The nine-month-old infant named Nate was brought into a New York courtroom, cradled in the arms of his father. After a hearing, the same child left the courtroom in the arms of his mother, who calls him Sam. This is only one of many twists and turns in the bi-coastal custody battle between the child’s father, famed skier Bode Miller, and the child’s mother, Sara McKenna. Apart from the celebrity factor, this case has been catapulted into the media spotlight based upon its unique fact pattern, sharply-worded court rulings, and its serious potential to create precedent which may impact parental rights across the country for years to come.
In 2012, Miller, an Olympic and World Champion gold medalist alpine ski racer, met McKenna, who had just completed her military service in the Marine Corps and was a civilian firefighter at Camp Pendleton Marine base in San Diego. Although their relationship was brief, McKenna became pregnant. According to McKenna, Miller told her he did not want to play any role in the child’s life. During McKenna’s pregnancy, Miller also married professional volleyball player Morgan Beck.
As families across our Nation gather to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, it is fitting that November also marks National Family Caregivers Month, which recognizes the efforts of those who provide essential care for their loved ones on a daily basis. In proclaiming Family Caregivers Month, President Barack Obama observed that this commemoration not only allows the country “to pay tribute to those who provide for the health and well-being of their family members, friends, and neighbors … [and who] strengthen the fabric of our Nation by lifting each other up in the face of life’s greatest challenges,” it also offers an opportunity to “thank these tireless heroes for the long, challenging work they perform behind closed doors and without fanfare every day.”
The theme for the month has been “Family Caregivers – Now More than Ever,” and the most recent statistics bear this out. As our population rapidly ages, the number of Americans caring for a loved one with a disability, chronic condition, or the frailties of advanced age significantly increases. It is estimated that there are 90 million family caregivers in the U.S. today, with two out of every five adults serving in this important role. This means that nearly 40% of all adult Americans are caregivers, an increase of 10% in only the past three years.
A recent report issued by the U.S. Census Bureau revealed startling statistics regarding the payment of child support. The report, titled “Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2011,” focused on child support from non-custodial parents, including both monetary and noncash assistance. In 2011, in excess of $14 billion in child support was left unpaid to American parents, meaning that more than 1 out of every 3 dollars that were due had not been paid. This translates into less than one-half of eligible parents receiving all the child support they are owed, with roughly one-quarter of the parents receiving none of the support ordered to be paid to them.
Although child support is often awarded in the course of parentage or dissolution actions, the report confirms that such awards prove hollow where those required to pay support fail to do so. Further, consistent under- or non-payment of child support most negatively impacts lower-income recipients. Although parents may turn to the government for help in collecting child support payments, the number who sought government assistance to recover payments they are owed fell by 25% between 1994 and 2012. Some experts believe that this decline reflects the stark reality that many parents ultimately give up trying to collect child support, as this complex system is often difficult to access and navigate.
On November 20, 2013, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which will make same-sex marriage legal in Illinois as of June 1, 2014.
At this time, fourteen states, the District of Columbia, eight counties in New Mexico and eight Native American tribal jurisdictions issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Hawaii will follow suit as of December 2, 2013, and Illinois in June 2014.
On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Windsor v. United States, held that Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defined marriage as being the union of one man and one woman, was an unconstitutional violation of the Fifth Amendment.
Adjustment Disorder, including situational depression or anxiety, is a short term condition that arises when a person is having difficulty adjusting to a major life change, event or loss. Divorce is one of the major life events that can cause Adjustment Disorder and a significant percentage of individuals going through divorce may experience either situational depression or anxiety at some point in the process. It can also affect the children of the divorcing couple.
Adjustment Disorder causes emotional and/or behavioral symptoms that may include hopelessness, sadness, frequent crying, anxiety, headaches, isolation, stomach aches, insomnia, exhaustion, loss of appetite or binge eating, increased use of alcohol or other drugs, etc. While children and teens may exhibit more behavioral symptoms, such as fighting or acting out, the adult experience may be more emotional and manifest itself in sadness or nervousness.
