Be Careful What You Wish For …

Massachusetts man buys lottery ticket.

Man wins $1 million lottery.

All is good in his universe.

Until …

Man gets charged with violating terms of his probation on bank robbery charges.

Not his first probation violation.

Then man is served with contempt of court papers for failure to pay almost $40,000 in back alimony and child support.

Man will not know his fate until next year.

Man’s story illustrates the saying: “be careful what you wish for…”.

Support recipients everywhere got what they wished for in this instance too.

A spokesman for the state lottery issued a statement that state lottery officials would comply with any court order for support.

Read more in this Cape Cod Times article: More bad news for lottery winner.

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Despite Rulings Unfavorable to Oregon Foster Parents, Mediation Goes Their Way for Adoption

Four month old baby removed from parents’ home by social services.

Baby placed with foster family.

Biological parents’ parental rights are terminated.

Foster family wants to adopt Baby, who is a dual citizen of the USA and Mexico.

Twenty two months later, Baby’s biological grandmother in Mexico seeks to adopt him.

Trial court holds that Baby should be turned over to biological grandmother in Mexico.

Appellate court agrees.

Case draws national and international media attention.

Oregon’s child welfare services agency took something of a beating in the case, accused of misleading all concerned. Then agency arranges a mediation in Oregon – which lasts for ten hours.

As a result, everyone agrees that Baby should remain with foster parents in Oregon and that foster parents may adopt him.

They also agree that biological grandmother should have visitation and access rights and that Baby should learn to speak and write Spanish fluently.

Last, but not least, agency agrees to pay the Baby’s foster parents’ legal fees in the matter.

Read more in this Newport News-times article: Foster child to remain in Oregon.

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WI: Immigrant Spouse Loses Legal Status Because Partner’s Birth Certificate Was Amended to Same Gender After Genitalia Surgery for Health Reasons

Immigrant woman marries American from Wisconsin.

Due to birth defects, for most of the American’s life, this individual could have been denominated either a male or a female. But the original birth certificate designated this individual a male.

Prior to the marriage, this individual had surgical removal of male genitalia, reportedly solely for health reasons. The individual’s birth certificate was subsequently amended and her gender was re-designated as female.

The month after the marriage, the American went to court to amend the birth certificate to again designate him as male. The American argued that the original amendment was an error.

But the trial court and, later, an appellate court, refused, holding that the American was time-barred from challenging the original amendment of the birth certificate.

The couple’s marriage license was revoked and the marriage annulled, because same sex marriage is not legal in Wisconsin.

As a result, the New Zealand woman was denied a visa to remain in the US.

The American is quite distressed over the woman’s loss of legal status in the US and plans to appeal to the highest court available.

Read more in this Fairfax New Zealand Limited article: Marriage struck down as husband fails to change gender.

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The Stress of Festivities Causes Child Abuse

The holidays aren’t over yet.

And during the time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, one largely hidden statistic on the rise is: child abuse.

Throughout the season of good cheer, parents are under much more stress than usual. And that stress leads to abuse of children.

Not just more abuse, but more severe abuse.

Often by parents who, afterwards, can’t believe they did it.

Yet recognizing the stress and the risk, coupled with simple techniques, such as having a friend watch the kids or deep breathing, can buy the time necessary for parents to calm down and avoid abusive acts.

Read more in this KTTC TV [Rochester, MN] article: Holiday Stress Can Lead to Child Abuse.

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MD: Pilot Social Services Program All But Eradicates Child Abuse and Neglect

Montgomery County, Maryland has been conducting a pilot program that has been providing in home services to high risk, first time parents and families.

After ten years in operation, the family services agency there concludes that the program has reduced both child abuse and neglect dramatically, nearly to nonexistence.

Outcomes are actually superior to those in the general population.

The pilot program fosters self-sufficiency among mothers, which heads off development of risk factors for abuse.

Targeted risk factors include “limited education, maternal depression, insufficient knowledge of normal child development, poverty, substance abuse issues, limited self-sufficiency, or [having] experienced abuse or neglect as a child”.

The results of the study appear to be empowering – and repeatable anywhere.

