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Weekly Links

More on the Advance Fee Scams:
Fish & Richardson was targeted by scammers sending out fake checks drawn on firm accounts in mystery shopper scam:
http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202434447042&hbxlogin=1
 

Why Do We Need the State’s Permission to Get Married Anyway?
http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2010/01/14/why-do-we-need-to-ask-the-state-for-permission-to-get-married-anyway/
 

Surrogacy Battles Expose Uneven Legal Landscape
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704362004575000974247846294.html
 

Oral arguments in the Supreme Court family case
Here’s a summary of what happened during the oral argument of the Supreme Court case I sent out last time:
http://www.slate.com/id/2241236/pagenum/all/
 

More Men Marrying Wealthier Women
Men 30 to 44 years old are increasingly likely to marry women with more education and income than they have.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/19/us/19marriage.html?em
 

Therapists Report Increase in Green Disputes
Are we going to see the first organic food and Prius-related divorces?
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/18/science/earth/18family.html?em
 

A fun law-related read:
If a Siamese Twin Commits Murder, Does His Brother Get Punished, Too?
http://www.slate.com/id/2240595/pagenum/all/
Potentially interesting to a family lawyer: “The best analogy might be a pregnant convict, who, like our conjoined criminal, is physically attached to an otherwise innocent member of her immediate family. When you throw a pregnant woman in jail, you’re locking up her fetus, too. (Indeed, something like 10,000 pregnant women are now in federal or state prisons.) At first glance, incarceration means little to a developing fetus, though, whereas an innocent, adult twin would suffer for it. On the other hand, there’s some evidence that expectant mothers often receive inadequate prenatal care in prison. When an inmate finally gives birth, the baby is either taken away from her—which could be seen as its own form of punishment for the newborn—or it remains with the mother for up to a year in a prison nursery. Either way, the baby might be harmed by the incarceration of the mom. It’s not unusual for the courts to take such collateral damage into account when sentencing a defendant.”
 

Random question/idea I’ve been thinking about:
I just read the article from October in Texas Lawyer with more detail about the gay divorce case in Judge Callahan’s court. I think I remember from law school that you can’t make a full faith and credit clause argument because a marriage is not a judgment of a court that must be recognized in another state. What if there was a gay couple who not only married in Massachusetts, but also divorced there and received a divorce decree judgment from a MA court containing provisions regarding all the main issues – property, spousal support, child support, child custody, etc. To the extent Texas law allows modification of any of those issues, would a Texas court have to accept jurisdiction over the modification dispute since the judgment of another state’s court is at issue? I think probably so. So then you can’t marry in Texas, you probably can’t divorce in Texas, but you probably can do a modification in Texas? I haven’t researched the issue, but it might be a fun idea to kick around…

Weekly Links

Texas Family Law Case to be Heard by US Supreme Court
Oral argument in the Abbott v. Abbott case is scheduled for 1/12/10
Summary: Father, a British citizen, and Mother, a U.S. citizen, married in England and later had a son in Hawaii. In 2002, all three lived together in Chile. In March 2003, they separated and litigated in the Chilean family courts where Mother was ultimately awarded custody and Father was granted visitation rights. At Mother’s request, the Chilean court entered a fourth order prohibiting the child’s removal from Chile by either the father or the mother without their mutual consent (the “ne exeat order”). The following year, Mother removed her son from Chile without Father’s consent. Father hired a private detective who found the mother and son living in Texas. Father filed suit in federal district court in Texas, seeking an order requiring that the child be returned to Chile pursuant to the Hague Convention. The court denied return of the boy to Chile, finding that the removal did not constitute a breach of the father’s “rights of custody” as defined by the Hague Convention. Last September, a three-judge panel on the Fifth Circuit affirmed, holding that only a parent who has custodial rights can invoke the treaty to try to get the minor child returned.
Issue: Does a clause that prohibits one parent from removing a child from a country without the other parent’s consent confer a “right of custody” within the meaning of the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction?
Briefs: http://www.scotuswiki.com/index.php?title=Abbott_v._Abbott

Texas Bar Journal Article – Dispelling the Myth of Community Debt
http://www.texasbar.com/Template.cfm?Section=Texas_Bar_Journal1&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=25998

Study Claims That Children Who Are “Smacked” Do Better Later In Life
Another interesting study on whether physical discipline is harmful to children:
http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/families/article6974059.ece
The study, which took the lives of 2,600 subjects into account, determined that children who were physically disciplined before the age of six tended to do better academically and have more “optimism about the future” than those who were not physically disciplined during the same developmental period. However, children who were physically disciplined between the ages of seven and eleven were still more likely to be academically more successful, though they showed more negative behavioral traits.

