December 31, 2009

A Facebook Divorce

Posted in Divorce tagged at 1:00 am by demetriagraves

As we embark on the new decade and reflect back on 2009, it’s clear that 2009 was a watershed year for social networks.

We’ve seen major changes at sites like Facebook and Twitter as millions of non-technical users became regular users. Social networks no longer featured posts with reams and reams of drivel — like telling people what kind of sandwich you had for lunch or about the great parking space you grabbed near the gym. Instead, they were used far more to let the world learn about everything from politics to current affairs and for myself, family law issues.

Users have expanded greatly from the traditional teenage and college student set. It now includes many of their parents and even grandparents who now use the technology as a primary mode of communication. Even though it may have been embarrassing for the kids involved to have their Uncle Joe befriend them on Facebook.

It seems like this trend has even had an impact on divorce. What would you do if the first time you heard your spouse wanted a divorce was when you read about it on Facebook? Would you file for divorce if you learned that your partner was cheating on you by having inappropriate sexual chats with other people on Facebook or other social networking sites?

The immense popularity of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites has had consequences that few people may have thought about when these Internet websites first hit cyberspace. One is the virtually unlimited possibilities it presents to seek and connect with other people for the purpose of having an affair; another is the opportunities it presents for divorce attorneys to use any evidence they find on such social networking sites to settle a case for their clients.

Many divorce lawyers are warning their clients about the use of these sites as they are a potential minefield for gathering incriminating evidence. Some individuals may even want to consider closing down their sites, especially if they contain any incriminating photos or information, such as photos of themselves with a girlfriend or boyfriend or using drugs.

Facebook and other social networking sites are being blamed for a rising number of divorces. There are claims by many divorce lawyers that nearly 20 percent of the petitions they process have cited Facebook. The most common reason – Partners are having inappropriate sexual cyber chats with people they are not supposed to, a form of virtual infidelity. The disclosure of highly personal information on Facebook and other social networking sites is bad enough when two adults decide they need to call it quits, but when there are children involved and child custody, the situation can get ugly and complicated.

Children often have no problem finding anything they want on the Internet, including humiliating information about their parents. So keep this in mind as important advice for people who are going through a divorce. You may want to shut down your Facebook and other social networking sites and refrain from posting any personal information or opinions online. However, it seems that when people are confused and distraught, social networking is a way to vent their feelings. It may be cheaper than going to a therapist, but the consequences may be more costly than they ever imagined.

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Divorce Insurance – What’s Next?

Posted in Divorce tagged at 12:56 am by demetriagraves

Thought that you could get insurance for some unusual and wide ranging possibilities – how about Divorce Insurance? There is much discussion on the internet that it would be possible and even feasible for insurance companies to offer divorce insurance. Sound like a good idea? Anyone who has seen friends or family struggle through a messy divorce and the devastating financial consequences would probably be interested.

Actuarial tables are now available based on the lasted information from the 2000 U.S. Census, which asked detailed questions that allow one to compute a person’s risk of divorce. Research at the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia has also helped to quantify the risk.

About two million Americans get married every year, and the chance that their marriage will not last is a toss up. According to the census data and other research, couples have a 20 percent chance of getting divorced within the first five years of marriage. They have a 30 percent chance of divorcing within 10 years. Overall, it appears that half of American marriages end in divorce.

The divorce process can take years sometimes. During that time, the joint assets often are tied up. Suddenly, there are two households to support and attorney fees to be paid. Moreover, financial pressures raise stress levels. These financial problems are often already an issue in many marriages that come apart.

The average family has about $8,000 in credit card debt, which means the average divorcing family has $8,000 in credit card debt, and they suddenly have to set up a second household.

An Ohio State study showed that the average person who divorces loses 77 percent of their net worth.

One way this type of insurance would work is to cover divorce costs, not the settlement or the living costs afterward. The average policy would have a $2,500 annual premium for coverage worth $200,000. But, of course, people could vary their level of coverage.

Looking at the census data, several risk factors associated for divorce have been identified. The main risk factors are: Age (younger is riskier); race (Asian is the lowest risk); whether a woman had forced premarital sex (a woman who has been raped has about a 50 percent higher risk of divorcing in the first five years of marriage), and income and education (those with more have less risk).

