Posts filed under ‘Divorce’

How To Avoid Divorce Denial – It’s a Messy World: Here’s How to Avoid Getting Screwed

By Jeffery Leving

Deniers simply are unable to face the fact that their marriage is over, even when the signs are unmistakable: Their spouse is cheating, siphoning money out of their accounts or making plans to move out. Still, deniers hope their marriage can be saved. Jack and Ellen’s story is an excellent example of divorce denial and of the mistakes men make in divorce.

A Loyal Man

Jack refused to believe his wife Ellen was going to divorce him. They had been married for seven years, and though he knew their marriage had problems, he was certain they could work them out. Some of the problems were related to Ellen’s bipolar disorder, for which she was being treated.

Unfortunately, Ellen sometimes refused to take the prescribed medications that helped keep the condition under control. In her manic phase, she drove recklessly, and though she had never done so with their two young children in the car, Jack always worried about this possibility.

In her “down” phase, Ellen talked about “running away and starting over.” But Jack, loyal to mistakes men make in divorce, was certain that no matter how many arguments he and Ellen had, she would never file for divorce.

Sleeping in

He was wrong. Not only had she hired a lawyer and started the process, but she also had followed the lawyer’s instructions regarding her medical condition. Her lawyer, anticipating that Jack might use this condition to try to gain sole custody, had instructed Ellen to persuade Jack to sign a document attesting to her mental fitness; he helped Ellen create a cover story that she needed this document for health insurance purposes.

By the divorce, he was hopelessly behind. It took him weeks to find a lawyer, and even then he remained unconvinced that she was serious about sole custody; he insisted to his lawyer that this was just a negotiating ploy.

Jack, realizing he was falling victim to mistakes men make in divorce, finally emerged from his divorce denial.

Denial Signs To Be Aware Of

To prevent this from happening, be aware of the following signs that you’re in divorce denial:

  • Your spouse informs you she wants a divorce, but you insist to both her and yourself that she’s not serious.
  • The marriage is dead and your spouse moves out and makes a down payment on a new house, but you convince yourself that the separation is temporary.
  • You note that your spouse is taking money out of your joint accounts, that your relationship has experienced serious problems and that she is having an affair, but you refuse to put two and two together.
  • Your spouse has threatened to take the kids and leave, but even as you’re consulting your lawyer, you refuse to believe she would ever do such a thing.
  • When your spouse informs you that she’s filing for divorce, you refuse to hire an lawyer, convinced that things will work out if you avoid “playing her game.”
  • You tell your friends that your spouse is only using the possibility of divorce as a bargaining chip to buy a new house or change your bad habits, but that when push comes to shove, she’ll never follow through on the threat.
  • You hire a lawyer in response to your spouse filing for divorce, but you argue with him that your spouse has no intention of limiting your visitation, asking for sole custody, refusing to give you certain monies, or share property fairly; based on your certainty that your spouse would never treat you unfairly, you don’t follow your lawyer’s advice.

Done Deal

Divorce denial is dangerous, especially if you have children at risk. Recognize the warning signs and take immediate action to protect your rights and the rights of your children.

 

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October 7, 2010 at 4:17 pm Leave a comment

Danny Glover Interview with Jeffery Leving – part 1

Part 1 of 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwz6fy5oKA4

JML: Can you tell us about your father, your family and how you grew up?

DG:
If I’m a good father, it’s because I try to be half the father as my father was. I had a father who I thought was a prince. Even though at times we disappointed him in terms of what we did as teenagers, as kids with all that energy. But for the most part, I just thought when I sit down and analyze what he gave me – the sense of comfort, the sense of safety that he gave me.

I knew that he wasn’t a big man, I’m a foot taller than my father but the sense of presence, and the way he took on his responsibilities of caring for the family – all those things I was able to take into fatherhood. And hopefully, even though some things I think I could have done differently, hopefully those had some sort of impact on my daughter.  And our relationship is a testimony that it’s had an impact on her.

DG:
That’s only because my father was there in the household and my mother was there. We had a unit as a family with 5 children and mother and father and we did things as a family. We traveled on vacation as a family. There was the concept that the family took precedence over me the individual. So we all had and took on responsibility whether it was the upkeep of the house or whether it’s the cooking of the meals and all the other kind of things and I think what it did was give me another sensibility.

