February 2008 Archives

February 28, 2008

Ex-Governor McGreevey's Divorce Still Going On

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The Advocate recently ran an Associated Press story with a headline saying that former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey's divorce from his wife, Dina McGreevey, has lasted "longer than the couple's marriage did." The math leaves a bit to be desired: the McGreeveys were married in October 2000 and split in November 2004, so that's a shade more than four years, and they've been separated for three years and three months.

But the point is well taken -- especially when you also read that Mr. McGreevey has already spent over $400,000 on the divorce and may double that before the trial, scheduled for May, is over. Still, there's a bit of comfort in knowing that the McGreeveys are in the minority. About 95 percent of divorcing couples settle their cases before trial, usually long before they've used up the kind of resources that have been squandered in this case.

Of course, the couple's young daughter is undoubtedly the biggest victim of her parents' inability to agree -- they even fight over whether and when dad can throw her a birthday party. This case is just another object lesson in why it's better to take the high road, put your kids first, give a little, and get the divorce done.

February 14, 2008

Win a Divorce on the Radio! What Will They Think of Next?

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A West Virginia rock station is celebrating Valentine's Day by giving away a free divorce. Listeners can enter on the station's website by giving a bit of personal information and then explaining why they want a divorce. A local attorney has agreed to handle the actual filing, though the station does say that the case can't be too complicated.

Most people I talked to about this rolled their eyes and shook their heads, but I kind of liked the idea when I first heard about it. I was imagining a fairly amicable divorcing couple who've agreed to work things out and just need help with the paperwork of the divorce, and this seemed like a great opportunity for them to get a break on the expense of getting divorced. Then I went to the radio station's website and saw the picture of a wedding cake with a plastic groom lying next to it in a pool of pretend blood. So much for the friendly divorce fantasy...

February 13, 2008

Judgment Day: Religious Issues on the Rise in Custody Cases

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The New York Times reports today that custody fights involving the religious upbringing and education of children are on the rise. "'Part of that is there has been an increase of conflicts between parents across the board...'" combined with the increased willingness of Americans to marry outside their family's faith and to convert to another religion when they marry, says the chair of the custody committee of the American Bar Association's family law section.

As noted in the New York Times article and this article on the Nolo website, religion is a difficult issue for a court to decide. Issues of free speech and freedom of religion battle with the rights of both parents to guide their children's upbringing. As with most custody disputes, religious wars are best settled through mediation or other non-court means -- and many courts require mediation before parties are allowed to bring their disputes before a judge.