Divorcé’s Guide to Marriage

I read this article in the Wall Street Journal which is an excerpt from a forthcoming memoir about getting through a divorce. It is a personal recollection, but one worth reading. It also reflects on the Gen X’ers who have defined families in contrast to our parents, but sometimes still find themselves in a similar buy genuine proscar family place – namely divorcing – despite all of their best efforts. The article also includes some national statistics about divorce as well as links to other memoirs and books about getting through a divorce.

Read the article here: Divorce Guide to Marriage by as published in The Wall Street Journal by Elizabeth Bernstein.

Article with Personal Reflections about Divorce

I read this article in the Wall Street Journal .  It is a personal recollection, but one worth reading.  It also reflects on the Gen X’ers who have defined families in contrast to our parents, but sometimes still find themselves in a similar buy proscar uk family place – namely divorcing – despite all of their best efforts.  The article also includes some national statistics about divorce as well as links to other memoirs and books about getting through a divorce.

Estate Planning During and After Going Through a Divorce

So, you are in the middle of a divorce.  The Decree of Divorce is near, after months of dealing with the nuances and details.  Perhaps you were unfortunate enough to have to go through a Trial to accomplish your divorce.  After all that, you may not be up to it, but now is the time to get your estate plan re-evaluated.  If your spouse was named as the designated beneficiary on most, if not all, of your important documents (IRA and life insurance beneficiaries, to name just a couple), while you are familiar with your estate, you should get your will and/or revocable living trust established and name the actual beneficiaries you want to take in the event of your death.  Now is one of the best times to get this done.  In fact, while your divorce is pending, beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, and certain types of IRAs can sometimes be changed without your spouses consent.  It may be as simple as contacting your bank and filling out the necessary forms.

If you do not have any existing estate planning documents, there is no better time to deal with this, since you have spent so much time combing through all of your assets.  Even during the divorce process, you can take action to be sure your desires are accurately stated.  What would happen if you were to die or become incapacitated while the divorce action was pending?  More than likely, your spouse is going to take over control and receive the bulk of your where to buy proscar in singapore estate.  In Nevada, a party’s marital interest in an asset or debt will remain in effect until the divorce is final.  Some divorce actions can take many months, if not years.  Therefore, even if your case is in pending litigation, if you die while that legal action is pending, your estranged spouse would continue to have a marital interest in your assets, and would, under the law, be the natural beneficiary of your possessions, with some limitations.

Under Nevada’s intestacy statutes (the rules that govern if you do not have a will or trust), the spouse of a divorcing party with no children would be entitled to receive 100% of the deceased spouses assets.  You may not have lived together or shared anything for years, but that will not have any bearing on the applicability of this rule. This is but one reason to get your will revised or drafted while you are in litigation awaiting your divorce.  After the divorce is final, you have some statutory protection that would apply to bar an ex-spouse from receiving from your estate.  However, it is best to take control and put your desires in place.

Don’t make the mistake that so many people make – they move on after a divorce with stale and outdated documents.  We know you are emotionally spent after a divorce, but taking this time now to establish a your own will and trust will truly give you the fresh start you are seeking!

Parental Alienation Syndrome

I just read a very interesting article from Slate magazine about whether Parental Alienation Syndrome should be added as a mental disorder to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). As more fully expanded on in the Slate article, Parental Alienation Syndrome is a controversial issue and whether it should be given the rank of mental disease along with bi-polor disorder, clinical depression, schizophrenia, and the like, is a VERY controversial issue. This article includes the position of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (based here in Reno) that the so-called syndrome has been disproven by science and testimony of such a syndrome should be stricken by the presiding Judge.

The article also touches on the issue that in most instances, parental alienation is linked to moms rather than dads and the behavior of some moms in some custody cases. It has also evidently taken on a new life with the assistance of father’s rights groups.

