April 2012 Archives

April 26, 2012

Does Cohabitation Before Marriage Make Divorce More Likely? The Debate Rages On.

1381938_39880399_04302012.jpgThe number and percentage of couples choosing to live together before, or instead of, getting married has vastly increased over the past few decades. Couples in America may choose to cohabit either as a prelude or an alternative to marriage, and they may do so for a variety of reasons, from the purely financial to the deeply personal. The practice remains controversial for some, though, and studies conducted over the years have reached conflicting conclusions about what, if any, effect cohabitation may have on a couple's prospects for success in marriage.

A recent opinion piece in the New York Times claims that the total number of cohabiting couples in the U.S. has increased by over 1,500 percent in fifty years, from around 450,000 in 1960 to about 7.5 million today. According to a 2001 nationwide survey conducted by the National Marriage Project, two-thirds of respondents believed living together before marriage would help prevent divorce. The Times author claims that experience suggests otherwise, although she cites a government report that suggests the divorce rate among cohabiting couples is declining. Citing stereotypes about women viewing cohabitation as a step towards marriage and men viewing it as a means of avoiding commitment, she concludes that cohabitation leads to people getting "locked" into marriage and then later divorcing.

A writer at the Huffington Post offers a mismatched comparison of a ten percent cohabitation rate in the 1970's that increased to a rate of fifty percent among women ages fifteen to forty-four in the 1990's. The writer cites research from the University of Denver that claims that people who do not cohabitate, and people who only cohabitate after getting engaged, have "more positive marital relationships," meaning fewer divorces. The researchers reportedly concluded that people who cohabitate before marriage "drift into marriage" with a different level of commitment, a somewhat similar conclusion to that of the New York Times piece.

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April 19, 2012

California Divorce Report: Heidi Klum, Seal File for Divorce from One Another

Emmys-bennett-klum-sealGerman-born supermodel Heidi Klum filed for divorce from her husband of almost seven years, British-born singer Seal, earlier this month in Los Angeles. The two had separated, seemingly amicably, in January, Seal filed a response to Klum's divorce petition a few days after receiving the papers, suggesting that a more contentious case could be in the works. Several issues could be in dispute, including division of property and custody of their four children.

Klum has been famous for her modeling work in the United States since the 1990's. She currently hosts the television show Project Runway. Seal's music career began in the late 1980's and took off in the early 1990's. He has won numerous awards, including four Grammys. The two began dating in 2004 and were married in May 2005.

Klum was pregnant with her first child when she and Seal began dating. Seal legally adopted the child, Helene "Leni" Klum, in 2009, and her last name was changed to Seal's legal last name, Samuel. They have three biological children: son Henry, born in 2005; son Johan, born in 2006; and daughter Lou, born in 2009.

The couple announced their separation in January 2012. They told People that they decided to separate "after much soul-searching." They described the process as "amicable," saying that they still loved one another but had "grown apart." It was not clear at the time if or when the two would formally divorce.

Klum filed a divorce petition in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, April 6, 2012. She cites "irreconcilable differences" as the grounds for divorce, and requests primary custody of the four children with visitation rights for Seal. The petition reportedly claimed that the couple has a post-nuptial agreement that determines property division and other issues.

Seal filed his own counterpetition for divorce on Tuesday, April 10, contradicting many of the claims in Klum's paperwork. Seal is requesting joint custody of the children. Despite Klum's claim of a post-nuptial agreement, Seal's court filing asks the court to assist in dividing "community and quasi-community assets." Klum's net worth is reportedly estimated at around $70 million, while Seal's is about $15 million. News sources now claim that "unnamed sources" say Seal has "rage issues." The divorce case clearly has the potential to be less-than-amicable.

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April 12, 2012

California Loses Storage Devices Holding Personal Information of 800,000 Child Support Obligors

Data cartridge 1The state of California ran a exercise in March 2012 to test its ability to operate its child support system from a remote location in the event of a disaster. The procedure established to do so partly involved transporting computer storage devices containing the data needed to run the child support system to a secure location. The exercise reportedly went well with one exception: the contractors employed by the state to run the exercise lost four storage cartridges containing as many as 800,000 California child support obligors' personal information. This may include not only the obligors' names, birthdates, social security numbers, and home addresses, but also names of employers and health insurance providers.

Child support consists of a parent's (or other adult's) obligation to make payments for the care and support of that child (or children) to the person having actual custody of that child. This is most commonly one parent paying support to the other parent, but other arrangements do exist. A person paying child support often also provides health insurance or other medical support for the child. An obligor's net monthly income usually determines the amount of support, so the obligor's employment and income information are highly relevant to the child support office's work. Keeping this information secure is extremely important.

The loss occurred on March 12. The cartridges were reportedly at an IBM testing facility in Boulder, Colorado. After the successful tests, Iron Mountain was to transport the cartridges back to California. Since Iron Mountain only offers ground transportation, it reportedly arranged to have FedEx fly the cartridges back. A spokesperson for California's Office of Technology Services told the Associated Press that the container may have been inadequately secured, causing the cartridges to fall out. The cartridges vanished somewhere in transit between Boulder and Sacramento.

The Department of Child Support Services said that the loss of the cartridges will not delay processing or payment in child support cases. The state notified the three credit reporting agencies of the security breach. It also notified all obligors and others possibly affected by the breach via e-mail on March 12. It recommends that people who may have been affected protect themselves from possible identity theft by putting fraud alerts on their accounts and requesting copies of their credit reports.

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April 5, 2012

Former NBA Star Dennis Rodman in California Child Support Dispute

Dennis Rodman ToPoDennis Rodman, the former "bad boy" NBA star, was in an Orange County courtroom in late March on a contempt of court charge for failure to pay child support. The court had found him in contempt in November 2011 based on non-payment. Rodman and ex-wife Michelle Rodman have two children. She alleges that he owes over $860,000 in combined arrearages of child and spousal support. Rodman claims that he owes far less, if anything, and that he has evidence of past payments that have not been credited. His sentencing was rescheduled to May 29, and Rodman's attorney says they may move for the court to vacate the contempt order. He could face twenty days in jail.

Rodman played in the NBA from 1986 until 2000, with most of his time spent with the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls. He continued to play in the semi-professional American Basketball Association, not affiliated with the league of the same name that merged with the NBA in the 1970's, and in Europe for several years until he retired from basketball in 2006.

Rodman has a daughter with his first wife, Annie Bakes. They married in 1992 and divorced in 1993. Rodman had a highly-publicized marriage to Carmen Electra in 1998 that lasted all of ten days. They formally divorced in 1999. Rodman married Michelle Rodman (née Moyer) in 2003. The couple already had two children, a son born in 2000 and a daughter born in 2001. Michelle Rodman filed for divorce in 2004, but they spent several years attempting to reconcile. The divorce was not finalized until this year.

Alcohol and substance abuse issues have formed a major part of Rodman's public persona, along with what the Los Angeles Times calls his "wild ways." He owned a home on the ocean in Newport Beach known for loud parties. Police reportedly made eighty calls there due to noise complaints. He sold the house when the divorce began in 2004. In early divorce documents, Rodman listed assets including $3.4 million in property and $1.45 million in stocks and bonds. He also claimed over $31,000 per month in expenses. He has reportedly already cashed out his NBA pension to pay California taxes but still owes $350,000 more.

The NBA Hall of Fame inducted Rodman in 2011. He says that endorsements, licensing deals, and other offers have begun to come in. Rodman now lives in Miami, and says that he is on good terms with his children and their mother, despite the ongoing court battle.

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