The concept of “fault” has become nearly obsolete in divorce law throughout the United States.
But one state, Arizona, may be resurrecting it, at least to a degree, after a thirty year hiatus.
A bill may allow fault to be proven and weighed in property division, alimony and even child support.
Fault could include anything from domestic violence to blowing the family savings on gambling – or an affair.
Fault might even include seeking the divorce.
But fault would not be required as a ground for divorce.
Such changes would actually bring Arizona in line with some other states’ versions of no-fault divorce law, including, to a large extent, Florida’s.
Read more in this Arizona Daily Star article: Ariz. may get adultery and other ‘misconduct’ back in divorce court.
Woman has 4 year old child.
Woman’s body is found on roof of her apartment building.
Woman’s body’s arms and legs are chopped off.
Woman’s throat is slashed.
Woman’s body is burned.
Suspect is arrested in her murder … her Boyfriend.
Boyfriend allegedly violated an order of protection.
Boyfriend was previously arrested for assaulting Woman.
And possession of weapons. Among other charges.
Domestic violence is still alive and well …
Sadly, Woman, a mother, is not.
Read more in this Daily News article: Boyfriend charged in murder of mutilated girlfriend.
Florida Mother is killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver. Five year old Daughter is seriously injured in the same accident.
Grandmother has been caring for Daughter since the September 2008 accident, but Father, who had been living in Texas, has had temporary shared legal custody.
Father now lives in Florida.
Father is allegedly arrested for drunk driving himself … hours before an operation on Daughter, necessitated by the accident with Mother.
Father reportedly visited Daughter in the hospital the next day after he was freed by law enforcement.
Establishment of a permanent custody arrangement for Daughter has been postponed due to Father’s arrest.
The question in the media now is whether the DUI arrest affects his chances for winning shared or sole custody of his daughter.
There is no information as to other facts which may or may not tend to show whether Father is unfit to have custody.
Read more in this St. Petersburg Times article: DUI arrest may jeopardize father’s quest for custody of Summer Moll.
Mother and Father have two young children, the oldest autistic with special needs.
After the parents separate, the Father fails to return the children from a weekend visit.
Eight months ago. The divorce isn’t even final yet.
Father keeps changing attorneys or missing court, so Mother is unable to communicate amicably about their children.
Law enforcement authorities view the disappearance of the children as a family matter, for family court and, apparently, do little.
Until Father tries to cross the border to Canada with their kids. Twice. Unsuccessfully.
The first time Father doesn’t have required papers. The second time the customs agent follows a hunch.
At that point, a felony warrant is finally issued.
A good samaritan reports a man and two children walking in 20 degree weather in Pennsylvania … with no coats or jackets on.
That leads to Father’s arrest and the children are taken into protective custody.
Read more in this Salt Lake City Deseret News article: Mother’s 8-month ordeal ends with father’s arrest.
The issue of parents in the military suffering adverse rulings in family courts at home while they are away on deployment just doesn’t quit.
The latest state to enter the fray is South Carolina, with its pending Military Parent Equal Protection Act.
The proposed legislation is intended to stop permanent changes to custody orders or entry of permanent custody orders while or because a parent is deployed in the military.
The bill also requires the parent with physical custody to allow visitation during the military parent’s leaves from active duty.
Another change in the pending act is a prohibition of permanent changes to child support orders based on military pay.
The main theme is keeping any changes made to accommodate or otherwise because of military service by one parent as temporary changes.
Unfortunately, if passed, the legislation would likely make more work for family court judges and tend to clog their dockets.
Read more in this Beaufort [SC] Gazette article: Legislators: Military members on active duty shouldn’t have to fight custody battles.
Mother is sentenced to ten year prison term for robbery conviction.
Mother, believing she has no other option, reluctantly relinquishes her parental rights to her 4 year old Daughter.
Woman adopts Daughter. Woman allegedly abuses Daughter. More than once.
