Sunday, August 21, 2016

Permanent vs. Open Durational Alimony

Arvo, a legal information and lawyer directory site, has an interesting question on their legal research section asking if permanent alimony is always awarded in New Jersey for marriages over 20 years. Three lawyers answered pointing out that New Jersey got rid of permanent alimony several years ago and replaced it with open durational alimony, which may, emphasis on may, be awarded in cases where the marriage lasted more than 20 years.

I was married less than 20 years when Spring divorced me yet have to pay permanent, as in until I die, alimony but I was unfortunately married in Minnesota.

Back to New Jersey. Some say that there is little difference between permanent and open durational alimony other than the words as permanent alimony was never meant to really be permanent. I disagree.  The words matter.  "Open durational" strongly implies that it will be changed in the future. "Permanent" implies the opposite.

Only a minority of states still have permanent alimony. Hopefully the rest will change their laws soon.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Percentage of Men Awarded Spousal Support Increasing - Barely

Although the Supreme Court ruled long ago that spousal support laws must be applied equitably to men and women, the reality is that 97% of the time support is paid for by the man. In fact, the number of men receiving spousal support has only grown by 0.5% since 2000. Given that in 40% of households women earn more than men, this is pretty solid evidence of inequity.
Three percent of men in divorce cases receive spousal support, a figure that is up 0.5 percent since 2000, according to the 2010 census. The census found that about 12,000 men receive spousal support, and 380,000 women receive it.
Hopefully with the rising number of same-sex divorces and the growing realization that it is often female second spouses who carry the burden of alimony as much as their husbands, this situation will change and we will finally achieve what the Supreme Court mandated decades ago.

The reality is that alimony reform is good for everyone, even, I would argue, those who currently benefit financially from the lack of justice in alimony awards. My ex-wife Spring divorced me, never used a dime of her income for the children, was not the primary parent during the marriage according to the custody evaluator, can make just as much money as me according to the vocational evaluation, committed perjury in court and has a lawyer that clearly committed criminal fraud. Yet, she gets well in excess of $30,000 per year from me until the day I die.  On the one hand you could say that she wildly succeeded financially. But I have to believe as some deep level she knows what she did to me and the children. That she knows what she did to her integrity. There are things more important than money.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Minnesota Guardian ad Litem Program

Minnesota's Guardian ad Litem Program, which to be honest I had never heard of before, was designed to ensure the best interests of abused and neglected children in court. Apparently, there has been concerns for some time regarding how well the program is run and how effective they are in protecting children.
“Many concerns have been raised about the use of guardians ad litem…most complaints are connected with guardian activities in family court cases, primarily in contested divorce actions. Complaints have focused on guardian bias towards either women or men, lack of oversight and accountability, inadequate training, inappropriate communication between guardians and judges, and other inappropriate behavior…”- Evaluation Report, Guardians ad Litem, 1995: MN.
A Call to Action ~ Together We Are Stronger (C2A) is an active organization seeking to correct abuses in the program.

“A Call to Action ~ Together We Are Stronger” (C2A) is a group of parents and professionals who are joining together to offer support to families negatively impacted by Minnesota’s Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program, and family court system. A Call to Action advocates for needed change by raising awareness and through advocacy efforts.

I cannot say definitively how well the Guardian ad Litem program is run but the C2A site certainly feels like a familiar story. Those who profess, and often believe, they are doing good while simply indulging their thirst for power are the most dangerous type of victimizer.  A bad cop, lawyer or judge is far more dangerous than an overt criminal. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Virginia Alimony Reform

There is a cogent post over in the 2nd Partners & Partners Club section on the Virginia Alimony Reform site.
Virginia allows a woman to work so, why even allow permanent alimony? After 10 years marriage, social security allows a woman to collect against a former husbands benefits without affecting the husband's benefits so, why does a former spouse also need permanent alimony? In Virginia, spouses split all assets including retirement so, why is a former spouse also entitled to permanent alimony? Like me, have you also ask yourself these questions?
I am married to a wonderful man who has been sentenced to lifetime alimony. This means that I too have been sentenced to lifetime alimony. Instead of looking to a bright future, planning our retirement and being able to assist children and grandchildren when they need it, we live in fear of the State increasing the awarded "a free meal ticket" to a grown adult. This person is in our marriage and our life. I feel like this is legally supported polygamy. How do you feel?
Although 97% of the time when the court orders alimony the husband is the payer, it is important to understand that often the alimony paid by the man is also effectively paid by his new spouse or partner.  Oddly, more women pay alimony to their spouse's ex-wife than then do to their own ex-husband. Which goes to show just how messed up the system is.

Alimony reform is not a man vs. woman issue - it is is a justice vs. injustice, and often such as with my situation a criminal vs. law-abiding, issue.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

More Stories

Minnesota Alimony Reform has been listing stories from real people that highlight the real injustices that occur with alimony awards in Minnesota.  They are quite honestly often painful to read but at least they are people I can commiserate with. Some new ones have been recently posted. Check it out.
Permanent maintenance is a total joke! Let’s see. Child support ends when the child reaches 18 or finishes secondary school. But yet you have to pay an ex joke of a human forever?? My husband passed away 17 years ago we had a daughter together. She just turned 18 and is cut off Social security now. I never received Social security for the rest of my life. Why should that be any different? I never worked while he was alive. He wanted me home. What makes an ex so special?! 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Change Requires Persistance

One of the most insidious events in my divorce was when the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board totally whitewashed my complaint against Nelly Wince.  It is one thing that Wince lied and committed fraud. It isn't hard to find bad people. But when the very institution that is designed to ensure lawyers act ethically and operate within the law blatantly does just the opposite, it is a much bigger problem. That is not just a crime against an individual, it is a crime against society as it undermines and subverts the entire legal process.

