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National Family Law News

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  • 01/18: USA Today, Book provides open talk about adoption – Melissa Faye Greene was so repulsed by her newly adopted son that she desperately, if only theoretically, considered fleeing her family.
  • 08/16: NY Times, Law Cutting Adoption Payments Is Faulted – Advocates for parents’ and children’s rights sought to block a new Missouri law that limits financial aid for some parents who adopt foster children.

Child Custody

  • 01/23: Boston Globe, Maligning fathers – Last November, M. Sue Wilson wrote about the controversy about the Public Broadcasting Service documentary, ”Breaking the Silence: Children’s Stories,” which claimed that male batterers and child abusers frequently gain custody of their children in divorce cases after the mothers’ claims of abuse are disbelieved by the courts.
  • 11/30: ABC News, Judge delays decision in adoption dispute – A toddler is at the center of a bitter custody battle that has stretched across three states, but the fate of Evan will stretch on even longer. On Wednesday, testimony started in his child custody case. The wrangling of the case is taking a toll on the boy who is being pulled by three families – his adoptive parents, his biological mother and his biological father.
  • 11/4: Seattle Post Intelligencer, Decision opens door, but not too wide – As far as legal experts see it, the state’s highest court acknowledged one essential fact in its decision Thursday: The definition of family in Washington has changed.
  • 10/11: ABC News, Sex Offender’s Wife in Child Custody Fight – Sex Offender’s Wife Battles PA Child-Welfare Agency Over Custody of Unborn Child
  • 10/9: Stars and Stripes, Heartache for parents caught in overseas custody battles – U.S. military parents serving overseas are involved in numerous such child custody disputes and resulting parental abductions, according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
  • 09/15: Richmond Times-Dispatch, Appeal heard over same-sex custody – A legal fight pitting Vermont’s laws recognizing same-sex civil unions against Virginia laws invalidating them played out in front of the Virginia Court of Appeals yesterday.
  • 08/30: KSL TV, Utah Supreme Court Hears Lesbian’s Child Custody Case – A Salt Lake City woman is trying to keep her former gay partner from visiting her child. The two argued their case before the Utah Supreme Court on Tuesday.
  • 08/8: University of Washington, Intimate partner violence often ignored in determining child custody – Most states mandate some consideration of intimate partner violence (IPV) in child custody proceedings, but the existence of such abuse is often unknown to the court when custody is at issue.
  • 08/2: Concord Monitor, Parenting new focus in divorce – Starting this fall, parents who split up can be ordered to seek mediation if they can’t agree on how to divide their children’s time. It’s one of the guidelines in a new law that’s designed to make the process of divorce or separation less acrimonious.
  • 06/19: Boston Globe, Where’s Dad? – We may be the only society in history that has voluntarily chosen mass fatherlessness.
  • 06/15: Court TV, Judge approves child custody settlement between transsexual and ex-wife – A historic child custody battle between a transsexual father and his ex-wife ended last Friday in a shared custody agreement that both sides have hailed as nothing short of “miraculous.”
  • 05/24: San Francisco Chronicle, Same-sex child custody battles headed to California Supreme Court – In a hearing with potential implications for the gay marriage debate, the California Supreme Court was set to consider whether children born to same-sex couples who do not register as domestic partners should be treated the same under the law as the out-of-wedlock offspring of heterosexuals.

Child Protection

  • 09/20: MPR, Midday: Overhauling state child-protection systems – [Real Player] – State supreme court justices, attorneys and social workers from across the country convene in Bloomington Tuesday for a national summit on how to improve America’s child protection systems. Why are the systems perceived to be broken, and how might they be fixed?

