Child Custody Dispute Amidst Eastern European Politics

Husband and Wife hail from an Eastern European country ruled by Husband’s brother. They have a Son together, who is ten years old.

Husband and Wife may have already divorced in 2009, but Wife denies it. (And Husband alleges that Wife committed bigamy during the marriage.)

Husband and Wife have disputes, which are being played out in courts in New York City.

Conspiracy and theft in their divorce property division, for example.

And child custody. Husband obtains an emergency hearing date to have Son’s custody transferred to him. To prevent Wife from absconding with Son.

The hearing is expected to take place soon. While waiting, Wife reportedly consoles herself that the New York courts are at least governed by laws, rules and procedures, implying that the courts of their native country are not.

Husband’s grounds for the emergency custody hearing?

Wife allegedly left Son with a babysitter while she partied abroad. And Wife allegedly is wanted by Interpol for crimes allegedly perpetrated in their native country, including kidnapping.

Husband and Wife were married for eight years.

Wife denies that she left Son with a sitter, maintaining that Son was visiting his half-brother in another Asian country.

Read more in this UK Telegraph news article: Kazakhstan leader’s brother accuses ex-wife of conning him out of $20m apartment and this Daily Mail news article: Pampered Plaza scion subject of heated custody dispute between brother of Kazakh president and his fugitive ex-wife.

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Financial Advisors’ Advice for Seniors in This Era Where They Face Greater Likelihood of Divorce

Divorce among seniors has been on the rise. In fact, between 1990 and 2009, the divorce rate among seniors doubled. Even for seniors over 65 years old.

Divorce is 2.5 times more likely in a second (or greater) marriage than in a first marriage. So these trends are likely to become even more pronounced over time.

And with this trend, financial advisors are, and have to be more mindful of divorce among seniors. They point out that it is more important than ever that seniors take logical, practical steps to protect their own financial interests.

For example, living expenses for a single person may be greater than simply half of their previous expenses as a couple. And the newly single may have extra one-time or infrequent expenses that they must incur upon separation and/or divorce (a new will and health care surrogate, new insurance, new accountant, new insurance agent, etc.)

Divorcing seniors typically have accumulated significant assets worth protecting. They should take advantage of professional service providers. But, if possible, they should strive for an amicable divorce.

Financial advisors may go so far as to recommend foregoing attorneys. That may be pennywise but pound foolish though.

If both spouses are inclined to divorce amicably, their divorce need not be litigious or expensive. But attorneys are the only professionals who can ensure that everything is done legally and fairly, with neither spouse being taken advantage of.

Financial advisors recommend getting copies of all financial documents and securing your copies in a safe location. True, of course.

But if one spouse refuses to provide copies or denies the existence of known assets, then the other spouse will likely need a lawyer. This doesn’t mean that their divorce will not end amicably, but it is a red flag that should raise concerns. Blindly ignoring it in pursuit of an amicable divorce no matter what, is a recipe for disaster – and regret.

A fair settlement requires disclosure. There is simply no getting around that fact.

Financial advisors recommend closing joint accounts immediately and replacing them with individual accounts as soon as the spouses separate.

They also remind that assets and debt need to be put into the correct spouse’s name.

Financial advisors recommend splitting each financial asset, so that both spouses face the same market risks and tax risks. This advice has some merit, but it is often resisted by both spouses.

Financial professionals quite properly advocate that a spouse who is required to make payments over time (whether alimony and spousal support, or property division equalization payments in installments) have not only life insurance but also disability insurance to protect the receiving spouse. Disability at a relatively young age is a much greater risk than most people realize. And jeopardizes both spouses and their children’s well-being.

For individuals who have amassed significant assets prior to marriage, it is important for them to take reasonable steps to ensure that those assets remain nonmarital. These steps include a prenuptial agreement but also maintaining title in the individual’s sole name and really keeping the asset separate, that is, without commingling it with the other spouse’s assets or other joint assets, or applying it directly to common household expenses.

Read more in this US News & World Report – Money article: Financial Safeguards Needed as Senior Divorces Soar.

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The Perils of Joint Credit

Joint debt forms a union that can be more powerful than marriage. So powerful that not even a legal divorce can dissolve it.

Yet it is faster and easier to enter than a marriage.

With joint debt, you are responsible to the creditor – even if you get divorced from the other joint debtor.

A divorce court may order the other joint debtor to pay off the account and to protect you against liability on it but, even so, that creditor can still come after you.

For the entire amount of the debt. Not just half, as many, many people seem (mistakenly) to believe.

Your only recourse if that happens is to your ex, back in family court.

Even if you are only a so-called authorized user on an account, a creditor may try to collect from you for the charges that you made on the account. In that situation, you are not legally responsible. But they can try.

