Tag: divorce and privacy

When World Leaders Divorce

Courts are open remotely, lawyers are practicing law, and if you are wondering whether you are able to get a divorce, know that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, was able to obtain his divorce during the quarantine. It’s not just world leaders like the Prime Minister who are now free to plan their future wedding. Now, anyone can start their future after the lockdown restrictions are eased.

World Leader Divorce

London Has Fallen

Boris Johnson, of course, is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The world leader is the head of government of the United Kingdom, and directs both the executive and the legislature, and together with their Cabinet is accountable to the queen, to Parliament, to their party, and ultimately to the electorate, for the government’s policies and actions.

Marina Wheeler, 55, shares four of the Prime Minister’s six children and applied for a decree absolute in February. It is understood that the divorce was granted before Ms Symonds gave birth to Mr Johnson’s sixth child Wilfred last week. Ms Wheeler, a leading barrister, started divorce proceedings last year after she and Mr Johnson separated in 2018.

Florida Divorce

I have written about when divorce impacts a world leader, CEO of a large company, and everyone else. Divorce can be stressful, and can have an impact on people going through it. With the coronavirus spreading throughout the world, and courts on lockdown, it is good to know that legal remedies are continuing despite the pandemic, and that people are still able to get a divorce.

Divorces in the United States are state government remedies. With the family court system prohibiting entry to lawyers and clients except for emergency cases, many think that they cannot get a divorce. The opposite is true.

With the widespread use of zoom, courts are regularly holding divorce and family law proceedings electronically.

British prime ministers, like U.S. presidents, have little connection to divorce. Ronald Reagan was the only president of the United States who was even divorced. Until now. President Elect Donald Trump has been divorced twice.

There are some very interesting statistics about divorce:

– In America, the divorce rate for a first marriage is around 41%.

– In England and Wales the divorce rate is about 42%.

– The divorce rate for a second marriage is 60%.

– The divorce rate for a third marriage is 73%.

– The average length of divorce proceedings in the United States is 1 year.

– Western states have the highest marriage and divorce rates, followed by the South. The Northeast has the lowest marriage and divorce rates.

– Nevada has the highest rate of divorce at 14.7%.

– Florida’s rate of divorce is around 13%

– If a spouse has gained more than 20% of his or her body weight, divorce is more likely.

Back in England

The Prime Minister also has a fifth child, an 11-year-old daughter Stephanie, with art consultant Helen McIntyre. He was previously married to socialite Allegra Mostyn-Owen from 1987 to 1993. Sonia Purnell, Mr Johnson’s former colleague at the Telegraph and author of his biography Just Boris, said his ex-wife played a pivotal role in his political career.

‘Marina was a very important and supportive figure in Boris’s career. She persuaded him to take the McPherson Report into institutional racism in the police seriously. She persuaded him, as Mayor of London, to be more liberal on issues like immigration. He does owe her an awful lot. She has been a real stabilising influence in his life.

Since Ms Wheeler and Mr Johnson separated two years ago, she has surgery for cervical cancer last year and her mother Dip Singh died in February at the age of 87. She said her cancer diagnosis made her appreciate the ‘value of holding close those who you love and trust.’

A source close to the family told the Mirror: ‘Marina has been through so much over the last two years. Fortunately her family have been very close and supportive, particularly her sister Shirin.

‘Marina was an equal in that marriage. There was a point where Boris seemed to have a sense of real regret that he had endangered his marriage with his affairs. ‘Although there is no doubt she was hugely hurt by all his betrayals she would have no interest in standing in his way. She will want to move on with the next part of her life.’

Mr Johnson and Ms Symonds announced they were engaged on February 29, while also announcing they were having a baby in early summer. The couple’s first child, a son, was born on April 29.

The PM and his partner revealed their new son’s full name as Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson last week, with the first name a tribute to Mr Johnson’s paternal grandfather, Osman Wilfred Kemal, and Lawrie a reference to Ms Symonds’ grandfather.

The Daily Mail article is here.

 

Covid-19, Child Custody, and Good News on Coronavirus

Parenting is tough enough when you’re in quarantine. But for parents who are divorced and shuttle their kids between two households as part of a child custody arrangement, deciding how to proceed with quarantines related to the coronavirus can be even more challenging.

Child custody covid-19

A Virus Among Us

“Today” recently profiled parents in Florida about how they are coping. Rachelle Dunlevy, a mom of two from Indialantic, Florida, says since her ex-husband lives nearby, they have agreed to stick with their current custody schedule, for now. Megan O’Connor, whose daughter is about to turn three, has been divorced for almost a year, and says she and her ex-husband are doing the same.

“My ex is a public health professional, so he is aware of social distancing, but also of the importance of our daughter having access to both of her parents during such a fragile time. Currently, we are both in town so we are maintaining our current schedule. We’ve decided to do that because we view ourselves as a family unit — though we are no longer together romantically, our daughter is intrinsically a part of each parent.”

