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Gregg's Blog

Shared custody and stress on children

by Gregg Herman on 05/22/15

Milwaukee County Judge Michael Dwyer posted a link on the AFCC listserv to an article entitled "This Divorce Arrangement Stresses Kids Out Most."  As reported in Time Magazine, "a new study, published Monday in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, suggests that children fare better when they spend time living with both of their parents."

This study is just the latest in a long argument over whether children are better spending time with both parents equally or having a primary home.  One side says that children need both parents equally.  The other side says that children need stability and too many transitions create stress.

In my opinion, both sides miss the central point.  Before getting there, however, it is necessary to remove certain circumstances, particularly domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness and geography (parents living too far from each other to make equally shared custody possible or practical).  The other common exception deals with teenagers with driver's licenses.

Assuming, however, all else is equal, the central point is not the particular schedule, but the level of conflict between the parents.  In other words, children have less stress if their parents don't fight and this factor trumps any particular placement schedule.

So while studies like this one are interesting, unless it studies the additional stress on children if the parents litigate over them, it misses a critical factor and is thus rather meaningless.

Wisconsin Supreme Court

by Gregg Herman on 05/21/15

The latest from our Supreme court is from an article in the MJS that three justices apparently "boycotted" the swearing in of Marquette Law graduates due to the continuing argument over whom is chief judge.

As if the legal system did not have enough public perception issues, we need this?

It is a shame that Justice Abrahamson will likely be remembered as the judge who refused to step down. 

There is a story that Alfred Nobel funded the Nobel prizes after reading a premature obituary which highlighted his discovery of dynamite.  He decided that when he really did die, he did not want to be remembered for something destructive, but for something positive.

I have disagreed with many opinions written by Justice Abrahamson, mostly in criminal cases.  I also have criticized the restructuring of the lawyer disciplinary system done under her watch.  But while I have strong disagreements with her, at the same time, I have great respect for her.  She is brilliant, caring and scholarly.

Much as she might want to stay as Chief, the voters have spoken - and spoken clearly.  Even if she is technically correct that the new method of choosing a chief should not start until the end of her term (and I suspect she is not correct), the "cost" entailed by a justice suing her fellow justice is not worth it.

We are democratic country.  We need to accept the verdict of voters whether we agree with it or not.

And we owe it to our profession to not make a mockery of it.

Off topic: Traveling to India and Nepal

by Gregg Herman on 05/01/15

The reason for no posts here for the last few weeks is that I've been traveling.  This last trip was to India and Nepal [Personal to Rev. Lick:  That makes 51 countries].

Some thoughts:

1.   We left Nepal Wednesday afternoon, three days before the earthquake.  Timing is everything.
2.   Why does it seem that earthquakes hit the poorest countries?
3.   Answer to #2:  There are a lot more poor countries than rich ones, so the odds favor hitting poor ones.
4.   The highlights of the trip were mostly the expected ones:  The Taj Mahal is as magnificent as in the pictures and the two boat rides we took on the Ganges were spectacular.
5.  The most unexpected highlight was simply watching the drivers in India.  There are few stop lights outside of Dehli, few traffic laws (or at least that are enforced) and a huge amount of traffic including cars, buses, trucks, tik-tuks (small three-wheeled taxis) and motorbikes.  Then, factor in the occasional cow - or herd of cows - in the middle of the road.  Nonetheless, despite several long bus trips, we never saw a single accident.  Contrast that to Beijing where we never went out without seeing an accident and usually several.  Watching Indian drivers negotiate traffic is worth the trip in and of itself.
6.  Nepal was surprisingly much cleaner and seemingly more prosperous than India, which is not what we expected.  There was minimal garbage strewed around and there were actually sidewalks in Kathmandu.  There were traffic cops at each intersection and motorists were paying attention to them.
7.  Taking the train in India is an experience in and of itself.  While there were no people sitting top of the train, getting into and out of the station was a matter of mob mentality.
8.  We were told to be prepared for aggressive beggars and peddlers.  Perhaps due to my experience living in Israel for a year and having traveled in parts of the mideast, it was very mild in both countries.
9.  Two good things about traveling:  It's good to get away and see new and different places.  And it's good to get back.


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