Family Court Denies Visitation to Brazilian Grandparents Who Litigated to Retain Child in Brazil and Thwarted Any Contact Between Father and Child for Years

Wife takes New Jersey Son to Brazil to visit relatives.

And stays there. Permanently.

Wife divorces Husband there and remarries.

And cuts off virtually all contact between Husband and Son.

Husband is awarded custody of Son by the New Jersey family court.

Wife pursues custody of Son in Brazil’s family court.

Wife dies.

Wife’s second husband and Son’s Grandparents continue the litigation in Brazil, resisting Husband’s efforts to have any contact with Son, let alone to procure Son’s return to the US.

After five years, Husband is finally able to secure Son’s return to the US to live with him.

However, Grandparents continue their legal battle in Brazil’s family court.

And Grandparents demand visitation with Son in New Jersey family court as well.

At first, Husband allows limited contact with Grandparents during Son’s transition back to life in the US.

Then Grandparents allegedly try to circumvent Husband to obtain greater visitation.

Husband finally cuts off contact between Grandparents and Son.

The New Jersey family court denies Grandparents’ demands for visitation with Son. Because they persist in trying to thwart New Jersey family court orders via the Brazilian family court and interfere with Husband’s parental responsibility over Son.

Read more in this Asbury Park [NJ] Press article: Sean Goldman grandparents denied visitation after international custody dispute and this New Jersey News Room article: Grandparents of Sean Goldman denied visitation.

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Bracing for the Court Battle Over … The Engagement Ring

Connecticut Boyfriend and Girlfriend start dating in 2007.

Boyfriend takes Girlfriend to Italy toward end of 2008.

While there, Boyfriend proposes and presents Girlfriend with a $5,000 engagement ring.

Ring is a little too shabby for Girlfriend’s tastes.

Boyfriend takes it back.

And presents Girlfriend with a $12,000 ring.

That sits better with Girlfriend, and she accepts it.

Possibly because of the substitution or perhaps not, Boyfriend falls upon some harder financial times.

As a result, Boyfriend and Girlfriend break up.

What of the ring?

Well, Boyfriend wants it back now.

Girlfriend refuses, claiming it was a Christmas present.

Who gets the engagement ring?

A Connecticut family court rules that Girlfriend must return the engagement ring to Boyfriend.

This holding represents something of a (modern) shift in the law of premarital breakups.

Read more in this Connecticut Post article: Not only is the romance over, but the fiance gets his ring back.

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Maryland May Become First State to Authorize Court-Established Visitation and Timesharing for Pets in Divorces

Maryland is poised to become what may be the first state to treat pets of divorcing couples as more than mere property.

Under proposed legislation, the family court would be authorized to establish visitation with a pet just as family courts establish timesharing for children.

The one glaring difference is that the family court would not be authorized to order payment of “pet support” or reimbursement of pet-related expenses by one spouse to the other.

If passed, this proposed legislation would represent a significant advance in the status of pets in divorces.

Currently, although spouses may agree to any arrangement they wish regarding their pets, the law views them as merely personal property to be awarded just the same as any other tangible property, based on fair market value.

Read more in this Washington Examiner article: When mom and dad split up, it’s the pets that suffer.

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Young Woman Makes Paying Her Boyfriend’s Child Support for Another Woman’s Children Her Top Priority

Girlfriend and her two toddlers cohabitate with Boyfriend.

Boyfriend has child from another relationship.

Boyfriend owes back child support.

How much?

Enough to land him in jail for nonpayment of support.

Girlfriend wants Boyfriend back home with her.

So, she, consciously or unconsciously, resolves to do what she must to accomplish that.

That turns out to include allegedly robbing a bank for child support money.

Girlfriend also reportedly uses a toy gun.

After allegedly committing the robbery, Girlfriend heads to the jail to pay Boyfriend’s child support arrears.

Needless to say, Girlfriend is caught and arrested.

Eventually, convicted. And sentenced to six years’ incarceration … to be followed by five years of probation.

Now neither Boyfriend nor Girlfriend are at home with Girlfriend’s toddlers.

And Boyfriend likely isn’t seeing his own child either.

Read more in this Imperfect Parent piece: Sentenced bank robber says she did it for child support.

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That Cheatin’ Internet Social Network

It seems that tens of millions of people are burning their keyboards up on social networking sites, especially Facebook.

Interacting with everyone from friends and colleagues to friends from college and grad school … including long lost loves.

Apparently, there is something about the internet that tends to strip away restraints and inhibitions and lends itself to secrecy.

Permitting what would undoubtedly be innocent, casual, occasional contacts in the brick and mortar world into ongoing connections.

The difference between accidentally running into someone from your past and re-discovering someone from your past … and re-igniting an old flame.

So dramatic is this trend that Loyola University is warning couples against using Facebook, to guard against them becoming the one in five marriages allegedly “ruined” by Facebook.

Experts conclude that, in most cases, innocent curiosity and secrecy can turn into dangerous intimacy.

Read more in this [North Carolina] Huliq article: Divorce rates rise, curiosity and Facebook major culprits.

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Tennessee To Take a Fresh Look at the Concept of Permanent Alimony “These Days”

Times change. Or, as one of my law school professors used to put it, “the pendulum swings”.

Tennessee Husband and Wife are divorcing.

Husband and Wife have been married for 21 years.

Husband and Wife have two adult children together.

Husband earns $137,000 per year.

Wife, who is 43 years old, earns a considerably lesser $72,000.

At trial, the family court denies Wife any alimony whatsoever.

