Month: September 2016

Angelina’s Plan to Destroy Brad

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Wednesday, September 28, 2016.

Brad Pitt is an angry, unfaithful villain. No, not a new role. Rumor has it that Angelina Jolie is running a smear campaign. This may be a form of divorce planning if it turns out to be true.

As Us Weekly reports, the most disturbing story came from TMZ September 22:

The site reported that the actor – who Jolie, 41, his partner of 12 years, praised as a “wonderful father” in 2013 – became “verbally abusive and physical with his children” in front of their mother aboard a private jet September 14.

But while Jolie’s friends insist Pitt indeed has a terrible temper, Us has confirmed the Maleficent star long plotted to leave him – and gain physical custody of their six children.

I’ve written about how not to behave during the divorce process, and also on how good relations with your Ex could even save your life. Whether you’re in court or outside of court, how you treat yourself, your children and the other parent of your children counts.

The divorce process forces you to view your spouse as an enemy. It is easy to let those feelings take over. The results can be tragic, as the tension can cause you to say and do things in front of your children (or in the press) that they should be protected from.

Steps you don’t want to take, but should, are things like: not yelling in front of your children, taking the high road when dealing with problems, and respecting your soon to be ex-spouse.

According to Us Weekly,

Jolie has been deeply unhappy with Pitt after years of fighting and had been quietly laying the groundwork to leave her husband. A yelling incident on a plane may have provided her with an opportunity to get the upper hand in a custody battle and keep the kids overseas.

Multiple sources confirm Jolie barely gave her husband notice that she had decided to seek a divorce, and blocked Pitt’s number from her phone. It is rumored that Jolie and the children are staying in a Malibu house.

Meanwhile, Brad Pitt, it is claimed, hasn’t seen the children since Jolie filed for divorce:

“Angelina filed the papers a minute before the courts closed. He didn’t have a lawyer or anything,” says a Pitt source. “He has been crying constantly.”

Jolie was given a humanitarian honor at the 2013 Oscar Awards.

The Us Weekly article is here.

Divorce Records & Privacy

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Monday, September 26, 2016.

Tonight is the first presidential debate. Because of the importance of presidential elections, should Donald Trump’s New York divorce records be released to the public?

A New York judge has rejected a media request to make public the contents of a 25-year-old court file on Donald Trump’s divorce from wife Ivana, saying the courts have no business deciding what information could be useful to voters.

Family Court records in New York are not open to indiscriminate public inspection. In order to access them, you must make an application to the Court. It is solely up to the judge to permit the inspection.

The New York Times and the Gannett newspaper chain filed a motion to unseal Donald Trump’s records, arguing the move was needed to contribute to public debate over Trump’s fitness for the presidency.

I’ve written about the issue of public access to divorce records before. For example, in the Tom Cruise divorce, his ex-wife could have filed in New York or California. So, why did she choose New York?

One of the main reasons is New York’s privacy law. Florida has different rules on privacy. In an effort to protect the privacy of parties to a divorce, and prevent identity theft, Florida recently adopted a confidentiality rule to better protect social security and bank account numbers for instance. But Florida court filings are not private.

Earlier this month, lawyers for both Donald and Ivana Trump filed legal papers opposing the unsealing.

His ex-wife agreed, but also contended that since she is not running for office, she should not have to sacrifice her privacy even if the court found an enhanced interest in her husband’s actions.

Her submission to the court noted published reports alleging that she claimed during the divorce that he had raped her. However, Ivana Trump’s brief said that was not her view and dismissed those reports as “previous misinterpreted statements and allegations.”

The judge agreed with Ivana Trump that there was no reason to intrude on her privacy.

“If the court were to deprive the candidate party of his rights…on the ground that there may be something in the confidential file that would be useful in determining his fitness for office, that ground does not exist in the case of his former wife, who is not a candidate.”

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Frank Nervo rejected the New York Times’ argument in a ruling released Thursday.

“Were the court to make the confidential records available for journalistic, and thus public, scrutiny, it would impermissibly inject itself into the political process by making the value judgment of what information is useful in determining the present candidate’s, or any other candidate’s, fitness for office.”

A lawyer for the news outlets, David Schulz, said no immediate decision had been made about whether to appeal.

The article in Politico is here.

A Hague Convention for Child Support

fsBy The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Support on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.

Enforcing child support overseas just got easier. President Obama just ratified the Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support.

The official statement by NSC Spokesperson Ned Price on The Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.

I’ve written about child support issues before. My timesharing child support article is now cited as a resource in the Child Support Benchbook. The Benchbook helps judges and magistrates hone courtroom practice and decision-making, by keeping them informed by state-of-the-art science, best practices used nationwide, and knowledge.

While the United States has child support enforcement well in hand, the same has not been true in other countries. This Convention is intended to remedy non-support cases where the payer of support resides in a foreign country and fails to provide court-ordered child support.

The Convention’s purpose is to assist custodial parents in enforcement proceedings in their state courts for collection of financial support due from parents residing outside of the United States.

The Convention accomplishes this by:

a) establishing a comprehensive system of co-operation between the authorities of the Contracting States;

b) making available applications for the establishment of maintenance decisions;

c) providing for the recognition and enforcement of maintenance decisions; and

d) requiring effective measures for the prompt enforcement of maintenance decisions.

The Convention applies to:

a) obligations arising from a parent-child relationship towards a person under the age of 21 years;

b) enforcement of a decision for spousal support when the application is made with a claim within the scope of sub-paragraph a); and

c) spousal support.

A list of countries which have ratified the Convention is here.

Divorce & New Rule on Experts

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Monday, September 12, 2016.