Child Support

  • 01/24: Boston Globe, Child support expert reportedly was jailed for child support – New Hampshire nearly awarded a contract to fix its child support guidelines to an economist who had been jailed for failing to pay $7,228 in child support.
  • 12/19: Washington Post, Child-Support Processor to Restate 3 Years of Earnings – Getting parents who don’t have custody of their offspring to pay child support can be tough. Apparently, so can processing the payments.
  • 11/10: CTV, SCC decides ‘days do not equal dollars’ – The Supreme Court of Canada has decided that days do not equal dollars when it comes to child support.
  • 09/16: Billings Gazette, Child support before scholarships, panel says – CASPER, WY – A committee working to set up a state-funded college scholarship program decided not to award money to students who are behind on child support payments.
  • 08/25: Military.com, Marriage in the Military: Child Support and Custody – The pending legislation addresses both the modification of child support payments and child custody orders.
  • 08/18: CTV, Supreme Court agrees to hear child support appeal – The Supreme Court has agreed to consider an appeal filed by four fathers upset they’ve been asked to make massive back payments on their child support.
  • 06/13: Newswise, Tough Child Support Laws May Deter Single Men from Becoming Dads – Researchers studying the factors behind out-of-wedlock births have found a significant variable that often is overlooked: child support. States that are strict in enforcing child support have up to 20 percent fewer unmarried births than states that are lax about getting unmarried dads to pay, the researchers found.
  • 06/2: NPR, Case Challenges Child Support Rules for Sperm Donors – A Pennsylvania lawsuit could challenge the legal principles normally applied to sperm donors. In the case, a sperm donor is being sued for child support, even though there was a verbal contract exempting the man from responsibility for support.


  • 10/2: The Detroit News, Shacking Up – More couples say yes to sharing homes, no to marriage: Is that a problem?
  • 05/18: Christian Science Monitor, Who loses most in breakups? – Everything looked promising for Lauren Laughead and her boyfriend when they moved from Boston to Dallas in 2002 for his job. They had been living together for nearly four years and were planning to marry. They even bought a town house in Dallas.


  • 12/21: City Pages, Little Court of Horrors – In Anoka County family court, meth and red tape are playing hell with the fate of children.