Weekly Links

Review of iPhone app for calculating pretrial and posttrial deadlines:
http://www.iphonejd.com/iphone_jd/2009/08/review-texas-litigation-deadlines-calculate-deadlines-on-your-iphone.html

Bristol Palin Custody Issues
http://www.slate.com/id/2240259/

Books

Guerilla Discoveryhttp://www.jamespublishing.com/books/gd.htm
The View from the First Chair: What Every Trial Lawyer Really Needs to Knowhttp://www.illinoistrialpractice.com/2009/11/book-recommendation-the-view-from-the-first-chair.html

How to Run a Meeting Like Google
(there may be some good tips here for collaborative meetings, settlement conferences, etc)
http://www.businessweek.com/print/smallbiz/content/sep2006/sb20060927_259688.htm

Weekly Links

Wife Files Civil Racketeering Case against Husband for Hiding Assets
http://dealbreaker.com/2009/12/post-137.php
Patricia Cohen, the former wife of billionaire hedge fund guru Steven Cohen, has filed a RICO suit against Steve, his brother Donald, and SAC Capital in Southern District court of New York. Patricia is alleging that Steve conspired with others to conceal “significant” marital assets of which she was due after their ten year marriage. She claims to have become suspicious of Steve after hearing about the Biovail case (on a 60 Minutes special), at which time she began her own investigation. She is seeking $300 million.

Best Texas/Alabama Motion for Continuance so Far
http://abovethelaw.com/2009/12/best_motion_for_continuance_ev.php
Comes now Jon B. Terry, as one of the attorneys for the Defendants and would move to
continue the current trial setting of January 4, 2010 and as grounds therefore would aver as
follows:
1. This case was set for trial several months ago before certain monumental events occurred
that were beyond the anticipation of the attorneys and the clients.
2. Since the setting of this case, one of the two great college football teams in this State has
reached levels on a national scale that have not been enjoyed by any team in this State in 17 years next preceding the date hereof….

Setting Stage for ‘Lawyer’s Dream’ Divorce, Tiger Woods’ Wife Retains Attorney Sorrell Trope
http://www.abajournal.com/weekly/article/setting_stage_for_lawyers_dream_divorce_tiger_woods_wife_retains_attorney_s

Weekly Links

Law

Lawyers Second Most Likely Profession to Have Car Accidents
http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/lawyers_second_most_likely_professional_to_be_in_a_car_crash

21st-Century Babies – Building a Baby, With Few Ground Rules
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/13/us/13surrogacy.html
With surrogacy arrangements, states differ on who is considered a parent, leading to surprising or undesired results. Family law has not caught up with the technology. In this story, five parties were involved: the egg donor, the sperm donor, the surrogate and the intended parents. But as the dispute over the twins reveals, surrogacy arrangements that go badly can have profound implications, particularly for the children.

People not Divorcing because House Values are Down
http://www.smartmoney.com/personal-finance/real-estate/recession-divorce-and-home-they-dont-mix/
“It used to be that couples fought over the house because of continuity and stability for the children,” says Fadi Baradihi, president of the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts. “That’s not happening anymore. Now everybody wants to run from it.”

Tech

Dictation App for iPhone
http://lifehacker.com/5422606/dragon-dictation-does-voice+to+text-transcription-on-your-iphone

Project Scheduling Software
When I worked in construction, we used specialized software for scheduling projects. I’m evaluating whether this adds value for lawyers or is any benefit above and beyond Outlook. I found some free alternatives to Microsoft Project that I’m test-driving:
Ganttner – http://webworkerdaily.com/2009/04/23/gantter-puts-ms-project-online/
OpenProj – http://openproj.org/openproj

