Of property and alimony

What a minefield.

The tale of Clinton Grybas has interesting elements to it.  I never heard him commentating but he was supposed to have been one of the best sports commentators, respected and liked by all.  At 32, apparently the two of them [see pics] were close to marrying.

They appeared to be very much in love, they had it in mind to build a home and from all reports it was to be the standard process – courting, engagement and eventual wedding.

This all came to an abrupt halt when he failed to turn up to a radio commitment one day in 2008, the station phoned her, she phoned him and so on – he was found on the floor at his home.  Cause of death undetermined, possibly his sleepwalking, possibly an allergy, possibly … well, many theories have been put forward.

His parents and family devastated, fiancee Laurenna Toulmin devastated and I do apologize for this photo below right – I thought for a long while before running it.  You get the general idea from that.

Tributes came pouring in, funeral went ahead, probate was fine, all finished.

Well, not quite.

Just who was to blame is still not settled today but this is the mother’s side of it:

The grieving mother explained the hurt caused by a series of alleged incidents, including being locked out of her son’s apartment by Laurenna and having to negotiate for the return of his treasured teddy bear and other sentimental items.

That’s how she put it.  Treasured teddy bear?   Hmmmmm:

“I asked if we could come on the Thursday to collect some things and she said it wasn’t convenient,” Mrs Grybas said.

Ah – just to collect “some” things.  Might have been a misunderstanding, might have been but it seems Ms Toulmin thought they would clear the flat of anything valuable.  So she locked them out.

They put an immediate caveat on his entire estate – his $460 000 in the bank, his car, his superannuation and they were quoted as saying they knew he had other assets but couldn’t find them.  At this stage, I’m getting flashbacks of Anna Kournikova and her parents.

She also immediately put a caveat on his entire estate, as his girlfriend.  She was already signing things as next of kin, they pointed out that his siblings were more next of kin and when she was assured that if she signed over next of kin to them, her rights would not be affected, she did.  Why does Heather Mills bells spring to mind at this point?     She took over the lease of his flat.

Obvious question – was she golddigging or was she like Lynne Frederick in that Peter Sellers case?  There was much talk of Sellers planning to cut her out of his will when he died but instead she inherited his estate and built a shrine to him.  My reading of Lynne Frederick is that she loved him to distraction, which wouldn’t have suited him, not with his character.  Clingy girl in other words.  But no one can say she didn’t honour him for the rest of her life and then she died young.

I believe both parties in this Grybas affair loved the son in their own way and were therefore odds on to misunderstand and clash.  It’s not too hard to imagine that space having been theirs for months, that flat and private, that she would have gone to pieces, slumping to the floor and then there’s a phone call – we’d like to  come round and get his things.

From their point of view – we’ll have to be quick or that young madam will have the valuables out of there sooner than you can say golddigger and then little Kenny and Robbie [or whoever the siblings are] will get nothing and Robbie did say he liked Clinton’s set  of … and so on.  Family is family.

So, how was Ms Toulmin legally placed?  What’s the law in Victoria?  One lawyer said, on a forum, that it depends how long she’d been cohabiting – as it turns out, four months – and that for her to claim any of it, she’d have had to be cohabiting [whether married, gay, living in sin, whatever] for 2 years or more.

The exceptions are if there was a child involved and/or if her assets were tied up in any of his property.

The parents won, in the sense that her legal advisers pointed out to her the situation, the parents made an offer and she settled for his superannuation.  Both sides realized it was better to come to a settlement than blow it all on lawyer’s fees.  Given that the photo [below right here] is genuine and she really did plan to make her life with him, I feel some sympathy.  There’s an interview with her and though it’s obviously her story, she does come across as genuine – see what you think.  Two years later, apparently she was still messed about by his death – sounds quite Lynne Frederick to me.

End of that story.  Sad end.

The nasty bit

The trouble arose because he died intestate.  At 32, he hadn’t got round to making a will and so the question of where it all went was a quite critical one.  Many said that if his estate had got to that level, he’d have been wise to have made a will.

The following jaundiced musings are going to appall some but I think people need to look at this side of it.

