Saturday, February 13, 2016
From ABC News:
A federal judge in Louisiana has issued a new order blocking the state from enforcing a law that he says would keep most women from getting abortions.
Attorneys for the state immediately asked Judge John deGravelles to stay Wednesday's order while they appeal it and his Jan. 26 finding that the law is unconstitutional.
The law requires doctors who perform abortions to be able to admit patients to a hospital within 30 miles. Supporters say that would protect women's health. Opponents say it would make it impossible to get abortions.
DeGravelles said in January that of six doctors performing abortions in Louisiana, only two meet the requirement, and one of them has said he would quit if the law is enforced.
The remaining doctor performed nearly 30 percent of all abortions in the state, deGravelles said. He said forcing the other five doctors out of their clinics would therefore leave about 70 percent of the women who want abortions unable to get one.
Even if the second doctor who has admitting privileges continued to perform abortions, about 55 percent of the women who want the procedure would be unable to get one, deGravelles wrote.
Read more here.
Friday, February 12, 2016
From The New York Times:
“Free Pregnancy Testing,” reads the large sign in front of the East County Pregnancy Care Clinic, on a busy intersection of this impoverished city east of San Diego.
Inside the clinic, a woman will not only get a free pregnancy test, but she will also see a counselor to discuss her options. She will see models of fetuses at early stages of development, which show that “at week 12, you see a recognizable human,” said Josh McClure, the executive director of the clinic. If she is pregnant, she can get a free ultrasound and attend childbirth classes. If she gives birth, she may receive help with diapers and a car seat.
What she will not get from this center is advice on where to obtain an abortion.
The clinic is one of more than 3,000 crisis pregnancy centers around the country that are operated by religious opponents of abortion, with the heartfelt aim of persuading women to choose parenting or adoption. Now it and others in California are in a First Amendment battle with the state over a new law that requires them to post a notice that free or low-cost abortion, contraception and prenatal care are available to low-income women through public programs, and to provide the phone number to call.
The clinics argue that the law, which took effect in January, flagrantly violates their rights of free speech, and it appears that many of the dozens of licensed pregnancy centers in California are not yet complying.
Read more here.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
From The Charlotte Observer:
“I have an appointment this afternoon with a family law attorney.”
“Oh no. I’m so sorry. So, you are going through a divorce?”
“What? No, no. I just want to ask some questions. Do you think the attorney is going to make me leave my spouse? Should I cancel?”
So often conversations like the one above take place and people worry about what it really means to meet with an attorney. All kinds of thoughts and emotions fill the client’s head and heart. They worry that their spouse will find out. They worry what other people will think. They worry that if they meet with an attorney, their fate has been sealed and they are doomed to divorce.
That is simply not the case. Yes, sometimes when people meet with a family law attorney, it is because they have decided to separate and want to move forward with the process. But, unbeknownst to many, there are other reasons to meet with a family law attorney.
Someone may be experiencing a tough time in their relationship and he or she may simply want to know what is behind “door number two.”
Read more here.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
From Action News Jacksonville:
Living with a significant other out of wedlock is illegal in Florida, but anew push, mostly by Democratic state lawmakers, is trying to do away with the ban on shacking up.
Michigan, Mississippi and Florida are the only states where it’s illegal for a man and a woman to live together and not be married.
The current law dates back to 1868.
It’s rarely enforced, but multiple attempts to do away with the ban on cohabitation have failed. However, many lawmakers want it off the books for good.
Senate Bill 498 is moving forward in Tallahassee. A Senate panel voted Thursday in favor of the bill, sponsored by State Sen. Eleanor Sobel. The bill now moves to the full Senate for a vote.
Local Republican State Rep. Charles Van Zant has been against changing the law since the beginning. But, Ryan Strickland, who lived with his wife for four years before they got married, says it’s time.
“People need to adjust as the time goes on,” Strickland said. “Lots of laws need to be adjusted to reflect the times and the feelings of people.”
Read more here.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
From Hometown Life:
A four-bill package that will help ensure collection of child support payments when parents live in different states or countries was signed into law as 2015 ended.
