Family Law

Holiday Season puts brakes on divorce

Divorce filings always seem to decrease around Christmas time. There may be many reasons, including some that we hear such as wanting to keep the family together for one last holiday, or feeling guilty about filing around Christmas time. It is a nice reprieve and it is always nice to see people really give their marriage one more good effort.

But then filings seem to always increase after the holidays. People want to make a fresh start. New Year’s resolutions often include a commitment to finally divorce or separate. Or people realize that the goodwill of Christmas was not good enough to make them want to stay forever with their spouse.

Divorce lawyers across the country experience slowdowns in December and increases in business in January every year. This has been a constant in good economies and bad. And again this year, we have seen our share of December consultations which end with clients saying they want to wait until after the holidays, or they want to see how the holidays go. If only that time of good will was year round in their relationships, divorce rates would permanently decrease? Maybe if Christmas lasted all year?


CUBA! Family Lawyers trip

Cuba! To exchange legal ideas with Cuban lawyers, in Cuba, how unbelievable! I am so fortunate to be able to help with this venture next March. The idea is to promote understanding of family law in each country and to exchange ideas that will hopefully help families in both countries.

Again, the goal is to enhance American and Cuban lawyers knowledge and skills in family law, especially now that we may be on the verge of more Cuban and American family law issues as travel and immigration restrictions change. What an opportunity to learn each other’s legal systems with a view to helping Cuban and American families who will go through family law cases.

At this point I am simply excited about the program and am looking forward to it. If you have any ideas, suggestions or comments, please let me know.


High Profile Clients Programs

I have been very fortunate to have been invited to speak at a few seminars recently on high profile and high asset divorce. This month (November, 2011) I have already spoken in Mexico to Sports and Entertainment Lawyers, to Asset Recovery Specialists in Las Vegas, and on November 21, 2011, I am on a panel with David Boies and others to speak on High Profile representation (for program information, click here). Over 2,100 lawyers have signed up for this one. While it is always flattering to be asked to speak, being asked to speak alongside one of, if not the best lawyer in the country, David Boies is one of the highlights of my career. Just preparing with him and the other panelists has been a thrill. The real challenge will be to not say too much during our presentation so that I may learn as much as I can from him and our other panelists.

While we have been honored to represent our share of public figures, David Boies has been hired for the biggest cases by the highest profile clients (Al Gore, Mrs. McCourt, the NFLPA and the NBPA among others). This program will be educational for all, and I will have the best seat in the house. I am flattered and grateful to have been invited onto the panel and look forward to learning a lot from my co-panelists. If there is anything you want us to address during the program, let me know so I can see if we can work it in. If we can’t, I’ll do my best to get answers to your questions after the program.


Thanks for the opportunity.

I am now a few months into my year as Chair of the American Bar Association’s Family Law Section. Wow, it goes fast. There seem to be fires to put out every week (or every day), but we have great staff at the ABA that really make things easier. There are budget concerns, planning of Continuing Legal Education Events, policy issues and the like. But most of all, there is a sense of responsibility that our group, our Family Law Section has a responsibility; a responsibilty to help. There are issues with military family law matters that we are addressing as well international custody issues (which will be discussed heavily at our Annual Fall Meeting in Las Vegas in two weeks; to see a link to the brochure, click here).

I said in my first Chair’s Column in the Family Advocate and in my speech as I became Chair, that I want to help everyone: lawyers, clients and others, understand the family law process better (chairs column1). Knowledge is power and we should all be as knowledgable as we can about the laws that so vitally affect families, especially children. I look forward to the seminar in two weeks and to making this and future years great and helpful to all lawyers and people, and especially to those dedicated to the field of family law and to helping those with family law problems.


Book Arrives

Even though I knew this day would come, it was still exciting to actually see our “Georgia Library of Family Law Forms” arrive. They actually had me do a formal “signing” (see photo). Finally seeing the finished product was so nice. But it also means now that everyone can read it, I have to be sure we update it and keep it current. There are already suggestions for updates that I have started on.

If you search for a family law form and it is not in the book, please let me know so we can consider including it, if appropriate for the book, in the updates (to order your copy, click here). I remain grateful to the attorneys and law clerks in our office and the publisher and their editors and staff who have helped so much to make this book a reality.

I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to your feedback.


ABA FLS Brochure available now

The American Bar Association, Family Law Section’s Fall CLE Brochure is out and available on line (click here to view it). The seminar will be held in Law Vegas at the Encore (Wynn) Hotel October 26-29, 2011.

We have worked hard to develop an exciting and educational program. Topics include: “Saving a Stolen Childhood: How to Prevent and Resolve International Kidnapping Cases,” and “Diminishing Returns: Effects of Illness, Psychological Problems, and Addiction on Support Calculations”.

