Malta: Child Abducted by Mother From Turkish Habitual Residence To Remain in Malta Anyway

Maltese Wife, Turkish Husband and their 6 year old daughter lived in Turkey.

Wife told Husband she wanted to return to Malta.

Husband then blocked Wife’s access to the Child and applied to the Turkish Family Court for temporary custody of the Child.

The Turkish Court then prohibited the Child from leaving Turkey before a custody decision was made.

Wife nonetheless removed Child from Turkey to Malta without Husband’s knowledge.

Then the Turkish Court awarded temporary custody of the Child to Husband.

The Husband filed an application for return of the Child to Turkey under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The Maltese Court ruled that Turkey was the habitual residence of the Child.

Under the Hague Convention, that ruling would normally mandate return of the Child to the country of habitual residence for a custody decision to be made there.

But the Maltese Court nonetheless held that the Child should remain in Malta.

The Maltese Court based its ruling on the following:

  1. that the Child was removed from Turkey prior to the Turkish Court’s award of custody to the Husband, although the custody action had already started
  2. that it wasn’t clear that the Wife had done anything wrong under Turkish law by removing the Child from Turkey right smack in the middle of the Turkish child custody case and
  3. that it would cause the Child substantial psychological harm to return her to Turkey, apparently because she did not speak Turkish

Read more in this Malta Independent article: Court: Court bars return of child to Turkish father.

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New York State Finally Enacting Broader Legal Protections against Domestic Abuse

New York remains the last state in the union to require fault-based grounds for a contested divorce.

So it should come as no surprise that, in order to issue an order of protection against domestic violence, New York state has required the parties to be currently or previously married, parents of a common child or blood relatives.

But New York is now becoming one of the last states to afford the protection of restraining orders to dating partners, whether gay or heterosexual.

The bill’s sponsor has been pursuing its passage for twenty years. Better late than never.

Previously, the only remedy for those in many violent intimate relationships in New York was the police and criminal court. Not only did that make it harder to win protection, but it also deterred many from even going through with seeking protection – especially young people.

Going forward, it will be possible for an intimate partner or relative in New York state to obtain relief in family court, with family court’s lower civil burden of proof than criminal court, without having to deal with the police or a prosecutor.

Florida has made similar legal protection from repeat violence, dating violence and sexual violence available for several years, in addition to pre-existing protection available against domestic violence.

Read more in this New York Times article: Albany to Expand Domestic Violence Law to Include Dating Relationships.

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Strategic Divorce

They probably had to commit perjury to get their divorce.

Their marriage isn’t irretrievably broken. They don’t have irreconcilable differences.

But they probably had to swear that one or the other applies. Because they desperately need a divorce.

The Husband has cancer and doesn’t have private medical insurance coverage.

They couldn’t afford it at $900 per month. Now they couldn’t get it at any price.

They tried for Medicaid insurance coverage, furnished to the indigent at government expense.

But, although they were too poor for private medical insurance, they were too rich for publicly subsidized medical insurance.

He had to move out of their family home. He had to stop working, except a few hours per week to cover the barest of necessities.

He wasted (technically, spent down, as required) his meager assets.

And only then, as an indigent single man, could he finally qualify for Medicaid insurance coverage in Indiana – and obtain the treatment for cancer that he needed to live.

To qualify for Medicaid in Indiana, a couple must live on less than $1,000 per month after medical expenses.

By the time Husband qualified, he had already incurred about $40,000 in medical debt. So he’ll probably have to file for bankruptcy anyway when he gets well.

Strategic divorce serves two critical purposes:

  1. it enables the spouse in need of medical care to qualify for Medicaid medical insurance coverage as an indigent single person and
  2. it protects the other spouse’s estate from claims by the government for reimbursement of its expenses for the spouse who needed care.

State laws often permit Medicaid eventually to recoup its expenses from the estate of the spouse who didn’t need care, as well as from the estate of the spouse who did receive care.

There reportedly are more and more people like this couple.

Read more in this Ft. Wayne [IN] Journal Gazette article: Couple divorce to afford cancer treatment.

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High Tech Debit Cards + Low Tech Custodial Parents = Child Support Mess. Oops.

Ohio is pretty high tech. The child support enforcement agency doesn’t just mail out child support checks to custodial parents.

Instead it either directly deposits the monies into the parent’s bank account or adds the monies to a debit card for the parent.

They’ve been doing it that way for about eight years and it’s apparently worked pretty well.

Until at least one recipient recently received an e-mail, ostensibly from the contracting company that administers the program. The e-mail asked the woman to update her account information.

The e-mail looked perfectly genuine and legitimate to her. So she did as the e-mail instructed.

And after that, all the money was siphoned out of the account.

It was only $168 at the time. But her kids probably could have used that money.

Money they would have had the benefit of if the state had been lower tech and just mailed her a check.

The woman complained to the contracting company. But the company blamed her for being duped and refused to refund her money.

And the state, in effect, backed them up, reportedly maintaining that the agency warns custodial parents not to respond to e-mails about their accounts.

Low tech custodial parents duped. High tech scammers get a windfall. High tech state probably saves money.

Kids suffer …

Read more in this Athens [OH] Messenger article: Scammers targeting child support.

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Malaysia: Make Sure You’re Really Married Before You File for Divorce

A Malaysian woman filed for divorce.

Problem: No record of her marriage. Case dismissed.

Modified statement of problem: Marriage certificate potentially invalid on grounds of fraud.

The woman’s attorney said these contentions were formalities and that she will refile.

Why does the woman want a divorce? Her politician husband wants to marry an additional wife.

Read more in this WalesOnline article: Woman’s divorce put on hold until she marries.

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Ohio Judge Reprimanded for Not Advancing His Cases Fast Enough

An Ohio judge was reprimanded for not advancing his cases rapidly enough.