Certainly I have neither the scientific background nor training to comment on the appropriateness of inclusion of the “syndrome” in the DSM. I will say that in my experience as a Nevada family lawyer, divorce and custody battles are extremely hard on everyone involved. Moms, buy proscar malaysia dads and kids. I have the occasional case where a parent appears to be actively trying to alienate the children from the other parent. However, in most cases, parents are just trying to get through a horribly difficult, emotional process and sometimes make mistakes along the way. Sometimes it’s my client, sometimes it’s the client on the other side of a case. I think every case is unique and as lawyers, we should be circumspect about the impact we have on families, including labeling certain actions or behaviors as “parental alienation syndrome” when it might just be a parent trying to adjust to new circumstances and situations.

However, in those cases where a parent is clearly trying to align the children against the other parent, Nevada’s public policy is “To ensure that minor children have frequent associations and a continuing relationship with both parents after the parents have become separated or have dissolved their marriage; and To encourage such parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing.” In such a case, I think it is appropriate to bring in evidence of behaviors of a parent which are impacting the children and the relationship between the other parent and child.

12 Kids and 2 Dads = Happy Family

I read through this mostly happy, slightly sad article about a family created by hook or by crook in Arizona, a state that does not currently allow second parent adoptions, or two parents of the same gender to adopt.  Despite this prohibition, the dads profiled in this article have managed to bring twelve kids out of the foster care system and into their home.  Nevada used to have a similar law which meant for years only one person in a gay couple could legally adopt children but with the passage of the domestic partnership registry during the last legislative session, in Nevada gay couples can now both legally adopt children.

How to Handle Emotional Challenges in Divorce

No divorce is easy, particularly if you are the one going through it.  However, as attorneys, we see the spectrum of divorce clients, from the amicable and reasonable divorcing spouses to the scorched-earth-take-no-prisoners-vengeful clients, and everything in between.  While no divorce is easy to get through, when divorcing spouses are trying to be respectful of one another, divorces tend to be easier, more efficient, and less costly.  We always try to guide our clients to take the high road and overlook lots of small digs and slights that can eventually build to bigger blow ups between people.  Sometimes clients can do it, sometimes they can’t.  It is often the case that spouses know how to push one another’s buttons and get a rise out of one another.  Needless to say, no person will be able to rise above the button pushing in every instance, but it behooves anyone going through a divorce to try to ignore as many of the pokes and prods from the other spouse as possible.

Here are some tips for avoiding conflicts with your soon to be ex spouse:

If you fight when you talk, try switching to email or texts instead of talking to one another.  Remember that anything you write down can be evidence against you in Court so be mindful of what you type and think about how it would sound being read aloud in Court.

If your spouse sends fiery emails that upset you when you read them, have a friend or someone else who is more neutral open them for you and let you know if there is anything you need to address.  Otherwise, have the friend print them and keep them for you.  Don’t read them if they unnecessarily upset you.

If your spouse has a Facebook page and posts unkind things about you that are upsetting, stop reading their Facebook page.  If you have a friend who is willing to print and keep track of the posts, keep them for possible future use in Court but don’t read them.  Remember that Facebook can be a wealth of information in a divorce or custody buy proscar online ireland battle and think about your own posts carefully before you make them.  Also keep in mind how your children would feel to read the things you have posted about their parent before you make any post.

If you have kids and are participating in custody exchanges that turn ugly, try meeting in a public place where people are likely to congregate and make it more likely that each of you will act better towards one another because of social pressure to do so.  Another option is to bring a neutral third party to every custody exchange to help mitigate tension and the likelihood of arguments.  However, the third party should not be a new boyfriend or girlfriend or someone who is likely to add to rather than detract from the tensions.  If all else fails, consider having a third party do the custody exchanges for you.  It should be someone you and your spouse both know and trust and are comfortable with caring for your children.