Some other factors that research has identified as conferring higher risk are the wife’s working and living in an urban environment. A wife with a high level of education is associated with a lower probability of divorce early in a marriage, but a higher probability later.

Considering the popularity of pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, divorce insurance may be the perfect accompaniment.

And, finally, the divorce rate currently is about 50 percent of marriages and research suggests that those who come from divorced backgrounds are three times more likely to divorce themselves. The divorce rate, therefore, appears more likely to go up than to go down.

Child Support -101

Posted in Child Support tagged at 12:48 am by demetriagraves

Understanding the laws regarding child support in California can be a challenge. That’s why it’s important to find a Family law attorney who can help guide you in the right direction. Many of my clients have asked me to do a summary of the main factors that are considered in California law. The courts use a uniform guideline to determine child support. The main principles of this guideline are given below along with some other basics that parents should be aware of.

It does not matter if you are an adoptive parent or a biological parent, you will be expected to help provide for that child until they turn 18, unless the child has not graduated from high school, in which case the child support continues until the child has graduated high school or becomes 19, which ever occurs first. Presently, the law does not give judges the power to make a parent support a child beyond the age of 19, unless the child is physically or mentally disabled. However, the parents can agree that child support is to continue into the college years, and such an agreement will be enforced by the Family Law Court. The quantity you have to pay will be based on your gross income.

Child support payments may be altered if there is a change in income or living arrangements of the child.

The custody and visitation arrangements regarding a minor child can be changed until the child turns 18. If the child’s welfare is of concern, the order can be changed.

In California a statewide uniform guideline is used by the courts to determine child support, which adheres to the following principles [Ca Fam § 4053]:

    1. Support duty commensurate with parents’ economic circumstances: “A parent’s first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent’s circumstances and station in life.”
    2. Mutual support duty: “Both parents are mutually responsible for the support of their children.”
    3. Formula reflects income and responsibility: “The guideline takes into account each parent’s actual income and level of responsibility for the children.”
    4. Obligation tied to ability to pay: “Each parent should pay for the support of the children according to his or her ability.”
    5. Child’s interests of paramount importance: “The guideline seeks to place the interests of the children as the state’s top priority.”
    6. Award to reflect parents’ standard of living–even if custodial parent incidentally benefits: “Children should share in the standard of living of both parents. Child support may therefore appropriately improve the standard of living of the custodial household to improve the lives of the children.”
    7. Award to reflect increased household costs because of time-sharing; equalized household standards of living: “Child support orders in cases in which both parents have high levels of responsibility for the children should reflect the increased costs of raising the children in two homes and should minimize significant disparities in the children’s living standards in the two homes.”
    8. Priority on “private” funding of child support: “The financial needs of the children should be met through private financial resources as much as possible.”
    9. Presumptive support contributions by primary caretaker: “It is presumed that a parent having primary physical responsibility for the children contributes a significant portion of available resources for the support of the children.”
    10. Settlements favored: “The guideline seeks to encourage fair and efficient settlements of conflicts between parents and seeks to minimize the need for litigation.”
    11. Formula amount presumptively correct: “The guideline is intended to be presumptively correct in all cases, and only under special circumstances should child support orders fall below the child support mandated by the guideline formula.”
    12. Award to reflect State’s “high” living standards and child-rearing costs: “Child support orders must ensure that children actually receive fair, timely, and sufficient support reflecting the state’s high standard of living and high costs of raising children compared to other states.”

The statewide uniform guideline displaces a good body of earlier case law dealing with “discretionary” child support; “a trial court no longer has the broad discretion in ordering child support which it had prior to the enactment of the new statutory scheme effective July 1, 1992.” Nonetheless, legislative history indicates it was never the intent to eliminate family law judges’ traditional discretionary authority to adjust child support orders in individual cases where fairness so requires. Thus, whether “fairness” permits the exercise of discretion in fixing a particular child support award itself must be determined with reference to the statutory guideline factors and policy directives as applied to the parties’ circumstances as a whole.

Bottom Line is the courts use a Computer Program Named “DissoMaster” which plugs in the appropriate numbers, such as Income of both Parties, “Timeshare” (how much time each party spend with the child/children), Mortgage Payments, Child Care, etc.  Once the numbers are plugged in there is the “Guideline” Child Support Number.