The speakers and program producers have worked very hard to organize and create this exciting program and we hope you will join us. Please pull up the brochure, sign up and join us. Again, click here for the brochure: BROCHURE.


Forensic Accounting in Family Law

I have been learning a lot about Forensic Accounting in Family Law lately. I have been to three or four seminars in the last few months across the country for accountants and business valuation experts. Boy is there a lot to learn. So perhaps the best tool is the one I received in the mail today from my friend Miles Mason. It is his brand new book “The Forensic Accounting Deskbook, A Practical Guide to Financial Investigation and Analysis for Family Lawyers” (read more about it, or order it, by clicking here).

Miles has a way of making complicated and complex ideas easy to understand. When we as divorce lawyers are confronted with numbers and tax issues and valuation concepts which may be foreign to us, we can now simply refer to this handbook. Of course I will almost always hire a forensic accountant as well, but knowing the jargon and the concepts is vital to understanding the issues and helping our clients.

I highly recommend this guidebook.


Forms book to be delivered any day

I am getting excited. The forms’ book “Georgia Library of Family Law Forms” which we have been working on for about a year is about to be delivered. The truck should arrive within a week or two and the first printed copies will then be available (for more details, or to order, click here).

The book is a great place to start if you are building your own set of family law forms or if you just want a resource “just in case”. It forced us to review all of our forms and to create new ones. If you do purchase the book and wish there was a form there which is not, please let me know and I will see what I can do. But it is fairly comprehensive for a first edition and I am very proud of it. Working with the publisher, editor and all of the staff (theirs and ours) has truly been a pleasure as we have all been dedicated to producing a high quality product. It is almost here and I am really looking forward to seeing it, and to hearing your feedback. Please don’t be shy and let me know your thoughts once it is out.


New DNA Testing Claims Paternity Can Be Determined ASAP

For years DNA testing could reveal the paternity of a child after birth. Then came pre-birth testing. Now comes DNA testing in the twelfth week of pregnancy. This is a game changer. Read the story by clicking here.

Conceivably now, a couple could learn the paternity of their child in the first trimester of pregnancy, when termination of the pregnancy is legal in most places. Just think of the issues this raises. If the pregnancy is the result of an extra marital, or extra relational encounter, does this make it more likely that a pregnancy will be terminated? What if technology and science progress to the point where paternity can be established “the morning after” or at one month of pregnancy?

And perhaps the ability to know who the father is, so early on, will encourage more mothers-to-be to tell their partner that there may be doubt about the paternity of their expected child. Or at least the mother-to-be could get a test with her paramour and hopefully exclude him as the father early on, thereby perhaps saving her relationship with her husband or significant other?

This new technology, if accurate, could change many lives and many relationships. Some say ignorance is bliss. This may be one such occasion?


ABA Annual Meeting special one for me

The 2011 American Bar Association Annual meeting which begins this week in Toronto (click here for a link to the home page for the meeting), holds special meaning for me. On Friday August 5, 2011 I will be sworn in as Chair of the Family Law Section (FLS) of the ABA. I am so honored and excited. The FLS has 10,000 members who are all interested in the practice of family law, whether they are lawyers, judges or law students (over 9,000 are lawyers). Our goal, and mine, is to improve the practice of family law and to minimize the negative impact family law can have on families. My platform will be a continuation of our “Families Matter” project which has the reduction of such an impact on families as its goal.

Practicing family law has been gratifying, knowing that we can and have helped many families. It also can and has been frustrating. When bad results happen to good people, especially to children, it can be devastating. But our job is not to be devastated and depressed, but to persevere and find better solutions. Through the ABA we are working to improve the system and to hopefully help all families achieve better results that are better for the whole family. Of course this is a difficult task, but it is one that any civilized society must undertake. All family law professionals (lawyers, judges, psychologists, accountants and others) play a role. Is our system perfect? No way. In fact, our systems vary from state to state and from community to community. But we are evolving. Today, family law is not an area of the law that is looked down upon. To the contrary, it is an area of the law viewed by many as one of the most important areas of law that exist. What other area has the ability to affect families and futures as much as ours? And with that comes a significant burden, a burden to help families and a burden to improve society.

I am glad to be in a position to help families. In my practice I often have that opportunity, and as Chair of the Family Law Section of the ABA, I have been given an even greater opportunity. I will try my best not to squander it and to do what I can to help families and professionals who are helping those families. If there is anything I can do, I hope you will call on me to serve you. It will be an honor to serve and I am sure, an experience I will never forget.