Monday, September 23, 2013

"Servicemember Family Protection Act", or house bill H.R. 4201 will now migrate through the Senate and House for vote

Custody issues for those serving in the military has always been an interesting topic for me.  A recent Martindale post discussed the problem well: "[U]nder family law, the best interests of the child controls whether a parent will have custody. In addition, the mother or father cannot be said to be acting in the best interests of a child when he or she is unavailable to take care of his or her child.  So, as it sits now, when a parent is vacant for longer than a certain amount of time, his or her custodial rights can be removed.  Moreover, he or she cannot allocate these custodial rights to the child's grandparents or other family."  Here's a link to the full post:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Here's a really interesting opinion article from today's Detroit Free Press, written by Brian Dickerson:  It's about two bills that have been proposed in Michigan that would, according to Dickerson, "license faith-based adoption agencies to discriminate against gays seeking to adopt hard-to-place foster children."  Here's a long quote:

Jeanne Howard, a former member of the state of Illinois’ adoption advisory board and codirector of the Center for Adoption Studies at Illinois State University, says discouraging gays who seek to adopt or become foster parents would strand many hard-to-place children with no families at all.
“I’m not approaching this from an equal protection or parental advocacy perspective. I’m approaching it from the perspective of what children need,” Howard told me. “I know opponents of gay adoption think they’re protecting kids by not allowing them to be raised in such a family. But a lot of these kids have no family.”
For three decades, Howard notes, studies comparing children raised by straight parents with those raised by gay or lesbian parents have discovered no differences in psychological adjustment, gender identification, academic achievement or self-esteem. Other research suggests that gay and lesbian parents are disproportionately open to adopting the older and special-needs children who are hardest to place.
“We want to have every break go in favor of the kids who need help,” Howard said. “When you create obstacles that limit the supply of adoptive parents,” Howard said, “you are abandoning some of the most fragile children in Michigan to the vagaries of an overburdened foster care system.”

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I know this is old news now, but the effects of the United States Supreme Court striking down DOMA are still being sorted out all over the legal community.  Of course this is a big deal for family lawyers; it potentially raises a set of new issues and highlights existing issues about getting a divorce for same sex couples who don't meet jurisdictional requirements to get divorced in the state where they were married, but whose marriage is not recognized in the state where they currently reside.  More on that later.

Here's a great article about the DOMA decision from the New York Times in June, written by John Schwartz:

Monday, September 9, 2013

My associate, Andy Rodenhouse, has been in the news over the weekend for a Calhoun County appeal he's been working on.  The Calhoun County Chief Circuit Court Judge ordered a new trial after overturning Mr. Ackley's criminal conviction.  This isn't family law related, but I had to share:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Wall Street Journal published an article in today's paper about a study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan which concluded that yelling at children can be just as damaging as hitting them.   Here's the link:

The study, published on Child Development's website (here's a link to their website: ) followed 976 two-parent families with children in their early teens, and found that children of parents used more harsh verbal discipline were more likely to experience aggression, behavior problems and symptoms of depression.  The study found that increases in behavior problems in families using shouting as a punishment were very similar to families where physical punishment was used.  Dr. Ming-Te Want, who co-authored the study, stated that "adolescence is a very sensitive period when [kids] are trying to develop their self-identities.  When you yell, it hurts their self image.  It makes them feel thy are not capable, that they are worthless and are useless."

This is just another reminder that we need to treat our kids like the people that they are.  If it's not okay to yell at or hit your employees or cashier, it's not okay to do it to your child.  There are many more constructive ways to teach, and we have to constantly remind ourselves that we're setting an example for how our children are going to behave and how they're going to raise their children.