Other

What Makes A Person Good Scam Bait?
http://consumerist.com/2009/12/what-makes-a-person-good-scam-bait.html
Seven principles of human behavior that work against us when we’re being targeted in a scam. I like learning about how people think and the psychology you can use to get people to agree to things. While it’s not technically a law article, it can be related to how we negotiate (or how we can be pressured into agreeing).
A great list of scams that con artists pull – http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/techreports/UCAM-CL-TR-754.pdf

How to break up in an online world—and avoid e-stalkers
http://arstechnica.com/web/news/2009/10/how-to-break-up-in-an-online-worldand-avoid-e-stalkers.ars
Breaking up is indeed hard to do. It can be even harder when you realize that you follow your ex (and more importantly, your ex follows you) on all the social networks—especially if one or both of you really shouldn’t be. Follow these basic steps to make life easier and protect yourself from being bugged, harassed, or stalked.
Detailed Instructions for Facebook’s New Privacy Tools
http://gawker.com/5427077/the-valleywag-guide-to-restoring-your-privacy-on-facebook

Weekly Links

News:

Federal Law Limits Legal Advice
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/02/us/02scotus.html?_r=1&scp=4&sq=&st=nyt
A federal law forbids advising clients “to incur more debt in contemplation of” a bankruptcy filing. The Supreme Court just heard oral argument on how this affects what lawyers may say to their clients. It would be interesting to know how this law would affect us if one of our clients is anticipating bankruptcy.

How to Negotiate Anything
http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2009/12/08/you-can-negotiate-anything/
How to use the three crucial variables of negotiation (time, information, and power) to get what you want. Also, tips on other factors like sunk costs and silence.

Text Messages: Digital Lipstick on the Collar
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/us/09text.html?_r=2&hp

Tech Tips:

Five Best Outlining Tools
http://lifehacker.com/5419988/five-best-outlining-tools?skyline=true&s=x
I’ve used OneNote, Word, and FreeMind for outlining. FreeMind is an interesting and potentially very useful mind-mapping software that can help you plan the story you’re telling and keep track of the facts/evidence you need for each point. Some lawyers are huge fans of OneNote, but I haven’t found that I can stick with it.

Top 10 Downloads for a Road Warrior Laptop
http://lifehacker.com/5419603/top-10-downloads-for-a-road-warrior-laptop
If you’re feeling very tech-savvy, you can try some of these tips. I’ve been thinking about tethering my laptop to my phone so that I can get online from anywhere using cell networks. It’s available for iPhones.

Unlock a Password-Protected PDF
http://lifehacker.com/5419172/freemypdf-liberates-your-pdf-file-from-printing-and-other-restrictions
Sometimes people will send PDFs that are locked against printing or editing. There is software available to get around these restrictions. Also be aware of this if you ever use the password-protection feature.

Some Humor:

Texas Attorney’s Motion to Compel Prosecutor to Drop English Accent http://abovethelaw.com/2009/12/texas_motion_to_drop_english_accent.php

Law School Moment:

Decentralizing Family: An Inclusive Proposal for Individual Tax Filing
http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2009/12/infanti-.html
When I was in law school, we spent quite a bit of time in my Family Law course discussing whether taxes and other financial privileges/penalties should be based on the marital relationship. Lately, it’s trendy to talk about moving to an individual-based tax filing system rather than a marriage-based system, and here’s a new article proposing one such system. It brings up some interesting ideas.
*Download the paper at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1503543

If that’s not entertaining enough for you, here’s some Tiger Woods marital agreement news:
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/trusts_estates_prof/2009/12/more-on-tiger-woods-new-marital-agreement.html

Weekly Links

10 Tips Every iPhone User Should Know
http://www.iphonedownloadblog.com/2009/11/19/10-iphone-tips-tricks/
 
Texas’ gay marriage ban may have banned all marriages
Fort Worth Star-Telegram , Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009
Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer and Democratic candidate for attorney general, says that a 22-word clause in a 2005 constitutional amendment designed to ban gay marriages erroneously endangers the legal status of all marriages in the state. The amendment, approved by the Legislature and overwhelmingly ratified by voters, declares that “marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.” But the troublemaking phrase, as Radnofsky sees it, is Subsection B, which declares: “This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.” http://www.star-telegram.com/668/story/1772481.html
 
Adventures in Lawyer Advertising: Texas Firm’s Kiddie Porn Practice Group
http://abovethelaw.com/2009/11/adventures_in_lawyer_advertisi_9.php#more
A Houston criminal defense firm with oddly-specific practice groups. Additionally, an opportunity to examine some questionable marketing choices on the firm’s website.

