Court Terminates Supervision of Child’s Welfare and Leaves it to Child’s Parents to Decide Whether Teenager Can Sail, Alone, Around the World, for Two Years

Mother and Father are separated, with a thirteen year old Daughter in common.

Duaghter is an accomplished sailor.

Daughter wants to sail around the world … alone.

Father supports her in this.

Mother disapproves of this.

Dutch child welfare agency (Agency) takes Daughter into protective custody, and the court awards the Agency guardianship of her.

Mother later comes around and embraces Daughter’s dream.

After a year or so, the court releases Daughter from protective custody and terminates the guardianship of the Agency over the Agency’s objections.

The court holds that it is up to Daughter’s parents to decide whether she is allowed to sail around the world.

The Agency is considering whether to appeal the court’s termination of its guardianship.

Guardianship dissolved, now fourteen year old Daughter embarks on her planned two year solo voyage around the world.

Read more in this Los Angeles Times piece: Dutch teen Laura Dekker sets sail on solo circumnavigation attempt and this Christian Science Monitor article: Laura Dekker has Dutch court permission to sail around the world

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Divorce Court Slams Husband Who Tries to Do Wife Out of Full Equitable Distribution By Virtually Inviting the Internal Revenue Service to Slap a Lien on Marital Assets and Confessing Substantial Tax Liability Just Before Trial

Long Island stay-at-home Wife files for divorce in 2008, after twenty-one years of marriage.

Husband owns a contracting business.

Shortly before trial in their divorce, Husband, acting unilaterally and of his own volition, files amended joint tax returns for 2004 through 2007.

In the amended returns, which do not bear Wife’s signature, Husband confesses (or discloses) $1.6 million in income he previously did not report for his business.

Husband also includes a list of marital assets from which the Internal Revenue Service may collect the back taxes, including the couple’s million dollar home.

At trial, the Husband presents no evidence as to any legitimate reason for suddenly becoming a good citizen and amending the tax returns.

Instead, the divorce court holds that Husband acted solely out of malice, with the intention that Wife bear the brunt of at least half of the tax liability eroding her award of her share of marital property in their divorce.

And the family court does something quite extraordinary. It hoists the Husband on his own petard.

The court allocates the entire tax liability to the Husband and his share of the marital property, in effect, insulating the Wife from liability for the couple’s taxes for those years.

Absent Husband’s malicious, egregrious conduct toward the Wife, Wife would be responsible for half of the couple’s tax liability.

Read more in this New York Law Journal article: N.Y. Judge Calls Husband’s Pre-Divorce Filing of Back Taxes ‘Despicable’.

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Ladies, Take Note: Husbands at Either Income Extreme Are More Likely to Cheat on You

A new study concludes that husbands without incomes, or with incomes significantly lower than their wives, are substantially more likely to cheat on their wives than husbands married to women with similar incomes.

And it may seem counterintuitive but, according to the study, husbands without incomes of their own, are a whopping five times more likely to be unfaithful to their wives than husbands with incomes similar to their wives.

Such husbands may be straying to compensate for their insecurities.

Yet, on the other side of the coin, husbands who earn a lot more than their wives are also more likely to commit adultery than earners at similar levels as their wives.

The sweetest spot for marital fidelity appears to be when the wife earns twenty-five percent less than her husband.

To put things into perspective though, the study finds that only seven percent of men have affairs, compared to three percent of wives.

The study followed married and cohabiting couples established for at least a year over a six year period. Note that the researchers are quick to point out that income is not the only determinant of whether a spouse will have an affair.

Read more in this MSNBC article: Guys more likely to cheat on high-earning women.

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Childhood Depression, Even in the Happiest of Homes

There is a popular belief that when parents divorce, children may be adversely impacted in a significant way.

There are some studies that reveal correlations … but they do not really prove causation.

Now, unrelated studies, having nothing to do with divorce, are revealing that very young children, perhaps even as young as two or three years old … may experience depression, and exhibit signs of depression. Even children from happy, intact homes.