Talk to a counselor.  Divorce is a major life change with accompanying stress that is often too much for people to handle alone.  A good counselor can help get you through the process.  If you don’t know a good counselor, talk to a trusted friend or family member and see if they know anyone.  We can make recommendations for you too.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, take a deep breath.  Now take another deep breath.  Keep it up until you feel yourself calming down.  It sounds simple and maybe silly but it works.  A very wise counselor told me about this simple step and it is an effective way to help bring you back into your body when you are spiralling emotionally.  And lets face it, when you are going through a divorce, it’s understandable that you are spiralling emotionally from time to time.  It will eventually get better.  Call us if you need help getting through the legal process, we’re here to help.

– Rayna

Working with a Paralegal at Surratt Law Practice

First, what is a paralegal? According to the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, a paralegal or legal assistant “is a person qualified through education, training or work experience to perform substantive legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts and is customarily, but not exclusively, performed by a lawyer.”

Paralegals assist attorneys by working with clients not only to help speed the process of getting things accomplished, but by performing duties at a lower hourly rate, they are able to pass valuable savings on to their client.

A prime function of a paralegal assisting in family law is working with clients to obtain facts regarding their matter.  Some paralegal duties in family law include but are not limited to: preparing documents, contracts, agreements, completing questionnaire forms, arranging for service of documents, obtaining dates for court hearings, calendaring deadlines, assisting clients in preparation of mandatory case disclosure forms which include monthly income, expense, and other financial information.

Paralegals act as a liaison between the attorney and the client in every aspect of a case except the actual where to buy proscar uk practice of law, consultations, and court proceedings.  As a client you will  work closely with a paralegal.  Family law paralegals deal with joyous matters such as adoptions and guardianships and not so joyous matters such as divorce and custody matters on a daily basis and treat each client individually and with respect.

Your first meeting at Surratt Law Practice will be a consultation with an attorney to discuss your matter.  After your consultation you will be introduced to the attorney’s paralegal, who will be your main contact with our office.  Paralegals cannot give you any legal advice but will talk with you regarding your situation and relay that information to your attorney to expedite getting you the answers that you need.  You can be assured that all information disclosed either to the attorney, paralegal or other staff members at Surratt Law Practice will be held in strict confidence.

We look forward to working with you to make your family law matter go as smooth as possible.

Crazy Month for Family Formation / Assisted Reproductive Technology Law

So many things have happened this month that I can’t keep up with the blog posts fast enough before something else happens. Here is a brief re-cap of the events from this month:

APRIL 7, 2011:

We were thrilled to learn that the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the state ban on fostering or adoption by cohabiting unmarried couples in a decision issued on April 7, 2011.  Prior to this new decision, an individual could not adopt or foster a child if that person was “cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of a marriage that is valid under the Arkansas Constitution and the laws of this state.”  This was not a statute that discriminated on its fact against same-sex couples as it also applied to unmarried different-sex couples.  However, the concern of course was that in Arkansas a same-sex couple could not remedy the problem by entering into a marriage while a different-sex couple had the remedy of marriage.

This law was found to be unconstitutional by the Arkansas Supreme Court because it substantially and directly burdened the Appellant and interfered with his fundamental right to privacy  that the Arkansas Constitution provided to its citizens.  Privacy was not had because the government had to look into the private, consensual, intimate sexual conduct of the individuals who were seeking to be foster parents or to adopt.  Most importantly, the decision made clear that the home studies, as they were conducted prior to the enactment of the law, were sufficient for the needs of the children of the State of Arkansas.

April 12, 2011

On April 12, 2011, an article was posted on the Internet titled “Couple are ordered to pay surrogate mother £568 a month for the baby they will never see“.  The article claims that the couple had already lost custody of their baby daughter to the surrogate mother. The intended parents, after six late-stage miscarriages, used a surrogacy website to find a surrogate.  They made an informal agreement to pay her £10,000 in expenses.  This was a traditional surrogacy, meaning the surrogate was biologically related to the child.  The surrogate 1/2 way through the process decided she wanted to keep the baby.  Later in the process the intended parents relinquished their contact rights for emotional reasons and stating that it was unfair for the baby to be split between two homes.  The allowed the surrogate to keep the compensation she had received to date, £4,500.  However, the surrogate has now obtained an Order that forces the Intended Parents, who do not have any contact with their baby, to pay £568 per month in child support.  This is a sad scenario.  It once again reiterates our advice to our clients:  (1) Use legitimate agencies that you have fully researched; (2) Always use attorneys; and (3) Steer away from traditional surrogacy (a surrogacy where the surrogate uses her own eggs in the process and is biologically related to the child).

