before. His kids were furious, but in the end it all worked out and they are still together and very happy.

I guess some guys are built to be part of a couple and others are scared to death of intimacy.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

More necessary luxuries

I would add to that list of small indulgences that we can't live without:

A tiny tube of wrinkle-erasing under-eye cream that costs $27. Well, it's cheaper than plastic surgery!

High-end shampoo and conditioner. I am working towards generic versions, which are probably just as good, but am not there yet.

L'Occitane hand cream.

Chanel lipstick.

Going to the dermatologist for zits.

*** On the other hand, I took my kids out to dinner at a diner last night, and the bill for the three of us came to $46.40 including tax, tip, and a side of fries.

Necessary Luxuries Even in a Recession

Necessary luxuries is NOT an oxymoron. Getting back on this topic from our blog entry last week, no self-respecting woman can afford to go around looking like her hair was cut with with a weed whacker or her color was done by a bathroom hair wizard on crack.
And there are at least a half dozen other less obvious luxuries we can’t bear to give up, nor should we.
Here’s some input on what our girlfriends refuse to go without, job or no job:

Lip gloss, mascara and concealer for three. What would we do without them? We’d have to walk around feeling bad about our raccoon circles, dry wrinkled lips and puny lashes.

Then there are the books,magazine subscriptions,movies,text messaging,and high speed internet connection that keep us in contact with the world.

I for one have cost cut like crazy. No more taxis, and hardly any dinners out. But something came over me and I absolutely had to buy a $75 dollar jar of Jeunesse du Cou last week to keep my neck eternally young. Actually it’s much too late for that, which is exactly what made the impulse purchase so urgent!

Are organ donations and breast implants marital assets?

Divorcing spouses haggle about all kinds of assets, from pension plans to art collections to family heirlooms. Some couples have jewelry and antiques appraised so their value can be split. Battles wage over the Jaguar, the baby grand piano, and the wedding silver.

But here's one for the record books. A Long Island surgeon, embroiled in divorce negotiations for the past four years, wants his estranged wife to return the kidney he donated to her. Alternatively, she can fork over $1.5 million in compensation.

Dr. Richard Batista donated the kidney to his wife in 2001. He claims she began an extramarital affair 18 months later, and within three years of the transplant she filed for divorce. He also says that during the litigation, he has been prevented from seeing their three children.

If his allegations are true, I can't blame him for feeling bitter about being dumped and left with one kidney. But divorce experts say the kidney is not a marital asset that you can put a price tag on, and there's no chance he will succeed. According to Manhattan attorney Susan Moss: "The good doctor is out of luck and out a kidney. This is similar to cases where a husband wants to be repaid for the cost of breast implants and the such. Our judges are not willing to value such assets, so to speak."

Monday, January 5, 2009

Divorce: Sometimes Grandparents Are Far from Grand

During the holiday season, we have fond memories of our grandparents buying us that special doll or train set we wanted more than anything, baking spicy aromatic gingerbread men or frying the crispiest latkes. Long after our Nana or Pops is gone to the hereafter, we pull out the photo albums and get misty eyed as we remember their unconditional love.
We almost never think of our grandparents as coming from the Dark Side. But,poor Alix and Mikey. Their grandfather is Darth Vader reincarnated.
Their mom, Allison, and their dad, Damon, have been embroiled in a three- year- long divorce case which barely pales before the War of the Roses. Damon is in love with a wealthy three-time divorcee ten years older than him who likes to vaction in her condo at a nudist resort in Land O Lakes Florida.
Allison, for reasons only known to her, would like to stay married to creepy Damon, but he is enraptured by the nudist and her bank accounts which remain rock solid even in these financially shaky times.
Damon’s parents never liked Allison’s outspoken nature or her bi-racial background. They are thrilled with the older (100% WASP) wealthy divorcee and her bank accounts, though they are unaware of her nudist proclivities. They have hired their best friend, a pit bull attorney, to represent Damon, and Damon's dad has told his daughter in law more than once that he hopes to see her homeless and begging on the street one day so he can spit on her as he walks by her. A lovely thing to say to the mother of your grandchildren whose only crime is that she married into a disgusting, greedy, racist, spiteful family.
This Christmas, Damon, despite his children’s desire to stay at home with their mom, insisted that Alix and Mikey spend the holiday with him, the divorcee, and his family. Allison convinced the kids it wouldn’t be so bad. After all their aunt, uncle and cousin Maxie would be sleeping over at the grandparents’ too.
On Christmas morning, Alix, Mikey and Cousin Maxie woke up early and found envelopes from their grandparents. Alix and Mikey opened their envelopes and each found $25. Maxie opened his envelope and there was a check for $500. The grandfather said, “Max, show them the check. See Alix and Mike, Max has $500 and you only get $25.Why? Because you listen to your mother, and as long as you listen to her, you’ll get next to nothing from me”.
True story. Pinky Swear. What a loving family interaction on Christmas morning! Damon watched as the whole scene unrolled between his father and his children and then he presented his “finacee” with a huge emerald ring of his mother's--she never wanted Allison to have it. He then gave each of his kids a McDonald’s gift certificate.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Luxuries We Can't Live Without

Looking in the mirror the other day, I noticed a nasty case of dark roots with hideous gray wire poking through. I immediately made an appointment with Hubert, my colorist. In the past I have experimented with drug-store rinses, but they weren't strong enough to coat the coarse gray strands. And before I discovered Hubert, I tried a succession of less-expensive colorists whose efforts to camouflage the gray turned my hair either too dark or too red. Fortunately, Hubert the genius got it just right, and I've been going to him religiously for years. The problem is, Hubert works in a fancy French salon, a single process costs $180, those damn roots sprout like clockwork, and we're in a killer recession.

I asked Hubert if the economic downturn has affected business at the fancy French salon. He confided that many customers have lost their jobs and several lost their life savings to Bernard Madoff, the Ponzi scheme swindler. "I guess they can't come to the salon anymore, right?" I asked. "Oh, they still come," he said philosophically. "You can sell your home and downsize, but you HAVE to get your roots done."

This sounded ludicrous at first, but then I thought about my own cost-cutting campaign. Because of the financial crisis, I've lost significant income as a freelance writer, and I panicked as my stock market investments hemorrhaged. So I slashed my budget severely -- eliminating travel, avoiding restaurants, eschewing taxis, and resisting the urge to buy clothes, shoes, earrings, picture frames -- in short, any non-essential. I even keep the thermostat in my home at a bracing 64 degrees. Yet today I gratefully plunked down $180 for that root touch-up, and while I was at it I threw in another $50 to have my unkempt brows shaped by the Eyebrow Lady, another genius at the salon. With tax and tips, I spent nearly $300. But I looked and felt great. There are some luxuries a girl can't do without, even in a recession.