No no doubt they were both very nice people but what would have happened if one or both weren’t?  What if,  somewhere down the track, if he were still alive and they’d married, that he’d turned out to be a philanderer or whatever and she’d had to sue for divorce?  And she would have done too because she does seem the pretty dreams type.  What if they’d had that house built and there were children?

Sorry if this seems unfeeling.

They might have come to an accommodation but as you know, these days the State has to push its nose into it and the harpies in the Family Law Court try to squeeze the max out of him on her behalf.  Now please don’t say it’s not so because WN2 of mine worked at that court and I know what went on.  It never came to that with us but it most certainly did with men up and down the country.  Some of those men deserved it, the budding Don Juans but many did not deserve being taken to the cleaners.

The parents had said there were some assets they couldn’t find.  If he’d been astute there would have been and who knows whom he was hiding them from – taxmen, parents, her?  Perhaps he was resisting marriage until he was sure, given the state of play for men and women these days – his mates would all have warned him.

The Ts and Cs are so slanted in divorce these days that a woman needs only live with him two years and cook a few meals build and hey presto – she’s set for life under our twisted system.

The other side of the coin is that I know one woman who did get screwed over by her husband and I’m sure there are others out there too because men are getting more canny.  There’s the man over here who had built up a business, she wanted a divorce, he sold off the whole business immediately, keeping just enough back to live on and when the divvying up began, she ended up with a couple of thousand.

I know of one man who remained permanently a student and so she couldn’t get at his money – it was explained to me, by her, how that worked.

In this country, the unmarried mother on benefits is a smart career move, as everyone knows.  There’s no stigma anymore to a woman sleeping about or taking men into her home [which might have been the family home] and that’s part of the problem – where’s the incentive for two people to come together any more, particularly when this gay “marriage” rubbish mocks what marriage is about anyway and when the State encourages people to live together?

In short, just as this post has descended from the love story to the harsh quantifiable divvying up of the assets, that’s how the State is creating incentives for two people not to stay together.  I have a set of proposals to alter that.

The proposals

Benefits:  If they’re payable only on the first child and the mother gets only her £67.50 for herself, and only after 18, then that’s a start.  Plus housing benefit up to that applicable to a two room house or flat.  That would surely make them think twice about that way forward.

At the same time, there’d be certain tax breaks for married couples, on the first child, with the husband living in.

Divorce payout: Let this be determined by local arbiters with a panel of two men and two women to decide on culpability.  There’d be a set of questions on a list and the arbiter would work down the list.  The costs of no more than maybe a couple of hundred would come from the property of the one filing for the divorce, unless the other party was determined by the panel to have been “at fault”.

At fault means that one of them was either unfaithful, physically abusive, absent a large proportion of the time or mentally abusive, if the panel can agree on that.  It’s gender neutral and allows of no bias – either it happened or it didn’t.

The arbiter asks:

1. Have the two of them come to a property arrangement already?  If yes, then the State still needs to do the calculation to determine:

a. Was the amount of the settlement within plus or minus 25% of what the arbiter feels each was entitled to?
b. Was there duress or undue influence, quite clearly provable?

If all is in order, that’s the end of the arbiter’s role in the matter.  It’s signed off and that’s that.

If the two parties could not agree, then the formula below begins:

2. Were they married, cohabiting or not living together?

Married couples are entitled to a split of the assets, cohabiting couples or non-cohabiting fiances simply walk away from each other, with whatever they have in their name already – anything in both names split down the middle. Gays would come under this as well.

If married, then the formula continues:

3. Once all the public costs are deducted and going on current market value of all assets, how much had he put in and how much she?

Let’s say the arbiter found out that his proportion of the estate was $400 000 and hers $250 000.  Obviously jewellery he bought her would go in as part of his portion – if she’d bought it, it would not enter calculations as it was her own goods and chattels.  ditto with what he owned personally.

4. How much labour had each put into the marriage and into the estate?

This is calculated as a percentage, then divided by ten. So, with the childrearing, housework, her percentage of money put into nannies etc, this is put against his work around the home, his paying for nannies, babysitters, schools etc.

