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Entries from April 2014

Posted on Apr 22 on 2014

If you’ve turned on the news this month, odds are you’ve heard about Gwyneth Paltrow’s separation from her husband, Chris Martin. They appear to be going about it quite amicably, and for that we should applaud them. However, Ms. Paltrow has taken it a step further by labeling her divorce a “Conscious Uncoupling,” and recruiting a couple of experts — Dr. Habib Sadeghi, a physician specializing in combining Eastern and Western medicine, and Dr. Sherri Sami, a dentist — to discuss this alternative style of divorce.

They concede that divorce can be a messy situation, but posit that our nation’s high divorce rate “might actually be a calling to learn a new way of being in relationships.”

The problem is that the “science” Sadeghi and Sami use as the foundation for their theory is extremely shaky. They go to great lengths to explain that the average human lifespan has “skyrocketed” from 33 in the Paleolithic period, to 76 and 78 for men and women today. They conclude that since our ancestors didn’t live that long, they weren’t in relationships with the same person for 25 to 50 years. Since we’re living two to three lifetimes compared to early humans, maybe society’s expectations of lifelong mating is unrealistic.

The problem is their theory is based on a convenient misunderstanding of the facts. These oft-quoted statistics are heavily skewed by childhood deaths and infant mortality rates. When a great deal of children die in their first few years, the “average age” at which people die is brought down significantly.

Sorry, doctors, but our turn-of-the-century ancestors weren’t dropping dead en-masse in their mid forties. In fact, the maximum human lifespan for those that make it to adulthood has remained more or less constant for thousands of years.

While the foundation of the theory is misguided, the conclusion they draw is downright disturbing. They state that, “The idea of being married to one person for life is too much pressure for anyone. In fact, it would be interesting to see how much easier couples might commit to each other by thinking of their relationship in terms of daily renewal instead of a lifetime investment.”

I’m worried that the theories presented here may give the reader a license to interpret the smallest irritation as a sign to “uncouple.” Irritations are a realistic part of every relationship, not a side effect of mankind’s difficulty with lifelong bonds in the face of our increasing lifespan. Part of entering into a partnership is agreeing to work through those challenges.

I’m no expert in the evolution of human relationships, but I know a thing or two about divorce. At its worst, divorce is an ugly, difficult affair with lasting emotional and financial ramifications. I’m happy for Ms. Paltrow and Mr. Martin, as well as any couple that can agree to end a marriage partnership in an agreeable way. I only wish they would think a little harder about their responsibility as public figures before releasing potentially damaging relationship advice.


Posted on Apr 22 on 2014

Many states including California have determined that texting while driving is not safe. It could be argued that these same rules should apply while you are going through any legal proceedings, especially in family court.

In today’s world, everyone is texting and emailing. Immediate responses to emails and text messages have become the norm and when you do not respond right away, there is likely a follow-up message asking for you to answer the initial text or email. All of this instant communication has many positives and has made our lives easier in many ways. However, there are certain drawbacks and in the context of a divorce or custody dispute it might be a good idea to take a step back from always clicking on reply without any delay.

Computer stored documents, social network communications, emails and text messages are all being used, at an increasing rate, as forms of electronic evidence (e-evidence.) These forms of communications have revolutionized how we engage with others, but it is also altering the types of evidence available to be presented in court.

As long as the evidence can be authenticated and is relevant, it should be admissible. All of those seemingly frivolous text messages, emails and Twitter or Facebook posts can all of a sudden become evidence in a legal proceeding. Because all of this information has the possibility of being presented in court, it is critical that during the course of a legal proceeding, and really at all times, you are thoughtful about what you are sending. Just because you have deleted that last text message you sent, does not mean that the person receiving it did not save it. In fact, with the memory of cell phones today and the multiple applications and programs available, it is easy to retrieve years of text messages and emails sent and received.

We divorce attorneys have seen a rise in the number of cases using evidence from smartphones. The most common form of evidence consists of text messages, then emails, phone numbers, call histories, GPS and Internet search histories.

A couple of questions to ask yourself before you hit send:

1. Am I okay with a judge reading this?
2. Am I okay with my children reading this?
3. Am I writing this out of anger and frustration or does it serve a legitimate purpose?

– Sarah Rosenblatt