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Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Woman Should Have These Things

To celebrate the release of Sex and the City the Movie, I thought I would write an inspirational message to all women out there - single, married, or divorced...

This is a poem by Pamela Redmond Satran (not Maya Angelou, as if oft thought)...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE . . .enough money within her control to move outand rent a place of her own, even if she never wants to or needs to…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE. . . something perfect to wear if the employer, or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE. . . a youth she’s content to leave behind….

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE. . . a past juicy enough that she’s looking forward toretelling it in her old age….

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE. . .a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE. . . one friend who always makes her laugh… and one who lets her cry…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE. . .a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE. . .eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal, that will make her guests feel honored…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE . . .a feeling of control over her destiny. . .

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW . . .how to fall in love without losing herself.

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…how to quit a job, break up with a lover, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship…


EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…that she can’t change the length of her calves,the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents..

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…that her childhood may not have been perfect…but its over…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…what she would and wouldn’t do for love or more…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…how to live alone… even if she doesn’t like it…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW..whom she can trust, whom she can’t, and why she shouldn’t take it personally…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…where to go…be it to her best friend’s kitchen table…or a charming inn in the woods…when her soul needs soothing…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…what she can and can’t accomplish in a day…a month…and a year…

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Marriage Advice from a Divorce Lawyer

My disclaimers:

I have been practicing law for over eight (8) years, over five (5) years of which I specialized in divorce and family law.

I have been married for almost a year.

Based on my background, I will share with you the secrets of having an everlasting marriage. Remember, good tips are specific. I can tell you to communicate, don't go to bed angry, be honest, be loyal, blah blah blah...but blanket statements, in my opinion, are not really helpful. Also, everything should be taken with a grain of salt. (I've only been married for a year - what do I know?)

1. Before you marry, define marriage with your to-be. WHAT does marriage mean to you? Here is a good tip. MARRIAGE IS FOREVER. It's not temporary, not "just for now", not "until he does something horrible". NO. It's forever. Before you enter in the sacred bond of marriage, you both need to understand that. If you have a fear of commitment, get over it, or stay single. If both of you have been married before, understand and accept that statistics has you pegged at 60% likelihood of getting divorced again. Discuss that. CONQUER your fears. Get a Prenuptial Agreement .

2. Discuss the tough, nasty topics that people tell you NOT to talk about. Yes, that's right. Talk about your ex'es, your seedy past, your addictions, fears, past arrests - whatever you are hiding, TALK ABOUT IT. I mean, I probably wouldn't do on the first couple of dates, but somewhere between that and engagement, you should definitely have an unveiling of all the crap that is out there. Here is a tip: EVERYONE has crap. Just because your crap is different than his crap, doesn't mean you are incompatible. As Leo Tolstoy said, "“What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.” And by the way, fighting is GOOD, if it's done right. I have learned that just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other. And just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do. (More on this later).

Discussing taboo subjects will reveal your true tolerance for the person. Let's face it, time will reveal lots of things. But if you can expedite the process, why not do it before entering into forever?

3. Cherish your status as "eternal lovers, more than friends". I cannot count how many clients have uttered this line to me, "We love each other, but we are not in love." I empathize with that sentiment. I really do. But seriously, you're ending your marriage with a cliche excuse? Here is news for you - you and your spouse SHOULD BE the best of friends. That's expected. But, if you don't cherish your status as always "more than just friends", your marriage may be in trouble. There are many ways to remain as intimate as you were in the first two months of courtship, or even the first two years. Be affectionate towards each other. For some, that means taking out the garbage. For others, that means buying jewelry. For my husband and me, this means hugging and kissing every day. Whatever it is, find it. Don't ever lose your status as "eternal lovers, more than friends".

On that note, I read an article about Sexual Incompatibility. If your sex life is unfulfilling, TALK ABOUT IT. Sex is a taboo topic that NEEDS to be discussed, per my Advice Tip #2. If you are both honest and open, and keep an open-mind, any weirdness in the bedroom should be resolved. When you talk, you will realize that a lot of sexual problems stem from emotional roadblocks. I am a licensed attorney, NOT a psychotherapist, so I cannot tell you HOW to talk about it. Just do it.

4. Find a higher meaning to life (including your marriage), and share it with your spouse. In this world, nothing is certain except for death and taxes. You can never truly depend on someone - and that doesn't mean they don't love you. It only means that they are human. The sooner you accept that in people, especially your spouse, the happier your life will be. So, therein lies the dilemma: how do you reconcile my advice #3 with advice #4? How can you accept fault and still retain intimacy? I actually don't know the answer to that. But I can tell you that our faith has helped my marriage greatly. I believe that sharing a faith strengthens marriage. Yes, statistics out there do show that Christian couples have the same divorce statistics as non-Christians. And I am not, in any way, selling Christianity as the answer to a solid marriage. (Ha! I've handled several Christian divorces). I just know, from my professional and personal life, that you have to have a higher focus than what is in this life. I encourage struggling couples to seek counseling, and to find a faith. It doesn't matter whether it's Jewish, Muslim, Buddhism - just find a faith. Many problems in marriage arise because people don't understand themselves and their stances on some of the major issues in life. If you don't know what you believe in, how do you understand a completely different person?

