Predicting Divorce

(I first saw a note about this article on Don Philbin’s ADRTOOLBOX site. 1 )

Like the break-ups themselves, divorce rates are a complicated subject to study.

Questions abound: Should we really want divorce rates to go down? Is it true that about half of American marriages end in splitsville? And why are so many baby boomers ending things all of a sudden?
— Drake Baer, Thrive Global. (2017, November 6). 5 factors that may predict divorce, according to psychology. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/06/health/predict-divorce-partner/index.html

As a mediator helping people to resolve their differences in the process of obtaining a divorce (and a judge formerly presiding over that finality), I was struck by the quandary of “should we really want divorce rates to go down.” Unfortunately (and I think, oddly) the article does not address that question!

On the other hand, it does lay out the promised 5 factors. None are much of a surprise to family law practitioners but it is helpful to keep them in mind. They are instructive and of use perhaps most useful to any reader with children to educate on the dangers that may lurk ahead in their relationships.

Returning to the original question: I think “yes,” we should want the divorce rates to go down as marriage is still an essential institution in American society. Knowing these 5 dangers in advance is useful but I believe that we need more attention can be given to how to repair a marriage that is getting in trouble. I thought it not a good idea when judges lost the power to order a couple to counseling. Perhaps that should be revisited.

In the meanwhile, pre-divorce mediation can be a good tool to smooth the departure, if not avoid it. Mediators should not try to be marriage counselors but getting the discussion going is useful if productive conversation can be obtained.

Footnotes:

  1.  5 Factors That May Predict Divorce – ADR Toolbox. (2017, November 19). Retrieved from http://www.adrtoolbox.com/2017/11/5-factors-may-predict-divorce/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+adrtoolbox+%28ADR+Toolbox%29

DWT – the new driving offense

Driving while texting. Or DWCW — Driving While Communicating Wirelessly. Some cities have had ordinances on the books banning DWT for some time, and we all know the no-DWT in school zones. But this is comprehensive.

I am going to shamelessly steal an excellent write-up Jerry Bullard that was recently communicated, but not wirelessly while driving!

As of September 1st, texting and using other types of electronic messaging while driving is illegal in Texas.  HB 62 prohibits drivers from using “a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped.”  Under the new law, “electronic message” means “data that is read from or entered into a wireless communication device for the purpose of communicating with another person.”  However, it is an affirmative defense to prosecution if a driver uses a portable wireless communication device in conjunction with a hands-free device or to do, among other things, the following: (1) navigate using a GPS or other navigation system; (2) report illegal activity, summon emergency help, or enter information into an app that provides information relating to traffic and road conditions to app users; (3) read an electronic message that the person reasonably believed concerned an emergency; or (4) to activate a function that plays music.  Of course, drivers may still get pulled over if a police officer suspects them of texting or using the device for other prohibited purposes.

HB 62 includes provisions intended to preempt local texting-and-driving ordinances; however, it does not necessarily supersede stricter bans (i.e., hands-free laws) that currently exist in many Texas cities.  . . . .  Also, here is a link to Dallas attorney Jeff Rasansky’s blog, which provides an excellent overview of the law (post-HB 62) and summarizes several municipal ordinances currently in effect: http://www.jrlawfirm.com/blog/texas-texting-and-driving-laws/#hands-free.

Violations of the law enacted by HB 62 are punishable by a fine of $25-99 for first-time offenders; $100-200 for repeat offenders. HB 62 also provides that, if an accident caused by prohibited conduct results in the death or serious bodily injury of another person, the driver can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000 and confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year (in addition to any other charges or penalties).

— From an email by Jerry D. Bullard of Adams, Lynch & Loftin, P.C., Grapevine, TX. (with permission)

Managing someone else’s money in Texas

A Toolkit to deal with a growing population of “age”

The Tools

The Texas Appleseed Project and AARP have produced a set of guidelines for persons managing someone else’s money. It includes:

Help for Agents Under a Power of Attorney

Help For Supporters Under A Supported Decision-Making Agreement

Help for Court-Appointed Guardians of the Estate

Help for Representative Payees and VA Fiduciaries

Help for Trustees Under a Revocable Trust

The project page as the expected caveat

This toolkit does not give legal advice. If you have questions about your responsibilities, talk to a lawyer, read our guides as background or visit the “Seniors and the law” webpage at TexasLawHelp.

and I likewise state that inclusion of these references is not intended to give legal advice and no representation is made of the quality of these materials.

An aging population

The population over age 65 in Texas is projected to grow from an estimated 3 million in 2015 to more than 9 million by 2050. Many of those individuals will need help managing their affairs – some through the appointment of a guardian. Texas currently has more than 50,000 active guardianships. OCA is working to provide resources for courts and guardians to help protect Texas’ most vulnerable citizens. — Texas Office of Court Administration, Newsletter April 2017

A tremendous growth of an increasingly needful population, and an opportunity for attorneys to assist, and to redress mischief when it occurs. My observation in mediating cases where guardianships were in place, or needed to have been in place, or where management (or lack thereof) of funds was occurring — is that misunderstanding and misfeasance were as prevalent as malfeasance.

Perhaps these aids will assist better compliance.

DWI roadside tests

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a middle-ground decision on the rights of drunken driving suspects, ruling that police officers can require a driver to take a breath test without obtaining a warrant, but not a blood test.

Wall Street Journal. (2016, June 23). U.S. Supreme Court Takes Middle Ground on Drunken-Driving Tests Without Warrant – WSJ. Retrieved June 27, 2016, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-supreme-court-takes-middle-ground-on-drunken-driving-tests-without-warrant-1466692448

It’s a certainty in Burnet County now that a warrant will be obtained to take a blood sample. This Supreme Court decision is really of no importance to the areas that have gone “no refusal” either all the time or, as Austin does, during certain weekends and days of special events.

The evidence obtained by a blood test, if obtained by a valid warrant, is almost impossible to beat. Therefore, just don’t drink and drive.

STEM at long distance

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Scary topics for many students.  Nepris, an online platform that makes it possible for K12 teachers and students to connect with industry experts, brings real world relevance and improves student engagement in STEM subjects. 1

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