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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Split Ends: What Happens When the Rich Divorce

$plit ends By LINDA STASI Last Updated: 11:37 AM, March 29, 2011 Posted: 11:11 PM, March 28, 2011
The most shocking thing about tonight's quite interesting CNBC documentary, "Divorce Wars," is the discovery that for insanely greedy newly-rich people, a bad divorce will cost them even more than their out-of-control, million-dollar-plus weddings!

Correspondent Melissa Francis takes a look at some of the most repulsively fascinating -- and expensive -- divorces of recent times including the divorce of the guy who brought us PayPal, Elon Musk. According to divorce-attorney-to-the-rich Raoul Felder, now that we're in the age of no-fault community property splits, divorces are no longer about which spouses cheat -- but about how spouses try to cheat each other out of the shared assets. Take the Musks, for example. He and his future wife, Justine, met when they were in college. Shortly thereafter, they moved in together into a terrible college apartment with two roommates and three dogs. They got married after he struck it rich, and he had her sign a post-nup agreement. Eight years and five kids later, they split and then all hell broke loose. He was worth billions, and she had agreed to a $750,000 post-nup pay out. Fair? Wrong? Incredibly greedy? How much does one guy need?

Then, there's the infamous case of Margaret Spenlinhauer, the Connecticut housewife and mother of scores of kids whose very rich husband immediately seemed to suddenly be not very wealthy after they split up. It took 18 -- yes, 18 -- years for her to personally find the money he'd hidden. And his deception amounted to fraud -- a criminal offense. Another rich guy's wife snooped in his computer, opened his journal and discovered that he considered her an unfit mother. What did she do? Loaded up his computer with kiddie porn and then took it to her attorney. Millions of dollars and a federal investigation later revealed that she had loaded it all up during one week -- when he was out of town -- and then erased the memory so it couldn't be traced back to her. The result? It was so dastardly a deed that she even lost custody of her own kids.

But, seriously, what kind of idiot keeps a journal on his computer? A psycho, that's who.

As Felder says, "If you go into a marriage without a pre-nup, you don't need a lawyer, you need a psychiatrist."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Parental Rights of a Paralyzed Mother - Judge to Rule

LOS ANGELES — Even though Abbie Dorn was paralyzed giving birth to triplets, her parents say that doesn't mean she should be denied the right to hold her children and watch as they grow up — even though she can't eat, speak or move.

The parents have gone to court in an effort to persuade a judge that their daughter not only wants motherhood, but has a constitutional right to it as well. Her condition doesn't mean she loves her children any less than any other mother would love hers, they say.

But allowing three preschoolers to spend lengthy periods of time with a woman who can only lay motionless will traumatize them, argues their father, Dan Dorn. He has been raising the two boys and a girl as a single parent since the day he brought them home from the hospital nearly five years ago. He wants things to remain that way.

After hearing closing arguments from both sides Thursday, Superior Court Judge Frederick C. Shaller is expected to decide whether Dan Dorn must agree to grant his ex-wife regular visitation rights.

Ultimately, Shaller's ruling will likely only resolve the matter temporarily. A parental rights lawsuit brought by Abbie Dorn's parents, Paul and Susan Cohen of South Carolina, is expected to take place later.

The tragic events that led all parties to Shaller's courtroom this week began on what should have been the happiest day of Abbie Dorn's life. That was June 20, 2006, when she left for the hospital to give birth to her sons Reuvi and Yossi and their sister Esti.

The first two births took place without incident, but as a doctor was delivering Yossi he accidentally nicked Dorn's uterus. Before doctors could stop the bleeding, her heart had stopped, a defibrillator they used malfunctioned and her brain was deprived of oxygen.

A year later her husband, believing she would never recover, divorced her and is raising their children at his Los Angeles home. Her parents, meanwhile, took her to their Myrtle Beach, S.C., home where they are caring for her. As the conservators of her estate, they also manage her malpractice settlement of nearly $8 million.

They want her ex-husband to bring the children there for regular visits.

Until a four-day visit last December, Dan Dorn had not done so. His ex-wife's parents say that was the first chance she had to hold her children since the day they were born.

Both sides agreed in court last week that the visit went well and the children would like to see their mother again.

