Family Law

Divorce Mass alimony.jpgBoston Magazine has a great article about alimony in Massachusetts. By the time you’re done reading it, you’ll be willing to stay in a dead-end marriage rather than getting divorced in Massachusetts:

When an alimony case comes up before a judge, the focus is almost exclusively on the wealthier ex-spouse’s ability to shell out, and hardly ever on the recipient’s ability to fund his or her own needs. … But unlike in most states–and every other state in New England–here judges historically do not assume any income for the recipient, even if he or she is able to work but chooses not to. (In fact, Massachusetts’ alimony system doesn’t even conform with state rules for other areas of family law. In child support cases, recent reforms explicitly encourage the judge to impute potential income to a recipient if the judge believes the recipient is shirking higher-paying work.)
For all this, what really sticks in the craw of would-be reformers is that alimony in Massachusetts is so often a burden without end…. [I]n Massachusetts: The only way judges here will set a cutoff for alimony is if it is tied to a specific event, like the recipient’s remarriage, death, or new inheritance. And since judges cannot predict what a recipient’s financial circumstances will be at a point in the future, most simply award indefinite alimony and leave it to the payor to seek modification. The vast majority of judges who do want to set a duration get overturned on appeal, so few ever try.

Ouch. Do gays and lesbians in Massachusetts really want to sign up for this? On its face, this alimony scheme seems to make divorce a one way ticket to financial ruin for the spouse with higher earnings. What God has joined together let no man put asunder — unless that man is willing to pay through the nose for the rest of his natural life.
After the jump, why hasn’t this medieval law been changed already?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Massachusetts’s Anachronistic Alimony Regime”

lumbergh.jpgMany moons ago, when I was a law student, I took Divorce Law based solely on the fact that the professor, who was a New York practitioner, brought in one of his celebrity clients to answer questions on the last day of class. My year, the professor rolled up with James Gandolfini, who, when asked how he could possibly justify going from The Sopranos to Surviving Christmas, intimated that a man had to pay his bills and that — sneaking a glance at the professor, corpulent and clad in horn-rimmed glasses, suspenders and an exquisitely form-fitting monogrammed Bill Lumbergh shirt — divorce is costly.

So how much are we talking about?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Divorce Lawyers: Washingtonian Ranks the Best of the Worst”

goodwin Procter logo.JPGThe Baby Boomers (the generation that was dealt a resounding defeat last week) is also sometimes called the “Sandwich Generation.” Boomers like to claim that they are the first generation (in the history of “ever” apparently) to have to take care of both their parents and their children while they are still working.

Whiners.

Inter-generational aspersions aside, Goodwin Procter is actually doing something that should help Boomers out. They’ve instituted a very interesting new benefits package:

Free, round-the-clock access to a telephone support center that provides information on services for the elderly, the disabled, and the family members who care for them.

This is a program that could actually help attorneys. As anybody who has ever served as a part-time caretaker/full-time worker can attest to, getting the appropriate information is half the battle.

More details on Goodwin’s program after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Goodwin Procter Helps Sandwich (Generation)”

This advertisement, from tiny divorce and bankruptcy firm Davis and Millard, appeared in an Atlanta magazine in June:
Davis-Millard-Skirt!-New.gif
We get confusing messages. With the curly font and all the pink, it seems like it should be an ad for lip gloss for teens. But the menacing way the woman grips that rolling pin puts fear in our hearts. The color motif and menace bear a striking similarity to this Serial Mom movie poster.
The text at the top of the ad — “Moving on means never having to talk to your mother-in-law again” — reminds us a bit of this earlier advertisement: “Life’s short. Get a divorce.”

shark lawyer attorney swimming with sharks Above the Law blog.jpgRemember this attorney, who announced the dissolution of his law partnership in most unorthodox fashion? We sure do (and so does “Tim from Anaconda”).
Our friends out west are idiosyncratic when it comes to office decor, too. From a piece by Debra Cassens Weiss for the ABA Journal:

A Montana lawyer said his decision to put a shark tank in his office started out as a joke.

“I said, ‘What would it take to put a shark in a lawyer’s office?’ and it just kind of took off from there,” lawyer Christopher Gillette told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

Workers hoisted the 1,000-gallon aquarium through the second-story window of Gillette’s new office in downtown Bozeman on Monday. He plans to fill the tank with a blacktip reef shark and other saltwater fish, including a venomous lionfish.

Forget mediation. Nothing brings about settlement as quickly as the prospect of being devoured by a blacktip reef shark. With a venomous lionfish on hand to clean up any leftovers.

Gillette, who practices family law, says he thinks clients will find the tank to be relaxing. “People seem to be comfortable with fish,” he told the newspaper.

Others will get a chance to watch the marine life, too. Gillette plans to install a camera and broadcast video of his fish tank beginning in February at www.cjgillettelaw.com and www.ccaqua.com.

