Diacritical Musk and Grimes Baby

Bar Code

The great thing about family law is that there is always something new to learn.

This week I learned the word “Diacritical.” Probably because I was never much for learning languages.

Diacritical is defined in Wikipedia as “A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph added to a letter or basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek διακριτικός (diakritikós, "distinguishing"), from διακρίνω (diakrī́nō, "to distinguish"). Diacritic is primarily an adjective, though sometimes used as a noun, whereas diacritical is only ever an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute ( ´ ) and grave ( ` ), are often called accents. Diacritical marks may appear above or below a letter, or in some other position such as within the letter or between two letters.” Many languages have diacritical words and names.

I have Elon Musk and Grimes to thank for reportedly naming their new baby “X Æ A-12” for learning the word Diacritical. But can he do that?

Since the baby was born in California, we look at what California will do. California’s naming laws are fairly relaxed compared to some countries. For example, Sweden has strict naming laws and baby names such “Metallica” and “IKEA” have not been allowed. My favorite is a couple in New Zealand who were prohibited from naming their twins Fish and Chips.  

California’s Office of Vital Records will only record “the 26 alphabetical characters of the English language with appropriate punctuation if necessary.” The Office explicitly prohibits “pictographs, ideograms, [or] diacritical marks” (including “ ´e,” “ ˜n,” and “¸c”).  

In 2014 California rejected a bill changing the ban on diacritical marks as names due to its high cost.  Therefore it is likely that Musk and Grimes (which itself sounds a bit like laddish aftershave that Guy Richie might wear) fill out the name “X Æ A-12” on the baby’s birth certificate at the hospital, it will most likely be rejected by the California Office of Vital Records because it contains diacritical marks.

The couple could sue and argue that parents have a constitutional unfettered right to name their children. Several Federal cases have struck down state laws naming rights based on substantive due process rights. The Supreme Court in the “Troxel” case which recognized the right of grandparent visitation, held that the “the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody and control of their children.” Justice O’Connor stated, “is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court.” An argument of this kind might be used if Musk were to challenge any decision by the California Office of Vital Records not to allow “X Æ A-12.”

Woman Sued Over T-Shirt That Says 'My Ex-Husband Is An A-Hole

A Spanish divorcée's purse is somewhat lighter after she posted photos on Facebook of herself wearing a t-shirt declaring "My ex-husband's an arsehole" - and was ordered to pay €1,000 damages for her trouble.

According to local news reports, the 40-year-old slapped up the snaps in 2010. In December of that year, her former other half – they divorced in 2005 – spotted the offending images and filed suit for "dignitary tort".Read article


Only in France

This from the UK Telegraph about the aftermath of a french divorce. The report claims that a 51-year-old man was fined under article 215 of France's civil code, which states married couples must agree to a "shared communal life". A judge has now ruled that this law implies that "sexual relations must form part of a marriage".

The rare legal decision came after the wife filed for divorce two years ago, blaming the break-up on her husband's lack of activity in the bedroom. A judge in Nice, southern France, then granted the divorce and ruled the husband named only as Jean-Louis B. was solely responsible for the split. But the 47-year-old ex-wife then took him back to court demanding 10,000 euros in compensation for "lack of sex over 21 years of marriage". The ex-husband claimed "tiredness and health problems" had prevented him from being more attentive between the sheets. But a judge in the south of France's highest court in Aix-en-Provence ruled: "A sexual relationship between husband and wife is the expression of affection they have for each other, and in this case it was absent. "By getting married, couples agree to sharing their life and this clearly implies they will have sex with each other."

Factoids about the Kardashian Marriage from the Guardian newspaper

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries: 

• How many months K & K knew each other before getting engaged: 6

• How many months they were engaged: 3

• How much Kim made from the wedding thanks to magazine deals, etc:$17.9m

• How much she therefore made per hour of the 72-day marrige, as calculated by New York Times' investigative journalist Don van Natta Jr:$10,358.80

• The current minimum wage in California: $8 an hour

• How many hours the E! special of their wedding lasted: 4

• How many months E! spent promoting the wedding, daily: 3

• How many months they were actually married: 

• Kim & K's wedding cost: $10m

• Donald Trump's last wedding: $1m

• Price tag on one vase on K & K's wedding list: $7,500

• How much the wedding cake cost: $6,000

• How many Vera Wang wedding dresses Kim had for the wedding: 3

• How much each wedding dress cost: $20,000

• How much her mother Kris spent on a face lift for the wedding: $50,000


Coming clean on 'dirty DUIs' in Contra Costa County

The Los Angeles Times reports on a whistle-blower who tells how a private detective arranged for men to be arrested for drunk driving at the behest of their ex-wives and their lawyers — and that entrapment using decoys was only one of many alleged misdeeds. Read full article

A 'dirty DUI'

David Dutcher says his 2008 arrest on suspicion of drunk driving was a setup orchestrated by a private detective who is the subject of a state and federal criminal investigation. (Michael Macor, The Chronicle / October 17, 2011)




Do my divorce lawyers legal fees have to be recorded contemporaneously and itemized in a bill?

