Articles Posted in Family Law in the News

In June 2015, the Supreme Court ruled by a majority of 5 to 4 that the right to same-sex marriage is guaranteed by the constitution. Marriage unfortunately sometimes fails and the rights of parents to have custody of children born during the marriage have been well established over the years. The Supreme Court’s ruling means that these same rights will apply in the case of same-sex marriages entered into after June 2015. But what about same-sex relationships from before that time?

A case before a family court judge in Kent County, Michigan is testing this point.

Joy Phillips and Amber Berndt started dating in 2001.  Marriage was not an option for them because same-sex marriage was banned in Michigan at the time, but they wore wedding bands, bought two homes together and, in 2005, decided to enter into parenthood. Berndt was artificially inseminated and had a daughter. Three years later, they had a second daughter. Both children went by the last name Berndt-Phillips, each called both women “mom,” and Phillips and Berndt shared parenting duties. But only one of them was the biological mother. Continue reading

Successful parents are always worried that if they inform their children of their inheritance before they’re ready, they’ll lose the drive to be successful themselves and want to live off money they haven’t earned. There’s also the possibility they’ll never learn to manage money or understand how to be financially mindful when it counts, potentially meaning they end up with nothing further down the road.

This is a valid concern. In 2013, the Pew Research Center conducted a study that found that 73% of adults between 40 and 59 with at least one grown child said they’d helped support them in the prior year. Half of those parents said they were their grown child’s primary means of support – some because their children were in school, but more than a third said it was for reasons other than education. Another study conducted by Pew found that nearly one quarter of 25-34-year-olds are now living with parents or grandparents, up from 11% in 1980.

It raises a lot of questions, but the reason these numbers have jumped is likely due to the large student loan debt many college-goers face, as well as the rise of unemployment across the country. More and more young people post-graduation are being forced to live at home in order to save any money for their future. Continue reading

 

The Obama administration on Wednesday proposed regulations that would make references in the Internal Revenue Code to “husband” and “wife” include same-sex marriages.

The Internal Revenue Code (IRC), is the domestic part of the Federal tax law in the United States, and covers income tax, estate taxes, payroll taxes, gift taxes, and excise taxes; as well as procedure and administration. The clarifications in the code’s wording are meant to safeguard against anyone interpreting it too literally and making any claims of discrimination.

This decision has been made in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in June to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples all across America, and it will apply to all tax provisions in which marriage matters, including filing status, exemptions, the standard deduction, employee benefits, IRA contributions, the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit. Continue reading

 

A group of hackers has come forward with claims that they were able to hack into adultery website AshleyMadison.com, which is owned by Avid Media, a company that also owns hookup sites CougarLife.com and EstablishedMen.com. Ashley Madison is an online dating service that caters to married individuals who are looking to engage in extramarital affairs.

A hacker group called the Impact team is threatening to leak the confidential and personal information of the site’s 37 million users to the public. To back up their claims, the hackers have already posted packets of data online that contain the bank account and salary information of some of Avid Life Media’s employees.

The hack poses a considerable business risk for the Toronto based company. A spokesperson for Avid Media claims that they were able to address the security breach and close off the unauthorized access points that the hackers used through the help of “one of the world’s top IT security teams.” The company also claims that all “Personally Identifiable Information” was deleted from their system in the wake of the hacking incident and is presently working with law enforcement agencies that are now conducting an investigation to look into the matter further.

The Impact Team is threatening to release every piece of data that they’ve gathered on Ashley Madison’s 37 million subscribers during the hack, including details of each user’s secret sexual fantasies, real names, residential addresses and credit card transactions. They are also threatening to expose Avid Life Media’s confidential emails and employee information if they do not remove Ashley Madison and Established Men from the web permanently.

The hack itself originated from the websites “full delete feature,” which supposedly allowed users to completely erase their profiles from the site for a $19 fee. The hackers claim that this feature does not completely delete a users footprint through the site and that the company retains all of this information since database information often ends up in several locations, including test databases, backup databases and even marketing databases.

Robert Beggs, a Technical Manager at PriceWaterHouseCooopers, stated, ”It’s reasonable to expect that any profile information on a site like Ashley Madison would be removed, but a user’s credit card information legally has to be kept on file for up to seven years, which can be linked to a person’s name.

Avid Media discounts the claim that the full delete feature doesn’t work as advertised. It is now being offered to site users for free, although it’s unknown at this time for how long.

In their manifesto published by Krebs on Security, the Impact Team claimed that “Users almost always pay with credit card; their purchase details are not removed as promised, and include real name and address, which is of course the most important information the users want removed.”