December 28, 2009

10 Tips to Win in 2010!

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:07 pm by demetriagraves

The following 10 tips to win in 2010 are provided by Chellie Campbell.

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent Van Gogh

  1. Do Daily Affirmations. Great success begins with thinking positive thoughts about yourself and your expectations for your future. Affirmations are designed to help you with this process, but they only work if you say them. Knowing about them isn’t the same as doing them. Try these favorites of mine: “People love to give me money!” “I am rich and wonderful!” “All my clients praise me and pay me!” “I now receive large sums of money just for being me!”
  2. Send out Ships. Thinking positive is your first step to living rich, inside and out. But it is not enough. You have to take action to achieve your goals. I call this “Sending Out Ships.” In the nineteenth century, the merchants in London built grand, tall-masted sailing ships that would visit foreign ports and trade for gold, jewels, silks, and spices. When the ship would return laden with treasure the merchant’s fortune was made. That’s where the expression “I’m waiting for my ship to come in,” comes from. But some people are going down to the dock, waiting for their ship to come in—but they haven’t sent any out! If you want fortune to arrive on the next wave, you’ve got to send out some ships to go get it.
  3. Practice Little Actions. Your life is the sum total of all the little actions you take, your daily habit patterns. Successful people are those whose daily habits add up to something great. You don’t suddenly one day, write a book. You write a paragraph today. Then tomorrow, you write another one. And the next day, another. If I want to lose twenty pounds, each day I have to choose low fat foods and vegetables and omit hot fudge sundaes and brownies. If I want to play the piano beautifully, I have to practice scales today instead of watch television or play baseball. If I want to sell my product or service, I have to confront my fears and make a phone call to a stranger today. I must, each day, send out the little canoes before I am ready to launch a cruise ship.
  4. Count Your Money. To achieve success, you must think positive and send out ships. But if you want to achieve financial success, you have to add the third step: Count your money. Keeping track of how much you’re making, how much you’re spending, and how much you’re saving will tell you how effectively you’re doing the first two steps. In other words, budget. That stands for Baby-U-Deserve-Getting-Every-Thing! Maybe you’re on Low Budget now, but write up your High Budget for when your ships come in!
  5. Write “Thank you!” on all your checks. It is important for your personal prosperity to take joy in the process of sending other people money. As you write the check, use the credit card, or pay the cash for your purchase, know that you are creating financial benefits for many unseen individuals who make their living from these transactions. Smile and write “Thank you!” on the bottom of every check or receipt. “Thank you!” that I can buy this wonderful product or service that I want. “Thank you!” for providing it for me. “Thank you!” that I have the money to buy it—and that the check is good.
  6. Make a Magic Money Wish List. Every so often, as I worked within my budget, I would think of something extra I wanted that wasn’t on it. It could be something practical like new piece of computer equipment or it could be something fun or extravagant like new clothes or jewelry. Whenever I thought of something, I wrote it down on a piece of paper I labeled it my “Magic Money Wish List”. Without paying much attention to it, I started regularly receiving extra money. In fact, the amounts I received almost always totaled the amount of money I needed to buy the things on this list! I suddenly became conscious of what I was doing. I was naming a goal, writing it down, and telling my subconscious and the Universe to create it for me. Try this – it works!
  7. Swim With Dolphins. There are three kinds of fish in the sea: Dolphins, Sharks and Tuna. Dolphins are wonderful creatures: intelligent, happy, and playful. They communicate; they swim in schools. They’ve been known to ward off a shark attack and protect the other fish. Sharks are eating machines. Their job is to eat you. If you find yourself in the water with a shark, put your shark fin on or get out of the water. Tuna fish are food. They whine a lot. Think everything that happens to them is somebody else’s fault. Sharks don’t want to pay you and Tuna can’t. Real money is made when you have Dolphins on your team.
  8. Don’t Give up the Ship. We’ve all heard stories of the “overnight success”—and the one, fabulous break that meant stardom for someone. In reality, it took them ten or twenty years of hard work to get to that one lucky moment. Jon Bon Jovi wanted to be a rock star He worked as a janitor for two years and on the side, he made fifty demo records in pursuit of his dream. Finally, one of his songs made it on the radio. It became an instant hit and Jon put together a band and got a recording contract. But it wasn’t until their third album, Slippery When Wet, that national fame arrived and fortune followed. Sharon Stone worked in films for more than ten years before Basic Instinct made her a superstar. I imagine that she thought any number of the films that she made before that one might be her “lucky break” film. King Solomon’s Mines? No. The Year of the Gun? No. What if these people had given up before their big success arrived? Don’t you do it!
  9. It’s Never Too Late. Colonel Sanders, of Kentucky Fried Chicken Fame, began his business at age sixty-five, after he received his first Social Security check, looked at the tiny amount of money and decided, “This will never do!” The only thing he could think of to sell was the great recipe he had for fried chicken. Over one thousand restaurants turned down his approach for a partnership. Then one said yes. Then another and another. Overnight success. A friend of mine went back to school to get her Ph.D. Friends told her, “But you’ll be 50 before you get it!” She said, “I’m going to be 50 anyway – with it or without it. I’d rather be 50 with a Ph.D.!” And she was.
  10. Lighten Up on the Way to Enlightenment. Learn to live rich, inside and out. Focus on joy, happiness, your relationship with God, your relationships with other people, the meaning of life, and the mission of your life. Rich or poor, you can meditate and pray and make these your priorities. When you are joyful and grateful for what you have, you create the space for more. When you sense that there is a purpose to life and a mission within it for you to fulfill, then you act in harmony with God and the Universe. Open yourself to manifesting abundance in all areas of life, including financial success, knowing that you will use it honorably and with wisdom for the good of all around you.

