Problems still exist in New York’s temporary maintenance law

It has been over a year since unilateral no-fault divorce was adopted in New York. No-fault divorce, which now exists in all states, permits one spouse to receive a divorce by swearing that the marriage has been irretrievably broken for six months or more.

Ever since the law’s passage, it has had critics and supporters. The law, which includes a small provision about temporary spousal support (also known as alimony and maintenance), is currently being analyzed by the state’s independent Law Revision Commissions:  According to a Wall Street Journal article by Sophia Hollander, there are “troubling aspects” of the strict formula for awarding temporary spousal support. A report is due in April.

Temporary maintenance is awarded when the income of the “less-monied” spouse is less than two thirds the income of the spouse with the higher income. The formula calls for maintenance to be the lesser of a) 30% of the payor’s income minus 20% of the non-payor’s income or b) 40% of the combined income minus the non-payor’s income. Income for calculation of temporary maintenance is to be capped at $500,000, and judges are free to adjust amounts when the income exceeds $500,000.

The law aimed to protect the low-income spouse, but ended up hurting the affluent spouse by shifting income unfairly. At times, it even transformed the richer spouse into the poorer one.

The movement is to make the law less binding on judges and more advisory; however, the fear is that it will lose its effect.

Westchester Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, the primary sponsor of the alimony law, said, “[The 2010 law is] better for women.<Read More>


Foreign affluent families choose NYC public schools

http://www.saidaonline.com/en/newsgfx/kids%20at%20school-saidaonline.jpgThis week, the New York Times revealed that many affluent foreign families who move to New York are choosing to send their children to public elementary schools in New York City rather than private elementary schools.  Typically, affluent New York families send their children to private elementary schools.  The Times reports that “a large majority of wealthy foreign-born New Yorkers are sending their children to public schools, according to an analysis of census data.”  The data shows that out of the 15,500 households in the city with elementary school-age children that have an income of at least $150,000 and both parents born abroad, 68% of those families send their children only to New York City public schools.

Shockingly, households with American-born parents who have an income of at least $150,000 send their children to public schools at only half the rate of foreign-born families in the same income bracket.  The foreign-born parents claim that the reason they send their children to public schools is because it imitates real life, and that diversity is lacking in the private schools.  Of course, these families are living in affluent NYC neighborhoods, but still choose to send their children to public school.  As a result of this influx of foreign households sending children to NYC public schools, some public elementary schools in wealthier parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn are experiencing an unexpected increase in foreign-born students, especially Western Europeans.

“In interviews, affluent foreign-born New Yorkers said that like all conscientious parents, they weighed various criteria in choosing schools, including quality, cost and location.… <Read More>


Toddlers and Tiaras Mom Files Suit

Isabella BarrettSusanna Barrett, one of the pageant mothers in TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras, has sued Warner Brothers Entertainment, AOL, and Associated Newspapers in Manhattan Supreme Court for printing knowingly false statements about her daughter, Isabella Barrett. Isabella and her mother were attending a charity event at Libation NYC when video was taken showing the 5-year-old signing LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It.” The complaint alleges that the articles regarding the incident falsely claimed that Isabella was gyrating to the music her mother acted as her disc jockey, feeding her lyrics to the song. Worse, the complaint alleges, the articles sexualized an innocent five-year-old girl who was not portraying herself sexually, erotically, or provocatively and who is now “in serious physical danger, attracting the attention of others who would seek to sexualize a child.” The complaint also states that Isabella “did not understand the concept of sex, let alone ‘sex appeal’ and could not have been singing about her own sex appeal.” She is seeking $30 million in damages for libel, $10 million from each of the defendants for exposing them to hatred, contempt and aversion. Read a copy of the complaint here.

But how much responsibility must Susanna Barrett accept for placing her daughter in the spotlight? Isabella Barrett is one of several young girls featured on Toddlers and Tiaras on the TLC Network, which has been much criticized for how it portrays the young pageant participants. Last year, another girl, 3-year-old Paisley, was costumed as Julia Roberts in her role as a prostitute in Pretty Woman.… <Read More>


Public Boarding School: The Seed School and the Model it Created

As a person who attended public schools from K-12, I only knew of boarding schools as being expensive alternatives to private schools. In my suburban community outside of Los Angeles, I only heard of children “being sent away” to boarding schools because they were “problem children.”  However, I never really understood the positive impact a boarding school could have on students and the community the school creates. Until watching the movie Waiting for Superman, the concept of a public boarding school never once crossed my mind. As the movie shows, the Seed School of Washington D.C. is a public charter school serving the community and surrounding neighborhoods.

Similar to other charter schools, the Seed School operates on a lottery system when space permits. However, the Seed School is unique- it is a boarding school, free of cost to those who attend and it is located within D.C., close to the students’ friends and families.  Students are permitted to go home on the weekends to spend time with their family, and during the week every student is involved in various extracirricular activities and experiences that they would never have access to without the Seed School.

As a supporter of many charter schools across the country and especially in New York City, I truly believe that New York City would benefit from creating a charter school that is a boarding school and is within the five boroughs of NYC. Having the boarding school within the City’s limits allows for students to remain part of their communities while being safeguarded from the streets of their communities.… <Read More>


Safe Haven Laws are not Just for Teens

A story about the abandonment an unwanted baby is one of the saddest and heartbreaking stories one can read in the news. While most people think of that the women who leave their children on the side of a road, in a toilet bowl, or even a public restroom are teenage mothers who cannot handle the responsibility of motherhood, a New York Times article has published that the most common factor is the simple desire to hide a pregnancy. The article examines and praises an organization, Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, in Illinois which worked to enact legislation in 2001 regarding abandoned infants which has successfully brought sixty-nine babies to safe places.  The 2001 legislation is a Safe Haven Law: it allows mothers to bring unwanted newborns to firehouses, police stations, and hospitals without fear of prosecution so long as the baby is unharmed and the drop off is within thirty days of the child’s birth.  The Foundation then finds adoptive families to care for the children rather than them being placed in the state foster care system.  Many states have Safe Haven Laws like the one adopted in Illinois.  It is a tragedy that children are still being abandoned and left to die when there are so many places where the child can be taken without repercussion.  In New York, the Abandoned Infant Protection Act serves to provide mothers a safe place to bring the child, give up parental rights without questions asked.  It is a win-win situation; the fearful mother is relieved of the responsibility and the child is given to a loving family who is ready and able to care for the child.… <Read More>