5. Rule out divorce as an option. I didn't say murder. Just divorce.

Remember, marriage is grand! Divorce is ten grand. (If you're lucky. Over 60% of my cases end up billing over $15,000).

So, five (5) tips for now. I may pipe in with more later. And for those who want more sage advice, I highly recommend the book Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years or More . You can buy it on Amazon.com!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage

With the advent of more marriages happening in the near future, I thought I would take some time now to research the divorce statistics. Interestingly enough, the Maldives (touted as paradise on earth) tops the charts as the "Divorce Capital of the World". Allegedly, all you need to accomplish a divorce in this Muslim nation is for the husband to say to the wife, "I divorce you" three times. See Article.

The divorce rate per every 1000 people is a whopping 10.97% in the Maldives! Here are the rest of the Top 10, followed by Belarus (4.65%); USA (4.19%); Panama (3.82%); Russia (3.66%); Estonia (3.65%); Puerto Rico (3.61%); Ukraine (3.59%); Costa Rica (3.58%); and Cuba (3.54%). See Statistics .

Here are some other noteworthy statistics, all derived from the Americans for Divorce Reform website .

* 43% of first marriages end within 15 years.

* Red states have a divorce rate 27% higher than blue states.

* 75% of all divorced people re-marry, half of them within three years.

* 65% of new marriages fail.

* Roughly 1 in 5 adults has ever divorced; First marriages that end in divorce last about 8 years, on average.

* Marriages are most susceptible to divorce in the early years of marriage. After 5 years, approximately 10% of marriages are expected to end in divorce - another 10% (or 20 % cumulatively) are divorced by about the 10th year after marriage. However, the 30% level is not reached until about the 18th year after marriage while the 40% level is only approached by the 50th year after marriage.

* Seven-year itch? Try TWO! According to research, they are far more likely to separate after about two years of marriage. One in 12 couples is heading for the divorce courts after 24 months - more than double the figure for seven years.

* Divorced men and women suffer to a much greater degree than married persons early death from cancer, cardiovascular disease, strokes, pneumonia, hypertension, and suicide. According to researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health, "The single most powerful predictor of stress-related physical, as well as emotional, illness is marital disruption."'

* Children of divorce are twice as likely to drop out of school as those from intact homes, three times as apt to have a baby out of wedlock, five-fold more likely to be in poverty and 12 times more apt to be incarcerated. Judith Wallerstein followed 100 children of divorce for 25 years after parental divorce. Only 60 of the 100, now aged 27-43, had ever married vs. 84 percent of those from intact families. And 25 of the 60 had already divorced, leaving only a third who built lasting marriages.

* Living in sin? Suffer the consequences. Unmarried cohabitations overall are extremely unstable. The probability of a first marriage ending in separation or divorce within 5 years is 20%, but the probability of a premarital cohabitation breaking up within 5 years is 49%. After10 years, the probability of a first marriage ending is 33%,compared a whopping 62%! for cohabitations.

* On the same note, there is a higher risk, 40% to 85%, of divorce between couples cohabiting before marriage than couples waiting until after marriage to share a home together.

So I guess it's true ... why buy the milk when you can get the cow for free?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

California Legalizes Gay Marriage

California Supreme Court overturns gay marriage ban

Associate Justice Carlos R. Moreno, Associate Justice Joyce L. Kennard, Associate Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, Chief Justice Ronald M. George, Associate Justice Ming W. Chin, Associate Justice Marvin R. Baxter, and Associate Justice Carol A. Corrigan.

In a 4-3 ruling, the justices rule that state marriage laws are unconstitutional.
By Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer 10:40 AM PDT, May 15, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO -- -- The California Supreme Court ruled today that same-sex couples should be permitted to marry, rejecting state marriage laws as discriminatory.The state high court's 4-3 ruling was unlikely to end the debate over gay matrimony in California. A group has circulated petitions for a November ballot initiative that would amend the state Constitution to block same-sex marriage, while the Legislature has twice passed bills to authorize gay marriage. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed both.

The ruling
Same-sex weddings can't be, Presbyterians decide
Gay-marriage ban won't go to voters
Same-sex unions OKd by Assembly

The long-awaited court decision stemmed from San Francisco's highly publicized same-sex weddings, which in 2004 helped spur a conservative backlash in a presidential election year and a national dialogue over gay rights.Several states have since passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. Today, 27 states have such amendments.The reaction to today's ruling outside the courthouse in San Francisco was one of jubilation as couples, once denied marriage, hugged, kissed, shouted and shook their fists at the sky. Holding up a sign that says, "Life feels different when you're married," Helen Pontac said she was beyond words.