I hope this list helps you win often and win big in this New Year of the New Decade!

Chellie Campbell is the creator of the Financial Stress Reduction® Workshops, and author of The Wealthy Spirit and Zero to Zillionaire. She has been prominently quoted as a financial expert in the Los Angeles Times, Good Housekeeping, Lifetime, Essence, Woman’s World and more than 50 popular books. She can be reached at Chellie@chellie.com

Beyonce’s Parents Divorcing After Almost 30 Years of Marriage

Posted in Celebrity Divorce, Divorce tagged , at 7:01 pm by demetriagraves

Grammy-winning U.S. R&B singer Beyonce Knowles’ parents are getting divorced.

Beyonce’s Mom Tina Knowles, age 55 filed for divorce against her husband Mathew Knowles, age 58 who is Beyonce’s Dad and manager. The divorce petition was filed in a Houston, Texas court recently. Apparently Tina didn’t cite any official reason for terminating their 29 year union, only that they have been living “separate lives” for many months and there is no chance of a reconciliation. There are even reports that the couple haven’t been living together since January.

There has been much speculation about the divorce filing following a paternity claim made against the pop singer’s father. Matthew Knowles was the target of an October paternity case in which actress Alexandra Wright of Los Angeles has alleged that Matthew is the father of her unborn child. Beyonce, in particular, was said to be outraged at her father after the paternity suit filing by Wright.

The only comments from Mathew and Tina suggest that the split will be amicable, with them remaining friends, parents and business partners.

Mathew and Tina both played pivotal roles in the rise of Destiny’s Child and 28-year-old Beyonce. Mathew managed the band, Tina designed the costumes and she now has her own line of clothes named the House of Dereon, which she and Beyonce opened in 2004. They are also parents to, Beyonce’s younger sister, 25-year-old singer Solange Knowles.

Beyonce will continue to do what she does best, which is work the heck out of a stage, when she embarks on a two-week extension of her I Am Tour. The singer has added on dates for her tour and will perform in South America and The Caribbean beginning in February 2010. Also coming in February 2010 is Beyonce’s new fragrance “Heat.”

Spousal Support Explained – Alimony 101

Posted in Spousal Support tagged at 6:57 pm by demetriagraves

Spousal support can be a touchy subject. The one responsible for paying normally does not know why they have to pay the support when they believe that the other person should be working. The one receiving the payments often feels that it is not enough, often feeling that they deserve more for pain and suffering.