It could be in the genes … or in the nurturing by similarly afflicted parents … or a combination of both … as well as other factors.

For numerous reasons, such depression may not be officially diagnosed or classified, or may be diluted down to a so-called “risk factor” or predisposition, or other similar terms.

Regardless, something to be reckoned with.

Imparting a new dimension to consideration of the potential impact of divorce on children.

And of the potential impact on children of living in unhappy home environments for extended periods of time.

Read more in this New York Times article: Can Preschoolers Be Depressed?

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How Long Does It Take to Divorce? Is Divorce Confidential?

People contemplating divorce often ask at their initial divorce consultation how long it will take. Unfortunately, the answer generally is: It depends.

Every case is different. It is – rarely – possible to complete a divorce in about a month. Some cases take years. Most cases fall somewhere in between.

A California billionaire-Husband and Wife have been going through their divorce for … eight years. No, that’s not a typo.

That’s on the long side. But there are special circumstances.

In this particular case, Wife’s allegations against Husband range from death threats to illegal drug stashes accessible to their children in the marital home to cheating near the marital home.

Husband has also previously been on the receiving end of serious allegations by US attorneys pursuing criminal prosecutions.

So, the divorce has not been the most amicable. And some of the issues are sensitive. And the parties have three minor children.

In California – and Florida – divorce proceedings are not confidential. Although many participants in the process wish they were.

So Husband and Wife have actually agreed to keep certain things in their case quiet. And, to a degree, the court has approved. Along the way, numerous orders sealing particular documents or categories of documents were entered.

And, eventually, no less than the Los Angeles Times intervened in the case, in the hope of gaining greater access to sealed records in this “juicy” divorce case. And different judges rotated in and out of the case.

Sealing orders were variously entered, amended, and superseded, etc., etc. And Husband appealed.

But Husband’s appeal was unsuccessful. And more of the eight years’ worth of this divorce court case file is now accessible to the public, including the media.

Read more in this Forbes piece:Billionaire or Not: No Special Treatment.

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Heightened Financial Stresses Contribute to Rise in Domestic Violence and Difficulty of Escape

A study by Mary Kay Cosmetics of domestic violence victims reaching out to shelters for assistance reports that there is a high correlation between incidents of domestic violence and financial stresses on the family, such as recurring job loss.

Further, economic distress can hamper victims in leaving abusive relationships. Most victims request economic assistance of various types.

The Gulf oil spill is also thought to have contributed to the already heightened stresses that spark domestic violence.

The study reports a 117% escalation in domestic violence from 2008 to 2009.

Read more in this Monroe [LA] News Star article: Study: Economy affects abuse.

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Family Court Litigation: Are Dogs, Cats and Other Pets The Same as Children Under Divorce Law?

In a word, no. Although spouses often view themselves as “pet parents” of their pets, divorce law does not (currently) equate pets with children in any way, shape or form.

Quite the contrary, the law casts pets as property. A fair market value is assigned to the pet.

Like any other asset or debt, the pet is assigned to one spouse and some other similarly valued asset is assigned to the other spouse.

The choice of “assignee” (recipient) may be enlightened by consideration of the pet’s needs and which spouse has already demonstrated that they are better equipped to meet them. Or the ruling may be fairly arbitrary.

So what’s a pet lover to do?

The Law is what controls in divorce court, and the matter is before the divorce court because the spouses can’t agree upon a resolution.

But The Law may not produce a result that is in the pet’s best interests, if the spouses care about that.

Alternatively, the spouses can reach their own agreement as to which spouse keeps the pet full-time, they can agree to some sort of timesharing or visitation schedule, the spouses can agree to rotate physical custody, or the parties can agree to designate someone else (like a mediator or arbitrator, a trusted mutual friend or relative or, for that matter, the pet’s veterinarian or groomer) to choose the superior pet caregiver.

In general, animals are less adaptable than people (or children) and crave routine, structure and a stable territory they can make home.

