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Archives for June 2011

Man blames TV Show for broken marriage

A New York man who appeared on Jerry Seinfield’s NBC reality show “The Marriage Ref” has sued the comedian and show, claiming that after appearing on the program his wife became so obsessed with becoming a star that it broke up their marriage.

The defendant, Howie Kohlenberg, appeared on the show with his wife, Christine, in a March 2010 episode with a celebrity panel featuring Seinfield, Eva Longoria and Tina Fey. Kohnlenberg claims he and Christine were happily married before the show but were struggling financially due to their now-defunct Manhattan spa.

“We did it to drum up some business,” he told the New York Post of their decision to appear on the program. “They promised to promote the spa on air. They didn’t.”

Kohlenberg went on to tell the newspaper that producers encouraged the couple to bicker for the camera and that during the filming process Christine became obsessed over becoming a reality television star. After their segment aired, Christine reportedly landed a small part in the comedy “Chakra Love” where she met a producer and subsequently ran away with him to Canada.

Kohlenberg was left with a sour view on reality television.

“They make you jump through hoops, the bottom line is they don’t [care]. You’re just another number.”

For his part, Seinfield did not seemed perturbed about the lawsuit when questioned by reporters about the case.

“I love it, I love, I love it!” Seinfield, who is co-creator of “The Marriage Ref” told the New York Daily News. “When people get upset I enjoy it.”

Jailed dad had due process violated

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a South Carolina man who was sent to jail after he was unable to pay his child support was deprived of his 14th amendment right to due process, according to published reports.

South Carolina law allows law enforcement to jail individuals who do not pay child support without providing them legal counsel. The defendant, Michael Turner, was sentenced to up to 12 months in prison for being unable to meet his child support payment and state courts denied that Turner had a right to a court-appointed attorney even though his liberty was on the line.

However, Turner claims he was never told that his ability to pay child support was the reason for his legal woes and said authorities never provided him with financial disclosures forms or any other means to determine whether he could feasibly meet his child support payments. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that state officials must ensure that hearings are “fundamentally fair” to the person facing possible incarceration.

“Under these circumstances, Turner’s incarceration violated the Due Process Clause,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote.

In addition to South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Maine and Ohio also do not provide counsel for those too poor to afford legal assistance in child support cases.

Former lesbian’s custody case turns manhunt

A child custody case has become a global manhunt after a lesbian-turned-evangelical Christian disappeared with the daughter after splitting up with her partner and renouncing homosexuality, according to The Associated Press.

The story began in 2000 after the woman, Lisa Miller, was joined in a civil union in Vermont. Two years later Miller gave birth to their daughter, who was conceived via artificial insemination, before the couple broke up in 2004 when Miller renounced her homosexuality and joined the Mennonite church.

A federal arrest warrant was issued for Miller after she failed to show for a court-ordered custody swap in January 2010, reported the AP. Miller reportedly took her daughter to Nicaragua in 2009 before vanishing again, which authorities believe she has managed with the help of religious groups. The FBI recently apprehended Nicaraguan missionary Timothy David “Timo” Miller, who is has been charged with abetting an international kidnapping by arranging travel and lodging for Miller in Central America.

“It is hard to understand how anyone could consider a childhood on the run better and more stable than one surrounded by family, with two parents and two sets of grandparents who can provide love and support,” Jenkins wrote in an email to the news source.

Determining child custody among gay couples is an issue divorce lawyers are still investigating. Following the passage of same-sex marriage in New York, divorce lawyers told multiple media outlets that child custody between lesbian couples in situations where only one woman is biologically related to the child may pose some legal complications in court.

Lawyers expect gay marriage to bring business

Divorce lawyers are one group certainly cheering for New York’s successful bid to legalize same-sex marriage.

According to multiple media outlets, divorce lawyers and experts expect to see a whole new demographic of clients in their office, although they are not necessarily celebrating a possible increase in business.

“I may be a divorce lawyer, but I don’t hope for the demise of marriages,” Bettina D. Hinden, a divorce lawyer, told the New York Times.

Bettina said understanding the new implications for divorce posed by gay marriage is an issue that will be investigated in coming weeks. Child custody questions – such as a case where a lesbian couple raises a child together but only one is the legal guardian and birth mother – and where a couple can actually divorce are two major complications that may come to light.

Alton Abramowitz, the vice president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, told the New York Daily News that divorce lawyers will likely see an increase in business over the next decade. In addition, he said there will likely be a surge in gay and lesbian couples requesting prenuptial agreements.

New York is the the largest state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa and Washington, D.C., have also legalized the institution for gay couples.

Bay State lawmakers propose alimony reform bill

Massachusetts lawmakers have proposed a new alimony reform bill that would significantly alter how alimony payments are determined in the state and place caps on payment duration, according to published reports.

The bill, known as the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011, would allow judges to base alimony awards on the recipients actual financial need for spousal support and end payments for long-term marriages at retirement age. In addition, short-term marriages would receive earlier caps and payments would end if the recipient remarried or began living with another partner.

A task force began working on the reform effort more than a year ago, according to the Boston Business Journal, which said it was started by Judiciary Co-chairs Senator Cynthia Creem and Representative Eugene O’Flaherty.

“The word I’ve heard is there is a lot of momentum behind this bill, and that legislators are motivated to do something about this issue,” Kelly Leighton, a local divorce attorney and co-chair of the Boston Bar Associations family law section, told the newspaper.

Multiple states have recently proposed legislation to alter outdated alimony laws. In West Virginia, lawmakers are advocating a bill that would not require an individual to pay alimony if their partner had an affair during their marriage.