Spousal support can be temporary or permanent. In the state of California, at the beginning of the case, temporary support may be issued. Permanent support is paid at the end of the case and is determined by a set of statutory issues. A spousal support award is not mandatory in dissolution or legal separation proceedings in California. Quite the contrary, courts have discretion (within statutory parameters) to deny spousal support altogether or to limit it in an amount and duration that reflects the ability of both parties to provide for their own needs.

It is crucial to ascertain the standard of living while married.  Below are the main factors that will be considered in California law [Ca Fam §§ 4320, 4330] in determining Spousal Support:

1. Ability to maintain marital standard of living in light of earning capacities: The extent to which the parties’ respective earning capacities are sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage.

2. Contributions to other spouse’s education, training, etc.: The extent to which the supported spouse contributed to the other spouse’s attainment of an education, training, career position or license. This may create a right of reimbursement for community contributions to one spouse’s education or training that “substantially enhances” the spouse’s earning capacity.

3. Supporting spouse’s ability to pay: The supporting spouse’s ability to pay spousal support, taking into account his or her earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living. Note: A spousal support order must be consistent with the supporting spouse’s ability to pay as determined by his or her circumstances at the time of the support hearing–i.e., the obligor’s present (not past or future) circumstances (current income/cash flow, assets, earning capacity, etc.) control.

4. “Needs” in light of marital standard of living: The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.  “Need” includes more than “bare necessities of life.” There is a well-established case law consensus that “need” must also be judged in terms of the parties’ station in life during marriage and before separation.

5. Parties’ assets and debts: The parties’ respective assets and obligations, including the separate property of each. Thus, a spouse’s separate estate (including assets allocated to each as a result of the community property division)–and the reasonable income potential therefrom–may require the “withholding” of support altogether or a termination of previously-awarded support.

6. Duration of marriage. The length of the parties’ marriage bears both on the “need” for support (whether it should be ordered) and on the amount and duration. The longer a spouse has been out of the job market on account of the marriage, the stronger the case for granting support; by the same token, a relatively short marriage can, depending on the other factors and the “totality of the circumstances,” offset alleged “need” and justify a lower level of support and/or a shorter support term.

7. Employability of custodial spouse vs. impact on children: The ability of the supported spouse to engage in gainful employment without interfering with the interests of dependent children in his or her custody. The law recognizes the overriding public policy concern for the welfare of the parties’ minor children. Theoretically, e.g., weighing all relevant circumstances, the needs of young children may justify indefinite spousal support to a custodial parent even after a relatively short marriage.

8. Age and health of the parties. On balance and after weighing all of the specific factors, age and health may warrant either an extension or withholding of support. Age and health considerations are also particularly relevant to the question of duration of support.

9. History of domestic violence: Documented evidence of any history of domestic violence between the parties, including, but not limited to, consideration of emotional distress resulting from domestic violence perpetrated against the supported party by the supporting party, and consideration of any history of violence against the supporting party by the supported party.

10. Tax consequences: The immediate and specific tax consequences of spousal support to each party (e.g., who pays the taxes, who gets the deduction, what effect on net income).

11. Relative hardships: “The balance of hardships to each party.” This factor seems to underscore the court’s obligation to consider and weigh all of the specific circumstances in determining the appropriate amount and duration of spousal support.

12. Goal of self-support: “The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time.” Except in marriages of long duration, a “reasonable period of time” in which to achieve the goal of self-support “generally shall be one-half the length of the marriage.”

13. Spousal abuse conviction (mandatory factor for support reduction/termination): The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse is a mandatory factor to be considered in making a reduction or termination of spousal support in accordance with certain laws.

14. Other “just and equitable” factors: “Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.”  This final factor is a “catch-all,” clarifying the court’s authority to consider any other circumstances, although not expressly codified, bearing on the propriety of awarding support and, if so, its amount and duration.

California recognizes both pre and post nuptial agreements. Prenuptial agreements or premarital agreements become effective when the marriage is consummated. It states that whatever property belongs to which person and also states financial responsibility. It is a legally binding contract.

The premarital agreement protects any assets that a person has prior to entering the marriage. It allows the owner to maintain possession.

