Saturday, January 30, 2016

Minnesota Alimony Reform - My Story

My story is now on the the Minnesota Alimony Reform site.

Minnesota Alimony Reform is a new organization that appears to be gaining momentum quickly. It is by far the best hope we have for alimony (known as spousal support in Minnesota) reform in the state.

One aspect of alimony in Minnesota is that it by law it ends upon the remarriage of the recipient but not when the recipient cohabitants with someone. This creates an incentive for the recipient to never get married simply in order to continue to collect alimony. The proposed bill MF 1333 would end alimony upon cohabitation as well as marriage. See Minnesota Alimony Reform's page on HF 1333 for how you can help support the bill.

Friday, January 29, 2016

South Carolina Alimony Reform

In a letter to the editor of the The Herald, Sandra Fish makes a concise, eloquent argument for alimony reform in South Carolina.
Our system is broken. This is the year 2016 and our alimony laws are supporting the ex-spouses roles of helpless women of the 1960 era.

Most people believe that alimony is good for women and bad for men because 95+ percent of alimony is paid by men. They forget that the victims of unjust alimony awards include not just the person paying alimony but the children of the person paying (and 50% of those are girls), people whom they date, and new wives - wives who are often required to use their income to pay alimony to the previous spouse. And because alimony often prevents the person receiving it from becoming a moral, self-sufficient and productive member of society, it hurts the recipient and society in general as well.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Deadbeat Mom's

Highlighting just how lopsided out judicial system is when it comes to child support, Madam Noir asks, Deadbeat moms? Should Mothers Be Required To Pay Child Support To Their Child's Father? 
According to the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, only 5% of mothers pay child support compared to 85% of fathers. And it’s been reported that in some cases, even if the father is the custodial parent, he may STILL be ordered to pay child support to the mother if he earns more money than she does – but not the reverse.
I am a believer is equality. It is wrong when a woman makes less money than a man for equal work. It is wrong to exclude women from combat positions in the military. It is wrong that only men have to sign up for the draft. It is wrong that 95% of alimony is paid by men. It is wrong that child support laws are not equally applied to both men and women.

Discrimination cannot end without there being equality and fairness. That is the reality. A man who is unfairly paying alimony or child support to a woman can easily rationalize paying his female employees less than his male ones. It is all connected.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Minnesota Alimony Reform

At long last there is now a formal Minnesota Alimony Reform movement. This is the best hope for improving justice in Minnesota I know of.

The organization's goals are legislation oriented and straightforward:

  1. Reform Permanent Spousal Maintenance: Support and encourage independence for the parties of divorce by reforming centuries old laws, such as permanent spousal maintenance. This form of Alimony creates a lifetime of dependence on an ex-spouse. Often times the recipient’s full-time occupation becomes maintaining a lifetime “lottery winning” instead of using such intelligent and energy for independence and positive productivity for society
  2. Create durational limits on spousal maintenance to a maximum of not longer than one-half of the marriage for able bodied individuals
  3. Base the amount of spousal maintenance awards on a “calculator” or “formula” similar to Minnesota’s present child support system, with specific determinants built into the equation that are pertinent to Spousal Maintenance. 
  4. Reform Alimony laws to give specific guidelines, so they can be applied consistently regardless of the judge presiding, while allowing enough judicial discretion to protect the truly needy.
  5. Everyone should be entitled to retire. Alimony should end at the retirement age established by the Social Security Act.
  6. Cohabitation of the recipient of Maintenance shall terminate the payor’s obligation, just as death or remarriage currently do. Minnesota law should encourage marriage in a time when marriage rates are declining and cohabitation is increasing.
This is an effort I fully support. I expect you will be hearing a lot more about Minnesota Alimony Reform and their efforts in the future.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Trip Through Illinois Divorce Court

Mark Hexum not only went through a horrible divorce but he researched the connections of the people that he believed wronged him as described in a PPJ Gazette TS Radio: A trip through Illinois Divorce Court segment.
Television and movies often depict complex relationships behind corruption. In my naive days I used to think these were improbable in reality but great for increasing drama. After all, I thought, there may be a few bad people out there but certainly most people were good.  Now I wonder how much the writers have been influenced through first hand knowledge of the juridical system.

The author Carl Haaisen, whose books often depict multiple levels of corruption, once said that he is not nearly as imaginative as he is given credit for. Most of his ideas are based on real world events.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Alimony Reform Gaining Steam in Vermont

Rick Fleming, the President of Vermont Alimony Reform, had a letter to the editor of the Brattleboro Reformer on alimony reform in Vermont published a few days ago.

The legislative goals of Vermont Alimony Reform seems extremely modest. For example, they advocate and end to alimony at normal retirement age not when one starts to receive social security. Personally, I think there are far too many people who, despite being on social security disability, still have to pay alimony to an ex-spouse who is perfectly capable of working not to address the matter.