  • 01/27: Department of Defense, Army Divorce Rates Drop as Marriage Programs Gain Momentum – Soldiers and their spouses are flocking to new and beefed-up programs to help them strengthen their marriages, and a dip in divorce rates appears to show it’s having a positive effect, Army officials told American Forces Press Service.
  • 01/11: NY Daily News, Cover your assets in divorce – Breaking up is hard to do. And if you’re getting divorced, it can be tough on your finances, too.
  • 01/8: San Diego Union Tribune, Divorce attorneys heading into busy times – Couples have several reasons why they agree to pack away the decorations before packing in the marriage. They may shop for attorneys along with their holiday gifts.
  • 01/4: USA Today, Quirky prenup deal doesn’t save marriage – Sally Erickson and David Renzie thought they had the secret to marital bliss. But the eccentric list of demands outlined in their prenuptial agreement, which included mandatory back rubs and a $5 fee for nagging, still couldn’t save their marriage.
  • 12/14: Vancouver Sun, Kids in the dumps long before parents divorce – Contrary to the popular belief that divorce itself is harmful to children, a University of Alberta study has found that kids tend to develop mental-health problems before their parents’ marriage breaks up.
  • 12/9: Stars and Stripes, Researchers: Alcohol misuse, divorce rates higher among returning troops – Those planning to divorce their spouse rose from 9 percent to 15 percent after time spent in the combat zone.
  • 11/28: Boston Globe, There’s no ‘good’ divorce – Many experts and parents embrace the idea, confident that it’s not divorce itself that harms children but simply the way that parents divorce. If divorced parents stay involved with their child and don’t fight with each other, they say, then children will be fine.
  • 11/10: Dallas Morning News, Gay marriage foes tackle divorce next – Texas social conservatives want to translate their resounding victory on a gay marriage ban into broader results: reducing the state’s divorce rate and passing a nationwide amendment to prevent same-sex unions.
  • 10/26: Billings Gazette, Create a ‘conflict-free’ zone for children during divorce – If kids are to succeed after divorce, they must be protected from parental conflict and allowed to enjoy close relationships with both parents whenever possible.
  • 10/24: Business Week, Good Divorce, Good Business – Why more husband-and-wife teams keep working together after they split
  • 10/17: Newsweek, Fast Chat: The Secret Pain of Divorce – While everyone knows divorce is tough on kids, researcher and writer Elizabeth Marquardt says even when the split is amicable, kids still suffer.
  • 09/27: Washington Times, Divorce’s lasting effects – Even though adult children of divorce often appear well-adjusted and successful, their childhoods were profoundly scarred by their parents’ breakup, a study finds.
  • 09/23: Forbes, Covering Your Assets In A Divorce – Torturing your soon-to-be ex in divorce court takes a little imagination mixed with viciousness and great gobs of money. If you want to make life miserable for the person, you can – often with the help of your attorney, who has a vested interest in litigating every little thing and running up the bill.
  • 09/19: Entrepreneur.com, Protect Your Business in a Divorce – Own a business and plan to get married soon? Consider adding a prenuptial agreement to your wedding plans.
  • 09/16: Arkansas News Bureau, War and divorce – Absence sometimes really does make the heart grow fonder – of someone else. That’s particularly true of married couples separated by war and mobilizations of National Guard troops.
  • 08/31: BBC, Divorce rate highest since 1996 – The number of divorces granted in the UK has reached its highest level since 1996, new statistics reveal.
  • 08/30: CTV, Canada divorce law says gay fling ‘not adultery’ – A Vancouver woman is challenging Canada’s divorce legislation after a judge said her husband’s extramarital affair with a man did not legally count as adultery.
  • 08/10: San Francisco Chronicle, When parents divorce and the house gets the children – Birdnesting is relatively rare, for obvious reasons. It can be expensive, as three places to live must be financed instead of two, and there are issues of privacy, housekeeping, money and new relationships.
  • 08/10: The Olympian, Newlyweds: Discuss finances or risk divorce – Many newlyweds spend months planning the wedding ceremony that unites them as a couple. But once the “I do’s” have been said, many couples spend little time or energy planning the financial aspects of their new life together.
  • 07/27: Seattle Times, Marriage as learned behavior: Can divorce be foretold? – It may sound like a conservative’s marriage manifesto: Pick a partner with a similar background, don’t shack up without an engagement ring and stick with even a lifeless marriage for your kids’ sake.
  • 07/21: Arizona Republic, Once a stigma, divorce is now part of U.S. lifestyle – Recent statistics show that almost half of those who marry in the United States split before death do they part. Many experts also agree that the stigma of divorce is waning.
  • 07/20: CBS News, Working with a divorce lawyer – Almost nobody likes a divorce proceeding, which is all the more reason why you would want it to move as smoothly and quickly as possible. And with the price of getting a divorce as high as it is, you want to have a strong relationship with your lawyer to get the fair outcome that you deserve.
  • 06/27: Newswise, Children of Divorce More Likely to End Their Marriages – Children of divorced parents often bitterly vow not to repeat the same mistakes. They want to avoid putting themselves and their own children through the pain that comes from the dissolution of a marriage. But, according to University of Utah researcher Nicholas H. Wolfinger, these children’s aspirations face unfavorable odds.
  • 05/26: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Psychiatric evaluations in divorce cases – When children are involved in situations of divorce or separation, it’s necessary to make visitation and custody arrangements. Some parents, working alone or with a mediator, come to agreement on these arrangements. Sometimes, however, disputes end up in court. In these cases, a psychiatric evaluation may help decide matters.
  • 05/25: University of California, Divorce and Marriage Affect Black Children More – Divorce and marriage play much bigger economic roles for black children than white children in the United States, according to a new study by two UC Davis economists.
  • 05/13: Seattle Post Intelligencer, Family values: Action louder than words – The 10 states with the highest divorce rates are all red or conservative states whose voters overwhelmingly support “values” candidates.
  • 04/17: Indianapolis Star, College costs renew troubles in families split by divorce – As if figuring out college funding weren’t Byzantine enough for most parents and their kids, consider the plight of the blended family.
  • 04/13: MSNBC, Create a successful parenting plan for children after divorce – Parents face unique challenges after divorce. In “The Co-Parenting Survival Guide,” psychologists Elizabeth Thayer and Jeffrey Zimmerman set out rules for parents to calm the emotions and ease the stress of shared parenting.
  • 04/12: MSNBC, Discussing death and divorce with children – At some point during their children’s youth, parents will be forced to discuss difficult topics like death or divorce. Russell Friedman, co-author of the highly acclaimed book “When Children Grieve: For Adults to Help Children Deal With Death, Divorce, Pet Loss, Moving and Other Losses,” was invited on “Today” to explain the best way to approach these conversations and the importance of honesty.
  • 04/6: WKMG, Divorce May Cause Toddlers To Lose Skills – Very young children may be unable to put a label on the experience of divorce, but even they realize that something is different and usually react with bodily responses and regressive behavior.

