US Supreme Court Expands Witnesses Allowed To Testify Against Child Abusers

Ohio Mother leaves Son, three years old, and Daughter, eighteen months old, in the care of her Boyfriend. Boyfriend allegedly physically abuses Son and Daughter, leaving visible injuries on their persons.

Son’s preschool teachers question Son about who caused the injuries they saw. Son answers with Boyfriend’s nickname.

At the criminal trial against Boyfriend, Son’s teachers testify as to their conversation with Son. Son is not allowed to testify himself because of his age.

Boyfriend is convicted of child abuse of both Son and Daughter … and sentenced to twenty-eight years in prison.

On appeal, Boyfriend attacks his conviction on the grounds that the schoolteachers’ testimony was inadmissible hearsay and Boyfriend was denied his right to confront his accuser, Son.

The Ohio Supreme Court agrees with Boyfriend and overturns his conviction.

On further appeal, however, the United States Supreme Court holds that school teachers may testify in criminal trials of alleged child abusers as to what a child told the teacher in conversations primarily intended to protect the child, rather than to prosecute the alleged child abuser.

The high court’s rationale is that the children’s statements were taken in emergency situations, for the purpose of protecting them – and not by law enforcement officers with the intention of making a criminal case against the alleged perpetrator.

In both family court and juvenile dependency court (where it is decided whether to place or maintain children in foster care), there are also restrictions on children testifying directly and on who is permitted to testify about what children said to them.

This Supreme Court ruling will likely have ramifications in family courts and juvenile dependency courts regarding who may testify in child custody (parenting responsibility) and visitation (timesharing) cases as to what children told them.



Young Woman Returns to US with Mother after Decade in Hiding from Alleged Sexual Abuse by Father

New Hampshire Husband and Wife, both medical doctors, have Daughter together.

Husband and Wife divorce in 1998. Both remarry, and Wife has another child, Son.

Wife has accused Husband of physically abusing Wife.

When Daughter is roughly eight years old, Wife accuses Husband of physically abusing Daughter and of sexually abusing Daughter.

Law enforcement declined to prosecute Husband after investigation.

The New Hampshire family court ordered no restrictions on Husband’s visitation and timesharing with Daughter. Some involved in the case believed that Wife coached Daughter in an effort to alienate Daughter from Husband.

So, in 2004, Wife and her husband, Stepdad, secretly relocated with Daughter to a remote area in the Honduras. Later, they relocated to a remote area of Costa Rica.

During this time, Husband and Stepdad were indicted in New Hampshire for custodial interference and the family court awarded primary custody of Daughter to Husband.

Wife and Stepdad lived abroad for a decade … until well after Daughter turned eighteen. And then returned to the US, understanding that they would have to “face the music” for their actions.

Wife and Stepdad are charged with felony custodial interference and other charges … and eventually enter a plea deal in which they plead guilty to the one charge each of misdemeanor custodial interference, and agree to serve relatively brief sequential sentences in prison.

Daughter continues to maintain that Husband sexually abused her.


  1. this Boston Globe article: A decade later, questions linger in Mary Nunes abuse case
  2. this [St. Johnsbury, VT] Caledonian Record article: Runaway Kelley Couple Pleads Guilty and
  3. this [Boston] WCVB ABC TV 5 article: Mom, stepdad plead guilty to fleeing country with daughter .



Cop Allegedly Murders Ex-Wife Before Young Daughter Over Child Support

New Jersey Police officer-Husband and Wife recently finalized their divorce after twenty-three years of marriage and three years’ separation.

Wife alleged in her divorce papers that Husband was abusive, and had both pointed a gun at her and kicked her in the stomach while she was pregnant.

The couple had nine Children together, some of whom are now adults.

Husband was living with another woman for the last couple of years.

Yet last month he followed Wife in their respective cars, with their seven year old Daughter in his car, and repeatedly shot Wife, killing her in full view of Daughter and fellow-officers called to the scene.

Husband was reportedly upset over his child support obligations.

Husband has been charged with first degree murder and child endangerment. He is being held pending posting $2 million bail.


  1. this New York Daily News article: New Jersey cop’s ex-wife alleged abuse, porn addiction before killing
  2. this NBC TV 4 news article: Off-Duty New Jersey Police Officer Charged With Murdering Ex-Wife in Front of Daughter and
  3. this CBS News Crimesider article: Report: N.J. cop’s alleged slaying of ex-wife not first time he pointed gun at her .

Family Court Judge Who Terminates Father’s Visitation Without Even Being Asked Gets Reversed on Appeal

More often than one might imagine, a parent comes in and recounts the failings of the other parent of their child as a parent.

