Credit:  David Paul Morris / Getty ImagesThe present ban on same-sex marriage gets heard in a California federal court today to determine the issue of allowing gay marriage.   Plaintiffs have purportedly made it known their intentions of taking the issue of same sex marriage all the way to the Supreme Court should the judiciary derail their efforts at allowing gay couples to marry.  Although only five other states have allowed same sex marriage, it has all been the result of judicial decisions or legislation.  No popular vote in any state has yet permitted gay marriage.

The one tweak to today’s court case is that it is going to be aired on YouTube.  This is the first time a federal case has been permitted to be broadcast online which begs the question, why is this being done?  Courts have historically been an open affair, permitting the public, media and others to come and view proceedings whenever they choose.  Proposition 8 supporters have vigorously opposed the televising of the trial believing it would subject their supporters to “harassment.” Prop 8 opponents support the distribution of the content citing the First Amendment as the main reason there is no reason to deny the trial to be aired.  The judge has the power to determine what scope the cameras may or may not be allowed.

The attorneys believe the case should last two weeks but there is no doubt the issue itself will reign for generations of debate and controversy.  Note that the case will be taped and then posted to YouTube.  You won’t find it live, but you can always check here for updates.


Credit: David Paul Morris / Getty ImagesAs of January 1, New Hampshire will become the 6th state to allow gay marriage.  The law recognizes out of state gay marriages and civil unions which are legal.  Although the New Hampshire legislature voted to reject the bill earlier in the month, they changed language in the revised one that passed allowing clergy and religious institutions the right to decline to marry same-sex couples.

New Hampshire joins Connecticut,  Massachusettes, Vermont, Maine and Iowa who have all passed legislation allowing gay marriage.   A report from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law recently found that over 12,000 same sex marriages have been performed in Massachusettes since 2004 and has pumped over $111 million into the state’s economy.

Standard Family Law Restraining Orders

Litigants are often unaware of what are called Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders [ATRO] issued by the court when they initiate divorce proceedings.  The ATROs  are listed in the Summons which is a mandatory form that is served with a Petition for divorce.  The person who files the Petition for Dissolution must abide by them on filing; the person receiving the Summons is bound to them upon proper service of the Petition.

The ATRO’s mean that both parties are restrained from:

1.  Removing the minor child or children of the parties from the State without written consent of the other party or further order of the court.

2.  Cashing, borrowing against, canceling, transfering, disposing of, or changing the benficiaries of any insurance or other coverage including health, life, automobile and disability, held for the benefit of the parties.

3.  Transfer, encumber, hypothecate, conceal or dispose of property [of any kind] without the written consent of the other party or further order of the court except in the usual course of business or necessaries of life.

4.  Create a nonprobate transfer or modify a nonprobate transfer that affects the disposition of property without the written consent of the other party or further order of the court.  Before revocation of a nonprobate transfer can take effect or a right of suvivorship is eliminated, notice of the change must be filed and served on the other party.

Violation of these temporary restraining orders acts as if you are disobeying a court order.  It is imperative your attorney advise you of these restraining orders upon the initial filing because very often, litigants do not read the 2 page Summons which contains this information.  Follow the link to see what a Summons looks like.

Divorce Rate Drops To Lowest Point In 30 Years


According to CBS News, last year in the 44 states reporting data, the divorce rate in 2008 dropped to its lowest point in 30 years.  There were approximately 20,000 fewer divorces in 2008 than in 2007.  Although the statistics for 2009 have yet to come out, I’m sure it is a safe bet the numbers will be even lower.  With unemployment up, house prices down and everyone feeling lighter in the wallet, it is logical to believe a good number of individuals are holding off on doing something that might be expensive and stressful to go through such as a divorce.

Added stress can be difficult on families and especially on victims of domestic violence who might feel trapped and afraid to step out and seek help.  I encourage all of you to be safe out there and domestic violence is never the answer no matter how hard tough times may be in the household.

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