India Takes No Action for American Child Abducted to India

A father has not seen his son for more than a year.

The boy’s mother took the boy on a vacation to India.

And never returned.

India is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. And India does not view child abduction as a crime.

As a result, India law enforcement reportedly will not act in cases such as this father’s.

As his last resort, the father has sought the aid of India’s apex child’s rights council because, he argues, his son has been denied contact with his father. He has also contacted the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

The boy in this case is a US citizen, and lived in the US for years prior to his abduction. Even under Indian law, his case should be heard in the US.

But …

Read more in this Telegraph – Calcutta article: NRI dads fight for ‘abducted’ children.

Posted in Uncategorized

State of Our Marital Unions

About half of American marriages end in divorce.

But they tend to last a bit longer today (8 years) than in the past (7 years).

Teen marriages, the most susceptible to failure, have declined.

Most couples are tending to marry a bit later in life.

About two-thirds of all American breakups are initiated by the wife.

Couples who are very demonstratively affectionate in public settings are most likely headed for trouble.

Modern divorces can be nasty and expensive.

Read more in this CBS News Sunday Morning article: Un-tying The Knot – Taking A Closer Look At The State Of Our Unions And What Happens When Marriages Fall Apart.

Posted in Uncategorized

Historic Divorce Capital of the Nation, South Dakota, Seeks Recognition

One state stands out in American history as “divorce capital of the nation” around the turn of the 20th century: South Dakota.

At one point, the state’s residency requirement was just three months and several different grounds for divorce were available. In an era when residency was typically one year and the only ground was adultery.

Examples of grounds for which divorce was granted in the South Dakota of that era include:

  1. the wife repeatedly put her cold feet on her husband’s back
  2. the wife wouldn’t bathe

For reasons like the above, South Dakota attracted unhappy wealthy couples from around the nation, who were in search of a quick, private divorce.

More than six thousand divorces were entered over a twenty year span. Two-thirds of them for people from out of state.

The divorce industry spurred the local real estate market, because couples needed a local home to establish residency. And contributed to relatively high local income.

To commemorate South Dakota’s historic distinction, the Minnehaha County Historical Society would like to erect a marker in Sioux Falls.

Read more in this KXMC TV Minot [SD] News article: Marker would recognize “divorce capital” and this Rapid City [SD] Journal article: Sioux Falls: Divorce capital of the world.

Posted in Uncategorized

Canadian Man Seeks to Avoid Penalty for Blocking Religious Divorce

Last month I posted Canada to Enforce Premarital Agreements Crossing into Religious Issues.

In that case, the Canadian Supreme Court ordered a man to pay his ex-wife nearly $50,ooo for making her wait 15 years for a religious divorce – in violation of their prenuptial agreement.

The Canadian high Court based its ruling both on the contract and a Canadian statute that penalizes spouses who hold up religious divorces.

Now the ex-husband is seeking an appeal to challenge the statute as interfering with freedom of religion and as being discriminatory, because he argues that it targets Jews.

It is anticipated that the Canadian Supreme Court will decline to hear the appeal, possibly because the ruling was supported on contract grounds independent of the challenged statute.

Read more in this Montreal Gazette article: Man challenges divorce law.

Posted in Uncategorized

Hawaii Cracks Down on Deadbeat Noncustodial Parents

Hawaii, which has a poor track record of collecting delinquent child support, has decided to crack down on deadbeat noncustodial parents.

The state has hired a paralegal and an investigator and is currently building and prosecuting misdemeanor and felony cases for chronic nonpayment of child support with insufficient justification.

The crackdown targets those significantly in arrears and who are well able to meet their legal obligation.

The new measures are the talk of Hawaii and are in fact motivating noncustodial parents to make payments toward their support obligation.

Prior to the crackdown, only a handful of cases were prosecuted in the last quarter of a century, even though the law permitted such prosecutions.

This new initiative is funded by a federal grant of funds.

Read more in this Honolulu Advertiser article: Indictments rattle deadbeat parents.

Posted in Uncategorized

Is It Exercise of Religion Or Is It Parenting As In Custody?

The family court’s mission is to make child custody determinations based on the best interests of the child. But some aspects of child rearing are not black and white and, arguably, not purely parenting decisions.

Take religion. An informal case survey suggests that custody battles are on the rise and that religion is increasingly the issue sparking the custody dispute.

  • What if the parents always practiced different religions?
  • Or if one parent converts to a different religion after the separation?
  • Or if one parent is very secular?
  • And the other is extremely devout?
  • What if the religious belief dictates other major aspects of a child’s life, such as medical care or education?

How should the Family Court take these differences into account in custody awards? Which factors should tip the balance which way?