Baroness Shackleton and Sir Paul McCartney

Fiona Shackleton and Sir Paul McCartney. Sir Paul confirmed that he was happy with Lady 


The answer would appear to be -- it depends whether your divorce is taking place in California or England and Wales. Here is a truly amazing article from the English Telegraph. This is an extract from the article:

"Madonna and Sir Paul McCartney appear to have been charged hundreds of thousands of pounds more than the hourly rate would have demanded, documents show, a practice known as “marking up. The Conservative peer, who represented the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York in their divorces and remains solicitor to Princes William and Harry, appears to have charged her clients more than twice as much as the rate for the actual number of hours she had recorded as having spent on their cases, according to internal time sheets. The sheets, seen by The Daily Telegraph appear to show that a six-figure sum was added to bills of both Madonna and Sir Paul, as well as at least seven other clients in a column headed ''mark up. In one case a £14,000 bill for work on the former Beatle’s divorce from Heather Mills shows a “mark up” to £150,000." Read the full article.

Just to let you know I am an English Solicitor admitted to and practicing in California and I have NEVER included such a mark up on any of my bills. 


If I have full custody do I still have to pay child support? A case of life imitating art.

If you are a successful actor earning between $475,000 to $790,000 per month and your wife earns nothing the answer is yes. That is the opinion of the California Court of Appeal in the case of actor Jon Cryer who plays Alan on Two and a Half Men. The couple married in 2000 ands have a son.  They divorced in 2004.  In 2009 the son was taken from Cryer's wife, Sara by child protective services, and placed with Jon.  Sara's only income was the child support she received from Jon.  Jon took Sarah to court to have his child support reduced.  In response Sarah argued that without child support from Jon she would be destitute. An important fact the Court considered was that Cryer had gained custody in a dependency proceeding the goal which is eventual reunification. The Court stated:

The amount of child support normally payable is calculated based on a complicated algebraic formula found at Family Code section 4055.1Although this formula is referred to as the statewide uniform “guideline” (§ 4055), “guideline” is a misleading term. (In re Marriage of Hubner(2001) 94 Cal.App.4th 175, 183.) The formula support amount is “presumptively correct” in all cases (see §§ 4057, subd. (a), 4053, subd. (k)), but “may be rebutted by admissible evidence showing that application of the formula would be unjust or inappropriate in the particular case, consistent with the principles set forth in Section 4053 . . . .” (§ 4055, subd. (b).)

Section 4053 sets forth a number of principles, foremost among them being the protection of the child’s best interest: “The guideline seeks to place the interests of children as the state’s top priority.” (§ 4053, subd. (e).) Among other principles, section 4053 also provides, “ (a) [a] parent’s first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent’s circumstances and station in life”; “(d) [e]ach parent should pay for the support of the children according to his or her ability”; and “(f) [c]hildren should share in the standard of living of both parents. Child support may therefore appropriately improve the standard of living of the custodial household to improve the lives of the children.” In light of these principles, departure from the standard child support formula may be appropriate when application of the formula “would be unjust or inappropriate due to special circumstances in the particular case” (§ 4057, subd. (b)(5)), so long as the variance is consistent with section 4053.

At the time of the initial hearing on the requested modification, Jon was paying Sarah $10,000 per month for child support. In bringing his order to show cause, Jon argued that there had been a material change in circumstances due to the dependency proceedings, which caused his time share to increase dramatically. A child support order may be modified when there has been a material change of circumstances. (In re Marriage of Williams (2007) 150 Cal.App.4th 1221, 1234.)

The trial court (at least implicitly) acknowledged there was a change in circumstances. As noted in the court’s statement of decision, Sarah’s time share had decreased from 65 percent to 4 percent.

