Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Missing Spouse

Oh this one comes up a lot lately.   I have no idea why there is a sudden run on people wanting a divorce after being separated for years.   I mean that literally, years.   Then they wander into the clinic or call my office wanting to know how they can get a divorce.   Usually no kids no property so pretty easy right?   Not so fast.   They have no idea where the missing spouse is.

You see there is this pesky thing called the U.S. Constitution.   The Sixth Amendment says no on will be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.   Now, in a divorce, no one gets killed, and you get liberty not be deprived of it.   However, divorce is about property.   Pure and simple.  Oh and money.   But for the purposes we are discussing now, let's just say money is property.   That means a decision about the property cannot be made by the court without due process.

What is due process?   Well that means the person is afforded a chance to make his/her case in court.  In order to be afforded the chance, one has to know there is a court case.   That means getting served with the divorce Complaint.   The spouse has to receive the documents.   If the missing doesn't know about the case, the court is not going to act.

What does this mean for the person wanting a divorce?   It means putting in some effort to locate the person.   One can't just throw up one's hands and say "I have no idea where they are."   It means knowing a last address.   It means contacting friends and family.   It means going on Facebook and doing a search.   If one doesn't put in the effort, the court is not going to make an exception in the case and proceed without proper notice.   And I can guarantee the attorney is not going to pay out of pocket to hire a private investigator or even do all the things I suggested for free.   If you want to pay an attorney to do the search fine.   But if you want the divorce but don't want to pay or don't want to put in the effort, it is not going to happen that simple.

Okay, you've made an effort, you did all those things.   You just can't find the person.   All is not lost.  You can still get what we call "alternate service."   But that is the last attempt not the first.   You would not believe the people who want to go right to posting at the courthouse.   In order to get to alternate service, the judge has to sign off on serving that way.   And no judge is going to sign off on just posting without any other efforts being made to locate the person.   Because the person has to know there is a court case.

If you want a divorce, get one sooner rather than later.   If you wait years, the other person can wander off.   Thereby creating huge headaches that a lawyer cannot wave their magic law wand and solve.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

More on Fantasy Sports - What Else You Could Be Doing With that Money

If you saw my previous post, you know I am not a fan of Daily Fantasy Sports Sites.   I just see too many families already in debt and these sites only make it worse.   They make it seem so easy.   They have contests beginning at $1 and you could win a million.   Except those $1 contests don't have the $1 million prize.    I have seen a distinct uptick in cases involving gambling, where the track, casinos or DFS.   But the place of gambling may be different, but the outcome is the same.   Money lost that can be put to better use.

Let's see what else you can do with that money.   Here are some actual entry fees from one of the major DFS sites.     I did it for the basic entry fee then figured out if you entered that same contest for each week of the NFL season.   I chose NFL because I prefer football to any other sport.   Plus the season is pretty compact.    Just imagine these numbers over the baseball or basketball season.

Entry Fee
17 Weeks
To be fair, they also have some contests for $.25.   You want to enter a couple of those, have fun.   It's spare change (although even that adds up).    But no one enters ONE $.25 contest once.   You enter multiple contests to increase your chances of winning.   And you do it all season long.

Just at $5, you spent over the cost of the season, your monthly cell phone bill.

The $10 over 17 weeks is your electric bill for one month.

$12 is an extra car payment after 17 weeks.   You make that instead and you are reducing your principle which reduces the total cost of your financed vehicle in the long run.   

Let's get into the serious money here.   $100 is already your water bill or cell phone bill.   Just one contest instead of paying that bill.   Over the course of the season that is your mortgage payment.  

For $200 each week, you could pay off your credit card bill.   

If you saved that $300 over 17 weeks, you have a downpayment on a nice condo.

The sites do their best to make sure you don't realize how much you are spending.   Eh, what's 5 contests at $5 a contest?   Well, that's $25.  Which is a tank of gas.    Over the course of the season that is your car payment twice over.  You could pay your car insurance at once instead of each month.  

Interest rates might not be exciting, but if you can afford to put that much money into DFS each and every week, you have that much to put into savings for a real emergency.   You spend the equivalent of a tank of gas every week and then the day after the Super Bowl your car dies.   But you have no savings.  Now you have to get a new car with no money down.   It can be done, but you are financing the whole thing.   

