March 25, 2017
An unconventional family had a child and then became involved in a custody battle in New York. The parties involved are: (1) a married couple, man and wife, and (2) their neighbor, a female. The three were reportedly involved in intimate relations and considered themselves a family.
The neighbor female gave birth to a boy, whose biological father was the neighbor. The married couple eventually filed for divorce, after the two women moved in together.
The Judge in New York awarded shared custody to all three parents. To read more of this interesting story, click here.
November 30, 2016
I hope this passes and inspires other states.
May 12, 2016
Rape victims who have gotten pregnant have had the heart wrenching decision to decide whether to seek an abortion or to have the child. If a rape victim decides to have the baby, in some states, she may have to fight with the rapist for custody.
Last year, President Obama signed into law the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act. This law provides grants to states that allow women to petition for termination of parental rights based on clear and convincing evidence that the child was conceived through rape.
Many states have laws that restrict or completely terminate parental rights of rapists. According to Virginia Code 63.2-1233(6), consent of the rapist is not required in an adoption case, where parental rights are terminated. However, if the mother wishes to keep the child, the rapist has options to seek other parental rights.
In the District of Columbia, there are no restrictions of the parental rights of rapists. In Maryland, the state Senate just rejected a bill that would terminate the parental rights of rapists. The resistance stems from the right to have and raise a family, grounded in the Due Process Clause.
So generally in this region, women who choose to give birth to a child conceived from rape will be tied to the rapist forever. What should be the law?
March 1, 2016
November 24, 2015
After a separation or divorce, many parents find themselves alone on Thanksgiving for the first time in a long time. Here are some tips to cope:
- Establish new traditions. Maybe you always hosted Thanksgiving dinner at your house and now you feel awkward without the children there. New traditions can help take the focus of who is not there – it can be as simple as eating in a different room, serving different foods, or having a lunch instead of a dinner.
- Get out of the house. If your children are gone the whole weekend, don’t sit at home by yourself. Go visit friends, do a turkey trot, start your shopping, or visit a winery with someone. The possibilities are endless (especially in the area we live – take advantage!).
- Remember that Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for what we have – and what we don’t have. Don’t forget to be thankful that you are no longer in a relationship that was not working. While this is a transition right now, everything gets easier with time.
November 4, 2015
An interesting article in the New York Times regarding shared mortgages: click here.
Both spouse’s names on the mortgage routinely provides complications in a divorce. The article wisely advises to get started on the refinance sooner rather than later. In many cases, the party wishing to stay in the residence will discover that they cannot afford it alone and the parties end up selling the house.
In other cases, where a refinance is possible, the paperwork takes longer than expected. So the spouses may still be financially tied even after divorce.
It’s a difficult process that adds to the stress of the divorce.
October 22, 2015
Fathers in prison facing high debt over child support will have the opportunity to “press pause” on their child support obligations. According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration announced new adjustments that will allow fathers to label their incarceration as “involuntary” to avoid increasing arrears while they are in jail.
This program would allow a reduction for child support payments, that isn’t currently allowed in many states. Many states consider prison voluntary, and thus it does not qualify as a reduction for child support. The new program would not be carried out until 2017.
But many are asking – is this fair? Why should incarcerated fathers get a break on child support – at a cost to the taxpayer? Why should the mother have to bear the financial burden on her own of raising the child? Supporters of the program argue that billing fathers while they are in prison does not do anything except dig them deeper into debt. Many don’t even know that the debt is accumulating until they are released from prison – at which time the large amount owed forces them to go to the underground economy for money.
Is this a fair program?
August 24, 2015
For those who have not heard of it, DivorceHotel is a Netherlands based company for couples looking to have a vacation and divorce at the same time. The general idea is that instead of worrying about a long drawn out divorce proceeding, couples come to the hotel for the weekend to get divorced, along with spa treatments.
The company partnered with New York resort Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa to open a United States location in September 2014. The entire package includes separate rooms, a lawyer for each party, a mediator, and a welcome basket including red wine, sparkling water, chocolates, and an information packet. Some sessions are timed with breaks for walks, massages, and time in the relaxation room.
The goal is to wrap up the process by Sunday and to leave with a binding agreement. The divorce papers get finalized thereafter. It’s an interesting process, but we’ll see how much traction it receives in the United States.
July 29, 2015
According to Time magazine, a new study suggests that the perfect age to get married is between the ages of 28 and 32. According to the study, the couples that get married between 28 and 32 are the least likely to get divorced. This is a new idea – prior to this, the thinking was that if you were older when you married, your relationship was more stable.
However, this study shows an upside down bell curve. The later in life you get married, your chances of divorce rise again. But many women feel pressured to get married by a certain age. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2013 that the median age for marriage for women is 27 and 29 for men.
Clearly, the message isn’t resounding with everyone.
June 15, 2015
Many parties assume they will be able to amicably divide personal property – so they put it off until the end of the case. However, waiting until all the rest of the property has been divided, such as the house, retirement accounts, bank accounts, etc. may allow the parties’ anger to bubble up and focus on the personal property.
The law in both D.C. and Virginia requires that property be divided in an equitable manner. In order to determine what is equitable, the Court has to know the value of the property. It’s easy to value bank accounts and real estate. However, it’s not that simple with personal property. When there is a houseful of furniture, collectibles, paintings, and rugs, each item may bring up memories and emotions which makes it difficult to resolve. Further, parties find it hard to understand that most personal property actually has very little value. The value is not the replacement price, but the fair market value of the item.
So what can the parties do? One option is to have the personal property inventoried at the beginning of the case. Divide what you can, at the time that one party is moving out. Finalize an agreed list of who takes what. Another option is to attend mediation to resolve personal property. Some parties may agree to donate the unresolved personal property to a charity. Some parties allow their children to divide the personal property. If the issue is brought before a Judge, he or she may just divide the personal property arbitrarily or ask the parties to flip a coin and select alternatively.
It’s best to keep in mind that personal property may be difficult to divide if you put it off, and so you might want to resolve it first.