Friday, June 26, 2015

See How Far We Have Come?

Twenty years ago, while I was in law school and no states in the country recognized gay marriages, we barely debated the issue of gay marriages, in fact it seemed the enactment of DOMA (The Defense Against Marriage Act) which defined a marriage for purposes of federal law as only the bond between a man and a woman, was a clear indication that unfortunately our nation was not at all ready to entertain the idea of gay unions.

Somehow in the 21st century, in large part I think we must credit social media, the gay-rights movement gained national attention, and by 2013 over a dozen states recognized gay marriages, which then created some uncertainty as to what would happen with unequal treatment of these individuals for purposes of federal rights or the application of matrimonial laws in the event of death or divorce in different states.  Lawyers cannot live with ambiguity, so it was not a surprise to hear that the Supreme Court finally struck down DOMA as unconstitutional on June 26, 2013, a day I will vividly remember because I learned of the decision just as I was exiting DC Superior Court, and therefore I was able to easily walk to the Supreme Court to see the rainbow flags and people celebrating the news.

Two years ago, after DOMA was declared unconstitutional, President Obama stated, "the laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free."  Fast forward just two years later (with only about 12 states not on board with recognizing gay marriages), and finally today, once and for all, the Supreme Court has stated that bans on gay marriages are unconstitutional. As Justice Kennedy so eloquently stated: No union is more profound than marriage for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family... [the petitioners] respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves.. they ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

Today is a momentous day demonstrating just how far we have come in the evolution of family law over the last 40 years, and it has been an honor over the past 17 years to be part of many of the sweeping changes that promote a broader view of how we define a family and what we need to consider in the best interest of our children.  

Supremes- you earned your name today-- well, at least 5 of you.

Friday, June 5, 2015

What Are You Worried About?

Unless you are a child, whose every possible needs and wants are taken care of, everyone worries about something.  As young adults, most of us worry about our grades, whether we are choosing the right career, or if we will find a good partner to create a stable family with us.  Then, starting in your mid-30's just when you think the big worries should be over after hitting all the right benchmarks, the really difficult questions start popping up:

(1) Finances- Are you making enough money to live comfortably?  Have you saved enough?  Are you satisfied with your career, or is it not all you thought it would be?  These are all good questions, and you need to find the answers to them now, not later.  It is normal to worry about money if you are GenX or a Millennial because unlike our parents, we haven't grown up in an era that believes in guaranteed pensions, Medicare or Social Security, and we actually aren't even sure if our kids will have a better life than us.

(2) Aging- Are you coming to terms with your fading youth?  Let's face it, by mid-30's we all start to see our metabolisms slow down, as our hair starts to gray, and little lines slowly start to appear on our faces.  Some of our peers and our elders for sure are developing health issues; meanwhile, for women, our child-bearing years are coming to an end, and for those who have not found the right person to have a child with, now is the time to look into other options including fertility treatments and adoption, if you can see yourself as a single parent.

(3) Relationships- Are you satisfied with your personal relationships?  If not, now is the time to implement some changes.  Start by working on yourself-- what are your real needs and wants?  Do you make those known clearly?  Do you compromise too much, or not enough?  Where is it that you can improve?  As you start to change, just keep in mind that many will resist any alterations to the status quo.  Don't run from the friction, face it-- and teach your kids to do the same.  Lasting relationships are meant to evolve, those that do not become extinct. 

When tackling these difficult issues, it helps to know that you are not alone.  Whether rich or poor, famous or not, all of us will grapple with these challenging subjects.  Just don't ignore the problems or try to slug through any of them on your own because a small worry can easily grow into something bigger than it needs to be, and if you let yourself become filled with dread you will soon find yourself totally paralyzed with fear, and that is exactly how someone can become stuck in a hopeless situation, unable to see anyway out.

It is normal to worry, and unless you are from Mars, I'm betting that if you take a good look around, you will find plenty others that share your pain.  You just cannot let fear set in and lose hope in finding a solution.  Talking with others, and working collaboratively with experts, I am confident you can find ways to ease your worries.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.