Inter-County Bureaucracy, Bureaucracy and Cruel Irony

In April, a Wisconsin social services agency concluded that two siblings were safe and no further action was warranted.

On May 8th, a Wisconsin County filed for support for the two siblings.

On May 22nd, the Father filed to divorce the Mother.

A hearing in the divorce was set for June 18th.

A hearing on support was set for July 1st.

What’s wrong with this picture?

On May 5th, the Mother allegedly murdered one of the children, a two year old boy.

The Mother reportedly worked part-time for a Wisconsin children’s social welfare agency.

The Mother is now being held in a secure location, on charges of first degree intentional homicide.

The other sibling, a girl, has been temporarily placed with the Mother’s parents – whose home the Mother and children were at at the time of the toddler’s death.

The Father seeks custody of the girl.

Read more in this Appleton [WI] Post Crescent article: Child support granted after Neenah boy’s death and Detroit’s Fox News article: Outagamie County Explains Role in Brenda Thiel Case.

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Israeli Prenups: To Block Extortion for Consent to Religious Divorce

Prenups have been gaining popularity over the last number of years, just because more people want to work out property rights before going into marriage.

But in Israel, religious Jewish women’s organizations are actively campaigning to make prenups as universal as marriage certificates.

If that seems paradoxical, think again.

Under religious Jewish law, a wife cannot get a divorce without her husband’s consent.

Too many religious Jewish husbands refuse to give that consent, sometimes for years, sometimes forever. Sometimes out of malice, sometimes for legal leverage.

A prenup can also be the perfect vehicle for enforcing a promise to grant consent to a divorce if it is requested by the other spouse.

But many Jewish clergy in a position to encourage the use of prenups perceive it as affirmatively promoting divorce, something inconsistent with their religious values.

Read more in this Jerusalem Post article: Agunot advocates push for prenuptial agreements.

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And Yet Another Reason to Get a Divorce

A spouse may seek a divorce for many different reasons. In states with no-fault divorce, like Florida, the reasons usually don’t matter to anyone other than the spouses, and are not likely to be specified in the legal case.

But the spouse seeking the divorce almost always feels compelled to furnish a reason to their divorce attorney. And most divorce attorneys hear a good many different reasons.

After a while, we get to think we have heard them all. And then, when we least expect it, we are surprised by a new one …

A 50 year old Saudi woman, married to the same man for thirty, count’em, thirty years, is seeking a divorce because her husband dared to … lift the veil off her face while she slept.

That violated the traditions of her native village, which require that women’s faces always be veiled in the presence of another – even their spouse.

Her husband’s apology reportedly could not undo the damage.

Read more in this Zaire Times article: Saudi woman wants divorce after spouse lifts her veil in bed.

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Domestic Violence … By Seasoned Salt

A 16 year old Florida girl has been charged with a domestic violence crime and is being held in juvenile detention.

She allegedly admitted to putting seasoned salt into her mother’s food. How is that a crime?

Apparently, her mother is allergic to seasoned salt, among other things.

The mother has reportedly been experiencing allergic reactions for weeks, this latest one serious.

There is no indication whether the allergic reaction could have resulted in death.

When the girl’s half-sister learned of her tainting of their mother’s food, the accused threatened her life.

A recent similar incident between two unrelated, younger boys touched off a media debate as to whether a child willfully tainting another child’s food with a substance to which that child is allergic should be a chargeable offense and, if so, the severity of the penalties that should be considered.

The beginnings of an epidemic of juvenile angst … that has the potential to take a lethal turn against friends and family?

Read more in this Tampa Bays TV 10 news article: Police: Mom’s food spiked.

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Adoption within One’s Race: Is it Worth the Wait – in Foster Care?

It seems that the answer depends on who is answering the question.

A report just released, and endorsed by several associations, concludes that it is worth the extra wait for minority foster children.

The reasons cited were that minority children adopted into white families “face special challenges” and that “white parents need preparation and training for what might lie ahead”.

On the other hand, many child welfare workers say that the federal law that makes the adoption process race-neutral has helped many minority children find permanent homes – and sooner.

It is unknown whether the report addresses whether children in foster care “face special challenges” … particularly when they remain in the child welfare system for prolonged periods of time, even through the age of majority.

Maybe the answer really turns on precisely how much longer minority children will be doing the waiting. At least to the minority children doing the waiting in foster care.

One has to wonder: was the question put to any of themwhile they were still children in foster care?

Read more in this New York Times article: De-emphasis on Race in Adoption Is Criticized.