$200 a week and you put that into your IRA tax free, by the end of the season you have maxed out on what you can put in in a year.   

The point is, you can put that money to better use for you than giving the money to the site owners for their benefit.   Like more ads every five seconds during the games.   

If you are married to someone who is just won't quit with these sites because he/she is convinced that the next contest will earn all their money back and then enough to pay off the debts, you need to realistically look at your situation.    It's not getting better.   Instead of paying off debt, you are adding to it.   You don't have to put up with it.   You can get out.   There might not be an easy out of the debt.   Maryland does not have "marital debt."   But at least you can put a line under what you can be held responsible for.   Talk to an attorney about your rights and ways to protect yourself.   

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Daily Fantasy and Divorce

No this is not a post about sex.   I hear enough about sex as it is, since the no fault grounds requires the parties not to have lived under the same roof or had sexual relations for at least 12 months.   Then there is the adultery grounds.   Just no more sex, please.

This is about Daily Fantasy Sports sites.   They've been in the news lately and Congress is investigating.   Oh goodie.   How many boxes of reports will that be?   Can we bet on the over/under?   Ooops sorry.   Anyway ...

That's the first issue.   Is it gambling or not?   Technically no.   The NFL and other major sports slipped in an exception to the Internet Gambling Bill that said fantasy sports is not gambling because it requires skill.   So does poker, but we can't have that on the internets anymore.   Besides, you really want to go into court and split that hair?   You think a judge is going to be amused?   You are putting money down on proving you can pick better players than the other people in your "league."   You can lose that money or you can win it back and then some.   If it looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck ...

So, you actually have some skill at DFS and won big.   Yeah right.   The sites pay for all those ads with the losers money.   Chances are you paying for their kids to go to private school instead of your own kids.    You really want to explain to a judge that you didn't pay the mortgage because LeSean McCoy went out with a pulled hammy?   Or the guy who hit it big last week so you all picked him up was benched this week?  

Okay, okay, some people win so they can keep enticing people to play.   Guess what?   That is now income.    No wait it's not because I have losses too, you say.   Sure.   Still income.   As my good friend, Taxgirl pointed out in her great article on DFS, you will get a 1099 from the site at the end of the year with your winnings.   1099 is income for tax purposes.   And it darn sure is for child support purposes.   The Court likes to find money for child support and takes a broad definition of income.   In fact, it Maryland, Sec. 12-201 of the Family Code specifically states that "prizes" may be considered income based on the case.   So you can argue it's not gambling, but it is still a prize for winning.    Do it on a regular basis and I can almost guarantee a judge will consider it income.   And I give very few guarantees about things.

Fine, okay, it's income for child support, but surely not alimony right?    Well, maybe not.   But alimony is based on ability to pay after your basic necessities are taken care of.    Or as one judge put it in a case involving gambling, but not DFS, this is a luxury.   Luxuries you can skip altogether and use that money to pay your ex-spouse alimony.   Again, if you got money to put down on your "team" that means you have money to spare.    If you have money to spare, you can pay to help your spouse out.  It is that simple. Or you can put it away for your kids' college education.   Even with the low interest rates we have now, it's more a sure thing to grow over time than hoping that your favorite player doesn't get hurt.

Should you never use DFS sites?   Well, until Congress gets done, I wouldn't.    But, putting a couple bucks down for fun every once and awhile is harmless, if you can afford it.   Never ever bet the rent money.   And if you do it all the time, not only will you lose in the long run, but it will be considered income.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Finally - Grown Up Divorce in Maryland

As of October 1, 2015, Maryland has a new grounds for divorce.   It's called Divorce by Mutual Consent.   Or as I like to call it "Grown Adults Deciding They Don't Want to Be Married Anymore."   It has some requirements, but it does away with a lot of the more onerous restrictions on obtaining a divorce.

Sadly, this only available to people with no minor children of the marriage.   More on that in a bit.

To get a Divorce by Mutual Consent you must:

1.  Have no minor children of the marriage (in common, with the other spouse, however you want to term it).
2.   Have reached a written settlement agreement resolving all property and financial issues.