Compared to the general population of parents, the failings range from merely departures from the ideal to understandably disappointing to disturbing to downright horrifying.

“We have to make sure they don’t get visitation,” they say.

In the overwhelming majority of those cases though, that’s just not going to happen. It would undercut their position to even ask.

In Florida.

Which is why this case in Buffalo, New York stands out.

Mother requests that Father’s visitation with Child be supervised. More specifically, supervised by a “social services agency”.

And then, astonishingly, the New York family court judge, all on his own, orders that Father’s visitation be terminated.

Well, needless to say, Father appeals. And an intermediate level appeals court reverses the family court’s ruling, and paves the way for Father to have supervised visitation.

Read more in this article: Panel Overturns Ruling Barring Father’s Visitation


Ex-Wife Sues Over Ex-Husband’s Website Showing Her As Offering Sexual Services to the Public

Pennsylvania Husband and Wife divorce. Wife remarries and moves on with her life.

Husband may be a different story.

Wife alleges that Husband created an internet website on which he depicts Wife as offering sexual favors to the public. And that Husband set this all up from his workplace.

Wife sues Husband for both negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress and Husband’s employer for the negligent variation of the claim.

Defendants raised legal deficiencies and shortcomings in Wife’s position out of the gate. And the presiding judge sided with the defendants on almost all of them … but afforded Wife the opportunity to try to correct and shore up her court papers.

Some of the defects in Wife’s allegations were insufficient detail and specificity.

More problematic for the Wife, however, were the court’s rulings that Husband, by virtue of their divorce, no longer owed a marital duty to his former wife. Failing that, the Wife would have to be able to allege some independent duty, such as contractual or fiduciary duties, the breach of which could possibly support a claim for damages.

Threats of the type of post-breakup conduct that Husband reportedly engaged in are actually rampant in the internet era. Acting on the threats is significantly less common.

But the judge on this case undoubtedly was mindful of the potential for floodgates to open up based on still novel cases of this sort.

Read more in this [Philadelphia] Legal Intelligencer article: Ex-Husband Off Hook for False Sex Ad, for Now .


Japan: Cheating! With a Prostitute? Oh, It’s OK Then …

Family law varies from state to state and, of course, country to country. One example of a nation with substantially different child custody laws, for example, is Japan.

And that’s not all. In Japan, a wronged spouse can sue for money damages the person who cheated with their spouse. This is intended to bolster the sanctity of marriage.

It seems that wealthy Japanese Husband regularly engages the services of a bar Hostess (a classier version of a prostitute) …over a seven year period.

Wife sues Hostess for damages resulting in the end of her marriage.

Japanese family court judge dismisses Wife’s case though, ruling that sex with third parties for money isn’t really an affair and does no harm to the marriage.

Read more in this New York Post article: Judge rules that sleeping with a prostitute isn’t adultery


Parents Using Medical Marijuana, Even Legally, Suffer the Consequences in Family Court

Arizona Mother has Daughter.

Mother suffers from a seizure disorder.

Mother uses marijuana, legal in Arizona, to control her seizures.

Mother sends Daughter to stay with her Brother, a cop, in Kansas for a while.

And some time after that, law enforcement enters the picture, taking Daughter into child protective custody and charging Mother with physical, mental and emotional child neglect.

The child welfare agency places Daughter in foster care, ultimately placing her with Mother’s Brother.

Even where medical marijuana use is perfectly legal, in family court, medical users of cannabis are often penalized with loss of child custody and even restriction of visitation with their minor chidlren



World’s Most Expensive Divorce … Not Quite So Much Now

Biggest ticket divorce of Russian billionaire has Husband paying $4 billion Swiss francs to his Wife.

A Swiss appellate court, however, whittled that down substantially, to 564 million Swiss francs.

This time, Wife promises to appeal.

The discrepancy, according to Wife, is based on timing of the calculation of Husband’s net worth. Specifically, Husband transferred significant shares to a trust … and then sold them at a tremendous profit a few years later.

Read more in this NDTV news article: Russian Billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev Wins Round 2 of ‘Most Expensive Divorce’ Saga .


Divorce Trends Since 1960

In 2013, more than ten percent of thirty year olds had already been divorced.

Forty-three percent of 59 year olds were still married to their first spouse.

Another forty-two percent of 59 year olds were separated or had been divorced and/or married more than once.

In past decades, a larger percentage of people in their twenties had already been divorced … and on to second and even third marriages.

But in recent years, people over the age of forty are more likely to be separated, or divorced and/or married more than once than in past decades.

Read more in this Business Insider article: Here’s when you’re probably going to get divorced .