The Rise and Fall of Alimony in United States Courts

The origins of alimony can be traced back to English law where wives were considered property and husbands were viewed as property owners. The wife depended upon her husband to provide for life’s necessitiesand courts consistently ruled that the husband had the duty to support his wife after divorce.

Critical differences can be seen between past and present day divorces. England originally only granted divorces a mensa et thoro (from bed and board), which allowed a husband and wife to live apart, but the two parties were still legally married in the eyes of the law. Consequently, an English divorce meant that a wife was separated from her husband but still married and considered his property. The rights of a single woman were not restored to her and she was forever dependent upon her husband for support. As time went by, women became independent, divorce became absolute, but we have carried with it the English court’s policy of assisting with the support of the wife after the marriage is dissolved. This became known as alimony.… <Read More>


Does Marriage Matter?: A look on how cohabitation affects the children involved.

 

With 50% of marriages ending in divorce, it is understandable why couples in an exclusive relationship would prefer to cohabit, that is live together in the same residence for an extended period of time. Myself being unwed, can relate to the benefits of sharing a living space with a significant other as “practice” for married life without the concern of combining incomes and assets. In the past three decades the amount of cohabiting couples has grown, not to mention its social acceptance. As time goes by, millions of adults seem to enjoy the freedom and flexibility that this phenomenon provides.

However, there is a debate that cohabitation is harmful for the children produced by these unions. A recent NY Times written by W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, exposes that children raised by cohabiting parents are about twice as likely to drop out of high school, use drugs, or be diagnosed with depression, compared with children of married adults. According to a recent federal report they are additionally three times more likely to be physically, sexually or emotionally abused. Why is cohabitation so harmful for children? The answer is that in contrast with legal marriage, cohabitation often provides less commitment, stability, and fidelity to romantic partners and their children. Research shows cohabiting couples are more than twice as likely to break up and four times more likely to be unfaithful to one another, compared with married couples, thus having a negative impact and unhealthy influence on the children in these homes.… <Read More>


Equality for Marriage, but Not Financial Aid

Since New York state legalized marriage for gay unions, many homosexual partners have enjoyed the legal and social matrimonial benefits that have previously been reserved for straight couples. Unfortunately the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (“Fafsa”) is not up to date with changing composition of families partly because the federal agency that issues it, is obligated to to abide by the Defense of Marriage Act. Better known as DOMA, this statute only recognizes marriages between men and women. As these students cannot fully portray their family’s finances, the amount of aid they receive may not fairly reflect their needs. It has been calculated that the approximate 220,000 children under age 18 that are being raised by same-sex parents may be affected.

According to a New York Times article written by Tara Siegel Bernard, officials from the Department of Education, which issues Fafsa, applicants with married parents from the same gender must fill out the Fafsa as if their parents are divorced. “There is the stigma and indignity of having to list them as divorced, when they are, in fact, not,” said Emily Hecht-McGowan, director of public policy at the Family Equality Council, “It creates confusion and this extra step that children raised by L.G.B.T. parents have to go through.”  In addition, when filling out the form, applicants are required to indicate the parent who provides more financial support which means that the other parent’s income and assets are often ignored. This may have a positive consequence, (that the student is provided with the appropriate or supplementary aid) or a negative one, (that he or she may be given less aid than a student from an identical family headed by heterosexual parents.)… <Read More>


Family Dysfunction: The New Justification for Murder?

Family Dysfunction: The New Justification  for Murder?

Caylee Anthony’s disappearance and subsequent death aside, the most tragic event coming out of the recent Casey Anthony trial was the verdict. Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her two year old daughter, the reason, among other things, her family’s dysfunction.

Having personal experience in Kings County (Brooklyn) and Queens County Family Court, I have seen my fair share of authentic family dysfunction which I will not reproduce here out of respect of privacy for the individuals. Replicated in this article however, are Ms. Anthony’s accusations of dysfunction against her parent.

George Anthony, father of emancipated, was allegedly an absent and non-involved father. On the flipside he was violent and abusive towards Casey. True, George may very well have a temper. So do millions of people. Then again, America witnessed George as he was pushed to his limit on his own property when he reacted violently as people protested outside his house and the media bombarded him in this personal matter. Given the circumstances, it is not difficult to understand his outbursts when people were on lawn and name calling. All of the disgrace, humiliation, embarrassment while trying to his life together may have gotten to him. In addition, apparently when Ms. Anthony’s father visited her in jail she spoke vulgar towards him. If she indeed feared George’s violence, why would she have spoken to him like that? Casey further complains that her father sexual molested her. Whether or not it is true would not account for Casey waiting 31 days to tell anyone that Caylee was missing.… <Read More>