(CNN) — A key part of the law banning federal recognition of same-sex marriage was struck down as unconstitutional by a U.S. appeals court Thursday. The Defense of Marriage Act — known as DOMA — defines marriage for federal purposes as unions exclusively between a man and woman.
Same-sex marriage an election hot topic
Forget fighting like cats and dogs. These days, divorcing spouses are fighting over their cats and dogs.
On Tuesday, News 4 Tucson investigated the rising number of pet custody battles, which attorneys surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in 2006 say have increased substantially in the past decade.
Pets are considered property in every state in the country, according to the local news report, so judges often have their hands tied when couples come to them looking to reach custody agreements for their pooch.
“The court really doesn’t have any authority to give somebody rights of access or time with a pet,” Tucson attorney Elisabeth Benavidez said.
Instead, Benavidez said many couples are resolving their pet custody issues outside of court, hammering out civil agreements separate from the main divorce settlement to determine who gets the pets. In a recent case, Benavidez helped one divorced man secure visitation with his Chihuahuas every other day for at least an hour. Conflict among divorcing pet owners has become so common that many lawyers are suggesting couples with pets sign “pre-pup agreements” in addition to a pre-nuptial agreement, the Daily Mail reported in March 2010.
Washington (CNN) — Maryland’s highest court has ruled that a lesbian couple married out of state can legally file for divorce, even though Maryland’s own same-sex marriage law does not take effect until next year.
Upon further review, Facebook and marriage aren’t incompatible.
In the past two weeks, the idea that the popular social-networking site plays a role in one in five divorces was reported by many news organizations. This wasn’t the first time that surprising number has surfaced—it has appeared in news reports periodically for the past year and a half.
Some lawyers do say that they see Facebook and other social media playing a role in divorce these days, as people rediscover old flames online or strike up new relationships that lead them to stray from their marriage vows. But lawyers and marriage researchers say there isn’t much evidence to support the notion that social-networking sites actually cause marriages to sputter.
In fact, both the marriage and divorce rate in the U.S. have declined as Internet usage has risen, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. An annual survey of U.K. matrimonial lawyers by the accounting and consulting firm Grant Thornton has found that during the Facebook era, infidelity’s role as the primary cause of around one-quarter of divorces has been stable. In an email, a Facebook spokesman called the notion that the site leads to divorce “ludicrous.”
Yet the 1-in-5 number has thrived in part because it helps fill a vacuum: There isn’t much reliable research about what does cause divorce. Academic researchers don’t even agree on how to approach the question. Some have searched for predictive demographic factors, such as age and income. Others have studied married couples’ relationships to see which characteristics presage a split. Determining whether a couple is likely to break up, though, is different than identifying the actual cause.
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Although divorce rates are decreasing across the nation, an interesting trend is emerging: divorce rates among baby boomers are on the rise. This group alone, composed of individuals ranging in age from their late forties to late sixties, is now responsible for one in four divorces.
This rate continues to grow, and women claim to initiate over 66 percent of these divorces, according to a survey conducted by AARP.
What is fueling the increase? Experts speculate this empowered generation of women famous for shattering social mores in the past is prepared to do it again, all in the pursuit of happiness.
Factors Contributing to Divorce Among Boomer Women
Researchers found traditional moral taboos against divorce no longer held troubled marriages together; instead children were serving as the glue. Once baby boomer women become empty nesters, they often take a step back and reevaluate their marriages.
An increasing rate of these boomer women are not happy with what they see. They often have careers and feel financially secure enough to walk away from an unsatisfying relationship.
Divorce affects everyone; even the superheroes of the silver screen. Nearly a year and a half after Scarlett Johansson’s divorce from Ryan Reynolds, she opened up in the May issue of Vogue Magazine on her private marriage and equally private divorce. “It was devastating. It really throws you. You think that your life is going to be one way, and then, for various reasons or whatever, it doesn’t work out.”
While it does take some time, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Scarlett comments that her work in the movie We Bought a Zoo was comforting; something needed to begin the healing process. She has been dating Sean Penn. So fear not, this may just be an opportunity for you to learn more about yourself and perhaps find the person who truly completes you.