New York Boy Ruled to Have Three Legal Parents

Husband and Wife had no children.

Husband and Wife meet Girlfriend, who lives in an apartment in their house.

Husband and Wife begin a “threesome” with Girlfriend.

Since Wife was not able to get pregnant, Girlfriend becomes pregnant by Husband.

This happens according to plan and agreement of the three to raise Boy together after his birth.

Wife and Girlfriend both attend all obstetrical visits and alternate overnight feedings and care of Boy after his birth.

In time, Husband and Wife drift apart and … Wife and Girlfriend become a couple. And move out of Husband and Wife’s marital residence, which they had all been living in.

Again, in time, Husband sues Girlfriend to establish his paternity rights.

Whereupon Wife sues Husband for divorce.

In the meantime, Husband and Girlfriend settle their case by agreeing upon joint custody of Boy.

Then, for good measure, Wife sues Girlfriend and Husband to establish herparental rights to Boy.

Now, up until this point, the law has only recognized two legal parents per child.

But this is a pretty unique case.

And based on the unique facts of the case, including the parties’ agreement, the New York Family Court finds that all three, Husband, Wife and Girlfriend have parental rights over Boy.

Also key is Wife’s established maternal relationship with Boy.

Timesharing (if parties don’t agree otherwise) is divvied up as follows:

  • Wife has Wednesday overnights, one week of vacation during the school year and two weeks over the summer
  • Husband has weekends and
  • Girlfriend has the rest.

Read more in

  1. this New York Post article: Historic ruling grants ‘tri-custody’ to trio who had threesome and
  2. this New York Magazine’s The Cut article: Ex-Polyamorous Trio Granted ‘Tri-Custody’ of Their Child by a New York Judge

Uh, Yes, Committing Rape May Be a Viable Path to Paternity Rights and Lawful Fatherhood of a Child

Man rapes Woman.

Woman gets pregnant.

Man is tried for rape.

Man is convicted of rape.

Woman’s Child is born.

Man seeks to establish his parental rights and access to Child.

And in many states in the USA, Man just may succeed.

A Wyoming resident expresses shock that Wyoming lands among these states.

And that legislation proposed to remedy this situation garnered no media attention or public interest.

As a result, the bill simply faded away and died a quiet death.

Leaving Wyoming among the seven states that have no laws to protect women or children from biological fathers who are alleged to be rapists.

Twenty-two states may allow for termination of parental rights where the biological father has been convicted of the crime of rape.

Twenty-one states, including Florida, may allow for termination of parental rights even without a conviction of the crime of rape.

Here in Florida, there must be “clear and convincing evidence” of the rape. A more lenient standard than is required for a criminal conviction, but still pretty rigorous.

Read more in

Parents’ Divorce May Forge Stronger Bonds Between Brothers and Sisters

Divorce can shake up familial relationships. It’s easy to leap to the conclusion that that is all bad.

But there may be a silver lining. One child of divorce, now an author, shares how her parents’ divorce actually bound her and her brothers together … forever.

To the point of earning the envy of parents of siblings who were not close.

Read more in this New York Times Style piece: The Secret to Sibling Success.

Shades of Domestic Violence … Aftermath …

Husband and Wife have four year old Daughter.

Unbeknownst to Wife, Husband and Wife’s marriage has hit the skids.

Husband allegedly sends text messages intended for a contract killer, instructing him to murder not only Wife but also Daughter.

Luckily, the text messages are misdirected to Husband’s former work Supervisor.

Supervisor takes the messages seriously, and reports them to law enforcement.

As a result, Wife and Daughter remain safe, and Husband is arrested on charges of criminal solicitation for first-degree murder., two counts.

Husband’s apparent motive is collecting on Wife’s $500K life insurance policy. Husband has reportedly been unemployed for a while.

Husband contends that he wrote the text message some time ago, in a moment of anger, but that he never sent it. Husband speculates that Daughter found the message on his phone and sent it.

The only marital strife Wife is aware of in her marriage is financial, due to Husband’s unemployment.

The above may have been a first episode of domestic violence in a family, seemingly completely out of the blue.

But further along the domestic violence spectrum, is this couple.

Boyfriend allegedly breaks into Girlfriend’s home, and viciously beats and rapes her.