But their father wants to limit their interaction to avoid traumatizing them. He noted that his ex-wife can't speak and he believes she isn't aware of her surroundings.

Abbie Dorn's mother disagrees. She says her daughter expresses her emotions when she smiles or cries and that she communicates with others by blinking her eyes. One long blink means yes. No response to a question means no.

When a Los Angeles Times reporter visited her last year and asked if she wanted to see her children, Dorn responded with a long, firm blink.

The Times reported that neurologist Dr. Angela Hays, who examined Abbie Dorn, testified that she can perceive sounds and images. "She does perform an eye blink maneuver to attempt to signal yes or no answers," Hays said, although "it was difficult for me to get her to do that reliably."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dwayne Wade Wins Custody Battle

MIAMI — When the Miami Heat ended practice Sunday, Dwyane Wade went home to his sons.

That will be a regular event going forward.

Ending a long and often-vengeful fight, a Chicago court has awarded Wade sole "care, custody and control" of his two sons. The boys arrived in Miami on Friday, shortly after the ruling was filed, and Wade told The Associated Press that "a huge weight is off my back."

"My life changed in a huge way," Wade told the AP. "Mentally, I've been preparing for it for over a year now. To me, it's bigger than that. For me, it shows a lot of people that you need to fight to be in your kids' lives sometimes. You fight until you can't fight any more. That's all I was trying to be, a father in his kids' lives."

Wade did not immediately announce the decision after receiving word Friday, trying to make sure that his sons fully understood what it meant first. Teammates, informed of the ruling in a locker room meeting on Saturday after Miami's victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, gave him a rousing ovation.

Wade had one of his finest all-around efforts of the season Saturday: 28 points, nine assists, five rebounds and five blocked shots.

It may not have been a coincidence.

"I heard the best news I could possibly hear," Wade said. "So I was like, 'I'm going to go out there and play free and enjoy it.'"

Wade's divorce was granted last June, after a lengthy separation. The financial portion of the divorce remains unsettled.

The boys' mother, Siohvaughn Wade, will have what the court described as "regular parenting time" on alternating weekends in Miami, as well as several other times during the year, including Mother's Day. Dwyane Wade has also repeatedly said that he wants his sons to have healthy relationships with their mother.

Still, the 102-page ruling had some sharp words for Wade's ex-wife.

"This court finds that (Siohvaughn Wade) has embarked on an unstoppable and relentless pattern of conduct for over two years to alienate the children from their father, and lacks either the ability or the willingness to facilitate, let alone encourage, a close and continuing relationship between them," read a portion of the ruling entered by Judge Renee G. Goldfarb.

Wade's attorney, James Pritikin, said the custody trial "was one of the longest ever in Cook County history."

Wade filed the motion asking for sole custody nearly a year ago, though the legal tussle has gone on considerably longer.

He and his ex-wife separated in August 2007 and it took Wade years to get the divorce, a process that was slowed by his ex-wife often changing attorneys. He also sued Siohvaughn Wade for defamation after she made unfounded allegations against him in 2009 – claims she eventually withdrew.

More claims against Dwyane Wade followed during the custody case, including that he was abusive to his children. The court found them all to be baseless.

"The court agreed the best home is with Mr. Wade and that he is also willing to foster a relationship with the children's mother," Pritikin said. "I know he will continue to be a phenomenal parent."

The court acknowledged that Wade's schedule as a professional athlete is "demanding," given the rigors of training camp, preseason, an 82-game regular season and then the playoffs.

"Is every day the same? No. Is it consistent? No," Goldfarb's ruling read. "But, to posit that (Dwyane Wade) does not have the time to be a primary parent is incorrect. He has the time if he makes the time."

Wade said all the measures are in place for as smooth a transition for his sons as possible. A school for the boys has been selected, and a plan for child-care was presented to the court, which found it acceptable.

"We had to have that, nanny care, everything already booked and planned out," Wade said. "That's the easy part."

The court ruling also had some other interesting items, including Siohvaughn Wade's contention that Dwyane Wade could have found employment in Chicago, where she has lived with the boys.

Wade met with the Chicago Bulls twice last summer when he was a free agent, but according to the ruling, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf never met with Wade, nor did the team ever present the 2006 NBA finals MVP with a contract offer.