“In divorce and child custody situations, we must make sure the child's best interests are being preserved,” said State Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland, a bill sponsor. “Just because a parent moves out of the state or even out of the country doesn't mean the responsibility to provide for his or her child should end. This legislation brings Michigan in line with federal child support guidelines.”
The bipartisan package legislation amends the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act by not only ensuring the collection of child support payments, but also streamlining the process for collecting both international and interstate payments.
It also takes the burden of determining the legality of international child support orders off of employers. The UIFSA provides universal and uniform rules for the enforcement of family support orders. This legislation repeals the current UIFSA and reenacts the 2008 version, which brings Michigan in line with federal guidelines.
Read more here.
Monday, February 8, 2016
Before 2014, a divorced spouse had to show that his ex-spouse shared a common residence with a new partner in order to prove they were living together and be able to stop paying alimony.
But under the Alimony Reform Act of 2014, an ex-spouse no longer has to be living full-time in the same home as another person to be engaged in "cohabitation."
More than a year after the law was passed, advocates of the new law — generally ex-husbands — say there have been improvements, but they have been more modest than they envisioned.
It's less difficult to prove cohabitation, or that an ex-spouse is in a virtual new marriage and effectively living with the new partner, and shouldn't get payments anymore. That issue was raised in a Morris County case this week in which a former husband is seeking to terminate his alimony obligation.
The change in cohabitation was made to remedy a situation where "people are in a marital relationship, for all intents and purposes, but don't get married and keep their separate homes, just so one of them can keep getting an alimony payment. That is a problem," said Jeralyn Lawrence, former chairwoman of the New Jersey Bar Association's family law section, who helped develop the new law.
When New Jersey was debating possible changes in its alimony law back in 2012, advocates of reform were hoping for sweeping changes that would benefit the payers of alimony.
Read more here.
Sunday, February 7, 2016
Domestic violence is rampant across Kauai, according to figures from the county prosecutor’s office and Kauai Police Department.
“We have a history of domestic violence and murders on the island,” said Renae Hamilton, executive director at the YWCA of Kauai. “It strikes everyone in the community.”
Domestic abuse is the second most prevalent crime on the Garden Isle at 282 arrests out of 3,888, according to KPD’s recently released report for all adult arrests and juvenile detainments for 2015. Criminal contempt of court was number one, with 483 arrests.
Hamilton said the domestic violence numbers are not surprising, and don’t even tell the whole story.
“As we know, all cases of domestic violence don’t get reported,” Hamilton said. “I’m sure there are cases where they don’t call the police at all.”
Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar said his office receives more than 500 domestic violence cases a year, including misdemeanors and felonies.
“Our most recent murder and attempted murder cases both involved aspects of domestic violence,” Kollar said, referring to two pregnant women, Victoria Kanahele and Jasmine Duque, who were stabbed in the past six months. “Most of our domestic violence crimes involve alcohol or drug use in some way. Services are provided by our attorney staff, our victim and witness staff, and our partner service providers in the community.”
Read more here.
Saturday, February 6, 2016
From Wall Street Journal:
When entrepreneurial couples get divorced, there’s often at least one child that gets torn apart: the business they raised together.
Spouses who spent years building a company suddenly find themselves having to divide it up, and the negotiations can get nasty. One spouse may demand a bigger share of the company to soothe bad feelings from the divorce. Another may get defensive about the business’s finances and refuse to divulge details. And old resentments about how the business has been managed can bubble to the surface, making things even uglier.
Both spouses can be left emotionally drained, and the business can end up neglected—or dissolved entirely.
“The worst-case scenario is that you have to liquidate the business and split the proceeds,” says Catherine Stanton, an attorney and divorce mediator in Denver. “When we’re going through a divorce, we’re not always our best selves. If you’ve got a bad relationship with your spouse, they might not feel compelled to find another solution, and may go for the nuclear option.”
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Of course, it’s impossible to take bad feelings entirely out of the picture. But there are strategies spouses can use to ensure their business has a fighting chance to survive a split, as well as minimize their own emotional turmoil. In some cases, these methods can even help spouses run the business together—and thrive—after the divorce.
Read more here.
