Unlike many celebrities seeking international adoptions, one celebrity adopted two children from the United States.  Steven Spielberg, the noted film director, screenwriter and producer, adopted two African-American children from the Los Angeles foster care system and then went on to establish the Children’s Action Network (CAN), a non-profit organization that is dedicated to finding permanent homes to the thousands of children in foster care and improving the outcomes for the more than 500,000 children in system, as well. 

In recent years, international adoption has become vastly popular by celebrities, with the much hyped adoptions of Angelina Jolie’s and Madonna’s children.  The number of healthy newborns and infants available in this country has been decreasing in recent years.  Because of this, more and more U.S. citizens have pursued international adoptions.

Nevertheless, in the United States alone, there are 500,000-600,000 children that live in our foster care system, with over 200,000 awaiting  permanent homes.  Beginning in the 1990’s, legislative measures were passed by Congress aimed at assisting those children in the system.  The Adoption Promotion and Stability Act of 1996 provided a tax credit available for those individuals who adopted foster care children, with the credit rising as high as $13,360 per child in some years.  In a controversial 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable healthcare legislation, better known as Obamacare.  One part of this legislation is the extension, expansion and enhancement of the adoption tax credit provided by the federal government, with legislation introduced this year that would not only expand the credit, but make it permanently refundable as well. 

When an international adoption takes place, although the tax credit wasn’t meant for foreign children, those adopting receive the same tax benefits as those who adopt domestically.  Though international adoptions may add to the diversity of our nation, the intended beneficiaries of the tax credit legislation are those “lost in the system” children in this country’s foster care system.  There are those who feel the tax credit should be used to reclaim children from the foster care system, not subsidize international adoptions.  Accordingly, they feel  the international portion of the tax credit should not be renewed, but allowed to expire, in order to turn taxpayer resources, once again,  back to those whom the credit was aimed for – the children in the foster care system.

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When planning a wedding, to ease the stress and create a more enjoyable wedding, some couples  hire a wedding planner to take care of the time consuming, myriad details of the wedding.  When their marriage fails, those same couples who hired a wedding planner, may turn to a divorce coach to help ease the stress. and in a way, make the divorce process more enjoyable, by assisting the couple with the myriad details of their divorce.

A divorce can be an emotional, life changing time in a person’s life and some people need help in coping with not only the emotion’s that arise, but the legal and financial ramifications involved in a divorce, as well.

The concept of a divorce coach appears to have started with Dr. Kim Lurie, a Merrick, New York, attorney back in the 1990’s when she began calling herself a divorce coach.  However, the term “divorce coach” doesn’t start showing up in newspapers until the 2000’s, when professionals such as attorneys, financial mediators, psychotherapists and others began reinventing themselves as divorce coaches.

Today, couples can work with several divorce coaches, each specializing in different areas, such as finances or co-parenting.  A couple needs to find a  coach that fits their needs, one who is competent and has the specialized training needed to help them navigate their divorce.

Divorce coaches can give a person pre-legal advice, thus minimizing the time spent talking to lawyers, which in turn, reduces the amount of paid out, as a coaches fees are less than a lawyer’s fees.   However, most divorce coaches are used in conjunction with divorce attorneys.  Brigette Bell, a Chicago divorce attorney, speaking about divorce coaches, said, “I love then, and if I had my way, I’d never work without them.  They help manage the clients and support them by bringing a different set of skills to the divorce process than we do.” 

A divorce coach is not there to give legal counsel or be a therapist, but is there as a guide.   Randall Cooper, co-founder of CDC College for Divorce Coaching in Tampa, Florida, says his job is to be his client’s “thinking partner, to create a safe, supportive, nonjudgmental and patient environment.”

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Chad “OchoCinco” Johnson has not had the best thirty days of his life.  As most will remember, last month he was arrested for domestic violence when he allegedly head-butted his wife during an argument, leaving her with a 3-inch gash on her forehead.  Because of the incident, the wide receiver was dropped by the the NFL team, the Miami Dolphins, and his reality TV show was canceled as well.  Johnson’s estranged wife, Evelyn Lozada, filed divorce papers soon  after the domestic violence incident claiming her marriage to be “irretrievably broken,”  but Johnson refused to sign the papers, as, according to TMZ, the former NFL star was attempting to win Lozada back. 

It now appears that Johnson has finally accepted the fact that his marriage to Lozada is over as he filed divorce papers in Florida last Thursday.  The divorce documents he filed show that he too believes his marriage is “irretrievably broken”.  Johnson, however, does not want to pay for Lozada’s legal bills and wants a judge to block his wife’s request that he pay for all of her legal bills and lawyer fees.  He cited a provision in their prenup in which both parties agreed to pay their own way if they were to separate.