April 13, 2011

On April 13, 2011, News came out of a Human Egg Donor buy generic proscar uk Antitrust Class Action Lawsuit Complaint that was filed over alleged price fixing of human egg donor services that was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California challenging the efforts of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) to set maximum compensation parameters for commercial egg donation.  The complaint alleges that ASRM and SART are engaging in “price fixing” in violation of federal anti-trust laws.  ASRM and SART guidelines were set to assure that women are not receiving fees that are so excessive that they constitute undue inducement.  The plaintiffs in the class action appear to acknowledge that purpose.  The area of egg donation and payment for egg donation is ripe for legal action and many states have not dealt with the problem within their own laws.  Nevada is one of those states.  Our law is clear on sperm donations but does not provide framework for egg donations or embryo donations.  It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit plays out.

April 13, 2011

On April 12 and then revised on April 13, 2011, a 73 page decision was issued from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (in Louisiana).  It is a sad and shocking decision.  They decided that the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution does not require states to issue new birth certificates for children born in their states but adopted elsewhere, if the out-of-state adoption is not of a type allowed under the birth state’s laws.  This is in direct contradiction to everything we have relied on in the past and what we know about Full Faith and Credit Clause.  We have always told our Clients that an Adoption Order is what they want to have in their hands because Full Faith and Credit will be on their side.

The case at issue in the Appeal was a gay couple that was from New York who adopted a child New York that was born in Louisiana.  The adoption was valid and legal in New York.  Louisiana does not allow unmarried couples to jointly adopt children.  Thus, the department in Louisiana that was in charge of birth certificates refused to issue a new birth certificate with both fathers’ names on it.  The lower court ruled in favor of the gay couple finding that Full Faith and Credit applies and a new birth certificate had to be issued.  The Appeals Court overturned the lower court’s decision, finding they did not have to issue a new birth certificate.

The decision is 73 pages of utter sadness.  It is really a description of why it is okay for a state to discriminate against children adopted by unmarried couples.  It is a depressing decision.  It reminds me of the days when the law referenced bastard children and distinguished between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” children.  My hope is that this case is appealed to the US Supreme Court and that the decision is reversed.

What to Do and Not to Do as Divorcing Parents

Every client I meet tells me with 100% sincerity that their children are the most important people in the world and they would do anything to protect their children from the impacts of divorce.  Despite the fact that all parents feel this way, sometimes parents act in the heat of the moment in ways that negatively impact their children.  Here are some tips for what to do and what not to do if you are going through a divorce, or if you have a difficult relationship with your children’s other parent.

Thanks to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers for this list of tips for Divorcing Parents and/or Divorce Parents:

1.  Do not say negative things about the other parent to your children or in your children’s earshot, and do not allow other adults in your children’s lives allow to say negative things about the other parent.  Even if the other parent says negative things about you!  Don’t do it!  It only impacts your kids!

2.  Do not use your children to convey messages between parents.  You’re the adult, pick up the phone, send an email or a text message.  Worst case scenario, let your lawyer speak with your spouse’s lawyer on your behalf.  Let your kids be kids.

3.  Tell your children that they are loved no matter what happens, and that they are not responsible for their parents breaking up.  Reassure them that both parents love them and always will.  Then reassure them again.

4.  Encourage your children to spend time with the other parent.  Do it even if you think you are the better parent.  Follow through by accomodating requests for visitation by the other parent whenever possible.

5.  Remind yourself over and over and over again that your children’s needs should be more important than your needs as you go through a divorce.

