September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Childhood obesity is rampant. Even in intact families.

The causes are many, and probably include too little activity, too much stress and, in a nutshell, too much unhealthy food (think fast, convenient, cheap, junk food).

Contributing factors are also many, and may include inadequate meal supervision, insufficient time and insufficient money.

Might these problems be more common and more severe in single parent households, regardless of whether the children’s parents never lived together or no longer live together?

Especially in households in transition or which recently underwent transition?

Ideally, both parents would co-parent to fight this common enemy together, and stave off lifelong health problems that are beginning earlier and earlier in life today.

But even where that is not possible, either parent can still do something about it during his or her timesharing.

By the choices that parent makes, for meals and for activities with their kids.

Whether they fear their local child welfare agency will get involved in their lives, or just want their child to be a little healthier.


  1. this [Fort Lauderdale] Sun Sentinel piece: Family Meals Matter: Childhood Obesity Awareness month
  2. this National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse piece:Supporting Healthy Habits: Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
  3. this Healthy+Active Before 5 piece: September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and
  4. this piece:National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Tips for Getting Through Your Divorce … and With Better Results

There really are a great many tips that divorce attorneys and other professionals can offer for “getting through” divorce.

Across the broad spectrum of surviving with both body and soul intact. And the equally broad spectrum of not losing your shirt / ensuring your ability to acquire a new shirt in the future.

And the perhaps even broader spectrum of promoting your children surviving your divorce without being manipulated like pawns, to facilitating that your children don’t miss a beat and continue to have positive, close relationships with both parents.

Such tips could fill a book – a large one. But a few basic tips actually cut across all aspects of divorce (and child custody cases too) and transcend any particular issues in any specific case, no matter how unique.

A colleague has spelled them out again, and they are well worth repeating, again. In some sense, the first bullet point below really covers it all.

1. Help your lawyer – Every case and couple is unique. Your lawyer is the expert on the law, and legal strategy and tactics. You are the expert on your ex, and the facts and circumstances of your family and case. You are the only one who can educate your lawyer on what he or she should know to help your case.

2. Arm your lawyer – Teach your lawyer about your family. Preferably in detail, in writing. Writing it down will encourage you to think carefully and be complete. It will also promote everyone on your legal team being fully informed. And it will do so at the least cost to you.

3. Prioritize – You’ve gone to the trouble and expense of hiring the best lawyer for your case. No, you aren’t done there. It’s still your case. You must be an active hands-on participant. And how fully you participate sends a message to everyone involved in your case. It can be a good message or a bad message. A message that says you really care – or are just trying not to be bothered / hurt too badly.

4. Keep your eye on the prize and adapt – Don’t indulge your emotions. Pick your battles. Pace yourself. Never lose sight of the forest for the trees.

5. Don’t be a stranger – Keep your attorney up-to-date. Touch base. It ain’t over until the last vocalist to sing sings.

I’ll toss in a couple of bonus tips of my own.

  • Don’t go to the other extreme and overdo it.
  • Stop and listen to your attorneys. If you are overloading your attorneys with information that they keep telling you is not helpful for one reason or another, let it go. People sometimes get bogged down in (usually emotional) stuff that, while understandably important to them, just isn’t legally relevant to “no fault” divorce in Florida. Most family court judges have no interest in – and little tolerance for hearing – why things went wrong in your relationship and which of you is the better person, etc.

Read more in this Huffington Post piece: 5 Tips To Help You Through Your Divorce.

Paternal Grandfather in Small-Town USA Allegedly Shoots Grandchildrens’ Mother and Maternal Grandmother Following Child Custody Hearing

Arizona Grandfather has cared for Grandchildren for extended periods of time.

Now Mother apparently is seeking custody of Grandchildren through the family courts.

After a hearing, before family members leave the family courthouse, Grandfather allegedly shoots Mother, Grandmother and Aunt. Mother and Grandmother died.

For those who might imagine that the grass is greener somewhere else, Grandfather has only a few traffic tickets on his record and this happened at a family courthouse in a “rural” area of Arizona.

Grandfather lives in a town with a population of roughly … 5,000.

Read more in this Yahoo news article by way of Associated Press: Authorities: Courthouse gunman was in dispute over grandkids.

Family Court Judge in Child Custody Dispute Orders That Young Prodigy With Career Potential and Shot at Full Tuition College Scholarship Cannot Play Competitively or Train Professionally For a Year

Ten year old Girl is by all accounts one heck of a golfer, with a bright professional future and a great shot at a full scholarship for college.

At least, until a Virginia family court judge ruled that Girl cannot compete professionally for the next year.

And cannot play for more than five hours per week for the next year.

And cannot receive coaching by a pro for the next year.

Why is some judge running Girl’s life for her?

Because this ten year old’s parents are embroiled in a custody battle over her. For the past seven of her ten years.

Girl’s Father introduced her to the game. And plays the sport with her. And is her main coach.

But Girl’s Mother has sole legal and physical custody of Girl.

And Father has been ordered to take anger management classes.

But Father isn’t the only one angry over the judge’s ruling.

The entire golf community seems positively outraged.

Of course, what nobody knows, other than Mother and Father and the family court judge, are the factors that went into the judge’s ruling.

One reported consequence of the ruling is that Father has less timesharing with Girl.

The bottom line is that whether someone else would agree or disagree with the judge’s reasoning, it is almost certain that the ruling was not arbitrary.


Murder By … Bad Behavior?

Boyfriend and Girlfriend have two children together, over the course of eleven years together.

Their relationship was reportedly rocky though.

Girlfriend was hospitalized several times, allegedly as a result of physical abuse by Boyfriend.

But Girlfriend was also hospitalized on other occasions, for mental health issues.