3.   In Montgomery County, submit a Joint Line Request with Mutual Consent as the grounds.

4.   Both parties must appear at the final hearing to assent to the agreement (even if it is already signed).

That's it.

There is no longer any requirment that you live separate and apart for any period of time.   This gets rid of the need for people to finance two households for a whole 12 months while waiting to get divorced.   Or finding one of the grounds that do no require the 12 month separation period.   Those 2 are Adultery and Domestic Violence.   You can imagine how well either of those goes over when trying to get a quick, consensual divorce.    Even with an agreement, you had to live under separate roofs for 12 months.   No more.

Also, no requirment for a corroborating witness, at least in Montgomery County.    Both parties have to appear, instead of one.   But that beats trying to round up a friend/family member/coworker who knows you well enough to know you haven't slept (in every sense of the word) with your spouse.   I've had to put off hearings because a witness couldn't be found.

The hearing length is about the same as for the old uncontested.   About 10 minutes.   As one speaker noted when we were learning about this new grounds, Courts are not going to be jumping up and down to rush to grant the divorces.   However, it is a lot easier to get 10 minutes on the docket than it is to find a day or two for a contested hearing.

The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties.   It has to address everything, all marital property, bank accounts, cars, houses, pensions and alimony.   The court will review the agreement for completeness.   If you leave anything out, you might not get a divorce.   Because once you are divorced, you can't come back and ask for alimony or a share of the pension.   So it better either be divided or explicitly waived in the agreement.   This is why you still need a lawyer.   A lawyer knows what needs to go into an agreement.

The only drawback is if you have kids.   You see grown adults with no kids don't have to wait a year, but if you have kids, the 12 month separation under separate roofs still apply.   Even if you reach an agreeement.   You can have a written custody and property settlement agreement which resolves everything, just like in the Mutual Consent grounds, but if there are kids, you can't get it quick.   Why?   I don't know.   The court will still most likely approval the custody arrangement.   The court will still most likely approve the property arrangement.   But for some reason, you are not deemed responsible enough to know you need a divorce if you have kids unless you wait a year.  

It's a step in the right direction at least.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Same Sex Marriage -- It's the LAW of the Land

What a topic to come back on.    Look this is not complicated.    Just like with interacial marriage back in 1967, the state is not going to tell consenting adults who they can love (okay polygamy is a whole other topic that I may explore someday).  

Marriage carries with it a whole bunch of rights that just cannot be conveyed through a "domestic partnership" or a live in relationship.   Rights of inheritance are based on the concept of "marriage."   Did you know in Maryland, you can only give your crab license in your Will to a spouse.   Not your kids, not your longtime love, your legally recognized spouse.   Now Maryland is the home of crabcakes so this kinda of an important thing.

As the Windsor case showed, inheritance taxes between spouses are lower than between unmarried partners.   To the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in that case.

Maryland had fun with this idea.    We actually had gay divorce before we had gay marriage.   I find that hilarious.   It's just a quirk of timing.   Maryland took the "full faith and credit" clause of the Constitution seriously.   If you got legally married in another state, you are married in Maryland.   If you are legally married, you can get divorced then. Not the big of a leap of logic.    The only marriages Maryland doesn't recognize are common law.   And that's probably because they are a pain to prove.   It takes more than just someone saying "hey I'm married."   The Court of Appeals decision came down in May.

It wasn't until voters approved the referenderum the following November that we got gay marriage.   Unlike some places (uh-hemm Rowan County, KY), the clerks even made the licenses available before the January 1 effective date so people could get married on New Year's Eve.   Awwwwwwww.  