Last week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) released 2014 figures that can impact your retirement planning. Here’s what they had to say:
The withholding percentage will remain at 7.65% (Social Security or OASDI Portion will remain at 6.2% on earnings, up to the applicable maximum amount of earnings, and the Medicare or HI portion will remain 1.45% on all earnings). The maximum amount of earnings that are subject to the OASDI portion will increase from $113,700 in 2013 to $117,000 in 2014. Essentially, tax payers that typically exceed the maximum amount of earnings can expect to pay an additional $204.60 in Social Security Taxes next year ($7,254, up from $7,049.40 in 2013). Those already receiving Social Security benefit will receive a 1.5% increase in their benefits, beginning in 2014.
This afternoon, the United States Senate passed historic gay rights legislation in its approval of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would provide protections in the workplace to workers and job applicants who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Any private employer with more than 15 employees would be precluded from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status. However, an exemption is included for religious groups.
The measure adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics that cannot be discriminated against in the workplace passed by a vote of 64-32 — a slightly stronger showing than an earlier vote to move forward on the legislation, which passed 61-30.
The bill, widely referred to as ENDA, was introduced with bipartisan support.
ENDA is not expected to come up for a vote in the House of Representatives, due to opposition to the measure by Speaker John Boehner.
Divorce can occur at any point in a marriage. Just because you have been married for twenty years, doesn’t mean that you will be married forever. The divorce rate for people over 50 doubled between 1990 and 2010. Now, one in four divorces involve people over 50; in 1990 it was one in ten according to the National Center for Family and Marriage. Part of the reason why there are more people over 50 divorcing is of course, because the baby boomers are still one of the largest population groups and they are now over 50.
There are some financial considerations that are important to keep in mind when divorcing at 50 plus.
1. Retirement: The closer the couple is to retirement at the time of the divorce, the more difficult it may be to acquire or re-build that retirement nest egg afterwards.
a.) Be sure that you have identified all of the retirement assets earned during the marriage from all former jobs as well as current jobs; as well as individual retirement accounts or other annuities; understand what kind of benefits each plan provides and value everything appropriately before deciding how to divide.
b.) Look at the ability of each party to earn additional retirement assets. In other words, if one party makes three times what the other does, then they should be able to set aside more money for retirement after the divorce. In that case, the party who earns less should receive more retirement or other assets in the divorce.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Illinois House voted 61-54, narrowly surpassing the required 60 vote threshold, to approve gay marriage. The measure previously passed the Illinois Senate on Valentine’s Day. It has taken this long to secure enough votes in the House for the measure to pass. Technically, the bill is being sent back to the Senate to amend the effective date of the legislation, which is to take effect next June 1. It is expected to pass the Senate once again, and Governor Quinn has promised to sign the measure into law. Illinois will become the 15th state, along with Washington D.C., to allow gay marriage.
Presently the definition of marriage is “a marriage between a man and a woman licensed, solemnized and registered.” The measure will change “between a man and a woman” to “between two people.” Civil Unions will ultimately be able to be converted to marriages.
When is a “without prejudice” order really without prejudice? In my experience, rarely. This opinion is predicated on my experience with temporary orders which have been entered sometimes with the Court’s assistance, sometimes as a result of agreements made between counsel and sometimes even after an evidentiary hearing. When an Order is entered “without prejudice,” it signifies that none of the rights or privileges of the individual involved are considered to be lost or waived. The inclusion of the phrase “without prejudice” ordinarily indicates the absence of a decision based on the merits and leaves the parties free to litigate the matter at a subsequent time, as though the terms of the entered order had not happened. The purpose and intended effect of the words “without prejudice” is to prohibit a party from using the doctrine of res judicata (from the Latin, “a thing decided”) in any later actions on the subject matter. Therefore, the words “without prejudice” are intended to protect a party from the other party’s res judicata defense.