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Alimony: There’s a Brave New World Emerging

Show me a former spouse writing an alimony check, and I’ll show you a griping former spouse. Some things never change.

But other things do.

For example, in our brave new world, sometimes the wife earns more than the husband. In fact, in approximately one-third of marriages these days. And, sometimes, she earns a lot more.

Perhaps that is what drives the couple to divorce. Perhaps not.

Either way, more and more frequently these days, the former spouse writing the alimony check is the ex-wife, not the ex-husband. And when she is the one, she’s no happier about having to do it than the typical ex-husband is. Maybe less so.

But, the scenario of the ex-wife writing an alimony check is not coming to fruition in all cases where it could, that is, where the law would support it.

Part of the reason is that many ex-husbands simply won’t hear of collecting alimony from their ex-wives. It simply offends their sensibilities.

But part of the reason is a larger, gender-neutral settlement trend away from what Florida calls permanent, periodic alimony.

Why? Because neither party wants the extended, additional ties to each other. (Or the deterrents to forming permanent attachments to new significant others.)

The Solution: agreements to dispense with traditional alimony as such, in favor of adjusting property division to deliver a one-time windfall to the spouse who would have received alimony. This may well be characterized legally as “lump sum alimony”, but lay people tend not to think of it as alimony at all.

Read more in this Wall Street Journal article: Men Receiving Alimony Want A Little Respect and this Looking Fit magazine article: Female Top Earners Cite Increased Strain, Marital Troubles.

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Parental Child Abduction: The Destination Isn’t Always Abroad

Many separating / separated parents fully appreciate the danger of abduction of their children abroad. Perhaps to their foreign-born ex’s homeland, someplace where he or she will have a legal advantage in child custody proceedings.

Most separating / separated parents do not perceive such a danger within the US today. But consider this …

A little boy went missing from his father’s home in Pennsylvania – in the morning, last Father’s Day.

The alleged culprit(s)? His mother, who had lost custody of the boy. And her boyfriend.

Macon, Georgia had just been ravaged by numerous tornadoes. But the American Association for Lost Children nonetheless was able to trace the missing child to that city.

Mother and boyfriend were reportedly charged with interference with custody of a child, among other charges.

And four other children were allegedly removed from the mother and boyfriend’s home and taken into state protective custody.

Nearly a year after the boy’s abduction. Right here in the US.

Read more in this Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article: Area man spearheads boy’s rescue.

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A Modern Spin on Marriage Counseling

Couple is having marital difficulties. One spouse, most often (but not always) the wife, suggests marriage counseling.

The other spouse, most often (but not always) the husband, refuses. Or goes along – but refuses to participate meaningfully.

He (or she, as the case may be) doesn’t want to discuss his (or her) innermost feelings with a stranger.

Now, it’s just a matter of time before the frustrated spouse files for divorce.

Enter a modern spin on marriage counseling: Marital Mediation.

Anyone familiar with the divorce process is likely acquainted with mediation in divorce cases.

Well, a Connecticut mediator and social psychologist is applying mediation techniques to marriage counseling.

The Marital Mediation process flushes out areas of conflict and fosters communication and negotiation, and facilitates agreements on mutually desirable corrective actions.

There is less emphasis on exploring and confronting emotions, and more emphasis on committing to a written contract for proactive, logical behaviors to improve the marriage.

This approach may well better serve couples where at least one of the spouses refuses to discuss his or her emotions with a stranger.

But one thing is the same in Marital Mediation: both spouses must be willing to “come to the table” and give the selected form of marriage therapy their all. Otherwise, it is doomed to fail.

Read more in this Wilton [CT] Villager article: Counselor offers different way to help heal a marriage.

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FL’s Marchman Act: Technically Not a Family Law Proceeding But …

Florida’s Marchman Act. A statutory scheme to compel an assessment for substance abuse and, if warranted, treatment.

It doesn’t sound as though it has anything to do with divorce or family law. But, unfortunately, surprisingly often, it does.

A previously happy marriage strained by one spouse’s substance abuse.

A parent-child relationship upended by the parent’s substance abuse.

A child endangered by their timesharing parent’s substance abuse.

Even before something horrendous happens, desperate family members may seek help under the Marchman Act.

Often, family relief under the Marchman Act is too little or too late – or both. Those are the cases that culminate in divorces and proceedings to modify custody and/or visitation.

But sometimes, every so often, the Marchman Act really can offer a life line to a family member who has gotten in way over their head – and knows it, but needs a special kind of help to climb out.

And so save the substance abuser. And their marriage. And their family.

Read more in this Sun Sentinel article: Marchman Act a valuable tool for families trying to help addicts.

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