Friday, February 5, 2016
From Fox Business:
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is an order that needs to be included in a divorce settlement agreement to provide former spouses their share of Erisa-qualified retirement assets. In order to receive your fair share of assets saved during the years you were married, a QDRO will ensure your rights under these retirement plans are fully protected. QDROs should be prepared by a qualified family lawyer who understands the tax implications and other consequences of dividing the full range of retirement assets.
Connie Buffington, a family lawyer with the Atlanta office of Boyd Collar Nolen & Tuggle, offered the following tips to FOXBusiness.com on what divorced retirees need to know regarding their rights involving their ex-spouse’s employee benefit or pension plans.
There are three common mistakes when dividing qualified retirement assets (e.g. 401(k) plans) and non-qualified retirement assets (e.g. IRAs) during a divorce: not considering potential tax consequences and liabilities; not defining the method by which a traditional pension plan is to be divided; and not accounting for the treatment of investment gains or losses in the context of the division.
QDROs are required to divide assets held in ERISA-qualified plans in connection with divorce. They can also be used to facilitate alimony and child support payments. They’re not required to divide IRAs or non-qualified plans, such as deferred compensation plans, supplemental pension plans, long-term incentive plans or stock ownership plans.
Read more here.
Thursday, February 4, 2016
From Daily North Shore:
We’ve heard a thousand times that patience is a virtue, and the Bible tells me that Love is patient. The Fins wrote that “God did not create hurry;” the French, “Patience is bitter but its fruit is sweet.” And the Italians gave us, “The salt of patience seasons everything.”
Local attorney Jennifer Cunningham Beeler says patience is the most important thing a divorcing couple can bring to the courthouse these days. Illinois divorce laws changed significantly Jan. 1, adding a new layer of stress to that most stressful negotiation.
“It’s the first big change in the laws since 1973,” Beeler told me. “Attorneys and judges are having to relearn things we have long been comfortable practicing. But the 2016 laws recognize that old old-fashioned view of family is changing, and now we have two moms and two dads and step-siblings and others.”
Beeler knows of which she speaks. Beyond her litigation experience in Lake and Cook counties, she earned a certificate from DePaul University’s Center for Dispute Resolution in family and divorce mediation, is a court-approved financial mediator in Cook County, and is a financial and custodial mediator in Lake County. She also serves as a child representative and guardianad litem for custodial cases.
As she explained how the law has changed, I consider how family life, too, has changed since 1973. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported a marriage rate of 10.7 per 1,000 residents in 1973, and a divorce and annulment rate of 4. That year, Illinois posted 44,671 divorces and 481 annulments. Mobile phones weren’t commonly available to ease communication among family members, and microwave ovens were too expensive to expedite dinner for most households. Adults held traditional jobs with traditional hours, not voicemail and email and Skype to extend the work day far past 5 p.m.
In 2011, the number of marriages exceeded 73,000 and the divorces exceeded 33,000. Still, the rates in each category were lessened by half. But these figures barely hint at how families have changed in those 38 years. It’s exciting to hear that the law is catching up.
And so Beeler explained: gone with these most recent changes in the local divorce laws is the notion of sole and joint custody, in favor of an “allocation of parental responsibilities”. And the concept of visitation is now considered an “allocation of parenting time”.
Read more here.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
From The Legal Intelligencer:
In September, I wrote an article regarding the case of W.C.F. v. M.G., 115 A.3d 323 (Pa. Super. 2015), pertaining to the reversal of the trial court's child custody order when the trial court's decision was inconsistent with the analysis of the child custody factors enumerated under the child custody statute. In the case of R.S. v. T.T., 113 A.3d 1254 (Pa. Super. 2015), a trial court's decision was reversed because the facts of the case did not support the analysis of the child custody factors contained in the child custody statute. More importantly, the case dealt with an issue faced by many in child custody cases. In the R.S. case, the trial court determined that the child's entrance into full-day schooling requires that one parent must have primary custody so that the child may establish a routine and consistency during the school week. Often in child custody cases, a parent will argue that it is important for the child to have a home base or primary residence during the school year. That was the argument taken by the mother in the R.S. case. Ultimately, the state Superior Court reversed the trial court and found that the evidence did not support such a ruling.
