Swedish Couple May Have to Divorce … To Change Son’s Name

A Swedish couple may have to get a divorce.

Their other option may be to seek citizenship in Denmark.

The reason?

They want their son to be able to take his mother’s maiden name as his middle name, before his father’s surname.

The problem?

It is forbidden by Swedish law …

Where the parents of the child are married.

It is perfectly legal where the parents are unmarried.

So, this couple has one premarital child whose middle name is the mother’s maiden name and surname the father’s last name.

But their son, who was born after the couple married, can’t have his mother’s maiden name as his middle name.

Not the most logical law.

But the couple lost their administrative challenge and their legal appeal.

The purpose of the law?

To hinder people from adopting names intended to foster the belief that they are aristocrats.

The statute is under review and may be reconsidered next year.

But by then, this couple may already be divorced. Or expatriated.

Read more in Sweden’s The Local article: Couple ‘will divorce’ if son can’t take mother’s name.

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FL DCF Director: FL Foster Care Needs an Overhaul

One of the regional directors of Florida’s Department of Children and Families thinks the foster care system it administers doesn’t work very well.

Some depressing statistics about foster care:

  • Forty-four (44%) percent of foster children will be arrested [compared to fourteen (14%) percent of the general population]
  • Fifty (50%) percent of foster girls will become mothers during their teens [compared to one-third of the general population]

Florida’s not unique in these respects. And there probably isn’t a whole lot of dispute about the quality of foster care.

But the question remains: how do we improve the foster care program?

The DCF director points out that children of divorce are traumatized by the loss of one parent from their day to day lives. Foster children lose both parents. On top of being abandoned, abused or neglected.

The director would attempt to minimize the trauma by keeping families intact. The director would greatly reduce the number of cases where children are removed from the home.

Instead the director would provide services in the home on an intensive and accelerated basis, with closer supervision afterward.

A small pilot program is underway right now. If successful, a larger pilot project will follow.

Read more in this Jacksonville Florida Times Union article: Strengthen families.

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World’s First “Divorce Fair”

In Vienna, Austria, nearly sixty-six (66%) percent of marriages end in divorce.

That statistic may call for some creative strategies to help people through the process.

Thus was born the world’s first “Divorce Fair”.

Vienna’s Divorce Fair was expected to provide a venue for people contemplating divorce to consult with attorneys, mediators and other experts on the divorce process and picking up the pieces after divorce.

The Divorce Fair forum will not require attendees to identify themselves in order to consult with professionals. (This raises certain ethical questions for attorneys under US standards of practice, but we don’t have divorce fairs in the US – at least not yet.)

The Divorce Fair also was anticipated to present information about parenting and experiencing divorce from a child’s perspective.

Read more in this AFP article: Vienna to host world’s first-ever ‘divorce fair’.

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Deadbeat Parents: You Can Run But You Can’t Hide – Indefinitely

A Wisconsin assistant district attorney describes her mission of criminally charging non-custodial parents who are seriously delinquent in their child support payments.

She aptly points out something that custodial parents often don’t get: the court can’t force a non-custodial parent to be a good parent. To actually visit their child, call their child, care for their child, do for their child, etc.

But under the right circumstances, there is one thing the court can do. Make sure the non-custodial parent pays their child support obligations. Sooner or later. Or risk jail time.

Read more in this Washington Post article: Corralling Deadbeat Dads.

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Texas Shoes Draw Attention to Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Another October is here and, sadly, we still need this month to serve as Domestic Violence Awareness month.

In Texas, shoes are hanging from the trees by a county courthouse – one pair for every person who died there of domestic assault in the preceding year.

One hundred twenty-six people. In Walker County alone.

The special events coordinator of the “In Their Shoes” event reminds us of the pervasiveness of domestic violence in our society.

“It’s happening between all family types — siblings, boyfriends, girlfriends, roommates — and no age group is safe.”

She also emphasizes an important, often overlooked message: “[a]buse can be emotional, verbal, financial, sexual or physical.”

Read more in this Huntsville [TX] Item article: SAAFE House’s ‘In Their Shoes’ focuses on domestic violence.

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How to Buy a House with Someone Who Is Not Your Spouse

Owning a home remains the American Dream.

And for many singles to achieve it, they are buying with another person who is not their spouse.

From a legal standpoint, this requires some extra legal preparation.

Frank conversation about mutual expectations, finances and debt and credit.

Reducing the terms of the arrangement to a written contract.