The ruling also states that Wade is on the U.S. roster for the 2012 London Olympics. Wade played with the U.S. team at the Athens Games in 2004 and the Beijing Games in 2008, but has not yet said publicly if he definitively plans to play at the London Games.

Wade told the AP that the waiting for the ruling has been difficult, and expressed again Sunday a desire for his ex-wife to "play a healthy role" in the boys' lives.

"I'm not going to say, 'OK, I won,'" Wade said. "I think them living here, being here, it's a great opportunity for them and I'm looking forward to it for them, to grow up with me and us learning together, how to be father-son. So I'm excited."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The 7-year itch is now the 3-year glitch

3 Year Glitch?

LONDON (Reuters) – The "three-year glitch" has replaced the "seven-year itch" as the tipping point where couples start to take each other for granted, according to a new survey.

Weight gain, stinginess, toe-nail clippings on the bathroom floor and snoring are a few of the passion-killers that have led to a swifter decline in relationships in the fast-paced 21st century, said the study commissioned by Warner Brothers to promote the release of comedy film "Hall Pass" in UK cinemas.

The survey of 2,000 British adults in steady relationships pinpointed the 36-month mark as the time when relationship stress levels peak and points to a new trend of "pink passes" and "solo" holidays away from partners and spouses that many Britons resort to in order to keep romance alive.

"Longer working hours combined with money worries are clearly taking their toll on modern relationships and we are seeing an increasing trend for solo holidays and weekends away from marriages and relationships in order to revive the romantic spark," said pollster Judi James who oversaw the survey.

The poll compared feedback from those in short-term relationships (defined as less than three years) and people who were married or in longer-term partnerships.

The findings showed that 67 percent of all of those surveyed said that small irritations which are seemingly harmless and often endearing during the first flushes of love often expand into major irritations around 36 months.

More than half of the Brits surveyed (52 percent) who were in younger relationships said they enjoyed sexual relations at least three times a week, compared to just 16 percent of those in relationships older than three years.

This suggests that as we get older together, romance gives way to day to day practicalities, supported by the fact that 55 percent of busy people in longer-term relationships admit that they now have to "schedule" their romantic time.

The report also said that those in the first flush of love can look forward to an average of three compliments a week from their partners - a figure which falls to an average of a single weekly compliment at the three-year high tide mark.

The prognosis gets worse the longer we stay in relationships, three in 10 of those surveyed that have been in a relationship for five years or more said that they never receive any compliments from their partners.

The findings also showed that more than three quarters (76 percent) of all people surveyed responded that "individual space was important" within a relationship and pointed to a rise of individual activities.

A third (34%) of those who have been seeing their partners for longer than three years have at least two evenings a month defined as a "pass" or a "ticket" where it is accepted that they can pursue their own interests and 58 percent of the same sample group enjoy regular holidays without their partners.

The top 10 everyday niggles and passion-killers:

1. Weight gain/lack of exercise, 13 percent;

2. Money & Spend thriftiness, 11 percent;

3. Anti-social working hours, 10 percent;

4. Hygiene issues (personal cleanliness), 9 percent;

5. In-Laws/extended family - too much/too little, 9 percent;

6. Lack of romance (sex, treats etc.), 8 percent;

7. Alcohol - drinking too much, 7 percent;

8. Snoring & anti social bedtime habits, 6 percent;

9. Lapsed fashion-Same old underwear/clothes, 4 percent;

10. Bathroom habits - Stray nail cuttings etc., 4 percent.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Japan and Child Abductions

How Did Japan Become a Haven for Child Abductions?
By Lucy Birmingham / Tokyo

UPDATED: 03/07/2011

Like any loving father, Christopher Savoie just wanted to do the best thing for his two kids. In August 2009, his Japanese ex-wife broke U.S. law and abducted their children from his home in Tennessee, moving them to Japan. But when Savoie went to get them weeks later, he was arrested. It didn't matter that he had legal custody in both countries; that she had violated a U.S. court order or that there was a U.S. warrant issued for her arrest. Nor did the fact that Savoie was a naturalized Japanese citizen and fluent in Japanese make a difference. After 18 days in jail, Savoie returned to the U.S. empty handed and broken hearted. A year and half has now passed, and he is still unable to see his son and daughter, now 10 and 8.