So since there were 4 boys and 1 girl, there was no gender preference given to the boys in terms of responsibility. The boys washed dishes, the boys ironed clothes, the boys cooked – every one of them knew how to do all of that. I think those were important because in a sense that’s the images I saw in my parents. My father cooked, he washed clothes, he ironed, he did all those things – he took on that. My mother was a Cub Scout Mother. When we lived in the projects when I was a little boy, my father was my youngest brother’s Boy Scout Den Father when we lived in a house. So I applaud them in creating the sense of normalcy and the consistency in which they maintained that.

JML:
You’re fortunate because you grew up in a stable family where your parents were together and they raised you as a teen and you had a great dad. You had an excellent father.

DG:
I had a great mom and a great dad and I think they made each other the best that they could be. I had one of those mothers who had the most glorious smile that you ever want to see and yet she was a woman of magnitude. She was the president of the local chapter of the National Council of Negro Women, she knew Dr. Dorothy Hite well, she was the first in her family in rural Georgia to graduate from college. So she was a woman going somewhere. And she happened to pick one of the most gentle men, one of the most beautiful men I ever met in my life – my dad.

JML:
I mean that’s great, as a divorce lawyer and as a fathers’ rights attorney, I’m a big supporter of children having two parents. And when we were growing up, a lot of children had two parents.

DG:
Absolutely, absolutely.

JML:
Unfortunately it’s changed a lot and a lot of fathers get kicked to the curb and children suffer. And I’ve represented a lot of good dads struggling to be there for their children and the system kicks them out. But fortunately for us we grew up in a different time.

DG:
Yeah!  I’m 62 years old so I grew up in a time when it meant something to get in the car and the family go on a Sunday drive down the coast – I grew up in San Francisco – so we’d go an hour down the coast as a family and stop by a little, local hamburger/French fry place – that’s a cravat right there, there was the real thing about that. We’d have some hamburgers and French fries as a family and I loved that and I remember that so vividly in my mind, you know, with my parents. And it could be a way in which they were saying, “Okay, let’s as a family do something.”

We don’t have a lot of money; we weren’t blessed with a lot of money. My parents went from paycheck to paycheck all their entire time that I lived with them. And after I moved out of the house. But there was this sense of doing something that felt so and remarkably wonderful as a family. And I lost a sister, lost a brother to rheumatory arthritis, colon cancer to my sister. But I tell you – my younger brothers that are much younger that I am and I are very very close.

JML:
Oh, that’s great. I wrote this book, Fathers’ Rights and in it on pages 46 and 47, I listed a lot of statistics on how father absence effects in children and the most reliable predictor of crime in America is father absence. It says right here, 72% of all teenage murderers grew up without fathers. The absence of a biological father increases by 900% a daughter’s vulnerability to rape and sexual abuse. And these assaults are not often committed by the dads, it’s committed by boyfriends of the custodial parents. These are the statistics that are somewhat new to our society.

DG:
I agree with you to some extent, but there are other factors that happen within a family, within the communal structure than just those particular statistics which apply to the individual. What are the social conditions? What is the stress level of the mother? What other kind of support mechanism does she have around? Where are the uncles around there to help raise those children? Where are the aunts around to help raise those girls? A lot of other factors that go into that. To say that the numbers, of course, when we take the fact that 2 million men and women incarcerated in this country. Those numbers who suggest that, but I think that there are a lot of other dynamics around the maintenance of a family. The laws and regulations and communities are family-friendly that create the kind of atmosphere as well in support.
The fact is they say that if you can’t love the one you want, love the one you’re with. We found that in most cases, when those single boys – and I’ve been in those situations – and those boys in those relationships where there’s someone who cares, where there’s someone there. He may be a father figure; he may be a father himself. But there’s someone who cares. And those girls are with people who care about them and care about who they are. Amazing things happening.

And sometimes in the 21st century, given all the kinds of dynamics that happen. In the last part of the 20th century, people were very mobile. They moved from place to place. They went from job to job as opposed to the first part of the 20th century. The last part of the 20th century, people become mobile and that has an impact on whatever the social dynamics among the family and the community itself. And also, the structures that employ us, remember – you take a place like Detroit. Detroit was one of the first places in this country as black people after the invention of the cotton picking machine in 1944 – black people were free from the land. 100% of the cotton was picked by hand in 1944, within 25 years 100% of the cotton was picked my machine. So black people moved, migrated. 5 million black people moved out of the South, to the North. All kinds of family disruptions. So almost a quarter of the black population moved in transit to find work.