Family Law Legislation

  • 09/13: KXMA TV, Legislators begin studying state marriage laws – Supporters of the idea say they hope to find ways to strengthen marriage and families in North Dakota.

Family Resources

  • 12/13: Daily Telegraph, Girl, 10, to publish parental break-up guide – A schoolgirl who was nine years old when she wrote a self-help guide to cope with her parents’ break-up has secured a publishing deal, her mother has said.
  • 08/12: KidsHealth, Helping Your Child Through a Divorce – Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your child during a divorce. By minimizing the stress the situation creates and responding openly and honestly to your child’s concerns, you can help your child through this difficult time.
  • 05/26: Mayo, Divorce: Helping your child cope with the breakup – More than a million children a year experience their parents’ divorce. It’s a stressful time for the entire family, full of changes for everyone involved. Children are creatures of habit and routine, so divorce often turns their world upside down.
  • 04/21: WSAW TV, Family First: Helping Kids Cope With Divorce – The divorce rate in America bounces somewhere between 40 and 50 percent, and government polls show about half of the 60 million children under 13 are likely living with only one parent, but children of divorce don’t have to grow up forever scarred by it. We have some advice in this Family First report.

Foster Children

  • 11/2: Christian Science Monitor, In search of a home – again – Of the more than 500,000 children in the foster care system nationwide, sibling groups are the toughest to place.

Judicial Rulings

  • 11/17: San Francisco Chronicle, Rape within marriage ruled crime in Mexico – The Supreme Court of Mexico ruled Wednesday that rape within marriage is a crime, bringing Mexico’s laws into line with much of the world and removing one of the many obstacles women here face in reporting rape.


  • 01/24: Washington Post, Making Marriage (Like) Work – An Author Says Men Can Succeed by Treating It Like a Job
  • 01/18: WPRI TV, Study finds that marriage builds wealth – and divorce destroys it – Money may not be the best reason to get married, but staying married does help get it.
  • 12/19: Boston Globe, Sealing a contract after the marriage – Weary of marriage counseling but loath to divorce, a small but growing number of couples are trying a drastic approach to keep relationships intact, say lawyers, mediators, and therapists.
  • 11/15: Bismarck Tribune, Panel looks at ways to strengthen marriage – Few states encourage couples to get premarital counseling by offering discounts on marriage licenses, an idea the North Dakota Legislature rejected earlier this year.
  • 11/8: BBC, Happy marriage ‘helps fight flu’ – Happily married people are more likely to fight off flu effectively, research suggests.
  • 09/20: USA Today, If emotional needs are met, calm prevails – When couples get into arguments, it often starts over issues such as money, sex, household chores, scheduling and children.
  • 08/3: Christian Science Monitor, Today’s marriages: more fulfilling, and yet more fragile – An interview with Stephanie Coontz, whose new book looks at the history of marriage.
  • 07/22: Washington Post, Marriage Fund for Poor Proposed – The federal government would provide a marriage bonus of up to $9,000 to low-income D.C. residents under legislation approved yesterday by a Senate panel, a plan that analysts said would mark the first such use of federal funds in the country.
  • 07/13: Christian Science Monitor, Wedding bells without the bills – Does a wedding really have to cost $20,000? No way, say many creative brides and grooms.
  • 06/28: Christian Science Monitor, Why marriage today takes more love, work – from both partners – Matrimony was more stable – but less satisfying – when women had to give in to everything their husbands wanted.
  • 06/23: Washington Times, For whom the wedding bells toll – From the time that America was a colony, the marriage model was governed by law, culture and traditions flowing from the Judeo-Christian religious ideal.
  • 06/22: Christian Science Monitor, Harried marrieds – With long work hours and hectic schedules, some couples find they need to make an effort to nurture their relationships.
  • 06/8: Christian Science Monitor, Remarriage after retirement – Many adult children suddenly find themselves in step-families when their parents remarry later in life.
  • 05/29: Newsweek, What’s Love Got to Do With It? Everything. – In a new book, a marriage historian says romance wrecked family stability.
  • 05/27: Seattle Post Intelligencer, Marriage today is about writing your own story, says author – Realize this each morning as you awaken alongside your spouse: You two have a story to write.



  • 04/27: Christian Science Monitor, Love me, love my furniture – She can’t stand his old recliner. He dislikes her art. How do couples in second marriages blend their stuff?

