Domestic Violence Still Flourishing, Twenty-Two Years After Introduction of Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October was first recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month twenty-two years ago.

Twenty-two years later, here in Florida, two different mothers and their respective children are murdered in domestic violence incidents.

Both families have histories of domestic violence.

Clearly, the problem of domestic violence is far from solved.

What are we doing wrong?

Professionals working with victims must learn to properly assess the degree of danger in each case.

And, regardless, professionals must also be able to provide each victim with an effective, custom safety plan.

These two measures should go a long way toward reducing domestic violence fatalities (and injuries).

Hopefully, these milestones won’t take another twenty-two years of awareness to accomplish.

Read more in this Ft. Myers [FL] News Press article: Better protection needed against domestic violence.

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Child Support Enforcement Befriends Gambling Casinos?!

Colorado has legal gambling casinos in several towns there.

Father (or Mother) goes to a casino to play.

And wins. Pretty big. At least $1,200. Maybe substantially more.

Father (or Mother) gathers up their winning chips and goes to cash out.

There’s a bit of a delay.

Finally, Father (or Mother) is handed their, uh, net proceeds.

Father (or Mother) complains that they’ve been shorted on their winnings.

Wrong.

Under a recent Colorado law, before cashing out any player who wins at least $1,200, the casino is required to check child support computer system records to determine whether the winner owes any back child support.

If the winner does owe back child support, the arrearages are collected by deduction from their winnings.

This new law has resulted in collection of $600,000 in statewide child support arrearages in just the first year. Not bad.

Casinos aren’t thrilled about the new law. Their customers get angry. And following the law is a nuisance.

Worst of all, casinos fear it is already starting to deter deadbeat gamers from turning out at the casinos.

In other words, deadbeat parents are actively avoiding an opportunity to meet their child support obligations with found money won at the casinos.

This casts some doubt on various special interest groups’ vigorous assertions that those who don’t pay child support don’t pay because they can’t afford it.

Colorado was the first state to pass a law like this … although many states require child support enforcement out of lottery winnings.

Other states are watching Colorado’s apparent success and eagerly contemplating trying to duplicate it.

Read more in this Denver Post article: Colorado gambling law garnishes $600,000 from winnings of deadbeat parents.

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Proposed Legislation Would Make it Illegal Discrimination to Deny Custody (or Unsupervised Visitation) to a Medical Marijuana User Unless There is an Unreasonable Danger to Their Child

Residents of Maine will be voting next week on proposed legislation intended to broaden and simplify usage of marijuana for medical purposes.

What does that have to do with family law?

Well, one of the proposed provisions prohibits discrimination against patients in child custody matters.

A significant number of people have allegedly lost custody of their children just because they use medical marijuana – or grow it.

Specifically, the proposed legislation provides that patients cannot be deprived of custody or (presumably, unsupervised) timesharing or visitation unless their marijuana use renders them “unreasonably dangerous” to their child.

In other words, under the proposals, it would be illegal discrimination to deprive a parent of custody (or unsupervised visitation) just because the parent’s behavior with marijuana use makes the parent merely dangerous to their child.

Ironically, this kind of proposed language may give a medical marijuana user an advantage over a non-user … not to mention over their child. Who may only be in danger, but not unreasonable danger.

Read more in this Drug War Chronicle newsletter article: Feature: Maine Medical Marijuana Dispensary Initiative Ahead in November Election Campaign.

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Victim of Domestic Violence is Jailed for Contempt … for Fear of Testifying Against Alleged Abuser

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, as I’ve previously posted.

A UK Husband allegedly pursued his fleeing Wife, each in their own respective cars. Husband rammed Wife’s car and then set it on fire.

Husband was arrested and confined until trial.

Wife was too terrified to testify against Husband at trial.

So Wife, the victim, was put in jail for contempt of court, while Husband was at large.

Because of Wife’s silence, Husband was convicted only of threatening behavior and damaging property.

At the conclusion of his trial, Husband was released due to time already served.

Read more in this UK Mirror article: Scared wife put in cells for ‘contempt of court’ during domestic abuse trial as husband walks free.

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US Lawyer Forms Israeli NonProfit to Support Return Under Hague Convention of Abducted Israeli Children

US-resident Mother refuses to allow Son to visit Israel-resident Father and attend school there for a year.

Both Israel and the US are parties to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Mother opposes, ironically citing a provision of the Hague Convention intended primarily for the benefit of fleeing victims of domestic violence.

The provision allows a court to refuse an otherwise-required return of a child if there is a serious risk that the child will be harmed, physically or psychologically, by return.

In this context, Mother, like others before her, argues that terrorism strikes in Israel make it too dangerous to order her child there.

Ohio judge partially accepts Mother’s argument. Court rules that child should go to Israel … but is barred from Haifa, Israel.

Other US judges have been in full sympathy with Mother’s argument in denying returns.

An Ohio attorney takes exception to the characterization of Israel as a “war zone” and believes that rulings refusing to return children to Israel aid terrorists at Israel’s expense.