They came to places like Detroit, got jobs – good jobs. Low skill jobs, good paying jobs. They built homes, raised families all over the country. Then those cities became de-industrialized. Those jobs went over seas to cheaper labor. Continued, we see it today. They went to some other place, for cheaper labor. Therefore are many losses: tax based. They lost a sense of self. They lost their sense of identity. Upon losing that sense of identity you have what you have now. Those are the kind of ideas that we cannot simply; we must incorporate any analysis of those things that have happened. That’s real history. That’s real history that’s right in front of my eyes.

My dad had a job, he retired from a job after 31 years. My mother when she passed away was still working. They had a job and everything else. They were able to build a family. We moved from the projects, I lived in the projects, the housing projects until I was 11 years old. We moved from there, we bought a home.

Every one of us got into problems; yes we did things as kids. But I remember when my dad came down into that police station and said after I had done something and came in and picked me up and said, “Son, I am disappointed in you.”

I’m towering over him now, I’m 6’2”, I am towering over him. “Son, I am so disappointed in you.”

That has meaning to me. That had meaning to me because of their life. That had meaning to me because of all the things that have happened. And that was the last time I had been involved in anything like that. I’ve been arrested for doing other things like for protesting something or sitting in or something like that. But it’s the last thing. Those are the kind of things I think of enforcedly. I know that now. I got a 5 year old grandson whose father is not there. I know that I have to tell him everyday that he is the most important person in my life. I have to tell him every day that I love him. I have to tell him that everyday, the best job that I have, the best job in the world for me is to being your grandfather – and everything else. Your dad may not be here, but you know what, I’m here. That kind of infrastructure, that kind of support will give him a shot! Give him a chance, you know. Somebody loves me. And maybe it’s nice that I love myself as well.

JML:
I see.

 

May 1, 2009 at 7:17 pm 1 comment

Danny Glover Interview with Jeffery Leving – part 2

PART 2 –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3MBOeqlOXY

JML: There are grandfathers out there that are father figures, there are uncles who are father figures when there are no biological fathers.

DG:
Yes – absolutely! Absolutely!

JML:
One of the reasons there are so few father figures out there in certain situations is because if you trace back what happened before we were even born, you go back to the 1940s, a lot of fathers were kicked out and pushed out of the family through the government. Look at public aid, public aid was a means to keep mothers and children fed by kicking fathers out of the home and that is why there are so many problems in a lot of major cities. And a lot of people believe that was based on racial prejudices and discrimination against African-American fathers. And I believe that. A lot of people disagree with me. But I believe that. And right now we are seeing a lot of children are father absent. And if you look at the media, the media glorifies father absence.

How does a male basically rate himself based on what he is taught as a child? Based on how cool he is, group sex, recreational sex, what kind of car he drives. It’s not based on education and fatherhood. And the media has a lot to do with that.

JML:
But it can change.

DG:
I think it takes a long time. I think it’s a process that we are talking about is a long standing process. We can go back to the 1930s just before and during the Depression, how white families were encouraged by incentives to move out of the inner cities and move into suburbs. That’s how suburbia started. Being in suburbia is a concept that comes pre and post the Depression (and everything else). There are so many elements in terms of regulations that the government put in place. Whether designed or not, whether they are economic imperatives that brought about this. Whether it’s economic expansion that brought about this. In their design, they may have had good benefits, positive benefits. But in any design there are both positives and negatives.

DG:
So it becomes a private industry even in the midst of calling itself “public education.”  Because, what happens? The schools, the districts, the neighborhoods with the best tax bases, the wealthiest neighborhoods, they have the best schools. They have the best schools. These are the types of dynamics we don’t look at. We’re sitting right now in the preface of all this stuff falling about. This image of this… this whole thing of what a friend of mine calls, “Phantom Wealth” collapsing on us – not Real Wealth.