Johnson was officially charged with misdemeanor battery for the alleged head-butting of his wife, and last week, although not attending the arraignment, had his lawyer plead not guilty to the charge on his behalf.  If  convicted of the charge, Johnson may be spending one year of his life in jail.

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When two individuals marry to circumvent U.S. immigration laws, this is considered a fake or sham marriage.  For a marriage to valid under the law, even though a couple may have gone through a marriage ceremony and received the proper government stamps on their marriage certificate, this may not be enough to constitute a “real marriage.”  The couple has to intend to live in a real marriage relationship following the marriage ceremony.  If a couple does not intend to establish a life together, but just married so one partner could obtain a U.S. lawful permanent residence – a green card – this marriage is a sham.

Thirteen Central Florida residents have been indicted in a marriage fraud scheme that authorities say was used to help  illegal immigrants get around immigration laws and gain U.S. citizenship.  The Department of Justice caught suspects from not only Florida, but from Louisiana, New York and Colorado in Operation Knot So Fast.

According to Department of Justice authorities, Bethania Deschamps, 49, of New York, recruited American citizens to marry immigrants in order for the illegal immigrants to fraudulently become legal U.S. residents.  Deschamps would receive a recruiting fee once the American citizen and the immigrant were married.  These immigrants also paid a fee to Ender Rodriguez, who had spent time in prison in 2008 for conducting a similar scheme.  Rodriguez used marriage petitions to prepare and file fraudulent documents on behalf of the immigrants.  In 2008, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit immigration benefit fraud.  The 21 people charged in Operation Knot so Fast, could face up to five years in prison if convicted of marriage fraud.

U.S. Immigration officials have become quite adept at discovering  fraud by examining what looks like insignificant details of people’s lives.  Officials have learned to cross-check dates and facts within the application forms and between the forms and people’s testimony.  Those who enter into fraudulent marriages often trip themselves up just trying to get through the standard process, and Immigration officials catch a lot of people who thought that a fake marriage was going to be easier than it really is.  Both partners in a sham marriage face possible criminal prosecution for their fraud.

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When two people meet, are attracted, fall in love and begin a relationship, as the old saying goes, everything comes up roses.  However, when one partner in the relationship, wants out and the other partner does not, problems can arise.  These problems are compounded when there is domestic violence in the relationship. 

A woman from Dr. Phillips was found shot to death inside her home on Sunday.  A person of interest in her shooting death was her ex-boyfriend, who had been accused of domestic violence against her in the past.

Orange County homicide detectives announced that Kristopher Gould, 33, faces first-degree murder charges in the shooting death of Jorgete Acarie.  Gould is being held at Volusia County Jail after detectives found him sleeping on a Beach near Daytona on Wednesday.  He was taken to jail after he gave officers a false name and was charged with sleeping on the beach.   Gould was granted bail on the charge of sleeping on the beach by a Volusia County judge, but is being held on bond on Orange County charges that include throwing a deadly missile into Acarie’s house and a probation violation as well. 

On Sunday, police were responding to a house alarm and found Acarie’s body inside her home around 5:30 a.m.  The woman was found in bed next to her and Gould’s uninjured two-year-old son.  According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, the boy has been placed in protective custody. 

According to court filings, Gould has a history of both threats and harassments against Acarie.  He threatened to kill the victim and her family in April 2011.  Acarie’s attorney, Even Self, provided photos dated March 2011, which show Acarie with two black eyes.  On August 20 of last month, according to public records, Acarie called 911 to report harassment by Gould.   Acarie stated that Gould was banging on her door at 1:30 a.m., then at 3:30 a.m., a brick flew through her window.  When Gould began screaming at the victim to let him in, she called 911.  When police arrived, she told police of what had occurred and that Gould drove away in a black Nissan Altima.  However, when police knocked on the door of Gould’s home, he did not respond, and nothing more was done at that time.

Domestic violence usually occurs when one partner, usually a male, feels the need to control and dominate the other partner.  Feelings of low-esteem, extreme jealousy, anger problems, feelings of being inferior to their partner in education and socioeconomic background, all can lead to one partner committing domestic violence. 

No one should put up with domestic violence, whether it be physical, emotional or verbal, at any time in their relationship.  Domestic violence destroys families and threatens the well-being, and at times, the life of spouses or partners and children.  Contact an experienced domestic violence lawyer if you have been a victim, or fear you will be a victim, of domestic violence.

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