One childless couple’s case was on the judge’s docket for two and one-half years – before being handed off to a general magistrate for trial. And the Wife specifically wanted the case tried to a judge, not a general magistrate.

The judge’s caseload includes a wide mix of cases, not just family law cases. And the cases that languished the longest on his docket were divorce and child support cases.

Statistically, for the years 1998 through 2007, the judge’s peers had only 4% to 11% of their cases open for too long. But, in four of those years, the reprimanded judge had as many as 43%, 42%, 38% and 26% of his cases open for too long.

The judge defended that certain cases have circumstances that cause them to take longer to resolve. Likely true.

In at least one case, some of the custody issues in the case were mooted by the passage of time. For examply, one of the children attained the age of majority.

The odds are that that happened in other cases as well.

The judge will be retiring at the end of the year anyway though. And his statistics have improved. And he has no other blemishes on his record.

So he will be allowed to finish out his judicial term.

Read more in this central Ohio News Messenger article: No rush to judgement.

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Supreme Court Ruling May Threaten Victims of Domestic Violence, Among Others

A New York State man stands accused in federal court of lying on an application for a background check to purchase a gun. The alleged lie was his denial that he was subject to an order of protection.

Under federal statute, it is a felony for a person subject to a protective order to possess a gun.

Last year, a judge reportedly entered an order of protection against the man in conjunction with a then-pending criminal domestic violence charge against him.

As part of an apparent plea bargain, the man pleaded guilty to a lesser violation. Accordingly, the man claimed that he believed that he was no longer subject to an order of protection.

But the man is also challenging the legality of the application’s question about orders of protection – based on a recent US Supreme Court ruling. The ruling proclaims the individual right to possess a gun.

As a result of the ruling, similar constitutional challenges to current legal restrictions on possession of firearms are now pending across the nation.

The US Supreme Court’s opinion, however, indicated in passing that it did not strike down long-established prohibitions on gun possession, for example, such as restrictions on possession by convicted felons or the mentally ill, or in “sensitive” places, such as schools and government buildings.

While the exceptions for felons and the mentally ill may well apply to many gun applicants with histories of domestic violence, the high court’s casual re-affirmation (in dicta) of certain exceptions undoubtedly invites many legal challenges – challenges that will leave victims of domestic violence feeling particularly vulnerable for a long time to come.

Read more in this Albany Times Union article: Landmark ruling used to challenge gun case.

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A Very Nasty Florida Divorce

Local Boca Raton area couple divorced in 2001.

As part of an agreement between them, Husband paid Wife an extra $1.5 million on the condition that she not fight him for custody of their children. There were also provisions to block Wife from fleeing the jurisdiction with their children.

If Wife later challenged any part of the settlement agreement, the agreement required her to refund the $1.5 million paid to her.

Wife sheltered her settlement money offshore.

In 2003, Wife accused Husband of violating their agreement – and sought a modification of the settlement.

The Court ruled that her sought-after modification was a challenge to the settlement agreement, and ordered the Wife to refund the $1.5 million. The Court subsequently held her in contempt.

Warrants were issued for Wife’s arrest. And then Wife went on the run.

For two years. But Wife finally turned herself in early this year.

And served five months in confinement. Before agreeing to refund $1 million into a trust fund for the couple’s kids.

As part of this latest settlement agreement, Wife agreed not to contact their younger kids except by mail or e-mail, or to see their older minor child except under supervision – if the child gives written permission for any visitation. Wife also agreed not to live in the same town as the children – or any neighboring towns either.

And if Wife violates this settlement agreement, the agreement entitles Husband to recover not only the $1 million but also additional monies that he claims she owes him for her previous violations.

This case went up to the Florida Supreme Court while Wife was a fugitive. Three of the justices actually questioned the legality of the original settlement agreement, at least as to custody. But the majority of justices refused to entertain that position of the Wife while the Wife was on the run.

Read more in this Palm Beach Post article: Jailed mom let go, will return some divorce money.

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Ouch … Divorce Undone

Oklahoma couple gets a divorce. Then divorce is, uh, canceled.

It was an uncontested divorce. That means the parties had agreed on everything.

Those are typically informal affairs, hurried along before the presiding judge.

In this instance, only one party, with counsel, appeared at the hearing, the pronouns contained in the papers misled or confused as to gender, and no one mentioned to the judge that the couple were lesbians.

Until a reporter called the judge.

Oklahoma law not only prohibits homosexual marriages in the state but also explicitly prohibits recognition of homosexual marriages legally performed elsewhere.

So, once the judge realized what he had done, he voided the divorce he had granted.

The parties actually appealed, but the voiding of the divorce was upheld.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court did however rule that the parties should have been afforded a hearing first – and remanded for that hearing to be held. Although it appears that it was doomed to be an exercise in futility.


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GA: Rent from Award of Permanent Possession of Real Estate Must Be Divided

Georgia couple divorce. Couple had owned real estate held in both names.

The final judgment awarded the Wife permanent possession of the property and she paid the mortgage from that point on. But, for whatever reason, the Court did not address ultimate ownership of the property, and neither did the parties.

Wife lived in the property for many years. But eventually she moved away to care for her elderly mother.

And when she moved, she rented the property out. For money.

At which point the Husband sought half of the rental income.

And the Georgia Supreme Court agreed with the Husband that he was entitled to half of the rental income.

The Court reasoned that the Husband had not waived his right to ask the Court to order a sale of the house (called partition) and division of the proceeds.

It is unclear whether the Georgia Court similarly divided the mortgage payments and maintenance expenses (insurance, taxes, repairs, etc.) of the property.

Read more in this Augusta Chronicle article: Woman must share rent with ex-husband.

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