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Mr. Kessler quoted by Reader’s Digest on the Worst Divorce Settlements

The Worst Divorce Settlements in History—and How to Avoid One of Your Own

The person who first said, “A good compromise is one from which neither party walks away happy”? was probably a divorce lawyer.
By Lauren Cahn

First, let’s face it: It’s never a win-win

Compromise is crucial to any good relationship, and generally speaking, the ideal result is both parties feel they’ve won, according to the American Management Association. But when you’re unwinding a relationship—as in a divorce—it’s pretty rare for anyone to walk away feeling victorious. “Apart from the emotional toll a divorce exacts upon the once-hopeful couple, there’s simply no way to split things up in a way that doesn’t engender at least some level of regret and resentment,” explains matrimonial attorney Rebecca Zung.

Sometimes it seems fine, until it’s not

“I know of divorce settlements where one spouse ended up with all of the investment funds, and the other ended up with all other assets (real property, bank accounts, etc.), and everything seemed fine… right until Bernie Madoff got arrested,” Georgia matrimonial attorney, Randall Kessler tells Reader’s Digest. “We all know how that ended up.” The more the investment-minded spouse had trusted Madoff, the worse the settlement became for that spouse.

“No trash talking” clause

Before uber-celebrity Jennifer Lopez could marry singer Marc Anthony, Anthony had to divorce his then-wife Dayonara Torres, and it appears that JLo took a serious interest in how that divorce settlement went down, according to Legal Zoom, which reports that the settlement included a clause forbidding Torres from speaking ill of JLo (at the risk of lawsuit and the payment of damages).

She lost her head

The most celebrated divorce in history, according to Smithsonian.org, is that of King Henry VIII versus…Pope Clement VII? It’s the Pope who Henry had to fight when he wanted to end his first marriage so that he could marry the younger, prettier Anne Boleyn. And it’s a fight that ended poorly for everyone. To marry Anne, Henry quit the church. Quitting the church quickly caused England’s way of life to unravel, for which the English blamed Anne. Within three years, Henry had grown disenchanted with Anne and had her beheaded.

Alimony escalation

William O. Douglas sat on the U.S. Supreme Court for more than 35 years (1939 to 1975), so you’d think he’d know better, but in 1954, his divorce settlement with his first wife included a clause whereby the more money Douglas made from writing books and giving lectures, the more he had to pay his ex in alimony. As Legal Zoom puts it, Justice Douglas was essentially on a “financial treadmill” for the rest of his ex-wife’s life (she never remarried).

Royalty-free?

Snopes had to step in regarding apocryphal stories that singer Marvin Gaye agreed to pay his ex, Anna, all royalties from his next album (Here, My Dear), including: Anna got screwed because Marvin didn’t give the album his best effort. Marvin got screwed because the album was a hit.

Neither is true. Marvin owed Anna a specific amount regardless of the album’s success. Although Marvin initially considered torpedoing the album, he ended up creating a record critics loved.

It could happen to you

All you need to win the lottery is a dollar and a dream, they say. And all you need to lose your winnings is to try to hide them from your spouse. That’s what The LA Times reports happened after Denise Rossi won $1.3 million in the California Lottery but decided she wanted it all for herself. Days later, she filed for divorce from her husband but didn’t mention the lottery winnings. When the truth caught up with her, the court ruled very penny of her winnings would go to Thomas.

Some people are just asking for trouble

Attorney Zung tells Reader’s Digest that the worst settlements she’s seen are the ones where people have been married a short time, there’s a great disparity between their incomes or net worth, and there’s no prenuptial agreement. “For example, a wealthy guy married a cashier. They were married only a year when he placed her name on the deed to their multi-million dollar home. When she left him, the court ruled that the home had been ‘gifted’ to her.”

Sometimes the law just fails to provide a reasonable result

In Nelson v. Nelson, attorney Zung fought hard for her client, a wealthy, older man who’d married his young massage therapist. Over their five-year marriage, the husband was generous, and the wife cooperated in her husband’s estate planning, including forming a trust in her name to own one of his real estate holdings. In the divorce, however, the court applied trusts and estates laws to find that the real estate was no longer “marital property.”

