Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Take the usual agony of an adoption dispute. Add in the disgraceful U.S. history of ripping Indian children from their Native American families. Mix in a dose of initial fatherly abandonment. And there you have it — a poisonous and painful legal cocktail that went before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, according to an article in KQED’s Public Media for Northern California on April 16, 2013.

The article which can be read here, tells about the adoption of a 2 year old girl whose biological father is a Native American, albeit, only 2% Native American, and his invoking the Indian Child Welfare Act upon learning that the biological mother had given the child up for an open adoption to a non Native American couple.

The biological father in this case had given up his parental rights but changed his mind after finding out that the mother was unable to raise the child and ripped the child from the adoptive parents custody at the age of 2.  He stated in his objection to the adoption that “I just figured the best interest would be … for [Christy] (the biological mother) to have the full custody of her, but for me to still be in the picture — be able to come visit and stuff.”

This is a sad story and one that I hope the Supreme Court recognizes the best interests of the child caught in the middle of this and does the right thing.  I will be watching for the ruling on this one.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to you Moms.  The world is a better place because of you.  I hope that each and every one of you has a wonderful Mother’s Day, doing whatever it is you choose to do today, whether it is being with your children or not.  Since my children are grown and have families of their own and don’t live close by, I will be celebrating my day by trying to do nothing at all.  This is hard for me to do, and every year I fail at it.  In fact, as I sit here blogging about doing nothing, I realize that once again, I am doing something, blogging, lol.  Already I have failed at doing nothing.  Oh well, it is Mother’s Day, so I can change my mind,  right?  

Happy Mother’s Day to my mother, who I will not see today as she does not live close by, but she will be visiting next week.  I am looking forward to seeing her and my step-father and taking a day off to spend some time with them both and make it a special day for all of us.

Did you know that the United States is not the only country that celebrates Mother’s Day today?  Anguilla, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bonaire, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Macao, Malaysia, Malta, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, and  Zimbabwe celebrate mothers today as well.   Albania and South Korea celebrate Parent’s day today, not just mothers.  To all the mothers around the world, may your day be a great one for you too.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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High wind on the coast  --  Mendocino coast #1

Image by ah zut via Flickr

It’s not often that you hear about the internet services down for hundreds of people because of a divorce, but that is exactly what is happening on the Mendocino Coast when Esplanade internet service dropped from the airwaves last month, its 300 microwave-based wireless customers between Elk and Gualala were left scrambling to find a connection.

Seems Esplanade is run by founders Marshall Sayegh and Teri Saya — who changed her name following their split and each blame the other.  Sayegh says Saya made the system inaccessible while Saya says Sayegh blocked access to web sites.  In either case, the system can no longer be accessed by customers.  Each has accused the other of various criminal acts, from burglary to domain theft, and have obtained restraining orders.

I am sure that the former customers of Espanade could care less who took the internet down, as they are hard pressed to find another service along the coastline.  There is hope though, as a new company is moving into the area and setting up new equipment, but it looks like it might take awhile to get service as they are booked through mid-April for new customers.

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Family Law attorney Judith Soley, 65, and her client were gunned down at a Bass Lake restaurant Feb. 16 by the client’s husband, who later turned the gun on himself.  Ms. Soley and Sandra Williamson, 65, her client, were leaving a restaurant during a break in court proceedings when Williamson’s estranged husband, James, began beating Soley, who was in her van at that time, and then shot her in the head.  He chased his wife into the kitchen of the restaurant, where he shot her in the head, before fleeing in a pickup.  Officers later found Williamson in his home, where he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Ms. Soley was the first woman president of the Fresno County Bar Association, and was active in both legal and community circles and was one of the first women to be certified as a family law specialist by the State Bar.  Ms. Soley became a lawyer when women didn’t frequently join the profession and she built a successful practice and, as a single mother, raised her daughter, who became her law partner. Judith Soley, Esq.

Ms. Soley used a wheelchair all her life, but traveled the world, including visits to the Great Wall of China, Russia, England and Hawaii, as well as stints in Italy and Mexico to perfect her language skills. She graduated from UCLA and received her law degree from Boalt Hall, beginning her practice in 1971.