Same-Sex Marriage

  • 01/29: Washington Post, Gay Marriage Politics – Let’s hope that a majority of lawmakers can muster the political nerve to resist the lure of divisiveness.
  • 01/26: Washington Post, State’s Marriage Proposal Hits Home in Arlington – Neither Jay Fisette nor his partner of 22 years has given much thought to the idea of marriage. Besides, as Virginians, marriage isn’t even an option for the same-sex couple.
  • 01/25: Boston Globe, Lawmaker plans bill expanding marriage to same-sex couples – A Burlington lawmaker has drafted a bill to expand marriage to same-sex couples and plans to introduce it Thursday, although neither he nor advocates believe it will be debated or adopted this year.
  • 01/24: Boston Globe, R.I. legislators reintroduce bill for gay marriage – A decade after they began pushing to legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island, legislators and activists are hoping to see the General Assembly take some action on the issue.
  • 01/24: Seattle Post Intelligencer, Gay rights bill may be just the start – Gay rights and gay marriage are on a collision course in the Legislature this year, and the Democrats in power are doing everything they can to bring home the former before the latter becomes an issue.
  • 01/23: San Francisco Chronicle, Going for broke in battle over gay vows – Many activist groups fear federal case could undermine their state-by-state strategy
  • 01/22: Washington Post, Many Md. Democrats Seek Quick End to Gay Marriage Debate – Hours after a Baltimore judge ruled that a Maryland law banning same-sex marriage violates the state constitution, reporters cornered the typically loquacious Sen. James Brochin near his desk on the Senate floor.
  • 01/20: NPR, Maryland Judge Set to Rule on Gay Marriage Rights – Maryland could become the next state to recognize marriage for gay couples. As early as Friday, Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Brook Murdock is expected to rule whether a 1973 statute that defines marriage as between a man and a woman violates the state constitution.
  • 01/17: Washington Times, Pennsylvania lawmakers ready marriage amendment – Pennsylvania lawmakers are planning to introduce a state constitutional marriage amendment next week, while traditional-values groups in at least three other states are pushing for similar measures this year.
  • 01/3: Boston Globe, Gay marriage backers file lawsuit to block repeal effort – Gay marriage supporters filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Attorney General Tom Reilly seeking to block a proposed ballot question that would amend the state constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage.
  • 01/2: Washington Post, District Weighing Boosts in Gay Rights – The D.C. Council is considering measures that would amount to the greatest expansion of rights for same-sex couples in a decade.
  • 12/18: Washington Post, Paradise Lost – Virginia ‘s new law against same-sex marriage made this couple leave the state after 35 years
  • 12/11: NY Daily News, Marriage is better. Period. – Yes, in 2005, some New York judges still have their heads screwed on straight. No pun intended.
  • 11/21: MPR, Same-sex marriage debate could boost GOP ’06 hopes – If a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage makes it on the ballot next year, it could give a big boost to Republican candidates for governor and U.S. Senate.
  • 11/18: Boston Globe, Mass. GOP aiding drive for ban on gay marriage – The state Republican Party, despite its officially neutral stance on gay marriage, has been drafting Republicans to gather signatures for a proposed ban on same-sex marriage and plans to use the petition drive to identify supporters for the 2006 elections.
  • 11/9: San Francisco Chronicle, Texas Voters Approve Ban on Gay Marriage – The contest in Texas was lopsided; near-complete returns showed the gay-marriage ban supported by about 76 percent of voters.
  • 09/30: San Francisco Chronicle, Gay marriage bill vetoed, as promised – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered on his promise Thursday to veto a bill that would have given same-sex partners the right to marry but said he would not support any rollback of the state’s current domestic partner benefits.
  • 09/26: Seattle Times, Gay marriage back in Oregon court – Both sides in the state’s gay marriage squabble will be back in court today, this time to argue about whether voters passed a valid ban on same-sex marriage last year.
  • 09/19: The Detroit News, Gay marriage turns corner with legislative approval – The movement to secure the right to marry for gay couples everywhere turned a monumental corner on Sept. 6. And there’s no turning back.
  • 09/16: Bloomberg, Massachusetts Gay-Marriage Foes Seek Referendum After Setback – Supporters of gay marriage in Massachusetts won a vote in the legislature this week to allow the practice to continue.
  • 09/13: Christian Science Monitor, Will California’s gay marriage bill spur similar measures elsewhere? – A recent poll there shows voters evenly split on the issue of same-sex marriage.
  • 09/9: Seattle Post Intelligencer, Editorial: Same-sex Marriage: Veto the future – California is close to legalizing same-sex marriage, with lawmakers there this week passing a bill to make it so.
  • 08/15: San Francisco Chronicle, Gay marriage among bills facing lawmakers as election looms – California legislators return Monday from a month-long recess to wrap up their 2005 session with four hectic weeks of lawmaking, facing issues that include gay marriage, solar energy and high school graduation exams.
  • 07/25: CBC News, Same-sex couples warned to be careful abroad – Same-sex marriage may be legal in Canada, but Ottawa is warning gay and lesbian couples to be aware of cultural – and legal – differences abroad.
  • 07/13: San Francisco Chronicle, Senate committee revives bill to legalize gay marriage – The quest to legalize gay marriage was revived by a Senate committee that approved the measure that was slipped into a fisheries research bill after it failed in the state Assembly.
  • 07/1: Christian Science Monitor, A church’s struggle over gay marriage – The United Church of Christ – famous for setting precedent – considers backing same-sex marriage at its national synod.
  • 06/29: Washington Post, Same-Sex Marriage Advances In Canada – The House of Commons voted Tuesday to guarantee full marriage rights to same-sex couples, reaffirming Canada ‘s sharp difference with the United States over the issue of gay rights and promising an alternative destination for American gay men and lesbians to be married.
  • 06/21: MSNBC, Bush calls for gay-marriage amendment – Reviving a major plank of his re-election campaign, President Bush called for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage Tuesday.
  • 06/20: San Francisco Chronicle, Calif gay marriage bill to be revived – Less than three weeks after a bill to legalize same-sex marriage died in the California Assembly, a Democratic lawmaker said Monday that he plans to revive the measure this session by attaching it to legislation already pending in the state Senate.
  • 06/15: Boston Globe, N.J. court says no on gay marriage – A state appeals panel ruled yesterday that New Jersey’s Constitution does not require the recognition of same-sex marriage.
  • 06/14: Bloomberg, New Jersey’s Ban on Gay Marriage Is Constitutional, Court Rules – New Jersey’s constitution doesn’t require the recognition of same-sex marriages, a state appeals court ruled today.
  • 04/7: Christian Science Monitor, Ripples spread as states vote on same-sex marriage – The question of same-sex marriage is spreading across the country as a showdown issue involving courts, lawmakers, and activists. And it’s not just a spectator event, since much of the public in many states is involved as well.

