Millionaire Couple’s Children Awarded Legal Aid at Taxypayer Expense

A multimillionaire and his wife are going through a hotly contested, expensive divorce in which the parties are disputing property division and support issues. Hardly surprising or unusual.

The couple currently live in the UK, although they reportedly manage, quite legally, not to pay any taxes on their wealth. Much of the Husband’s wealth is tied up in trusts.

The couple have two children who have financial interests and needs. But how to protect them from their parents battle?

The British court awarded the children UK 30,000 pounds to retain legal counsel to protect their interests – at taxpayer expense.

A British judge commented that it is “exquisitely ironical”. Those probably aren’t the words British taxpayers would use.

Except for the attorney for the children, which is not so common in conventional family cases, the case is not that different from many cases where the parties have far more modest means.

For example, one spouse is paying a fortune to its lawyers to avoid paying anything to the other spouse – and succeeding too well so far.

Read more in this UK Guardian article: Children of multimillionaire given legal aid in divorce battle.

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Deployed Utah Mom Gives Custody of Her Quadriplegic Child to Substance-Abusing Veteran Boyfriend Who Severely Neglects Her

A Utah mother deployed to Iraq gave legal custody of her 5 year old quadriplegic daughter to her boyfriend, who had previously served in Iraq.

Boyfriend reportedly suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse problems.

Boyfriend allegedly neglected child to the extent that her weight dropped from 35 pounds to 13 pounds.

The girl had a grandfather who succeeded in obtaining a child custody protective order and rescuing her.

The child rebounded dramatically within 3 months in her grandfather’s care.

The boyfriend was sentenced to one to 15 years’ incarceration.

The criminal court judge thought the boyfriend was “salvageable” despite his alleged squandering of the child’s disability checks and her mother’s military payments while neglecting the girl.

Particularly considering the child’s special needs, one can’t help but wonder what the child’s mother was thinking when she transferred legal custody of her child to this man.

The mother does appear, however, to have gotten custody back upon the end of the mother’s deployment.

Read more in this Salt Lake Tribune article: Man gets prison for nearly starving quadriplegic child to death.

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Iowa Strikes Down State Legal Definition of Native American Indian Child for Child Custody and Welfare Purposes

In matters of child custody and welfare, children of native American Indian heritage have a unique status under federal law, entitling American Indian tribes to intervene on the children’s behalf in family and juvenile court.

The threshold question then is: who is an American Indian child for child custody and welfare purposes?

Under federal law, a child must be eligible for membership under the standards of an American Indian tribe for the tribe to be able to intervene in a child custody or welfare case. Those criteria vary from tribe to tribe.

Under an Iowa statute, an American Indian child included a child with some degree of American Indian blood who was not eligible for membership in an American Indian tribe.

That statute made Iowa, along with Washington state and Oklahoma, the only states that have had more relaxed definitions of an American Indian child than under federal law.

On appeal from a ruling permitting the Winnebago tribe to intervene in a child welfare case, the Iowa Supreme Court recently struck down the Iowa statutory definition of an Indian child as overbroad, such that it violated the equal protection clause of the US Constitution.

As a result of the ruling, the child involved in the case under discussion was deemed not to be an American Indian child under federal law, and the American Indian tribe was not permitted to intervene in the case on behalf of the child.

The ruling may send shockwaves through American Indian communities and prompt native American Indian tribes to adjust their standards for membership so as to be more inclusive, so that they may intervene in more cases involving children with some American Indian blood.

Read more in this Sioux City Journal article: Iowa court rules definition of Indian child unconstitutional.

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Psychologist: Ritual Mourning at End of Divorce Aids Healing

A divorced psychologist determined that something important was missing from her legal divorce, making it feel incomplete and unfinished in her mind.

Yearning for something more to help her achieve closure and move on, she researched an ancient divorce ritual in her religion.

The formal, funeral-like ceremony she participated in was both life-altering and empowering for the psychologist. It transformed her and her perception of her former husband, and revealed to her his new role in her life.

Drawing upon her own roots and experience, the psychologist has generalized and expanded the concept of the divorce ritual and now adapts it to fit any couple’s religion, ethnicity and personal experiences.

Friends, relatives and spiritual advisors may witness or even participate in the ceremony.

The psychologist feels it is a critical step to divorced people finding peace and moving on with their own lives without animosity toward their former spouse.

The psychologist is now on a kind of mission to bring the divorce ritual to those who can benefit from it.

She will even be teaching her concepts at Harvard Law School next summer.

For those who may be struggling in their efforts to start over after divorce, it may be another option for them to consider.

Read more in this CanWest News Service article from A divorcée’s rite of passage – Psychologist Marilyn Beloff uses a divorce ritual to help people get over the breakup of marriage.

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Parental Abduction: The View From Across the Pond

Like everyone else, Americans tend to see parental abduction from the American’s point of view. But parental abduction goes on everywhere.

As in the US, parental abduction is occurring more and more frequently in the UK. A ninety-three percent increase since 1995. A twenty-two percent increase in the first half of 2007 over the first half of 2006.

Cheap travel. Global economies and workforces. International “love connections”. Immigrant labor / workers.

Interestingly, the highest rate of abduction and return is reportedly between the UK country of Ireland and the US, which have their own pact together.

The UK is reputedly good about returning children to their place of habitual residence – with some noteworthy exceptions.

One interesting difference from the US experience is the increasing frequency with which UK couples both opt to relocate to other countries while the family is intact. But after the couple breaks up, one of them often wishes to return home – with their children.

