Custody Award of 4 Year Old to Mother Over Father Who Uses Medical Marijuana is Upheld on Appeal

Maine Father and Mother have four year old Daughter. Mother wants to relocate to Florida.

Father uses medical marijuana. At trial, the Maine family court awarded custody of Daughter to Mother and apparently granted permission to Mother to relocate.

Father appeals, contending that the family court’s ruling at trial was an improper penalty against Father for availing himself of a medical remedy that is legal in Maine.

On appeal, Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court upheld the family court’s ruling at trial.

The appellate court delved into the findings of fact made at trial by the family court.

[Father] uses large amounts of medical marijuana … and has a great deal of marijuana, in many forms, all over the home. Friends and relatives … often drop by the house to obtain or ingest marijuana, and the child has been exposed to marijuana.”

Father has “ voluminous amounts of marijuana-infused baked goods in the freezer and a jar full of marijuana in the kitchen cabinet”.

The evidence at trial in the family court also indicated that Daughter suffered with an ear infection for eighteen days before Father sought treatment for her, and locked Daughter in her room, without access to a bathroom, for an extended period so that he could have privacy while using his medical marijuana.

Based on the evidence presented to the family court at trial, the family court concluded that Father had neglected, if not endangered Daughter, and exercised poor parenting judgment. It did not base its custody award on Father’s use of medical marijuana per se, but rather on Father’s parenting.

Read more in this Bangor [ME] Daily News article: Maine Supreme Court rules against medical marijuana patient in child custody appeal .


Married and Divorcing, In a Blink

British Husband and Wife have a Child together prior to their marriage.

Wife reports that Husband became more volatile and controlling after she became pregnant.

Their wedding day arrives. They have a lovely, happy wedding.

When Wife is ready to get ready for bed, she requests help getting out of her wedding dress.

And then, according to Wife, Husband instead attacked her … and Wife was in fear for her life.

As a result of the wedding night incident:

  1. A restraining order of injunction is entered against Husband
  2. Husband pleads guilty to a criminal assault charge
  3. Husband is ordered to do community service for two years
  4. Husband is ordered to pay Wife compensation for her injuries and
  5. Wife files for divorce.

Read more in this New York Post news article: Man beats wife on wedding night after failing to get her dress off


Divorce Over Birth of Baby with Down’s Syndrome … Perhaps

New Zealand Husband and Armenian Wife have their Baby while both are living in Armenia. Immediately after Baby’s birth, Baby is diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome.

Armenia reportedly treats those diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome little better than outcasts and provides minimal support for their optimal development and integration into mainstream society.

Husband is prepared to return to New Zealand with Baby to give Baby the opportunity to develop optimally and thrive in mainstream society there.

Wife reportedly is torn and uncertain about Baby – and, possibly, Husband.

Husband and Wife divorce almost immediately after Baby’s birth. (It’s not entirely clear precisely which of them really wanted the divorce or why.)

Husband tells his story on a website, hoping to raise money via donations from others who want to help him and Baby return to New Zealand and start a good life for Baby.

Hoping to generate $60,000, Husband has in fact raised $350,000 – so far.

Husband promises that he will donate some of the extra monies raised to charities in Armenia (and New Zealand) that better the options and lives of people with Down’s Syndrome.

Wife responds publicly that Husband was not there for her at the most difficult time of her life and, in effect, abandoned her, prematurely.

The details are just sparse enough that it is uncertain whether Baby’s removal from Armenia may run afoul of any Armenian child custody laws or any international child custody jurisdiction laws, such as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.



Father Arrested for Past Due Child Support … in Twenty-Four Different Child Support Cases

Thirteen separate warrants for contempt of Ohio family courts have been issued against Father.

Father allegedly owes past due child support for children living in Ohio, and has been ignoring pending child support cases in Ohio for four years.

Twenty-four different child support cases, to be precise. Eighteen in a single Ohio county.

The total number of children involved in these child support cases has not been disclosed

Father allegedly owes $368,000 to multiple mothers of his alleged children in Ohio.

Father was captured as a result of the persistence of a law enforcement officer in the county with the eighteen different child support cases pending against Father. An old-fashioned stakeout of some of Father’s friends hit pay dirt.

Father is now confined and will be incarcerated for well over a year, serving a month for each contempt warrant against him.

Read more in this Chicopee [MA] News 22 WWLP TV article via CNN: Fugitive arrested for owing $300K in child support


Only Seventeen (17%) Percent of Children of Divorced and Separated Parents are Awarded Equal Parenting and Equal Timesharing

The National Parents Organization (NPO) has issued a “report card” on the fifty states in the USA in regard to their implementation of what they term “shared parenting”, which appears to be intended to refer to equal parenting and equal timesharing.

The grades weren’t very good. Not a single state “aced” it. All have significant, if not downright enormous room for improvement.

Alaska and Arizona were at the head of the class … with Bs.

New York and Rhode Island were at the bottom of the class … with Fs.

New Jersey didn’t fare much better, earning a D.

Florida made it into the average zone with a C.

The average grade nationwide is 1.63 out of a possible 4.0.

These poor grades explain why NPO reports that only seventeen (17%) percent of children of divorced or separated parents are awarded equal parenting and equal timesharing.

Yet studies suggest that children raised with shared parenting suffer less depression, anxiety, substance abuse, truancy, etc. than children who live primarily with one parent.

Read more in this


When Husband and Wife Divorce Before Surrogacy Contract Ink Dries, Who Is the Legal Mother?

TV talk show host Wife and Husband decide to have a Baby using the services of a Surrogate with Husband’s sperm and a donor’s egg.

Husband, Wife and Surrogate enter 23 page contract under which Husband and Wife agree to pay Surrogate $25,000.

