November 30, 2005
One in Five Women in India is Domestic Violence Victim
One in every five women in India is a victim of domestic violence from the age of 15. And, less than 0.1 per cent of such cases are reported and investigated. A report titled “IPC Section 498A: Used or Misused” — a study conducted by Centre for Social Research with UNAIDS — obtained the information. Source: The Statesman, thestatesman.net. For more information, please click here (last visited December 1, 2005, reo.)
Canadian Prime Minister Candidate Reopens Same-Sex Marriage Debate
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper reopened the hot-button issue of same-sex unions on his first day on the federal election trail Tuesday, saying he would hold a free vote on changing the definition of marriage if he becomes prime minister. Harper made the remark after Prime Minister Paul Martin announced Canadians will go to the polls on Jan. 23. Harper, who has long promised that if elected he would hold a free vote on marriage, raised the issue himself during a news conference Tuesday in Ottawa. Source: CBC News, cbc.ca. For more information, please click here (last visited December 1, 2005, reo.)
Proposed Wisconsin Constitutional Amendment Banning Gay Marriage In Legislative Committees
The proposed constitutional amendment banning marriage rights for gay couples is in front of two Wisconsin legislative committees. The Republican controlled body first approved the amendment in 2004, but under Wisconsin law, the legislature must pass any amendment to the state Constitution in two consecutive sessions. The amendment's backers say it is necessary because the state's current law is too vague. Wisconsin law defines marriage as a union between a man and a wife. This amendment to the state constitution would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It would also stop the state from recognizing any legal status that is "substantially similar" to marriage, such as civil unions. Source: Jen Christensen, PlanetOut Network, gay.com. For more information, please click here (last visited December 1, 2005, reo.)
November 29, 2005
Case Law Development: Contempt for Unilateral Attempt to Change Visitation Schedule
In case involving a complex and contentious visitation plan, the Ohio Court of Appeals upheld contempt against Mother for attempting to change a visitation schedule without seeking amendment of the court order. The court rejected Mother’s argument that the court order was void because it had contained a provision invalidating the order upon Father’s failure to exercise visitation and that Father had failed to meet the required visitation schedule. The court sentenced her to thirty days in jail, suspended on condition that she purge her contempt by paying Father's attorneys fees and providing additional visitation.
Robinson v. Robinson, 2005 Ohio 6240; 2005 Ohio App. LEXIS 5612 (November 23, 2005)
Opinion on the web at http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/newpdf/8/2005/2005-ohio-6240.pdf (last visited November 29, 2005 bgf)
The divorce in this case, designated Mother the residential parent for child, and established a progressive visitation schedule for Father, under which he would have supervised then unsupervised visitation for increasingly longer periods of time until the standard visitation schedule was finally applied. The agreed order required that Father “make each visit to get to the next level" and stated that if Father missed 2 out of 4 visits, then the agreement is “null & void." The order provided that changes to the visitation schedule were to be communicated to Father’s attorney by Fridays at 8:00 p.m.. Mother had faxed the required notice to Father’s attorney to change a Saturday visitation and also stated in the notice that she was changing the visitation hours from afternoon to morning beginning the next week.
The appellate court concluded that this was an attempt by Mother to change the time for visits unilaterally, and that the agreed order did not allow her to do so. “A court order is not subject to modification by the parties, at least not unless the order provides the parties with that power. In general, a court order can only be modified by another court order. Appellant could not unilaterally alter the visitation schedule because the court order did not give her the power to do so; her attempt to do so constituted contempt.”
The Magistrate had found that Mother had not provided sufficient proof that Father had failed to appear for two of his required visits, making the “null and void” provision of the order inapplicable. The court of appeals agreed and noted in a footnote that it questioned whether such a provision would bind a court in any case.
Finally, Mother argued that the court’s requirement that she purge the contempt by providing Father with both Saturday and Sunday visitation was expanding visitation beyond that which the court had originally found appropriate. “When a party is found to be in contempt for failing to comply with an order providing parenting time or visitation, the court may award reasonable compensatory parenting time or visitation to the person whose right of parenting time or visitation was affected, if such compensatory parenting time or visitation is in the best interest of the child. While the court's inclusion of compensatory visitation time as a purge condition is unusual, [Mother] has not demonstrated that the additional visitation was not in the child's best interests.