Read more in this CNN American Morning AM Fix piece: Gut Check: Should pets be considered like a child in divorce court?

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Change in British Law On Admissibility of A Spouse’s So-Called Private Documents Obtained by The Other Spouse by Questionable Means

British law allows admission into evidence of assets a spouse’s private documents obtained by the other spouse peacefully but by stealth.

Until now. The British Court of Appeal, an intermediate appellate court, just struck down that vast body of law.

In the case before the appellate court, office mates of the Husband copied files from office computers for Wife’s use in their divorce court case.

The holding will make it more difficult and expensive for spouses ignorant of the other spouse’s financial affairs to prove their spouse’s income and assets for purposes of determining child support, alimony and property division.

The Court’s justifications? Concerns about violating privilege and encouraging illegal and / or unethical conduct.

The appellate court has denied leave to appeal to Britain’s highest court.

Read more in this Forbes article: Private documents no longer allowed in divorce and this UK Guardian article: Covertly found assets no longer valid in divorce.

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Husband Blames Parental Alienation on Slow Enforcement by Family Court and Lack of Presumption of Rotating Equal Timesharing

Ohio Husband and Wife have Children. Husband and Wife divorce.

Wife and Children move to another state. Wife withholds timesharing and visitation from Husband starting in late 2006.

In Fall of 2009, there is a trial regarding Wife’s alleged noncompliance with visitation and timesharing ordered in Husband and Wife’s divorce.

Husband prevails at trial, and Wife is ordered to allow Husband makeup timesharing and visitation.

But Husband’s victory is hollow. In the intervening months and years, Wife has successfully alienated Children from Husband.

Husband is bitter.

Husband suggests that a presumption of rotating equal timesharing between the parents and expedited enforcement proceedings would have prevented his plight.

But is Husband’s perception correct? Or did Husband himself miss opportunities to avoid or promptly remedy the situation?

Nothing is known of Husband’s specific case beyond what was published in the attributed letter below. Rather, the remarks below are based on a composite of countless Husbands (and Wives) who have had similar experiences.

Husband indicates that timesharing was first denied after Wife and Children relocated.

Huh? How is it that Children relocated? Did Wife’s relocation with Children comply with Ohio law?

Did Husband timely challenge it legally? Had he done so, successfully, that might have solved the problem before it started.

And whatever one’s opinion about rotating equal timesharing may be, it simply is not practicable long distance. So such a presumption would not have helped Husband here.

Wife’s first alleged violation was in 2006. Trial was late in 2009.

While justice in family court is, admittedly, not especially swift, by the same token, three years seems like an excessive delay.

Was there really a three year wait for a trial date? Or did Husband delay pursuing enforcement through the courts, instead waiting and hoping that things would somehow just improve on their own?

An astonishing number of parties wait an astonishingly long time before taking enforcement action through the courts. And then chafe when resolution isn’t instantaneous when they finally do take legal action.

Read more in this Cleveland Plain Dealer letter to the editor: Adopt laws to prevent parental alienation.

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Alleged Deadbeat Physician Earning $1 Million Per Year Has Paid Almost Nothing of the Child Support, Spousal Support and Alimony, and Property Division Awarded to Wife by Florida Divorce Court Order

Florida Husband and Wife divorce in 2008, after more than twenty years of marriage.

Husband and Wife have four Children together.

Husband, a cancer doctor with an annual income close to $1 million, is ordered to pay Wife $35,000 per month in alimony and child support.

Husband is also ordered to pay Wife $1 million as part of property division on their $5 million marital property estate.

But Husband apparently doesn’t want to pay … anything.

And, thanks to a complex, layered network of small business operations, garnishment is frustrated. Each business is in a position to be able to claim that another entity writes the check.

And so Husband has reportedly paid only $60,000 and is running a support arrearage of close to $700,000.

If Husband persists in nonpayment of support, the state may suspend his medical license and his driver’s license.

But that won’t get support into the hands of Wife and Children.

Read more in this Lakeland Ledger article: Doctor’s Medical License in Jeopardy.

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