The relevant facts of the R.S. case are as follows: Prior to the hearing that resulted in the appeal at issue, the parties had an equally shared custody schedule where the father had physical custody of their child on what is commonly referred to as a 2-2-5-5 schedule, where he had custody of the child every Monday morning until Wednesday night and every other weekend from Friday to Monday morning. In the anticipation of the child beginning full-time school, the mother filed a petition to modify custody requesting primary physical custody. The father, in turn, filed a petition to modify custody requesting primary custody as well. After a hearing, the trial court entered an order granting the mother primary physical custody with the father having custody of the child each Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. and on alternating weekends from Friday after school until Sunday at 8 p.m. During the summer, the court awarded equally shared custody on a week-on/week-off basis, according to the opinion.
The father filed an appeal primarily based on the issue of whether the trial court's order was unreasonable because its conclusions were not supported by evidence and the order failed to address the fact that the child "will now be deprived of father's care for extended periods during the school week, which is particularly problematic in light of the court's simultaneous conclusion the mother will not further the child's relationship with father."
Read more here.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Allison Anna Tait (University of Richmond School of Law) has a new article The Return of Coverture in the online forum for the Michigan Law Review available here.
Once, the notion that husbands and wives were equal partners in marriage seemed outlandish and unnatural. Today, the marriage narrative has been reversed and the prevailing attitude is that marriage has become an increasingly equitable institution. This is the story that Justice Kennedy told in Obergefell v. Hodges, in which he described marriage as an evolving institution that has adapted in response to social change such that discriminatory marriage rules no longer apply. Coverture exemplifies this change: marriage used to be deeply shaped by coverture rules and now it is not. While celebrating the demise of coverture, however, the substantive image of marriage that Justice Kennedy set forth subconsciously uses conventional, historical tropes that construct marriage as a relationship of hierarchy, gender differentiation, and female disempowerment. In this Essay, I describe the ways in which Justice Kennedy used coverture as a positive example of marriage transformation while simultaneously invoking coverture ideals to inform his portrayal of marriage as a fundamental building block of government, the keystone of civil society, and a transcendental, lifelong commitment.
Monday, February 1, 2016
From the New York Times:
Four years ago, Cristina Gitti and Matteo Bologna, the parents of two daughters, decided to divorce. But they parted ways by only a flight of stairs. The couple opted to stay put with their girls in the brownstone they had purchased in 2003 in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, for around $1.4 million.
“We were all living up here,” said Ms. Gitti, 48, a fashion designer and the owner of Matta NY, a clothing company, referring to the top level of their three-unit brownstone. After the divorce, she continued to live on the top floor. Her ex-husband, Mr. Bologna, 50, the founder and creative director of Mucca Design and muccaTypo, moved to the garden level; the middle unit is rented out. “At first, I didn’t know when it was O.K. to go downstairs,” Ms. Gitti said. “I think we threw some coins down the stairwell as the signal. It worked out fine.”
While some might say this way of living is unconventional, it’s actually very New York. And in a way, New Yorkers are great models of divorce done right. For one thing, fewer are divorced than one would expect. Nationally, the 2014 American Community Survey found 11 percent of Americans over age 15 to be divorced, while in New York City, it was a much more amicable 8 percent, according to an analysis of census data by Susan Weber-Stoger, a researcher in the sociology department at Queens College.
Read more here.
Sunday, January 31, 2016
From Springfield News-Leader:
Cindy Dennis, author of child abuse prevention books, is creating the Give A Child A Voice Foundation.
By forming a nonprofit foundation, Dennis said she hopes to reach more children, parents, grandparents, foster parents and educators. As a foundation, she will be in a better position to raise funds and apply for grants. And she can get cheaper "nonprofit" publishing rates.
The Springfield mom presented her plans Wednesday at the 1 Million Cups meeting, where entrepreneurs pitch their business concepts to an audience.
"Our objective is to reduce and eventually end all forms of child abuse, neglect and molestation," she told the audience. "We will achieve this by teaching kids to stand up for themselves, be vigilant and become a crusader for their own well-being."