No word yet on whether Bob Link of Cadwalader — official holder of the “shark tank” nickname, courtesy of the New York Law Journal — plans to install an aquarium at One World Financial Center.
ABA Journal [ABA Journal]
Earlier: An Update on the Managhan Law Firm (aka ‘My Wife Is Sleeping Around and That’s Why We’re No Longer Law Partners’)

Britney Spears VMA girlfriend still looks good all you haters.jpgAnd now, no lawyers? From the AP:

Britney Spears’ lawyers in her custody battle with ex-husband Kevin Federline are quitting. The law firm Trope and Trope asked a court Wednesday to be relieved as Spears’ attorneys. The firm says there’s been a “breakdown” in communication with the pop princess that makes representing her “impossible,” according to the filing, obtained by CelebTV.com.

Structured finance lawyers, it’s time to put down those securitization agreements and pick up Us Weekly. Representing the embattled pop star is a growing practice area:

On a separate legal front, an attorney for Spears wants the city attorney’s office to prove that the pop star is a permanent California resident and is subject to state laws that require her to have a valid California driver’s license.

Spears faces up to a year of probation if convicted in a misdemeanor case of driving without a valid license, a charge to which she has pleaded not guilty. The case stems from a videotaped fender-bender in a parking lot in August. A hit-and-run charge has been dismissed.

Spears attorney J. Michael Flanagan earlier Wednesday requested that prosecutors be required to demonstrate that Spears, who owns homes in Louisiana and Florida, intends to make Los Angeles her permanent legal home.

Of course she does — Britney Spears is the quintessential Californian.
Now if only the judicial system would just leave… Britney… alone!!!

Spears’ Lawyers Ask to Quit Custody Case [Associated Press]

wedding rings privatize marriage Above the Law blog.jpgRapidly climbing the Most Emailed Articles list over at the New York Times is an op-ed entitled Taking Marriage Private, by Professor Stephanie Coontz. It includes an interesting history of the legal regulation of marriage (which Coontz observes is a fairly recent phenomenon):

Why do people — gay or straight — need the state’s permission to marry? For most of Western history, they didn’t, because marriage was a private contract between two families….

The American colonies officially required marriages to be registered, but until the mid-19th century, state supreme courts routinely ruled that public cohabitation was sufficient evidence of a valid marriage. By the later part of that century, however, the United States began to nullify common-law marriages and exert more control over who was allowed to marry.

By the 1920s, 38 states prohibited whites from marrying blacks, “mulattos,” Japanese, Chinese, Indians, “Mongolians,” “Malays” or Filipinos.

A prohibition on marrying fabulous Filipinos? Your loss. Everyone knows Filipinos are great lovers.
More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Privatizing Marriage: A Proposal Whose Time Has Come?
(And How Would It Affect Business for Divorce Lawyers?)”

Britney Spears Above the Law.JPGYou mean old judge! From the AP:

Britney Spears was ordered Monday to surrender custody of her children to ex-husband Kevin Federline.

Superior Court Judge Scott M. Gordon ruled that Federline will take custody of Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, beginning Wednesday “until further order of the court.”

If Judge Gordon took Britney’s VMA performance into account, Britney should move for reconsideration. We agree with Chris Nashawaty: she wasn’t as bad as everyone (predictably) claimed she was.
LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE! [YouTube]
In Defense of Britney Spears [Entertainment Weekly]
Spears ordered to give kids to Federline [AP]
Britney Spears Has Lost Her Kids [TMZ.com]

Twin Falls Idaho Above the Law blog.jpgReaders of ATL disagree vehemently over the existence of God. But if God does exist, he has a delightfully sick sense of humor. From ABC News:

Twin brothers Raymon and Richard Miller are the father and uncle to a 3-year-old little girl. The problem is, they don’t know which is which. Or who is who. The identical Missouri twins say they were unknowingly having sex with the same woman. And according to the woman’s testimony, she had sex with each man on the same day. Within hours of each other.

When the woman in question, Holly Marie Adams, got pregnant, she named Raymon the father, but he contested and demanded a paternity test, bringing his own brother Richard to court.

But a paternity test in this case could not help. The test showed that both brothers have over a 99.9 percent probability of being the daddy— and neither one wants to pay the child support. The result of the test has not only brought to light the limits of DNA evidence, it has also led to a three-year legal battle, a Miller family feud and a little girl who may never know who her real father is.

Très trashy — but there’s an actual legal issue here. How was it decided?
Find out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Identical Twins in Paternity Fight”

David Hasselhoff Above the Law blog.jpg* $3.19 a gallon for this? [CNN]
* Hasselhoff videotape (no, not the German music video) leads to loss of custody rights. [
CNN]
* Bat-ban Begins — groups sue to overturn NYC ordinance.[SI]
* Senators expand Attorneygate probe. [MSNBC]
* Ethics of “pillow angel” surgery called unlawful. [CNN]

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