Were the mental health hospitalizations the result of alleged abuse by Boyfriend as well?

It seems the prosecuting agency in Minnesota just might argue that.

Because prosecutors there have charged Boyfriend with murder and manslaughter, as well as stalking, following Girlfriend’s tragic death by … suicide.

The prosecution’s inventive theory is that Boyfriend’s alleged psychological and physical abuse, in effect, drove Girlfriend to commit suicide … a few days after she signed herself out of a mental health facility.

The charges are novel and bold, undoubtedly well-intentioned and undeniably policy-driven.

But, politics aside, it’s hard to imagine this case going anywhere. Since criminal convictions require proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Read more in this People magazine article: Man Charged with Murder After His Ex-Girlfriend Commits Suicide to ‘Escape the Relationship’ in Rare Case, Says Prosecutor

Heiress Seeks Annulment in Effort to Avoid Divorce Property Division

Annulment is more like the spoonful of sugar going down than the spoonful of medicine.

Everyone wants it. Typically, just to avoid stigma of divorce, real or imagined.

But just a handful of cases actually meet the fairly strict and narrow criteria for eligibility for annulment. So, despite strong interest in them, we can rarely justify filing them.

In general, the best candidates for annulment are very short-lived marriages that were never consummated or where the couple stopped cohabiting immediately upon learning of the defect or fraud that invalidates or threats the validity of the marriage.

Still, not everyone – eligible or not – is deterred from pursuing an annulment …

Canadian heiresses can likely bear the cost of the potential false start and indulge their whim … especially when the financial stakes are high.

Take this food industry Heiress’ example.

She, like her sibling, entered prenuptial agreements at the insistence of their father, the company’s founder.

The agreement apparently established a modest fixed sum of parting gift property upon breakdown of the marriage.

In this case, $5 million. Not really such a large sum in the context of this family’s wealth.

But heiress simply doesn’t want her husband to walk away with even that.

So, throwing caution to the wind, Heiress files for annulment.

Because if her marriage is held to be void from the get-go, there won’t be any property division as there would be in a divorce.

Is $5 million worth the risk of wasting her nominal annulment filing fee … and enduring some ridicule?

Could be.

So she’s giving it the old college try.

Doing her best to paint her husband as a fraud who duped her into the marriage.

Read more in:

Smokers Beware: You May Be Branded a Child Abuser, and Lose Custody of Your Child or Foster Child

More than a year ago, a prominent physician and medical school professor drew a new line in the sand, and denounced cigarette smoking routinely around children as nothing less than child abuse. He urged the medical community to take bold action to stamp out the pediatric health crisis resulting from second-hand smoke.

Fast forward a year. The place is the conference of the International Society for Family Law. Where some leading family law attorneys have taken up the gauntlet.

They are advancing legislative proposals to

  • require emergency room doctors to report as child abusers parents of children in respiratory distress who are suspected of having smoked around their children
  • deny custody of children to parents who smoke around their children and remove custody of children from parents who smoke around their kids
  • ban foster parents from smoking around their foster children and
  • punish anyone for smoking in a car with children.

Sound harsh? Unreasonable?

According to the New York Times, more than 6,000 American children die annually as a result of their parents’ smoking, and still more children suffer more than five million serious diagnoses from it as well.

Even without new or different legislation, with the right evidence placed before the right judge about the right child with the right health issues, cigarette smoking certainly may be a consideration in both custody and timesharing rulings.

Read more in:

  1. this Science Daily News article: Repeated exposure of children to secondhand smoke is child abuse, expert argues
  2. this ValueWalk article: Smokers Should Lose Child Custody – Intl Family Law Conf.

UK Survey Suggests Marital Residence is Sold to Strangers in Substantial Minority of Divorces

A fairly small survey of at least middle-aged divorcees in the UK indicates that one third of marital residences get sold to third parties. Half the couples were long-term marrieds who had become empty-nesters and ended up downsizing.

Interestingly, some divorcing couples opted to share certain property after their divorces, including family pets.

Not surprisingly, women were more likely than men to report that they were less well off financially after their divorces. Whatever the financial impact of their divorces though, more than half of the surveyed divorcees reported being happier following their divorce.

The survey was conducted by a financial institution and is based on subjective self-reporting, except perhaps for the mortgage payoff and home sales data. It is worth noting that some of the couples surveyed were still in the midst of their divorce and it was not indicated for how long the other couples may have been divorced.

Read more in this UK Telegraph article: Family home sold in a third of ‘silver’ divorces.

Is Divorce Passed Down from One Generation to the Next?

Husband and Wife marry. Have Children. Divorce.

Fast forward two decades. Children are married.

Are Children more likely to divorce than any other couple?

Perhaps not.

Past studies have suggested that children of divorce are more likely to divorce themselves.

But drilling down through the data more meticulously suggests that high conflict in the family (whether or not it culminates in divorce) is actually a better predictor of divorce in the next generation.

Read more in this Tech Insider article: One parent behavior may affect kids of divorce more than divorce itself.

Who Gets the Silverware, the Car … the Frozen Embryos?

Traditional scenario. Husband and Wife marry, then have children. If Husband and Wife later decide to divorce, custody issues must be resolved.

Modern, increasingly common, scenario. Husbands and wives create and store frozen embryos due to fertility concerns. If husbands and wives later decide to divorce while they still have unborn embryos in storage, the fate of the embryos must be resolved.

Which may be every bit as contentious as custody of already-living children.

One high profile divorcing couple recently reached an agreement to destroy their frozen embryos.

But another is still fighting the good fight well over a year now.

Although this is hardly the first thing that comes to mind in the context of a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement, this is actually an excellent candidate for an agreement before the first embryo is frozen.

Read more in this