Saturday, October 15, 2011

Divorce Parties

Divorce is not only the end of a marriage, but also the beginning of a new life, and for some people, even a cause for celebration.  As I recently discussed here, some newly divorced or divorcing individuals have begun to mark the end of their marriages with some form or other of leisure travel.

Well, even if you prefer not to travel, you can celebrate your new status in a more public way right in your hometown:  you can throw a divorce party for all your friends.  Divorce parties are not new, as they have been going on for some time, but the ones I have known about have been relatively private, small, informal affairs.  However, in Los Angeles at least, an industry has sprung up to cater to an apparently growing demand for divorce parties there.   Maybe this is a trend that will catch on elsewhere.

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Testosterone and Fatherhood

scientific study done in the Philippines suggests that men who become fathers have hormonal changes that may help them to adapt to their new role - i.e., they have a drop in testosterone upon becoming fathers.   That should come as good news to those of us who already know that men can and do make excellent, nurturing parents, and who envision a world of increasing gender equity, both at work and at home.

Gender stereotypes and prejudices, backed by faulty biological assumptions, have inevitably resulted from thousands of years of history in a predominantly patriarchal culture (with fathers in the bread-winning role and mothers in the primary parenting role), and they continue to stand in the way of men in search of parenting equity at home, even as women have made tremendous strides in the workplace over the past fifty years.   This scientific study provides hope to the optimist in me that parenting equity and equality in the home will eventually catch up to, and parallel, the rapidly advancing workplace equality women have achieved, and are continuing to achieving, both in this country and throughout the developed world.

New York Times: In Study, Fatherhood Leads to Drop in Testosterone, excerpt:

          This is probably not the news most fathers want to hear.
Testosterone, that most male of hormones, takes a dive after a man becomes a parent. And the more he gets involved in caring for his children — changing diapers, jiggling the boy or girl on his knee, reading “Goodnight Moon” for the umpteenth time — the lower his testosterone drops. 
So says the first large study measuring testosterone in men when they were single and childless and several years after they had children. Experts say the research has implications for understanding the biology of fatherhood, hormone roles in men and even health issues like prostate cancer. 
“The real take-home message,” said Peter Ellison, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard who was not involved in the study, is that “male parental care is important. It’s important enough that it’s actually shaped the physiology of men.” 
“Unfortunately,” Dr. Ellison added, “I think American males have been brainwashed” to believe lower testosterone means that “maybe you’re a wimp, that it’s because you’re not really a man. 
“My hope would be that this kind of research has an impact on the American male. It would make them realize that we’re meant to be active fathers and participate in the care of our offspring.” 
The study, experts say, suggests that men’s bodies evolved hormonal systems that helped them commit to their families once children were born. It also suggests that men’s behavior can affect hormonal signals their bodies send, not just that hormones influence behavior. And, experts say, it underscores that mothers were meant to have child care help.

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Stevie B, Owing $420K in Child Support, Arrested At Springfield Concert

Stevie B, singer of "Because I Love You" (The Postman Song) and other hits from the 80s and 90s, was arrested in Springfield this past Friday night after his concert at the MassMutual Center and hauled off to jail for an apparent child support debt, to a woman in Agawam, of a whopping $420,000.

According to the Springfield Republican, when Stevie B was apprehended as he was leaving the arena after his show, the arresting officer found him "cooperative but surprised by the arrest" and concerned "that he might miss a weekend gig in Providence, RI."

Stevie B is apparently now regularly residing and working in Vegas.  Did he forget about the child support he skipped out on here in Massachusetts? Did he think he was in the clear by now?

