September 7, 2006
Child Protection Crisis in Australia
"PREMIER Alan Carpenter has promised more money and more staff in a new attempt to defuse the crisis surrounding child protection in Western Australia. The pledge comes on top of the $140 million funding boost already set aside for the embattled Department for Community Development. The move follows yesterday's revelation in The Australian that up to 900 suspected child abuse, neglect and family crisis cases were in a queue because of a lack of caseworkers. "We need to put more money in for more caseworkers. That's the first thing. I'm not waiting for the next budget," Mr Carpenter said yesterday in an exclusive interview with The Australian." The Australian - News, Link to Article (last visited 9-6-06 NVS)
Foster Parents Indicted and County Officials Sued in Boy's Death
"The foster parents of a 3-year-old disabled boy who died after being wrapped in packing tape for two days were indicted Wednesday on murder and kidnapping charges. Prosecutors have accused Liz and David Carroll Jr. of wrapping Marcus Fiesel in the blanket and tape and leaving him in a closet while they went to a family reunion in Kentucky in August. The boy was dead when the Carrolls returned two days later, authorities said." AP, CNN.com. Link to Article (last visited 9-6-06 NVS)
"The mother of a 3-year-old developmentally disabled child who died in foster care filed a $5 million lawsuit Tuesday against county officials, the foster parents and the agency that placed the boy. The foster parents, Liz and David Carroll Jr., are jailed on charges that include involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors say the couple wrapped the boy in a blanket and packing tape, and left him in a closet while they went to a family reunion in August. AP, CNN.com Link to Article (last visited 9-6-06 NVS)
Prenatal Alcohol Exposure Linked to Later Alcohol Disorders
"Women who drink during pregnancy may be setting up their offspring for later problems, it seems. Young adults who were exposed to alcohol before they were born are at increased risk for developing an alcohol disorder, according to a report in the Archives of General Psychiatry." Reuters Health, Yahoo News Link to Article (last visited 9-6-06 NVS)
Kidnapped Girl Tells of Ordeal
"An Austrian girl held in captivity for eight years told on Wednesday how all she could think of was how to escape but she feared that fleeing might provoke her abductor into killing her in a murder spree. For the first time since her dash to freedom two weeks ago, 18-year-old Natascha Kampusch spoke about the years of loneliness, hunger and agony that she spent in a cell beneath the garage of Wolfgang Priklopil's house near Vienna.
"I promised myself I would grow older, stronger and sturdier to be able to break free one day," Kampusch said in her first television interview, looking fragile but composed and confident despite her ordeal and the subsequent media frenzy. By Karin Strohecker, Reuters, Link to Article (last visited 9-6-06 NVS)
September 6, 2006
Case Law Development: Trial Court Errs in Basing Custody Solely on Statements of Four-Year-Old
The Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed a decision transferring custody of a 4 1/2 year old child from Mother to Father. Mother had restricted Father's visitation with child after she received opinions from two professionals that the child had likely been sexually abused by father. The trial court, however, interviewed the four year old, who maintained that she had lied about the abuse, and based his decision "almost entirely" on that interview. Despite two different experts who testified that the child had likely been abused, the trial court stated, "There's nothing that has been said by anybody that is going to overcome what that child said to me." Thus, finding that no abuse had occurred, the court transferred custody to Father based on Mother's interference with visitation.
The court of appeals reversed, finding that "the evidence simply does not support the findings by the trial court that are pivotal to the issues of custody, visitation, contempt and attorney fees."
In re C.A.R., 2006 Tenn. App. LEXIS 583 (August 30, 2006)
Opinion on web (last visited Sept. 5, 2006 bgf)
Case Law Development: Wife Estopped from Using DNA Test Results to Deny Husband's Paternity
The Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court's use of equitable estoppel to preclude a mother from denying her husband's custody rights based on DNA test results. Mother had concealed the fact that Husband was not the father of the child during the marriage and a custody evaluator testified that father and son were strongly bonded. Mother argued that Husband would have continued his relationship with and support for the child even if she had told him the child was not his. Thus, she argued, there was no detrimental reliance to support the application of equitable estoppel. The court of appeals disagreed, however, noting that "By withholding the true state of [Husband's] relationship to the child, [Mother] precluded [Husband] from seeking legal advice as to the extent of his relationship with [Child].... For example, had [Husband] known the truth, he might have sought to have [Mother] institute legal action to terminate the biological father's parental rights so that he could adopt the child. As an adoptive parent, [Husband] would have been on equal footing with [Mother] in any custody dispute. Given the knowledge denied [Husband] by [Mother's] actions, we conclude it was not error for the court to conclude that [Husband] relied on [Mother's] representations to his detriment. The court affirmed the trials court's grant of joint custody with primary residential custody with Father.
Hinshaw v. Hinshaw, 2006 Ky. App. LEXIS 275 (September 1, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited Sept. 5, 2006 bgf)
Case Law Development: Waiver of Trial De Novo of Arbitration Awards
The Oregon Court of Appeals has held that parties cannot by their agreement convert a court-annexed arbitration of property division in divorce into a binding arbitration under the Oregon Arbitration Act, thereby divesting the trial court of its authority to conduct a trial de novo. However, the court did conclude that parties could waive their right to seek such a review, rejecting an argument that allowing waivers of trials de novo would violate public policy.
In the case before it, however, the court concluded that the parties' agreement that their arbitration would be binding, subject only to appeal to the court of appeals, was based on a mutual mistake in that appellate review was not available from arbitration awards. Thus the court found this mistake made any waiver of a trial de novo it might have implied to be invalid.
Woods v. Woods, 2006 Ore. App. LEXIS 1242 (August 30, 2006)
September 5, 2006
Youthful Marriages in Iraq
"Some families in Iraq are reverting to an old practice: marrying off daughters and female dependents at younger and younger ages. It's thought that women who marry very young will be more attached to their homes and children. For some girls, though, a childhood marriage can be the beginning of a life of misery." By Corey Flintoff, National Public Radio Listen to the Radio Clip (last visited 9-4-06 NVS)
Nashville Attorney Convicted of Murdering Wife
"A former Nashville attorney was convicted Thursday of murdering his wife, who disappeared 10 years ago without a trace. After about 13 hours of deliberations over two days, the jury found Perry March, 45, guilty of second-degree murder for killing his wife, Janet, whose body has never been found."It looked on the outside like he had the perfect life," prosecutor Tom Thurman said after the verdict. "He had it all."" Court TV, Link to Article (last visited 9-4-06 NVS)
Chinese Woman Sues for Access to Dog After Divorce
"A divorced Chinese man has been ordered by a court to give his ex-wife access to their dog after she sued him for barring her from seeing the pet, state media reported. The childless couple from the southwestern city of Guilin were both very fond of the dog and treated it "as their own child," China Daily's website reported Monday." AFP, Yahoo News Link to Article (last visited 9-4-06 NVS)
September 4, 2006
Divorce Rate in England Fell by 8% in 2005
The Office for National Statistics has released its latest update on the state of divorce and marriage in England and Wales revealing that divorces fell by 8% in 2005. The ONS has also analysed the reasons for divorce. In 69 per cent of divorces last year, the wife was granted the divorce, and in 53 per cent of these it was on the grounds of the husband's behaviour. Where divorces were granted to the husband, the most common fact proven was two years' separation with consent (32 per cent).
Read more statistics at Family Law Week (last visited Sept. 5, 2006 bgf)