May 2011 News: The Phoenix Family Law News Blog

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May 2011 Archives

Taking Action in Phoenix on National Missing Children Day

Each year, National Missing Children Day on May 25 highlights the importance of child safety and child custody agreements. Patch.com reports that an estimated 800,000 children go missing each year and that one quarter of these children are abducted by their own family members.

Many cases of missing children involve custody or visitation interference, where a parent takes away their own child from the other parent in violation of a court order. This is growing problem across the country and across the state of Arizona, which is why Phoenix business leaders took efforts on National Missing Children Day to raise awareness of who these missing children in the area are.

Grandma Collects Child Support After Decades of Waiting

It's never too late to collect past due child support money, even if your kids are all grown up and you're a grandmother. KPHO reported that 59-year-old Kathi Smith-Petersen got a pleasant surprise last week when she met with Arizona Department of Economic Security workers.

Reports say DES officials made contact with Smith-Petersen's ex-husband and got him to pay money that he owed in back child support. Smith-Petersen, who divorced her husband more than 30 years ago, only last week received the check for $93,639 in past due child support payments.

U.S. Divorce Rate Declines, People Getting Smart About Marriage

Just when you think that nobody cares about the sanctity of marriage anymore, a census report reveals that divorce rates are actually starting to decrease. The Associated Press reported that the United States Census Bureau showed 50 percent of all marriages ending in divorce in 1996, but that the more recent 2009 numbers show the divorce rate slowing, with only 46 percent of more recently married couples failing to reach their 25th wedding anniversary.

One of the main reasons that we have seen the U. S. divorce rate decline is due to the way people view marriage. It’s been no secret that marriage rates are also declining and that more coupes are cohabiting rather than getting married. There’s also been a rising median age when it comes to getting married, meaning that people are waiting longer before making long-term commitments to one another.

A 25-year-old mother from Tempe, Vanessa Tsinajinnie, is now facing felony counts of child abuse and could even lose custody of her two children after allegedly leaving her young daughters unattended in a vehicle.

Reuters reports that it's not exactly clear on how long the girls, ages 2 and 4, were left alone in the car, but a passerby apparently saw the children wandering out of the vehicle near a busy intersection at night while the mother was out "having a good time" in a friend's apartment.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Love Child Was A Reason For Separation

The family drama in the Schwarzenegger-Shriver split just got a bit more complicated, as California's former Governor admitted to the media this week that he had fathered a child with one of his household staff members and that he had kept the secret from his wife for 10 years.

The 10-year-old love child is a reason why the 25-year marriage between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver is coming to an end. ABC News reports that the woman with whom Schwarzenegger reportedly fathered the child worked for the family until January of this year.

Schwarzenegger apparently continues to provide for the child financially.

It looks like a Pinal County family law court commissioner is going through some trouble in her own marriage, so much so, that the marital arguments have allegedly led to violence. KTAR News reports that Commissioner Theresa Ratliff was arrested for domestic violence assault and disorderly conduct after her husband called 911 to report that she had hit him and that she had refused to stop a car when he had asked her to do so.

The argument between Ratliff and her husband took off while she was driving in their car. According to ABC News, the couple was arguing about their marriage and she refused to stop and let him out of the vehicle. The family law court commissioner told Pinal County deputies that she had "inadvertently hit" her husband in the chest or arm with her right hand on the drive home.

How did each Arizona lawmaker vote on legislation regarding family values this year? The Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative organization in the state, has released this information through the 2011 Family Issues Voting Record. According to The Arizona Republic, this report states how each person in the Legislature voted on issues of abortion, divorce, religious rights and judicial reform.

This year, Center for Arizona Policy has played a large role in getting certain laws passed. State lawmakers passed 16 of the group's 19 bills this year, which were later signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer. These newly approved measures include pieces of legislation that give preference to married couples in adoptions (SB 1188), require an ultrasound before an abortion can be performed (HB 2416), and give individuals going through a divorce an option to extend the divorce waiting period (SB 1187).

Joe Arpaio Conducts Child Support Sweep on Mother's Day

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio conducts a deadbeat parent sweep every year on Mother's Day weekend, where he sends out deputies to arrest people with outstanding warrants for failure to pay child support. Fox News reports that this year was no exception to the crackdown on deadbeat parents, with local authorities reportedly arresting 41 individuals over the weekend for not meeting their child support obligations.

What's unique about the Mother's Day arrests this year was that Arpaio decided to arrest people with outstanding warrants by placing them in pink handcuffs. While the pink handcuffs are a bit unusual and could be seen as a way to humiliate suspects, Arpaio replied to criticism by telling Fox News, "If you think I'm embarrassing these guys, OK. Let them come in and surrender and pay support."

Marie Osmond Marries Stephen Craig Again

Singer Marie Osmond recently married former professional basketball player Stephen Craig in Las Vegas, but this isn’t the first time that the two celebrities have tied the knot. According to the Associated Press, the couple previously married in 1982, but then divorced three years later. They even have a son together, who is now grown up and 28 years of age

This marks Osmond’s third marriage and second marriage to the same person. How common is it for a person to marry the same person twice? While most people choose not to re-marry an ex-spouse, The Frisky recently reported of 10 celebrities that married the same person more than once. These celebrity couples include Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, and rapper Eminem and Kim Scott-Mathers.

Study: Public Prefers Joint Custody Agreements

According to Medical News Today, studies by Arizona State University researchers have found that people of our society favor joint custody agreements when it comes to children of a divorce. Perhaps mothers and fathers should have an equal amount of time with their child.

The study was based on surveys that were administered to a Pima County jury pool in Tucson, where the study reportedly consisted of 367 responses. Participants of the ASU survey were given hypothetical child custody cases and asked to determine what type of custody agreement would be best for a particular scenario. In almost all of the hypothetical situations, the 50-50 split was most preferable.

When Facebook Plays a Role in Divorce

We reported in an earlier blog post that a study conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) found that 20 percent of failed marriages were in some way linked to Facebook. However, it’s possible that even more divorces are linked to social media websites than once thought.

MSNBC reports that a Florida lawyer told her local WTSP television station that she sees some type of Facebook involvement in 90 percent of her divorce cases. How exactly is Facebook a marriage killer? Some people will find photos of their spouse behaving badly on the social networking website. Other times, Facebook can lead to temptation and allow a married person to find an anonymous relationship with somebody they meet online.