When smart people make stupid choices

Nobel laureates may be among the smartest people on the planet. But even they make questionable settlement choices. In 1988, Robert Lucas agreed to give his ex-wife half of the funds from any Nobel prize he might win in the future…with an expiration date of 1995. Turned out, that was the year Lucas picked up the prize. At least he’s in good company: All of Albert Einstein’s prize money from his 1921 Nobel win went to his ex-wife, Mileva Maric.

Maybe it’s wasn’t worth the aggravation

When Prince Charles and Princess Diana divorced in 1996, there was lots of stuff to divvy up and a financial settlement that placed $22.5 million in Diana’s hands. But what no one could ever really get their head around was why Diana was willing to forgo her right to be called “Her Royal Highness.” She lost a variety of honorary military titles as well. Royal experts called the scenario unprecedented.

Worst case scenarios

“The worst divorce settlements are where the children are used as pawns,” April Masini, relationship expert and advisor on Relationship Advice Forum, tells Reader’s Digest. Other worst case scenarios include: (1) One spouse is in school, and the marriage ends soon after graduation: The spouses are equally on the hook for any student loans, but arguably, the graduating spouse has no duty to share future earnings. (2) When the marriage ends after unsuccessful fertility treatments: Viable embryos are “fertile ground,” as Masini puts it, for a custody battle.

Tips to protect yourself from a bad divorce settlement

Legal and financial analyst Jeff White of FitSmallBusiness.com had this advice for protecting yourself from reaching a regrettable divorce settlement:

  • Document everything: Make sure you document your financial resources, and those of your spouse, from before your marriage.
  • Tax consequences: Not all assets are created equal, even if their technical values are. Some assets will be taxed more heavily than others if you decide to sell, which means you’re actually getting less in your pocket.
  • Everything is negotiable: Don’t overlook any asset. Even if you don’t want it, you can use it as a bargaining chip for something else.


This article originally appeared on Reader’s Digest.


Mr. Kessler writes about divorce and “the need to be heard”

The December holiday season can emphasize the feeling of being underwater in relationships.


As a divorce lawyer, I find that holiday time is always a mixed blessing. Personally, I enjoy the fact that most courts take time off (so there are few trials) and most clients try to get along or at least to get through December with minimal confrontation.

The flip side is that the cases that erupt, especially during the holidays, are often the most contentious of the year. And that makes sense. If two people have so much anger or divisiveness this time of year, you know the issues are deep and difficult.

So what can we all do? Not just the lawyers, but our staff and our clients’ families, friends and support systems? Be patient and listen.

Perhaps it sounds naive, but I am of the opinion that most people going through a divorce or another family law hardship have a strong need to be heard and understood. Their pain may be deep and may never have been disclosed until now, and they need it to be heard. That is part of the catharsis.

So when our friends, our family members, our patients, our clients need to vent, let them. Then let’s all take a breath.

Sometimes there is no answer. There are deep-seated frustrations that may just need to be aired to someone, sometimes to anyone who will listen.

And if you don’t have the answers, that’s OK. If you want resources, they are everywhere. There are lawyers willing to consult, Internet sites, books, etc.

But sometimes “I don’t know” is an acceptable reply. It may even make the person feel better that someone he or she trusts, like you, doesn’t have all the answers. Divorce and family law matters are difficult. But having someone to share them with can make all the difference.

So if someone you know is going through such a situation, maybe just listen and help that person learn to simply take a breath.

This post first appeared on the Atlanta Jewish Times.


Mr. Kessler quoted in Huffington Post on Divorce Lawyers Relationship Advice

Originally Published at Huffington Post
Married divorce lawyers have an interesting perspective on relationships. Sure, they’ve seen things get ugly for their clients, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re pessimists who’ve lost all faith in love.

In fact, their careers have arguably made them better partners. They know what unhealthy relationship habits look like, and they can try to avoid them in their own lives. Below, four married divorce attorneys explain how their work has informed their romantic relationships.

1. They don’t rush into marriage.
“My wife and I dated for nearly 20 years off and on before we married. It is the first and only marriage for either of us. Sometimes I am convinced that being a divorce lawyer made it take a bit longer for both of us to commit. Even though we lived together before marriage and knew each other’s families well, it took a while to finally tie the knot. At a time when many of my peers have divorced and remarried, having realized that they rushed into their first marriage perhaps too hastily, I know that I certainly did not really rush into mine.” ― Randy Kessler, attorney, married 12 years

Read the full article here.


