Tag: Divorce Bias

Divorce Surprise

In what is being hailed as another win for women’s rights, Saudi Arabian women who have been divorced by their husbands will now have to be notified they’ve been divorced via text message to avoid a nasty divorce surprise.

Divorce Surprise


According to the Saudi Arabian Justice Ministry, Saudi courts have started notifying women of marital status updates via SMS and enabled them to view relevant probate certificates through the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) online portal.

Saudi courts have started to send such notifications starting on January 6, 2018, a step aimed at protecting the rights of female clients, and enhancing digital transformation with more services.

The courts notify women of probate certificates related to marital status — upon approval — through their Absher-registered mobile numbers,” the ministry explained. “The message includes the certificate number and the name of the relevant court.”

Female clients can also visit the court or the court president’s office in order to obtain a copy of the divorce certificate, if any.

Florida Due Process

I’ve written about many jurisdictional aspects on divorce in Florida and will be speaking at the Florida Bar Family Law Section and AAML Certification Review Course later this month in Orlando.

A divorce in Florida is a civil lawsuit, and basic Constitutional notions about Due Process require, at a minimum, that a party to a divorce be given notice of the proceedings and a real opportunity to be heard and defend themselves in an orderly procedure.

When courts violate Constitutional protections of due process rights, court commit fundamental error. This frequently happens when a court expands the scope of a hearing without proper notice.

For example, a court can violate due process by considering one motion at hearing that was scheduled and noticed for a different motion! Frequently trial courts will schedule a matter for a case management conference but turn the proceeding into a final evidentiary hearing. Family courts can be held to violate due process rights when that happens.


There are situations in family law in which notice may not be required. A good example of this is a temporary injunction.

Temporary injunctions may be granted without written or oral or even text notice if, immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to the movant before the adverse party can be heard in opposition; and the movant’s attorney certifies any efforts to give notice and why notice should not be required.

It is important to keep in mind that a temporary injunction is an extraordinary remedy that is granted sparingly.

Just Desserts

What is happening in Saudi Arabia is a different matter entirely. The new notice move is designed to stop the practice of men ending marriages without telling their wives.

The Saudi courts started to send such notifications Sunday in:

a step aimed at protecting the rights of female clients, and enhancing digital transformation with more services.

The message will include the divorce certificate number and the name of the relevant court where the women can pick up the documentation.

The government move comes as part of social and economic reforms known as Vision 2030 being promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The reforms have included women being given the right to drive.

The Saudi Ministry statement is here.


Is Divorce Genetic?

Are children of divorced parents more likely to get divorced than those who grew up in two-parent families? University researchers in Virginia and in Sweden are looking into the question of whether divorce is genetic or psychological. The results are surprising.

New Study

According to the report: people who were adopted resembled their biological — but not adoptive — parents and siblings in their histories of divorce.

The report also found consistent evidence that genetic factors primarily explained the “intergenerational transmission of divorce.”

The study’s findings about genes and divorce are notable because they diverge from the predominant narrative in divorce, that the offspring of divorced parents are more likely to get divorced because they see their parents struggling to manage conflict or lacking the necessary commitment, and they grow up to internalize that behavior.

Serotonin and Divorce

I’ve written about genes and divorce before. Other scientists are finding that the fault for divorce may reside in our genetic code. One gene involved in the regulation of serotonin can predict how much our emotions affect our relationships.

Researchers found a link between relationship fulfillment and a gene variant, or “allele,” known as 5-HTTLPR. All humans inherit a copy of this gene variant from each parent.

Study participants with two short 5-HTTLPR alleles were found to be most unhappy in their marriages when there was anger and contempt. They were most happy when there was humor and affection.

By contrast, those with one or two long alleles were far less bothered by the emotional tenor of their marriages.

The new findings don’t mean that couples with different variations of 5-HTTLPR are incompatible, but couples with two short alleles are likelier to thrive in a good relationship and suffer in a bad one.

What Causes Divorce?

Nearly all the prior literature emphasized that divorce was transmitted across generations psychologically, and the recent results about genes contradict that, suggesting that genetic factors are more important.

By recognizing the role that genetics plays in the transmission of divorce, therapists may be able to better identify more appropriate targets when helping distressed couples.

Previous studies haven’t adequately controlled for or examined something else in addition to the environment that divorcing parents transmit to their children: namely genes!

The study’s findings suggest new areas might be useful for therapists to target. For example, addressing underlying, personality-driven cognitive distortions through cognitive-behavioral approaches may be a better strategy.

The article from Virginia Commonwealth University is here.


Does the Sex of your Judge Matter?

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Monday, May 18, 2015.

I am frequently asked by divorce clients whether the sex of the judge, or the mediator or the other side’s divorce lawyer matters. The question is one of gender bias. Gender bias exists throughout society, so why not in the courtroom?

Sex and the Judge

I’ve written about courtroom tips before. If you ever go to court, you will find that the ratio of judges in the Miami-Dade County family division tends to be about a 50/50 split between male and female judges.

Do judges care whether the lawyers and clients who appear before them are male or female? The question really asks are judges biased. The answer is yes . . . to a certain extent. But who isn’t?

Some female judges have a reputation of being pro-female, other female judges have a reputation of being pro-male. The reverse is also true. Some male judges have a reputation of being pro-male, while others are known to be pro-female. It all depends on the personality, upbringing, and personal experiences of your judge.

In examining a judge’s decision which you suspect is gender biased, ask yourself if the result would be the same if the genders of the parties were reversed?

Sex and the Client

All clients make assumptions about the lawyers they hire. Some clients assume that men will be more aggressive and women may be softer in general, and that this preconceived assumption translates to lawyers and judges. From my experience, that is not always true.

I know many female lawyers who are overly aggressive and way too eager to go to court on a matter. I also know many male lawyers who are calm, and looking to resolve disputes not create them. I know of female judges that wouldn’t give you the time of day, and others that would work through the night to resolve a custody case. The difference between the types of attorneys is personality not gender.

Sex and the Lawyer

For me, the gender of the opposing attorney or judges or mediators makes little difference. Some male lawyers are no better, no tougher, or no more difficult to get along with than some female lawyers, judges or mediators.

But, even though the sex of a lawyer, judge or mediator is not very important to me, other qualities about a lawyer are.

Dealing with Gender Bias

Bias affects us all. This is true in the courtroom, the classroom, as well as your bedroom. We all make snap judgments about people based on stereotypes or experiences. It is instinctual to make judgments in this way.

The Florida Supreme Court has authorized a few studies on gender bias in the courtroom. It found that gender bias – discrimination based solely on one’s sex – is a reality. An understanding of how bias operates can help us identify and expose that bias in the courtroom.

The report of the Florida Supreme Court gender bias study is available here.