Friday, October 30, 2015

Oregon Alimony Reform Petition

If you are from Oregon please sign the MoveOn Petition for Alimony reform. The petition was started by  a woman whose husband has to pay crippling alimony to a previous spouse who does not need it.

In her own words
Please support HB 2559 HB 2495 which will create much-needed alimony (spousal support) reform in Oregon. My husband, and thousands of other payers like him, has been strangled by excessive alimony payments to a wealthy college-educated woman for ten years (despite a reduction in his income) with no end in sight. Modifications are terribly expensive to seek and difficult to obtain, even when a payer has lost his or her job. The economic downturn has created a system in which payers go bankrupt trying to support a former spouse, while that former spouse has no obligation to seek employment and suffers no income decline. Our bill would set guidelines for alimony awards, thus reducing expensive and heart-wrenching litigation, and would equalize the system to lessen the punishment suffered by income earners when a marriage fails.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Are Alimony Laws Unconstitutional?

Four men in Connecticut think so and sued the governor over it in 2013. Full complaint here. Unfortunately, the case was dismissed.
"Alimony is an historical anachronism, a remnant from an earlier legal era when the rights of women vis-à-vis their husbands, and in society in general, were radically different than they are today... Connecticut's alimony scheme is unconstitutionally vague, giving no notice to citizens contemplating marriage or divorce what fate may befall them in a divorce proceeding. The Legislature, by failing among other things even to identify the purpose or aim or alimony, has delegated basic policy decisions to the judiciary without any meaningful guidance."

Pretty much the same situation as we have in Minnesota where criminal and unethical actions are the norm due to vague laws and corrupt judges who rule based on personal interest.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Enough is Enough

Fred Silverberg writes about permanent spousal support (alimony) in When Enough is Enough in the Huffington Post. He offers some hope.
While it is true that this is an area where the court has fairly wide discretion, a number of appellate court cases stand for a rather vague, but still applicable, legal principle: "enough is enough." Simply put, at a certain point in time, the paying spouse may obtain an order to reduce or stop paying simply because a balancing of the equities finds that payment has gone on long enough....By the same token, these cases seem to hold that the passage of time alone can be a "changed circumstance."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Criminals With Firearms vs. Lifetime Alimony

Life can sometimes be surreal. Criminals who posses firearms illegally get less than the minimum sentence more than half the time. In Minnesota at least.

But if you lived a responsible life, worked hard, were kind and a good parent, you can end up losing nearly everything and have to pay alimony until the day you die to an utterly undeserving person who committed perjury and a lawyer to blatantly lied in court.

This happens because in Minnesota judges can rule however they want.  If you get a bad judge the law matters very little. Justice matters not at all.

And don't think there are only a few bad apples involved with Family Court - it is a truism that:
Bad people flock to positions where they can follow their true nature

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Martian and More Thoughts on Sexism

I saw the movie The Martian the other night. Although I can't say it was the most profound movie I have ever seen, it was thoroughly enjoyable and did make some good points.

What I liked:

  • The movie was witty. I always like that. 
  • Sexism/racism is absent without mentioning it. The commander of the mission is an ex-military woman, the head of NASA a white man, the mission director a black man. The brilliant young astrophysicist is a young black guy. The head of JPL is an out of shape Chinese-American. 
  • The end of the movie makes a really good moral point. I won't spoil it for you and, besides, it works in the movie better than if I just told you.  
I work at an incredibly diverse company so in many ways the social structure of The Martian, which is set in the near future, reflects my current reality. In fact, I do not recall once in the past 27 years at my job where I have not had at least one woman in the line of command above me. I know not all people are exposed to the same level of diversity as me but that is the world I come from and am in. Maybe this is the reason I find it so shocking that people would use gender or race as a tool to achieve injustice. I am not so naive to think that sexism and racism do not exist but when it is explicitly used as a tool by educated people who should know better it is very sad. 

How was sexism used agaisnt me? Spring and her lawyer Nelly Wince explicitly argued that I should be required to support Spring for the rest of my life, despite the fact that employment evaluator ruled that she could make just as much money as me and the custody evaluator rulling that parenting during the marriage was joint, because women are less capable than men. How ironic. But I guess is is no surprise than greed trumps morality. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

False Accusations

On NPR this morning - For Students Accused Of Campus Rape, Legal Victories Win Back Rights.

The unfortunately reality today is that there is is little risk to making false accusations whether about rape of any other matter. It s often quite effective. Many completely innocent people have had their lives ruined, often spending time in jail due to false accusations of rape or other crimes. Yet the person making the false accusation is almost never punished.

Another example is a recent event at the University of North Dakota where a man, who was not a student, started a fight at fraternity and then falsely claimed he was assaulted and harassed for his sexuality. No charges agaisnt him were filed.

