This is crowd-sourced appeal to readers… I’m looking for divorce litigators to interview outside of the U.S. One restriction is that they have to be able to speak English. This is for a book project on which I am a co-author. We’re particularly interested in the following countries: Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan. However, we would be happy to learn about other places as well.
This draft chapter shows what we’ve got so far (England, Denmark, Iran, Switzerland).
One thing that we’re trying to figure out is how many countries worldwide make having a child following a casual encounter potentially more profitable than going to college and working. (Easily done in California, Massachusetts, New York, and Wisconsin, for example.) How many other governments set up these kinds of economic incentives?
We want to know if other countries have large variations in the profitability of children across provincial boundaries, comparable to the Wisconsin/Minnesota border for example (the child who yields a $20 million profit in Wisconsin will yield only about $200,000 in profit over 18 years, above USDA-estimated child-rearing expenses, across the bridge into Minnesota).
We want to know which other countries assign different cash values to children from the same parent. [From our book: New York can serve as a simple example. Consider a married couple with three children. The wife goes away for a few weeks to help a sick relative. The husband goes to the neighborhood bar, drinks too much, and, by the time the wife returns he has gotten three women pregnant. The first woman to sue gets 17 percent of his gross income. The second woman gets 17 percent of the 83 percent remainder (14 percent). The third plaintiff gets 17 percent of 83 percent of 83 percent (about 12 percent). Roughly 43 percent of his pre-tax income will thus go to satisfy these court orders. Roughly 50 percent of his income will go to pay local, state, and federal income taxes. The three children and the wife of the marriage will thus be living on 7 percent of his income while each extramarital child gets a larger, but different amount.]
We’re curious to know if selling abortions is a standard practice anywhere outside of the U.S. [In case you’re not familiar with the practice, here are some excerpts from our draft book:
“The Supreme Court made abortion legal with Roe v. Wade in 1973 and Congress made abortion profitable in 1988 with the federal Family Support Act [that required states to develop child support guidelines],” is how one attorney summarized the evolution of law in the last quarter of the 20th century. The new state guidelines made an out-of-wedlock child just as profitable as the child of a marriage. Our interviewees report that it did not take long for people to put these two legal innovations together and thus began the age of women selling abortions to men. “If the child support guidelines make having a baby more profitable than working,” a lawyer noted “it only makes sense that 5-10 years of the average person’s income is a fair price for having an abortion.”
In many of the jurisdictions where child support is substantially more than the $9,000 per year that the USDA estimates as the actual cost of caring for a child we learned about the practice of selling abortions. From the Massachusetts chapter:
Due to the $40,144 number at the top of the guidelines, the 23 years over which child support is payable, and the convention whereby a defendant must pay a plaintiff’s legal fees, Massachusetts is one of the most lucrative states for the marketing of abortions. In our interviews we learned about a 40-year-old entrepreneur who was dating a seemingly carefree 25-year-old. Two months later, the young woman presented the man with a positive pregnancy test result, a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet showing the $923,312 in child support that he would owe over 23 years, plus a likely $300,000 college budget and additional amounts for health insurance, day care, etc. Her attorney offered to sell her abortion for $250,000 plus legal fees and the cost of the abortion itself. The man paid the $250,000, which was tax-free to the woman. Could that be considered extortion? “It is not extortion nor illegal to threaten to have a baby,” responded Harvard Law School professor Jeannie Suk, when asked to consider the facts of this incident. Asked to comment on the prevalence of abortion transactions in Massachusetts, another attorney said “This is a good state in which to work your mind and education, but it is a great state in which to work your body and child.”
Attorneys report that one issue in abortion sales is establishing paternity. “When I’m involved in an abortion transaction on the father’s side,” noted one lawyer, “I recommend a paternity test if there is any possible doubt. The person who sells an abortion is not necessarily the most reliable source of information.” Is it possible to do a paternity test on a fetus? “Absolutely,” the lawyer continued. “They can do it after a couple of months using the mother’s blood and a blood sample from the father. It’s called ‘NIPP’ [Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity] and relies on the fact that some of the baby’s DNA makes its way into the mother’s blood.”]
We want to find out which countries have administrative procedures, as opposed to litigation, for ending a marriage and what the typical costs are if the person initiating the divorce does choose to litigate.
We are interested in whether a country has a custody presumption(e.g., 50/50 if the parents don’t agree on something else, mom always wins, mom always wins until the kids are Age X, etc.) and, if favoring one parent with primary custody is common, whether there is a statutory schedule for the child to see the other parent (or if the schedule itself can be the subject of litigation; see the Texas Standard Possession Order for a unique U.S. jurisdiction where parents can’t fight over the details).
We want to know the extent to which it is possible to obtain a de facto divorce via a domestic violence complaint (see “Criminal Law Comes Home” from the Yale Law Journal for how this works in the U.S.; also this more consumer-friendly article by David Heleniak in the Rutgers Law Review).
Basically we need to be put in touch with English-speaking working divorce litigators in other parts of the globe. Thanks in advance for any help.