Jon was successful in persuading the trial court to modify child support, but he takes issue with the amount of the modification. As required by section 4056, subdivision (a), the trial court’s statement of decision included the amount of support that would have been ordered under the guideline formula: $1,141 per month, payable from Jon to Sarah. This comparatively low amount was largely the result of Sarah’s then 4 percent time share. The court departed from this guideline amount, finding that it would be “unjust and inappropriate” under the special circumstances of the case to modify Jon’s obligations to such an extent, and instead ordered a reduction from $10,000 to $8,000.

We find that the trial court’s decision was well-reasoned and consistent with the principles of section 4053, especially the principle of protecting child’s best interest. Jon is correct that the modification was unusual. So far as we are able to determine, no published California case has examined the propriety of an order giving above-guideline child support to a parent with a minimal time share. In many cases, such an order would be improper. But, as noted above, this was not a typical case.

The “special circumstances” exception of section 4057, subdivision (b)(5) gives the trial court “considerable discretion to approach unique cases on an ad hoc basis.” (County of Lake v. Antoni (1993) 18 Cal.App.4th 1102, 1106; see also In re Marriage of Fini (1994) 26 Cal.App.4th 1033, 1043 [“the court, in child support cases, is not just supposed to punch numbers into a computer and award the parties the computer’s result without considering circumstances in a particular case which would make that order unjust or inequitable”].) The trial court has “broad discretion” to determine when special circumstances apply. (In re Marriage of de Guigne(2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 1353, 1361.)

This was a unique case that presented special circumstances, particularly when viewed from the trial court’s perspective in late 2009. Prior to initiation of the dependency matter, child spent most of his time with Sarah. At the time of the November hearing, Sarah’s custody and visitation rights were in the control of the dependency court and DCFS, and were subject to potentially sudden change. “The parent-child relationship and its attendant duty of support do not end when a child is declared a dependent of the juvenile court and removed from the parents’ custody. [Citation.] To the contrary, the chief objective of the dependency law is the preservation or reunification of the family whenever possible.” (County of Ventura v. Gonzales (2001) 88 Cal.App.4th 1120, 1122.) An order granting a large decrease of child support could have jeopardized the objective of the dependency action. Substantial evidence supported the conclusion that Sarah would have lost the house in which child had lived much of his life, and would have faced other substantial burdens that likely would have impacted her attempts at reunification. Child’s interest was best served by an order that promoted the objective of reunification, as this one did. . . .

In addition, given the posture of the dependency matter, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by finding that child’s best interest was served by a level of child support that would allow Sarah to make the payments necessary to avoid losing her family home. A “‘child’s need is measured by the parents’ current station in life’ [citations],” and “‘where the child has a wealthy parent, that child is entitled to, and therefore “needs” something more than the bare necessities of life.’ [Citation].” (In re Marriage of Cheriton (2001) 92 Cal.App.4th 269, 293(Cheriton).) There was a benefit to child in ordering this level of support, and the fact that Sarah obviously benefited did not per se invalidate the order. (See In re Marriage of Hubner (1988) 205 Cal.App.3d 660.) Depending on the status of Sarah’s visitation and custody situation, child could stay in her house, a house he was used to and which was commensurate with the high standard of living to which he was accustomed. In light of his father’s substantial income and wealth, child “needed” more than an apartment, which was Sarah’s only likely housing option if child support were decreased to guideline levels. An order that resulted in child’s spending time with his father in an opulent abode and time with his mother in a low-rent apartment would have conflicted with the principles of section 4053.

The Court also upheld teh award of $60,000 in attorney fees to Sara:

In reviewing an attorney fee order, the record must reflect that the trial court considered the factors set forth in sections 2030 and 2032. (Alan S. v. Superior Court (2009) 172 Cal.App.4th 238, 242.) The purpose of section 2030 is to ensure parity. “The idea is that both sides should have the opportunity to retain counsel, not just (as is usually the case) only the party with greater financial strength.” (Id. at p. 251.) As for section 2032, it not only requires that the court consider the financial resources of each party, but also requires a broader analysis of the parties’ relative circumstances. (172 Cal.App.4th at p. 254.) From our review of the record, we are satisfied that the trial court analyzed these issues thoroughly. As noted by the court, the incomes of the parties were highly disparate. The case had been litigated very heavily, and numerous orders to show cause and motions were filed in the relatively short time period since modification was first requested. Jon expended a great deal of money on attorney fees and costs. Without sizable fee awards, Jon likely would have litigated Sarah out of the case, a result contrary to the objectives of sections 2030 and 2032. Based on the circumstances, the fee awards ordered by the court were reasonable.

