Sunday, January 21, 2018

Elle - Is Alimony the Last Feminist Taboo?

In an incredible article Elle Magazine asks, Is Alimony the Last Feminist Taboo? It is the story of good people going through a difficult divorce and their struggle and ultimate success in make the best of the situation. It makes me so sad that Spring's divorce of me ended up so horrible for all parties, especially the kids.

The most difficult obstacle the couple in the article had to deal with was alimony. As the wife made far more money than the husband, he could have asked for alimony from her. But in the end he came to his senses and decided not to pursue it.
“He has a lot of pride, and he’s not a jerk,” Andrea said. “To his credit, he saw how off the rails it was getting.”
It is painful that Spring, rather than acting decently took the exact opposite approach. She not only demanded alimony but she committed perjury and fraud in order to get as much as she possibly could.  Worse our legal system, despite overwhelming evidence that she did not deserved any alimony (the custody evaluator having ruled she was not the primary parent and the vocational evaluator ruling she could make just as much money as me), ignored the unquestionable evidence or her crimes. 

The sad reality is that unless both people in a divorce  act with integrity, the family law system operates in a way that rewards the bad and hurts the good.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Update: Alimony Reform in Alabama and Vermont

Alimony reform has often been dishearteningly slow and measured across the country but progress is being made. Rehabilitative alimony has now become the default in Alabama and a Spousal Support and Maintenance Task Force has been created in Vermont.

The biggest problem with alimony is that the way it is awarded is often not just unfair but clearly unfair. More often than not it hurts the responsible parent and rewards the irresponsible one. And often it is working that way because crime, even blatant crime, is not just ignored but often rewarded in family court. It doesn't take litigants much time to understand how the system works. And you are kidding yourself if you do not think the children involved, indeed anyone with knowledge of how it works, are not impacted in a very negative way.

I will never cease to be amazed by how easily people sacrifice their dignity for money and power. It is never worth it.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Salary History

In 2016 Massachusetts was the first state to pass a law barring employees from asking job applicants what their current salary was. The law was designed to reduce inequities in pay. The idea is to prevent underpayment at one job moving with a person to a new job.  The law was pushed for mostly by women and women's groups but if helps everyone. And it makes sense. After all what does your current salary have to do with what you are worth to a different company?

Several states have followed Massachusetts's lead and passed similar laws, most recently California.

Massachusetts was also the first state to pass alimony reform, a move several states have emulated as well. Hopefully Minnesota will one day as well.

I am not sure what it is about Massachusetts that makes them more concerned with justice and fairness than other states but it is good for all of us when they lead the way.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sometimes Lawyers Do Speak Out

I have tried to be clear that I do not consider lawyers bad. Considering an individual bad because of their profession is no different than considering someone bad due to their race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, attractiveness, height, wealth, intelligence, etc.  It basically just proves that you are prejudiced and not such a good person yourself. 

Clearly there are good lawyers.

A few years ago someone on the legal site Arvo asked how to disqualify a corrupt judge. The person who asked the question was pretty much attacked by most the lawyers who responded.

Here is how one lawyer replied:
We all run into this all the time. The Judge is corrupt because you disagree with his rulings. You disagree with his rulings because he's corrupt. 
A classic example of victim blaming.

Yet one lawyer, Christine C McCall, gave a really interesting response.
I understand your frustration -- and your condemnation. I have seen things in California family law courts that would leave the judicial officers in the criminal courts down the hall with their mouths agape. I have seen conduct by family law judges in Los Angeles Superior Courts that makes me physically ill (usually at the expense of pro pers) and ashamed of the legal profession. And I have seen such conduct repeatedly and in circumstances where it is plain that it is not unusual but is business as usual -- by multiple judges, not just one dubious apple in the barrel. And I have been shocked at the meek acquiescence of the legal counsel in those matters (who undoubtedly appear before the same courts regularly).
What I will tell you based on these first-hand experiences is that the conduct that is so loathsome and objectionable is not "corrupt" by the legal (or judicial administration) definitions.
And I will tell you that our legislature has wrongfully allowed family law courts entirely too much discretion on too many matters, making "lawful" and legally permissible these dubious and morally questionable exercises of judicial discretion. And our appellate courts have by their inaction caused these judges to feel uninhibited and un-constrained by any real risk of public correction or professional disapproval. Both of those "points" on the wheel of the legal system need to wake up and smell the sewage.
But in truth, the system for administering marital law may be broken beyond all administrative and legislative fixing. It may be so far gone (or long past that point) that the public must reconsider whether marital matters and their issues would be better removed altogether from the court system. It may be that ANY other method or place -- including tossing coins and reading cow entrails -- would be a meaningful improvement in how we resolve these painful and critical problems.
A day of observation in LASC family court is an unforgettable experience, morally shocking and professionally demoralizing, and the parties who are so badly served there cannot be blamed for deducing that "corruption" is at work. "Corruption" might be less morally troubling -- and less damaging to the body politic -- than the manifest fact of systemic failure and betrayal.
FWIW: I don't practice family law, and I am not a victim of what I give witness to here.
Wow! Possibly Ms. McCall felt emboldened to comment honestly due to the fact that she is now retired so she couldn't be as easily retaliated against. But even if so, her honesty is quite refreshing to someone who has gone through what I have.