Read more in this Reuters article: County-Wide Home Visiting Program Found to Reduce Child Abuse and Neglect.

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WA: No Right to State-Furnished Lawyer in Divorce Cases

A Washington state mother lost primary residential custody of her children to her husband in their divorce.

He had an attorney. She didn’t – because she couldn’t afford one.

On appeal, the mother argued that the state should have provided her with a lawyer, just as it provides lawyers to indigent criminal defendants. Her rationale was that the state requires people to go through complex public court proceedings to obtain a divorce, and ordinary people cannot be expected to participate in them effectively without counsel.

The Washington Supreme Court affirmed, finding no obligation by the state to furnish counsel in a divorce. The court contrasted couples’ divorces with cases initiated by the state which threaten fundamental constitutional rights, such as termination of parental rights cases.

Interestingly, the Court noted that the legislature may wish to consider enacting enabling legislation for the state to make counsel available to divorcing indigents.

Both the dissenting opinion and the Washington state bar association echoed the mother’s sentiments.

Read more in this KOMO TV article: State Supreme Court: No right to lawyers in divorce cases.

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Israel: Divorced Dads Stand Little Chance of Gaining Custody of Their Kids?

Fathers often “advise” how difficult it would be for them to obtain custody of their children in family court in the US.

Men’s News Daily reports that, in France and Germany, twenty (20%) percent of divorced fathers have custody of their kids.

And, in the US, it is reported that thirty-five (35%) percent of divorced fathers have custody of their kids.

But, in Israel, it is contended that only two point three (2.3%) percent of divorced fathers have custody of their kids.

Quite a sharp contrast.

An Israeli parliamentary subcommittee is holding hearings to investigate the basis for Israel’s very low statistic.

Men’s News Daily also reports that tools for protection from domestic violence are widely used fraudulently, arguably contributing to the skewing of custody in favor of mothers.

Read more in this Men’s News Daily article: Only 2.3% of Israeli Divorced Dads Have Custody?!

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Bronx, NY: Broken Elevators in Courthouse Swing Decisions in Child Custody Cases

Statutes and cases set out the factors that should determine child welfare adjudications by courts.

But there are often other factors, just as influential, that are not set out in the law – and not known or anticipated by the lawmakers.

Such as the broken-down elevators in the Bronx Family Court.

Although there are four elevators in the building, only one or two are typically in service in a courthouse that serves 3,000 people a day.

Lines to get on an elevator to a courtroom for a hearing can stretch two city blocks and take hours to progess through.

At best, it leads to postponements of hearings – for example, for return of child custody – sometimes for months.

At worst, it leads to people missing their hearings – sometimes with huge penalties – for example, defaults leading to loss of child custody.

Read more in this New York Times article: At Bronx Court, Elevator Woes Slow Justice – and be glad if you don’t have a case pending in the Bronx Family Court.

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Better Solutions to Domestic Violence … than Leaving?

An undoubtedly controversial Australian husband and wife urge couples whose relationships are afflicted by domestic violence to stay together and work through their issues. They say it worked for them.

They believe that domestic violence issues tend to travel with each partner to their next relationship -and expose their children to greater risk of abuse.

They also recognize that sometimes there is no place for the parties to go away to anyway.

The couple, who are not mental health professionals, report that many abusers suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They claim that many professionals now classify narcissistic personality disorder as a “developmental gap”, rather than as a mental illness or true personality disorder.

But healing the relationship takes work, the couple admit.

Read more in this PRWeb press release: Don’t Say, ‘Just Leave him’ – There are Better Solutions to Domestic Violence.

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A Poet’s Perspective on Divorce

Every divorce is different. But few participants escape unscathed emotionally.

An English professor and poet has published a prize-winning collection of poems including “What to Wear for Divorce”.

The author felt that the grim reality of divorce should be depicted through “nonsense” and emotion-charged imagery.

Writing about her divorce was cathartic for the poet.

Perhaps reading it would be cathartic to other people going through divorce.

Read more in this South Mississippi Sun Herald article: A poet walks us through her divorce.

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