Features

Ark.: Current justices should hear marriage case

Arkansas' highest court ruled Thursday that its current lineup of justices should decide whether to legalize gay marriage in the state, which could clear the way for a decision that has been delayed for months by an unusually public split on the court. The state Supreme Court ruled that Justice Rhonda Wood, who took office in January, should participate in the case, not Special Justice Robert McCorkindale, who was appointed by former Gov. Mike Beebe last year and who heard oral arguments in November.

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N.J. suit: No automatic license suspensions over child support

A new class action lawsuit seeks to end the automatic suspensions of driver's licenses held by parents in New Jersey who are behind on child support payments. The suit filed late last week claims such suspensions are unconstitutional, contrary to the "clearly expressed legislative intent" and "obviously counter-productive." It was filed in state Superior Court by David Perry Davis, a Pennington-based attorney, and names four plaintiffs who have had their licenses suspended.

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Parents never married: Biological dad gets custody, parenting time, Mich. appeals court agrees (access required)

A trial court properly awarded a biological father parenting time with and joint legal custody of the unmarried parties’ child, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled in a 2-1 published decision. Paternity testing determined that the child, MP, was the plaintiff’s biological daughter. The defendant mother had given birth to MP shortly after marrying another man, who was the child’s presumed father under Michigan law. The plaintiff later filed an action for custody and parenting time in Berrien County Circuit Court.

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Minn. lawmaker wants ‘sea change’ in divorce law (access required)

Ten years ago, when state Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, and his then-wife were ending their marriage, they decided to negotiate the terms themselves, and, in his telling, they were able to forge compromises on contentious issues such as parenting time and child support. But while Lesch is a lawyer, he said he knew his day job as a prosecutor in St. Paul hardly made him expert in matters of family law, so he and his soon-to-be former wife agreed to bring in an outside attorney to take a look at the proposal. According to Lesch, that decision put an end to the congeniality. Both spouses lawyered up, and soon the motions were flying, as were the recriminations. “It was harrowing, it was emotional, it was difficult and it was expensive,” said Lesch of the divorce.

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Conn. teen who fought cancer treatment heading home from hospital

A 17-year-old Connecticut girl forced by the courts to undergo chemotherapy for her cancer has finished that treatment and was expected to be released Monday from the hospital. The teen, identified only as Cassandra C, told The Associated Press in a text message that she likely would be discharged from the Connecticut Children's Medical Center on Monday afternoon. "I'm at a loss for words with how happy I am that I'm finally coming home," she said. "This day seemed like it would never come. I can finally start putting my life back together, and I look forward to spending time with my mom, friends and heading back to school/work."

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Rabbi in forced-divorces case convicted of kidnap conspiracy (access required)

An Orthodox rabbi accused of using brutal tactics to force unwilling Jewish men to divorce their wives was convicted this week of conspiracy to commit kidnapping. But the federal jury in Rabbi Mendel Epstein's case rendered a mixed verdict Tuesday, acquitting him of attempted kidnapping. Epstein's son was acquitted of conspiracy and kidnapping counts. Two other rabbis were convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted kidnapping.

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Mich. court debuts dedicated parenting-time docket (access required)

A specialized docket devoted exclusively to parenting-time issues is now up and running in Michigan's Wayne County Circuit Court, saving parties both time and money. A similar docket was in place several years ago but fell to the wayside when the presiding referee retired, according to Wayne Circuit Court Administrator Zenell B. Brown. The docket has been resurrected, she said, because it has been taking too long for parenting-time issues to be resolved. “When we scheduled motions across the board for all referees, they ended up coming after child-support issues and other filings, and people were having to wait a long time for a court date,” Brown said. “The judges were getting upset because parties were sometimes waiting 12 weeks for a parenting-time motion to be heard.”

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Mich. high court: Biological dad can’t revoke parentage affidavit (access required)

A trial court properly denied a biological father’s motion to revoke an affidavit of parentage that the child’s mother and her long-term partner had signed, the Michigan Supreme Court has decided. In Helton v. Beaman, the Supreme Court said it agreed with the Court of Appeals that In re Moiles, 303 Mich. App. 59 (2013), wrongly held that a trial court is not required to make a best interest determination under 722.1443(4) when deciding whether to revoke an affidavit of parentage.

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Mich. divorce cases raise ‘dirty laundry’ concerns (access required)

A sole practitioner trying to boost his divorce practice regularly visits trial court websites to take a look at the divorce complaints. He then sends letters to the non-filers, hoping to get them as new clients. On several occasions, the letters have notified non-filers of the divorce proceedings before the filers have been able to break the news. And in some cases where domestic violence is alleged, the letters have tipped off non-filers, making it nearly impossible for the filers to get away unscathed.

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