Family Law

My parents separated for a brief period of time when I was in the fourth grade. I don’t remember there being too much controversy over where I would be crashing as (a) the separation didn’t last long and (b) I was not exactly the prize pig over which anyone in their right mind would compete. Anyway, the one thing I remember about that time was how my dad treated me. My father, who had previously acted as the proximate cause in his son’s nervousness and irritable bowels, was now a prince among men. He took me to a basketball game and laughed at my jokes in a deeply insincere way. If you ask me, this is the highest compliment another person can pay you.

I tell this story to establish my bona fides in the areas of family law, custody disputes, and even the fathers’ rights movement. I’m pretty much an expert. In the past week, the issue of fathers’ rights has popped up in unusual ways and places. Fox News reported over the weekend that a group of fathers are suing the state of Utah over their adoption laws. Bode Miller, meanwhile, won a bronze medal on Sunday, which prompted Slate to reprint an Emily Bazelon post on Miller’s odd custody dispute. And finally, a law firm in Florida has elevated fathers’ rights to perhaps its highest purpose: marketing.

The question posed by all of this is what if, with all apologies to Shaq Fu, the biological does bother?

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Does your school offer Law and Finger Painting? I bet they would if you asked.

Don’t look now, but spring is right around the corner. Spring semester, that is. For 3Ls around the country, just a few classes stand between them and graduation into one of the worst legal job markets.

Ever since President Obama suggested that the third year of law school could be cut, we’ve heard a lot of law professors talk about how essential the third year of law school is. You can take clinics! You can become “practice ready”!

Sure, you can do those things. But it’s unlikely that you are going to take any course in your last semester of school that will help you get a job when you graduate. Why would you do that? You can be unemployed just as easily taking small, low-stress classes that won’t screw up your GPA on your way out of the door.

Every school has its own selection of ridiculous upper-class electives, but I’d like to focus on how the big boys do it. The Ivy League law schools have been setting the standard for legal education for generations. Their students (for the most part) have jobs waiting for them on the other side of graduation. I’ve put together a full course schedule for an Ivy-educated 3L. Please feel free to send this to any professor who thinks that the third year is too important to lose…

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South Park metaphorically linked the 2004 election to a matchup between a turd sandwich and a giant douche. As bad as the Bush era had become, John Kerry came across as such a self-righteous tool it was hard to get swing voters psyched up to vote one way or the other. I think of this episode today as I approach the tale of two lawyers sniping at each other over Facebook about whether a woman deserves to have her parental rights terminated. It’s not that I think either is really wrong, as much as both of them exhibit the worst of their respective positions in their online feud.

So what did one entitled Biglaw lawyer say about a poor client, and what did a self-righteous public interest lawyer say in response? All bets final once you read past the jump….

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‘I am defenseless. Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete.’

I think dogs should have about the same legal rights as children. That makes me a little aggressive about the legal standing of family pets, and deeply ambivalent about the necessity of treating undeveloped terrorists like “humans.” Children (and dogs) have the right to not be beaten or emotionally abused. They should have the right to clean and safe environments. They should have the right to run and play as much as possible. They should have consistent, reliable access to healthy meals, medical care, and mental stimulation.

They have the right to speak of course, but they don’t have the right to be listened to. If the dog starts demanding a blood sacrifice from the impudent delivery man, the dog is to be ignored. Similarly, you shouldn’t need “tips” for managing your kid’s iPad use. Just take the damn thing away and let the kid punch itself out. You’re the adult, you have a monopoly of force.

Of course, I’m raising a kid (and a dog) in a two-parent home. When parents get divorced, children attain the geopolitical standing of Southeast Asia during the cold war. And in that context, McDonald’s is part of the military-industrial complex that makes money off of the conflict between two warring superpowers…

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What better way to do it than with my wand? This is the best part of my day.

– Judge Cynthia Giuliani of the Clark County, Nevada Family Court, explaining why she decided to put her gavel aside on Halloween as she finalizes adoptions — because she thinks that “what adoption does for children actually is sort-of magical.”