That attorney has established a nonprofit association in Israel to assist parents pursuing return of their children to Israel.

It is reported that ten percent of divorced couples in Israel are new immigrants.

Read more in this Israel Haaretz article: Lawyer from U.S. sets up body to repatriate abducted Israeli kids

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Community Property Baseball Team: Husband Gets Half the Players (Chosen Blindly or Randomly, Of Course) and Wife Gets the Other Half?

Some property acquired during a marriage is easier to split up than other property.

One recently separated couple is learning that now.

Wife has served as chief executive of a professional baseball team acquired during the long-term marriage.

Since the split, Husband has allegedly purported to fire Wife … and assert sole ownership of the team.

Wife, a non-practicing attorney, is reportedly not taking the termination lying down. Quite the contrary, she is rumored to be exploring a takeover.

Their state of residence, California, is a community property state though.

In general, that means that all property acquired by either during the marriage is split 50/50.

Absent a prenuptial agreement (prenup) or postnuptial agreement (postnup), however, that would suggest that both spouses, not just Husband, own the team.

Dividing a major league baseball team of living, breathing people is a bit different from dividing inanimate objects, which neither the objects nor third parties much care about.

In this dispute, there are many opinions being formed and some being expressed – publicly. Although, ultimately, the only opinion that will count is that of the presiding family court judge.

Read more in this Contra Costa [CA] Times article: Jamie McCourt faces uphill fight in court of public opinion and this Los Angeles Times article: Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt fires wife Jamie.

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Little MS Boy With Critical Internal Injuries Is Rescued from House with Five Adult Residents and Nine Other Children Taken Into Protective Custody

Four women and one man live in Mississippi House with as many as ten Children.

The House is filthy and blood-stained. The walls are covered by graffiti. Dirty clothes are in piles.

The landlord reacts, “I’ve never seen human beings live like this.” He has served eviction papers on the residents.

One of the Children, a four year old Boy, is now in the hospital, in critical condition. He has internal injuries, broken teeth and damaged gums.

The other nine Children have been taken into child protective custody by the local child welfare agency.

It does not appear that any of the adults living in the House are parents of the Boy. Authorities are looking for them.

The adult residents of the House have all been arrested on felony child abuse charges and are confined.

Read more in this Hattiesburg [MS] American article: 5 face child abuse charges.

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Mother Gives Up Guardianship of Her Daughter … So Daughter Can Have Health Insurance

Mother and Father separate.

Mother has primary timesharing with eight year old Daughter.

Mother is a hairstylist earning a modest income.

Mother had cancer as a child, but is healthy now.

Mother cannot afford health insurance for herself because it is priced based on her childhood preexisting condtion.

So Mother is unable to provide health insurance for Daughter.

(Father’s health insurance status and whether he pays any child support, medical or otherwise, is unknown.)

So …

Mother gives guardianship of Daughter to Grandparents, who have health insurance.

By virtue of their guardianship of Daughter, Grandparents are able to add Daughter on to their health insurance.

But Mother hates having to give up legal custody of Daughter to her parents … and worries about it … just a bit.

Read more in this Columbia Missourian article: One in 50 million: Ferguson transfers custody to get daughter health coverage.

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Full-Time Job Does Not Necessarily Emancipate a Child Such That Parent’s Support Obligation Ends

Preface: In New York State, parents are generally legally responsible for supporting their children until the children are twenty-one years old.

New York State Son, who is under the age of twenty-one, has a full-time retail job.

Despite Son’s employment, Mother currently helps Son pay his bills out of her own earnings and a trust fund.

Mother seeks to be relieved of supporting Son, arguing that Son has emancipated himself by his full-time employment.

Child support obligations typically end when a child becomes emancipated.

An intermediate level appellate court in New York concludes that Son’s job does not constitute emancipation, because Son is not financially independent. Son relies upon additional support from Mother to get by.

Therefore, the New York court holds that Mother cannot terminate her obligation to support Son before he is twenty-one.

Note: In Florida, parents are generally legally responsible for supporting their children only until the children are eighteen years old.

Read more in this West Palm Beach Examiner article: Court says parents in New York cannot contract away obligation to support children until age 21

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Panic Rooms Adapted to Sanctuary Rooms for Victims of Domestic Violence in Wales

“Panic rooms”, rooms intended to be secure, even impregnable, were conceived to offer protection to homeowners in the event of a break-in by potentially violent intruders.

The doors to the rooms are extra thick and strong, and can’t be kicked down.

In a county in Wales, UK, homes of high-risk victims of domestic violence are now being equipped with panic rooms, re-dubbed “sanctuary rooms”.

The special rooms have “good neighbour alarms” which, if triggered, alert neighbors to call police.

A domestic abuse advocate believes the sanctuary room has given at least one homeowner her best night’s sleep in years, by finally relieving her domestic abuse-induced terror in her own home.

A person should be able to find sanctuary in their own home.

Unfortunately, though, this sanctuary ends at the door where the victim leaves their home.

Read more in this South Wales [UK] Echo article: ‘Panic rooms’ being built for Caerphilly domestic abuse victims.

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