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December/1/2009

Matrimonial Law

By:  Michael P. Friedman

(From the December 2009 Newsetter)

"Then I realized adultery’s wrong. So I told a tabloid.” -- Nicole Forrester, ecdysiast, friend of Josh Duhamel, husband of Fergie.

“A lot of people ask me how short I am. Since my last divorce, I’m about $100,000 short.” -- Mickey Rooney

“Here's all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid." -- George Carlin

Ron Woods’ wife just divorced him for adultery? No way. And poor Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s wife claims he is engaging in “shamelessly trashy” behavior encouraging attractive showgirls to run for Parliament. Of course, that wasn’t an issue when he first met his wife by seeing her topless in a play called “The Magnificent Cuckold” in Milan. No Siree.


And another thing. These geniuses at the State Capitol think that they are doing something really important by amending Section 812 of the Family Court Act to apply to more and more persons, animals and criminal statutes. It wasn’t bad enough that §842 of the Family Court Act was amended to include “companion animals”[i] as protected by Orders of Protection. That prompted the Powers that Be at the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and OCA (Office of Confused Adults) to feverishly work on amending the forms for a Family Offense Petition to include the names of all animals in the home, guppies included, even if there is no such allegation of abuse. “Sorry, ma’am, but we cannot get you before the judge until you remember the name of your fifth Goldfish.” Then last year they expanded the list of potential respondents to include those in an “intimate relationship” even if not sexual in nature, but not a “casual relationship nor ordinary fraternization”, whatever that means. At least one court has held that you can use this statute to get an Order of Protection in 2008 even if the “intimate relationship” ended in 2006 since the statute does not have any time limits.[ii] Another has held that a wife having sex with a man other than her husband cannot claim she had an “intimate relationship” for an Order of Protection because “the State maintains an abiding interest in the sanctity of the marital relationship.”[iii] Since when?

Now we have new claims that can form the basis of a Family Offense, each defined in the Penal Law: Forcible Touching, Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Abuse in the Second and Third Degree. These crimes are usually more easily proven within the context of Harassment or Disorderly Conduct, which already exist in the law. Of course, my favorite part of this whole exercise in futility is Section 130.20(3) of the Penal Law (Sexual Misconduct) which prohibits a person from engaging sexual conduct with a dead human body. I’m just trying to figure out how that constitutes a Family Offense against a person related by affinity, consanguinity or an “intimate relationship”. Let me know if you figure it out. Oh, yeah, this law also now requires Attorneys for Children, nee Law Guardians, to undergo training in domestic violence, which MUST include the dynamics of domestic violence on child support. Of course, there is no statistical evidence that such training exists, works or is effective, but what the hell. Where do I sign up?

Mark you calendars. January 31, 2010. That’s the day when the CSSA $80,000 cap becomes $130,000 much to the relief of calculator salesmen and custodial parents. Using the nifty title of “The Child Support Modernization Act”, the “cap” of $80,000 has been increased to $130,000 and increasing that amount every two years thereafter by some Cost of Living Adjustment. As we all know, the cap is not really a cap at all. Just ask David Bean, who successfully convinced the Third Department that 17% of his $1,000,000 yearly imputed income was excessive so they lowered his “cap” to $500,000, pounding him for over $7,000 in monthly child support for one child plus maintenance and educational costs.[iv] Or how about David Quinn[v] who had to pay over $8,000 a month for two children (plus maintenance) calculated as 25% of the combined income up to $80,000 and 8% of his entire income above that. Problem was, his income was $1.1 million. Even sportscaster Jim Nantz had to only pay $1,000 per month child support in Connecticut, even though he got dinged for $864,000 in yearly lifetime maintenance. The CSSA just requires a court to enumerate the reasons for utilizing the child support percentages in excess of the cap, which is really the combined parental income up to $130,000. And by the way, the court can go below the cap if it is found to be “unjust and inappropriate”. But absent some creativity by Support Magistrates, get ready to readjust your calculators for the new, improved $130,000 cap for at least the next few years. One wonders if anyone is going to skate on the $80,000 cap on January 30, 2010. Not likely.

Finally, a word about my favorite Illinois matrimonial lawyer: Corri Fetman, the Lawyer of Love. This buxom 42 year old has taken out a series of billboard ads with her body and that of her personal trainer in full salacious view with the words, “Life’s short. Get a divorce.” followed by her office phone number and website address. This was followed by a similar ad that proclaimed, “Take control. Get a divorce.” Sounds good to me. If you go to her website,[vi] you will find the following: “Corri Fetman bares all for Playboy. Corri Fetman will appear in the February 2008 issue of Playboy magazine and playboy.com on January 11, 2008.” Of course this was before she sued Playboy for the sexual harassment by one if its executives and they sued her for utilizing their copyrighted phrase “Lawyer of Love”. Stay tuned. And by the way, thanks for asking, but no you won’t see my pectorals on any billboards on I-90 or I-787 anytime soon.

Feliz Navidad, y’all.

[i] Technically “companion animal” is defined in §350 Agriculture and Markets Law as any dog or cat, and shall also mean any other domesticated animal normally maintained in or near the household of the owner or person who cares for such other domesticated animal. “Pet” or “companion animal” shall not include a “farm animal” as defined in this section. Near the household?

[ii] KD v. SH, Bronx Family Court October 27, 2009, unreported as of yet.

[iii] Jessica D. v. Jeremy H., 24 Misc. 3rd 6634 (Fam. Ct. Madison Co., 2009)

[iv] Bean v. Bean, 53 A.D.3rd 718 (3rd Dept., 2008)

[v] Quinn v. Quinn, 61 A.D.3rd 1067 (3rd Dept., 2009)

[vi] Fgalawfirm.com






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