Monday, December 29, 2014

Thoughts on Gone Girl

Last night I saw the movie Gone Girl. I had read the book last year with my book club. Both the movie and book should be required reading for divorce lawyers and family law judges.

The story is intricate and twisted and both the book and movie are well done. Spoiler alert – you may want to stop reading now if you haven't read the book or seen the movie yet.

The story revolves around Amy Dunn who fakes her own death to frame her husband Nick in order to get back at him for having an affair. In the end she brutally kills a former (and creepy) ex-boyfriend she manipulated into helping her, framed him for rape then returned to her husband.

Until halfway through the book/movie, it seems the case is building that Nick did indeed kill Amy. Then midpoint we find out that Amy has been framing Nick all along.

More information on the book and film can be found on Wikipedia.

What I keep thinking about is not the main plot line but a back story about Tommy O'Hara, another of Amy's ex-boyfriends. When Tommy wanted to break up with Amy, she wrapped twine around her wrists to make it look like she had been tied up and then purposefully had sex with O'Hara. Afterward she went to the police and filed rape changes against him. The story highlighted Amy's need to control and manipulative tactics The poor guy's life was ruined. O'Hara had to state on any job application that he was a sex offender and whenever he moved had to report it to the police. He was completely innocent but that didn't matter – the accusation and evidence of sex was enough.

The reason I keep thinking of Tommy O'Hara is because tactics such as Amy used are not uncommon at all. Spring's actions were very similar. She attempted to ruin my life, and succeeded in doing so financially, through false accusations. She tried to frame me with the police and made false accusations, utterly false I'll add, of abuse. Nothing was proved of course and she later stated under oath that I had had never touched her but the damage was done.

Spring's  actions not only hurt me, the person who had given her everything, but her own children as well. And for what? For money and to satisfy her need for control and power. This make her actions far worse than Amy's treatment of Tommy O'Hara in Gone Girl. Sadly, what Spring did is all too common in divorce cases. The law says that Spring should pay retribution and be in jail for her actions. Instead the Court awarded her massive amounts of money and has required me to work until the day I die for her.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Michael Boulette's Family-In-Law blog

I have been perusing Michael Boulette's Family-In-Law blog which I mentioned in my last post. I must say it contains a wealth of information relating to family law both in general and, especially pertinent to me, specific to Minnesota. Boulette is a rational thinker which is all too often rare is discussions relating to divorce.

I have added the site to the Reform and News Links section and in doing so took the opportunity to rearrange the layout somewhat.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

More on Reform in Minnesota

Supporting hints of reform in Minnesota, Michael Boulette in March asked, Is the Minnesota Court of Appeals Calling for Spousal Support Reform?. In the case of Thomas vs Thomas, even the Court was disturbed by the fact that the law allowed a young wife with no dependents to live off a large amount of spousal support (alimony) for the rest of her life.  This is quite similar to my case.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Alimony Reform in Minnesota

Maybe there is some hope in Minnesota. An article on the Meinerts Law Office web site states that a bi-partisan group of lawmakers in Minnesota has drafted spousal support (as alimony is called in Minnesota) reform legislation. Among the proposed reforms are:
  • Eliminating any preference for permanent alimony, in some cases
  • Mandatory consideration of a recipient’s prospective ability to provide self-support when setting alimony
  • “Bridge-the-gap” alimony lasting no more than two years
  • “Rehabilitative” alimony, but only if accompanied by a specific, identified rehabilitation plan
  • “Durational” alimony limited to periods less than length of marriage
  • Restrict long-term spousal support awards to marriages of 20 or more years, to marriages lasting between 7 and 19 years if justified by “clear and convincing evidence” and to marriages of less than seven years duration if necessary because of “exceptional circumstances”
  • Retirement of the person paying alimony may be grounds for modifying or terminating maintenance
  • Cohabitation of the person receiving alimony may be grounds for modifying or terminating maintenance
  • Except in “exceptional circumstances,” no spousal maintenance award should result in the payor’s net income being less than the recipient’s
This would be a great start. I'll be writing the legislators.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Maryland Alimony Reform

I added a link to Maryland Alimony Reform on the Reform and News Links page. The site doesn't appear to be well updated but the blog section does tell a compelling story of injustice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lifetime Alimony Forces Man Into Jail

A 2013 article in Bloomberg titled, "Jail Becomes Home for Husband Stuck With Lifetime Alimony" describes the all too common case of a man ordered by the Court to pay an unjust amount of alimony. After alimony, child support and taxes, he is left with $100/month.  The story is so bizarre - you really need to read it - that I am sure most people would conclude that it just can't possibly be true even though it comes from a highly reputable news organization. 

What I have tried to do for my case here on is show the evidence. Because in many ways my story is even more bizarre. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Divorce and Health

I ran across an article on the Harvard Medial School site from a few years back titled, "Marriage and men's health" which quotes a sobering statistic. Among Americans:
men who divorced were 37% more likely to die during the nine-year study than men who remained married
Not only is 37% is depressingly high but it is significant to note that is the average. Although evidence is lacking, and truthfully it would be almost impossible to obtain, it seems reasonable to me to assume that the more unjust a person is treated in a divorce, the higher the death rate will be. I know a married couple at work who both went through divorces before they got married. Her ex is one of his best friends now. That is only possible because the divorce was done fairly without either party reverting to unethical or criminal acts in order to garner more money. I would assume my friend's ex's increase in death risk is at the low end if any. Given that Spring committed perjury and fraud and her lawyer Nelly Wince knowingly lied in court and neither Judge Mearly nor the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board did anything about it, it doesn't bode well for me at all. Add to that the fact that I have to pay permanent alimony until the day and the picture looks even bleaker.  (the silver lining here, and there is always one, is that the earlier I die the less money goes to rewarding criminal actions) 

Now posting about divorced induced deaths is not really the most cheery thing to write about during the holiday season but I look at it as another brick in building the case for divorce reform. And a fairer more just divorce system is truly a happy thought. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Conspiracy Theories vs. Institutional Corruption

An article in this month's Scientific American, titled, "Why Do People Believe in Conspiracy Theories?" reviews research done by University of Miami political scientists Joseph E. Uscinski and Joseph M. Parent as explained in their 2014 book American Conspiracy Theories (Oxford University Press).

Disturbingly, 43 percent of Americans without a high school education believe in conspiracy theories. The number only falls to 23 percent for those with postgraduate degrees. These conspiracy theories cross the political spectrum ranging from belief that President Obama was not born a U.S. citizen to Monsanto conspiring to destroy family farmers.

As defined by Uscinski and Parent, a conspiracy theory is characterized by: “(1) a group (2) acting in secret (3) to alter institutions, usurp power, hide truth, or gain utility (4) at the expense of the common good.”

So do I believe there is a conspiracy within the divorce industry to rob the innocent and reward the evil? Absolutely not. Just because the divorce system is institutionally corrupt does not mean that there is an organized group of people consciously acting to usurp power. A better analogy would be the culture of bribery that existed in many countries. It is culture not conspiracy.

Unfortunately, because it is a culture, those that commit the worst acts can justify their actions by telling themselves, "that is just they way it works." When Nelly Wince knowingly lies in court it is not part of a conspiracy. She just believes she is trying to get the best deal for her client. The fact that her ethical oath forbids her to lie and criminal law states that her actions constitute fraud don't even register with her because lying by lawyers in court is quite common. The fact that the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board took no action against her despite overwhelming evidence shows just how commonly accepted it is for lawyers to break the ethical oath.  This is similar to how gang members sometimes believe armed robbery, rape or even murder is just what people do to gain cred.