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EU children to benefit from speedier maintenance payments

Gozo News.com reports- "With an estimated 16 million international couples in the EU and 30 million EU citizens living in non-EU countries, the issue of retrieving child maintenance from abroad will grow. For example, a couple living in France get divorced and the father moves to the United States. But will the child still receive the maintenance payments a French court ordered him to pay?

Under a new Convention signed by the EU, the American authorities would cooperate with those in Europe to make sure the father fulfils his obligations and the child still gets support." Read the article.

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If Arnold Schwarzenegger has a prenuptial agreement, is it enforceable?

In this Slate article, Brian Bix of the University of Minnesota Law School writes "Arnold Schwarzenegger's marriage to Maria Shriver seems to be over after news broke that he fathered a child out of wedlock more than a decade ago. The couple are likely to have a prenuptial agreement, according to TMZ, but they've "been together so long the effectiveness of it is problematic." If enough time passes, can a prenup expire?" The article is correct that a pre-nuptial agremeent may make provision that it expires after a certain number of years. As with any condition subsequent the Court still has the power to consider whether the clause might be invalid if it it tends to promote divorce. However, in the absence of such a provision, the passage of time does not invalidate a prenup. Nor does the passage of time make it more likely that a court will invalidate the prenup, as the article suggests. In California, there are very few cases where a prenup has been held invalid where the formalities of executing a prenup have been observed. See my article on the formalities in California.   The slate articles statement "Keep in mind that very little is certain with premarital agreements, because American judges have historically looked for reasons to ignore them." is misleading, if it gives the impression that California Judges are now ready to ignore prenups where the formalities of their creation have been observed. Just look at the facts of the Barry Bond case. In Re Marriage of Bonds (2000) 24 Cal. 4th shows that in California there is a high burden to prove duress or undue influence to invaldiate a prenup. In Bonds, the Court found that there was no confidential relationship between  parties contemplating marriage. They also stated that the overall fairness or unfairness of the agreement was not relevant to the test of its validity.  They found that the agreement was voluntary in spite of the fact that Bond’s fiancé was unrepresented, was presented with the agreement a day before the marriage, Swedish was her main language and it was unclear whether there had been full disclosure. In December 1987, Barry Bonds, the baseball player, told his fiancé, Sun, a Swedish waitress and make-up artist who was unemployed at the time, that he wanted a prenuptial agreement prior to the planned wedding that was scheduled to take place the following year. The couple were living in Phoenix Arizona and planned to fly out to Vegas on February 5, 1988 and get married the day after. On the day of the flight, Barry and Sun met at his attorney’s office where she was presented for the first time with a prenuptial agreement to sign.  According to evidence at trial she was advised to consult an independent counsel but declined because she had no assets.  The agreement also referred to a schedule of the party’s property and assets but there was no such schedule attached. The Supreme Court of California upheld the trial court’s finding that the agreement was voluntary:“The trial court determined that there had been no coercion. It declared that Sun had not been subjected to any threats, that she had not been forced to sign the agreement, and that she never expressed any reluctance to sign the agreement. It  found that the temporal proximity of the wedding to the signing of the agreement was not coercive, because under the particular circumstances of the case, including the small number of guests and the informality of the wedding arrangements, little embarrassment would have followed from postponement of the wedding. It found that the presentation of the agreement did not come as a surprise to Sun, noting that she was aware of Barry's desire to "protect his present property and future earnings," and that she had been aware for at least a week before the parties signed the formal premarital agreement that one was planned.” 

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Taming The Twin Trend From Fertility Treatments

NPR.com reports that "twins, once a rarity to marvel over, are now a common part of American culture, thanks in large part to increased use of reproductive technology. Twins are conceived naturally just 2 percent of the time; for those who get pregnant with fertility treatments the rate is more than 40 percent.  But as adorable as many of us consider twins, this dramatic rise poses serious health risks, and there are mounting efforts to curb it."  Read the article.

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Seeking closure in Divorce

            You receive the divorce Judgment in the mail. You property and finances have been divided but you still feel a lack of finality.  The problem is that lives cannot be divided like property. Children cannot be divided.  Your feelings and memories cannot be divided.  It takes time to feel whole again and you ask yourself, "how am I going to move on from here?"

            One place to start is to examine what we usually do to mark life changing events. We usually ease the anxiety and trauma of life changing transitions by the observing some kind of ritual. Joseph Campbell explains that the function of ritual is to give order to human life at the deepest levels. Ritual is a way that people individually, or through institutions, such as religion transition from one state of life or being to another. Most rituals involve an element of gain and loss. The most important events in our lives are marked by rituals: birth, childhood to adulthood, marriage and death. We even have housewarming parties to celebrate a new residence.

