Revisited: Problem Children? Problem Parents? Social Problems?

Yesterday I posted on the subject of Problem Children? Problem Parents? Social Problems? about parents at a crossroads regarding their children’s extremely anti-social behavior.

In addition to the potential legal remedies and social support services touched upon in yesterday’s post, the following timely physician-authored article, The Effects of Soda and Low-nutrient Foods on Children’s Behavior, highlights another, often overlooked, option for parents (and social services support providers) to explore before passing the point of no return.

Citing six separate medical journal articles, Joel Fuhrman, MD reports that:

A study on soda consumption found an increase in behavior and attention problems in five-year-old children … with increasing daily consumption of soda. … The authors … found a significant association between soda consumption and aggression, withdrawn behavior and poor attention. … Blood glucose levels do affect the workings of the brain, and habitual high sugar intake has been shown to impair cognitive function. … Several previous studies on high school students have also associated soda consumption with aggressive behavior, as well as depression and self-harm…”

Arguably, over-consumption of sugar, epitomized by drinking too much soda, mimics mental illness. Ingesting too much sugar may cause some of the same symptoms as some mental illnesses.

These studies seem to suggest that dietary interventions on behalf of symptomatic children, specifically, implementing restrictions on their sugar consumption, could well alleviate anti-social behavior by problem children!

With no side effects or down sides, this simple and cost-effective strategy is surely well worth exploring and testing. There is nothing to lose. And there is the potential for the children, their parents and the community as a whole to gain and save quite a lot.


Problem Children? Problem Parents? Social Problems?

One of the saddest situations divorce and child custody attorneys like me encounter is Problem Children whose parents have reached the point where they are ready to throw in the towel.


Most commonly, these Problem Children are adopted, very often from foreign countries. But sometimes they are their parents’ biological offspring.


These Problem Children are not merely naughty.


They are typically labeled with multiple to numerous diagnoses at the intersection of bad behavior and mental illness. Most of which carry a diagnosis that is at best guarded and at worst positively discouraging.


By the time the parents come to an attorney hoping to somehow sever their legal bond with their Problem Children, remove them from their home and the remainder of their family, and relieve themselves of legal liability and responsibility for them, the parents have generally exhausted all available options with governmental agencies running the gamut from mental health services to juvenile justice services.


To no avail.


And now they want to un-adopt or reverse adoption of adopted Problem Children, or emancipate their biological Problem Children.


This is the topic of a haunting and disturbing article in the Huffington Post: Un-Adopting: Is Divorcing Children an Acceptable Option?


The one thing the article does not reflect to any degree is the heartfelt drained and exhausted desperation that many of these parents exhibit at consultations with attorneys.


They have turned over every stone they can think of. And run out of stones.


Sometimes they are unaware of some stones. Sometimes they really have hefted them all and still come up empty.


For many years, divorcing parents in Florida have been required to take a parenting course. It is only more recently that premarital education has become part of the legal framework of getting married.


There are usually pre-adoption home studies and social investigations.


Perhaps the human toll and even the social costs of Problem Children could be reduced by more pre-adoption education and trained facilitation of the extended process of integration and assimilation of adopted children into their adoptive home, particularly where there are already other children in the adoptive home.


If so, do Problem Children and their parents really need and deserve less social services support simply because they are biologically connected?


Divorce Risk Factor: Large Age Disparity Between Spouses

A study out of Emory University finds that couples where both spouses are the same age have the greatest likelihood of an enduring marriage.


A disparity of just three years can noticeably tip the scales against a lasting marriage.


A spread of ten years? That catapults the odds of divorce by a whopping thirty-nine (39%) percent.


A therapist attributes this statistic to consequential differences in communications styles, frames of reference and life experiences.


She recommends the following steps before taking the plunge:


  1. Listen to your gut to know whether the age gap will be a problem. Ignoring it won’t make it go away.
  2. Consider whether you are tough enough and committed enough to risk other relationships and put up with gossip behind your backs.
  3. Make sure you’re not going to blame every disagreement on the age skew.
  4. Try to build a social circle of support with other couples with similar age differences.