An Insider’s Guide to the Fulton County Family Division

3 CLE hours, including 1 Professionalism hour & 1 Trial Practice hour

The Insider’s Guide Seminar is designed to give those who represent clients in Family Law cases in Fulton County a better understanding of the operation of the Family Division. Judges, Judicial Officers, and Staff Attorneys from the Family Division will discuss, in facilitated panels, their insights and suggestions regarding practice before the Division. Topics will include all facets of family law practice, with special emphasis on difficult cases. Each session will provide the opportunity for attendees to ask questions of the panelists.

When: 01/08/2018 | 8:15 am – 12:30 pm
Where: State Bar of Georgia, Room A 104 Marietta St NW #100
Atlanta, Georgia 30303 United States
Contact: Kristyn Girardeau | cle@atlantabar.org | (404) 537-4931

REGISTRATION FEES
Atlanta Bar Member: $75
Non-Member: $100
Student: $15

This event is eligible for the $75 Member CLE Coupon. If you would like to apply your coupon to this event, please use coupon code: clemembersavings at check out. ***Please be aware that this coupon is one-time use and cannot be partially redeemed. ***

Non-members must register via this registration form

PROGRAM AGENDA

8:15 AM:  Welcome and Opening Remarks
Judge Christopher S. Brasher, Chief Judge
Fulton County Superior Court Family Division 

8:30 AM:  Temporary Hearings, Discovery Disputes, and Trials, OH MY!
Panel Discussions with Family Division Staff Attorneys
Moderator:  Kyla Lines, Richardson, Bloom & Lines, LLC

9:30 AM:  Break

9:45 AM:  30 and 60 Day Conferences and Beyond: Making the Most of Your Judicial Officer Time
Panel Discussion with Family Division Judicial Officers
Moderator:  Gary Alembik, Alembik & Alembik

10:45 AM:  Break

11:00 AM:  Trials, Problems and Solutions in High Conflict Family Cases
Panel Discussion with Family Division Superior Court Judges
Moderator:  Randall M. Kessler, Kessler & Solomiany LLC

12:00 PM:  Concluding Remarks (Judge Brasher)

MAKE IT A 2 FOR 2
Bring a non-member to this event at the Atlanta Bar Member price and get entered into a drawing for multiple prizes, including free membership, discounts to area attractions and restaurants, and more! Visit the Atlanta Bar 2 for 2 webpage for rules and more information. Use #ATLBar2for2

Out-of-State CLE Reporting Policy: 

The Atlanta Bar Association reports all CLE credit on behalf of the attorney to the State Bar of Georgia. Attorneys seeking out-of-state credit will be provided with an attendance certificate upon request. The Atlanta Bar Association does not submit CLE credit on behalf of attorneys outside of the state of Georgia.


Randy Kessler nominated as Man of the Year

From an auto titan to a real estate maverick, the men who have shaped Atlanta’s past—and its future—couldn’t be more different in their professions and approaches, but they all share one common trait: a no-holds-barred approach to what they do. Along with actor Ed Helms, we celebrate 11 other gents we deemed Men of the Year.

Randall M. Kessler Law

A few years ago, during a break in a child-support trial in front of a jury, boxer Evander Holyfield started shooting the breeze with family-law attorney Randall M. Kessler and his partner, Marvin Solomiany. Soon enough, Holyfield was demonstrating a boxing technique, playfully throwing shadow punches that came within a hair of Solomiany’s face. “You’re not going to hit my partner, are you?” Kessler jokingly asked the pugilist, to which Holyfield responded, “I don’t hit anybody for free.” Here’s the thing: They were opposing him in court. “It’s been my experience that these celebrities have thick skin,” Kessler says. The lawyer’s personal practice involves about 25 percent high-profile athletes, rappers and other celebs. He’s represented more than a 100 NBA and NFL players, and gone up against Michael Jordan, Usher, Jerry Stackhouse, Josh Smith, T-Pain and many others he can’t reveal. He maintains collegial relationships with many of these men—sometimes even goes to games with them. Kessler fights against the stereotype that divorce cases have to be bloodsport, and that he’s out to eviscerate the opponent. “My job is to motivate the other side, as well as my client, to get matters resolved out of court in a fair way,” says Kessler.