Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Happiest Court on Earth

A family court judge in Arizona recently found the best way to deal with an ex-husband who opposed his ex-wife's request to take their children out of the state to Disneyland. Parents who have joint custody over children often are required to get the other parent's permission to take the children out of state. It seems that for this family in Arizona, the judge was wanting to send quite a message about putting the best interests of the child first, instead of petty fighting among parents. 

In granting the mother's request, the judge wrote "The Court cannot think of any good reason why any parent would refuse to agree in writing for his or her children to go to Disneyland... If in fact Father had refused Mother's travel requests, then Father's refusal for the sake of refusal is nothing more than a Mickey Mouse litigation tactic, and just plain Goofy." Well said, Judge!

Monday, August 12, 2013

So You Want To Name Your Child "Messiah" huh?

Perhaps you experienced some drama while naming your baby. Many of us have. Perhaps your mom didn't like the sound of "Ethel," or your wife didn't appreciate that you wanted to name your child the same name as an ex-girlfriend, etc. Whatever the case may be, it's never easy to pick a name out for a child. Some go to extreme lengths like hiring a focus group to test the name's success on (Anyone watch Bravo's "Pregnant in Heels?"). But can you imagine having a JUDGE change your baby's name!? 

Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew ordered  Jaleesa Martin's third child to change his name from "Messiah" to "Martin." Seven month old Messiah is now "Martin." Martin's parents were in court over what last name their son would go by, but when the magistrate heard the boy's first name, she changed it. Court ordered. Signed, sealed, delivered.

"It could put him at odds with a lot of people and at this point he has had no choice in what his name is," the magistrate explained. The magistrate declared that the name was a religious name and was earned by one person: Jesus Christ. 

On what constitutional basis is this magistrate making this determination? Is she deciding based on what she believes to be is in the best interest of the child? Never mind the fact that "Messiah" was number 4 among the fastest rising baby names of 2012. The mother is appealing. Read the article HERE.

What do you think? Should the court get to decide to change a child's name?

Monday, July 8, 2013

DOMA Decision

The Supreme Court’s first rulings on same-sex marriage was a heroic and historic achievement for gay rights. The Washington Post reported, "[I]n striking down a key part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the court declared that gay couples married in states where it is legal must receive the same federal health, tax, Social Security and other benefits that heterosexual couples receive."

The court, in a 5-4 decision, held that withholding federal recognition of same-sex married couples places them “in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage. The differentiation demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects . . . and whose relationship the State has sought to dignify.”

So if you are married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, and you move to another state that does not recognize the marriage, the federal benefits you qualify for are still available to you and your same-sex spouse. The decision stopped just shy of declaring the fundamental right to marry was being extended to same-sex couples. 

The decision by the court limits providing federal benefits to only those that are married. The Obama administration will not extend federal-worker benefits to domestic partners under the Supreme Court ruling, meaning the government will treat civil unions differently than legal same-sex marriages.

The Washington Post reports, "The Office of Personnel Management made that announcement in a series of memos to federal benefits administrators and insurance carriers, saying couples who are not legally married 'will remain ineligible for most federal benefits programs.' However, any existing benefits provided to domestic partners will remain intact, OPM said."

Here's a nice synopsis: Windsor v. United States.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pediatricians Say Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics said that it favors "civil marriage for same-gender couples - as well as full adoption and foster care rights for parents regardless of their sexual orientation..." The Academy also commented on it's opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). 

The new policy statement estimates same-gender couples are raising about 115,000 children in nearly every county in every state across the country. The technical report accompanying the policy change reads, "Many studies have demonstrated that children's well-being is affected much more by their relationships with their parents, their parents' sense of competence and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family than by the gender or sexual orientation of their parents."

The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement can be accessed HERE.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Domestic Violence PSA

I came across this domestic violence PSA tonight. It is haunting. The video is titled, "One Photo a Day in the Worst Year of My Life." The sign at the end reads, "Help me, I don't know if I can wait for tomorrow."