Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Gay Couples Face Trouble in Divorce & Real Estate

April 15 2008 Jim W Hildreth Real Estate Mediator

Real Estate Disputes involve differnces in partnerships and they do not discriminate between those who are married, gay or "friends", living together. The pain and loss is equal.

What do we do with the investment property that we have owned, or the second home that is out of state, or sharing an office together.

The home that has lost its value in the current real estate climate in 2008.

I once heard that Real Estate is all about "Dreams" and sometimes those dreams are shattered and they involve real estate.

All parties in a dispute, need to be felt heard and the lines of communication is importnant role of a mediator. Being "Neutral" is key.

The following article is educational as often those who are in "gay" relationships face additional legal challenges that are different in each state.

I share the article has having value.

Some gay couples are having trouble obtaining divorces

By RAY HENRY, Associated Press Writer

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Gay couples had to struggle mightily to win the right to marry or form civil unions. Now, some are finding that breaking up is hard to do, too.

In Rhode Island, for example, the state's top court ruled in December that gays married in neighboring Massachusetts can't get divorced here because lawmakers have never defined marriage as anything but a union between a man and woman. In Missouri, a judge is deciding whether a lesbian married in Massachusetts can get an annulment.

"We all know people who have gone through divorces. At the end of that long and unhappy period, they have been able to breathe a sigh of relief," said Cassandra Ormiston of Rhode Island, who is splitting from her wife, Margaret Chambers. But "I do not see that on my horizon, that sigh of relief that it's over."

Over the past four years, Massachusetts has been the only state where gay marriage is legal, while nine other states allow gay couples to enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships that offer many of the rights and privileges of marriage. The vast majority of these unions require court action to dissolve.

Gay couples who still live in the state where they got hitched can split up with little difficulty; the laws in those states include divorce or dissolution procedures for same-sex couples. But gay couples who have moved to another state are running into trouble.

Massachusetts, at least early on, let out-of-state gay couples get married there practically for the asking. But the rules governing divorce are stricter. Out-of-state couples could go back to Massachusetts to get divorced, but they would have to live there for a year to establish residency first.

"I find that an unbelievably unfair burden. I own a home here, my friends are here, my life is here," said Ormiston, who is resigned to moving to Massachusetts for a year.
It's not clear how many gay couples have sought a divorce.

In Massachusetts, where more than 10,000 same-sex couples have married since 2004, the courts don't keep a breakdown of gay and heterosexual divorces. But Joyce Kauffman, a member of the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association, said probably more than 100 gay divorces have been granted in Massachusetts, and possibly many more.

She said she suspects the divorce rate among gays is lower than that among heterosexual couples, because many of the same-sex couples who got married in Massachusetts had probably been together for years.

Vermont has dissolved 2 percent of the 8,666 civil unions performed there since they became legal in 2000. Those numbers do not include couples who split up in another state.
Chambers and Ormiston wed in Massachusetts in 2004 and filed for divorce in 2006. But the Rhode Island Supreme Court last winter refused to recognize their marriage. That means at least 90 other gay couples from the state who got married in Massachusetts would not be able to divorce in Rhode Island if they wanted to.

Getting a divorce could prove toughest in some of the 40 states that have explicitly banned or limited same-sex unions, lawyers say.

In Missouri, which banned gay marriage in 2001, a conservative lawmaker has urged a judge not to grant an annulment to a lesbian married in Massachusetts.
Oregon started allowing gay couples to form domestic partnerships this year. But to prevent problems similar to those in Massachusetts, lawmakers added a provision that allows couples to dissolve their partnerships in Oregon even if they have moved out of state.
The measure is modeled on California's domestic partnership system and represents a major change in the usual rules governing jurisdiction.

"It's a novel concept in the family law area," said Oregon lawyer Beth Allen, who works with Basic Rights Oregon, a gay rights group.

Same-sex couples can form civil unions in Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey and New Hampshire. They can enter into domestic partnerships or receive similar benefits in California, Oregon, Maine, Washington, Hawaii and the District of Columbia.

New York does not permit gay marriage, but a judge there has allowed a lesbian married in Canada to seek a divorce. In 2005, Iowa's Supreme Court upheld the breakup of a lesbian couple who entered into a civil union in Vermont.

Some Rhode Island lawmakers are pushing to legalize gay divorce. But Gov. Don Carcieri, a Republican who opposes gay marriage, is against the idea. So are church leaders in the heavily Roman Catholic state.

"Whatever name they want to give to it, it is a recognition of same-sex unions," said the Rev. Bernard Healey, a lobbyist for Catholic Diocese of Providence.

Jim W Hildreth- Real Estate Mediator

Dispute over sales Price

Jury sides with Realtor in dispute over sales price

Couple claimed they didn't see relevant comps By Inman News, Tuesday, April 15, 2008.
Inman News

A Carlsbad, Calif., real estate broker who showed a couple dozens of properties before they plunked down $1.2 million for a home near a golf course fulfilled his fiduciary duties to his clients and was not negligent, a jury has ruled.

RE/MAX agent Mike Little was sued by his former clients, Marty and Vern Ummel, who claimed they paid $150,000 too much for their home in northern San Diego County. The Ummels claimed Little failed to tell them about similar homes nearby that sold for less.
Little's attorney, David Bright, said the agent was unfairly blamed for the decline in value of the Ummel's house after they purchased it in July, 2005. Bright argued that homes that sold for less than the couples' had features that made them less desirable.

After a two-week trial, a jury found that Little did not breach his fiduciary duty to the Ummels, providing assistance in their three-month house hunt that included advising them on offers they made on other homes, the Voice of San Diego reported.

Bright told the paper that Realtors have become scapegoats for a declining market, and that the trial demonstrated the hard work that real estate professionals perform for their clients.
Vinnie Tracey, President of RE/MAX International, took issue with news reports that the case raised the possibility that courts might hold real estate agents for lower home values.

"This case was never about falling prices or the current real estate market," Tracey said in a statement. "It was simply about the unfounded claims of an individual home buyer, claims that could not be substantiated in any way."

The Ummels, who gained notoriety picketing RE/MAX offices and home listings, filed suit against Little and RE/MAX Associates in July, 2006. The Ummels attorney said the couple has not decided if they will appeal the decision.

Marty Ummel told the Voice of San Diego that the decision sends "a bad message to people about the real estate industry," because it demonstrated there is not the relationship of trust clients expect.

Jim W Hildreth-Mediator