During Surrogate’s pregnancy, Husband and Wife become estranged, separate and ultimately divorce.

Surrogate is listed as mother on Baby’s birth certificate and as noncustodial parent in state records. Wife has had nothing to do with Surrogate or Baby since her estrangement from Husband.

Husband has custody of Baby and applied for low cost state subsidized health care coverage for Baby, who has a blood disorder.

After which California instituted a child support case against Surrogate.

Husband is suing Wife, apparently outside of the divorce proceedings, in an effort to have Wife bear responsibility for Baby’s support.


  1. this New York Daily News article: Sherri Shepherd’s surrogate speaks out for the first time: ‘How can she act like this baby is nonexistent’
  2. this Fox New York TV news article: Surrogate says Sherri Shepherd refuses child
  3. this interview: Sherri Shepherd’s Surrogate Says She’s Being Forced to Pay Child Support

Eleven Year Old Girl Charged with Murdering Two Month Old Baby

A two month old Ohio baby has reportedly died of brutal “blunt impact injuries to the head, neck, body, arms and legs”, consistent with murder.

The injuries occurred while the baby was in the care of a babysitter / friend of longstanding acquaintance of the baby’s mother. The sitter reportedly fell asleep during this time.

The baby was reportedly in the sitter’s care to give its mother a rest.

The baby’s injuries were allegedly inflicted by the sitter’s eleven year old daughter, who has since been charged with murder. The girl is confined in a juvenile detention center.

The girl has been ordered to undergo a mental competency evaluation before the criminal case proceeds.

The babysitter and her daughter reportedly have no criminal history.

It is extremely rare for a child as young as this to be charged with murder, and it is unprecedented in this county.

Ohio law does not permit the girl to be charged as an adult.

This case is disturbing in more ways than one and raises many questions which one can only hope will be asked and answered as the investigation and prosecution go forward.



Parents of Obese Youngsters: Clean Up Your Acts … or Suffer the Financial Penalty

Childhood obesity (like adult obesity) is rampant. Giving rise to and/or setting children up for serious related medical conditions. And forcing kids onto more and more chronic medications at young ages.

Government agencies are beginning to examine this financially and socially costly problem harder and harder, and from various angles, in the hope of making a dent in it.

The latest approach under consideration is to hit parents who are not part of the solution where it just may hurt them the most: their wallets.

The venue is Puerto Rico, where twenty-eight (28%) of children, nearly a third, are obese.

Some legislators there have introduced a bill intended to give parents incentive to play a more proactive role in being part of the solution, by encouraging healthier choices and lifestyles.

The “incentive” is avoidance of an $800 fine to parents whose obese children don’t lose weight within a generous time frame of six months to a year.

The bill sets up a legislative framework under which public schools flag apparent cases of childhood obesity, alert their parents, refer their family to a social worker and, last but not least, involve the health department.

The health department is charged with determining whether the childhood obesity is the result of lifestyle or a medical cause. If the conclusion is lifestyle, health department personnel would devise a diet and exercise program, and monitor compliance and progress via monthly home visits.

The family would be allowed up to a year to demonstrate progress before imposition of the fine.

Some members of The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Puerto Rico chapter reportedly have been critical of the bill.

At present, one can only speculate whether such legislation would in fact chip away at the problem.

Which may be viewed as a social problem. Certainly the infrastructure and mechanism contemplated here parallels that of child protective social services.

Read more in this Yahoo Parenting article from the Associated Press: Parents of Obese Kids Could Be Fined $800 if New Law Passes


Living Together First Does Not Necessarily Doom a Marriage to Failure After All

It has long been touted as accepted wisdom that cohabiting outside of marriage ups the odds of divorce after marriage.

A recent study out of the University of North Carolina actually debunks this axiom – or rather qualifies it.

The study concludes that it is not so much the marital status as the age of the couple at the time of living together that impacts their odds of divorce after marriage.

More specifically, the study reports that couples who cohabit or marry at eighteen years old are more likely to divorce than not, suffering a sky high divorce rate of sixty (60%) percent.

In sharp contrast, couples who defer cohabiting or marrying by just five years improve their odds by half again, slashing their divorce rate to just thirty (30%) percent.

An astounding difference in marriage success / failure rates from ages eighteen to twenty-three.

The study does not appear to have inquired into differences, if any, arising from age differences between partners.

Nor whether deferring marriage or cohabitation by yet another five years, to age twenty-eight, would further improve the odds of a marriage going the distance.

Read more in this Business Insider article: Couples who live together before a certain age are twice as likely to get divorced


The Rise of Pensions in the Divorce Pot of a Maturing Population

Divorces among seniors, the so-called “gray divorce”, has been on the uptake since 1990, actually doubling over the last quarter century.

The needs and concerns of that group of divorcing couples are generally very different from those of shorter marriages of younger couples with young children.

They prefer a more peaceful breakup and tend to take a more “bottom line” oriented approach to the typically greater assets they have accumulated over the years.

One of those assets, often given short shrift by younger couples, is pensions or pension rights.

While not liquid or readily marketable, pensions can have substantial value … if dealt with properly.

Pension division should be accomplished through a detailed QDRO or qualified domestic relations order.

It’s important to dig into all the relevant details, such as:

  • When was the account first established?
  • How much was earned after the wedding date?
  • Are benefits fixed or variable?
  • How are they calculated?
  • What happens if the ex-spouse in title dies before the other ex-spouse?
  • Who are the designated beneficiaries?
  • Were there any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements?
  • Etc., etc.

Though often overlooked or relegated to second tier status, the pension(s) may be the most significant marital assets and warrant careful attention.

Read more in this Chicago Tribute Business / Your Money column: How divorce after 50 may affect your retirement savings