Permanent Alimony Award is Upheld In Long Term Marriage Where Relatively Young Spouse Works Only Part-Time Due to Fatigue Associated With Multiple Sclerosis

Iowa Husband and Wife are divorcing after nearly twenty years of marriage. They have three Children together.

Wife works part-time as a nurse and seeks alimony from Husband, a supervising mechanic.

Husband contends that Wife should work full-time to earn more money and receive benefits. Husband asks the court to reduce spousal support following a ten year period.

Wife has had multiple sclerosis since before the parties’ marriage. One of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, a sometimes disabling disease, is extreme fatigue.

Wife maintains that she cannot work full-time because she requires a day off for rest after two days of work.

Wife’s medications to treat her multiple sclerosis will cost a whopping $4,300 per month if her coverage through Husband’s health insurance plan ends.

Husband earns five times Wife’s salary from his primary employment and his part-time work on the side.

At trial, the family court awards Wife $600 per month in permanent alimony. The divorce court further orders Husband to maintain Wife on his insurance as long as is permitted. The family court also awards Wife primary custody of their Children and awards Wife child support.

Both Husband and Wife appeal the family court’s rulings at trial.

On appeal, the intermediate level appellate court increases Wife’s award of permanent alimony to $700 per month, but reduces the award of child support. Otherwise, the court upholds the trial court’s rulings.

On appeal to Iowa’s highest court, the intermediate appellate court’s rulings are upheld.

Read more in this Iowa family court case.

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Florida Mother-in-Law Allegedly Shoots Son-in-Law When He Comes to Pick Son Up for Visitation

Florida Husband and Wife are divorcing. Not amicably.

They have one Son, who is three years old. They are reportedly battling over custody and timesharing.

Husband arrives at Grandmother’s house to pick up Son for his visitation.

As Husband approaches Grandmother, Grandmother allegedly reveals a handgun and discharges three bullets into Husband.

Husband flees.

Grandmother calls the police … and reports that Husband drew a pistol and threatened her with it.

Grandmother files for a domestic violence restraining order of protection against Husband.

Husband later calls the police as well. But Husband’s account departs from Grandmother’s.

However there are two variations from the all too common “he said, she said” in divorce and domestic violence cases. First, the she is Husband’s mother-in-law, rather than his wife.

Second and more significantly, Husband captures the entire incident on an audio recorded by his cell phone’s video camera.

Grandmother is arrested for attempted murder and detained.


  1. this Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel article: Cheryl Hepner accused of shooting in-law Salvatore Miglino, of Boca Raton, sheriff’s office says

  2. this Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel article: iPhone captures shooting in Tamarac, authorities say and

  3. this Good Morning America ABC TV news article: Woman, 66, Shoots Estranged Son-in-Law Over Custody Dispute, Florida Police Say

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Parents Plead Guilty to Interference with Custody for Allegedly Abducting Their Eight Children From Foster Care – Easily

New York Husband and Wife have seven Children together.

One of their Children reportedly arrives at school with one eye bloodshot.

This apparently precipitates a report of alleged child abuse to New York’s child welfare agency.

Children are removed from Husband and Wife’s home and taken into child protective custody.

And placed in foster care, reportedly in three separate foster homes. Nearly three years ago.

Along the way, an eighth child of Husband and Wife is born. She joins her siblings in foster care.

Husband and Wife claim to have complied with the Family Court’s juvenile dependency case plan with the expectation of being reunited with Children.

They maintain that they are good parents who provided a loving home. They are critical of the care provided by New York’s child welfare agency, citing the agency’s unnecessary medication of one Child for hyperactivity, inadequate security, Children’s complaints of insufficient food and appearance of bruises and cuts on Children.

But Husband and Wife assert that they got wind that their parental rights were going to be terminated and Children were going to be adopted.

Wife has a supervised visitation with Children at a foster care and supervised visitation facility.

Children walk out of the facility with Wife.

And Husband and Wife allegedly go on the run with Children.

For seven days. Until they are caught by law enforcement.

And Husband collapses and is hospitalized for several days.

Children are in good condition. Husband and Wife are arrested on charges of kidnapping Children.

Husband and Wife later plead guilty to interference with custody.