For the past few years, members of the mass media have been continuously harping on how difficult it is for law school graduates to secure jobs after graduation. After all, only a little more than half of the class of 2012 managed to find jobs as lawyers, and the class of 2011 didn’t fare much better.

Joblessness can have real life consequences other than the inability to repay law school debts owed to the government or private lenders, and contrary to popular belief, it’s not just graduates of lower ranked schools that have faced significant hurdles in the job market.

Today, we bring you the story of a young mother, a 2011 Ivy League law school graduate, who just lost custody of her son because she moved to another state to take the only job she was able to find. We’re afraid that this is the “new normal” for law school graduates…

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U mad bro?

“To the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.” — Every pissed off former partner ever.

Everything that ends, ends badly. That’s true of law partnerships as much as anything. Partners split up, somebody takes the high profile clients, somebody else ends up holding a fish and a box of Renée Zellweger DVDs.

Today, we’ve got a partner who had a falling out with his former colleagues and took his bitterness to his grave…

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Anti-abortion forces are winning. State by state, legislature by legislature, attempts to take away a woman’s right to control her own body have been wildly successful. At this point, only Oregon has no restriction on abortion rights. And liberals are afraid to challenge these laws at the Supreme Court because people like Antonin Scalia don’t even think women should be allowed to curse, much less control their own reproductive rights.

I know it’s futile to ask people who think that their religious beliefs should trump other people’s physical autonomy to engage in dispassionate logic. Otherwise they’d be making anti-abortion pills… sorry, I mean “birth control pills” free and readily available. But can’t they at least think through their anti-choice laws before they impose them on secular society?

For instance, a recent Nebraska abortion restriction forces minors to get the consent of a parent or guardian before getting an abortion. But what about people who don’t have a parent or a guardian? Can you believe that they literally didn’t think of that? And the state supreme court just stepped in to say that even though they have no clue how to deal with this situation, it’s totally okay…

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You gotta grow up sometime.

Quick question: when is your child no longer a “child,” so that you are not legally obligated to support the bugger when you are a non-custodial parent?

If you answered “over 18,” you might be wrong, depending on your state. Some states require you to pay child support for college expenses even after your kids are no longer minors. Sounds “enlightened,” doesn’t it? I’m sure it does if you are a university president who enjoys charging as much as possible for tuition. I’m telling you, birth control is the biggest bargain in the world.

A decision last week will take one state off the list of those with an extended definition of childhood. The decision can be looked at in a lot of ways: it’s a strike against the extended childhood of millennials, while at the same time registering as a shot to single parents trying to do their best for their children. And the decision is penned by a wackadoodle judge who probably thinks this will help Jesus in his eternal quest to keep people locked into loveless marriages.

It’s fun for the whole family…

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Does your law school ROI look like this?

* Victoria Espinel, chief IP counsel to the White House (better known as the “copyright czar”), has stepped down. A tech or trade company will snap her up in 3… 2… [Corporate Counsel]

* Child custody train wreck alert: Baby Veronica of SCOTUS fame was in the news after her father was arrested for refusing to return his child to her adoptive parents. [ABC News]

* Rather than watching people pump gas, BP is watching people pump out lawsuits against the company at a rather alarming rate as a result of its 2010 oil spill. [Businessweek]

* Cynthia Brim, the Illinois judge who was reelected despite the fact that she was legally insane, finally had a complaint filed against her by the state’s judicial board for being just a little bit too kooky for court. [Chicago Tribune]

* Your degree might not be worth a million dollars, but if you went to one of these schools, you probably got a good bank for your buck. We’ll have more on this later. [The Short List / U.S. News & World Report]

* The fight over attorneys’ fees in the antitrust lawsuits filed against BARBRI continues rage on, and class members still haven’t received a penny — which is all they’d really get, anyway. [National Law Journal]

* Congratulations to Newark Mayor and Yale Law alumnus Cory Booker! Last night, he handily won the New Jersey Democratic primary election for the late U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg’s seat. [CBS News]

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