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Should a marriage license require a test?

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

To complete his book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan had to take a 14 hour class and past a test of 100 questions. This was to obtain a hunting license so he could prepare an one hundred percent natural meal. He shot a wild boar, gutted, skinned and cooked it.

To drive to that hunting range to get his boar–or to the class and test site–he had to have studied a little pulp book of rules of the road and pass a 20 question test to get his drivers’ license.

To purchase a handgun, one must have a Handgun Safety Certificate, and the California Department of Justice, bureau of Firearms, provides a 52 page booklet of information necessary to pass the test.

To obtain a marriage license, you must answer these questions: What is your name? Your birth name? Address? Date of birth? State of birth? Previous marriage? If yes, ended how and when? Your father’s name and birthplace? Your mother’s name and birthplace?

Would you be able to answer all this questions to get a license to marry? Of course you would!

The clerk, as deputy commissioner of civil marriage, could then marry you on the spot –if you have the $61 license fee.

For this life-changing event, for this financial and emotional partnership, you need a license. But no advance knowledge of in what ways entering into a marriage will affect your legal rights and your legal obligations is required – nor is any such information given.

You will be given Information about genetics, AIDS and domestic violence when you apply for your marriage license, but not before then. The State Department of Health Services publishes a brochure for county clerks to distribute. Nothing requires that each of you read it. It contains the following:

1) A note regarding the Name Equality Act of 2007;
2) Advice for Living a Healthy Lifestyle;
3) Information concerning the possibilities of genetic defects and diseases and contain a listing of centers available for the testing and treatment of genetic defects and diseases.
4) Information concerning acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and the availability of testing for antibodies to the probable causative agent of AIDS.
5) Information concerning domestic violence, including resources available to victims and a statement that physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse, and assault and battery, are against the law;
6) Family Planning information; and
7) During and After Pregnancy information.

As a public service, a modest attempt to save public costs in these times when we need every dime we can muster to keep public services open, I propose a book of minimal education and a course of questions intended to help you know what you are getting into, so starry-eyed, so you will have fewer unpleasant surprises that could cause lasting hostility or suspicion or resentments between you both. For the emotional part of this marriage business, look to your therapist, your rabbi, your priest, your imam, your shaman, your mother, your father, your sister, your brother or your friends, your madrino, your padrino.

Your Day in Court

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

I came across interesting statistics regarding trials for family law matters. First, let me say that in a survey, citizens told the Judicial Council, the folks who run our courts, that what they want from family law is a chance to tell their stories and a fair process.

You will get neither.
There were 140,180 family law marital filings, and it is stated that 138,515 were disposed of before trial, 1,331 after trial. In other words, only .0096 percent of divorcing people had trials. The others settled in the hallway or cafeteria after two years or more of lawyering and cashing in savings to pay for it–or you were smart enough to have hired a mediator or used the self-help centers at the courts.

Dysfuntional Divorce System Harms Children

Monday, March 14th, 2016

The California AFCC in 2008 called upon the Judicial Council which runs the state courts, the State Bar, the Association of Certified Family Law Specialist and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers to join in demanding adequate, immediate and sustained resources to address these concerns.  And 12 other organizations concerned with family law signed on to this resolution, but nothing in the past eight years has been done to correct the damaging process.
One national organization concerned with child development is Advocates for Child Empowerment & Safety (ACES) “… dedicated to raising the voices of children to empower them and ensure their safety from physical abuse, sexual abuse and unsafe environments. “
ACES activities include “developing and advocating for policies, regulations, and government programs to improve child safety.” but it has not specifically advocated any new family law processes.
Twelve states have rewritten their family law codes regarding divorce to call for “parenting plans,” but some still use that hostile “C” word–custody– along with “parenting.”  Those states are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. Tiger Woods did a parenting plan in his divorce in Florida.  Cowboys in Texas do parenting plans. Mountain men in Montana do parenting plans. Shouldn’t everybody?

