Same-sex divorce request to test Indiana law

An Indiana man who married his same-sex partner in Massachusetts is testing his home state’s legal boundaries, having filed a divorce petition there despite the state’s refusal to recognize such unions.

Donald Schultz Lee doesn’t meet the residency requirement for a divorce in Massachusetts, so his attorney filed his petition to divorce Justin Schultz Lee with the Marion County clerk’s office in Indianapolis.

Clerk Beth White told WISH-TV that last week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act is likely to “create some situations I think all around the state of Indiana that many of us are not used to handling.”

Written by The Daily Caller. To read the full article, click here. For more information on family law attorneys, visit our website

Alimony law in Florida changes drastically under new bill

TALLAHASSEE Florida lawmakers sent Gov. Rick Scott a bill Thursday that would drastically overhaul the state’s alimony laws, reforming payments that opponents say have been critical to ex-spouses — mostly women — who are trying to rebuild their lives after the breakup of their marriage.

SB 718, approved by lawmakers by an 85-31 vote, would end permanent alimony, cap alimony awards based on a person’s income and the length of the marriage and make it easier for an ex-spouse to terminate or lower alimony payments upon retirement. It also gives parents equal custody of any children in the marriage.

Written by Kathleen Haughney and Lisa Huriash. To read the full article, click here. For more information on family law attorneys, visit our website

Bill to reform criminal law of child neglect fails to receive second reading in Commons

The Children’s charity Action for Children is calling on MPs not to ignore the needs of vulnerable neglected children after a bill to reform the law on child neglect failed to get a hearing in parliament.

Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns, Matthew Downie, said:

“We’re frustrated and disappointed that parliament wasn’t able to find time to debate this much needed law reform to protect neglected children. The current 80-year-old law is simply not fit for purpose and is failing hundreds of neglected children every year.

“We’re calling on the public to continue to remind MPs why children suffering from emotional and psychological neglect need protection. We were delighted that today, the professional body for social workers, the British Association of Social Work, publicly backed the campaign.

Written by Family Law Week. To read the full article, click here. For more information on family law attorneys, visit our website

Is spousal support based on a gender bias?

Late last month an article in the Huffington Post raised an interesting issue about spousal support. For those who are unfamiliar with family law, spousal support refers to payments made by a higher-earning spouse to a lesser-earning spouse after the marriage ends in divorce.
Also known as alimony, spousal support can be ordered for a temporary or permanent length of time and often depends on several factors, including the length of the marriage and the earning potential of both spouses.
Historically, men have more frequently been ordered to pay spousal support to their ex-wives, but under the law, either spouse can be ordered to pay spousal support to an ex.
As social norms have changed in recent decades, many women now earn more than their husbands and many fathers are choosing to stay at home to raise their children, meaning that more men could be entitled to spousal support. But as the Huffington Post article pointed out, very few men currently ask for spousal support.

Written by Jerald A. Kessler. To read the full article, click here. For more information on family law attorneys, visit our website

Why your law firm managing partner or chair should go social

Alexander Ingram (Alex_M_Ingram), an account coordinator at InkHouse Media + Marketing, shared some thoughts this morning on why your CEO should go social.

For years, CEOs protected themselves from the public and left most of the talking to their PR agencies. Regularly communicating in a public forum was simply not part of a CEO’s job description. Today, the massive onslaught of businesses adopting social media has provided a unique opportunity for finally personalizing the voice – and influence – of these company leaders. However, with a few high-profile exceptions (Richard Branson), CEOs have largely remained out of the mix, often too busy to take the time to participate in the incessant roar of the social channels. Executives, particularly the CEO, can provide a perspective that no one else in your business can, and social media offers a great platform to disseminate that message.

Ingram’s logic applies equally to managing partners or executive committee chairs at law firms. Despite social providing law firm leaders a unique and powerful opportunity, by and large, they’ve been silent.

Written by Kevin O’Keefe. To read the full article, click here. For more information on family law attorneys, visit our website

Gay divorce, the next frontier

Margaret Klaw is a founding partner of Berner Klaw & Watson, a law firm in Philadelphia, and author of the forthcoming book “Keeping It Civil: The Case of the Pre-Nup and the Porsche & Other True Accounts from the Files of a Family Lawyer.”

When the Supreme Court ruled a key aspect of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional last month, it made a life-changing difference to many married same-sex couples, who will now be entitled to all the federal benefits they were previously denied. But those gay couples whose marriages aren’t working out remain in legal purgatory.