They serve sixty days of confinement and are also sentenced to three years of probation.

Children remain in foster care. Husband and Wife are barred from any contact with Children.

A hearing on visitation for Husband and Wife is forthcoming.


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Open, Public Family Courts? Maybe Not So Much … in Some Areas

As a matter of public policy, Florida is big on transparency. That’s why we have Sunshine Laws.

In general, our courtrooms are open. Even in family court.

Not so everywhere though.

New York law mandates that its family courts are open to public access. And in theory they are, going on fourteen years.

But, in practice, the reality is a bit different.

Common practices have been demonstrated to include:

  • locked courtroom doors

  • Do Not Enter and Stop signs on courtroom doors

  • signs proclaiming that only people on official business may enter

  • guards challenging those seeking entrance to courtrooms

  • guards flat-out denying access to courtrooms

  • a judge admonishing a reporter to report to a clerk to show his press pass, who in turn told the reporter … that he needed permission from the chief administrative judge to observe in the courtroom

  • another judge characterizing family court proceedings as “confidential”

How hit or miss is open access to family courts in New York?

A reporter on a mission to find out was actually denied access to thirty-five courtrooms – out of forty.

Even after identifying himself as a member of the press.

Top representatives of New York’s courts apologized and vowed to do better.

Time will tell …

Read more in this New York Times article: New York Family Courts Say Keep Out, Despite Order.

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Disabled Woman under Public Guardianship is Denied Any Contact with Her Biological Sister Because of Sister’s Physical Resistance against Taking Woman into Custody When Sister Was Roughly Four Years Old

Twenty-nine year old Australian Woman disabled by both cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis is committed to the legal guardianship of a child welfare Agency in her childhood.

At the time when Woman was taken into government care, her younger Sister was about 4 years old. Sister reportedly resisted the government action, and allegedly struck a child welfare worker.

Woman’s file today reflects that Sister, now twenty, has “anger management issues” … and, as a result, Sister is denied any meaningful contact with Woman, even though Sister keenly desires to have a relationship with Woman.

Sister has appealed to the welfare Agency that administers adult guardianship in Australia, but the Agency has refused to intervene in the situation.

And so Sister is limited to contacting Woman’s caregiver each week, in the hope of finding out how Woman is doing and securing eventual granting of her repeated requests for access to Woman.

Read more in this Adelaide [Australia] Now article: Let me help look after my disabled sister.

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Child Placed in Foster Care … Over Failure to Lose Weight at Home

Mother has eight year old Son, who is an honor student actively engaged in his school community.

Son is overweight. Extremely.

Just under 220 pounds. Sixty of them gained in one year.

At least one doctor has characterized Son’s weight gain as “life threatening”.

Doctors have ruled out a medical reason for Son’s weight gain, concluding that it is “environmental”.

Ohio child welfare agency (Agency) intervenes due to Son’s sleep apnea.

Son is deemed to be at high risk of developing serious weight-related health conditions.

Son fails to lose weight after a year.

So … Agency removes Son from Mother’s care and places him in foster care.

Ohio juvenile dependency court rules that Mother has neglected Son’s medical care … because Son has not dropped any excess weight to speak of.

Mother and Son are granted one visit per week. For two hours.

An Ohio public defender reports that, by contrast, other Ohio parents have been allowed to keep custody of their children despite having serious drug abuse issues and having beaten their children.

Son has reportedly lost some weight in foster care. But his foster parents are reportedly struggling to keep up with Son’s medical care.

Mother is seeking to regain custody of Son.

Son is representative of the seventeen percent of American children who are obese.

The foster care system is already stretched thin serving children who are abandoned, abused and neglected as those terms are commonly understood.

While some in the medical community advocate placing children in foster care to combat extreme obesity, others reject such extreme measures based only on probability of children developing certain medical conditions, rather than actual diagnoses.

Proposals have been advanced to provide enhanced services to obese children and their families so that such obese children can remain in their homes. Arguably a more practical alternative from a societal perspective and a more palatable alternative from the families’ perspectives.

Read more in this Reuters article: 219-pound boy shows growing problem of extreme obesity and this Cleveland Plain Dealer piece: County places obese Cleveland Heights child in foster care.

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