Divorce is so complicated, we rely on experts for help. But, the new statute governing experts is being questioned by the Florida Supreme Court. What is the status?

The Florida rule for experts was amended in 2013 and is up for review by the Florida Supreme Court. There are some interesting things about the new rule.

1. The amendment was made by the Florida Legislature, not the Florida Supreme Court. That’s unusual because rulemaking authority is the court’s job.

2. The way the Rule came into being by the Legislature could create a constitutional challenge to the rule down the road.

3. The new rule forces Florida courts to abandon the 70-year old Frye test for admitting expert testimony.

4. The new rule requires Florida courts to apply the federal standard; something the Florida Supreme Court has said it doesn’t want to do.

I have spoken and written on the rule change several times. In articles and speeches, I cautioned about a possible Constitutional problem with the way the law was passed.

However, the Constitutional issues will not be resolved until the Florida Supreme Court decides it. As the Florida Bar News reports, the two issues being argued before the high court are:

1. Should the Rules of Evidence incorporate the Legislature’s 2013 law that changed the standard for expert testimony to the Daubert standard?

2. Was the amendment a substantive law, or a rule of courtroom procedure?

The Code and Rules of Evidence Committee of the Bar, which advises the court on evidence matters, recommended 16-14 against adopting the change the Legislature.

Justice Barbara Pariente questioned whether the Court should reject adopting Daubert as a rule, because it is not actually passing on the constitutionality of the rule, which it would do when a case in controversy reaches the court.

The reaction to the law has been huge, the Court received more than 180 comments on the proposed rule change. The court responded by extending the time for oral arguments from the normal 40 minutes to 60 minutes.

The vote on the Daubert/Frye issue was one of the few times in the past three decades that CREC has voted against recommending that a legislative change be adopted as an evidence rule.

The Florida Bar News article is here.

Divorce, Nigerian Princes & Mental Incapacity

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Tuesday, September 6, 2016.

Florida is a no-fault state. Divorce is granted if you prove the marriage is irretrievably broken, or mental incapacity. Kentucky doesn’t allow incompetent people to divorce. That may change.

A 1943 Kentucky decision fond that Kentucky law did not authorize a mentally incompetent person to divorce. Kentucky is one of 10 states that bar mentally incompetent people from divorcing.

The man is arguing that even a person who is deemed disabled can show what their true feelings and intentions are.

“I don’t think that they should be locked up by their guardian.”

However, the man’s wife takes a different point of view. The man’s wife argues:

She was appointed as his guardian after he sent thousands of dollars to someone he believed to be a Nigerian royal prince.

The wife’s lawyer says she still cares deeply for her husband, and he needs a guardian to stop him from wasting family money on overseas pyramid schemes.

The man filed for divorce in August 2013 after he twice sought, without success, to dissolve the disability determination and guardianship, according to an October appeals court ruling in the case. The appeals court affirmed an order dismissing his divorce petition.

The Kentucky Supreme Court has heard argument, and will render its opinion soon.

I’ve written about divorce in Florida many times. In Florida, mental incapacity does not prevent you from divorcing, but no dissolution is allowed unless the party alleged to be incapacitated has been adjudged incapacitated for a preceding period of at least 3 years.

Essentially, Florida law precludes the institution or maintenance of an action for dissolution of marriage until three years after the person has been adjudged incompetent.

The purpose of this rule is to protect individuals who have become mentally incapacitated from being suddenly divorced or abandoned by their former spouses.

Mental capacity can impact your ability to settle a divorce case. Separation agreements, such as postnuptial agreements and marital settlement agreements, must be entered into by two parties who have the mental capacity to enter into contracts.

If an individual is found to have been mentally incapable when the marital settlement agreement was entered into, then the court will likely hold that the entire contract was invalid.

The ABA article on the Kentucky case is here.

Pakistan & The Hague Convention

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Thursday, September 1, 2016.

Pakistan might sign the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. What does The Hague have to do with child custody?

In Pakistan, The Hague Convention has received approval almost unanimously by the Cabinet. The only words of reluctance for it have been, predictably, from the Council of Islamic Ideology.

“As with the Women’s Protection Act, and the honor crimes bills, the necessity is to continue on the right path, despite the whimpering and protests of an archaic group.”

The Hague Abduction Convention is a treaty that many countries, including the United States, have joined. The purposes of the Convention are to protect children from abduction by a parent by:

(1) Encouraging the prompt return of abducted children to their country of habitual residence, and

(2) Securing rights of access to a child.

I’ve written about child custody issues before, The basic idea behind The Hague Convention is that child custody and visitation matters should generally be decided by the proper court in the country of the child’s habitual residence.

The Convention does not apply to every international parental child abduction case. First and foremost, your country must be a signatory country to the Convention. Additionally, you must show:

– That your child was wrongfully removed to or retained in another Convention country;

– The Convention was in force between the two countries when the wrongful removal or retention occurred

– The child is under the age of 16 at the time of filing of the application.

Under the Convention, a country may refuse to return an abducted child or grant access to the child if:

– There is a grave risk that the child would be exposed to physical or psychological harm or otherwise placed in an intolerable situation in his or her country of habitual residence;

– The child objects to being returned and has reached an age and degree of maturity at which the court can take account of the child’s views; or

– The return would violate the fundamental principles of human rights and freedoms of the country where the child is being held.

In Pakistan, the Convention is required if Pakistani children are stranded abroad and a parent with custody wants to force the child’s return. Many countries – such as the U.S. – advise against traveling to Pakistan because Pakistan is a non-signatory country.

The article in The Nation is here.