Divorce is solely the province of state law. If a couple who were wed in New York but live in Philadelphia want to be divorced, well, they can’t be. Not only is same-sex marriage prohibited in Pennsylvania — the court’s landmark ruling in United States v. Windsor does nothing to change that — but Pennsylvania’s “mini DOMA,” passed in 1996, provides that such a marriage entered into elsewhere is “void in this Commonwealth.” And if Pennsylvania doesn’t recognize you as being married, its courts have no authority to divorce you.

Written by Margaret Klaw. To read the full article, click here. For more information on family law attorneys, visit our website

DOMA and Prop 8: The Supreme Court Could Punt On Gay Marriage

Another day of the Supreme Court issuing rulings on cases, another opportunity to not issue a decision on the two most anticipated cases of the year.

Despite the Court’s decision in the highly anticipated Fisher v. University of Texas affirmative action case regarding race conscious decision-making in university admissions, there is still no word on decisions for the duo of same-sex marriage cases that have been eagerly anticipated since the cases were argued earlier this year. Instead, the Court has announced that it will return Tuesday and Thursday mornings to — presumably — issue a ruling on both cases (likely on Thursday).

In preparation of what promises to be an onslaught of intense media coverage and irrational Facebook back-and-forths here is a quick rundown on the gay marriage cases the Court is set to rule on.

In US v. Windsor the Court addresses whether or not the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates federal law by not allowing same-sex couples to have access to federal programs and laws.

Written by Derek Miles. To read the full article, click here. For more information on family law attorneys, visit our website

Social media will soon drive more traffic to law firm websites than search engines

Law firms looking to draw traffic to their websites and blogs will want to move on from SEO to social media.

Technology journalist, Ben Weitzenkor (@benkwx), reports in Entrepreneur Magazine that social media may soon drive more traffic to websites than search engines.

Last year, half of all internet users ages 18 to 23, and 43 percent of users ages 24 to 32, used social networks as their go-to internet-discovery resource, according to a new report from Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research. Overall, social networks like Facebook and Twitter are the preferred means of discovery for nearly a third of all Americans, up from 18 percent in 2010.

At the same time, 54 percent of American internet users still relied on traditional search results to find the information they were looking for. As expected, that number is on the decline and, according to the report, represents a seven-point drop in overall search engine popularity from 61 percent in 2010.

Written by Kevin O’Keefe. To read the full article, click here. For more information on family law attorneys, visit our website

56% of people use social media when looking for attorney

Pursuant to a recent survey by The Research Intelligence Group, 56% of consumers (72% of minorities) who looked for an attorney in the past year used social media during their search.

The survey commissioned by the Rainmaker Institute found that nearly one-quarter used a social media channel such as Twitter or Facebook to ask their friends for recommendations of lawyers or firms they have used for similar matters. Not unusual in that the leading place people turn when looking for a lawyer is a person they trust.

How did they use social media in their search for a lawyer?

21% of those searching for an attorney checked out the social media pages of lawyers or firms.
20% used social media to create a ‘short list’ of lawyers based on referrals and recommendations received through social media
Almost 20% vetted the names of lawyers they were considering with their social media contacts
Nearly one-quarter made a final selection of a lawyer based in part on what they learned through their social media contacts

Written by Kevin O’Keefe. To read the full article, click here. For more information on family law attorneys, visit our website

Spousal Support, Does It Ever End

There is a presumption in California Law that a marriage of ten years is deemed to be a long term marriage. In some instances, marriages of shorter duration have also been found to be a marriage of long duration. The significance of this finding is found in Family Code, Section 4336, which states:

“Except on written agreement of the parties to the contrary or a court order terminating spousal support, the court retains jurisdiction indefinitely in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation of the parties where the marriage is of long duration.”

Let us say that the Judgment of Dissolution states that Husband would pay $2,000 per month for a period of sixty months for spousal support and that the support would “terminate forever and no court shall have any jurisdiction to extend this award of spousal support either as to the amount or duration after said date.”

Prior to the expiration of this sixty month term, wife filed an application to extend spousal support beyond the sixty months. Wife argued that the agreement entered into previously implicitly authorized continuing jurisdiction of the court to modify support so long as the request was made before the end of the sixty month time period. As might be expected, the trial court rejected Wife’s argument stating that the agreement was explicit enough in that it did not have jurisdiction to continue the payments.

Written by James P. Reape. To read the full article, click here. For more information on family law attorneys, visit our website