Divorcing for … a Child’s Health

Happily married Husband and Wife have Son.

Son is born very prematurely and is plagued by related medical problems.

Son qualifies for free coverage because he is considered “disabled” by reason of his prematurity.

Son has expensive heart surgery and eye surgery.

Son has home nurses while Husband and Wife are at work.

Now, the state is reclassifying Son as no longer disabled.

As a result, Son will lose free medical coverage.

That would likely compromise Son’s medical care.

But there is one other way for Son to retain his free medical coverage:

If his family’s household income decreases due, for example, to a divorce.

So now Husband and Wife are contemplating divorcing … for their Son’s health and welfare.

They wouldn’t be the first Tennesee couple to divorce to hang onto free medical coverage for a child.

The state expects to save between $150 and $200 million by updating classifications of insureds who were disabled only temporarily.

Of course, some of those insureds may still qualify for free coverage by meeting the income qualifications for recipients.

But Husband and Wife don’t.

Read more in this [Nashville] WSMV-TV article: Couple To Divorce For Toddler’s Health Care.

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Thirty-Three of the Best Years of Her Life Finally Paid Off Big Time

Couple are married for thirty-three years. Wife, 61 years old, was a stay-at-home mother and then housewife.

Husband owns an investment company and a manufacturer of plastic parts for cars.

Husband earns about $4 million a year.

Couple own homes and timeshares throughout Canada and also right here in Florida.

Wife supervises maintenance of the couple’s properties.

Marriage breaks down. Spouses separate.

Husband gives Wife over $6 million in cash and investments.

Not bad but …

Wife’s disclosures show her monthly expenses as exceeding $115,000.

On considering Wife’s claim for alimony, a Toronto Canada court awards Wife $110,000 per month in alimony.

Better. This represents a record in Canada.

Read more in this UPI article: Record Canadian divorce settlement awarded.

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Is it Faith? Or is it Child Neglect?

Eleven year old Daughter is ill, finally unable to walk or talk.

Wisconsin Mother and Father, in accordance with their religion, pray for her.

They don’t take her to a doctor or hospital.

Daughter dies from complications of diabetes.

Mother and Father are convicted of second degree reckless homicide.

They are sentenced to thirty days’ confinement for six years and ten years’ probation.

They are also court-ordered to take their other two children to doctors for treatment if injured or ill, and to have periodic wellness checks for the children.

Is Mother’s and Father’s conduct protected religious conduct, or is it child abuse or neglect?

That may not have been clear enough under Wisconsin law.

And so some changes and clarifications are in the works.

Parents should be held to a standard of reasonableness in caring for their children’s health and welfare.

If parents fail to take reasonable measures to provide for their children’s health and welfare, the state can remove the children and intervene in their care… And may prosecute the parents.

The parents’ can tell their side of the story to the jury. But the jury decides how reasonable their actions are.

Read more in this New York Times article: Wisconsin Couple Sentenced in Death of Their Sick Child and this [Milwaukee] Journal Sentinel editorial: Bill would protect children, liberties.

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Surrogacy Contracts with Surrogate Mothers: Years Later, Still Largely Up in the Air

Years after the capability came into being, having a child through a surrogate mother who carries the baby to term is still fraught with legal perils.

And the circumstances surrounding each baby are different.

Sometimes the surrogate mother is “merely” the carrier or vessel for a couple’s own biological child. (Mother can’t physically carry the child.)

Sometimes the surrogate mother is the carrier for the biological child of one member of the couple and a third party. (One of the couple is infertile.)

Sometimes the surrogate mother is the carrier for the biological child of neither member of the couple. (Both of the couple are infertile or gay parents.)

And the applicable law of a particular state may view each of these scenarios differently.

A surrogacy arrangement may involve the following players:

  1. intended legal parent
  2. intended legal co-parent
  3. egg donor
  4. sperm donor
  5. fertility clinic
  6. surrogate mother

That’s a lot of folks to coordinate and work with.

The most common legal breakdown in the process is that the surrogate mother decides she wants to keep “her” child, for any reason or for no reason.

All told, there are about seven hundred fifty babies born this way each year. That’s about half the number that couples try to arrange.

This “cottage industry” is something of a free-for-all, at least unless and until a court becomes involved.

For the most part, fertility doctors call all the shots.

Some states require the intended parents to go through a home study and legal adoption of the baby. Some also require some type of psychological screening of the intended legal parents.

Some other states are satisfied by the surrogacy contracts alone.

Still other states don’t recognize or enforce surrogacy contracts at all.

Some only recognize surrogacy where at least one intended legal parent is biologically related to the baby.

The incredible upshot is that, at times, babies who have two sets of “parents” who want them end up in foster care while the courts try to sort things out.

A model act has been proposed by the American Bar Association to address the issues in a consistent way.

Read more in this New York Times article: 21st-Century Babies – Building a Baby, With Few Ground Rules.

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Husband Seeks Compensation via Equitable Distribution for Wife’s Augmented Breasts

During divorce, couples fight over division / allocation of most any marital asset or liability.

Sometimes out of proportion to the value / amount of same.

Take the following North Dakota couple.

Wife had breast augmentation surgery during the marriage.

Husband’s financial affidavit (sometimes called financial disclosure or something along those lines) apparently identified the surgery as a $5,000 marital “asset”.

Husband contends that since that marital “asset” will be distributed to Wife, Husband should receive commensurate marital asset value as well.