"Children will learn that their bodies are sacred and no one has a right to victimize them. They will learn tactics and strategies that can lead to prevention."
Dennis said as the foundation raises money, she will be able to create a high-quality video "that is engaging to children with animation and songs." Dennis also wants to distribute the book "Friend Manual" to kindergarten through third-grade classes, preschools and churches. "Friend Manual" teaches kids about safety, the difference between good secrets and bad secrets, and what to do if a stranger approaches or tries to grab them.
Read more here.
Saturday, January 30, 2016
From New York Times:
Prosecutors in Harris County said one of the leaders of the Center for Medical Progress — an anti-abortion group that made secretly recorded videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to illegally profit from the sale of fetal tissue — had been indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record, a felony, and on a misdemeanor charge related to purchasing human organs.
That leader, David R. Daleiden, 27, the director of the center, had posed as a biotechnology representative to infiltrate Planned Parenthood affiliates and surreptitiously record his efforts to procure tissue for research. Another center employee, Sandra S. Merritt, 62, was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record.
The record-tampering charges accused Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt of making and presenting fake California driver’s licenses, with the intent to defraud, for their April meeting at Planned Parenthood in Houston.
Abortion opponents claimed that the videos, which were released starting in July, revealed that Planned Parenthood was engaged in the illegal sale of body parts — a charge that the organization has denied and that has not been supported in numerous congressional and state investigations triggered by the release of the videos.
On Monday, the Harris County district attorney, Devon Anderson, said in a statement that grand jurors had cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.
Read more here.
Friday, January 29, 2016
From Indiana Lawyer:
Fifteen years after Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000), grandparent visitation is alive and well in Indiana and across the country. In Troxel, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor noted, “The demographic changes of the past century make it difficult to speak of an average American family. The composition of families varies greatly from household to household.” Indeed, the last 15 years have only enhanced this sentiment. Given continued high levels of divorce and out-of-wedlock births, the role of grandparents continues to be an important source of stability in some families. Thus, in 2015, grandparent visitation made several appearances on the Indiana court dockets.
In one such case, In re the Visitation of L-A.D.W. R.W. v. M.D. and W.D., 38 N.E.3d 993 (Ind. 2015), a child’s maternal grandparents filed for visitation under the Grandparent Visitation Act after their relationship with the child’s father became contentious. Their daughter had recently died of cancer and expressed her wishes in her will for them to have generous visitation with her child. Based on the opinion of mental health experts, the trial court determined that it was in the child’s best interest to have a meaningful and ongoing relationship with grandparents, with visitation totaling approximately 79 days per year. While noting the lack of guidance regarding the proper amount for grandparent visitation, the Court of Appeals determined that 79 days was improper under the Grandparent Visitation Act because it was too significant and resembled the parenting time a non-custodial parent would have in such a case. However, after reviewing the circumstances of this particular case – including the closeness of the child to the maternal grandparents due to the father’s demanding work schedule – the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s order of visitation.
In another grandparent visitation case, Jocham v. Sutliff, 26 N.E.3d 82 (Ind. Ct. App. 2015), the Indiana Court of Appeals determined that a grandmother was no longer a “grandparent” with standing to seek visitation under the grandparent visitation statute at the time she filed the petition because the stepparent already had adopted the child. The court held that “visitation rights,” as referenced in the grandparent visitation statute, refer to already-established visitation rights at the time of the stepparent adoption, rather than the right to seek visitation in the future.
Read more here.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Divorces are skyrocketing for people in their 50s and 60s. Between 1990 and 2012, the number of divorces among people 55 to 64 more than doubled and tripled for those 65 and older, according to a study by Susan Brown, I-Fen Lin and Krista Payne of Bowling Green State University.
On top of the personal pain, divorcing spouses often face extraordinary financial pain.
As the Bowling Green researchers’ report, Marital Biography, Social Security and Poverty, noted: “Those who divorce earlier in adulthood have more time to recoup the financial losses divorce usually entails. In contrast, those who divorce later have fewer years of working life remaining and may not be able to fully recover economically from a gray divorce.”