Let’s say it was determined she had contributed, on an ongoing basis, 60% and from him – 40% . Divided by ten, this gives her an added 0.15% on the higher partner’s calculation. So she is entitled to $60 000 from him, as well as her own $250 000.

5. Who filed for divorce?

Whoever it was, male or female, has whatever entitlement they have, to this point, reduced by 25% – it equally applies to both. So, as she is now up to $310 000, then if she’s the one filing for divorce, that immediately goes down by 25%, becoming $232 500. As that is less than what was hers anyway, it goes back to $400 000 and $250 000 respectively.

6. Who’s at fault?

Either he or she is guilty of being unfaithful, physically abusive, absent a large proportion of the time or mentally abusive – or else both are or else neither are.  In order to stop spurious divorces or divorces where it’s more beneficial for one party to split, it’s quite vital that fault comes back and it has to be quantifiable fault.  Not mental cruelty unless there was a long history of it, to the point where friends, colleagues and employers on both sides agreed that it was so.

This is the critical determinant in the calcualtions from here on.  I’m well aware that this brings back the private dick to spy on people but that’s happening now anyway and it stops the exploitation of one party by the other, thanks to the State.

7. Were there children and what were the agreed yearly costs?

This is messy and must exclude interrogating the children.  Eventually, this is sorted out via the panel and arbiter, plus the two of them.  It’s complex and here’s an example.  He wants his son to go to School A.  She wants him at School B.  They’d agreed School A but that was at his cost.  School B is far cheaper.  If he was the one at fault and she was filing, and if the children were given to her, then she has first call on where they’re educated.  He can always make an offer.  If he’s not at fault, she’s also not and she’s filing, that gets tricky.

This one is all about children and not alimony.  So, whatever the arbiter writes as the eventual agreement, those costs are split between the two of them on the basis of the formulaically derived amount each walks away with after point 5.  On that basis, in this hypothetical situation, he pays five eighths of the school fees.

Fault alters that.  If she is awarded the children, then money needs to come her way but if she was found to be at fault, it need not.  If he was not able to determine fault in her, then he pays.  The percentage he pays is altered by the percentage which the lower earning partner’s income is of the higher.  If he’s earning way over her – let’s say he’s on 120 000 and she does part time work for 12 000, then he’d pay the full whack of the fees.  If she earned more than him, then his share of the cost reduces accordingly.

8. New relationship alters everything.

If the partner with the children has a new partner, whether or not cohabiting, then the onus for the old partner reduces.  So, if the old was earning $120 000 and the new $30 000, the old partner without the children need only pay 75% of what he was paying before the new partner came along.  There are many determinants of this and if it was shown later that the one with the new partner was lying, the entitlement ceases henceforth.  If she [or he] has multiple partners coming in to the house, then all of their incomes are taken in combination to determine the “new partner’ income.  This then reduces the payment of child support.

This applies equally to men and women.  If he has the children and takes up with a new woman, then the formula still applies.  It’s only fair we’re equal in this, no?

9. Alimony

This is determined by two factors – who filed and who was at fault.

The most alimony is paid by the partner who filed being at fault, when the divorced person wasn’t.  The least alimony is paid by the divorced person not being at fault.  It’s based on NMW over a 30 hour working week but once again is adjusted for discrepancies in income, including a new partner appearing on the scene.

There’s always the chance for the pair to make their own agreement, but if they can’t, then the arbiter is brought in and applies the formula.

Purpose of these proposals

1.  To stop the courts siding with one gender and crucifying the other, particularly as women are earning far more these days and in fact are more likely to even have a job than a man.

2.  To make the two parties have a reason for divorcing.  If one had just decided to move on for spurious reasons – other man, other woman or if it was financially attractive to one party to divorce whilst the other was always shafted by the State, then that militates against marriage.

3.  To support the institution of marriage, not by the State declaring it important but by men and women seeing it as an estate with many advantages, of which love is but one.  Easy enough to legislate for faux marriages – that’s one good thing the State is actually doing today.

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