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As family law practitioners know, dividing property during a separation is rarely a straightforward matter. Things become significantly more complicated when there are pensions and retirement benefits involved. The prolonged process of splitting up retirement assets requires a complex kind of calculus, one that can frustrate even the most seasoned practitioners.

Thankfully, you don't have to handle these tricky issues alone. The Rutter Group's upcoming Dividing Pension and Retirement Benefits program is there to help you navigate these complex issues.

Surrogate Mom Threatened by Birth Father Sues in California Court

A woman has brought suit in a California court to avoid having one of three babies aborted in utero. Yes, you read that one right.

The case shines a rather troubling light in that area of the law generally known as surrogacy law: contracts having to do with the births of children. It goes to show you just how far contract law can apply -- the very limits of decency.

California Court Rejects Teen Mom's Habeas Corpus Estoppel Theory

A California Appellate Court has rejected a San Diego teen mother's appeal to overturn a lower court's decision which finally put an end to her parental rights.

The case is the latest in a series of unfortunate developments that first started years ago when Kemper gave birth at 16 years old. Only days after her child's birth, the baby was taken away and she was deemed unfit as a mother.

Is spanking a child, even with a shoe, child abuse? Not always, according to the California Court of Appeals, which recently reversed a juvenile court's finding that a mother's sandal-aided spanking was physical abuse. The categorical view that "hitting children with shoes" is forbidden physical abuse and "not a proper form of discipline" isn't supported by the law, the court found.

But don't get out the belt just yet, disciplinarians. The court's ruling is hardly an invitation to spank your children with impunity. Here's why.

Right-To-Die Lawsuit Rejected by California Appeals Court

The Associated Press reported yesterday that a California appeals court rejected a lawsuit brought by Christy O'Donnell and two other terminally ill patients who sought to legalize the procedure for doctors to prescribe them fatal medication.

The court ruled that current law would criminalize physicians who helped patients commit suicide. The news comes as a blow to the patients in light of this month's signing of the California's physician-assisted suicide law. This is ironic because O'Donnell's face has become synonymous with California's freshly legalized right to drug-assisted suicide.

Incarceration is no good for families. For parents, one of the worst parts of a prison sentence is being separated from one's children. For kids, incarceration can lead to stress, developmental delays, and financial and emotional trauma. In such situations, incarceration can injure the families of offenders "as much as, and sometimes more than, offenders themselves," according to studies.

Recognizing the problems caused by incarcerating offenders with minor children, California created an Alternative Custody Program in 2010. California's ACP program allows participants to spend a portion of their sentence outside of prison, maintaining contact with their children. The program, previously limited to mothers, must now be made available to all eligible inmates, a federal court has ruled.

Call it a family law case for the modern age. The question of who controls a couple's frozen embryos after divorce goes before the San Francisco Superior Court today in what could be a precedent setting trial. The case is the first in California to address what happens when one half of a couple wants to preserve embryos that the other half wants destroyed.

As a result of the increasing popularity of in vitro fertilization, there are more than 600,000 frozen embryos in the United States, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Most of those are left over from successful IVF procedures, their futures uncontested. However, a few of those embryos are increasingly becoming the center of custody disputes during divorce and separation.

Riverside Co. CPS Takes 'Thousands' of Babies, Lawsuit Claims

Is Riverside County Child Protective Services taking newborn babies away from their mothers without so much as a warrant?

That's what a federal class action suit, filed last week, claims. The lead plaintiff, a baby known only as A.A., claimed that Riverside County systematically takes "thousands" of newborns away from their mothers -- and that a "large portion" of these takings are from African Americans and poor families.

Randy Jackson Escapes 21-Year-Old Child Support Order

In 1989, Steven Randall "Randy" Jackson, one of the famed musical Jackson children, impregnated Alejandra Loaiza. She filed a complaint for acknowledgement of paternity and child support, along with a proof of service. Jackson does not deny that he is the father of the child, Genevieve Katherine Jackson, or of their second child, Steven Randall Jackson, Jr.

But, he claims that he was never served in the initial lawsuit. A proof of service claims otherwise. The following year, a law firm which represented him in a bankruptcy proceeding filed a substitution of attorney in the case, naming him as in pro per, but never filed a proof of service. That's two reasons to believe that he was served, but was it enough?

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California Supreme Court Refuses to Stop Gay Marriage ... Again

The California Supreme Court has refused to stop gay marriage for a second time this week.

"Once more, with feeling" is the name of a musical episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Coincidentally, it also describes the California Supreme Court's position on Proposition 8, otherwise known as the bane of the court's existence the 2008 ballot measure that banned gay marriage.

The court "slayed" (or is it slew?) a request by San Diego County Clerk Ernest J. Dronenburg Jr. for a temporary hold on same-sex marriages. This comes after the court rejected a similar request last week by the sponsors of Prop. 8.