November 28, 2005
Career Women Caring for Aging Parents
"Until last February, Mary Ellen Geist was the archetypal career woman, a radio news anchor with a six-figure salary and a suitcase always packed for the next adventure, whether a third-world coup, a weekend of wine tasting or a job in a bigger market. But now, Ms. Geist, 49, has a life that would be unrecognizable to colleagues and friends in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City. She has returned to her family home near Detroit to care for her parents, one lost to dementia and the other to sorrow. . .
"Smart corporations are paying attention" to the challenges that caring for elderly parents presents, said Meryle Mahrer-Kaplan, vice president of advisory services at Catalyst, which has more than 300 corporate members interested in the issues of women in the workplace. "It's so pressing because you can't plan for it, you can't put it off, and it's not a good-news activity. It weighs people down."
Despite a growing number of men helping aging relatives, women account for 71 percent of those devoting 40 or more hours a week to the task, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP in a 2004 study. Among those with the greatest burden of care, regardless of sex, 88 percent either take leaves of absence, quit or retire." By Jane Gross, New York Times Link to Article (last visited 11-27-05 NVS)
Caring for Aging Parents
A free AARP online seminar is available for those caring for aging parents:
"As your parents age and you step in to help them, you may find yourself wrestling with a variety of unfamiliar and difficult issues. You may have to find transportation for a parent who can no longer drive, locate public resources to help pay for a nursing home stay or try to demystify complicated legal issues.
Though these tasks can be difficult, with a little research and planning you can ensure that your parents are well cared for. This seminar aims to get you started by outlining some of the most common issues for caregivers and strategies for handling them." By AARP Link to Seminar (last visited 11-27-05 NVS)
November 27, 2005
Case Law Development: It Takes Two to Make a Common Law Marriage
The Iowa Court of Appeals upheld a district court's decision in which the court dismissed a woman's divorce petition and granted her cohabitant of 14 years his petition for forcible entry and detainer to evict her. The woman provided evidence that he had raised her child from a previous relationship as his own and that the only reason he had not adopted the child was that they did not want to reveal to the child that the man was not in fact his biological father. She also provided some evidence that the couple held themselves out as married and evidence that her friends thought they were married. The trial court was more persuaded by the man's testimony that, having been burnt once by divorce, he did not intend to be married and by the evidence that the parties kept all their financial dealings strictly separate. Failing in having established that both parties had a present intent to be married, she became mere tenant.
Toom v. Nagle, 2005 Iowa App. LEXIS 1388 (November 23, 2005)
Opinion on the web at http://www.judicial.state.ia.us/appeals/opinions/20051123/05-0437.asp (last visited November 27, 2005 bgf)
Case Law Development: Desire for Career Change Not Basis for Reduction in Child Support
Father quit a job to begin training as an electrician in the hopes of someday owning his own business, which reduced his yearly income by 41 percent. The Iowa Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's order reducing his child support in order to accomodate his lengthy apprenticeship, holding that Father's actions were a voluntary reduction in income, which could not provide a basis for an adjustment in child support.
In re Biertzer, 2005 Iowa App. LEXIS 1398 (November 23, 2005)
Opinion on the web at http://www.judicial.state.ia.us/appeals/opinions/20051123/05-0285.asp
(last visited November 27, 2005 bgf)
"Timothy testified that he was willing to take such a substantial cut in pay to pursue his dream to be self-employed….What troubles us about Timothy's justifications is not that we think he intended to deprive his child or burden his former wife, but that he apparently gave them no thought whatsoever. As a result of his change in income, his child support obligations were also reduced by forty-one percent, or nearly half of his obligation under the stipulation. In addition, Timothy did not appear to consider whether Jodi would be able to provide for Jordan absent his support…. Finally, though we sympathize with Timothy's desire to follow his dreams, we fear the precedent we would set if we allowed the district court's ruling with regard to his child support obligations to stand….Given the above factors, we must conclude that Timothy's loss of income was voluntary. Additionally, because his income dropped so drastically, we reluctantly conclude he acted with reckless disregard for the well being of his child. The legal terminology is harsh; we think the record shows Timothy to be a kind and loving father who is proud of his daughter. However, because his actions had such severe consequences on his child support obligations, we refuse to uphold the district court's decision to reduce his child support payments.”
