Whaddya Mean They Can Subpoena My New Live-In (Boy)(Girl)friend!?

A question in a newspaper’s legal advice column addresses an issue that catches many a spouse by surprise.

Can a spouse subpoena financial information from the other spouse’s new cohabitant?

To the shock and chagrin of the surprised spouse, the answer is, in a word, yes.

For example, under Florida’s rules of court procedure, parties are allowed to seek information that “appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence”.

This is actually a pretty broad license to “go fish”.

And yes, sometimes, the true intent of the “fishing” spouse really is to shock and chagrin the other spouse (or their new cohabitant), even more than to obtain information.

Read more in this Boston Herald column Q & A on: Financial Follow-Up

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Yes, Dad, You Really Can Be Awarded Custody of (Majority Timesharing With) Your Kids

So many separating fathers have the preconceived notion that it is impossible for them to have majority timesharing with (or physical custody of) their children.

But they couldn’t be more wrong.

More and more separated and divorced dads want, and can and do get to have their children with them most of the time.

According to a recent article, fully fifty (50%) percent of fathers who seek equal or majority timesharing with (physical custody of) their children receive it.

Due to a combination of the recession and social change, the American family has changed … and family courts have adapted to it.

More and more mothers are the primary breadwinners in their families and more and more fathers are the primary caregivers for their children prior to separation.

Applying the same logic that traditionally resulted in awards of custody (primary timesharing) to stay-at-home mothers now results in awards of equal or majority timesharing (physical custody) to fathers … even when the mothers work only because the fathers don’t.

As a result, more than two million mothers do not have majority timesharing with (physical custody of) their children.

Read more in this New York Times piece: More Fathers Are Getting Custody in Divorce and this Working Mother article: Family Focus – Custody Lost.

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‘Tis The Season … for Domestic Violence

While most people were enjoying a long Thanksgiving holiday with family last weekend, others weren’t enjoying themselves at all.

Even in Ogden, Utah, police report more complaints on Thanksgiving of domestic violence and disputes over timesharing requiring police intervention.

On a broader scale, the University of California recently analyzed 911 calls and concluded that there were sizable increases in them on certain holidays:

  • Thanksgiving – 22%
  • Christmas – 17%
  • New Year’s Eve – 32%
  • July 4th – 28%
  • Memorial Day – 30%

The UC study also noted an 8% increase in domestic violence on the occasion of a surprise loss in a professional football game.

And the study also noted an 8%-10% increase in domestic violence on “hot days”.

Too much togetherness, too much alcohol, the stress of the holidays and a weak economy all contribute to the above statistics.

Read more in this Salt Lake City, UT KSTU Fox 13 Now news article: Domestic Violence Calls Rise on Thanksgiving.

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Only in California …

Opponents of gay marriage in California publicly justify their position as “protecting marriage”.

So, proponents of gay marriage, taking their argument to its logical extreme, are now protesting divorce as a threat to marriage.

A group of such “divorce protesters” actually marched on California’s state capitol a couple of weeks ago to draw attention to their causes.

The “divorce protesters” are doggedly pursuing getting their initiative on the June 2010 ballot.

Just in case, anyone biding their time in California may want to get moving on their divorce before next June …

Read more in this [Sacramento CA] KXTV News 10 article: March to Ban Divorce Lands at State Capitol.

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Parental Relocation: What a Florida Parent Hoping to Relocate Their Children Needs to Know in Advance

It happens time and again.

Mother and Father move to sunny South Florida from another state.

They’re here for a year or so.

Father loves it here.

Mother is a stay-at-home mother.

Father becomes involved with other women.

Couple breaks up.

Father isn’t particularly involved in Children’s lives prior to the parents’ separation.

Mother has primary timesharing.

Perhaps Father doesn’t help much with financial support for the Children (or Mother). Perhaps he does.

Perhaps Father doesn’t help much with the Children in any respect. Perhaps he does.

Perhaps there was some history of domestic violence in the parents’ relationship. Perhaps not.

Mother yearns for the supporting network of her parents, siblings and extended family back home, where Mother and Father came from a year or so before.

Mother’s old employer has an opening that would be just perfect for her.

Mother tells Father she would like to return back home. Father can see the Children whenever he wants though.

Father balks.

Then Father threatens to go to court. Perhaps Father threatens worse things.

Frightened, overwhelmed, isolated and alone, Mother assembles the Children and flees to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s for a respite from a difficult situation.

Not necessarily with the intent to remain there permanently. Perhaps with it.

But, oh, it’s just so good to have some help with the Children, not to have to pinch every penny like a woman in a precarious situation, not to live among strangers, to be treated nicely, to have a pleasant home environment for the Children, to feel like maybe things could be better tomorrow, and so on.

After a couple of weeks, Mother decides to continue this comparatively idyllic existence for longer.

Mother e-mails Father with her decision.

After all, after the way Father has treated her, who can blame her? Mother thinks to herself.

Actually though, Florida’s family courts can – and often do – blame Mother.

Since 2006, an evolving Florida statute has specified a procedure a parent must follow if that parent wishes to relocate with the parents’ children.

If the other parent objects, the parent hoping to relocate must justify their goal either to the other parent’s or the Florida family court’s satisfaction.

If that parent just takes off with the couple’s children without following the statutorily specified procedure, that parent can be penalized in family court … surprisingly harshly, in fact.

It is hardly ever a good idea to just take off with your Children, even if their other parent knows exactly where you are and how to reach you and the Children.

It is far, far more prudent to follow the statutorily specified procedure if you wish to relocate with your Children.

In the meantime though, you are at liberty to move less than fifty (50) miles away without either the court’s or your ex’s permission.

That at least buys you a margin of safety.

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