Now, Woman faces multiple charges of child neglect, aggravated kidnapping and assault.
The child welfare agency (DCS) has taken Daughter into protective custody and is seeking a permanent placement for Daughter.
And Mother, since released from prison, would like to get custody of Daughter restored to her.
DSC indicates that it will consider Mother’s request as well as Daughter’s wishes.
It is unclear whether Mother stands in any better position as any other applicant for custody.
Read more in this WTVF TV 5 news article: Mother Wants Custody Of Her Biological Daughter.
Husband and Wife of twenty-seven year marriage split up.
Each gets a lawyer.
Against Wife’s counsel’s advice, they enter a separation or postnuptial agreement.
The couple owns a home, a dairy farm, land and vehicles, among other things.
Wife apparently settles for substantially less (to the tune of $650,000) than she is “entitled to” under the law.
When she “wakes up”, Wife seeks to challenge the agreement. She argues that she was too upset after the breakup to have the proper mental capacity to make a good deal and also that her husband misrepresented the value of his assets.
The trial court sides with the Wife, holding the agreement unconscionable.
The intermediate appellate court reverses, upholding the agreement.
The Canadian Supreme Court reverses yet again, citing Husband’s failure to fully disclose the value of his assets and the Wife’s mental state at the time of making the agreement.
The high court cautions that its ruling is based on the specific facts of the particular case, clarifying that it will not lightly void freely entered settlement agreements.
This ruling tweaks a 2003 ruling in another case.
Husbands and wives owe each other a fiduciary duty under Florida law as well. Failure to make full and fair disclosure for purposes of a marital settlement can definitely return later to haunt a spouse in Florida too.
Read more in this CanWest News Service article: Court reinforces rule separation agreements can be rescinded.
Mother lives in Florida and Father lives in Ohio. Daughter is with Mother at time of events in question.
Father flies to Florida and allegedly physically collects Daughter and forces her into his car.
Father has a change of car waiting and uses second car to take Daughter to airport.
Father tries to board plane with Daughter when he is captured.
Father claims to have custody of Daughter, awarded to him by an Ohio court.
But Mother has an Order from a Florida court awarding her custody and staying the Ohio court’s order.
Conflicting custody orders from different states are typically avoided these days thanks to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, a body of laws widely adopted across the US to resolve which state has proper jurisdiction to decide custody of any particular child and mandating that other states remain hands-off.
Father is under arrest for interference with child custody.
Read more in this MS NBC article: Deputies: Ohio Dad Forces Daughter From Mom’s Tampa Home.
Immigrant Muslim Husband and Wife are divorcing.
Husband founded TV station with mission of portraying Muslims as peace-loving.
Husband reportedly became violent with Wife.
Wife obtains order of protection barring Husband from marital home.
Husband allegedly murders Wife … by beheading her … at the TV station.
Husband turns himself in to authorities.
Husband is charged with murder.
Husband was reportedly under stress because his business wasn’t doing well lately.
There has been some speculation as to whether the murder was a so-called “honor killing” under Islam.
Read more in this New York Post article: BUFFALO ‘BEHEADING’ and this Times of India article: Pak-American beheads wife, sparks debate about Sharia.
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania courts already have teams of professionals assigned to every child who is abandoned, abused or neglected. Lawyer, caseworker, judge, etc.
But there is one specialist missing that the County feels is needed.
In Pennsylvania, that specialist is a unique, trained volunteer called a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).
A CASA concentrates on a relative handful of children and follows each assigned child closely. The CASA investigates in-depth and reports to the court as to what rulings he or she believes are in the child’s best interests.
One judge describes a CASA as “an extra pair of eyes and ears for the court”.
In Lancaster County, CASA volunteers stand ready to work. But like many volunteer chapters, they lack one thing – funding.
CASAs can also be appointed in family court cases.
In Florida, CASAs are called Guardians ad Litem.
Read more in this Lancaster [PA] New Era article: ‘An extra pair of eyes and ears’.