Tennessee Appeals Court Rules Against Biological Parents of 6-Year-Old Chinese Girl
A Tennessee state appeals court Wednesday refused to return a 6-year-old Chinese girl to her biological parents, who put her in the custody of an American couple shortly after her birth. The 2-1 ruling upheld a lower court decision that took away the parental rights of the Chinese couple on the basis that they had willfully abandoned the child and permits Jerry and Louise Baker to proceed with adopting the girl. She has been with the Baker’s since she was three years old. The five-year struggle by the child’s biological parents has drawn support from the Chinese Embassy in Washington and led Chinese community groups to complain of cultural bias in Tennessee courts. The biological parents, who were facing financial and legal troubles when their daughter was born, say they thought they were putting her in temporary foster care. According to their attorney, the case will be appealed to the state Supreme Court. Source. Woody Baird, Associated Press, Heraldonline.com. Please click here for additional information (last visited November 27, 2005, reo).
The case is In re A.M.H. v. Shao-Quiang He, 2005 Tenn. App. LEXIS 736 (November 23, 2005) and the opinion is on the web at http://www.tsc.state.tn.us/OPINIONS/tca/PDF/054/BakerJerryLOPN.pdf (last visited December 1, 2005 bgf)
Chicago Man Abducts Children for Satanic Ritual
According to Chicagoauthorities, David Rodriquez allegedly kidnapped a 6-year-old girl and her 8-year-old brother Friday afternoon while they waited for their mother outside a library because he believed a satanic ritual would help him get his girlfriend back. Rodriguez was arrested before carrying out his demonic plan, which authorities said involved carving a pentagram in the girl's chest. The arrest came after the 8-year-old boy was released with a fake note and observed by adults crying and standing alone. He was able to lead authorities to Rodriquez before he carried out his plan. Source: Stefano Esposito, Chicago Sun Times, suntimes.com. Please click here for additional information (last visited November 27, 2005, reo).
New Pennsylvania Law Gives Foster Parents Right to Participate in Permanent Placement Proceedings
A new Pennsylvania law requires that county and private children and youth social service agencies notify foster care or kinship care families of scheduled meetings regarding child placement. It encourages the families’ active participation in the plan to place a child permanently in an adoptive home. The bill also requires such agencies to respond openly, completely and promptly when contacted by the foster family regarding the care of the child. And, it requires that certain medical, behavioral and educational information be shared with the foster family. Source. Governor.state.pa.us/governor. Please click here for additional information (last visited November 27, 2005, reo).
One in Six UK Women Named Wrong Dad When Seeking Child Support
According to a story in the Sunday Mail, one in six women who go to the Child Support Agency in England named the wrong man as the father of their child. DNA paternity tests, which cost around £300 and are carried out by the CSA, have revealed that in 3034 cases the man named as dad turned out not to be the biological father. Figures secured through the Freedom of Information Act show that since tests began in 1998, 15,909 DNA tests have been made. The number of tests carried out for the CSA has fallen over the years but the proportion of false claims is consistent. Source: sundaymail.co.uk. Please click here for additional information (last visited November 27, 2005, reo).
South Bend, Indiana YMCA Collects Old and Used Cell Phones To Aid Abuse Victims
The South Bend, Indiana YMCA has launched a holiday drive to obtain old and used cell phones to provide to domestic abuse victims who were without them. The phones are given to victims at the local shelter, and they can be used in an emergency to call 911. Nancy Sinnott, Director of Public Relations for the South Bend YWCA, says, “If someone comes to the mall or goes to court, they have one of these cell phones with them and their abuser approaches them, they can dial 911 and get to safety.” The YWCA says it sees a dramatic rise in victims of domestic violence during the holidays. Source. Kimberly Torres, NewsCenter16 reporter, wndu.com. Please click here for additional information (last visited November 27, 2005, reo).