It is nice to see that Vermont Alimony Reform includes many women.

Vermont Alimony Reform

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Minnesota Gets D- For State Integrity

The Pulitzer Prize winning Center for Public Policy recently gave Minnesota a D- for State Integrity. Judicial Accountability and Ethics Enforcement both got an F. I'm not exactly surprised. Nor am I surprised other states aren't much better.

A week ago I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for information relating to my case against Nelly Wince with the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board. They responded promptly informing me that under Minnesota Statue 13.90 they are exempt from Minnesota's Freedom of Information Act and regardless of the statute they have no information on my case. I wonder if they would find information on my case if I resubmit my complaint?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Older Men And Sucide

A new article published by Silvia Sara Canetto at Colorado State University looks into why older, white men are at the greatest risk of suicide. Canetto speculates that older white men may be "less psychologically equipped" to deal with the challenges aging.

I did not purchase the actual study so I am not sure how scientifically valid her speculation is, but one statement in particular I find curious - Canetto states that men "are less likely to experience widowhood and have better physical health and fewer disabilities than older women." I presume men are less likely to experience widowhood because they die younger than women. Personally, I would classify death as worse physical health than being alive.

Although I have not found any good studies that have looked into he matter, my guess is that one of the causes of higher rates of suicide in men is that men are, on average, treated more unjustly than women by the judicial system when it comes to divorce. Although the number of women paying alimony is growing, 95+ percent of the time men pay it. Often, as I have oft stated, in cases similar to mine where
despite the fact that my ex-wife divorced me, the Court appointed custody evaluator determined she was not the primary caregiver to the children, an employment evaluation determined she could make just as much money as me, strong evidence that she committed perjury and absolute evidence her lawyer lied in court, my ex-wife was awarded massive permanent alimony that will go on until the day I die. I cannot ever retire nor can I remarry as that would oblige my new wife to pay alimony to my ex-wife should I become disabled.

I strongly suspect that once men and women are treated equally by the judicial system when it comes to divorce and criminal behavior by lawyers and judges no longer tolerated, suicide for both men and women as well the children of divorced parents will be greatly reduced. Given that the suicide rate in the United States is twice the the murder rate, it is unfortunate that these issues are not getting more attention.

I have discussed suicide and divorce on several other occasions.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Florida Alimony Reform Discussion

Florida law firm Ayo & Iken has a discussion on alimony reform in Florida by a panel of attorneys.
I think alimony reform in some form will happen. There are people out there who are getting stuck with 70 to 80 percent of their earnings going to alimony and child support, and I don’t think that’s fair. It seems the more time goes by these bills are a lot more thought out and there’s been compromise there. I like the guidelines and clearer definitions that I have seen when it comes to cohabitation. There are a lot of people who don’t get remarried just so they can keep getting alimony. Why should someone have all the benefits of being married and still get alimony?
-- Cheri Hobbs 
Most if not all of the attorneys seem to think that reform is needed and will happen soon. Florida has tried to reform their alimony laws for several years. Let's hope for some tangible progress in 2016.

Sadly Minnesota seems stuck in the dark ages when it comes to justice in the divorce system.

Friday, January 1, 2016

An Understanding of Statistics

An understanding of statistics is a topic that is a bit tangential to the purpose of this site but I'll make an attempt to tie it in nonetheless.

It often strikes me that many people seem to lack a conceptual understanding of statistics. By conceptual I do not mean that they either have or do not have the mathematical skills but that they simply do not understand the concept.

I know people who are extremely good at math with lots of statistic classes under their belt who argue, essentially, that a single example is sufficient for proof. For instance, because there are some billionaires who do not have a college education, they conclude that a college education is not beneficial for income. When, in fact, having a college degree is the single most important factor in income. Because such people understand the mechanisms of statistics but not the concept they may end up believing many strange ideas. Steve Jobs was one such person. He had a form of cancer that was highly treatable but chose to use alternative medicine instead because he read about people who claimed that the alternative approach cured them. He did not understand the statistics and died early because of it.

Another example is person I know who, although terrible at math, fully understands that his smoking habit is bad for him.  (thankfully for the last two years he has switched to e-cigarettes which, although not good for you, are certainly better than regular ones) He gets the statistics.

The argument I have used for many years for the statically challenged is that there are people who have jumped our of a sixth story window and walked away unharmed - but it is probably not a good idea to jump out of a sixth story window. Nor is a a good idea to smoke, or think that a college education is not worth the cost, or think that you can beat Vegas, or drive recklessly and think you will not get hurt or hurt others.

I have done my best to ensure that my children understand statistics. A good conceptual understanding of statistics is one of the most important concepts you can teach children.

Unfortunately understanding statistics has nothing to do with morality, which is the most important thing you can teach children. There are many lawyers such as Nelly Wince who understand that lying in court, although unethical and illegal, has virtually no negative impact. She gets the statistics.