Tonight is New Years Eve. I will raise my glass to Christine McCall wherever you are.

As a side note, there is one thing you should know about Arvo if you ever want to use it as a resource. Lawyers have the ability to quite easily remove negative comments. At one time Nelly Wince had several negative comments. They were all removed. Her listing now states that she has not been reviewed yet.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Crimes in Family Court

Sadly crimes committed Family Court, even felonies, are rarely punished and often rewarded. Which is of course the very reason they are so prevalent. In fact, false accusations of abuse comprise the vast majority of abuse allegations and there is essentially zero chance the person making the false claim will be prosecuted.

Judges are required to issue protective orders if they believe there is a 51% chance the claim is true. In reality, they almost always issue the order and if there are children it means putting them in the custody of the person who made the claim. Given that the vast majority of abuse claims are false that means the children are likely to be put into the custody of a criminal and the person who is the actual abuser. Crazy system we have.

One of the most bizarre cases involved late night television host David Letterman. In 2005 a woman who never met the comedian filed for and received a protective order against Letterman because he was allegedly “beaming televised code words and seductive eye gestures” at her. Because there was no requirement for a physical altercation, the order was granted.

Lawyers such as Nelly Wince are likewise free to commit fraud, even blatant fraud, in court because there is a near zero chance they will be punished. The Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board in my area was unable to provide a single example where a lawyer had been even reprimanded let alone disbarred for lying in family court.

Intelligent yet immoral criminals naturally gravitate to areas where the risk of being caught is low. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sexual Harassment Discussion Reaches New Levels of Absurdity

People have become irrational when discussing sexual harassment. It has become absurdest theater. Or maybe more Monty Python.

Matt Damon statement that there is a spectrum of behavior when it comes to sexual harassment:
"I do believe that there’s a spectrum of behavior, right?" Damon told Travers. "And we’re going to have to figure — you know, there’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?"
prompted his ex-girlfriend Minnie Driver to angrily tweet: 
“There is no hierarchy of abuse – that if a woman is raped [it] is much worse than if woman has a penis exposed to her that she didn’t want or ask for … you cannot tell those women that one is supposed to feel worse than the other.
“And it certainly can’t be prescribed by a man. The idea of tone deafness is the idea there [is] no equivalency.
 “Men can rally and they can support, but I don’t think its appropriate, per se, for men to have an opinion about how women should be metabolising abuse. Ever.”
Wow. Driver's comments come very close to being anti-men in nature. It is sexist. And there is no difference between someone who is sexist against men and someone who is sexist against women.

I wonder if Driver feels like she cannot, ever, understand what it is like to be a man with the constant threat of violence? Because, of course, nearly all violence is committed against men and women not only have never been drafted they do not even need to register for it. 

Or maybe she just cannot comment on alimony because she doesn't understand what it like to be a slave to a person who has abused and committed crimes against him most his life? (at least that was my experience) 

Call me naive but I think people can understand a lot. A white person can understand a black one.  A man can understand a woman. An introvert can understand an extrovert. A short person can understand a tall one. A beautiful person can understand a not so beautiful one. A smart person can understand a not so smart one. And all vice versa. 

I don't mean they know exactly how the other feels on everything but no two people can ever achieve that as we are all unique. But you can understand and you can empathize. 

Try reading more if you want to understand how it is to be someone else. 

Broad classifications such as the ones Ms. Driver makes are the root cause of all discriminatory beliefs, including sexism. 

If you really think men, all men, cannot understand women then the opposite is true. And we are all doomed. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Satan’s Docket

Satan’s Docket: Corruption and Carnage in America’s Divorce Industry is a new book from the Parenting Rights Institute that details out pretty much exactly what this site has been talking about for the last several years;  namely corruption within the divorce industry.

The author, Leon R. Koziol, is a New York Lawyer, who has been indefinitely suspended for speaking out on courtroom corruption.

Like the current "me too" climate regarding sexual harassment, a "me too" time will come for family court corruption. The judges, lawyers, and others in the divorce industry should bear that in mind.