Elderly Brooklyn Family Court Judge on Trial for Accepting Bribes to Swing Cases

An elderly Brooklyn family court judge is on trial – for accepting bribes to influence his rulings in cases he was presiding over.

The judge allegedly also advised a bribing attorney as to the proper strategies to follow to succeed in his cases – and how to overbill his clients.

Investigations were also conducted into whether choice court-appointed guardianships were awarded as a result of bribes, but the state dropped that component from its case.

A divorce attorney who regularly appeared before, and allegedly bribed the judge was integral in building the state’s case against the judge, as part of a plea bargain.

The attorney wore a wire and facilitated the occurrence of incriminating conversations in the presence of a hidden camera.

For the most part, the alleged bribes consisted of drinks and meals, with occasional payments of cash.

Read more in this Boston Herald article: Prosecutor: $10 stogies bought favors from Brooklyn divorce judge and this Park Slope [Brooklyn] Courier article: Prosecutors smell blood – Former Brooklyn judge takes more hits in bribery trial.

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Divorce on Rise in China

Just a few years ago, someone in China who wanted a divorce needed the permission of their employer, as well as the approval of their relatives and neighbors.

Due to a rapid and dramatic cultural shift, many more Chinese are pursuing divorces today.

And, from a legal perspective, the process is not very complicated, often completed in just a few months.

Chinese divorce law reportedly provides for an even division of marital property, similar to many states in the US.

Many factors are cited for the climbing divorce rate in China, including the spread of individualism, increasing emphasis on personal happiness, declining social stigma, societal transition to nuclear family lifestyles instead of extended family lifestyles, decentralization of employment, and more urban housing styles.

Read more in this Washington Post article: Chinese Slough Off Old Barriers to Divorce.

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Supervised Visitation Centers Often Fit the Bill, But Who Can Foot the Bill?

As noted in a recent post, For High Conflict Exchanges of Kids, Consider a Supervised Visitation Center, supervised visitation centers are a blessing not only in cases where supervised visitation is court-ordered, but also in many other cases where only exchanges of children are fraught with conflict.

But the blessing comes with a price tag.

How large a price tag (and who must pay it) varies from state to state, sponsor to sponsor, program to program, and facility to facility.

But there is always a price tag, for someone.

A New York Times article took up this very issue over the weekend.

According to that article, supervised visitation in New York City costs $100 per hour – a price tag that is beyond the reach of many families.

And the wait for free services under the auspices of a nonprofit organization can take six months, an eternity to a parent who already hasn’t seen his or her child for some time prior to entry of the court order.

And the number of families in need of supervised visitations services keeps climbing steadily.

Private supervisors impose less of a wait, but they are even more expensive.

Of course, in some cases, less formal supervision may be suitable. But not every family has a friend or relative who is willing, able and mutually trusted to supervise – especially after they have been stuck in the middle for a while.

Read more in this New York times article: In Custody Fights, a Hurdle for the Poor.

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Czech Republic Rules Against Return of Autistic Boy to US in Part Because of His So-Called Mental Illness

Czech woman marries autistic American and lives with him in Texas.

Subsequently, she leaves the man and returns to the Czech Republic – with their baby son, who may be autistic.

Some unspecified time later, the father demands the boy’s return to the US.

The mother defends that the father was threatening, if not downright abusive toward them both.

A Czech lower court ruled that the boy should be returned to his habitual residence in the US, under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

But a Czech appellate court reversed and the Czech Supreme Court ultimately, after three years of litigation all told, agreed that the boy should remain with his mother in the Czech Republic.

The Czech Supreme Court reportedly placed great emphasis on the boy’s bond with his mother and his special needs, apparently concluding that they boy would suffer psychological, if not physical harm, if returned to the US.

Perhaps impacting the high court’s ruling was an earlier decision in which it ordered the return of a six year old girl to her habitual residence, only to have the girl go on a hunger strike and crying jag, which led to her informal return to her mother in the Czech Republic – a day before the date of this article.

If the boy’s diagnosis with autism is accurate, however, one has to wonder whether living in a country where, according to the source report, if accurately translated, autism is misclassified as a mental illness, is in fact in the child’s best interests …

Read more in this Czech news article: Czech woman need not return ill son to father in USA — court.