The trial court disagreed with Husband and refused to do so.

But Husband felt strongly enough about the matter to appeal the issue to the state’s highest court.

The Supreme Court’s ruling could open up a real Pandora’s Box.

Read more in this Twin Cities [Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN] Pioneer Press article: ND high court mulls value of breast implants in divorce case.

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Divorce Muslim-Style: Divorcee Runs Internet Radio Station Helping Oppressed Women Seeking Divorce Advice, Support and Lobbying

Divorce is reportedly greatly frowned upon under Muslim law. But it is technically permitted and does happen…

With tremendous difficulty. Particularly for women.

In most Islamic countries, it is said that a woman seeking divorce forfeits all marital property, plus the customary dowery paid for the marriage.

A woman living in Egypt states it took most of her three years of marriage to get out of the marriage. After she was divorced, her employer reportedly told her “it would be better if I did not move around where there were men in the office”.

As a result of her experiences, that woman became a divorce activist on behalf of women.

First, she published a blog advising how to obtain a divorce and offering support and interaction.

Then she founded Divorcees Radio, an internet radio station providing divorced women with information and lobbying for the interests of divorced women and women seeking divorces.

To overcome unhappy men’s charges of inciting rebellion by wives, the station also offers programming for divorced men and children of single parent homes.

The divorce rate in the Muslim world varies from roughly 24% to 35%.

Read more in this [Israeli] Haaretz article: Neighbors / Want to divorce? In Cairo, the radio offers women help.

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Husband Notices Overpayments Garnished From Wages After a Couple of Years and Then Tries to Get Credit for Overpayments, But Court Rules They’re Voluntary Payments Due to Husband’s Prolonged Negligence

Arkansas trial court enters temporary order establishing child support and alimony obligations.

Husband pays via wage garnishment.

Final judgment actually reduces total support obligation by over $600 per month.

Husband does not take steps to have new garnishment order entered and served on his employer. (This would be Husband’s responsibility.)

Husband’s wages continue to be garnished at the higher level of the temporary support order.

Husband apparently does not notice that he is overpaying for a couple of years.

Once Husband notices a couple of years later, Husband seeks to receive credit against future payments equal to the amount of his past overpayments.

Trial court rules against Husband, concluding that it was Husband’s responsibility to pay attention to how much he is paying relative to how much he is required to pay and ruling that the overpayments are voluntary.

It would certainly seem that Husband was able to make the higher temporary support payments without undue hardship motivating him to carefully review the garnishment records.

Moral of Case: wake up and get with it.

Read more in this Mens News Daily editorial: Court Rules Child Support Overpayment = Windfall to Mom and the actual legal opinion

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Gay Parents Can Foster Kids … But They Can’t Adopt Them … in Florida

Florida reportedly has the distinction of having enacted this country’s strictest state prohibition on adoption by gay prospective parents.

But gay people are permitted to serve as foster parents (and collect state funds for same).

Even for years.

One gay foster father (Foster Dad) took in a baby boy and his four year old brother (Boys) five years ago.

It is undisputed that both Boys have thrived in Foster Dad’s care. Even the Department of Children and Families concedes that Foster Dad is a great parent.

Foster Dad wants to adopt the Boys.

But he was blocked by Florida’s ban on gay adoption.

So Foster Dad challenged the ban in court – and won at trial. Because there is no evidence of inferior parenting by gay parents and because the statute denies children in foster care permanency.

Now, the case is crawling its way up the state’s appeals ladder.

And all the while the Boys are denied permanency…

Read more in this Palm Beach Post blog editorial: Lose his case, lose his kids? and this National Public Radio article: Florida Judge Rules Against Gay Adoption Ban.

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Be Careful What You Text For

Today, everyone has a cell phone.

In which they can store the numbers of everyone who is anyone to them.

And, paradoxically, most communication with their cell phone doesn’t happen through talking on it.

Three times as often, it happens through text messaging.

Totally uninhibited text messaging.





Plots and plans.

Text trail …


As though no one else could ever see them but the intended receiver.

As though they would vanish without a trace once read.

But not so.

They may not last forever like e-mail.

But they last long enough to be found when least expected – and they’ve more accessible to eavesdroppers.

And they last long enough to print or download.

And, through the legal process, text messages can be made to live on longer than they would otherwise.

Potentially causing a whole lot of grief to the sender or recipient, in family court and otherwise.

Be careful what you text for …

Read more in this New York Times article: Text Messages: Digital Lipstick on the Collar.

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University Develops Online Co-Parenting Course for Separated Parents That Graduates Report Really Helps!

Many states offer or even require divorcing or separating parents to take a parenting class. Florida is one of those states, mandating a four hour class on co-parenting after separation.

Now, researchers at the University of Missouri’s Human Development and Family Studies program have developed an online program, called Focus on Kids Online, to comply with Missouri’s legal requirement. (Florida’s four hour class is also available online.)

Parents who have completed the Missouri program actually self-report better relationships and heightened awareness of problems – and solutions for those problems.

That is what may truly distinguish the University of Missouri program from its counterparts in Florida and other states.

Enthusiastic about the response, the University plans to offer the online program to other states in the future.

One suggestion in the program is that parents provide consistent routines and chores in each parent’s home. A great concept, but difficult to implement in practice.

Read more in this Science Daily article: Digital Solutions Developed to Support Divorced Families.

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