Single Parents

  • 10/31: USA Today, Feds: 1.5 million babies born to unwed moms in ’04 – New federal data showing a record high number of babies – 1.5 million – born last year to unwed mothers, with more of them in their 20s, has sparked concern about what the trend means for child well-being.
  • 09/28: WESH TV, Unwed Mothers Have Worse Marriage Prospects – Unwed mothers are significantly less likely to marry and more likely to cohabitate than women without children. If they do marry, their husbands are more likely to have poor job prospects.


  • 06/21: USA Today, Hearts divide over marital therapy – Couples who are trying to patch up a troubled union often turn to counseling as a last-ditch effort to keep the marriage intact. That’s what marital therapy is all about, right?


  • 04/18: Christian Science Monitor, Grandparents’ visits: not always a right – Spending time with grandchildren is an activity most grandparents take for granted. But in Washington State, a ruling this month by the state Supreme Court strikes down a visitation law, leaving grandparents there with no legal recourse when the children’s parents deny them access to their grandchildren.

Bradley County Family Brings National Attention To Child Custody Cases

Submitted by Kristen Johnson on November 26, 2008 – 8:56pm. News | Bradley County News

Watch video

During this holiday season people are thankful for many different things.For Jeremy Hopkins, this Thanksgiving is the first big holiday he’s gotten to spend with his daughter Kate in 2 years.

The same amount of time Hopkins has wrangled through the Bradley County court system to get equal custody of his little girl Kate.

“All I want for my daughter is for her to have mom and a dad,” Jeremy Hopkins said in tears.

But his story – not unusual.

“The system allows this to happen, “Michael McCormick with the Institute for American Families said.

McCormick traveled from D.C. and stood on the Bradley County Courthouse steps Wednesday to shed light on the Hopkin’s case and many more like them.