Ms. Williamson was a labor and delivery coach for 15 years and Mr. Williamson was a retired Los Angeles firefighter.  Friends of the couple said that Mr. Williamson was manic depressive and refused to take his medication, per reports to them by Ms. Williamson several years ago.  The parties’ divorce was an on again, off again action for the last seven years.  The initial divorce was filed in 2004 and the couple reconciled only to separate in 2007 when Ms. Williamson obtained a restraining order for domestic violence.  In 2010, she tried to have the restraining order renewed but was unable to locate the whereabouts of Mr. Williamson and was unable to have it served.

Sandra Williamson

There was also a civil action between the parties in which Mr. Williamson obtained a loan after he forged his wife’s signature on a deed to gain sole possession of the family home.  Ms. Williamson later had the deed voided in court — but not before Williamson took out a $942,000 bank loan based on the forged deed and transferred the money to a joint account he had with a nephew.  The civil suit was still pending at the time of the divorce proceeding.  This was by no means a simple divorce.  You can read the trial brief here prepared by Ms. Soley, which details the many alleged actions of Mr. Williamson.

Family Law can sometimes become very volatile when dealing with very emotional issues and those of us in family law are aware of the dangers that sometimes occur in divorce and custody matters.  If you talk to a Family Law attorney, you will no doubt hear of some opposing party who has become angry with the soon to be ex’s attorney, and has made some threatening comment or threatened some action against that attorney.

Working in family law, I have witnessed many times when this has occurred and have had to call in police assistance to escort the opposing party out of the law office during heated moments.  One former attorney I worked for has had to be escorted along with the client, from the courthouse to their vehicles by the bailiff, after being threatened in the hallway during negotiations with the opposing party, his counsel and the client.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Ms. Soley’s family and staff and Ms. Williamson’s family and co-workers.

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This young couple started out their married lives with the funniest wedding day(s) imaginable.  They picked a beach wedding in October and it turned out to be the storm of the year on their special day.  From there, it just kept getting more exciting.  Check out their wedding video that has gone viral.

If your wedding can start like this and you can keep on laughing through it, I think you are off to a good start.

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Okay, I don’t know where I was in August of this year, ( I really do know) but apparently I wasn’t paying attention to that there was a new insurance to be had, Divorce Insurance.  This novel insurance became available for the first time in America on August 5, 2010, with the launch of the online insurance website, www.WedLockDivorceInsurance.com. The company sells individual policies which can be purchased in units with coverage ranging from $1,250.00 per unit to a maximum of 200 units or $250,000 in coverage. After 48 months (four years) the policies mature but insureds can purchase additional riders at $30.00 per unit to reduce the waiting period to 36 months (three years). If a marriage should fail after the policy matures, the couples walk away with a cash payment equivalent to the amount of coverage purchased.

From the financial perspective, even with the high cost of divorce today divorce insurance does not seem very cost effective.  From what I understand, if a standard policyholder who purchased 10 units divorced after 10 years, they would have paid over $19,188 in premiums.  The insurance company would pay them $27,500, which would be taxed over the amount of their premium payments.  To receive this settlement, they would have to be divorced, which could cost $30,000 on the average to well over $100,000, per attorney, on the high end where there are issues of child custody, retirement, business or property ownership to resolve.

If you believe the current statistics that 40 to 50% of first marriages end in divorce, then 50 to 60% of those who purchase divorce insurance will never see a return on their investment and will lose everything they have paid in.  On the flip side, for those ‘lucky enough’ to capitalize on their investment by divorcing, there would be costly legal fees and a break-up of their family structure.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would get married to someone who wants to purchase Divorce Insurance.  Then again, I don’t want to get married at all, so maybe I am the last person you should be listening to on this one.  Maybe you should head on over to WedLock Insurance Company and make up your own mind!

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Get Organized With Gmail’s New Features « Cyber-Esq.  A great article written by my friend and colleague, Eric G. Young, with a little input from yours truly.  Be sure to check it out!

via Get Organized With Gmail’s New Features « Cyber-Esq..