The poster child for false accusations is of course Family Court where perjury and lying are endemic,  the rewards for doing so vast and the risk practically non-existent.

Until we treat false accusations and perjury as the crimes they are the innocent will suffer.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Passolt v. Passolt

In my last posting, I commented on a Family-In-Law article about upcoming Minnesota Supreme Court cases that may affect spousal support, aka alimony. The article made a passing mention to the 2011 Court of Appeals case of Passolt v. Passolt, in which television anchor Jeff Passolt successfully argued that his ex-wife Lisa was willfully underemployed. The court agreed.
"The district court erred by concluding that, in granting maintenance, it was not permitted to consider wife's prospective ability to become partially or fully self-supporting"
 No. A10-1151.
Court of Appeals of Minnesota.
The Passolts divorced after a 30 year marriage. Mine was 18. Lisa Passolt had a worked part-time as a fitness instructor and was only making about $3000 per year at the time of the divorce. In my case, prior to planning the divorce, Spring was making much more than that, had a good education, strong business management experience, and a vocational evaluator found she could make just as much money as me. Lisa Passolt was the primary parent during the marriage. The custody evaluaor ruled in my case that parenting was joint.

Justice is arbitrary in Minnesota. Judges can simply rule however they want without restriction. They may rule based on clearly illegal criteria including gender, race, ethnicity, or how well they know one of the lawyers. As long as they do not state they are ruling based on illegal criteria they can get away with it. This inevitably leads to corruption.

Jeff Passolt was only successful because the judge in the original case stated that Lisa Passolt was likely to become self-supporting within a year. If this had not been written there would have been no basis for an appeal. This is how utterly ridiculous the system is.

Our funding fathers devised a constitution based on a balance of power between the legislative, executive and judicial. It is a check and balance system. It is high time for the Minnesota legislature to check the judicial.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Spousal Maintenance in Minnesota - Family-In-Law

Michael Boulette writes about current cases before the Minnesota Supreme Court that that may affect spousal maintenance (alimony) in Minnesota on his Family-In-Law blog.

The first upcoming case is Curtis v. Curtis, in which the former wife is arguing that she should be able to keep the $2.2+ in monies she received as part of the settlement in low-risk, low-income investments and her husband should make up the difference to account for the 7% in return she had planned to make from them.

The interesting part, however, is not the battle over the return rate for the investments but, as Mr. Boutelle points out, whether the Court will use this case to review why spousal support is awarded at all.

The part that really gets me in the whole matter is that in the Curtis vs. Curtis case there appears to be little doubt that the wife was the primary parent who raised the children and the issue over what the return rate should be is at least a fair question. It doesn't seem like a it is a good case to overturn spousal maintenance. My case would make a far better challenge as to the appropriateness and fairness of spousal support. After all, in my case:

  • The custody evaluator ruled that Spring was not the primary parent during the marriage.
  • The vocational assessment showed that Spring could make just as much money as me. 
  • Spring received some assets, for example part of my pension, that were earned pre-marriage. 
  • There is good evidence Spring committed perjury.
  • There is absolute evidence Spring and her lawyer Nelly Wince committed serious fraud. 
  • Spring repeatedly broke Court orders. 
  • Spring failed to reply to my attempts to negotiate spousal support within the Court mandated time-frame. 
  • On top of Spring receiving a huge amount of assets at the time of the divorce, she also received a massive amount of spousal support that by Court order will go on until I die. I have little hope of ever retiring or being able to remarry as that would make my new wife liable for spousal support to Spring should I become disabled. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks this is not outrageous. 
I wish I could figure out a way to get my case to the Supreme Court but reality is that without funds, large funds, it is nearly impossible to even get a case heard.  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Lying In Family Court

Lying In Family Court is an 2008 article from the High Conflict Institute that sadly still rings true today.
Divorce Courts rely heavily on "he said, she said" declarations, signed "under penalty of perjury." However, a computer search of family law cases published by the appellate courts shows only one appellate case in California involving a penalty for perjury: People v. Berry (1991) 230 Cal. App. 3d 1449. The penalty? Probation.

The Separated Parenting Access & Resource Center also discuses this issue with an article geared toward lawyers.
...perjury prosecutions are virtually non-existent, and there is little likelihood that any criminal perjury prosecution will occur in the future... Even more disturbing, however, is the fact that our family court judges appear to be reluctant to find a person who has presented perjured testimony to be in contempt of court. 
The question is why is perjury ignored in Family Court? The reality is that Family Court has become the primary arena for criminal activity in our society. Because there are huge rewards and little risk for committing crimes, the the divorce industry attracts criminals. If you are a bad person why not commit perjury in court like Spring did to get as much money as you can from husband and children? If you are an unethical lawyer why not commit fraud to get more money for yourself and client? There is virtually no risk in doing so and because of this Family Court and the whole divorce industry have become a cesspool of criminal activity.