6.  Do not allow your children to act as your caretaker.  That’s buy proscar online uk what friends, family, therapists and other adults in your life are for, this is not your children’s job.  Kids need to be kids.  They have their own adjustments to make as the divorce happens, they shouldn’t have to take care of parents too.

7.  Talk to a counselor.  Divorce is a difficult process.  Having an independent person to act as a sounding board is always a good idea as you proceed through a very stressful life change.  We can make recommendations for you.

8.  Pay your child support.  Always.  On time.  Every month.  Even if you believe that the other parent does not use the child support directly for the children’s needs.  This is a non negotiable item.

9.  If you are the parent who is supposed to be receiving child support but are not being paid, do not tell your children about it.  This is an adult issue and telling your children will only lead to your kids feeling abandoned and potentially erode their stability.  Talk to the District Attorney’s Office about opening a child support enforcement action.  Talk to a lawyer about taking your former spouse to Court.  Do not talk to your children about financial issues.

10.  Try to create as much consistency for your children as possible.  Do not change their schools unless it is unavoidable.  Having some consistency in their teachers, friends, and daily environment will help your children as their home life is in transition.

11.  Do not post anything on Facebook or any other social networking site that you would be embarressed to have your mother, your boss, your children, your former spouse, or the presiding judge read.  If your children have access to Facebook, don’t post anything about the divorce or your children or your former spouse.  At all.  Talk to your counselor, your family, your friends, your lawyer, don’t tell the world on the internet.

US Surrogacy Orders are Ineffective in the UK

There are a great number of surrogacy agencies out there that do not sufficiently assist their clients in obtaining proper legal representation.  They often recommend a one size fits all attorney from a State or Country that is irrelevant to the contract.  I have recently been contacted by a Solicitor from Britain, Pamela Collis, who has expressed a great deal of concern because she is seeing British couples utilizing surrogacy in the United States without proper legal advice from Britain.

She has noted many British couples utilize a US surrogacy agency, have a child in the US and obtain a US court order that makes them the parents of the child pursuant to US laws.  The orders declare the British couple as parents and terminate the interest of the surrogate mother and her spouse (if any).

The problem is that when the British couple return to Britain, the US order is invalid.  Britain, under their legislation (the Human Embryology and Fertility Acts), treats the surrogate who delivered the child as the parent of the child and her husband (if any) as the father (unless he did not agree to the surrogacy arrangement).

According to Ms. Collis, the end result is that “the commissioning couple are not the parents under British Law and the child is not entitled to a British passport and any ‘indefinite leave to remain’ visa stamped into the child’s US passport has been unlawfully obtained.”  This is creating a great deal of complex and difficult immigration problems and the the result is the “unwitting commission of criminal buy proscar in australia offenses” for Ms. Collis to have to fix on behalf of her clients.  Clients assume the US order would be effective in the UK, which it is not.   What complicates matters further is that the time limit to apply to the English court for a “parental order” to confer on them the state of “parents” is limited to only six (6) months from the child’s birth.

Ms. Collis has been dealing with cases in which the parents realized the problem well after six (6) months – far to long for her to assist them in obtaining a parental order.  The only option Ms. Collis has for them may either be to conduct a full adoption of the children under the English system or “make do with another order under [their] Children Act which is not the same as being a legal parent.”  Those are the actions needed merely to deal with parentage, without consideration of the considerable attorney’s fees yet to come to deal with the passport, immigration and criminal problems.

The solution!  Every surrogacy arrangement must ensure that the contracts and legal arrangements are drafted or reviewed by an attorney licensed to practice in each and every jurisdiction where the agreement is likely to be interpreted to ensure compliance with that jurisdiction’s applicable laws.  Do not take any shortcuts in this process or the outcome can be grave.  The American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys requires such action as an ethical requirement of each fellow.  To learn more about the Academy or find a well trained advocate for Assisted Reproductive Technology visit www.aaarta.org.

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