In fact he says a million plus children pass through the family courts each year.

And around 4-thousand of them will lose a relationship with one of their parents.

“The courts are going to pick a winner and a loser and when they do that the child ultimately loses,” McCormick told News 12.

McCormick points out that Tennessee does requires parents to develop a parenting plan.

But when a plan can’t or hasn’t been agreed on, like in the Hopkins case, he says the courts fail to maximize a child’s relationship with both parents and typically one parent sees the child for less than 20 percent of the time.

“Rather than trying to strengthen those relationships..the court systems are destroying those,” Jeremy’s brother David said.

“If we look at what’s happening to our society we can trace the social pathologies just as increased rates of incarceration, early sexual activity for girls, truancy issues relate to the family breaking down and the social fabric of our society is breaking down in terms of the family breaking down, we are being weaken as a nation and we need to change that,” McCormick added.

McCormick says while about 17 million fathers nationwide do not have fair access to their children, about three million mothers experience the same problem.

Divorce Wars: Litigation as Blood Sport

and the ABC News Law & Justice Unit July 11, 2006

Few aspects of civil society can devolve more quickly and more dangerously into personal civil war than the dissolution of a marriage.

New York City police officials were reminded of that Monday as they investigated whether the gas explosion that destroyed a four-story Manhattan town house was the result of a bitter divorce battle between Dr. Nicholas Bartha and his wife, Cordula.

Police say Bartha, a 66-year-old internist, sent an e-mail message to his wife stating: “You always wanted me to sell the house. I always told you, ‘I will leave the house only if I am dead.'”

According to police, Bartha had tried to kill himself several times throughout the divorce proceedings, which have been going on since 2001. In 2005, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court held that the town house was marital property. As part of the settlement, a judge ordered Bartha to auction off the $6.4 million building and divide the proceeds with his wife.

On Friday, Bartha was handed eviction papers by a sheriff’s deputy.

Out of Control

Attorneys and psychiatrists told ABC News the Bartha case is one of the worst they have ever seen. But not the first.

“When they are bad, they can spin out of control easily and fast, and the effect snowballs to the point where people ultimately — after exhausting all remedies — do something seemingly as crazy as blowing up the residence,” said William Beslow, who has represented Tatum O’Neal, Mia Farrow and Patricia Duff in contentious divorce proceedings.

Prominent New York divorce attorney Raoul Felder was more specific. “I had a client murdered by his wife,” Felder said. “I have seen [cases in which] a kitten [was] put in a washing machine, a puppy in the microwave — the puppy died, the kitten lived.

“I have seen art collections slashed, a guy with a vinyl record collection had it returned by his wife all smashed into bits,” Felder added. “I’ve seen clothes ripped up. One gentleman got his wife tickets to some hot play, and when she returned, her stuff was in the street. I’ve seen children taken at airports.”

Felder said divorce cases are a unique and sometimes monstrously painful form of litigation. “In all other litigation, the stuff is replaceable,” he said. “But dignity and validation are not replaceable. If I sue someone for not delivering lumber, it has nothing to do with me as a human being. If I lose my divorce case, there’s a lack of validation as a human being.”

Hurt, Humiliation and Rage

The U.S. divorce rate has remained relatively steady for more than a quarter century — at least as steady as the stream of high-profile, acrimonious divorce cases.

There were 2,219,000 marriages performed in the United States in 2004 — the most recent year for which statistics are available — according to the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Within 15 years, about 43 percent of those marriages will end in divorce, according to CDC surveys.

“The relationship between marriage and divorce has been about two to one since at least 1976,” said NCHS spokesman Bill Crews.

The list of bitter divorces seems endless.

Last month a Nevada businessman, Darren Mack, allegedly shot the judge in his divorce case after he allegedly killed his wife, Charla. Police believe the couple’s eight-year-old daughter was upstairs playing with a friend during the attack.

“When there’s physical violence in a courtroom, or when it’s directed to a judge or attorneys, it’s more likely to be in a divorce case then in a criminal case,” said Judith Wallerstein, a California psychologist who has written amicus, or friend of the court, briefs for landmark state Supreme Court custody battles.

“Divorce leads people to behave in ways that are entirely out of keeping with the way they were before,” she said. “This is because of the tremendous hurt and humiliation followed by the rage.”