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For High Conflict Exchanges of Kids, Consider a Supervised Visitation Center

When a high conflict divorce comes to an end, if there are children, the conflict usually doesn’t dissipate.

Too often, it flares regularly, during exchanges of minor children for visitation.

One common solution is to conduct exchanges at police stations. But that’s less than ideal.

A better approach, where available, is to conduct exchanges at a supervised visitation center – even if visitation by either parent is not required to be supervised.

Supervised visitation centers are equipped with the personnel and facilities to orchestrate exchanges that avoid contact between parents.

Read more in this Ironton [OH] Tribune article: Center to help troubled families.

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Just Because Your Parental Rights Were Terminated by Nevada Doesn’t Necessarily Mean They Shouldn’t Be Reinstated

The Nevada legislature will be considering passing an unusual law soon.

Under the proposed law, having previously stripped parents of their parental rights, a court could later reinstate them under three conditions:

  1. The child must be unlikely to be adopted.
  2. The reinstatement must be in the best interests of the child.
  3. The child (or their current guardian) must request the reinstatement, not the biological parents.

A judge who is a proponent of passing the statute explains that many children who come before him would like to return to their parents but, under current law, they cannot – even if the parents have improved their circumstances.

The judge also pointed out that there are far fewer adoptions than terminations of parental rights.

If the situation contemplated by this proposed bill arises very often, one has to wonder whether Nevada terminates parental rights too quickly or easily in the first place, if the terminated parents are able to rehabilitate themselves independently, without the benefit of social services.

Or whether Nevada’s true motivation is to save the state money spent on foster care.

Read more in this Las Vegas Sun article: Nevada law would let courts restore parental rights.

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Cuban Father of Miami Girl Seeks Her Return to Cuba from Florida Foster Care

The two children of a Cuban mother living in Miami were placed in foster care by the State of Florida as a result of the mother’s alleged medical and psychological difficulties.

The mother and her children have been living here in the US since 2004.

The boy’s father consented to the boy remaining in the US.

But the little girl’s father wants her returned to him in Cuba.

Soon, a Miami juvenile dependency judge will have to decide the little girl’s fate.

Florida’s Department of Children and Families argues that the girl’s father is not a fit parent.

If the girl is returned to Cuba, she will have to leave behind her brother and the only home she really remembers, to return to a father and country with whom she has reportedly had little contact.

Read more in this Miami Herald article: Cuban mom tried to give girl away.

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German Judge Denies Fast Track Divorce Holding That Koran Condones Domestic Violence

A Muslim woman recently applied to a German judge for an immediate divorce under German law based upon her husband’s alleged physical abuse of her.

The judge, a woman, denied the immediate divorce.

The judge’s reason: the Koran (Muslim bible) condones physical abuse of a wife by a husband.

The judge had already granted the wife a restraining order for her protection.

The ruling touched off a firestorm in Germany (and beyond). The judge was criticized both for seemingly approving domestic violence and for apparently subordinating German law to Muslim law in a divorce in Germany.

Now the case will be re-heard by a different German judge.

A new English translation of the Koran is anticipated to “soften” some of the language of the previous translation of the Koran.

Read more in this Fox News article: Abused Woman Denied Divorce on Grounds That Koran Allows Men to Beat Their Wives and CBC News article: German judge denounced for citing Qur’an in divorce ruling.

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Spousal Support Obligation Survives Sex Change Surgery of Dependent Spouse

A Florida man took his ex to court in an attempt to have his obligation to pay spousal support terminated.

The original support obligation was part of a marital settlement agreement, which provided that support would terminate upon the receiving spouse’s death or remarriage.

The receiving spouse neither died nor remarried.

So what was basis of the former husband’s argument?

His ex-wife is now a man.

Since a man can’t marry a man, a man can’t divorce a man and a man can’t be ordered to pay spousal support to a man, the ex-husband contended.

Good try, but the judge didn’t buy the argument.

The court held that the former wife’s birth gender was what mattered for this purpose and that the sex change operation didn’t qualify as a substantial change of circumstances for purposes of modifying or terminating the support obligation.

The former husband vowed to challenge this ruling as far as he could.

This Florida ruling is consistent with a similar ruling handed down in Ohio a few years back.

Read more in this CNN article: Judge: Ex still due alimony when she becomes he.

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