"Oh, wow," she said. "It felt so good when we got married in San Francisco. This feels better."She hugged her partner Shelly Bailes. "The best day of my life was when I met Helen," Bailes said. "This was as good as that."Both women said they have been together for 34 years. Added Bailes, "This feels good for us. But I can't imagine what it means for all those young couples with their entire lives ahead of them."Pontac shook her fist at the sky. "We got a bottle of champagne on ice."A few feet away, Kate Kendell, executive director of National Center for Lesbian Rights, was mobbed by reporters and well-wishers."As of today, the right to marry is now guaranteed to anyone," she said. "All I know is that we won."At his home in Toluca Lake, Jim Smith a parent and part of a same-sex relationship, also rejoiced. "I'm ecstatic," said Smith, 40, chief technology officer for an online advertising agency. "I think this is the beginning of the end of ostracism, bullying, and all the things that used to make people feel less human than others."Opponents of same-sex-marriage had a much different reaction.Ron Prentice, executive director of the Sacramento and Riverside-based California Family Council, said the group was "not surprised by the ruling, though extremely disappointed."He said the group expects "that with the November ballot we will have the opportunity for the people of California to once again define marriage as only between a man and a woman and this time place it into California's constitution which would strengthen it and keep it out of the hands of the courts.""We have not been able to count on the legislature or the courts of California to adhere to the will of the people," Prentice said. "This is yet another example why the people need to go to the polls in November to defend the historic and natural definition of marriage."After a month of jubilant same-sex weddings here, the California Supreme Court intervened and ordered the city to stop issuing licenses to gay couples. The court later invalidated the documents and declined to address the constitutionality of a state ban on same-sex marriage until lower courts acted first. Today’s ruling by the Republican-dominated court affects more than 100,000 same-sex couples in the state, about a quarter of whom have children, according to U.S. census figures. It came after high courts in New York, Washington and New Jersey refused to extend marriage rights to gay couples. Before today, only Massachusetts' top court has ruled in favor of permitting gays to wed.Gay rights lawyers won an early victory in the dispute when a San Francisco trial judge decided in 2005 that gays should be permitted to wed. An appeals court later overturned that decision on a 2-1 vote, ruling that only the Legislature or the voters could change California's traditional definition of marriage.Lawyers in favor of same-sex marriage argued that the law discriminated on the basis of both gender and sexual orientation.

Opponents countered that the ban was gender-neutral, barring both women and men from marrying members of their own sex. They also argued that people could be treated differently because of their sexual orientation if there was a rational basis for it.In 2000, 61% of California voters approved Proposition 22, which said that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California."

Since the ballot measure, California has passed one of the strongest domestic partnership laws in the country, giving registered same-sex couples most of the rights of married people.The plan by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, City Atty. Dennis Herrera and gay rights lawyers to challenge state marriage laws by wedding same-sex couples was carefully considered.City officials chose the first couples to wed, hoping their long unions and sympathetic stories would put a face on same-sex marriage that courts would find difficult to reject. The city also decided to begin the weddings on a day when courts were closed to deprive opponents of quick legal intervention.

One of the first couples to wed, the lead plaintiffs in San Francisco's lawsuit challenging marriage laws, has since separated and is no longer part of the case.The long parade of weddings fours years ago -- at City Hall and across the street from the California Supreme Court -- provided a dramatic backdrop for the gay rights debate.Young gay fathers with babies strapped to their chests, lesbian couples with children and elderly gay couples who had been together for decades celebrated their unions while passersby honked their horns and friends threw rice and popped champagne corks. Protesters also showed up, carrying signs and denouncing the newlyweds.Before today's ruling, gay rights lawyers predicted a victory in the California Supreme Court would help them defeat the proposed constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, which the lawyers expect to qualify for the November ballot. A loss in the court would have helped the backers of the measure, they said.The California Supreme Court has six Republican appointees and one Democrat. Scholars have described the court under the leadership of Chief Justice Ronald M. George as cautious and moderately conservative.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Britney Spears Making Headway on Custody Case

Britney Gets More Time With the Lil' Ones!
Posted May 6th 2008 3:59PM by TMZ Staff
Britney Spears has gained more visitation of her two young sons, Sean Preston and Jayden James -- though how much more is unclear.K-Fed's attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, said after the court hearing today that he wouldn't talk about the custodial timeshare between Brit and K-Fed -- except to say that it is "more than it has been." Kaplan said the modifications to custody made today will be implemented "in the near future" and Kevin's "goal and his hope is his children will have the benefit of having two parents participating actively in their lives."Jamie and Lynne Spears released a statement that says they were "so pleased with Britney's progress" and "very appreciative" of the court's recognition of her progress.

And here I am, discussing the latest custody finding with Chris Harrison of Hollywood 411, on the TV Guide Channel.