Hmmm, reminds me of another music celebrity, Bobby Brown.  He too was arrested several years back after returning to his native Massachusetts (from Georgia, in his case) to see his daughter cheerleading, and was hauled off to jail for huge back child support.  One of the lessons I derived from this story, as I blogged back then, was:  
If you happen to become a celebrity when you "grow up" and if you happen to get way behind on your child support, then do not go to visit your daughter as she is cheerleading in public.
Perhaps I now should add to that:
...and do not perform a public concert in the very state, and in the nearest city, in which the ex to whom you owe massive child support happens to live.
On this past Monday, October 3, TMZ reported that Stevie B was indeed arraigned on Monday, but still remained in custody until able to pay at least $10,000 of what he owes to get out of jail.  The Associated Press more recently has reported that he got out of jail on Tuesday by paying $11,000, but Stevie B disputes the amount of the debt.    More details, from the the AP story:
On Monday, he agreed to a schedule of payments for approximately $420,000 in child support, including a lump sum payment of $10,000 and weekly payments of $921. His lawyer said he paid an additional $1,000 with the required lump sum and has offered to pay an extra $500 per week.
An extra $500 a week toward arrears would be just a tad less than what would be necessary just to pay the 6 percent annual interest that would be assessed on his $400K+ debt (to say nothing of the other 6 percent ordinarily assessed in penalties). I see more lump sum payments and possibly seizure of assets in Stevie B's future.

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Divorce: Hair Loss, Weight Gain, Binge Drinking

We hardly need any more reasons to convince us that divorce is to be avoided if possible.  But some recent studies indicate that following divorce women are more likely to lose hair (hat tip to Family Lore) and men are more likely to gain weight.   What about the kids, you ask?  Well, after their parents split, kids are more likely to become binge drinkers by the time they reach 16.

Could be worse, I guess.  It could have been found that after divorce, women are more likely to gain weight and men are more likely to lose hair.  After all, we know women really hate to gain weight, and men really hate to lose their hair.  But you know, since men as they age are much more likely to lose hair than women anyway, and as women are more likely to have already gained weight during the marriage, there's not really any good news here for those of us who get married and divorced.

I do promise, however, to report any good news when I see it.

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Judicial Guidelines Updated for Abuse Prevention Orders

The Massachusetts trial court system has issued the fourth edition of Guidelines for Judicial Practice: Abuse Prevention Proceedings.   The updated guidelines reflect a number of substantive and procedural changes, and reflect changes in statutory and case law since the guidelines were last revised in 2000. Hat tip to  Massachusetts Law Updates.

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Census Bureau Reports Marriage & Divorce Statistics

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released its report "Marital Events of Americans: 2009," which is the bureau's first such report after including questions about marital events as part of its American Community Survey (ACS), beginning in 2008. The report confirms previous indications from other sources that divorce rates, and marriage rates, are higher in the South than in the Northeast, among other things.  See the bureau's report here or read the summary from Reuters.

From the Reuters news article (August 25, 2011):

....Statistics from "Marital Events of Americans: 2009," show that in the South, per 1,000 men or women, divorce rates were 10.2 and 11.1 percent.

By contrast, Northeastern men and women had divorce rates at 7.2 and 7.5 percent.The national divorce rate was almost 10 percent, at 9.2 for men and 9.7 for women.

The report is the first to examine and detail marriage, divorce and widowhood among Americans ages 15 and older, using data from the 2009 American Community Survey (ACS).

"Divorce rates tend to be higher in the South because marriage rates are also higher in the South," Diana Elliott, a family demographer at the Census Bureau, stated in the report's release.

"In contrast, in the Northeast, first marriages tend to be delayed and the marriage rates are lower, meaning there are also fewer divorces."

Fourteen states had above-average divorce rates for men and women. Southern states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas had divorce rates above the United States average for both genders.

For the 10 or so states that had below-average divorce rates for each gender, about half were in the Northeast.

States like Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York saw fewer divorces than average for men and women.

Divorces did impact the economic well-being of families.
Three quarters of children living with a parent who divorced in 2009 lived in a household headed by their mother.
Of women who divorced in the year studied, 23 percent received public assistance, against 15 percent of recently divorced men who received such assistance.
But such women also reported less household income than recently divorced men, with 27 percent having less than $25,000 in annual household income compared to 17 percent of recently divorced males.
They also were more likely to be in poverty; 22 percent of recently divorced women compared to 11 percent of such men.
Almost 30 percent of children living with a parent who recently divorced lived in a household below the poverty level, compared with 19 percent for other children.
Historically, data on U.S. marriages and divorces were collected from marriage and divorce certificates filed at the state level. According to the report, beginning in 2008, questions about marital events were added to the ACS to fill a void in the data collected in the United States.
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For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.