December 18, 2009

Jenny Sanford Divorcing South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford

Posted in Celebrity Divorce, Divorce tagged , at 4:59 pm by demetriagraves

Well, it seems like another one of our public figures, Governor Mark Sanford, has been caught having an affair and his wife has now filed for divorce. He’s also had a narrow escape from the grips of the S.C. Ethics Commission.

Jenny Sanford, wife of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, has announced that she is filing for divorce from the state official in the wake of his extramarital affair.

Jenny Sanford said in her statement to the public that she chose to announce her divorce filing before the information became known to the public in another way.

The decision comes after months of trying to reconcile with the governor after he admitted to having an affair with woman from Argentina.

Jenny Sanford relocated with her four sons from the South Carolina Governor’s Mansion to a home in Charleston, S.C., in August.

From June 18 – 24, Governor Sanford’s whereabouts were unknown to the public, Mrs. Sanford and the State Law Enforcement Division. The governor had told his staff that he would be hiking on the Appalachian Trail while he was gone.

Upon his return, Governor Sanford learned that the media had begun gathering evidence to prove his true whereabouts and held a press conference shortly after, during which he admitted that he had actually traveled to Argentina to have an affair with María Belén Chapur.

With news of the affair made public, South Carolina’s Ethics Commission moved to impeach the governor or force him to resign, but on December 3, the commission voted to remove most of the charges against him as the scandal didn’t warrant overturning the election results.

On December 9, the commission voted 6-1 against impeaching the governor, arguing that there were more important matters they needed to attend to. However, by a unanimous vote, the commission did vote to censure him.

December 16, 2009

Crying ‘Poor’ Not Always a Good Divorce Strategy

Posted in Celebrity Divorce, Child Support, Divorce, Spousal Support tagged , , , at 12:46 am by demetriagraves

Nas and Kelis, Round 2

Just when Nas thought the dust was settling on his ongoing court battle with Kelis, he’s been ordered to pay out more money.

In the summer, rapper Nas was ordered to pay a hefty monthly payment of $44,000.00 to his estranged wife Kelis for child and spousal support, in the midst of their divorce. Now that a financial settlement has been reached in the divorce, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cunningham III ordered the rapper (real name: Nasir Jones) to bump up his monthly child and spousal payments to $51,101. This totals more than $600,000 a year to his soon-to-be ex-wife Kelis and their infant son, Knight.

The decision came after a two-day hearing in which the judge determined that Nas made enough money in recent months to pay additional support. Though, both Nas and Kelis tried to portray themselves as broke.

Nas’ attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, said the judge made the right decision and that despite the payment increase Nas came out ahead in the decision because he will no longer have to pay the expenses on the former couple’s Los Angeles residence.

Kelis also reportedly testified that she has been having difficulty earning money because she is a new mother and doesn’t have a lot of job options outside of the music business. She told the court that Nas is slated to release two albums in 2010.

Kelis is back in the studio working on her next album. Apparently she received $175,000 for her recently announced recording contract with Interscope, although her attorney argued most of the money went to her former managers and she received only about $50,000.

Nas testified that he wanted overnight visitation rights with his son.  Kelis has sole custody for now. When Kelis’ very pregnant lawyer, Laura Wasser, had Nas take the stand, she grilled him about not paying his December child and spousal support in full. Nas thought he was paid up.

The judge has ordered that Nas pay $40,454 in spousal support and $10,647 in child support. If that weren’t enough, Nas must also pay Kelis’ lawyer fees, which total $46,022.

This should be incentive for Nas to stay up on his payments from this day forward. Nas  also owes his current manager up to $700,000 and owes millions to the Internal Revenue Service, according to testimony.

Both Kelis and her attorney should be thrilled with this ruling.

Texting: The New Way to get Caught Cheating

Posted in Celebrity Divorce, Divorce tagged , at 12:38 am by demetriagraves

I’ve come across this phenomena in my Family Law practice as we move into the twenty first century. Some spouses are discovering that their partners are cheating by coming across incriminating text messages. Texting has even been described as the new lipstick on the collar, the classic telltale sign that one’s spouse has gone astray.

This problem has been highlighted in the media recently. Tiger Wood’s lovers are coming out of the woodwork showing steamy text messages from him that have then been published for all to see. One of his alleged mistresses is even claiming that Tiger was texting other lovers while he was in bed with her.