 To read opinion Download Jon cryer

Divorce and Money

Los Angeles Family Law Attorney

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Bizarre Use of Facebook Between Exes

The Globe And Mail reported a bizarre story about an ex-wife in Indiana who created a fake facebook profile to spy on her ex-husband.  Through this fake profile she soon became his on-line confidante, and he slowly revealed to this "confidante" a plan to kill this ex-wife.  The ex-wife quickly reported him to the authorities.  However, in a surprising twist, all of the charges were dropped once the ex-husband proved that he had made the whole scheme up, knowing that his ex-wife was still tampering with his life.    Read the article here.

Los Angeles Divorce Attorney

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Divorce Lawyers|Attorneys Los Angeles, Beverly Hills

California Prenuptial, Prenups

LA Dodgers Bankruptcy

LA WEEKLY reports: "Just when you think Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has hit rock bottom, he always seems to find a way to dig deeper and darker.

First, the divorce with Jamie, and her threats to take the Dodgers right down with her balding ex. Then, the beating of a Giants fan outside Dodger Stadium -- largely blamed on McCourt's lack of security on the premises. Then, his threat to hold the stadium's parking lots hostage if Major League Baseball tried to seize the Dodgers from his gooby grasp. (We're definitely forgetting one somewhere in here.)

And this morning, again, a new low. McCourt, unable to provide his ballplayers their paychecks (Manny Ramirez alone has a $21 million IOU), has taken the Dodgers to bankruptcy court."  Read the rest of the article here.

Los Angeles Divorce Attorney

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To retain ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers, owner Frank McCourt must overcome two formidable obstacles laid out in a binding settlement he and his ex-wife Jamie reached Friday in their contentious divorce. Frank McCourt must first receive Major League Baseball's approval of a 17-year television contract with Fox reported to be worth up to $3 billion. Under the settlement, McCourt would receive $385 million upfront, most of which would be used for Dodger-related expenses. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has given no indication if he would approve the deal, but McCourt said MLB officials have asked him to meet select criteria. "Baseball has been very clear," McCourt said outside court. "They wanted to see this divorce settled, and all this white noise gone, or they wanted Jamie's consent for the Fox transaction or they wanted a judge to give them an order to move forward. Today we have achieved all three." MLB spokesman Pat Courtney declined comment. Dennis Wasser, an attorney for Jamie McCourt, hopes the TV deal will be finalized early next week. If MLB doesn't approve the TV transaction, the settlement is null and void. "I am just hoping for resolution, and I hope this is a step in that resolution," Jamie McCourt said. Some observers said the settlement gives Frank McCourt the legal firepower he needs to get MLB to sign off on the TV transaction. "There are now no impediments and if the TV deal isn't approved, it's for other reasons than what (MLB) has stated before," said Los Angeles family law attorney Lisa Helfend Meyer, who is not involved in the McCourts' case. The decision to reject the deal would then be "personal" on MLB's behalf and serves as a springboard for Frank McCourt to sue the league, she added. In addition to the TV deal, the settlement called for a one-day "characterization" trial Aug. 4 to determine if title to the Dodgers is in Frank McCourt's name or if the team should be considered community property and sold. If Jamie McCourt prevails at trial, the team, stadium and surrounding property — worth hundreds of millions of dollars — would be split between the former couple and "be sold by the parties in an orderly manner under the court's supervision," according to the settlement. If the Dodger assets are deemed to belong to Frank McCourt, he would give his ex-wife $100 million and she would retain six luxurious homes. He also will continue to pay monthly spousal support up to $650,000, the agreement said. Frank McCourt said all other issues in the divorce were settled, and a hearing set for Wednesday where Jamie McCourt was expected to ask Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon to order the sale of the team was canceled. In April, Major League Baseball took the extraordinary step of assuming control of the troubled franchise. Former Texas Rangers President Tom Schieffer was appointed to monitor the team on behalf of Selig, who said he took the action because he was concerned about the team's finances and how the Dodgers are being run. Frank McCourt also has had to contend with meeting team payroll. He's managed several times since the beginning of the season to pay the team's bills — he took a $30 million loan from Fox earlier this year — but has to account for deferred compensation for some former players by the end of June. Among them is retired slugger Manny Ramirez, who is owed nearly $7 million on June 30 as part of a two-year, $45 million contract he signed with the Dodgers. The former couple's lavish lifestyle was exposed in court documents where it was revealed that they took out more than $100 million in loans from Dodgers-related businesses. Their spending habits were likened to using the money from the team as though it was their personal ATM or credit card. When pressed by a reporter about whether he has enough money to cover team expenses without MLB's approval of the TV deal, McCourt sounded confident. "We're going to proceed and do and meet all of our obligations as we always have, yes," he said. In December, Gordon deemed invalid a postnuptial marital agreement that gave Frank McCourt sole ownership of the Dodgers. That cleared the way for Jamie McCourt, who served as the team's CEO and was fired by her ex-husband two years ago, to seek half the team under California's community property law. The McCourts' lawyers had spent several sessions in front Gordon to reach an agreement and they worked throughout the night before striking a deal shortly before Friday's hearing began. Despite Frank McCourt's earlier pledge that none of the upfront TV money would be used toward his divorce, the settlement terms show otherwise. About $50 million would be placed in an account subject to Gordon's orders, while another $10 million would be used for attorneys' fees, the agreement said. About $80 million would go toward paying off debt and each of the McCourts would receive $5 million for their own personal use. The remainder of the money — about $235 million — would be used for the Dodgers, including repayment to McCourt for money the agreement says he advanced to the team this year that is not to exceed $23.5 million.



