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An Update on an Interstate Civil Union Custody Case

I’ve previously written about some of the differences between a divorce and a dissolution of a civil union.  Back on December 8, 2006, I wrote about a case in Virginia whereby a couple entered into a civil union in Vermont.  They then had a child via artificial insemination.  The daughter, Isabella, now 6 years old, along with the birth mother Lisa, returned to Virginia (a state which does not recognize same sex unions).  Vermont granted a dissolution, primary custody to Lisa and visitation rights to her former partner Janet.  Lisa then went to court in Virginia and won an order granting her sole custody with no parental or visitation rights for Janet.

However, in 2006, a Virginia Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s ruling, holding that federal law requires each state to respect the child custody and visitation rulings of another state so that chaos will not result from parents shopping for another state for a “better” ruling.

The case has now headed to the Virginia Supreme Court and a ruling is expected in June.

Women Barred from the Presidency?

From AP News via Law.com:

Lawsuit Claims U.S. Constitution Bans Woman President
The Associated Press
04-09-2008

A Reno, Nev., man has filed a state lawsuit claiming that the U.S. Constitution would have to be amended to allow Sen. Hillary Clinton to appear on the presidential ballot.

Douglas Wallace, 80, argues that because the constitution refers to “he” and “his” in describing presidential duties, a woman can’t hold the office.

“The use of female gendered pronouns ‘she’ or ‘her’ are not present in the document, making it conclusive that the framers never intended that a woman would be president of the United States,” Wallace wrote in the suit.

Legal scholars called the suit “amusing” but without merit.

“The use of the masculine pronoun is a relic of the period,” Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School, told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

“The constitution has been amended to expressly incorporate women into the political system. No court would subscribe to this meritless argument,” he said.

King Solomon Would Be Proud…

Man uses grinding machine to cut farm tools, machines in half for divorce

BELGRADE, Serbia – A Serb farmer used a grinding machine to cut in half his farm tools and machines to comply with a court ruling that he must share all his property with his ex-wife, local media reported on Thursday.

Branko Zivkov, 76, told Belgrade daily Kurir he had been ready to give his wife Vukadinka her equal share of everything earned during their 45-year marriage, but was furious at being asked to give away half his farming equipment.

Instead, he bought a grinder and cut in two all his tools.

The halved equipment included large items such as cattle scales, a harrow and a sowing machine.

“I still haven’t decided how to split the cow,” he told the newspaper. “She should just say what she wants — the part with the horns or the part with the tail.”

New Survey Indicates Mediation is the most popular way to resolve disputes

The Institute for Legal Reform recently commisioned a survey to largely address people’s feeling towards lawsuits and arbitration.  Lost in this poll was a statistic about mediation.

The poll was conducted by respected GOP pollster Bill McInturff along with Barak Obama’s pollster Joel Benenson for the Benenson Strategy Group.  800 likely voters were polled by telephone for this survey in late December 2007.  The voters were read the following question: “I am going to read you a list of different ways to resolve disputes between companies and consumers. Please tell me, as I read each one, is your opinion of that way to resolve disputes between companies and consumers very favorable, mostly favorable, half-and-half, mostly unfavorable, or – very unfavorable. If I mention one that you are unfamiliar with just tell me and we’ll move on to the next one.”

The choices were mediation, arbitration, class action lawsuit and filing a lawsuit.  59% found mediation favorable while only 8% found mediation unfavorable (for a net of 51% positive).  For arbitration, 51% found it favorable versus 10% unfavorable (or a net 41% positive).  Class action lawsuits were nearly even between favorable (32%) and unfavorable (31%) while filing a lawsuit was seen as a net negative (29% to 33%).

While any survey can be crafted in a way to give you the answer you’re looking for (this was commissioned by a group pushing arbitration and defeat of a measure before Congress to limit arbitration clauses in consumer agreements), it is nonetheless interesting to see how favorable most people consider mediation to be as a way to resolve disputes.

If you’d like to learn more about mediation and how it may be able to help you, please feel free to contact me.