What is Real Wealth? What is Real Wealth in a sane society? Real Wealth lies in what we produce. And Real Wealth lies in what we produce in human beings. Real Wealth lies in us. We’re not simply a commodity, we’re a composite of wealth. We add real value to our lives. Real value to our communities. Real value to our families. That’s Real Wealth. Not the Phantom Wealth that is taken out in terms of the way we envision the deception of money.

We’re in a state now where all this stuff has collapsed on us. You have guys walking around with Phantom Wealth who are now pushing carts down the street now. You have people who were worth so much money on paper now who are worth nothing. These are the kind of dynamics we have to watch. Not where we had been, because we will never have back what we had been. Who cares if we want to go back? Who cares if where we had been meant something? Because the past does mean something. But who we are as a fourth grade teacher. And I’m gonna end it there. Fourth grade teacher asked his fourth grade class, “What does it mean to be a human being.”

JML:
You know what is real wealth to me? My daughter.

DG:
My daughter, my grandson. “What does it mean to be a human being.” Thank you.

JML:
Thank you. And it was really an honor to talk to you.

So on the one hand, I understand that. And somewhat in a lay way, it’s restoring that movement. One of the major crises in this country is that the last effective legislation that labor won was the right to organize move than 75 years ago. So at every point in time, labor, the right to organize, the right to demand – I think the best citizens we have are people who belong to unions because not only do they fight on their behalf of their workplace but they fight on behalf of their community as well. They get decent jobs, I mean decent wages, respectable jobs, retirement, healthcare – all those particular things fall in that so you can’t section out a portion of what happened without knowing the other dynamics of it.

Everything from Taft-Hartley 1947/1948 onward – labor has been pounded, pounded, pounded. The number of people who are not unionized in this country is dramatic. It’s only 8 to 10% of people outside of the federal workforce who are not union. And everything is happening in terms of that. That’s had a major impact on the climate of labor. Plus what I talked about earlier about the de-industrialization of labor – sending jobs to cheaper markets where the labor is cheaper there. That is a major part.

JML:
That’s killing us.

DG:
But that’s been happening in the black community since the 1950s.

JML:
I agree with you 100%.

DG:
Detroit is a prime example. Why the riot? Nobody looks at the social, economic and political dynamics around the riot in Detroit in 1967.

JML:
Because nobody cares.

DG:
Nobody cares.

JML:
But they need to.

DG:
People need to understand that all these dynamics have a role in the play in a sense. So on one hand, what do you have? In the midst of all this, we this propaganda that says, “This is the best country in the world! You can do anything, you can buy anything you want.”

You show all this stuff to people and kids on TV who have nothing. All these people have nothing. What do you expect the people to do? If they can’t immerse themselves in it. And they can’t gravitate towards that. It’s impossible to something in which is considered to be illegal. Do they end up in jail? They end up in jail. But not the people who rip off who they are. Not the people who gain their wealth through thievery – legitimate legal thievery and everything else. So the whole is that when we look at this we have to understand that what happened. I’m not apologizing. It’s not a witch-hunt.

I grew up in California, I was raised in San Francisco, California. I grew up when California had one of the five best public schools, public education systems in the country. I grew up in that system right there. And what happened because of that? You talk about Proposition 13 that has passed which limited the amount of property taxes that can be levied against property, the percentages of that. All of a sudden, where did they take the hit? The took in education, the took the hit in social services, and they took the hit in terms of social services provided to senior citizens. Right then, boom! Proposition 13. And what it did was it saved the property owners a lot of money but they lost the tax base for school education and the federal government does not have a federal plan to fund education. The federal government has never been a federal plan for education in this whole country. All of that is designed for the state – and the state does what it does.

JML:
And the state mishandles it.

DG:
Well I think it takes a long time to whither away at values that people have.

May 1, 2009 at 7:15 pm Leave a comment

Top 10: Mistakes Men Make in Divorce

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By Jeffery M. Leving

It’s easy to make mistakes at the very beginning of the divorce process, especially if you’re dealing with someone who is highly manipulative, abusive or just plain irrational. Even if you are divorcing a reasonable person, it’s tough to think clearly and make the right initial decisions. Most people are so angry, upset or anxious at the end of their marriage that they’re not thinking logically about what they should do to protect themselves or their children from an unfair settlement.