But what do parents do when there’s conflict over whether or not to pause a custody arrangement during the pandemic? When it comes to making decisions about coronavirus and custody, communication is key.

The first and foremost concern should be the health of your family. It is important to communicate respectfully and be cooperative with any schedule changes, even if it results in less parenting time for you and more parenting time for the other parent.

Understand that you and your co-parent may have different views about how to approach this pandemic and neither of you may be wrong or right, so it’s important to be calm. Your child is also navigating a pandemic and a change in their everyday routine and you do not want to add to their stress and anxiety — a united front between the parents is best.

The number one priority should always be the well-being of the children and the coronavirus doesn’t care about courts and agreement.

Florida Child Custody

I’ve written about child custody issues before. In Florida, the prevailing standard for determining “custody” is a concept call shared parental responsibility, or sole parental responsibility.

Generally, shared parental responsibility is a relationship ordered by a court in which both parents retain their full parental rights and responsibilities. Under shared parental responsibility, parents are required to confer with each other and jointly make major decisions affecting the welfare of their child.

In Florida, shared parental responsibility is the preferred relationship between parents when a marriage or a relationship ends. In fact, courts are instructed to order parents to share parental responsibility of a child unless it would be detrimental to the child.

At the trial, the test applied is the best interests of the child. Determining the best interests of a child is no longer entirely subjective. Instead, the decision is based on an evaluation of certain factors affecting the welfare and interests of the child and the circumstances of the child’s family.

Good News About Coronavirus

As new cases of SARS CoV-2 (aka Covid-19) Coronavirus are confirmed throughout the world and millions of people are being put into quarantine, there is some good news too.

Most people with COVID-19 recover. Estimates now suggest that 99% of people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 will recover and some people have no symptoms at all.

Children seem to be infected less often and have milder disease. According to the CDC, the vast majority of infections so far have afflicted adults. And when kids are infected, they tend to have milder disease.

The number of new cases is falling where the outbreak began. During his speech declaring the new coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, the director-general of the WHO pointed out that “China and the Republic of Korea have significantly declining epidemics.” That’s a good thing and suggests that efforts to contain the spread of this infection can be successful.

We have the internet! We can practice social distancing and preserve our professional and social connections.

This a good test run for much more serious and deadly outbreaks such as the Spanish Flu and the Ebola virus. Our response to future pandemics should improve because of what we are doing now.

The coronavirus epidemic is a global problem for those infected and those trying to avoid it. But amid all the doom and gloom, there are some positive stories, positive messages and reasons to remain hopeful.

The Today article is here.

 

How to Discuss Divorce?

Forget about complex divorce legal issues, the talk about who gets what, and where you’ll live. This post answers a tougher question: how do you tell your spouse you want a divorce?

Discussing Divorce

‘We have to talk’

You’ve no doubt seen it in the movies when it’s shouted out in an argument: “I want a divorce!” But is there a right way to discuss divorce and to let your spouse know your feelings about them?

To say that telling your partner you want to discuss divorce is delicate is an understatement. It is an enormous decision, one that, when raised, will alter both of your lives forever.

Unless you want a big legal battle, or want to treat each other uncivilly forever, it’s in everyone’s interest to learn how to tell your spouse it’s over. So how do you deliver such life-altering news?

Timing is Everything

First, you want to choose a time to discuss divorce when your partner is emotionally ready. Avoid those times when they’re already stressed or emotional.

This is the sort of discussion in which it pays to be patient and remember that the announcement can wait until a moment when its impact will be the least damaging.

Florida Divorce

I’ve written about grounds for divorce before. Florida is a no-fault state, meaning you no longer have to prove someone was at fault for ending the marriage. This takes a lot of pressure off of the conversation about divorce.

In Florida no fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.

The only ground you need to file for divorce in Florida is to prove your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Additionally, the mental incapacity of one of the parties, where the party was adjudged incapacitated for the prior three year, is another avenue.

Knowing that in Florida no one has to be found at fault in order to file a petition for dissolution of marriage should help you and your spouse when you discuss divorce.

Location, location, location

Ideally, you want to discuss divorce in a private, quiet space. Avoid crowded restaurants, shopping malls, or even at home if the kids are in the next room or you have family and friends over.

Avoid phrases like, “You should have,” “You don’t,” or “You didn’t.” You also need to be honest about what you’re feeling and why you believe this decision is the right one.

If you’re in couple’s therapy, the therapist’s office might be a good location. The therapist can help create healthy boundaries moving forward which can prove invaluable when the going gets tough.

Avoid the Specifics

When you discuss divorce for the first time, there is no reason to get into specifics of how the divorce will work. You can leave out the parenting plan, or any other specifics. The emotional toll of discussing a divorce is tough enough, talking about the petty details of the process could be overwhelming.

If your partner is going to be surprised about the divorce and is going to be hearing about it for the first time, don’t talk about dividing the IRA, who should have the kids for summer, or the details of your new apartment.

You want to give the person time to digest the concept, show emotion, and ask questions. Don’t make it worse by blaming the other spouse for their shortcomings.