Prior to Tiger some politicians have also been caught with their pants down as a result of text messages. Most notable of these was Kwane Kilpatrick, the former Detroit mayor, who had an affair with an aide and went to prison in 2008. He was found out because he used government-issued mobile phones and pagers. Mr. Kilpatrick lied under oath about having an affair with an aide, but his text messages revealed the truth. Also Nevada’s governor, Jim Gibbons, was accused last spring by his wife in divorce documents of sending more than 800 text messages to a mistress in 2007. He contended that the woman was a friend, but he paid the state $130 for the messages from his phone. Also Senator John Ensign of Nevada has had an affair with a former employee confirmed by text messages.

People naively think that text messages are totally private, whereas everything digital leaves a footprint. The many wireless carriers keep messages for a long period after they are sent. And a court can request and get copies, if copies exist. Most importantly, the person receiving the text may preserve the message for their own purposes. As Tiger Woods has learned now, his lovers are using his messages to secure their fifteen minutes of fame.

It’s expected that as younger cell phone users, who are more likely to text than talk, get married this will happen more often. Text messages now outnumber mobile voice calls three to one. Monthly messages sent or received jumped to an average of 584 PER PERSON in the quarter ending in September, a 60 percent increase from a year earlier.

At the root of the issue is privacy — or rather the increasing lack of it in our show-and-tell digital culture. Text messages are considered private, much as telephone calls are. But if a cheating spouse’s cell phone is part of a family calling plan or regularly left unlocked and unattended on the dinner table or night stand, it is conceivable that a partner who suspects infidelity could make a case for sifting through the in-box.

But, in the end, text messages are just the latest tool in the arsenal to catch cheating spouses. Telephone records, emails and charge card receipts have long provided clues to affairs. Even Metro-card passes provide a time stamped trail of where someone has been. It is only time until some spouse finds his significant other “tagged” in an embrace or some other compromising position on someone’s Facebook page.

In the end, the best way to ensure that you do not get caught in an extra marital affair is not to have one!

December 9, 2009

What You Should Know About Voluntary Declaration of Paternity

Posted in Child Support, Custody, Parentage, Paternity tagged , , , at 11:32 pm by demetriagraves

Recently I wrote about how DNA testing may affect the traditional concepts of Fatherhood. What about establishing Parentage (Paternity)? Establishing Parentage means that you are declaring who the legal parents of a child are if the parents were not married when the child was born.

If the parents were married when the child was born, the law usually presumes the husband to be the father.

After January 1, 2005, if parents are registered domestic partners when a child is born, the law assumes that the domestic partners are parents. However, since this law is new and unsettled, same sex parents should get legal advice to make sure that the parentage is clear.

Parents who are not married when a child is born can sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity before they leave the hospital, or after, which automatically declares Dad as the father, which means the court automatically can make orders for custody and visitation if the Declaration of Paternity is signed.

The legislature (7570) declares the following:

“(a) There is a compelling state interest in establishing paternity for all children. Establishing paternity is the first step toward a child support award, which, in turn, provides children with equal rights and access to benefits, including, but not limited to, social security, health insurance, survivors’ benefits, military benefits, and inheritance rights. Knowledge of family medical history is often necessary for correct medical diagnosis and treatment. Additionally, knowing one’s father is important to a child’s development.”

When both unmarried parents sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, it means they are the legal parents of the child. You have the choice of whether or not to sign the Declaration of Paternity, but once you do, you are recognized as the legal parent.  As stated above, if parents are unmarried, paternity establishment is not automatic and the process should be started by both parents as soon as possible for the benefit of the child.

If you sign the declaration at the hospital, your name will go on the child’s birth certificate, and the mother does not need to go to court to prove that you are the father of the child.  If the declaration is signed after the child’s birth certificate has been issued, a new birth certificate can be issued with the father’s name.

If you are considering signing a voluntary declaration of parentage it’s important to know that once paternity or parentage has been established, it can be difficult or impossible to undo – even if DNA testing later shows that the father is not the biological father of the child.

After parentage is established, each parent has:

  • An equal responsibility to support the child, and
  • An equal right to custody of the child.

The signing of a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity can have long term implications in your life.  Before you sign one, consult with a lawyer to protect your rights.

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