No one is going to be divorced from their opposite sex spouse to be forced to marry a same sex partner.   It is highly unlikely churches will be forced to perform gay weddings against their wishes (not all churches oppose gay marriage, by the way) since the wedding itself is very much a religious function not an act of the state.    But here in Maryland, the licenses have been issued for a couple of years now and the world has not ended.   I doubt it will wreak havoc anywhere else in Maryland.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fun with Twitter -- Henry VII

As many of you know, I have a twitter account (eplawyer).   It's supposed to be about family law, but let's fact it, a vast majority of my tweets are about football.   It happens.   I also enjoy following fictional accounts.   I even interact with them, replying to tweets and having a conversation in 140 characters.   One of my best Twitter days was the day that the NIHBear, SUETrex, the MarsRat and HenryTudor all replied to me.   The MarsRat was a little late, but I put that down to the lag time in communications between Earth and Mars.   Is it silly?   Sure.   But I deal with the messiest parts of people's lives after major illness/injury, divorce and custody.   I need some silliness occasionaly.

HenryTudor, better known as Henry VIII is the most fun to interact with.   His ego is as big as his girth.   Plus he is either a divorce lawyer's dream or nightmare.   On the one hand, all that repeat business keeps a roof over one's head and food on one's table.   On the other hand, his choosing to behead a couple of wives rather than going to court is a bit off-putting (a bit???).   Of course, writing up all those pre-nups would be quite lucrative.   What pre-nups?   What do you think marriage contracts and betrothal agreements were?   But again, he found a rather unconventional way to get out of a couple of those.   Beheading again -- with a side of seizure for treason.   Yes, cheating on the King was a form of treason.

After one fun exchange about Richard III yesterday, I thought some more about his divorce situation(s).    Mainly about his divorce from Anne of Cleves.   His divorce from Catherine of Aragon was not pretty.   But Anne did all right out of it.   First, she got to keep her head.   I'm sure she considered that a win right there.   But according to Wikipedia (this is  a blog, not a legal brief, I can cite Wikipedia here), she got Richmond Palace and Hever Castle.   Hever Castle used to belong to the Boleyn family.  Guess how they lost it.   She got some other properties too and was welcome at court as the King's "Beloved Sister."    Pretty good deal and all she had to do was agree to an annulment.   Since there is evidence she wasn't that thrilled with the marriage either, this wasn't too hard to do.

If the marriage is over -- accept it, get the best deal you can and move on.   You might not be beheaded for not doing so, but hey, you might get Anne's deal out of it.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Timing is Everything

Last post I wrote about how long the process can take.   Now I am going to talk about deadlines to do some of those things in the process.    Because if you miss a deadline, you can be out of luck.   SOL does not just stand for Statute of Limitations in the law.

Now, family law does not have any statute of limitations.   You pretty much can file for divorce any time after you separate.   Same with custody.   In Maryland, you have to ask for child support before the kids turn 18.   You also only get child support back to the date of filing, not the date of separation.   So if you wait 5 years after splitting up with the other parent to ask for child support, you are not getting 5 years of back child support.   But that is not a deadline, it's just a cut off for looking backwards.

Moving forwards, there are lots of deadlines in the process.

Once served you must file your Answer within 30 days.   If you don't file, the case can go forward without you.   You won't be heard by the judge, you won't be able to present evidence.   You won't get ask for anything for yourself.   Because you had the chance to get your issues on the record and the court presumes you chose not to do so by answering.

If you are asking the court to do something, you need to do that in a timely manner.   Usually the deadline to amend any pleadings where you ask for something is 30 days before trial.   However, there may be a different deadline in the scheduling order.   Also, if the trial gets continued out for a year or so and you wait until 30 days before the trial date, the court may not hear you on that issue.   You had plenty of time to file, why did you wait so long?    The other side is entitled to notice that something is at issue.   If you try to hide it so they can't counter, you only look bad to the court.  The court hates people who play games like that.

Maryland is a "you don't ask, you don't get" state.   If you want something ask for it as soon as possible.   Because you can't come back later and say "oh yeah, that swampland in Florida, I forgot that we needed to decide who gets it."   The court is going to say "sorry Charlie, too late, case over."  I actually had this come up recently.   Lady was divorced many years ago.   The pension was not addressed.   She wants her share now.   I hated telling her she couldn't do anything about it.   The case was long over and she had her chance.   Whatever the reason for the omission, it is much too late to fix now.