Read more in this My Fox Houston KRIV FOX 26 piece: Four ways to minimize divorce risk when spouse vary greatly in age


A Divorce Tale: A Pen May Be Mightier Than a Sword … And May Translate to the Small Screen

Husband and Wife marry.


Husband and Wife divorce. Bitterly.


Later, Wife’s mother (MIL) writes her first book. About a couple who go through a bitter divorce.


The storyline bears an uncanny resemblance to Wife’s allegations in her divorce.


The husband character in MIL’s book is portrayed as a criminal, a deadbeat and … a lousy father.


MIL allegedly furnishes copies of her book to friends and family, to the optometry school Husband attends… and many optometry schools in the US.


Then Husband is reportedly expelled from his optometry school. And unsuccessful in gaining admission to any others.


Husband files a civil lawsuit right here in Palm Beach County, apparently for claims in the nature of defamation, libel, tortious interference with business activities and relationships, and/or related claims.


Husband’s lawsuit has been dismissed … but it could, theoretically, be pressed in a different state in the future.


Meanwhile, MIL’s book reportedly may be turned into a made for television movie …




  1. this Palm Beach New Times article: Did John Scott’s Marriage Become a Tell-All Book?
  2. this Palm Beach New Times article: Florida Man Trashed in Tell-All Book by Former Mother-in-Law, Lawsuit Says
  3. this Cleveland’s New 102 CBS Local news article: Not Getting Your Child Support? Maybe This Will Help  



Boyfriend Arrested Second Time for Battery on Girlfriend and Child Abuse of Girlfriend’s Son

Girlfriend and Boyfriend have been involved for three years.

Several months ago, Boyfriend was arrested for battery and child abuse for allegedly punching Girlfriend and threatening to “slit” Girlfriend’s and Girlfriend’s eleven year old Son’s throats. Nonetheless, Girlfriend opposed prosecution, and authorities declined to prosecute him.

While at Girlfriend’s Home now, Girlfriend informs Boyfriend that she wants to break up with him.

Son is also in the Home at this time. And Son hears screams and other loud noises from Girlfriend’s Bedroom and then attempts to call police.

The door frame to Bedroom is damaged, and broken glass is strewn throughout the Bedroom.

Boyfriend threatens Son, and then chokes and punches him.

Again, authorities arrest Boyfriend, and Girlfriend opposes legal measures against Boyfriend. Son fills police in on what happened.

Boyfriend is confined in County jail.

Read more in this Palm Beach post article: PBSO: West Palm man beat girlfriend, choked her 11-year-old son


Canadian Court Orders Child Be Returned to England for a Child Custody Determination Under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

Husband, a resident of England, and Wife, a resident of Canada, meet in London while Wife is on a work assignment. Husband and Wife marry and have Son.

A few years later, Husband’s and Wife’s marriage hits a rough patch. Husband and Wife agree to send Son to stay for a while with Wife’s parents in Canada so they can focus on trying to save their marriage.

But in time Wife leaves Husband and returns to Canada. And unilaterally decides to keep Son there.

Husband files in Canada for return to Son to England under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

In an effort to exploit an exception under the Hague Convention, Wife alleges that Husband uses drugs and would therefore endanger Son.

This strategy might have had some legs, except that Husband passed a reliable type of drug testing. (And countered that the same allegation was true of Wife – to which Wife made no response.)

Since the exception to the Hague Convention did not apply, the Canadian Court held that England has child custody jurisdiction over Son, and therefore Son must be returned to England for a child custody determination on the merits.


this CBC News article: Omar Allibhoy, celebrity chef, wins child abduction case in B.C. court


this Canadian station CKNW AM 980 news article: London celebrity chef wins custody fight in BC court


Child Abuse and Neglect Come in Too Many Forms

Louisiana Mother has two Children, ages three and four years old.

Mother reportedly goes out to have her hair styled at a beauty salon.

