WI Jury Sinks Deadbeat Dad

An ex-husband and father was convicted by a jury of 18 felony counts of failure to support a child, after 90 minutes.

During the couple’s divorce, the man allegedly pretended to reconcile with his wife to “buy time” to buy a $63,000 sailboat (a year’s salary), saddling her with $44,000 of debt for which she was reportedly responsible under Wisconsin state law.

Then he disappeared on the boat, eventually settling in Florida. He allegedly changed his name and fraudulently worked under his new wife’s social security number.

She had to sell the family home to pay off his debts. And he never paid any child support or saw his kids again.

At his trial, he allegedly testified that he didn’t know that he had to pay support and that there was “nothing for him” in Wisconsin. And that he is destitute.

His ex-wife may never see the $250,000 plus he owes in back child support. But she may at least get to see him sentenced to up to 66 years’ incarceration.

That may have to be enough.

Read more in this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article: Jury sinks deadbeat dad – Man who sailed off on yacht found guilty of evading $261,000 in child support.

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Study Concludes Divorce Does Not Pay

A new study conducted in Australia finds that it pays – literally – for “baby boomers” to stay married.

According to the study, members of the baby boom generation who divorced without remarrying were significantly less likely to become homeowners again after divorce – and had fewer assets and less income – than their married counterparts.

The study also concluded that men who remarried were more likely to “catch up” financially than women.

But, paradoxically, the study revealed that divorced women who remained single were more likely to become homeowners again than divorced men who stayed single.

Study aside, some spouses report, anecdotally, that they, personally, benefit financially from divorce.

All interesting observations but, in the final analysis, decisions on whether or not to divorce may turn upon more than balance sheets.

Read more in this All Headline News article: Divorce Effecting [sic] Baby Boomers Into Retirement.

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Paternity Challenge Barred for Bad Timing

Father has DNA test disproving his paternity of child for whom court ordered him to pay support.

But he didn’t get it until 3 years after a Florida court entered a child support order.

For that reason, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the child support order against the Father.

The Court noted that children are not disposable, which is consistent with a long line of cases from before Florida’s new paternity fraud law.

The Court reportedly did not even mention the new paternity fraud law, under which the Father is considering pressing a new legal challenge.

Read more in this Bradenton Herald article: Man may turn to ‘paternity fraud’ law.

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AZ Family and Juvenile Courts Open Saturdays and Evenings

First there was “have it your way…”.

Now, at least in Arizona, there’s “do it when it’s convenient for you…”. Appearing in family court, that is.

As of 2007, some Phoenix area family courts will be open evenings and weekends, conducting all regular court business, including hearings and trials. Some area juvenile courts will also be open.

The extra hours of operation were reportedly added in response to “customer” requests.

This is probably an idea whose time has come. There are many modest income, unrepresented parties with simple, amicable, uncontested divorces who can’t exit their marriage without going through the courts but still can’t afford to miss work or delegate child or parent care responsibilities.

Read more in this Arizona Capitol Times article: Juvenile, Family courts to hold night, Saturday sessions.

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Hague Convention Weakly Implemented in Mexico

Twelve years ago, a Washington state family court awarded custody of a child to her mother in her parents’ divorce. Shortly thereafter, the father failed to return the girl from a holiday visit to Mexico.

Since then, the mother has given up everything to seek court orders in Washington and Mexico which would pave the way for her daughter’s return home. She got most of the court orders.

But her daughter remains in Mexico anyway.

Mexico is a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

But despite that, it reportedly has a poor track record of honoring the Convention and enforcing decisions made under it. The US government and its agencies have provided little, if any, help.

The warrant for the father’s arrest for custodial interference is, essentially, worthless.

Twelve years.

In three years, the child will be a legal adult. Maybe then her mother will be able to see her.

Read more in this YAKIMA HERALD-REPUBLIC article: Custody battle exposes difficulties with international law.

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AR Takes on the US Constitution to Protect Children

Bucking legal trends in the US Supreme Court and across the nation, one branch of the Arkansas legislature just passed a bill that would allow visitation to step-grandparents.

This comes at a time when true grandparents’ rights to visitation are generally being whittled away as encroaching into parents’ constitutional rights to raise their children as they see fit.

Opponents raise an additional argument: this is a slippery slope with no end in sight. For example, should a fifth cousin three times removed have visitation rights?

It remains to be seen whether the bill will pass the other branch of the legislature and then survive the constitutional attack that will surely follow.

At the same time as this bill wound its way through one house of the Arkansas legislature, another, just as controversial, wound its way through the other house.

The second bill to pass allows judges to appoint attorneys to cross-examine allegedly abused children on behalf of the accused abuser in criminal cases. The accused would be present in the courtroom, but would not directly question the child.

The latter bill is an effort to strike a balance between the constitutional right to confront an accuser and the policy of protecting children.

If passed by the other house, this bill will surely face constitutional attack as well, because criminal defendants assert that they have the right to represent themselves in court – whatever their motive.

All in an Arkansas legislator’s day’s work.

Read more in this Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article: House OKs child-visitation expansion Senate passes bill on court quizzing of abused children.

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TN: Seven Year Old Ordered Returned to Parents Who Gave Her Up As an Infant

Last April, I posted on Biological Parents from Abroad Challenge US Adoption Six Years After Placing Child into Foster Care.

Now the Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that the now-seven year old girl, having spent nearly all of her seven years with the former family friends who raised her, must return to live with the birth parents who voluntarily placed her with them.

This after a lower court terminated the birth parents’ parental rights, which ruling was previously upheld by an intermediate appellate court.

The birth parents have rights.

However, the unfortunate child impliedly does not.

Read more in this Memphis Commercial Appeal article: Anna Mae ruling likely will stick.

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