The Path to a Long Life

The Atlantic reported on the longevity project:

"Philip was a bright, nervous child. He was younger than average in his grade, his mother having started him a year early. He was close to his parents, who divorced when he was 13, and then lived with his mother, who struggled to make ends meet. As he grew up, married, and became a father, he evolved into a worrier. He divorced, remarried shortly after. He joined the military and seemed to enjoy it, but later reported that his job was not fully satisfying, and he felt he hadn't lived up to his potential. He died early, before his 65th birthday, of a heart attack.

Philip was one of 1,500 bright children who were tracked for more than 80 years in a massive longitudinal study begun in 1921 by psychologist Lewis Terman. Terman and his successors—he died before many of the children—collected millions of details about these subjects, including whether they were breast-fed, how much they exercised, what their marriages were like, how satisfying their sex lives were, how satisfying their jobs were. Could this sea of information teach us how to avoid Philip's fate?"  Read the article.

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Wife Shames Cheating Husband During Rush Hour

Cheater-pic Burning shame combined with the August morning sun and about a gazillion highly amused stares was the punishment one man endured for cheating on his wife.

William Taylor of Centreville, Va., got caught getting a little action on the side when he forgot to remove the incriminating evidence from his cell phone.

After finding the proof, his wife doled out a rather interesting punishment -- she forced him to stand at one of the busiest intersections in the D.C. metropolitan area wearing a sandwich board telling everyone he's a cheater. Consider it a modern-day version of a scarlet letter -- humiliating, but less catastrophic than some scorned women's destructive revenge tactics.

"I thought she was kidding, but she was serious," Taylor said.
"I figured I got to do what I got to do to makes things right. So here I am."

His punishment is set to last all week. Each day when morning rush hour winds down, William gets a text from his wife, giving him permission to stop the public humiliation for the day, although repeat sightings of Taylor suggest this is at least a week-long punishment. Those daily texts will probably make him happier than all the ones he got from his mistress combined.


CBS Television's Early Show airs series on divorce

CBS News' Early Show is running a series on divorce.  Articles and videos available on their website that professors may find useful in their teaching include:

Putting An End To Divorce Wars.  Reconcilable Differences: Some Couples Seek Mediation, Not Litigation, To Keep The Peace.  article

Divorce Among Senior Couples.  Deirdre Bair, author of "Calling It Quits: Late-Life Divorce And Starting Over," speaks with Harry Smith. video

How Divorce Wars Take A Toll On Kids. Children Are Often Caught In The Middle Between Feuding Parents article

Making divorce easier on kids article

Chicago divorce ad criticized

  ABC News

The woman behind the nation's most controversial divorce billboard defended herself and her ad Tuesday night in an interview with ABC News, while across town a politician on his last day in office ordered that the sign be taken down because of a lack of a permit.

The ad, a 20-foot-high billboard reading "Life is Short. Get a Divorce," sparked a viscerally negative reaction from lawyers, marriage counselors and the public. It seemed everybody had something to say about the sign perched above a trendy Chicago neighborhood -- even the ladies from the "The View" sounded off on the sign.

The woman behind the nation's most controversial divorce billboard defended herself and her ad Tuesday night in an interview with ABC News, while across town a politician on his last day in office ordered that the sign be taken down because of a lack of a permit.