When finished, Boyfriend warns Girlfriend that if the legal system punishes him, upon his release, he will find and kill her.

Boyfriend is indeed tried and convicted. He is serving a fifteen year plus sentence.

Girlfriends takes his threat to heart though.

She legally purchases a gun and applies herself to target practice.

She intends to be prepared for Boyfriend’s release from prison.

Ironically, she’s rather be prepared with a taser gun that would merely incapacitate Boyfriend.

But taser guns are illegal where she lives and conventional guns aren’t.

So she target practices. And files lawsuits mounting constitutional challenges to the taser gun bans drawing support from a recent Supreme Court decision.

Read more in

Custody of the Family Pet Is Closer to Becoming a Thing

Husband and Wife are divorcing.

Miscellaneous property.

No kids.

Just Fido.

Adopted during the marriage.

Both adore him.

Neither can bear not to see him again.

Any animal lover can relate.

Other than American family court judges.

Who have stubbornly rejected treating pets as anything besides personal property, a thing to be distributed based solely on their monetary value.

That has been the divorce law of the land.

Until now.

Alaska has broken the ice. Finally.

From now on, Alaska family court judges will decide the “ownership or joint ownership” of family pets following divorce, based on the “well-being of the animal”.

This is a significant paradigm shift.

Consistent with cultural changes in recent years.

And numbers of private divorce settlement agreements.

And perhaps the occasional rogue divorce court ruling.

It remains to be seen though whether or, more likely, when, other states will follow in Alaska’s footsteps.

Read more in

  1. this Washington Post article: In a first, Alaska divorce courts will now treat pets more like children and
  2. this [UK] Daily Mail article: Alaska divorce courts will now treat pets more like children – giving judges the power to determine custody .

The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Divide Retirement Benefits in Divorce

Husband and Wife divorce.

As part of their property division, or equitable distribution, Wife is awarded half of Husband’s 401(k).

Wife chases Husband for her share.

Then Wife chases the administrator of Husband’s 401(k) plan.

All to no avail.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Wife failed to obtain a QDRO, a qualified domestic relations order.

Prepared properly and entered at or before the final judgment of divorce, a QDRO is the key to the kingdom that is the ex’s retirement plan. A key that can be turned without having to tear out your hair or throw yourself on the mercy of your ex.

But there is a price tag associated with this key. Two actually.

The first is for proper preparation, often by an attorney who specializes in nothing but QDRO preparation..

The second is for administration by the ex’s retirement benefits administrator.

These fees may run roughly $1,000 to $2,000. Not a trivial sum.

But the retirement benefit to be shared is likely a substantial sum of money.

And the red tape involved in getting to it without a properly prepared QDRO is … substantial. Very.

Sure, it would be better if QDROs didn’t cost as much as they do.

But paying for them is a lot less expensive than having to go back to court to try to collect by other means.

Read more about QDROs in this Bloomberg Personal Finance article: The Divorce Penalty: This 401(k) Fee Can Add Insult to Injury .

Timing May Be (Almost) Everything When It Comes to Classifying Property as Marital or Not

Older Woman and Younger Man start a brief relationship, and Older Woman becomes pregnant.

Older Child is born and couple breaks up. Amicably.

A couple of years later, Older Woman wins the lottery and becomes a millionaire – twelve times over.

The following year, the couple takes a vacation together with Older Child and … Older Woman gets pregnant, again.

They discuss marriage.

But Older Woman insists on entering a prenuptial agreement to protect her winnings.

It is apparently consistent with the testimony of both in the Australian family court that Older Woman transformed into a name-dropping socialite.

Younger Man consulted with an attorney and did agree to enter the prenup.

The couple did marry.

And the marriage ultimately did not work out.

During the divorce, Younger Man attacks the prenup as coerced.

In particular, Younger Man testified that Older Woman taunted that she would block Younger Man’s access to their children if he didn’t sign the prenuptial agreement.

The Australian family court judge found Younger Man more credible and likeable than Older Woman.

But the law is the law. The lottery was separate premarital property to begin with.

The Younger Man felt free to consult with an attorney, and did so.

And already successfully took Older Woman to court over co-parenting issues with Older Child.

So, on top of everything else, the asserted coercion fell flat.

Read more in

Father Pursues Timesharing By … Forcibly Breaking into Mother’s Home

Oregon Father and Mother have Children together. Father and Mother split up.

