April 30, 2015
Last week the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that a father who used a turkey baster to impregnate a woman is more than a sperm donor, and thus has rights to be part of the minor child’s life.
Two friends, Joyce Bruce and Robert Boardwine, decided to try to get pregnant using a turkey baster. The two never signed a written contract about what would occur if they were successful. Boardwine came to Joyce’s house several times and give her plastic containers of his sperm. After learning she was pregnant, Boardwine came over with stuffed animals and clothes for the baby. The two remained friends until Boardwine suggested a name for the baby, and Bruce rejected it. After that, the two didn’t speak for five months.
After the baby was born, Boardwine went to the hospital to visit the child. Subsequently, he went to Bruce’s home to visit, but the visits seemed awkward. Bruce then asked Boardwine to stop visiting, and so Boardwine went to Court.
Bruce’s argument was that Boardwine had no rights, because he was merely a sperm donor. However, Virginia’s assisted conception statute defines assisted conception as a pregnancy resulting from medical technology. The Court of Appeals ruled that a turkey baster was not medical technology, and therefore Boardwine is more than a sperm donor and is entitled to be in the child’s life. Boardwine was granted joint legal custody and visitation.
April 22, 2015
Approximately 20 states are proposing laws that would change how custody is determined after separation or divorce. Generally the laws would encourage the maximum time for each parent. In New York and Washington, the laws are proposing equal time between parenting.
Many judges in the District of Columbia are already ruling for equal time between parents. Proponents of giving parents equal time say that the children benefit when they can spend as much time with both parents as possible. Additionally, some say equal parenting laws will reduce legal fees in fighting custody battles in court. However, opponents say that mandating equal parenting takes away the discretion from the Judges presiding over the cases, and give more power to abusive parents.
April 10, 2015
People sometimes ask about information obtained from snooping – tape recording, emails, voicemails, and Facebook. Is it legal in Virginia? Can I use that evidence in negotiation or trial?
Tape recordings – some spouses will try to tape record their spouse to catch the other party doing something inappropriate. Virginia is a “one-party consent” state – which means that at least one person has to know the conversation was being recorded. So if you are having a conversation with your spouse, and you decide to tape record it, that would be perfectly fine, because you knew the recording was taking place, and thus consented. However, if you just place a running tape recorder in your spouse’s purse, and hope to catch her making incriminating statements to a third party, then that recording is not legal (because neither your spouse nor the third party knew consented to the recording).
Emails and voicemails – With emails and voicemails, the important concepts to consider are “expectation of privacy” and “authorized access.” If you know your spouse’s code to unlock her phone, and sometimes use it to make calls or write texts, then you could argue you are an authorized user and can look at the phone’s content (such as emails, voicemails, and text messages). Your spouse doesn’t have an expectation of privacy in her phone in that circumstance.
Facebook – Facebook is a whole different question – the posts on someone’s timeline or photographs are completely public. There is no expectation of privacy. But remember that the posts may be deleted at any time. So if you want to preserve something, print it out or save it.
April 6, 2015
A Manhattan judge has decided that a woman who has been unable to get in touch with her husband can serve him papers for the divorce on Facebook. According to the reports, the woman only gets in touch with her husband via Facebook, and he hasn’t had a permanent address since 2011. The woman’s attorney will serve the divorce summons on Facebook once a week for three weeks, or until the message is acknowledged.
Of course, this case has unusual circumstances. Apparently the husband has no permanent address and no place of employment. The post office does not have a forwarding address for him, and the DMV has no record of him. Even a private detective couldn’t find him.
Only time will tell if this request will be granted in other states. It makes complete sense.
April 2, 2015
The DC Cannabis Campaign held two seed shares last week (on March 26 and March 28), the first at a local bar and the second at DC Cannabis Campaign headquarters.
In the District of Columbia, marijuana became legal on February 26, 2015. However, the law came with many stipulations: you can only possess up to two ounces, you can grow up to six marijuana plants in your primary residence, you can only smoke marijuana in private residences, and you must be over the age of 21. The interference of Congress prevents the city from creating a regulatory structure to sell or tax the drug. Therefore, buying and selling marijuana is still illegal.
The seed shares were offered as solutions to that problem. There is nothing preventing people from sharing seeds or the drug. The Washington Post called it a massive, public drug deal. While there were hundreds of people lined up to participate, and police officers on the scene, everything remained calm and orderly.
For the time being, the seed share model may be all that D.C. gets. A bill before the D.C. Council, which would create a system of retail sales, has been blocked by Congress.