In the past, the prevailing emotions during a divorce were usually sadness and regret. Today, anger is the dominant emotion: People are angry at their spouses, their spouses’ parents, at their spouses’ new partners, etc. All this anger translates into words and deeds that make the divorce process more costly, stressful, frustrating, lengthy, and an all out war. It doesn’t have to be that way, even if you are divorcing the most irrational of humans. Below are the 10 most common mistakes men make in divorce. If you can learn to place your emotions in check and avoid these mistakes, you can alleviate some of the pain that comes with any divorce.

#10Using Your Children as Pawns
Threatening to limit or deny visitation is a powerful threat, and it can terrify a parent who loves his child(ren). Often, parents who are the primary caregivers, but who lack the financial resources, feel that they must use this threat to gain sufficient financial support.

As painful as these threats are, do not respond in kind. Don’t issue threats of your own. Instead, recognize that in most cases, the truth will come out. If you’ve been a good, responsible parent, your spouse likely cannot deny you a chance to see your kids on a regular basis. More to the point, the court won’t allow it in most instances.

#9 – Thinking Romance First, Divorce Second
The most common factor that turns a normal divorce into an abnormally contentious one is bringing another woman into the mix. The situation is already potentially volatile, and all it takes is the mention that you have a new lover for your spouse to become infuriated.

There are several reasons you may want to announce your new relationship-revenge, one being to show her that someone finds you attractive and you’ve even found happiness. Try to keep a new relationship out of the conversations with your spouse and especially your children. The best decision is to wait until the divorce is concluded before you engage in a new relationship.

#8 – Allowing Your Spouse to Convince You to Not Hire An Attorney
If your spouse has hired a lawyer, you need to hire one quickly. If you don’t, you are an amateur playing against professionals. One underhand tactic is for a spouse’s attorney to offer to represent both parties to save time and money. Not only is it unethical, but it also creates a conflict of interest.

The process is designed to be adversarial, and there is no way a lawyer can fairly represent you both. The odds are that your spouse has something to hide or something she wants, and she knows that if you hire a lawyer it will be more difficult to achieve that goal.

#7 – Using Verbal Abuse
Just about everyone who gets a divorce argues. Not everyone, however, engages in continuous verbal battles in which threats and vile accusations become routine forms of communication. Being on the receiving end of this abuse is demoralizing, especially when the threats raise the possibility of physical harm to you or your children.

You need to discuss any threats of this type with your attorney, who can advise you on how to deal with them. Furthermore, if it is you who’s engaging in the verbal abuse, remember that your spouse can easily obtain an order of protection and any violation of this order can land you in jail. There is a myth that men do not endure verbal or even physical abuse from their spouses, but it is just a myth. Abuse is not gender specific.

#6 – Rubbing Salt In the Wound
If your goal is to avoid a court battle and the high costs that go with it, then you want to avoid any accusations of personality flaws. Be aware of your spouse’s sensitivities and avoid inflaming them. Compromise is the essence of divorce negotiations, and if you say and do things to encourage your spouse to dig in and be inflexible, you’re asking for a war.

No matter how much you despise your spouse; no matter how many ways you feel you’ve been wronged, don’t make a bad situation worse by identifying your spouse’s vulnerabilities when trying to reach a settlement. Always try to negotiate before you litigate.

#5 – Using a Difficult Attorney
Lawyers can turn good divorces into bad ones and bad divorces into nightmares. It’s not just divorcing spouses that are difficult. Certain lawyers are intent on churning fees, and they can cleverly manipulate situations to their financial advantage. The result is couples who will fight over the big and little things and invariably wind up in court and broke.

Do not fall for the myth that you have to find a take-no-prisoners attorney, someone who is ruthless and will use any tactic necessary to “win” the case. When there is one difficult attorney, the odds are the divorce will be costly and unpleasant. When there are two difficult attorneys, the divorce will be a total nightmare.

#4 – Becoming Passive
The last thing you want to do when your spouse announces she wants a divorce is to become completely acquiescent. Many people are manipulative, and if they think they can manipulate you into getting what they want out of the divorce, such as money, property or custody, they will do so.

If you are stunned or saddened, you may agree to anything and everything your spouse recommends. Don’t confuse passivity with being reasonable. My experience is that the shock of divorce soon wears off, and once it does, you’re much less vulnerable to making this mistake.