Free exercise of religion is constitutionally protected. This may cause judges to shy away from preferring either parent based on that parent’s exercise of religion.

But both choice of religion and degree of devotion impact on lifestyle of the child. And a child’s lifestyle is very much a parenting matter which is a legitimate concern of the Family Court.

Sampling of tough issues addressed in some recent cases:

  • May a parent teach a child the illegal practice of polygamy endorsed by his religion?
  • May a court take into consideration in a custody award that a parent’s travel for missionary work disrupts a child’s life routine by taking the child away from familiar surroundings and people in their lives?
  • May a court take into considering in a custody award a parent’s decision to end a child’s formal education with junior high school based on religious peer pressure?

According to the survey, judges are as likely to favor the religious parent as the secular parent.

Read more in this New York Times article: Religion Joins Custody Cases, to Judges’ Unease.

Posted in Uncategorized

Cohabitation Agreements Important for Unmarried Seniors – as Well as Others

Here in South Florida, we have a lot of unmarried senior couples, in “second-time around” relationships, cohabiting with each other. The reasons for not remarrying vary.

Although Florida is not a common law marriage state, bare cohabiting can leave some important things up in the air – or up to a judge. A cohabitation agreement may avoid either outcome and facilitate clarity and control.

The agreement can set out household financial arrangements and expectations in the event of death or breakup.

The agreement, with companion documents, can give a cohabitant medical decision-making authority they would not otherwise have.

The agreement, with companion documents, can give the right to manage business / financial affairs of the cohabitant in the event the cohabitant is unable to do so.

The agreement, with companion documents, can provide for disposition of part or all of an estate to a cohabitant.

Little is automatic for an unmarried couple and extra effort may be required to “take care of” the surviving cohabitant – if that is the intention.

A cohabitation agreement is a starting point toward that goal, but not the ending point.

Although it is not specfic to Florida, more can be read in this ElderLawAnswers’ article – Cohabiting Seniors: Protect Your Rights.

Posted in Uncategorized

Former Florida Husband Stiffs Dying Wife for Alimony

Florida Husband (former attorney) ordered to pay alimony.

Ex-Wife diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Ex-Husband reportedly stops paying alimony.

Upon requests for payment, ex-Husband allegedly asked “aren’t you dead yet?”

Ex-wife needs alimony for medicine, housing, etc.

Ex-wife reportedly tried to move the case closer due to health issues. Judge allegedly refused.

An attorney has now offered to help ex-wife without charge.

The reader is left to wonder why an income deduction wage garnishing order was not entered previously.

Sadly, enforcement remains the Achilles Heel of the legal system for far too many dependent former spouses and children. Even those who aren’t dying of cancer.

Read more in this Tampa Bays WTSP-TV 10 news article: Ex-husband stops alimony payments for terminal cancer patient.

Posted in Uncategorized

Missing TN Boys’ Custody May Be Shared By Father Accused of Murdering Mother’s Teenaged Boyfriend and Drunken Mother Who Gravitates Toward Boys

A Tennessee husband was just granted a divorce and shared custody of his kids under unusual circumstances. His wife was not present.

She, allegedly struggling with a drinking problem, had an affair with her 17 year old student, after having another affair with a woman. Her own family described her as “troubled”.

She would reportedly lock herself in her bathroom and drink, go into rages against her husband and even her children, eventually abusing one of her kids for revealing details of her affair.

The husband is charged with killing the teenager involved in the affair.

The wife is said to have absconded with their children months ago.

The Tennessee court has appointed an attorney ad litem and a guardian ad litem to search for and make recommendations for the best interests of the couple’s boys.

Every divorce is unique. And some are more complicated than others.

And some cases put judges in the unenviable position of having to make very difficult decisions.

Read more in these Knoxville News Sentinel articles: McLean granted divorce – Judge orders attorney to search for children of slaying suspect and Judge grants McLean divorce, orders search for children.

Posted in Uncategorized

Orlando Battered Women’s Shelter Expands to Meet Its Mission

One hundred and one Florida women died of it in the first six months of 2007.

Domestic violence.

About forty-five of the women fleeing it and sixty-five of their children in central Florida end up in a shelter for safety. One Orlando shelter is building a children’s after-care center, a school and a daycare center.

The first step to safety may be getting to a shelter. (If an abuser discovers their location and comes, he or she faces stiff legal penalties.) Registration can be anonymous.

Domestic violence knows no socioeconomic boundaries. A shelter’s CEO describes how the husband of a board president of a girl’s school, a wealthy woman, and her daughter were murdered by the woman’s husband.

Read more in this Orlando Sentinel article: Sheltering women in crisis.

Posted in Uncategorized