            Most people begin their marriages with an elaborate and well orchestrated ritual that both symbolizes and makes concrete their union. The marriage ceremony is one of the most well known examples of ritualizing a transcendent moment in life. One could argue that divorce is no less a transcendent moment. The ubiquity of divorce is a relatively recent phenomenon in our society, but for the most part we have not developed any meaningful rituals to mark divorce.

            Some older cultures and religions do understand the deeper meaning of divorce and have created rituals.  The Jewish religion has a well defined ritual for divorce which involves the writing, witnessing, and delivery of the get before three rabbis. In his book, Divorce Is a Mitzvah, Rabbi Perry Netter describes the process.  The get is a Jewish bill of divorcement that terminates a marriage.  The get has exact format requirements- twelve lines of the same length, justified on both the right and left margins, on a paper that is longer than its width and has margins on all four sides.  The text of the get contains the Hebrew date, place, name of each party, the formula for separation and divorce, and signatures of two witnesses.  The ritual itself takes place in front of three rabbis, and involves the writing of the get, the delivery of the get from the husband to the wife’s hands, the husband’s recitation of a formula of release, and the wife taking four steps away from her husband. The Jewish ritual is based on the idea that an instrument is necessary to achieve psychological closure from a relationship, and that closure must be accomplished in the presence of God.  It is a ritual of termination no less sacred than that of a wedding or funeral.  The ritual is described by Rabbi Netter as “giving a voice to the pain of radical disappointment, the feelings of failure, the moment of separation between the couple, the death of the marriage, and the need for closure.”

            In modern society, it usually falls to individuals to create their own rituals. Many people have their wedding and engagement rings re-designed as a symbol of being un-married.

            Creating some kind of ritual that symbolizes the ending of the divorce is, however, only the beginning of the healing process. After a divorce you will need time to heal the emotional, psychological, spiritual scars left by the divorce. Therapists, friends and family can help you through the process. Therapists suggest a number of ways of seeking closure after your divorce:

 

1.         Take practical steps to establish your independence, e.g. update your    mailing address, revert back to your maiden name, re-decorate your house.

2.         Spend time and share you feelings with close friends and family. 

3.         Join a divorce support group in person or on the Internet.

4.         Develop new hobbies and interests, or rekindle old ones.

5.         Exercise.

6.         Eat well and nutritiously.

7.         Look at the positive aspects of your experience.

8.         Avoid unnecessary interactions with your ex.

 

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Japan Joins International Child Custody Pact

In response to international concern over Japan becoming a haven for child abductions, Japan has approved plans to join the International Child Custody Pact.  Read this article on Huffingtonpost.com -

TOKYO — Japan's Cabinet approved a plan to join a global child custody treaty Friday, amid foreign pressure on Tokyo to revise policies some say allow Japanese mothers to too easily take their children away from foreign fathers.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan's Cabinet endorsed the move, which would spur changes in Japanese laws to bring them in line with the 1980 Hague Convention on international abduction, said Yusuke Asakura, an official at the Cabinet Office.

Japan is the only Group of Seven nation that hasn't signed the Hague pact. Asakura said the Cabinet plan must be approved by parliament for it to take effect, and it could face resistance there.

The United States, Britain, France and other countries have repeatedly urged Japan to join the convention.  See the rest of the article.

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Red Shirting

From the Daily Beast: "As private kindergartens prepare to send out acceptance letters this week, competitive parents are trying to game the system with so called red shirting—delaying their kids' start in school so they'll be more advanced than their classmates." Read the article

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Pet abuse registry may also protect children: Brutality against an animal is indicator of possible domestic violence, experts say

Interesting article on MSNBC-

A New York county is launching a registry for animal abusers which could also help to identify potential violence against women and children.

The registry in Suffolk County, which will go live next week, is modeled after the sex offender registry to protect children.

It is the result of growing awareness that brutality against an animal is an indicator of possible family abuse, according to experts and studies.

"Animal abuse is not only the tip of the iceberg of family violence, but it's often the first warning sign and the one a neighbor is most likely to call in," said Phil Arkow, of the National Link Coalition, which educates people about the link between animal and human abuse.  Read this article. 

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Voters are interested in marital matters

Take a look at this New York Times article about the role of marriages in the upcoming 2012 elections-

Cheri Daniels, whose aversion to politics appears to be the reason her husband, Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, is dithering about running for president, had no shortage of stories during her much-hyped speech in Indianapolis last week. There was the one about her driving a dump truck, the one about how she attended a senior citizen’s prom, about how she took a prize for cow milking at the state fair.