Said Christine van Cauwenberghe, assistant vice president of tax and estate planning with the Investors Group financial advisory firm in Winnipeg, Manitoba: “Going through a divorce can be difficult at any age, but older couples face unique challenges in retirement planning as a result of later-in-life separations.”
Van Cauwenberghe added that because divorce is an emotional process, it “can cloud your ability to make sound financial decisions that will ultimately affect your future.”
That’s why, if you’re divorcing in your 50s or 60s, it’s crucial to reassess your financial plan to ensure that it reflects your new direction in life.
Although the freedom divorce offers may be refreshing, the danger in becoming single at a later age is being one step closer to retirement without a partner and potentially with half the income.
Read more here.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
From The Catholic World Report:
In his annual speech to the Holy See's main court on Friday, Pope Francis affirmed the indissolubility of marriage and clarified that poorly developed “personal faith” is not itself a grounds for finding that a marriage is null.
“It should be clearly affirmed that the quality of faith is not an essential condition for matrimonial consent,” the Pope said in his Jan. 22 address to the judges of the Roman Rota at the Vatican's Clementine Hall.
Consent – the typical basis for a tribunal investigating the validity of a marriage – “according to the longstanding doctrine, can be undermined only at a natural level,” Pope Francis reminded the judges.
“Indeed, the habitus fidei (habit of faith) is infused in the moment of Baptism and continues to flow mysteriously into the soul, even when the faith is not developed or psychologically appears to be absent.”
He added that “it is not unusual for newlyweds, drawn to marriage by the instinctus naturae, at the moment of celebration have a limited awareness of the fullness of God's plan, and only later, in family life, discover all that God the Creator and Redeemer has established for them.”
“The lack of formation in faith and also an error regarding the unity, indissolubility and sacramental dignity of marriage may vitiate matrimonial consent only if they determine the will. It is precisely for this reason that errors regarding the sacramental nature of marriage must be evaluated very carefully.”
Read more here.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Andrea Beauchamp Carroll (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Paul M. Hebert Law Center) & Christopher K. Odinet (Southern University Law Center) have posted their article Gay Marriage and the Problem of Property, Washington University Law Review Commentaries (Spring 2016, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision in Obergefell has been hailed in almost all corners as a milestone in American jurisprudence. From topics as varied as adoption and taxes, a myriad of rights have now descended upon gay couples as a result of the Court’s ruling. In this Essay we explore the little discussed downsides of the decision when it comes to the property rights and debts of the spouses. This is particularly important when considering the rights of third parties and their settled expectations in the context of retroactivity, as well the ways in which the Court’s decision may have the undesirable affect of undoing the carefully laid plans of the spouses. We conclude that courts and legislatures have by no means seen the end of the gay marriage debate. Rather, a host of unforeseen collateral issues lie on the horizon.
Last fall—before the Center for Medical Progress released its video attack on Planned Parenthood, before Cecile Richards testified before Congress, before Congress voted to defund the health care organization—I was in India, watching a woman have an abortion.
The woman — I’ll call her Meena — was having a safe, legal procedure in a hospital, performed by a trained provider. Even so, this was not what abortion looks like in the United States, where clinics across the country strive to provide environments that are comforting and welcoming while also bright, clean and safe. The room in a public hospital was bare-bones; after the abortion was complete, Meena stood up and walked herself to the recovery room, which contained a thin mattress on a metal bed frame. There was none of what you’d see at American clinics: hand-holding, inspirational feminist quotes painted on the walls, cozy reclining chairs.
Still, Meena was comparatively lucky. Despite the fact that abortion is legal in India, safe and regulated procedures are less common than you might think. According to some studies, a woman dies every two hours here from an unsafe abortion.
“So many women were coming with perforation of the uterus or having incomplete abortion with severe hemorrhage,” Dr. Madhubula Chouhan, a professor and veteran OB/GYN who trains Indian doctors in abortion care, told me. “So many patients died because of unsafe abortion.”
Of all the women injured by clandestine abortions she saw in decades of OB/GYN care, I ask Dr. Chouhan, are there any particular stories that stand out? She pauses.
“So many, so many,” she says. “I’ve seen so many I can’t even remember.”
Read more here.