Families Divorcing During the Pandemic

May 27, 2020


Families in the middle of a divorce are living in difficult times.  In addition to the stress of the pandemic, they are dealing with another major life change that is being put on hold.

The courts are generally only hearing emergency cases, and deadlines are being extended for other types of cases.  With discovery deadlines being extended, many trial dates are being postponed until late fall or winter.  So there is little recourse to request a Judge for assistance when one party is acting irresponsibly.

One other consideration causing stress is that marital assets are decreasing in value- some as much as 50 percent.  Therefore ongoing negotiations about dividing marital assets will have to be reexamined, including getting new appraisals, and business valuations.

What can you do?  The reality is that courts may not hear divorce cases for many months.  So parties should really think about settling as much as they can during this time. Try to work together to come up with a solution that both parties can live with. Otherwise, everyone loses to the waiting game.

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Race and Sexual Abuse

January 24, 2019


Thoughtful article from the Washington Post about race and sexual abuse:




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Life Insurance Beneficiaries and Divorce

July 3, 2018


Guest post by Makeda Fikremariam

Commonly the Supreme Court doesn’t hear cases regarding domestic relations, but Sveen v. Melinchanged that pattern. Mark Sveen had been married to Kaye Melin for 10 years when they divorced in 2007. During their marriage, Sveen had made Melin his primary beneficiary on his life insurance. Also during that time, in 2002, Minnesota passed the Revocation-upon-divorce statute which automatically removes an ex-spouse from the insurance once the owner has passed. The complication arose because Sveen had passed in 2011, but his insurance was signed before the statute was in order and Melin was still listed. The argument became, does applying the statue after the contract was signed violate the Contract Clause?


This was passed to the Supreme Court as the lower courts disagreed on who should remain listed on the policy. The District Court sided in favor with the children, naming them the primary beneficiaries,while the 8th Circuit agreed with Melin. There’s a two step process in determining the constitutionality of this application. However, the Supreme Court felt that it didn’t violate the first step as the statute did not impair the pre-existing contractual goal and expectations. They also noted that the statute serves as a default, as the policyholder could submit a form to retain their ex-spouse. Justice Gorsuch, in his dissenting opinion, was against this point as he found that the law should redirect owners to ensure attentiveness in regards to their policy. He also noted that there are people who wish to keep their ex-spouses listed for a variety of reasons. For more information, please read Naomi Cahn’s piece in the George Washington’s Law Review: https://www.gwlr.org/sveen-v-melin/.

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Find My Location – Helpful or Harmful?

June 4, 2018


Guest post by Makeda Fikremariam


Technology nowadays seems to be following humans into every corner of their lives. Many are introduced with the intent of making lives easier; whether it be to find your car, phone or even yourself. However, a New York Times article revealed another side that not many of us associated with these usually helpful applications. They reported that there are more than 200 apps available that can monitor one’s location and activities. While that doesn’t necessarily seem scary at first, it can be for abuse survivors. This fear was brought to life when Yessenia Suarez and her family were killed by her husband after he discovered her affair through these apps. Unfortunately, there are more cases where these programs have been abused. With technology constantly updating, the courts haven’t been able to keep up with their progress. For lawyers to include such usage as evidence, extensive and expensive training is required for the police departments. To make the inclusion even harder for lawyers, the Supreme Court is determining how easy the information should be accessed. Carpenter v. United States is trying to answer the question of whether obtaining locations without a warrant is a violation of the Fourth Amendment which deals with search and seizures. While the case hasn’t been decided yet, trainings are still being issued for lawyers to become more familiar with technology in relation to abuse and stalking.

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New Tax Law Eliminates Alimony Deduction

February 8, 2018


For divorcing couples, alimony was a deduction that the payor could deduct from his/her taxes.  However, with the new tax bill, starting in 2019, alimony will no longer be deductible.

The result of this change may make spouses reluctant to pay, and will hurt those spouses who depended on the income of the wage earning spouse. Another side effect will be timing – one side may want to rush the divorce before 2019 and the other side may want to delay.


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Sheltering our Kids?

January 21, 2018


Interesting articles in New York Times about sheltering our kids and avoiding conflict.





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New Surrogacy Law in DC

June 25, 2017


In April, a new law for surrogacy became law in the District of Columbia.

Prior to the passing of this new law, all parties to surrogacy agreements were subject to a fine up to $10,000 and a one year prison term. This ban had been in place for 25 years, and D.C. was the only jurisdiction making surrogacy a criminal offense.

Opponents of surrogacy argue that the practice is unnatural and exploits women.  Concerns in some western European countries have made compensation for surrogacy illegal. Supporters of surrogacy say that it represents a rare chance for to make families for some people.

The new D.C. law streamlines the process for would be parents, and allows them to be named on the birth certificate, so they can avoid filing for adoption after the birth. The law applies to any would-be parent, regardless of sexual orientation and biological relation.

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Florida Becomes First State to Issue Miscarriage Birth Certificates

June 12, 2017


From my guest blogger, Samuel Nicosia.


Partisan lines have been crossed as both Florida Republicans and Democrats support the Grieving Families Act (GFA). The GFA allows Florida to issue “certificates of nonviable birth” upon request by the parents for those women whose pregnancies end after nine weeks and before twenty weeks.

In Florida, pregnancies ending after twenty weeks are considered to be stillbirths, and are issued death certificates and a birth certificate upon request of the parents. Although numerous other states also issue death certificates in the instance of miscarriages, no state has anything equivalent to a birth certificate for these cases.

Both parties have widely supported the GFA, stating that it gives parents the opportunity to obtain a birth certificate in the wake of losing a child to a miscarriage. The only opposition comes from the National Organization for Women who believe the GFA is a tactic by those who oppose abortion to establish an earlier point at which the life of a child begins. However, both Republicans and Democrats have rejected this argument since the issuing of a “certificate of nonviable birth” is optional.

Do you believe the GFA helps families who lost their child due to a miscarriage? Will other states follow Florida’s lead in issuing “certificates of nonviable birth”?

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Kids Staying in House After Separation or Divorce

May 30, 2017


I have heard of a few people already doing this.  I thought it was an interesting idea – the kids stay in the home, while the parents move in/out based on the custody arrangement.

I wonder if more families will start looking into this option. Interesting article from the New York Times.


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Parental Burnout

May 17, 2017


An interesting article on CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/09/health/parenting-burnout-professional-burnout/index.html



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