Video Transcription:

Normally when parents have an issue with communicating with each other, there is a great website that a lot of attorneys and judges use, called OurFamilyWizard. Now this is an online calendaring program where both parties can actually log in and create an account for their children. On this website, they can post the children’s extracurricular activities, doctors’ appointments, they can even include requests for exchanges of weekends and whether or not the other custodial parent will actually accept or deny those exchanges. And you can post uninsured medical expenses all to the same website.

One of the benefits is that you can’t go in and change the information from the website and if a judge wants to, they can always log in, and look, and review the communications between the parties. If you have a disagreement about whether or not you exchanged weekends, or agreed to a different schedule other than your order that’s in place, you can also refer to the website as a means of documenting what happens.

I also like clients to consider using this website because when you come in for a divorce, you have to create a story and a history of your relationship, and address the concerns that you’ve had with the other parent, regarding your children or any other situation. If you maintain participation through Our Family Wizard website, then that’s all been documented for you, and you can just hit print and we will have all of that documentation ready to go, and it’s in admissible form for the court. The courts now are actually requiring a lot of parties to participate through Our Family Wizard, and this is a good way to keep everybody accountable for their actions.

Ramos Law Group, PLLC, your family law team of experts.

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The Supreme Court of the United States released their opinion on Obergefell v. Hodges. The decision came down to a 5-4 vote, with Chief Justice Roberts dissenting, joined by Justice Scalia and Thomas. Justice Alito also filed a dissenting opinion in which Scalia and Thomas also joined.

Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent delivers his opinion that the Supreme Court over –stepped their boundary as a Court, and thus have stolen this issue from the people of the United States. He dissents that the Constitution gives the Supreme Court the power to say what the law is, not what the law should be.  This statement really seems to portray the entire center of his dissent.  Further, he calls the decision of the court an “extraordinary step” and “ an act of will, not legal judgment.” He brings forth the realization that it can be tempting and an onerous job for Justices to rule on controversial issues, as they can easily confuse their own personal preferences with the requirements of the law.

He states that the Court is “not concerned with the wisdom or policy of legislation and the majority neglects that restrained conception of the judicial role.” Basically, Chief Justice Roberts again forces his theory of over-step, as the Court interpreted what the law “should be.”

Further, he makes clear that his dissent is not about his personal views on same-sex marriage, but rather it is about our democratic republic and the theory that this decision rests with the people of the United States and not with the Supreme Court of the United States. He also delves into a long list of precedential cases and historical cases such as Loving vs. Virginia, which gave interracial couples the right to marry.

He continues in his dissent to reference the majority, who provided definitions for marriage, as well as the historical and societal views of marriage and the marital relationship.  His two cents regarding the union of marriage seem to boil down to the idea that marriage is fundamental and did not come about as part of a political movement. He further states that, “marriage arose in the nature of things to meet a vital need: ensuring children are conceived by a mother and father committed to raising them in the stable conditions of a lifelong relationship.” Further on this thought, he states and implies that procreation is a societal need and that society has recognized the act of procreation between a man and a woman as marriage.

He again explains that the majority’s view and decision is more of a social policy than of a matter of constitutional law. He explains that the majority’s argument “stripped of its shiny rhetorical gloss  is that the Due Process clause gives same- sex couples a fundamental right to marry because it will be good for them and for society.”

To make his dissent even more forthright and impactful, he read his dissent from the bench, something that he has never done in all of his ten year term as a Justice!

Justice Antonin Scalia, a fellow dissenter of the Chief, characterized the decision as a “judicial Putsch” and suggested that, before he signed on to an opinion like the majorities, “I would hide my head in a bag.”

Obergefell v. Hodges, No. 14-556, slip op. at 28 (Sup. Ct. June 26, 2015).

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Last Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States released their opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Obergefell consists of a number of consolidated cases that originated from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee, all states that limited marriage to a union between a man and a woman.  The petitioners in Obergefell are fourteen same-sex couples and two men whose same-sex partners are deceased.

The petitioners sued the state officials who are responsible for enforcing the state laws in question.  All of the trial courts, the individual United States District Courts in the petitioners’ home states, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

The respondents appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which consolidated the matters and reversed the decisions of the trial courts.  From there, the Petitioners sought review by the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Supreme Court review considered two issues on review:

  • Whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex; and
  • Whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to recognize a same-sex marriage licensed and performed in a state that does not grant that right.

The Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment does require both.  Justice Kennedy authored the majority opinion in the 5-4 decision, in which Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined.

The Court held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment extends to certain personal choices.  Examining numerous previous decisions regarding the right to marry, the court held that such analysis requires conclusion that same-sex couples have the right to marry.  The Court notes that the reasons that marriage is fundamental apply equally to same-sex couples.    First, the Court addresses how the right to marry is central to personal autonomy.  Second, the Court notes that the right to marry is fundamental as it promotes the two-person union over others because of the level of commitment.  The third basis is that it protects children and families.  The Court notes that all parties are in agreement that same-sex couples provide children with loving and nurturing homes and that the children of same-sex couples, without the protections of marriage between their parents, suffer.  Finally, the Court notes that marriage is an integral part of social order in our country.  Justice Kennedy notes that, although limiting marriage to opposite-sex unions may have seemed natural and just, such limitation conflicts with the central value of the fundamental right to marry.

After discussing that the right to marry is fundamental, the court holds that under both the Due Process and the Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, same-sex couples may not be deprived of the right to marry.

Next, Justice Kennedy turns to the second question presented.  As the Court held that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry in all states, there is no legal basis for a state to fail to recognize a marriage based on its same-sex nature when lawfully performed in another state.

In conclusion, Justice Kennedy writes:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.  In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.  As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.  It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage.  Their plea is that the do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves.  Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.  They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law.  The Constitution grants them that right.

Obergefell v. Hodges, No. 14-556, slip op. at 28 (Sup. Ct. June 26, 2015).

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