The ad, a 20-foot-high billboard reading "Life is Short. Get a Divorce," sparked a viscerally negative reaction from lawyers, marriage counselors and the public. It seemed everybody had something to say about the sign perched above a trendy Chicago neighborhood -- even the ladies from the "The View" sounded off on the sign.


Read article

NY couple build wall through home

A bickering New York couple have had a dividing wall constructed inside their home as part of an acrimonious divorce. Chana and Simon Taub, both 57, have endured two years of divorce negotiations, but neither is prepared to give up their Brooklyn home. Now a white partition wall has been built through the heart of the house to keep the pair apart. Mr Taub asked a judge to allow him to erect the partition when the couple's divorce stalled over financial details. Read more

California or Texas Alimony

Houston Chronicle
Dec. 7--AUSTIN -- David and Suzanne Saperstein aren't the first couple to take a fight about alimony to the Texas Supreme Court.But they definitely are one of the richest. The couple known for lavish lifestyles and charitable donations is involved in a billion-dollar divorce that hit the high court Wednesday with appropriately high-powered legal talent.Tom Phillips, an ex-chief justice of the Supreme Court, made his first appearance before his former colleagues, arguing that Suzanne's spousal maintenance should be determined by a court in California, where she lives. The alimony laws there are considerably more liberal than in Texas, which has a three-year limit. David's case for having alimony determined in his home state of Texas was presented by Lynne Liberato, a former president of the State Bar of Texas and seasoned practitioner before the high court.David, 66, became a billionaire building a company that reported on traffic snarls. For the past three years, he has been Mayor Bill White's $1-a-year traffic czar, setting up the Safe Clear program and consulting on other mobility issues.Suzanne, 45, loves haute couture and lives in Los Angeles, where the couple's 45,000-square-foot French-style chateau was the subject of a seven-page spread in the April 2002 issue of Vanity Fair.In her legal brief, Suzanne said she was surprised in July 2005 when David lured her out of the family's Gulfstream jet when it landed in Houston for a stopover on the way to Europe. He said he wanted to talk about some serious issues regarding the children; once outside the plane he had her served with divorce papers.Days later she filed her own petition for divorce in California, where she might expect a higher and longer-lasting alimony judgment.One child lives in L.A.The couple have been married for almost 20 years and have three children. The two oldest, 19 and 17, live in Texas, but the youngest, 16-year-old Stefanie, lives with her mother in Los Angeles. (Her 2003 bat mitzvah, held at the family's horse ranch in Simi Valley, featured a big-top circus where Stefanie swung with professional trapeze artists and circled the ring nestled in an elephant's trunk.)Sometime in the fall of 2005, state District Judge Lisa Millard, a Harris County family court judge, held a brief telephone conference with a judge in California. The judges agreed to split the family support issues between them, with Texas taking spousal support and California taking child support and custody.Suzanne appealed Millard's spousal maintenance order to Houston's 14th Court of Appeals, which denied her appeal. She then petitioned the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case.Meanwhile, she appealed the California judge's decision to cede jurisdiction, and a California appeals court sided with her in January.Competing court ordersConsequently, there are competing orders for temporary spousal maintenance, Phillips said. Millard granted $33,000 a month and the California court ordered a more generous $60,000 monthly payment.The $29,500 monthly child support is not disputed.There is no timetable for when the court might rule.A uniform statute enacted by all states in the mid-1990s at the insistence of Congress was supposed to prevent such interstate disputes. It places jurisdiction in the state where the divorce was first filed unless another state is the home state of the child.Phillips argued that California court should have jurisdiction over spousal support just as it has over child support. But Liberato said the issues should be decided in Texas where a court will divide the couple's property early next year."You all will be back here on property," predicted Justice Scott Brister.Cooperation encouragedAlthough the letter of the law appears to be on Suzanne's side, Liberato, who is with the Haynes and Boone law firm in Houston, cited an official comment by family law specialists who drafted the uniform statute. The comment, which she said is considered part of the law, encourages courts in competing states to cooperate and even defer to the other, depending on circumstances.Referring to the history of the dispute, Liberato told the Supreme Court, "This is a weird duck."Phillips, who served as chief justice for 16 years before leaving in 2004, now is with Houston's Baker Botts. He appeared at ease arguing before the court, but noted afterward that the 20 minutes he was given to present his case went by much faster than when he was on the other side of the bench.He said that because the law is the same in every state, the Texas Supreme Court's decision will be "highly influential when and if this problem arises in other states."