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Today I received an email from my mother telling the short story of the suffragists and their struggle to allow women the right to vote. It made me think about what is going on in our world right now and how our young people and especially our young women, are not interested in voting in the upcoming election.

In researching the suffrage movement, I came upon the name Alice Paul, who was instrumental in the movement. Why did I care? For starters she has the same last name as me, which of course got me very interested in this story, lol. Then when I read about her tenacity, strength and courage in this movement and all that she endured, I am hoping that somehow I might be related and that some of her strength and courage has been passed on through the generations. Even when President Woodrow Wilson tried to have her declared insane and permanently institutionalized, she refused to give up and give in. The doctor admonished Wilson and his cronies and stated “courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.”

I have a granddaughter now who is almost 18 and I want nothing more than for her to be strong, courageous and to always stand up for what she believes in. My granddaughter informed me the other day that she is sad that she couldn’t vote in the last election and she is so looking forward to being able to vote in the next election. She is excited and I couldn’t be more proud.

I am really looking forward to going with her when she first votes and I hope that she remembers what the women before us went through so that we women could have this privilege. I hope that more young women are as excited as she is about voting and they pass their excitement on to not only other women but our young men as well.

Amplify’d from pbskids.org

Picketing
At first, the suffragists were politely ignored. But on April 6, 1917, the
United States entered World War I. The suffragists’ signs became more pointed.
They taunted Wilson, accusing him of being a hypocrite. How could he send
American men to die in a war for democracy when he denied voting rights to
women at home? The suffragists became an embarrassment to President Wilson. It
was decided the picketing in front of the White House must stop.

Spectators assualted the picketers, both verbally and physically. Police did
nothing to protect the women. Soon, the police began arresting the suffragists
on charges of obstructing traffic. At first, the charges were dropped. Next,
the women were sentenced to jail terms of just a few days. But the suffragists
kept picketing, and their prison sentences grew. Finally, in an effort to break
the spirit of the picketers, the police arrested Alice Paul. She was tried and
sentenced to 7 months in prison.

Alice Paul in jail
Paul was placed in solitary confinement. For two weeks, she had nothing to eat
except bread and water. Weak and unable to walk, she was taken to the prison
hospital. There she began a hunger strike–one which others would join. “It
was,” Paul said later, “the strongest weapon left with which to continue… our
battle . . .”

Official Program Woman Suffrage Procession
By the time Alice Paul was sent to prison, the fight for women’s suffrage had
been going on for almost 70 years. It had started in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New
York, at a small Women’s Rights Convention. These early feminists wanted the
same opportunities as men. They wanted the chance to attend college, to become
doctors and lawyers, and to own their own land. If they could win the right to vote,
they could use their votes to open the doors of the world to women.

Protesting Women
Paul was a veteran of suffrage protests. She had served a prison term in
Britain for supporting women’s right to the vote. She and other younger leaders
like Harriet Stanton Blatch thought one last push was needed to get the
attention of the President and the Congress. Giant suffrage parades were held
in New York and Washington. Thousands of suffragists in long white dresses
marched. There were floats, women on horseback, and banners flying. A number of
men joined in. But the parades did not change the minds of President Wilson or
Congress. So the picketing began at the White House.

After 5 weeks in prison, Alice Paul was set free. The attempts to stop the
picketers had backfired. Newspapers carried stories about the jail terms and
forced feedings of the suffragists. The stories angered many Americans and
created more support than ever for the suffrage amendment.

Women Voting
Finally, on January 9, 1918, WIlson announced his support for suffrage. The
next day, the House of Representatives narrowly passed the Susan. B. Anthony
Amendment, which would give suffrage to all women citizens. On June 4, 1919,
the Senate passed the Amendment by one vote. And a little more than a year
later, on August 26, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the
amendment. That made it officially the Nineteenth Amendment to the
Constitution.

Read more at pbskids.org

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While this blog is not really about Family Law, it is about family and recognizing when our children make you proud, no matter what age they are.