If you are a co-signer on a debt, you are like a guarantor. You are responsible for the entire debt if the primary account holder doesn’t pay. But you don’t have access to or control of the account.

And with any joint debt, the entire amount of the debt counts against your credit history and outstanding debt for purposes of underwriting any other borrowing you may wish to do.

That is one reason why a divorcing spouse moving out of the marital home almost always wants his or her name removed from the mortgage on the marital home. They probably will not be able to qualify for a new mortgage of their own on a new home of their own otherwise.

And if the other joint debtor doesn’t meet their obligations, your credit score will be penalized too.

The removal of a joint debtor (such as by death or divorce of a spouse) can also reduce your access to credit. To protect yourself, it is prudent to maintain some individual credit accounts for a rainy day.

In some marriages, it may be prudent to keep all debt individual rather than be adversely impacted by your spouse’s questionable management of their credit.

When it comes to divorce, it is best whereever possible to close joint accounts, preferably by paying them off or, alternatively, by transferring all or part of the balance to one or more individual accounts of the divorcing spouses.

Read more in this CreditCards.com article: 6 Secrets About Joint Credit.

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Child Custody and Timesharing Where A Parent Practices an Unorthodox Religion

A celebrity divorce in which one parent practices an unconventional religion has recently focused public attention on the role religion may play in family court cases determining child custody and visitation.

Modern America (including Florida) is religiously diverse, and more than a few religions are well-represented among parents.

Parents’ religious affiliations and views may change over time. And sometimes parents are less concerned about differing religious views before children enter the picture than they are afterward.

For the most part, Florida family law is neutral regarding religious diversity, and parents’ religious beliefs and affiliations do not influence family court child custody rulings or divorce court timesharing and visitation schedules.

Each parent in Florida is generally free to have their child participate in their religion and worship during their timesharing and visitation with their child.

In general, a parent in Florida will only be barred from sharing their religion with their child if the other parent shows that that religion wll be harmful to their child.

For example, Mother is a chiropractor by profession. Her religion teaches that the body is naturally, fully equipped for self-healing … and prohibits followers from taking medicines or vaccinations.

Mother qualifies for an exemption so that their child need not be vaccinated for school.

Father objects to this though and seeks ultimate decisionmaking authority over their child’s health care in general and the child’s vaccinations in particular.

At trial, after hearing expert testimony from several physicians, the Florida family court awards Father ultimate decisionmaking authority over their child’s health care, based on the conclusion that vaccinations are in their child’s best interests.

Implicit in the Florida divorce court’s holding is the view that withholding vaccinations from their child could very well be harmful to their child.

On appeal, the Florida family court’s award of ultimate decisionmaking authority to Father is upheld.

Read more in this local West Palm Beach area case.

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Proposed Legislation Would Permit a Child to Have More Than Two Legal Parents

There’s an expression that it takes a village to raise a child.

Now, a state legislator wants to move a step closer to legislating that concept.

His proposed California legislation would eliminate the statutory limit of two legal parents per child.

In fact, do away with any maximum number of legal parents per child.

In this legislator’s view, it may serve a child’s best interests to have multiple legal parents.

Paying child support. Sharing child custody. Exercising visitation and timesharing.

Extra parents might be drawn from:

  • Biological parents

  • Gay parents

  • Stepparents

  • Sperm donors

  • Egg donors

  • Surrogate parents

  • De facto parents and

  • Others.

Similar legislation is already on the books in a couple of other US states.

Read more in this Miami Herald article: California bill would let children have more than two parents and this MSNBC news article: California bill would allow children to have more than two parents

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American Mother’s Child Support Obligation Upheld for Adopted Russian Boy She Shipped Back to Russia

Tennesse Mother adopts Russian Son.

By the age of seven, Son is allegedly violent and threatening.

Mother packs Son up and puts him on a plane back to Russia.

Son may be out of sight, but he isn’t out of Mother’s mind.

Son is now living in a group home in the Moscow area.

This does solve Mother’s most pressing problem. Son and the danger he reportedly poses are removed from Mother’s presence.

But the US adoption agency (Agency) that faciliated the adoption and the Russian government aren’t very happy.

The Agency sues Mother for child support. And wins.

A $150,000 win. Over time.

Mother plans to continue to fight the ruling.

Read more in this Fox News TV article: Judge upholds child support in Russian adoption.

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Study Examines Why Low Income Couples Are Less Likely to Marry and More Likely to Divorce

Despite statistics bearing out that lower income people marry less frequently and divorce more frequently, a new study finds that lower income people place the same value on marriage as higher income people – and hold divorce in less favor than higher income people.

Further, lower income people have greater appreciation than higher income people of the economic impact of marriage, such as two income households.