Some points to be covered:

  1. Do the co-owners have identical interests, equal interests, or unequal interests?
  2. What happens to the co-owner’s interest if that co-owner dies?
  3. What happens if one co-owner wants to sell that co-owner’s interest?
  4. What happens if the co-owners have a fight and cannot bear to occupy the house together anymore?
  5. How are the co-owners’ respective interests valued?
  6. What if one co-owner’s debts result in a lien on the property?
  7. How will the mortgage be paid?
  8. How will mandatory expenses of the property be paid (real estate taxes, probably homeowner’s insurance)?
  9. How will (semi)optional expenses of the property be paid (repairs, improvements)?
  10. How will a co-owner’s share of expenses be paid in the event of that co-owner’s death?
  11. Should each co-owner be required to maintain life insurance for the benfit of the other co-owner?

A little advance consideration and planning is crucial to a successful real estate joint venture outside marriage.

Read more in this MS NBC article: Pros and cons of buying a house with friends.

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Modern Child Custody Legal Terminology

New clients often come in spewing legal terms that are thoroughly out of favor with modern courts.

A handy little article concisely explains modern child custody terms and concepts in a way that is not specific to any particular state.

The terms explained are listed below, with a Florida-specific twist:

  • Legal Custody or Decisionmaking Authority
  • Sole Custody or Decisionmaking Authority
  • Physical Custody or Residential Custody
  • Joint Custody
  • Joint Legal Custody or Shared Parenting Responsibility
  • Joint Physical Custody or Rotating Custody or Equal Timesharing

Read more in this Mississippi Clarion Ledger article: A look at different custody arrangements.

This article is recommended reading for anyone involved in a child custody case.

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Does Divorce – or Marriage – Go Better for the Wealthy?

For those struggling financially through divorce, it may console them to know that millionaires may not be any happier in their marriages – or divorces.

About half of wealthy people describe themselves as unhappy in their marriages, and just as many admit to cheating on their spouses in the last three years. (Interestingly, more women than men owned up to affairs.)

Somewhat ironically, the excuse cited for unfaithfulness was desire for variety.

Although half of the affluent were unhappy in their marriages, just thirty percent were considering divorce…

Primarily because divorce is expensive in more ways than one – and could adversely affect a spouse’s business standing and dealings.

But despite the greater aversion of the well-off to divorce, they do tend to plan ahead and prepare.

More than half of wealthy women take steps to assure a private nest egg to see them through, and about one-third of comfortable men do the same. And the greater the couple’s wealth, the greater the likelihood that one or both spouses had tucked something away for that rainy day.

Surprisingly, relatively few rich people had prenuptial agreements. Only 6% of millionaires and only 11% of multi-millionaires with $10 million or more.

Just as surprisingly, postnuptial agreements (property settlement agreements made during marriage) were slightly more common among millionaires generally, but with the highest concentration among multi-millionaires with $10 million or more.

Read more in this Forbes piece: The Wealthy – The Rich And Unfaithful.

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Collaborative Divorce Unethical?

It may not last, but collaborative divorce is slowly gaining traction. But it’s certainly not appropriate for many types of people and cases.

It is actually questionable whether collaborative divorce is less expensive than traditional divorce, but it is generally more harmonious.

But it has its critics.

The Colorado Bar Association has, in effect, banned collaborative divorce in Colorado, characterizing it as unethical. Why?

Because “every attorney has an obligation to fight for a client’s interests” and, under collaborative divorce, an attorney is required to drop out of the case if it can’t be settled. Reaching settlement sometimes requires one party to accept an unfair deal.

Other critics point out that the friendlier-divorce model may facilitate fraud and deception by a spouse, since there is no judge to referee and impose order.

Of course, in the end, it’s really about the priorities of the parties in the case at hand. For some clients, peace and harmony are more important than pursuing everything they are entitled to financially.

Read more in this Washington Times article: Rise of collaborative divorce is not for everyone.

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Equitable Division Property Division Explained Under NC Law

Property division in divorce is called equitable distribution in North Carolina, Florida and other states.

From North Carolina comes an article explaining equitable distribution under North Carolina law. Perhaps surprisingly, most of the explanation applies equally well to Florida.

Steps:

  1. Identification or classification as marital or nonmarital – were nonmarital assets mixed up with marital assets?
  2. Valuation at fair market value – may require nonlawyer accounting/appraisal experts
  3. Distribution – presumed to be equal unless the presumption is overcome as inequitable under the circumstances of the case

Fault is largely out of the picture – unless there is economic wrongdoing by a spouse.

Property settlement agreements are generally forever, except in unusual circumstances. So now is the time to speak, not after the divorce.

Read more in this Winston-Salem Journal article: Be wary: Dividing property in a divorce can be easy, or a minefield.

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