#3 – Arguing About Who Gets What
In most divorces where couples have been married for a number of years, disputes about property arise, and sometimes these arguments are perfectly understandable. These arguments, however, can become completely irrational and vengeance-based. I had a client say, “I would rather incur 10 times in legal fees what the painting costs than allow her to have it!”

These arguments can be draining emotionally (not to mention financially), but it helps to recognize that no matter how your spouse uses these objects in the bargaining process, the court generally divides property fairly if both parties have competent attorneys.

#2 – Serving Your Spouse with Divorce Papers in Embarrassing Places
Having an officer of the law serve your spouse at home or business should be reserved for cases where they refuse to file an appearance or accept service of process, or where great conflict exists between the two parties.

There is nothing more embarrassing than having a police officer serve you with papers at work, and nothing more unnerving than hearing the doorbell ring at 2 a.m. and seeing a policeman at the door (and having your neighbors see him as well).

If your spouse uses this tactic on you, as obnoxious as it may be, remain calm.

#1 – Responding to An Impending Divorce With Anger
The early stages of the divorce process can be a highly emotional time when people say things they do not mean or act in unusual or uncharacteristic ways. Divorces “blow up” legally when one person responds to anger with even greater anger, creating an escalating war of attrition that otherwise would have been a brief skirmish.

Therefore, allow a bit of time to pass before you do anything. Your spouse may settle down after blowing off some steam, and you can continue to move forward in a reasonable manner.

March 6, 2009 at 6:52 pm 1 comment

Military Service Costs Some Men Their Children

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By Jeffery M. Leving & Glenn Sacks

Laws granting deployed soldiers special protections against civil legal actions date back to the Civil War. However, few of these protections extend to family courts and family law. As a result, military men’s service to their country often creates the conditions under which they can become victims of terrible injustices. As America’s military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan persist, it is important to address the family law issues which military men and fathers face.

Some military men’s service costs them their children. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act provides that if a parent moves a child to a new state, that new state becomes the child’s presumptive residence after only six months. Because a normal military deployment is six months or more, if a military spouse moves to another state while her spouse is deployed, by the time the deployed spouse returns the child’s residence has been switched, and the spouse who moved the child is virtually certain to gain custody through the divorce proceedings in that new state.

The restrictions on military personnel’s ability to travel, the high cost of legal representation, and the financial hardships created by child support and spousal support obligations make it difficult for returning service personnel to fight for their parental rights in another state. Many struggle to even see their children, much less remain a meaningful part of their lives.

To solve the problem, the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003 (SCRA) (formerly known as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act) must be amended to specifically prohibit the spouses of active duty military personnel from permanently moving children to another state without the permission of the active duty military spouse or of a court. In addition, the UCCJEA needs to be modified to state that the presumption of new residence does not apply if the children are taken in this wrongful fashion.

Another family law problem for military fathers is paternity fraud. According to Carnell Smith, Executive Director of the National Family Justice Association, deployed soldiers are often “targeted and preyed upon” by unscrupulous “father shoppers” who falsely designate absent military men as the fathers of their newborns. He says:

“The military provides a steady, easily garnished income as well as medical care for the baby. It’s hard to contest paternity when you’re thousands of miles away and losing a good chunk of your income to child support. Sometimes the guy ends up on the hook for 18 years of child support simply because he served his country.”

Several states, including Illinois, Georgia, Maryland, and Ohio, have addressed the problem through legislation which allows putative fathers more time and greater judicial flexibility to challenge paternity findings.

A third family law problem exists for fathers who serve as reservists and who have child support orders. Support orders are based on civilian pay, which is generally higher than active duty pay. When called up, a reservist sometimes pays an impossibly high percentage of his income in child support, which hurts his current family. Because those who fall behind in child support are charged stiff interest and penalties, a returning reservist may spend years working to pay off arrearages incurred during his service overseas. Worse, some could even face arrest and incarceration.

Normally when an obligor loses his job or suffers a pay cut he can go to court and request a downward modification. However, since reservists are sometimes mobilized with as little as one day’s notice, few are able to obtain modifications before they leave. These soldiers cannot get relief when they return home because the federal Bradley Amendment prevents judges from retroactively forgiving support.