This is not the first time an adult website has been the victim of a hacking. Back in May, AdultFriendFinder.com was targeted, and the information of approximately 3.5 million accounts was leaked online. Continue reading

Some people may think that divorce proceedings are at an all time high but statistical evidence points towards a different reality. Recently, an economist at the University of Michigan has discovered that divorce rates have dropped from the figures that were reported in 1981. 1981 might have been the year where divorce was at an all time high but it should be noted that the recent drop in divorce rates may have come as a result of the fact that fewer people are getting married. Still, economist Justin Wolfers is adamant about the fact that divorce rates have dropped by 24%. Statistics also point to an interesting phenomenon surrounding women and divorce.

A number of things have changed since the 1980s and divorce rates are one of them. Another interesting development revolves around the role of women in marriages and their relatively new role as primary earners in a partnership. More women have become the primary breadwinners in their households. While this may be a dramatic change, it fails to drastically influence the way financial decisions are carried out in a family unit. A considerable portion of these primary earners still leave financial decisions related to large purchases, investments, and real estate to their husbands.

Men continue to remain largely responsible for the way resources are being distributed in a household. Women who are contemplating filing for divorce need to develop greater financial acumen before they decide to finalize the proceedings. Women who are primary earners need to be aware of all her sources of income, her assets, and credit standing before divorce proceedings commence. A failure to assess the financial situation could prove to be costly during divorce proceedings especially if the wife has delegated most of the financial decisions to her husband over the course of their marriage.

Statistical data also points to rising divorce rates within the 55 – 64 age brackets. Women are found to be more likely to initiate divorce proceedings after the age of 35. Again, financial literacy is required before divorce proceedings can take place. Women who are not the primary breadwinners in a marriage may be left at a disadvantage if they do not have the resources to adequately prepare for retirement. In cases where a comfortable retirement is already planned out, divorce proceedings may significantly weaken it when assets are divided between spouses. Continue reading

The Supreme Court of the United States ruling on gay marriage has prompted a slew of responses from different sectors. While a considerable portion of the United States population interprets this development as a clear victory for gay rights and gay rights activists, some sectors have echoed dissenting views on the recent ruling. The Texas Attorney General has reacted on the historic ruling by deeming it to be a move that is fueled by a sense of “lawlessness.” The Texas Attorney General is attempting to galvanize Texans into protecting the religious liberties of the state in light of this recent development.

While 5 of the Supreme Court Justices have voted in favor of same sex unions, 4 dissenting Justices have expressed their opinion on the matter. Chief Justice John Roberts, one of the dissenting Justices in the recent Supreme Court of the United States ruling, expressed that “Stripped of its shiny rhetorical gloss, the majority’s argument is that the Due Process Clause gives same-sex couples a fundamental right to marry because it will be good for them and for society… If I were a legislator, I would certainly consider that view as a matter of social policy. But as a judge, I find the majority’s position indefensible as a matter of constitutional law.”

In a statement that echoes the sentiments of the 4 dissenting Justices, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed that the United States Supreme Court again ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist.” Paxton’s statements go on to explain that the recent ruling of the United States Supreme Court has given birth to a grave problem. The problem in question deals with the conflict between the religious beliefs of Texas officials and their duty to uphold decisions passed by the United States Supreme Court. Continue reading

In a historic move, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that it is a legal right for all Americans to marry the ones they love regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The ruling is a landmark move that has been gaining traction for years. Gay rights activists have been paving the way for marriage equality in the lower courts and prior to this ruling, 37 of the 50 states in the U.S. have already recognized same sex unions. The growing public support for same sex partnerships culminated in a 5 – 4 ruling on June 26, 2015 in favor of marriage equality.

The 5 Supreme Court Justices who ruled in favor of marriage equality steeped their arguments in the 14th amendment. The Justices stated that each state needs to issue marriage licenses and recognize same sex unions that have taken place in other states. The 5 Supreme Court Justices who ruled in favor of the historic decision were Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor. The 4 Justices who spoke in dissent were Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel Alito

The 5 Justices who supported the majority decision cited several reasons to justify same sex marriage. Part of the chief arguments was the right of gay Americans to have “intimate association(s)” that extend beyond being free of laws that criminalize homosexuality. The 5 justices also stated that the importance of personal autonomy was involved in the act of marriage given the fact that “decisions about marriage are among the most intimate that an individual can make. The 14th amendment played a great role in influencing the ruling. The clauses involving equal protection and due process were cited to back up the right of same-sex couples to wed. Continue reading