Mother allegedly leaves Children alone, for hours, at their Home.

Home catches fire.

Both Children die.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Mother is expected to be charged with two counts of negligent homicide.






The Big Wedding: Could It Really Doom You to a Big Divorce?

We’ve all watched it play out with at least one couple we know. They get engaged and are euphoric.

Then it begins. Planning The Wedding.

The Wedding turns into a production, nearly worthy of Broadway or the Silver Screen.

For months, it consumes the couple, their thoughts, their very lives.

Oh yeah, also their money. Pretty much all of it. Sometimes their parents’ money too.

It takes on a life of its own. And grows and expands

It generates tensions between the couple and between the couple and their respective parents. It ignites arguments.

But, hey, this is The Wedding. The biggest, most important, most memorable day of their lives, right?

Well, apparently the couple and their loved ones have some reason to re-evaluate The Wedding Plan.

Because a study out of Emory University finds that “the more you dish out on the big day the shorter your marriage will be”. (Ouch!)

This is true regardless of the couple’s income.

The clear import of the study is to hold the line at no more than … $1,000, or suffer the consequence of heightened risk of divorce.

So a couple’s best bet might just be a simple exchange of vows before a justice of the peace, followed by a long weekend at Disney. Then back to work and on to everyday married life.

Read more in this PBS NewsHour article: Why spending less on your wedding could save your marriage.


Collecting Child Support: No Child, No Problem

Iowa Woman and Man have brief relationship after “meeting” on the internet.
A couple of months after their last encounter, Woman notifies Man that she is pregnant.

Eventually, Woman provides Man with pictures of the Baby and even a copy of the Baby’s birth certificate. Just about everything Man could have asked for … oh, except a DNA paternity test proving he was the father of Baby.

Woman reportedly threatened to go after more child support money if Man forced her to go to family court to file a child support case against him to collect her child support.
So Man agreed to pay Woman the $1,000 per month she asked for.

All told, Man paid approximately $100,000 for six years.

So, what’s wrong with this picture?

Well, it turns out that Woman was not pregnant as claimed and did not give birth to Man’s child. It was allegedly all an example of the proverbial con job.

A large backfire on Woman.

Now she has been indicted on a federal mail fraud charge carrying a possible penalty of twenty years’ imprisonment … and a fine of up to $250,000 – considerably more than she had collected from Man in child support.
Read more in:

  1. this Kanhakee, IL Daily Journal article: Prosecutors: Woman faked pregnancy, collected $100,000 in child support
  2. this Des Moines Register article:  Iowa woman fakes birth to collect child support

Divorce Laws Are Different in Every State; For Example, Take These Representative Alimony Awards

One of the hazards in our mobile society is far flung contacts comparing notes on their divorces and child custody cases.

I’m admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey and Florida, and I have actually practiced law in all three states.

The laws are different in New York, New Jersey and Florida.

Three identical families in Fort Lauderdale, Brooklyn and Trenton with identical incomes and circumstances and histories will probably have different family court awards of spousal support (alimony) and child support, as well as property division and child custody and other child-related matters. I know this from experience.

I was pretty confident divorce court awards would also vary widely among the other forty-seven states. And I haven’t been disappointed.

The New York Times recently published a more scientific comparative study of broad spending patterns in eighteen major metropolitan areas across the United States. All of the results are really quite interesting.

But as far as the divorce realm goes in particular, alimony and spousal support really can vary quite dramatically, and surprisingly. A few interesting statistics.

Alimony payments in the following metropolitan areas relate to the national average

as follows:

Metro Area Percentage Relative to National Average

Philadelphia 160%

Minneapolis 200%

San Francisco 250%

Boston 330%

Clearly, this is not merely a “cost of living” adjustment.


  1. this New York Times article: How Your City Influences Your Spending
  2. this New York Times article: What People Buy Where
  3. this Curbed Los Angeles article: Los Angeles Spends Way More Than Everyone Else on Motorcycles and Funerals