Despite all this, Savoie's ex-wife is beyond the reach of international law. Japan has not signed the Hague Convention on the Prevention of Child Abduction, an international accord adopted by 84 nations and aimed at returning abducted children back to the country from which they were taken. Along with an increasing number of international marriages and divorces, child abductions to Japan - the only G7 nation that has not signed the treaty - have been on the rise. In 2009, the State Department ranked Japan at the top of its list in reported abductions from the U.S. among non-signatory nations. "It is our understanding that no U.S. citizen child abducted to Japan has been returned to the United States," says Paul Fitzgerald, a U.S. Embassy official in Tokyo. The issue could tarnish U.S.-Japan relations; as Assistant Sec. of State Kurt Campbell told reporters during a trip to Tokyo in February, "The situation has to be resolved in order to ensure that the U.S.-Japan relations continue on such a positive course."

Japan's antiquated domestic family law complicates matters. In a Japanese divorce, child custody is awarded to only one parent - typically the mother. Visitation can be negotiated but there is no legal enforcement and agreements are often broken. In Japan, it's not unusual for the non-custodial parent to lose contact with their child, and domestic abductions, when they do occur, are often ignored by the police as a family matter. It's a devastating scenario for a growing number of fathers residing in Japan - both Japanese and foreign - who have few legal rights to see their children. "Clearly, the best legal scenario is for the children is to be here in the U.S. where each parent would be guaranteed visitation," writes Savoie by email.

International pressure for Japan to make a change has been mounting. Over the past year, several ambassadors from embassies in Tokyo have met with high-level government officials to urge Japan to sign the convention. A Japanese government panel was set up in January to study the pros and cons, but opposition remains firm at most levels. Japanese lawmakers are worried the Hague Convention does not properly take into account past cases of domestic abuse in demanding a child's repatriation, or a child's own right to choose where they live. "This is why Switzerland tried to amend the treaty, even though it is a signatory," explains Kensuke Ohnuki, a Tokyo attorney who has represented several women who have abducted children from foreign countries to Japan. "They failed. So instead, they made their own new law which enables the Swiss court to refuse the return of a child when it's against the child's will."

On Feb. 22, the Japan Bar Association issued similar Hague recommendations to the government, including a guarantee in domestic law that children not be returned to their country of residence if they had been subjected to abuse or violence. Left-behind parents, including Christopher Savoie, have said the recommendations are draconian and anti-joint custody, in part because abuse is both difficult to prove and is commonly cited as one of the main reasons for abduction.

One of Ohnuki's clients, who uses the alias Keiko, says she left the U.S. with her child because she discovered her husband was abusing their son. "There were no obvious physical marks so it would have been impossible to prove in court," Keiko explains tearfully. After consulting a therapist and an attorney in the U.S., she feared getting sole custody as a Japanese citizen would be nearly impossible. "When we were in Japan, my son told me he feels safe, far away from his father... I didn't really want to leave the U.S. I had a good job and many friends. But I wanted to do what was best for my son." Keiko is now one of about 50 members of the Safety Network for Guardians and Children, a support group for women who have abducted their children to Japan from various countries.

Finding a internationally recognized legal resolution to cases like Keiko's will not be easy. But in the meantime, Japanese mothers living abroad who have no intention of removing their children from their families are also beginning to be affected by the problem. Jeremy Morley, a U.S. attorney specializing in Japanese child abductions says that foreign courts are "increasingly ordering Japanese mothers living overseas not to take their children to Japan even for a family visit because of Japan's status as a renowned haven for international child abduction."

A winning diplomatic strategy will need teeth to make a difference for everyone involved. "The mantra now is 'Japan sign the Hague', but that's not enough," U.S. Rep. Chris Smith said during a recent trip to Tokyo. The Republican New Jersey congressman, who is also the chairman of a subcommittee overseeing human rights issues, is pushing for a bill that would establish an Office of International Child Abductions within the U.S. State Department to handle cases like these and discuss sanctions against uncooperative nations. "I don't know what the answer is," says Keiko. "But we need to find a solution that's in the best interest of the child."

Photo: Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP / Getty Images