Last April actress Denise Richards claimed in court papers that her estranged actor-husband Charlie Sheen was “addicted” to gambling and prostitutes, and that he frequented pornographic Web sites from the couple’s home computer — charges Sheen has vehemently denied.

Richards is reportedly so angry at Sheen she has banned his parents from visiting the couple’s two granddaughters.

Former Hollywood power couple Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin have been battling in court since 2002 over custody of their daughter. Basinger has claimed she was physically abused, while Baldwin has charged the actress has a “pathological need” to turn their daughter against him. Both have charged that the other suffers from severe emotional problems.

In 1999 Marla Maples told a London newspaper that if her ex-husband, developer Donald Trump, ever ran for president — he was considering a Reform Party presidential bid at the time — she would tell the world “what he’s really like.” Trump promptly threatened to withhold $1.5 million in alimony payments.

Revlon CEO Ron Perlman’s 1998 divorce from Patricia Duff was a tabloid staple for months as reporters detailed Duff’s financial demands for their daughter, which included more than $3,000 a month for clothing, $1,450 for dining out and more than $30,000 monthly for nannies and maids.

In a recently published memoir, “Oh the Glory of It All,” author Sean Wilsey details a breathtaking lifestyle of sex, drugs and marital infidelity, including his father’s affair with beach book author Danielle Steel, that led to his parents’ 1979 divorce.

At the time, it was one of the most expensive divorce cases in San Francisco history. His mother, San Francisco society columnist Pat Montandon, sought $57,000 a month in alimony from her husband, Al Wilsey, but was awarded only $20,000.

“If your mother had cared as much about being a wife as she did about being a star, we’d still be married,” Wilsey told his son after moving into the Fairmont Hotel, according to the book.

Suicide Rare

Such bitterness and recrimination, experts say, sometimes comes with the territory when you’re dealing with a breakup.

“There’s sometimes this massive reaction of anger that the other spouse has the temerity to say, ‘I don’t want to be with you anymore,”’ Beslow said. “Take the trauma of a business dissolution and then multiply that by a factor of 10 or 20 and you begin to approach the emotional trauma of a divorce,” Beslow added. “And that’s without children.”

Despite the bitterness that accompanies some divorce cases, attorneys said apparent suicide attempts like Bartha’s are uncommon.

“Suicide is very rare in divorce cases, but it happens,” Felder said. “If you’re reasonably astute, you pick up on it and, as an attorney, you get them into competent hands.”

“I’ve seen a lot of hard-fought litigation, but I’ve never seen anything like [the Bartha case],” said Manhattan attorney Robert Stephan Cohen, who represented New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his 1993 divorce and model Christie Brinkley in her split from Billy Joel.

He believes divorce cases sometimes get so vicious because “it often involves probably two of the most important things in a person’s life — what may be most of their money and their children.

“And they have no control over the process. It leaves some people feeling very lost. For clients and their lawyers, it’s no romance,” Cohen said. “That’s when you get married.”

National Marriage Week Raises Awareness of Divorce Problems

By Laura Fishman on February 16, 2011 12:04 PM | y and decrease the rates of divorce. There’s a campaign for marriage going on in the United States and the Georgia state government seems to stand behind this campaign.

National Marriage Week is celebrated each year from February 7 to February 14 in an effort to build a stronger marriage culture around the country

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal proclaimed the week of February 7 as Georgia Marriage Week in the state. But why is marriage so important and why should the government be advocating for more marriages?

National Marriage Week USA explains that divorce and unwed childbearing cost U.S. taxpayers $112 billion due to the economic struggles that broken families typically face. Divorce can also be difficult for children, where kids in a divorced family are less likely to perform well in school.

Marriage laws are pretty simple and straightforward in the state of Georgia. It’s easy for couples to fill out the application for a marriage license and there’s no required waiting period in Georgia between the time of getting a marriage license and the time of the marriage ceremony.

Some residents of the Peach State are pushing for Georgia to allow marriage between all types of people. Under Georgia Code Title 19, a marriage license cannot be issued to persons of the same sex and a union only between a man and woman will be recognized.

Certain churches, businesses, education groups, and government entities advocate for more marriages during National Marriage Week. Perhaps the state may want to consider reforming its marriage laws to include even more kinds of marriage.

Contact Joe Wahl