The solution is legislation like Missouri’s, which requires that reservists’ support obligations be automatically adjusted when they are called up for active duty. The Illinois legislature is currently considering a bill to address this issue.

Navy veteran Taron James, who has joined with 600 other victimized veterans and their families to form the activist group Veterans Fighting Paternity Fraud, believes the injustices caused by current domestic relations law constitute a breach of faith with military men and fathers. He says:

“It’s understood that when soldiers go off to serve they shouldn’t have to worry about being taken advantage of while they’re absent. Some of the guys making sacrifices abroad while being put through the ringer here at home must be wondering why they bothered.”
 

Glenn Sacks’ columns on men’s and fathers’ issues have appeared in dozens of America’s largest newspapers. Glenn can be reached via his website at www.GlennSacks.com or via email at Glenn@GlennSacks.com.

Jeff Leving is one of America’s most prominent family law attorneys. He is the author of Fathers’ Rights: Hard-hitting and Fair Advice for Every Father Involved in a Custody Dispute. Visit his website at www.DadsRights.com.

March 5, 2009 at 6:27 pm 1 comment

Immigrant Family Law Rights

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By Shahzad R. Khan, Esq.

People come to America seeking new opportunities, new ways of life, and seeking new forms of freedoms. They come with a certain understanding of America. But, they do not understand everything. They come with certain misconceptions that they heard from family members or friends who had previously made the journey. But the most common thing about all immigrants is that they come to America, or to any other new country, with a fear of the unknown.

When the pilgrims left for the new world, they feared what lied ahead. The immigrants who passed through Ellis Island had those same fears. And immigrants arriving today through JFK, O’Hare, LAX or any of the hundreds of ports of entry share many of the same fears as the first immigrants of this country did.

I know these fears, because both my parents were immigrants. I also know these fears because my wife is an immigrant. There is a real fear of the unknown. There is a fear about asking questions. There is a fear about taking action. And there is a great fear that if I do take action, there will be a penalty. Sometimes people from all sorts of cultural communities remain silent about an injustice because of the fear of retribution and the fear that if I ask questions or raise questions that scrutiny will be focused on me and that somehow my immigration status will be jeopardized.

Whether you are a green card holder, a person with asylum status, a person with refugee status or no status at all you do still have rights. You have human rights and rights under the laws of this country and its 50 states.

In family law, the area that I practice in, you have the following legal rights regardless of your immigration status:

Obtaining a Divorce: A divorce is the process by which two people terminate a marriage. Whether you were married in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or any other country in the world you can petition the court for a divorce in the State of Illinois or any of the other states where appropriate. Remember a person’s immigration status is usually irrelevant when seeking a divorce. There are technical issues that need to be considered before you file for divorce such as residency requirements for the individual state, issues pertaining to whether your current immigration status may be affected by divorce, and grounds necessary to dissolve the marriage. It is important that you consult an attorney before you make a decision to proceed in this direction.

Obtaining an Order of Protection: An Order of Protection is a court order that protects a person who has been abused physically, emotionally, or sexually by a family member, a former or current spouse or significant other or a member of the household. Orders of Protection are not only obtained for adults, but also for the protection of children. Again, no matter what your immigration status may be, there is no restriction in obtaining an order of protection for protection against domestic violence.

Paternity and Child Support: You have the right to determine whether you are the father of a minor child born out of wedlock. The process of determining fatherhood is done through the use of DNA testing of the mother, the alleged father and the child. If paternity is determined, meaning the alleged male is determined to be the father of the minor child, then the custodial parent of that child has the right to seek child support from the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent has the right to seek visitation, custody (joint or sole custody) to meet the best interests of the minor child. Again, no matter what your immigration status may be, there is no restriction on filing a petition to determine parentage and to establish parental rights.

Besides the rights stated above, there a numerous other rights that immigrants possess in not only family law but in other areas of law. The key here is to ask questions and not be afraid to ask for help. It is not what you know that can hurt you, but what you do not know. Therefore, study the legal system and educate yourself so you do not end up a target looking for an arrow. Should you need help in any family law matter or you just have some general questions, please contact Attorney Shahzad R. Khan at the Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving, Ltd., to discuss your rights.