On appeal by Wife, an intermediate level appellate court awards Wife $1,250 in monthly alimony for life, unless she remarries.

This time, Husband appeals.

The assertion under Tennessee law is that such an award is not appropriate, because the Wife is not 50 or older, and/or was not married to Husband long enough and/or did not sacrifice her career sufficiently for the marriage, and/or Wife is not unable to obtain a “good” job.

Policy considerations include that permanent alimony allegedly has the unintended side effect of discouraging long-term marriages. Husband further argues that Wife is discouraged from remarrying with such a permanent alimony award.

Wife, on the other hand, maintains that she deserves permanent alimony, arguing that she once worked two jobs to get Husband through school so that he could get to the point where his career is now.

At a high level, as in Florida, Tennessee looks to the paying spouse’s ability to pay alimony and the receiving spouse’s need for alimony.

The trial court seems to be more in tune with the trend sweeping the nation … now, than the intermediate appellate court. The pendulum has swung … again.

Under Florida law, significance is still attached to the fact that the marriage endured more than twenty years, but the relatively young age of the Wife and her actual earnings history would not be overlooked by a Florida court either.

Read more in this Knoxville [TN] News Sentinel article: Tennessee Supreme Court considers life alimony.

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Illinois Mother Held in Contempt and Arrest Warrant Issued for Disobedience of Court Order for Timesharing and Visitation

Illinois Husband and Wife are divorcing.

They have a three year old Daughter together.

Husband is killed. Wife’s grandmother is convicted of murdering him.

Husband’s parents, Grandparents, seek visitation and timesharing with Daughter.

The court grants Grandparents’ request for visitation.

Wife reportedly has refused to comply with the court’s order for Grandparents’ timesharing since last November.

Wife expresses a desire to relocate to Florida.

Grandparents ask the court to hold Wife in contempt.

Wife does not appear at hearing on contempt.

Court finds Wife to be in contempt and issues a warrant for Wife’s arrest.

Read more in this [Illinois] State Journal-Register article: Arrest warrant issued for Jennifer Watkins in visitation case.

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Father Out on Bail Seeks Visitation with Baby Son He Put into an Oven

Kentucky Father places Infant son into an oven. A cold one, but an oven.

Father is arrested for this conduct.

A Kentucky criminal court judge bars Father from having any contact with Infant.

Close to a year ago.

Now, Father’s attorney requests supervised visitation for Father, since Father is at-large on bail.

However, the criminal court judge denies Father’s request, and extends his earlier ruling absolutely prohibiting any contact with Infant.

Read more in this Paducah Sun article: Dad in oven case gets no visitation and this Lex 18 NBC TV News article: Man Not Allowed Contact With Infant Son He Put In Cold Oven.

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Planning and Preparing for One Spouse’s Buyout of the Other Spouse’s Net Equity Interest in a Marital Home

Own a marital home and going through a divorce?

Then what will happen to that marital home has to be resolved in the divorce.

One outcome is for the parent with whom the children reside most of the time to remain in the marital home.

This outcome can come about in two different ways.

One, the spouse who stays in the home can have exclusive use and possession of the home until the youngest child turns eighteen. In this scenario, both parents remain owners of the home and remain on the mortgage until the property is sold and the proceeds divided.

Alternatively, the spouse who stays in the home can buy out the other spouse’s equity interest at the time of the divorce and refinance the mortgage to remove the other spouse from the mortgage as well as the title. This scenario, of course, requires the spouse who stays in the home to qualify for a new mortgage without the other spouse.

The last alternative is for both spouses to sell the home to a third party and divide the net proceeds.

A mortgage professional offers some advice for those going the sometimes thorny buyout route.

  • keep in mind that not keeping joint debts current during the divorce process can adversely affect both spouses’ credit and the buying out spouse’s qualification for refinancing, regardless of whom any particular debt is ultimately assigned to in the divorce

  • as early in the process as possible, the spouse who will be buying out the other spouse should open their own new credit accounts and close all joint accounts and also verify their credit rating, to avoid surprises

  • from the vantage point of buying out the other spouse’s net equity, it is best to resolve all property division as soon as possible, with determining the marital home’s current fair market value, to both spouses’ satisfaction, being a top priority

  • the spouse buying out the other spouse should remember, for purposes of refinancing, to add to their income the amount of child support and any alimony they should be receiving

  • the spouse being bought out would do well to verify that the mortgage lender has in fact satisfied and released their obligations under the original note and mortgage

Read more in this Toronto Move Smartly article: Mortgage Advice for Couples Planning a Divorce.

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Family Court Grants Restraining Order or Injunction Freezing Marital Assets and Prohibiting Unilateral Transfer or Disposition During Divorce

In too many divorces, one spouse has, at least arguably, legitimate concerns about the other spouse’s willingness to hide or dispose of assets acquired during their marriage. Such assets are generally marital assets, subject to property division in the couple’s divorce.

What to do?

The spouse who does not control such assets can request that the family court enter a restraining order, or injunction, freezing such assets and prohibiting the spouse who controls them (or both spouses) from hiding, transferring or otherwise using them unilaterally, until division of property in the divorce case is resolved.

In a recent high profile case abroad, the Colombian family court has ordered that the assets of Wife, a politician, be seized, at the request of Husband.

The restraining order, or injunction, is, arguably, particularly appropriate in that case because marital assets are distributed across the globe.

But such measures are by no means restricted to high profile cases.

Read more in this Colombia Reports article: ‘Ingrid Betancourt’s properties seized’ and this Miami Herald article: Colombia freezes Betancourt assets in divorce case.

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