(US abductions are more likely to unfold when the non-American parent takes the children on vacation to visit non-American relatives.)

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, to which both the US and the UK are parties, specifies a procedure for seeking return of children to their place of habitual residence.

But forty percent of the parental abduction cases in the UK involve countries that are not parties to the Hague Convention. But some of those nations are parties to private pacts with the UK.

The situation is reportedly generally improving in the UK, but Germany reputedly remains a country that doesn’t play by international rules. Left-behind parents in the UK band together in an organization called Parents and Children Together or PACT, which fights abduction and aids law enforcement.

Read more in this UK Times article: After the break-up, the kidnap – The number of children abducted by a parent when couples of different nationalities divorce is rising.

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NJ: Alimony Not Automatically Terminated By Spouse’s Killing of Child of Marriage

A sad and unusual scenario.

New Jersey Mother and Father divorce.

Mother is awarded alimony.

Mother and son reportedly get into violent argument at home when Mother is drunk.

Son dies as a result of injuries from fight.

Father is devastated.

Mother goes to jail.

Father falls behind in his alimony payments.

Father seeks modification of alimony obligation, apparently based on the killing of their son. (Not based on substantial change in her needs or his ability to pay.)

The intermediate level appellate court ruled that the killing did not warrant an automatic termination of alimony based on the statute or any legal precedent.

The court did, however, suspend alimony payments pending a final ruling and ordered a lower court hearing on Father’s ability to pay.

It was also noted that the Mother can apply for a modification when she is released from her incarceration.

The court indicated that it is up to the legislature to amend the law if it wants the result sought by the Father.

Read more in this North Jersey Record article: Court cuts alimony to mom who killed her son and this New Jersey Star-Ledger article: Court: No alimony for mom who killed.

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France: Wife Says ‘Get Me a Get’

Husband abandons Wife and kids.

Under religious Jewish law, Wife is stuck in limbo and cannot divorce or remarry.

Wife tries but, despite best efforts, is unable to locate Husband.

Twenty years go by.

Wife learns that the Husband is incarcerated in Israel.

Rabbis intervene with the Husband on the Wife’s behalf.

And Husband agrees to sign off on papers giving the Wife a divorce.

After twenty years.

Now that’s a slow divorce. Makes any American state’s family court system look fast by comparison.

Well illustrates that “things could always be worse”.

Read more in this YNetNews article: Husband signs divorce papers 20 years after disappearing – Man located by Prison Service rabbi in Israeli jail after leaving ‘chained’ woman in France .

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Grounds for Divorce in Egypt

Florida is a no-fault divorce state. That means that no grounds are necessary for divorce or, more precisely, no fault-based grounds.

The technical grounds for divorce in Florida are that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. Other states recognize the no-fault grounds of “irreconcilable differences”.

Valid grounds vary from place to place. Take a recent case from Egypt.

A couple married after a whirlwind courtship lasting just two weeks. Later, the wife discovered that the husband hadn’t bathed once during the two month marriage.

The husband reportedly had a skin disease, which may or may not have made conventional bathing out of the question. In any event, this husband allegedly did not avail himself of any alternatives to conventional bathing.

Egyptian records reveal other unusual grounds for divorce:

  • keeping dogs and cats as house pets
  • garlic breath and failure to wash feet
  • refusal to allow spouse to attend father’s funeral
  • refusal to quit job as sorcerer

This brief survey of several possible grounds for divorce serves as a reminder of the virtues of no-fault divorce.

Read more in this Fox News article: Egyptian Woman Files for Divorce Over Husband’s Refusal to Shower.

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NY: Minister Husband’s Church: a Marital Asset?

A married Brooklyn pastor has built a very successful congregation during his 30 year marriage.

His wife, who is divorcing him, contends that he runs and profits from the church just the same as though it were a business.

Hardly a first time scenario in the news.

But the wife’s contention that the husband’s church should be treated like a marital asset, subject to equitable distribution in the divorce, is a rare divorce tactic.

And, at least in New York, what is a first is the judge’s appointment of a forensic accountant to examine the church’s books and operations, with a view toward valuing and equitably distributing the church.

The wife alleges that the pastor runs a catering business out of the million dollar church building, applies collected donations to personal expenses (including a mistress), and determines his own salary at will.

In other words, her position is: if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck …

The wife also claims that she provided $50,000 in “startup money” for the church business. The Husbands responds that it was a “donation”.

This case certainly opens up a can of worms that could have far-reaching ramifications for so-called nonprofits involved in divorce.

Who knows who will be following more closely, divorce attorneys or the IRS?

Read more in this New York Daily News article: Grace Christian Church backdrop for pastor’s ugly divorce and this Associated Press article: Pastor’s Wife: Church Is a Divorce Asset.

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‘Tis The Season … For Domestic Violence Complaints

While many folks are in a festive mood at this time of year, for others, the holiday season is anything but.

More family togetherness due to time off from work and school. More drinking and drugs. More cash flow deficits and debt. More holiday “blues”.

Too often, these conditions are a recipe for abuse escalating in the following order:

  • verbal attacks and emotional abuse
  • intimidation
  • isolation from people who care
  • sexual abuse
  • physical violence

These behaviors lead to incidents prompting victims of domestic abuse to seek orders of protection, called injunctions for protection against domestic violence in Florida.

These incidents also lead to more incidents prompting victims of domestic violence to call police and press criminal charges for domestic battery or domestic assault.

The holidays also give rise to false allegations of domestic abuse and violence.


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