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DIVORCE IS ALWAYS HARD

© 2010 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire, Miami Florida
Divorce as an emotionally taxing event, has been depicted often in literature and film. Most will think of the 1989 film,“The War of the Roses” (based on book of same name by Warren Adler), in which an ongoing vitriolic battle between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner turns self destructive. There is We Don't Live Here Anymore, a 2004 movie by John Curran, based on the short stories We Don't Live Here Anymore and Adultery by Andre Dubus (whose son is Andre Dubus III, House of Sand and Fog). There is Kramer vs. Kramer, the 1979 Academy Award winner with Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, based on the book by Avery Corman. My favorite divorce book and movie, however, is The Accidental Tourist, novel by Anne Tyler. Marriage can end with anger, greed or the need for revenge but for William Hurt (Macon Leary) and Kathleen Turner (Sarah), far more subdued than in The War of the Roses, marriage ends with profound sadness, in loneliness and alienation. The two who love each other, both need but are unable to offer comfort to the other. They drift apart, Sarah unable to stop herself from blaming and Macon unable to start living again following an unbearable loss. Their son was shot and killed in a robbery. Sarah, a take charge person, believes that Macon “could have taken steps’ to prevent their son’s death. Macon, bearing some guilt, withdraws from life, writing a series of books for reluctant travelers called The Accidental Tourist. In a sense we are all accidental tourists subject to the whims of life’s exigencies. Macon’s life reignites accidentally with the help of a quirky, dog training woman (Geena Davis), with a young son, who draws him out of his shell. Read the book and learn why Anne Tyler is said to make one laugh and cry at the same time. That is also my regular reaction to reading the Internal Revenue Code.
HARD TIMES DIVORCE
Divorce can also be financially taxing and the tax consequences, if not understood, will add to that distress... Read More »

Russian Divorce for New Jersey

Karina Duvall
The Decision refers to the doctrine of comity and states that Russia recognizes New Jersey’s Marriage and Divorce. If Russia recognizes marriage and divorce in New Jersey, then New Jersey must recognize a divorce in Russia too. Read More »

YOUR TAX RETURN

© 2010 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire, Miami Florida
Every winter just following the New Year’s arrival, Americans revisit a dreaded and tedious process - gathering together tax information. The tax filing season, as tagged by tax professionals who from it earn a living, culminates for most with the filing of a tax return some time before April 15 and for some not until October 15.

It is appropriate that we occasionally reflect on the process and its product. The entire affair at times strikes me as bordering on the insane. Often, it feels wholly irrational to spend as much time as we do pondering and fretting about a largely misunderstood act, the filing of a tax return. Anton Chekov in his novel “Ward Number 6” ruminates on the definition of sanity and who gets to decide who is sane and who is not. Are we insane to subscribe our names to inscrutable documents; or, is the fear of being unfairly punished for one’s ignorance, merely paranoid? One might justifiably feel that the government is setting us up. By making the tax code incomprehensible to all but the highest level of specialized tax professionals (which excludes even most tax preparers) we are perhaps induced often to err in the execution. I suspect that few comprehend how most of the many entries on their tax return are determined. Many who carefully examine a restaurant check before paying, only scantly peruse their tax return before signing and filing.

SELF ASSESSMENT MADNESS
The self assessment tax system is an odd concept. Your real estate tax bill is determined by the county assessor and millage rate. The sales tax you pay is derived from what you spend. How your income tax liability is determined, however, is akin to a customer being allowed to set the price when buying a car subject only to an occasional adjustment by a fair price commission choosing to review one percent of purchases. The taxpayer determines his tax by the income and deductions he reports subject to audit. Matching Forms 1099, K-1s and W-2s has taken away ... Read More »

Moratorium on adoptions from Russia

A.A., Lawyer from NY
Let me clarify - yes, someone should look out for the child's best interests but that DOES NOT absolve one from responsibility of taking a child with all the baggage that it may have. If this woman is not charged with, at least, child abandonment and endangering the welfare of a child, then its just carte blanche for everyone to drop their ill or poorly behaved children - natural born or adopted - at the nearest hospital or police station with a "no thanks" post-it stuck to them.... Read More »

Artem Saveliev

Julia, lawyer from New York
OK, here are my two cents. I think there's blame enough to go around for everyone. Given the well-known corruption within Russian government, I'm sure adoptive parents (whether Russian or American) are not given the full disclosure on the mental/physical status of these orphan kids and that information regarding any physical and mental disabilities is hazy at best. So I'm sure there is at least a grain or many grains of truth in the adoptive mother's claim that she wasn't given "full disclosure". However, you simply don't take a 7 year old child, even if he is a sociopath (by no means proven in this case), and "return to sender" if for no other reason than he is a 7-year old child!!! If you have a modicum of sense and see these kinds of problems in your child--doesn't matter if he's biological or adopted--you find help for that child. That's what a parent does. This one clearly didn't.

So, to the extent there's blame on both sides, hopefully it will get addressed on both sides. Russian government needs to fix its process and transparency at the source and US authorities need to investigate this "mother" for her actions.

The saddest part in all this is that this event has the potential to disrupt many other adoptions of kids who, absent adoptive parents, have no future. Russian media has gone to town with this case making it an example of the "bad Americans". And granted, there are some and there have been well documented cases of Russian kids abused by adoptive American parents. But, who's adopting these kids in Russia? Almost no one because there is no culture of adoption in Russia. Yet, there have been thousands of successful American adoptions. So they don't want to give the kids to Americans, but can't take care of them themselves. Who suffers from this righteous indignation? The kids. The government just gets to score political points.... Read More »
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