Even if a divorce is more one-sided, chances are that neither party in the marriage is particularly thrilled about the way things have been going. With this in mind, it’s wise to open the conversation by laying the cards on the table.

The Fatherly article is here.

 

Divorce Privacy

Like any optimist, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison is hoping divorce privacy laws will keep his personal history from impacting his campaign to become Minnesota attorney general. That may be difficult with the Star Tribune suing to unseal his divorce records.

Divorce Privacy

Minnesota Allegations

Ellison and his ex-wife, Kim Ellison, divorced in 2012. The related records have been sealed, so the public cannot access the information. The efforts to unseal the divorce records follow allegations by Ellison’s ex-girlfriend, Karen Monahan, that Ellison domestically abused her in 2016.

Ms. Monahan, a Sierra Club organizer, reportedly said she suffered “emotional and physical abuse” during their long-term relationship, including an incident in which she said Mr. Ellison dragged her from a bed and screamed obscenities at her.

The Star Tribune argued that, given the public interest around that situation and Kim Ellison’s public support of her ex-husband, the divorce records are a matter of concern to voters.

Divorce records are typically public, but judges will often agree to seal them if both parties to the case agree and no one else objects.

Florida Divorce Privacy

I’ve written on divorce privacy issues before. Divorce privacy is an issue that comes up a lot. Divorces in court are public events, and the filed records of court proceedings are public records available for public examination.

Both the public and the media can challenge any closure order by a divorce court. The closure of court proceedings or records should only really occur  when it’s necessary to comply with established public policy, to protect trade secrets; or to protect children in a divorce among other reasons.

Florida also has new rules protecting sensitive data from public view. This includes protecting Social Security, Bank Account, Debit, and Credit Card Numbers because if those numbers are included in a document, they may become part of the public record.

If information is absolutely required, there is a rule with procedures for sealing and unsealing of court records. Also, the Clerk of Court has the authority to redact or make confidential only specific information.

If sensitive information has already been filed in Court Records, you must complete and submit a “Notice of Confidential Information Within Court Filing” in order to remove or seal it.

Close Race

The Star Tribune argued that, given the public interest around that situation and Kim Ellison’s public support of her ex-husband, the divorce records are a matter of concern to voters.

Divorce records are typically public in Minnesota, but judges will often agree to seal them if both parties to the case agree and no one else objects. The Ellison campaign released a statement from Kim Ellison on behalf of both her and Keith Ellison.

“Our divorce simply isn’t the public’s business, and therefore, when we separated, we jointly asked the court to seal the file. Now, one month before a closely contested election for Minnesota Attorney General, a conservative group wants to probe our divorce file in search of something to use against Keith in this race. I am disappointed that the Star Tribune would choose to file this motion.”

Polls show this is a very tight attorney general race. A poll released September 16 shows Republican challenger Doug Wardlow and Ellison with 41 percentage points each. The Star Tribune/Minnesota Poll released September 19 shows Ellison with a five-point lead. That is still within the margin of error.

The Star Tribune article is here.

 

Divorce and Privacy

Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner’s divorce are a lot of things: “Messy” comes to mind, and definitely “sordid.” It has also been front page news. However, now the divorce is going to be closed to the public. Is it about reconciliation or privacy?

A Very Public Divorce

Huma Abedin was a top aide to former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and privacy has always been a struggle. She has been front page news most recently, as the State Department posted a number of her emails after the messages were found on her husband’s laptop by the FBI.

Several of the released documents were found to contain information classified “confidential,” and were heavily redacted.

If that wasn’t front page news enough, her husband is Anthony Weiner. Anthony is the former Democratic congressman from New York who won seven terms as a Democrat, never receiving less than 60% of the vote. Politicians don’t get elected by being shy.

In May last year, Weiner pled guilty to a sexting charge of transferring obscene material to a minor, and was sentenced to 21 months in prison and is required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

According to the New York Post, the couple withdrew their divorce proceeding from the New York court where it was being heard. They’re not reconciling though, it appears they are trying to keep their divorce private.

Divorce Privacy

I’ve written about the issue of privacy and public access to divorce records before. For example, in the Tom Cruise divorce, his ex-wife could have filed in New York or California, but they chose New York because of privacy laws there.

In Florida, court filings are not private. In fact, it has long been the policy of Florida that all state, county, and municipal records are open for personal inspection and copying by anyone.

In Florida, privacy is not the rule. Far from it. Here, providing access to public records is an affirmative duty of each agency. And, any agency that maintains a public record has to provide to any person, a copy of any public record which is not exempted by law from public disclosure.

The Weiners

In a statement to the New York Daily News, Abedin’s attorney said it’s for the privacy of their family.

“In order to ensure the proceedings have a minimal impact on their child, the parties have decided to finalize their divorce swiftly and privately.”

Privacy would certainly be a change for this couple’s tumultuous and much-scrutinized marriage, which is heading to an end after the sexting scandals.

The New York Daily News article is here.