Month: November 2014

Divorce Rates Rising . . . in Iran

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Wednesday, November 26, 2014.

Around the world couples are splurging on divorce parties. It is a sign of an undeniable trend: divorce rates are rising. This angers clerics in Iran. So what’s behind the increase over there?

As Reuters recently reported, Mustafa Pour Mohammadi, the current justice minister, said that 14 million divorce cases within the judiciary is “not befitting of an Islamic system”.

Some of the causes for divorce in Iran, like Florida, include economic problems, adultery, drug addiction or physical abuse. But the increase in the divorce rate has also been linked to a growth in individualism.

Women are more educated and have increased financial empowerment. It used to be that a woman would marry and she would just have to get along. Now if she’s not happy, she’ll separate. It’s not taboo.

In Iran, the government doesn’t like divorce to come from the side of women. Marital law in Iran traditionally favors husbands, who have the right to ask for a divorce.

In the cases where the husband refuses to divorce, the wife must legally prove that the husband is abusive, has psychological problems or is somehow unable to uphold his marriage responsibilities in order to separate.

Another alternative is to enforce the Mahr agreement. I’ve written about Mahr agreements before.

Mahr agreements are common in Iran, are negotiated before the marriage and have two parts: a premarital payment in exchange for marriage vows, and a post-nuptial payment made if the marriage ends in divorce or death. Mahr agreements in Iran are usually based on gold coins.

The rise in the divorce rate worries government officials in Iran because it comes as the birth rate is plunging. Last year, parliament’s social affairs committee proposed that $1.1 billion be dedicated to facilitating marriages but the motion did not pass in parliament.

A more controversial proposal has been to create a Ministry of Marriage and Divorce, which some officials have criticized on the grounds that a new ministry would create more bureaucracy rather than address the overall issue of rising divorce.

The Reuters report can be read here.

Refusing to Accept Alimony?

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Alimony on Wednesday, November 19, 2014.

Alimony reform should be back on the table in the next legislative session now that the governor election is over. But just because alimony is available, not every client accepts it. A Forbes article explains why.

Suzan French married at 18, soon after had a daughter and found herself unhappily married. “My husband was a nice guy but worked 12 to 16 hours per day. “My marriage allowed me to stay home full-time with my daughter,” says French.

“That was a luxury – not a job. I was compensated. I had a nice home, drove a nice car, had access to a bank account. Asking for alimony would be like asking for a pension for a job I no longer did. It just didn’t seem fair.”

It took her 10 years of attending community college part-time, but eventually she graduated from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Today, she owns a public relations and marketing company, owns her home and is putting two daughters through college.

“Sometimes if you have too much of a cushion you’re not as aggressive in pursuing your dreams.”

Dana Lin was also a stay-at-home mom for most of her marriage, and like Starrick, admits there was a measure of pride in not pursuing alimony in her divorce, even though she could barely support herself. “I didn’t want anyone to say I couldn’t make it without him.”

Lin pursued her dream of being a screenwriter, today working as a script doctor and ghostwriter. Two years ago with a partner she launched Zen Life Services, which provides stress training management skills to law enforcement employees.

“Living lean taught me to be more disciplined,” she says. “Sometimes if you have too much of a cushion you’re not as aggressive in pursuing your dreams have.”

The Forbes article can be read here.

My New Article on Vaccinations and Custody

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Tuesday, November 11, 2014.

Every school year, some parents argue over whether to immunize their children. I have a new article just published in the Florida Bar Commentator on how courts review vaccination disputes in custody cases. Here is an abstract.

There are a few reasons parents object to vaccinations. A few objectors assert their individual liberties. This happened in one of the earliest vaccination decisions in our country’s history after Cambridge, Massachusetts required smallpox vaccinations.

Others parents are risk averse to the potential impact of vaccinations. After all, vaccinations can be injections of weakened organisms to produce immunity in humans. Sometimes, things go wrong, and we established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to compensate for vaccine-related injuries or deaths.

Celebrity anti-vaccination campaigns confuse many. People have noticed the irony of Jenny McCarthy speaking out against immunizing children against infectious diseases, yet actively promoting nicotine inhalers for a ‘Big Tobacco’ company, which are increasingly used by middle school and high school aged children.

Primarily though, parents objecting to vaccinations hold deep religious beliefs against immunization. Religion is not an express factor for courts to consider in Florida custody cases. It is interesting how courts balance the highly sensitive issues of custody and religion.

There are two vaccination cases in Florida, and the facts in each were very similar. In both cases, the parents shared custody. Both involved chiropractors involved in their children’s health care. And, in both cases the health care professional parent opposed vaccinations. Surprisingly, the judgment in the two cases came out differently.

The article briefly examines Florida’s parental responsibility statute, including the concept of ultimate authority, the two Florida cases in which the decision to vaccinate a child was an issue brought to trial, and traces the development of religion as a factor in parental responsibility cases in Florida.

The new article can be read here.

Florida Same-Sex Marriage Update – We Have a Split!

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Same Sex Marriage & Divorce on Friday, November 7, 2014.

The federal 6th Circuit upheld bans on same-sex marriages in four states. Other circuit courts have come out the other way. We now have a circuit split. If petitions for certiorari are filed, we could have a U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer.

I blog about the same-sex marriage controversy a lot. Different states have different laws recognizing same-sex marriages, making the status of same-sex marriages in dispute. This creates interstate chaos. We need the Supreme Court to weigh in.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision is important, because it creates a circuit split over the issue. A circuit split makes it much more likely that the Supreme Court will hear the case.

The Sixth Circuit opinion tried to show that laws banning same-sex marriage can meet “rational basis” scrutiny, the lowest level of constitutional review because gays and lesbians are not disenfranchised and are not a politically “powerless” minority.

A dose of humility makes us hesitant to condemn as unconstitutionally irrational a view of marriage shared not long ago by every society in the world, shared by most, if not all, of our ancestors, and shared still today by a significant number of the States.

May men and women follow their procreative urges wherever they take them? Who is responsible for the children that result?

In accepting these justifications for the four States’ marriage laws, we do not deny the foolish, sometimes offensive, inconsistencies that have haunted marital legislation from time to time.

States will hand some people a marriage license no matter how often they have divorced or remarried, apparently on the theory that practice makes perfect.

The traditional definition of marriage denies gay couples the opportunity to publicly solemnize, to say nothing of subsidize, their relationships under state law.

Do the benefits of standing by the traditional definition of marriage make up for these costs? The question demands an answer – but from elected legislators, not life-tenured judges.

What the opinion lacks in persuasiveness it more than makes up for in creating a circuit split that could prompt a grant of certiorari by the Supreme Court and end the uncertainty of status, and the interstate chaos that the current differences in state laws create.

The opinion in DeBoer v. Snyder can be read here.