Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I'll have some year-end thoughts

...after a somewhat more exciting year than I really needed... watch this space....

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Back to Hollywood

Kim K's marriage is broken, after seventy-two days; presumably she listened to her own advice on the subject of prenuptial agreements.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Only Tangentially About Family Law: In Memory

ESG: 1926-2011

When I graduated , in the words of the old joke, "I was surprised how much the old man had learned".
When I became a father, I understood some of what I'd previously dismissed as idiosyncrasy.
I did not understand, until recently, that sometimes there is as much heroism in "I will continue and endure" as there is in battle.

Time to rest, Pop.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Parenting, Custody and Realistic Risk Assessment

Which is more risky for a nine-year old: letting the child wait alone at a bus stop for ten minutes, in mid-day, or letting the same child ride a bicycle for a half hour near his house? How about letting the same child visit a friend who has a swimming pool? A friend whose parent owns firearms and keeps them in the house? (See Dubner and Levitt's Freakonomics for that dyad.) Which are most parents likely to think are acceptable and appropriate? Which are judges likely to think demonstrate responsible or irresponsible parenting?

Should parents or judges make these calls based on their "gut sense" or "intuition", or should real EVIDENCE be required before the court injects itself into this sort of decision?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Zero to Three: Parenting Issues and Parenting Plans For Young Children My ABA Teleseminar materials for 7/21/11 with Aaron Robb

Zero to Three: Parenting Issues and Parenting Plans For Young Children

We open with three disclaimers:

We will not address the evidentiary adequacy of child custody evaluations, research bearing on custody issues performed by mental health professionals, or the adequacy of the social science underlying them.[1]

We are also will not address, in other than a general way, the efficacy of custody/time-share orders as a cost-effective way of managing risk in parenting.[2]

Finally, throughout this topic we are going to be speaking about generally healthy families. The vast majority of cases that attorneys will encounter will transition from their pre-divorce lives into their post-divorce co-parenting roles with minimal disruption. Serious consideration needs to be given to more restrictive parent-child contact in cases with violence, substance abuse and untreated serious mental illness.[3]

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Back In The Saddle Again

After a hiatus, I'm accumulated enough stuff so that I feel obliged to get some posts up.

Within a week after the McCourts thought they'd worked an over-all settlement, MLB has said "Not so fast..."

...and this just in:

"Khloe Kardashian
thinks 'everybody needs a prenup.' In an interview ... ... the 26-year-old defended her recently engaged sister Kim's shocking premarital agreement. 'We have a prenup,' she said, standing alongside hubby Lamar Odom. 'Do you know what kind of day and age this is? Everybody needs a prenup. I don't care if you make five dollars or five million dollars, you're protecting yourself… People are crazy, you never know.'."

Friday, March 4, 2011

California Child Custody: What's Going On? Is It Broken? How?

"Believe half of what you see, and none of what you hear. "*

Last week, a Northern California newspaper published an extended piece, asserting, yet again, that the family law system is (quoting the cover headline) "helping pedophiles, batterers get child

While buried in the body of the piece was an acknowledgment that " it is impossible to say how common such cases are", that isn't
exactly the same impression conveyed by the headline.

The same week, the
Los Angeles Times ran a story regarding a psychiatrist/child custody evaluator in Los Angeles**. While that story was less obviously agenda-driven than the Northern California piece, it seemed short on well-verified facts, and long on "it is alleged, in documents filed with the court". Again, those authors implied that the problems that they referenced were systemic and pervasive. They offered no evidence for that implication.

There's little to offer.

The "studies" and "research" on the issues of the adequacy of the child custody/family court system in protecting children and victims of domestic violence, including those cited by outlets as reputable as Newsweek, are, if cited in support of any generalization about the system, are thin soup, perilously close to scientific junk.***

It may be that these problems are grossly under-reported, and systemic;
my thirty-two years of practice makes me think otherwise, and leads me to conclude that the California system is actually quite child-centered, and victim-protective. I'm certainly unconvinced by the "studies", and by the information in the two articles. While I've railed about the lack of real objective information for nearly a decade, since the last such "scandal' erupted, the quality of the information has not yet noticeably improved.

The problems with the family law system are not, as far as I can tell, mostly the result of some system-wide bias or agenda; they're mostly from (a) the lack of adequate financial resources for the system to address these issues, and (b) the gross mis-allocation of resources within the judicial system. As I've said before, nobody ever successfully ran for statewide office in California on the platform: "I promise to spend more of your tax money on divorce court!"

* Ben Franklin, or E.A. Poe, or Marvin Gaye.

** Note that I have not provided links to the pieces above; they're here: "Helping" "Evaluator"
*** "That's not 'thin soup'. It's rat pee." Prof. Michael Shapiro.
"The plural of 'anecdotes' isn't 'data.' " Frank Kotsonis.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Family Law and Religion: Religious Divorce

It's not every day that someone's divorce results in protests to the staff of the House Ways and Means Committee. Maryland, unlike New York, apparently does not have a legal mechanism by which recalcitrant divorcing husbands can be directly coerced into granting their observant ex-wives religious divorces, so it appears the judge may have fashioned his own remedy. While I have some serious doubts regarding the Federal constitutionality of the New York get statute, I also understand the civil law effects, internationally, of the absence of a get.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Child Custody and Religion: The Hits Keep Coming, Folks!

An interesting case about medical decisions in child custody cases, with a religious issue overlaid on top of it. A judge, presented with giving either Dad, (who wanted child vaccinated) or Mom (who wanted the child NOT vaccinated, for ostensibly religious reasons) the decision-making authority to over-ride the other parent's preference, chooses Dad's view.

Query whether the outcome would have been the same had Mom's articulation of the religious basis for her objection been clearer, or if it had originated in a more "organized religion".

Hat tips to Doc Volokh and Howard Friedman for the pointer.