Father and Mother apparently are unable to agree on timesharing arrangements.

Father’s notion of how to deal with that situation is, allegedly, to … break into Mother’s home.

Perhaps this was not the first poor solution that Father had attempted.

Because Mother was ready for him … with a gun.

Which Mother reportedly discharged in Father’s general direction.

Father promptly took off – after allegedly breaking several of Mother’s car’s windows – only to be arrested when he surrendered himself to law enforcement authorities a few days later.

Father now faces several criminal charges and is confined pending payment of a $50,000 bond.

Hopefully it goes without saying that Father’s conduct will not help him in family court anymore than it will find favor in criminal court.

Why Father didn’t simply file for timesharing in family court in the first place is a mystery. He would almost certainly have saved himself a great deal of money and heartache … and likely been granted substantial timesharing.

Read more in this Portland [OR] KATU 2 TV news article: Man wanted after rampage over child custody dispute turns self in.

How to Get Your Name Off the Marital Mortgage After Your Spouse Buys Out Your Share of The Marital Residence

Husband and Wife own marital home together.

Husband and Wife are both borrowers on the mortgage of the marital home.

Now Husband and Wife are divorcing.

As part of their divorce settlement, Wife transfers her interest in the marital home to Husband.

And Husband agrees, among other things, to refinance the mortgage on the marital home or to sell the home and to pay off the mortgage …within two years.

Fast forward two years.

Of course, Husband has neither refinanced the mortgage on, nor sold what was the marital home. What he did do was transfer the marital home to a trust.

Where does that leave Wife?

Well, if the settlement agreement was adopted into a final judgment as is typical, Husband has both breached the agreement and violated or defaulted under the final judgment or decree of divorce.

So Wife does have solid options. But they require her to take Husband to court.

Wife should prevail in court. But this is probably not where Wife wanted to be two years after her divorce was final.

The pity here is that this particular scenario was so very easily avoided.

There was absolutely no reason for Wife to relinquish her interest in the property at that time. Period. No ifs, ands or buts.

Ideally, both Husband’s and Wife’s transactions would have been completed prior to entry of final judgment. That really is best.

But the ideal situation from a legal standpoint is not always practical, or does not always meet the couple’s personal agendas or timelines.

But even Plan B would have been far better for Wife than what she did.

Plan B is that Wife could have given Husband a deed of her interest at the time of his refinance (or joined in a deed to a third party at the time of their sale to a third party).

If the delay of Wife’s deed became a real sticking point for some unusual reason, there is still another, better option for Wife than giving Husband her deed prematurely:

Instead, Wife could have executed her deed early and placed the deed in escrow with an attorney or other reputable escrow agent (such as a title company, real estate brokerage, etc.), to remain in that third party’s possession unless and until Husband performed his obligations.

Upon Husband’s default, the escrow terms could have required that the deed be returned to Wife. Wife holds onto her leverage.

Although a bit more complex, use of an escrow agent could have paved the way to an even better option – for Wife.

Husband and Wife could have jointly executed a deed to an unspecified third party, to be held in escrow for up to two years, until Husband’s successful refinance or agreed upon sale to a third party.

After two years, if Husband defaulted in his obligations, the escrow terms could have required that the deed be released at the closing of a sale arranged by Wife.

This would have eliminated the need for Wife to go to court to force a sale of the property if Husband failed to refinance or sell after two years.

Read more in this Washington Post article: Breaking up a mortgage after a divorce can be tricky.

Divorce Isn’t Hard Only on the Couple and the Kids

A therapist speaks to some sometimes overlooked victims of divorce: the in-laws / grandparents.

At the very least, their child’s divorce will be disruptive. At worst, it can dramatically change their lives going forward.

Family holidays will be different.

Time with grandchildren may be diminished.

Or increased. In the form of child care.

Financial assistance may be sought.

Etc.

Some Suggestions:

  1. Offer emotional support
  2. Recommend counseling. From professionals.
  3. Be neutral as between the couple.
  4. Never put down your child’s spouse.
  5. Be cautious with offers of financial assistance .. and meticulous.
  6. Help the grandchildren cope.
  7. Don’t drop or turn your back on your child’s spouse

Read more in this San Luis Obispo [CA] Tribune article: How to deal with your adult child’s divorce.