Discovery (requests for information from the other side through questions and requests for documents) must be completed well before trial.   It's not like tv.   There are few surprises at trial.   You must send your discovery requests well in advance of the completion deadline so the other side has a chance to respond.   You must answer in a timely fashion.   If you don't tell the other side who your witnesses are, they can't testify.   If you don't produce documents that are requested, you can't use them yourself at trial.   I get this one all the time, after we do discovery and the pre-trial statement where I have repeatedly told my clients that if we don't tell them about a witness, we can't use them, the client calls me the day before trial "Hey my cousing wants to testify instead of my brother."    Then they get mad at me when I tell them it doesn't work that way.

If you miss deadlines, bad things happen.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Whole Lot of Process Going On

The most common question I get (after how much can I get in child support) is "How long does this take."   The answer does not make people happy.   Court processes are not quick things.   The court wants to make sure everyone involved has adequate notice, then plenty of time to prepare the case.   There is guarantee to a speedy trial in a family law case.   Better to take it slow and easy to better the chances of getting right than rushing to judgment.  

In general, it can take up to a year to have your case heard.   Obviously, no kids, no property, no fault grounds for the divorce it can go pretty fast.   I had one case where the opposing party showed up to file the Answer at the same time we filed the Complaint.   This saved serving the person.   We got a hearing in six weeks for the final divorce.   It was a very amicable divorce and went quite smoothly.   It can be done that quickly if everyone is in agreement.  

However, if you are employing an attorney for anything other than making sure all the paperwork is right, it doesn't go that fast.  

First you have to file the Complaint.   Then the United States Constitution requires due process be afforded the other side.   That means they must have notice of the proceedings.   You would not believe the number of people who come to me and say they want to file for custody/divorce but don't want the other person to know.   Yeah, courts don't work that way.   Notice is a must.   That means serving them.    It would be nice if it could just be mailed, but Maryland requires that if it is mailed, it must be certified mail, restricted delivery, only the Defendant can sign.   The Post Office ignores this and lets anyone sign.   Anyone but the Defendant signs and you have to serve them again.   Personal service, although more expensive than mail is best because you know they got the papers.   If they rip them up or throw them away after that, oh well, that's their problem.

If the person lives in Maryland, they have 30 days to file an Answer to the Complaint (longer times for outside Maryland and outside the US).   Then the court sets a scheduling hearing usually about 1 1/2 to 2 months after the date the person was served.  

At the scheduling hearing, you set trial dates.   Oh boy, does this blow clients' minds.   I just did a couple of scheduling hearings and I am setting trial dates in April in October.   My family teases me about giving me advance notice of stuff.   They just don't get that I set stuff months in advance for court so have to plan ahead for family get togethers so I can tell the court not to expect to see me around those days.  

In Montgomery County where I mostly practice, if custody is contested, they will split the divorce and custody cases, which makes the process longer.   First you set the dates related to custody, then the dates related to divorce.   Usually, the custody case is about 3 months after the scheduling hearing.   Unless you requested a pendente lite hearing (PL hearing) or a custody evaluation.    A PL hearing is fancy lawyer talk for "while the case is pending."  As it takes so long, the court sets an interim hearing to decide certain things like a visitation schedule, temporary alimony, temporary child support and even attorney's fees if the party can't continue the case without the attorney being paid and the party can't pay.   The PL hearing comes about 2 months after the scheduling and that puts the custody case about 2 months later, to give it time to see how things are going.   A custody evaluation is an evaluation by the court of the children and their interaction with the parents.   The evaluator makes recommendations about custody and visitation.   Because the evaluators need time and they are very busy, they need at least 90 days.   So the custody hearing can't be too soon.   Plus they have to present the report before the hearing and give the attorneys' time to prepare a response for trial.

Once custody is decided, then you can get into the divorce.   There is not another PL hearing, but there will be another pre-trial hearing which is one last ditch attempt to settle before trial.   At the pre-trial hearing, you get the trial date for the final divorce.   If there is an agreement, you only need a 10 minute hearing.   If there are still contested issues, the more time you need the harder it will be to find a trial date.   A one day trial is a lot easier to set than a 5 day one.   Also, in Montgomery County, they will not set the final divorce trial date until the parties have been separating at least 12 months.   The court prefers the final grounds to be the no fault grounds.   It's easier to prove, takes less time and affects nothing on the property or financial time.   Saves court time for the real things to argue about -- alimony, pension, who get the house, that fun stuff.    The final decree doesn't say the grounds for divorce anyway.  