Meaning that the explanation for the statistics does not lie with disrespect of marriage as an institution. Contrary to the government’s underlying premise in spending $1 billion trying to enhance attitudes toward marriage among those with lower incomes.

Marriages of poorer couples are more likely to suffer threats to their relationships from economic challenges and social problems such as substance abuse.

The study was based primarily on couples in Florida, but also dramatically smaller numbers in several other highly populated states.

Read more in this press release, Why do Low-Income Couples Marry Less and Divorce More? reporting on the study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family

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Florida Business Valuation: Neither Coin Tosses Nor Splitting the Difference Allowed

Valuing a marital business, most typically a closely held business with no third party ownership interests, is almost always a difficult affair.

There are several different methods of valuation used by forensic accountants and other business valuation professionals.

And they can produce wildly different results. And none may strike either spouse as particularly “spot on”.

Because, when you get right down to it, any way you cut it, it is really hard to nail down the true value of a small closely held business.

When spouses are inclined to settle their case amicably, all too often disputes over valuations and even calculations are settled (or settlement is attempted) predicated on the “let’s split the difference” school of hard knocks method of valuation / calculation.

And at the settlement table, that may close the deal.

But, what about those cases where valuation is litigated? Where the experts are brought in to provide professional business valuations.

While in theory the testimony of valuation experts should make it straightforward for a family court judge to identify and establish an accurate value for a business, in reality it may not be quite that straightforward at all.

In one relatively recent Florida case, a Florida family court judge appears also to have followed that well-worn path to business valuation of just “splitting the difference”. In any event, the final judgment failed to explain how the divorce court judge came up with his valuation – but the number was in fact extremely close to a split of the difference between the two spouses’ proposed valuations.

On appeal, an intermediate level appellate court held that this approach was an erroneous abuse of the family court’s discretion.

Surprisingly, there is a line of cases that concludes that various family court judges had “split the difference”, and they reverse the various divorce court judges’ holdings because they are not supported by “competent evidence”.

Now in some of those cases, it may ultimately turn out that the final judgments simply failed to reflect in sufficient detail sounder methodologies actually employed by those Florida divorce court judges in establishing their valuations.

In others, perhaps not so much … until remand back to the family court trial … unless the spouses opt to avoid another trial … and decide themselves this time around to split the difference instead. Stranger things have happened.

Read more in this intermediate level appellate case.

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Attorney Charged with Murdering Girlfriend and Violating Domestic Violence Restraining Order of Protection

Boyfriend and Girlfriend meet at a university sporting event. Their relationship evolves and they move in together.

Fast forward. Girlfriend presses criminal assault and harassment charges against Boyfriend.

Boyfriend allegedly makes a threatening phone call to Girlfriend … while she is at the police station, for police hear.

Boyfriend is arrested, but released on his own recognizance. A domestic violence restraining order of protection is entered against him though.

Fast forward a little further. Boyfriend reportedly gets drunk and kills Girlfriend with his hands as his only weapons.

Boyfriend records a voice mail message to an ex-girfriend, reportedly confessing to Girlfriend’s slaying. He also leaves written confessions in their apartment.

Boyfriend allegedly places Girlfriend’s body – literally – on ice, in the bathtub.

Boyfriend uses Girlfriend’s cell phone to send text messages to Girlfriend’s friends, impersonating her and pretending that all is well with her.

Boyfriend is now under arrest for murder, criminal contempt for violating the order of protection, and evidence tampering.

Boyfriend is an attorney. He received some of his legal education at Columbia Law School, but graduated from a Florida law school and reportedly lived here for years.

Read more in

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Passenger Secretly Films Public Transit Riders and Then Posts The Videos on the Internet, All Without Fear of Criminal Prosecution

New York City Woman rides subway. (But it could just as readily be a bus in any city.)

Fellow Passenger admires Woman. Actually, he does a little bit more than that.

Passenger carries his coffee cup with him. But instead of coffee in his cup, Passenger has hidden a small video camera.

And he’s videotaping Woman. And, later on, putting the video up on the internet for all to see.

He’s done this to roughly thirty-four unwitting women besides Woman.

Upon learning what has happened, the women all feel violated and frightened.

But, because the women are all out in public, making the videos does not constitute a crime under New York law.

As it happens, Passenger’s account is terminated by the online video hosting service on which he is placing his videos. But there are other such services.

Whether Passenger’s conduct constitutes a crime may vary from one state to another.

Even if Passenger’s behavior isn’t criminal, depending on the state, the women may have one or more civil remedies available to restrain some or all of Passenger’s conduct and/or to make Passenger liable to them for money damages.

An easier option may be to dress to portray anonymity.

Read more in this New York Post article: Creep with hidden camera targets young women on subway.

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