Legal

Smile because it happened (Hilary Swank has a unique view on divorce)

Hilary Swank apparently views her divorce after 14 years of marriage as a sign of 14 years of success in marriage, rather than a failure. At least this is what USA Today reports (click for a link to the story).

When Diane Sawyer signed off after ten years as an anchor of one of America’s most loved news programs (Good Morning America), she quoted Dr. Suess (the story of her leaving GMA can be viewed by clicking here). The quote was “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” What a way to view such a big change.

If people going through a divorce could try to use this perspective, what a difference it might make. While it can be debated forever whether divorce in general is a good thing, the truth is, once it happens, about all one can do is to try to manage it in the best way possible. Dr. Suess’ philosphy, reiterated by Diane Sawyer is one magical way to take a difficult situation and view it in a whole new light. For a guy who had such an influence on kids, adults could learn a thing or two from him as well.


Same sex marriage put on hold in California

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals today stayed the Order which overturned Prop 8, thereby precluding, for the time being, same sex marriages in California. This seems to be an attempt to avoid the potential conflict and uncertainty which would arise in the event same sex couples marry under the current state of the law, and then that law is overturned.


NY last state to go to “no-fault” divorce.

Today, August 15, 2010, the Governor of New York announced that he signed a bill permitting “no-fault” divorce in New York. So what exactly is “no-fault”? Well it varies across the country, but generally it means that one need not prove the other spouse was at “fault” in the break up of the marriage. That is, if one person believes the marriage is over, that is all that needs to be proved. And that will make “uncontested divorces” easier.

But does that make fault irrelevant? In many states the answer is no. Georgia and many other states permit introduction into evidence, proof of “conduct” such as adultery, drug use, spousal abuse and gambling. These types of conduct can affect the decision of the court on issues such as alimony, custody and division of property in some states.

But what no-fault divorce allows, is a less confrontational divorce for many who have peacefully and amicably come to the decision that their marriage should end. The removal of the need to prove “fault” removes the need to accuse anyone of being the cause of the divorce. While such conduct issues may be relevant in some states for some issues, many people simply desire to move on and resolve their differences in a non-confrontational manner. This new New York law makes it a bit easier in New York to do what people elsewhere in America have done for years, to divorce without pointing fingers or laying blame. It is about time.


ABA Annual Meeting 2010

In just over a week, the American Bar Association holds it’s annual meeting. This year it will be held in San Francisco. It is a time for leaders in all legal areas to come together, share ideas and learn from each other.

At the meeting, I will have the good fortune of being sworn in as the Chair Elect of the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association. It will truly be a privilege to serve. I have been fortunate to have had some wonderful mentors during my career, and each, without fail, have encouraged bar participation. In 1997 I served as Chair of the Family Law Section of the Atlanta Bar Association and I also will soon serve as Chair of the Family Law Section of the Georgia Bar Association.

While some may think this takes away from my practice of law, the opposite is true. My practice, including every member of our firm benefits from the leadership roles and active participation in which I, my partners and our associates engage.

Attending scores of legal education seminars each year and maintaining relationships with the finest lawyers and judges in the country keeps us all on the cutting edge. If there is a new idea, trend or significant case, we are giving ourselves every opportunity to learn about it first.

While in San Francisco, I fully intend to take advantage of everything the ABA has to offer. From Hot Tips in Family Law, to programs on presentation techniques for the courtroom, I plan to soak in as much as I can. The nice thing is, most of the other lawyers there too are similarly motivated and that is exciting. I look forward to learning from my peers and returning to Atlanta with at least a few pearls of wisdom, learned, borrowed or stolen from some of the best legal minds our country has to offer.