But what about emergencies?   Sure you can get in for an emergency hearing, but it better be an emergency if you don't want the court to think you are wasting their time.   What's an emergency?   The judges have made it pretty clear that it means "blood on the floor" someone better be in physical danger.   Or someone better be on the way to the airport to take the kids out of the country.   Anything less and the court might not act.    If it is not an emergency, the court would rather have a full hearing with time to hear from everyone.    Good decisions come from full facts and due deliberation, not rushes to judgment.

It sounds long.   But it works out for the best to take it slow and easy.    Lots of time to settle.   Lots of time to explore the case's weaknesses and strengths and gather evidence.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Facing Reality

Lat post I talked about whether or not you need an attorney for your family law case.   I asked some really tough questions that only you can answer before deciding whether or not to hire an attorney.   Those questions involve you being realistic about your situation.

Facing reality is hard in a family law situation.   Really, really, really hard sometimes.   I often refer to it with my clients as the same as a death.   It is the death of a marriage or a partnership where you intended to raise your kids together.   This leads to a lot of emotions, just like when a loved one dies.   Except you still have to deal with the other person.   The emotions cover all the stages of grief from anger right up to acceptance.   Getting to acceptance can take a long time.   How long it takes is different for everyone.   But whether or not you are there, the court case is going to happen on its schedule, not yours.   So you have to be prepared.  

Just like the death of a loved one, a dead marriage is dead.   It is no more.   It is not "resting."  It is not "pining for the fjords."  It is a dead parrot  -- I mean marriage.   Now that doesn't mean marriage counseling can't save a marriage.   Or you can't reconcile.   Those aren't dead marriages those, those are merely critical marriages that need intervention to be saved.   A dead marriage is one where one person is not interested in saving the marriage anymore, he or she wants O.U.T.  

Knowing that one person wants out of the marriage can be shown in various ways.   Moving in with a significant other and saying "send me my stuff" is a fairly obvious one.   If they have already moved on with someone else, they ain't coming back.   They have moved on.   They will not stand up at the final hearing and say "You know what, you fought so long and so hard to get me back, I realized I still love you.  I'm moving back home."   Nope, the real thing that happens if you continue to try to force the person to continue the relationship is the person hates you even more than they already do.

Another way to know the relationship is over is when they flat out tell you it is over.   "When someone shows you who they really are, believe them," Maya Angelou.   If someone says its over and you suggest counseling and they say no, go by yourself.   Go to help you deal with the end of the relationship, not because you expect to find a way to get the person back.   They showed you they don't want you, accept it.  

There are less obvious signs, but if you look at your relationship realistically, you will recognize them for what they are.

What can you do once you realize the relationship is deader than a dead parrot?  Protect yourself.   Get an attorney to explain your rights to you.   Don't believe everything the other person says about the division of property, custody, child support, alimony, etc.   You might be married to them but they no longer have your best interest at heart.   They are looking out for themselves.   You need to look out for yourself and not rely on your partner to protect you anymore.   Remember the partner wants O.U.T., not necessarily to be fair and reasonable.  

Get counseling if you feel you need it to accept the situation.   Lots of people don't want to get counseling because they feel it will be used against them -- especially regarding custody.   It won't.  Counseling does not equal crazy.   Counseling is seeking assistance.   And we should all do that when we need a little help.   The courts get this.  

What will not happen is the court ordering the person to stay married to you.   Think about it, the person doesn't want you, is unhappy with you and wants to move on.   Totally the court is going to ignore what that person wants and make them stay because that is what you want.   In Maryland, once you are living separate and apart for one year, the divorce is pretty much happening.     See above for what happens when you fight it.   The sooner you accept the marriage is over, the easier it is on you mentally.   If you keep fighting it, you only hurt yourself.   The other person doesn't care anymore.   Does being married give you rights?   Sure -- to the stuff.   Not to the marriage itself.