Misty and her Father's beloved Harley

My son Dale and his other half, Misty, recently went on a Poker Run in Plumas County.  If you are not familiar with a Poker Run, participants meet at a pre-arranged point, and pick up details of their route and the stops they need to make. Each participant is given a score card which will be filled in as they progress along the route. At each designated stop, the participants draw a card at random (or are dealt a card, depending on the event rules). The card drawn or dealt is recorded on each participant’s score card, and the winner of the event is the participant who makes the best five card poker hand at the end of the event. Events usually end with some entertainment at the designated “last stop” of the route, along with the awarding of the prizes. The organizers raise their funds by charging a set amount to participate.  In this case, the run was all about Hospice, which was near and dear to both Dale and Misty.

Misty lost her father to cancer on Father’s day two years ago and shortly after that her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away within that same year.  When her mother was diagnosed, Dale and Misty moved their family from the town they lived in, leaving behind friends and family to move in and care for Misty’s mother through her illness.

Both of Misty’s parents were cremated and their wish was to travel on the bike that Misty’s father owned, even after their death.  Dale and Misty inherited her father’s bike and they have been on many runs with her parents since their death.  You might wonder how this is possible? Well, a little bit of her parents ashes are carried in a small flask inside the saddle bag on the bike and no matter where they go, Misty’s parents are always with them.

Mom and Dad riding on their Harley

I am proud of Dale and Misty for giving up all they gave up to make sure that Misty’s mother was taken care of and when it came time for Hospice, both of them were able to work with them and they have honored Misty’s parents last wishes and have made sure they keep riding their beloved Harley to this day.

Dale and Misty on the Poker Run

Dale and Misty, in case I haven’t told you before, I am proud of both of you.  I know it has been a struggle for them and during the toughest of times when Misty’s mother was hospitalized at the end of her life, Dale lost his job and the economic slump hit and they have been struggling to keep things afloat ever since.

When Dale contacted me yesterday to tell me that their story was written in Thunder Roads Norcal Magazine, I had to check it out and let the world know as well.  I also had to let everyone know how proud I am of them too.  For more information on this story and many others in the magazine, see the link above.

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, otherwise known as DVAM.  As domestic violence is on the increase, I wanted to focus on two groups, teens and returning war veterans.

TEENS AND WHERE THEY CAN TURN FOR HELP  

Many teens do not understand or recognize the signs of abuse and don’t know where to turn for help.  For instance, in a healthy relationship, you would never feel guilty about having your own friends and interests, feel pressured to spend time with your boyfriend/girlfriend when you would rather be doing something else, keep opinions or comments to yourself to keep the peace, or change your behavior to avoid fighting with your boyfriend/girlfriend.  If you have questions about whether your relationship is a healthy one, there is confidential help available.

Loveisrespect.org is designed to assist teens and young adults using the technology they use the most, the phone, the web and chat.  There is anonymous 24/7 help available to young men and women, along with their friends and families, by phone at 866-331-9474 or TTY 866-331-8453.  They can also chat in a one-on-one, confidential conversation with a peer advocate between the hours of 4 pm and 2 am.  All advocates are trained to offer crisis intervention, safety planning, and referrals from a database of over 4,500 resource providers.

Educating our youth about domestic violence is important to break the cycle of abuse.  If you are a teen or parent of a teen and you have any concerns, there is a wealth of information available at loveisrespect.org.

VETERANS AND THE HELP AVAILABLE

As our young men and women begin returning home from the war, there are many adjustments for them and their families.  The experience of combat may lead to startle responses or trauma triggers.  Flashbacks and nightmares can interrupt sleep and normal activities, and they can be upsetting not only to the veteran but their families.

Witnessjustice.org is a national nonprofit organization that provides support and advocacy for victims of violence and trauma.  They can be reached at 800-4WJ-HELP.  At their website you will find specific help for U.S. Military personnel and families affected by the conflicts of Iran and Afghanistan. One of the organizations available for veterans is Giveanhour.org which gives free confidential mental health services for these veterans and their families.

Also available is the ComingHomeProject.net.  There programs are also free to U.S. Military personnel and their families and is confidential.  Cominghomeproject.net is devoted to providing compassionate expert care, support, education, and stress management tools for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, service members, their families, and their service providers.

In past war times, when our veterans returned home there was no place for them or their families to get assistance that was confidential.  Now, there is assistance and at no cost to our veterans.

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