 
A More Perfect Union
New York Times, December 6, 2009
This one’s kind of a long read, but it’s an interesting story about what happens when a couple with a normal marriage tries to improve it through therapy – do things get worse or better?
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/magazine/06marriage-t.html?_r=1&em

KoonsFuller Family Law

Family Law Attorneys

KoonsFuller, PC, is a large family law firm with five fully staffed offices located in Texas:  Dallas, Plano, Southlake, Denton, and Houston. KoonsFuller has an experienced family law attorney for every family law matter. We have both the knowledge and resources to serve clients in matters including complex divorce litigation; property settlements of all sizes; marital agreements; asset tracing, valuation and division; child custody, possession and access, support and paternity; and trial and appellate work, as well as offering litigation alternatives such as mediation, settlement conferences, arbitration and collaborative law, across Texas and the nation.

KoonsFuller offers clients a great choice of proficiency and temperaments when choosing a family law attorney. Skilled and well-qualified KoonsFuller attorneys handle most cases individually. For the larger and more complex cases, this firm can assemble a team with the resources you need. This team will consist of well-qualified and meticulous family law attorneys who use their expertise to help with the specifics of a case. Their approach the various aspects of their knowledge of divorce and related matters will create a strong advocacy team that works on a dedicated course. The team will be focused on the best interest of the client and, when applicable, the client’s children and/or business.

Big Firm Benefits

The goal of the KoonsFuller family law attorney is to provide this law firm’s unique approach — big-firm benefits in a boutique atmosphere — to family law clients throughout Texas and the nation. All KoonsFuller Family Law attorneys have the vast resources available to them. We have five office, but our infrastructure allows us to operate as one firm.

The firm consists of experienced, dedicated, talented attorneys plus their support staff, operating from offices in the Uptown area of Dallas, West Plano, Southlake Town Square, Denton and our newest office, Houston.

Weekly Links

SalesForce Contact Management
This is one option for keeping contact information, tracking your interactions, and generating reports of who you haven’t talked to in a while. http://www.salesforce.com/
 
Financial Decisions to Make as You Divorce
New York Times, November 13, 2009
Divorce may be one of the most damaging financial events in the lives of those who go through it, but that isn’t always immediately clear to a couple about to split up. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/14/your-money/14money.html?em
 
Who Knew I Was Not the Father?
New York Times, November 17, 2009
It was in July 2007 when Mike L. asked the Pennsylvania courts to declare that he was no longer the father of his daughter. For four years, Mike had known that the girl he had rocked to sleep and danced with across the living-room floor was not, as they say, “his.” The revelation from a DNA test was devastating and prompted him to leave his wife — but he had not renounced their child. He continued to feel that in all the ways that mattered, she was still his daughter, and he faithfully paid her child support. It was only when he learned that his ex-wife was about to marry the man who she said actually was the girl’s biological father that Mike flipped. Supporting another man’s child suddenly became unbearable. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/magazine/22Paternity-t.html?_r=1&em
 
Thousands flock to Paris’ divorce fair
Washington Times, November 9, 2009
The city of romance got a lesson in love’s hard knocks Sunday, as thousands flocked to the French capital’s first divorce fair. The “New Start” trade fair aimed to tap into that booming market by bringing together 60 stands offering up services obviously related to separation – law firms and counselors – and also more obscure disciplines aimed at helping people get back on their feet, such as tarot card readers, makeover specialists and self-esteem coaches. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/09/thousands-flock-to-divorce-fair/
 
For Gay Couples, ‘Traditional’ Divorce Isn’t Always an Option
What happens when divorce isn’t a possibility? That’s the bind (or nightmare) that some gay couples can easily find themselves in. This post will serve as the first installment in a two-part series on gay divorce. Consider this: A Florida couple travels to Massachusetts to get married. Seven years later, they decide to divorce, only they can’t — unless one partner first moves to Massachusetts for at least a year. http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/17/for-gay-couples-traditional-divorce-isnt-always-an-option/
Seven Tips for Dissolving Gay Unions
http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/18/gay-divorce-part-2/