What’s Wrongj With Family Court? Custody!

Monday, March 7th, 2016

What’s Wrong with Family Court? Custody!
Dysfunctional divorce systems cause actual damage to children.  Litigation is the primary process offered for divorce throughout this country. Through encouraging and enabling parents to litigate the lives of their children, our laws and courts cause impairment in the development of our children’s brains and emotions from the effects of court-induced stress.
Recent research shows that exposure to inter-parental conflict may have a lasting adverse impact on brain development by activating hormones, producing cortisol that without intervention causes toxic stress.
Custody litigation exists in every state. We must make a new way for parents to separate, and we must do it now.
“There is a clear and present danger to the public health of the children of this State based on our society’s failure to adequately address the impact of child custody proceedings upon children …,” declared the board of directors of the California chapter of the national Association of Family and Conciliation Courts in a resolution in 2008.
The resolution continued, “…as a chronic, system-wide, statewide public health crisis which impacts the previous, current and future generations of California’s most precious resource—its children,” estimating that 4,775,939 children (in the state of California ) have been touched by the court system due to actions of their parents.  The number in 50 states surely is phenomenal.
Organizations across this country are strongly concerned about our divorce systems, especially regarding parenting.  Some are very hostile in their approaches to the courts, and many seem slanted in an anti-woman stance, claiming prejudice against fathers, such as the National Parents Organization. But there is no question that a rational system of establishing parenting for adults who do not live together needs to be devised and needs to be devised soon.
Other organizations include Mothers of Lost Children, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Children’s Rights Council. There is also a movement calling for  a Federal Parental Rights Amendment advocated by Concerned Women for America, a conservative Christian women’s activist group founded in 1979, and by Phyllis Schafly who has claimed there is a “rogue judiciary” that is taking away parental rights. Incidentally, she also claims that our bad welfare policies are “destroying fatherhood.”

Divorce Evolution

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

People think California invented “no-fault” divorce. Not true. The concept of divorce without the element of blame was a subject of discussion in legal and mental health circles throughout the United States in the early 1960’s. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, source of over 140 uniform state laws in 1967 began to draft a model of a no-fault divorce statute for states to consider.

The first no-fault law in a modern state was established in Russia in 1917. That was an anti-church part of the revolution. (There was no alimony then –the state took care of you, and besides, everyone was equal.) Historically, marriage and divorce were ecclesiastical matters in all countries, and ecclesiastical rules transmuted into civil rules. To get a divorce under church law, you had to prove you were unpardonably sinned against.

“No-fault” divorce came to us from The Governor’s Commission on the Family established on May 11, 1966. Governor Edmund G. Brown asked the commission for a “concerted assault on the high incidence of divorce in our society and its often tragic consequences,” and said, “The time has come to acknowledge that our present social and legal procedures for dealing with divorce are no longer adequate.”

With fault, if I could prove my spouse committed what was recognized as a “matrimonial offense,” such as adultery, extreme cruelty–mental or physical, desertion, neglect, habitual intemperance or conviction of a felony, as set forth in California’s basic divorce law of 1872, I got more property and more support, and no question about the children.

Eventually, the result was that many people who wanted to end a marriage fabricated spousal wrongdoing, usually collusively with each other as to what the offense was. In 1966, 95% of the 99,762 complaints filed for divorce or separate maintenance were on the grounds of “extreme cruelty.” And in 61,957 of these, a judgment was granted without contest. The other 37,805 apparently went through the full litigation process.

This procedure was described by Supreme Court of California Associate Justice Stanley Mosk: “Every day, in every superior court in the state, the same melancholy charade was played: the ‘innocent’ spouse, generally the wife, would take the stand and, to the accompanying cacophony of sobbing and nose-blowing, testify under the deft guidance of an attorney to the spousal conduct that she deemed ‘cruel.’ The usual hearing was concluded in 10 minutes. ”

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