It takes 2 people to make a marriage work.   If one doesn't want to work at it anymore, there is no marriage.   Accept this fact, even if you need some time to deal with it emotionally.   Protect yourself legally.   But save yourself stress and heartache by facing reality.

Monday, September 8, 2014

DV in the NFL - My .02 on Ray Rice

As the entire world knows, a new video surfaced today of  the Ray Rice domestic violence incident.   This video is what happened inside the elevator.   We all saw the aftermath when a very drunk Ray Rice is trying to get an unconscious Janay Palmer out of the elevator.   The aftermath video may be the only one the NFL saw when they imposed the 2 game suspension on Rice.   Janay herself also accompanied Rice to his meeting with Goodell and pleaded for a light suspension.   What was she going to do with her abuser right there?   Say "suspend his ass forever?"

I even defended Rice after the aftermath video.   The story at the time was that she hit him first.   Hey, someone hits you, you are entitled to self-defense.   Now could you make like Jay-Z and not hit back when struck by a woman?   Sure.   But it is not wrong to defend yourself.   And he was drunk, he might not have realized how hard he hit her since his reflexes were affected.

I stopped defending him after the joint press conference.   Everything he said set off abuse alarm bells in my head.   He was clearly all about control in his talk about "being the head of the family" and "leading."    Again, Janay now Mrs. Rice was right there taking the blame.    Because abused women believe that.   "If only I hadn't provoked him, he wouldn't have hit me.   I know how he gets."   Make no mistake, before the first punch lands, the abuser has mentally abused the victim into believing she deserves it.  

Then the interior video surfaced.   It showed that Rice lied about what happened.   Janay never laid a hand on her.   I don't care what someone says, you don't hit.   You. Do. Not. Hit.   I don't care if it is most vile disgusting thing you have ever been called.   You. Do. Not. Hit.

But face it, the Ravens and the NFL knew he hit her hard enough to knock her out.  That only got him a 2 game suspension.  He got cut and suspended indefinitely for lying about the circumstances that preceded the hit.    The take away here is "Hit your fiancee, just don't lie about it."

Okay she married him.   Why?   Who nows?   They have a kid together.   Maybe he told her he would get custody of the kid because he had more money.   I see this all the time in my practice.   I explain and explain how custody is decided.   In Maryland, the judge must consider any incidents of dometic violence when deciding custody.   The judges have been educated that if domestic violence happens it is not always just confined to the parent and that even witnessing it affects the kids.   I tell my clients that.   They still believe that the barely literate moron they married can somehow manipulate the system in their favor.   That deispite laws about custody, marital property and alimony, the abuser will get everything and the victim will be homeless with just the clothes on her back.   These folks don't even have close to the resources of Ray Rice.   With his millions (even cut he gets $25 million) she knows he has the resources to get a good lawyer who can make things difficult for her.    Who knows what resources she has?    If she even believes she can try.   Remember I said above about the mental abuse?    Yeah, that could be in play here.   She's been told no one will love her like he does, that she is no good, that is it is her fault, etc.   When you believe that, why not stay?   You certainly don't believe you can make it without your abuser.

The Ravens have cut him.   The NFL suspended Rice indefinitely.   Sounds great right?   I'll believe in the ban from the NFL if he never plays another down.   But the reality is, there are different rules in the NFL for good players versus marginal players.   Rice is a very good player.   He can apply for reinstatement next year.    If he promises never to lie again and has taken some anger management classes to show what a great guy he is, I will not be surprised if Goodell decides to "give him one more chance."

The other aspect of the cut and suspension is what will happen with Greg Hardy of the Panthers?   He has already been convicted of assaulting his pregnant girlfriend, but the case is appeal.   He played Sunday.    Ray McDonald of the 49ers has only been arrested.   In this country, innocent until proven guilty.   Let's see what happens if he is convicted.   If he is not convicted,  the NFL should think long and hard about punishing him.   Sure the NFL doesn't need a conviction to suspend someone.   Sure not being convicted means legally didn't do it.   But the NFL can protect the Shield and suspend anyway if they think there were manipulations (like paying off the victim to not testify or the victim was intimidated into not testify) to avoid the conviction.   Either way, the NFL better get all the evidence before deciding again.   And meet with the victim separately, thank you very much.