The evidence agaisnt Nelly Wince is ironclad. So much so that no one has ever refuted it.

Earlier this year, I sent a freedom of information act request to the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board asking for the documents in my complaint agaisnt Nelly Wince. I found out that all documents had been destroyed per the Lawyers Rules of Professional Conduct. (as odd as that sounds) While reading the rules I decided that I would see if I could change the rules.

Rather than trying to change the rule on document retention, I focused on a smaller, hopefully less controversial change.

The investigator who looked into my complaint agaisnt Nelly Wince was a divorce mediator. A person whose very livelihood depends on referrals from divorce lawyers. If this isn't a clear conflict of interest, I do not know what is. This is where I focused my attention.

Now how to change the Lawyers Rules of Professional Conduct is a far from transparent process. It was really only with the help of a sympathetic state senator that the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board told what the process is - this in itself is pretty disturbing.

The process is to petition the State Supreme Court, in a very specific manner, for the change. I did this. The specific change I am seeking is to add the following to the rules:
The investigator assigned, if a lawyer, shall not be in active practice in the same area of law that the lawyer under investigation practices in. The investigator assigned, if not a lawyer, shall not be a person who works in a profession which commonly receives referrals from lawyers who practice in the same area of law as the lawyer under investigation.
Pretty reasonable I think.

In my petition I specifically asked to be kept informed when the petition would be heard by the Court as well as the result. I heard nothing for six months. This week, however, I received an email from the court granting a request by the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board for a two week extension to the time in which they need to reply. The order was actually signed by the Chief Justice. And it included a case number.

Using the case number, I was able to look up the details of the case on the court's website. There I found my petition, communication directing the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board to respond, their request for an extension as well as the granting of the extension that I received. Again, the granting of the extinction request was the first communication I received from the court.

The case also included a petition submitted by a lawyer also regarding the Rules of Professional Conduct but on a wholly unrelated matter. I presume they lump such petitions together.

It will be awhile before I know the result of my petition. The Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board has until October 14th to respond to the court and who knows how long it will take before a decision will be made after that.

I am 99% sure my petition will fail. If I actually do succeed I suspect I will be the first non-lawyer in the history of the state to successfully petition for a change in the Lawyers Rules of Professional Conduct. I'll admit a part of me holds out hope for this. But even if it fails I take comfort in the fact that people at the Supreme Court, maybe even the justices themselves, have read not only petition but the background information I provided along with it. That can only help.

I did what I was supposed to in Spring's divorce of me. I told the truth and acted ethically despite the fact that Spring and Wince were not only acting unethically but criminally. Sadly they got away with it. My petition is a small but significant step in making it less likely others will suffer as I and my children have from corruption with the legal system.

The effect of such corruption on the children, including my children, breaks my heart. It is bad enough when a child's parent is a criminal. But is is far worse for a child to have a parent that is a successful criminal. When you get away with crime it builds a near insurmountable barrier to regret and remorse. Without regret and remorse there is little chance of forgiveness.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Corruption Has Consequences

One of the most insidious aspects of corruption is that it invariable spreads in a disease like manner. A judge such as Richard Mearly who clearly rules based on personal whim rather in a just and law abiding manner, an organization such as Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board which blatantly protects lawyers who break the law, and county attorneys such as Bennie Sonsang who actively work to shield criminals and hurt the innocent do not limit there unjust actions to just family law. These same judges, lawyers and prosecutors are involved in cases across the board.

Tragically in Minnesota this week a police officer shot and killed Philando Castile, a black man sitting in a car who he had stopped for a broken taillight. Castile was shot four times while his girlfriend and her four year old child sat in the car. Although it is difficult if not impossible to know exactly why the police officer pulled the trigger, I think it highly unlikely Castile would have been shot if he was white. As governor Dayton stated, “Would this have happened if those passengers would have been white? I don’t think it would have.”

So how did this happen? What is the culture that allows a police officer to so easily gun down a black man? Certainly racism is part of the issue. But the enabling factor is a corrupt legal system. If the same event had happened 30 years ago there would likely have been no consequences for the police officer at all. It would have been a minor news event.  It would have been covered up.That doesn't work so well in cases where we have live streaming as Castile's girlfriend had the presence of mind to do.

It is near impossible for people who are not victims of corruption to understand those who are. There is a tendency to believe that the victims are exaggerating. That things aren't as bad as they are making out. The truth is that the reality is often far worse than the victims even know.

All forms of discrimination whether based on nationality, religion, gender, or sexual orientation are really just consequences of corruption. Corruption is simply just one group oppressing another. It is a form of organized crime. It is easier to do if the ones being oppressed are identifiable by color of skin, national origin, religion or any other category but it also works quite well when the victims are poor saps who are being divorced.

There are few options for justice when the legal system itself is unjust.