But the story Mrs. Daniels did not share is the one that politicos and pundits are dying to hear: the one about how she married her husband — twice.

Mrs. Daniels is the subject of intrigue over an episode nearly two decades old: In 1993, she left her husband and four daughters and moved to California to marry another man — only to remarry Mr. Daniels in 1997. And so she is the latest example of a political wife dealing with delicate marital matters, and whether it is possible to keep them private.

Her story is already being twinned with that of Callista Gingrich, third wife of Newt Gingrich, whose admissions of infidelity are well-known. And if either woman needs a kindred soul, she might look to Maria Shriver, California’s former first lady. Last week, four months after her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, left office, the couple announced they were separating — a move perhaps unthinkable had he still been governor.

Conventional political wisdom dictates that politicians do not win or lose elections because of their spouses. But political couples with iffy marital histories face especially difficult questions: How much do they have to reveal to voters? And how much, in the end, do voters really want to know?  See the article.

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Irreconcilable differences at the end of the day: Men, women and housework

Check out this brilliant article in the LA Times about men, women and housework:

"Men, it's your health and happiness or hers. Women, it's your health and happiness or his. At the end of the day, if there's housework to be done (and there's always housework to be done) and you’re both employed (as almost 52% of married couples with children younger than 6 are), there's only one winner.

Grim, yes. But that is the finding of a study published recently in the Journal of Family Psychology, and conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California. For a week, the study authors intensively tracked levels of the stress hormone cortisol and the daily activities of 30 dual-earner couples in Los Angeles. With a median age of 41, all couples had least one child between 8 and 10 years old living at home.

Cortisol courses through our bodies daily, helping us gather ourselves for physical and mental challenges. It peaks throughout the day, but toward day’s end, it typically begins dropping — reflecting both our decline in activity as we ready for restorative sleep and the process of mentally “ unwinding.”

Those with chronically high cortisol levels — or whose cortisol levels fail to float downward in the evening — not only feel stressed, they also are vulnerable to a wide range of illnesses, both mental and physical. They even tend to die earlier, studies have shown. So linking cortisol levels with married parents’ end-of-day activities, the authors surmise, should tell us a lot about how our home lives influence our health and happiness.

Their findings: Lots of time spent in household chores at the end of the day keep both husbands’ and wives’ cortisol levels high—no surprise here. But on closer inspection, the researchers observed that a married mother's cortisol levels will decline most steeply at the end of the day when her husband pitches in with the housework. Unfortunately, a working man's end-of-day cortisol levels won't likely dip to recovery levels unless he spends more of his end-of-the-day time relaxing and his female partner spends less time relaxing."  Read the rest of the article.

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Arnold, You Better Have a Prenup!

Check out this article on CNN.com-

"Arnold Schwarzenegger's indiscretions could cost him dearly, now that he's headed for divorce with Maria Shriver.

With the couple splitting, the future of Schwarzenegger's considerable wealth is uncertain, especially since he hasn't said whether he has a prenuptial agreement.

"Did they have a prenuptial? Nobody knows that yet," said J. Michael Kelly, a celebrity divorce lawyer in Los Angeles. Both parties were quite wealthy before they were married: Schwarzenegger as a movie star and Shriver as a television reporter and also a member of the Kennedy clan.

"He married royalty, so the question is would he dare actually propose a prenup to her?" mused Kelly.

Also unclear is exactly how much this Hollywood titan is actually worth, but estimates place his wealth in the hundreds of millions of dollars."  Read this article. 

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Marriage Study Finds Women Slower to Wed and Divorce Is Easing

The New York Times reports that:

"Nearly half of all women between the ages of 25 and 29 have never been married, up from about a quarter of that age group in 1986, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Census Bureau.  The report, which highlighted shifting patterns of marriage and divorce since the 1940s, was based on decades of census data and a survey of about 55,000 adults in 2009.  Among the changes found in the research is the rising median age of first marriages, which in 1950 was 23 for men and 20 for women. In 2009, it was 28 for men and 26 for women.  Divorce rates have leveled off after reaching a high around 1980, the report said. In 2009, about 35 percent of women 40 to 49 had divorced, down from 40 percent in 1996."  Read the article. 

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North Carolina Court denies mother custody because she has breast cancer

The Daily Mail (Uk) has an article about a woman with terminal breast cancer who says she has lost custody of her children because doctors do not know how long she will live.  A judge ruled that 37-year-old Alaina Giordano, from Durham, North Carolina, must give up both her children to her estranged husband after she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.The decision comes after a bitter legal battle that has included allegations of cheating and other domestic problems. Read this article 

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