March 4, 2009 at 6:50 pm Leave a comment

Resolving the Boys Crisis in Schools

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A recent Chicago Board of Education report showed that girls enjoy a 63-37% advantage over boys in gaining admittance to Chicago’s eight selective-enrollment college prep high schools. In response, Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan and top administrators at Jones, Whitney Young and Brooks prep schools are advocating that schools consider “gender weighting.”  Yet to balance the scales by employing admissions preferences is misguided.  What’s needed instead is a rethinking of the way we educate, beginning at the earliest levels.

Many healthy, energetic, intelligent boys are branded as having behavior problems as soon as they begin school, and are punished and put on Ritalin or other drugs so they will sit still. Little thought is given to two obvious questions: How could a six or seven year-old be “bad”? And how could so many boys need drugs to function in school? Because schools and classrooms do not fit their educational needs, many boys disengage from school long before they ever reach the prep school level.

Many modern educational practices are counterproductive for boys. Success in school is tightly correlated with the ability to sit still, be quiet and complete paperwork and assignments, which are sometimes of questionable value. A “get tough” mentality—under which teachers give excessive homework lest they appear uncommitted or weak—has become a substitute for educators actually having a sound reason for assigning all the work they assign.

Many young boys are bodily kinesthetic learners who respond to hands-on lessons. The educational establishment finds this inconvenient, and thus largely ignores it. 

The trend against competition and the promotion of cooperative learning strategies run counter to boys’ natural competitiveness and individual initiative. Lessons in which there are no right or wrong answers, and from which solid conclusions cannot be drawn, tend to frustrate boys, who often view them as pointless.

Efforts to make schools gentler and to promote women’s writing, while understandable, have pushed aside the action and adventure literature, which boys have treasured for generations. In their place are subtle, reflective works, which often hold little interest for boys.

The dearth of male teachers–particularly at the elementary level, where female teachers outnumber male teachers six to one–is a problem for boys. The average teacher is a well-meaning and dedicated woman who always did well in school and can’t quite understand why the boys won’t sit still, be quiet and do their work like the girls do. Instead, boys need strong, charismatic teachers who mix firm discipline with an understanding and good-natured acceptance of boyish energy. And though it’s rarely mentioned, most teachers are weighed down by paperwork and secretarial labor, which limits the time they can spend planning creative, hands-on, boy-friendly lessons. 

Recess and physical education time allotted during the day are insufficient for boys’ needs, and the trend has been to reduce this time rather than to increase it. Pervasive fear of lawsuits has turned educators into guards vigilant to prevent any manifestation of natural boyishness outside the classroom from becoming the school district’s latest legal settlement payout.

The deterioration of vocational education also hurts boys. U.S. Department of Education data show that these programs suffered a sharp decline from 1982 to 1992 and never recovered. Vocational classes once started low and middle achieving boys on the path to careers as skilled tradesmen. They have now often been replaced by an asinine yet pervasive mantra that defines as successful only those who go to college and become doctors or lawyers. This mantra often disrespects boys’ blue collar fathers, who also happen to be their primary role models. In fact, to suggest that a boy pursue a career working with his hands leaves a teacher open to charges of harming students by encouraging low expectations.

The boy crisis in our schools is more than an educational crisis—it is also a significant public health issue.  Nearly nine million prescriptions of Ritalin are written for American children each year, most of them for boys between the ages of six and 12. According to a federal expert advisory panel, 10% of 10 year-old American boys are on Ritalin or similar drugs. In February the panel, which reviewed several dozen reports of deaths, heart problems, and toxic reactions associated with these drugs, recommended they carry a prominent ‘black box’ warning, the strongest warning for prescription drugs.

The gender weighting currently being pondered by Chicago’s educational establishment wouldn’t begin to solve these problems. Nor would it address the wide gender disparities that exist among low and middle achieving students. Boys don’t need admissions preferences—they need a system which meets their educational needs.

Jeffery M. Leving is one of America’s most prominent family law attorneys. He is the author of the book Fathers’ Rights: Hard-hitting and Fair Advice for Every Father Involved in a Custody Dispute. His website is www.dadsrights.com.

Glenn Sacks’ columns on men’s and fathers’ issues have appeared in dozens of America’s largest newspapers. Glenn can be reached via his website at www.GlennSacks.com or via email at Glenn@GlennSacks.com.

March 4, 2009 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

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