January 6, 2005: Headlines: COS - Brazil: Jurisprudence: Law: Divorce: LA Times: Superior Court Judge Paul A. Bastine (RPCV Brazil) criticized for stalling Woman's Divorce From Abusive Spouse

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Brazil: Peace Corps Brazil: The Peace Corps in Brazil: January 6, 2005: Headlines: COS - Brazil: Jurisprudence: Law: Divorce: LA Times: Superior Court Judge Paul A. Bastine (RPCV Brazil) criticized for stalling Woman's Divorce From Abusive Spouse

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-43-253.balt.east.verizon.net - on Monday, January 10, 2005 - 1:55 pm: Edit Post

Superior Court Judge Paul A. Bastine (RPCV Brazil) criticized for stalling Woman's Divorce From Abusive Spouse

Superior Court Judge Paul A. Bastine (RPCV Brazil) criticized for stalling Woman's Divorce From Abusive Spouse

Superior Court Judge Paul A. Bastine (RPCV Brazil) criticized for stalling Woman's Divorce From Abusive Spouse

Judge Stalls Woman's Divorce From Abusive Spouse

# He voids an order, citing her pregnancy. Rights groups and legal experts question the ruling.

By Sam Howe Verhovek, Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE The day she was granted a divorce from her abusive husband, Shawnna J. Hughes said, was "the happiest day of my life." But barely a week later, the 27-year-old medical assistant was back before a judge, who rescinded the order after learning Hughes was pregnant by another man.

"Not only is it the policy of this court, it is the policy of the state that you cannot dissolve a marriage when one of the parties is pregnant," Superior Court Judge Paul A. Bastine told Hughes on Nov. 4.

The ruling has provoked outrage among women's rights groups and provided ample fodder for local talk-radio hosts and newspaper columnists.

Experts said there was no blanket prohibition in the laws of this or any other state against pregnant women getting divorced; several Seattle-area family law practitioners said that they had obtained divorces for pregnant clients.

The law states that any Washington resident who files for a no-fault divorce may get one. Hughes' husband did not respond to her petition, and a divorce was granted. But Bastine said the divorce was invalid because Hughes did not learn she was pregnant until after the papers were served, so her husband was not aware of all the facts.

Hughes is appealing Bastine's decision.

The judge said in a telephone interview that the case involved a thicket of other legal issues especially because she was receiving public-aid benefits, and the state had an interest in determining paternity.

But several legal scholars questioned his reasoning, saying that the law provided for paternity issues to be settled separately from a divorce. In Washington, a child born as many as 300 days after a divorce is legally presumed to have been fathered by the ex-husband unless a paternity test proves otherwise. Hughes said she and the man with whom she became pregnant planned to have such a test after the birth.

"I cannot think of any policy that would require this woman to stay married to a person who was in prison for abusing her," said Carol Bruch, a law professor at UC Davis.

In any event Hughes, who lives in Spokane and is due to give birth in March, remains married to her abuser a situation she describes as psychologically devastating. She said her six-year union with Carlos Hughes was "more like a prison than a marriage."

When she got pregnant in June, Hughes said, her estranged husband was serving time for domestic assault. She said she has had no contact with Carlos Hughes, who recently was transferred to a jail in Montana to await trial on federal drug charges, for two years.

But, she said, her husband called her grandmother from the jail and told her that he was taking the pregnancy as "a sign from God" that the couple should be together. "It made my stomach turn," Shawnna Hughes said.

Although there is a restraining order preventing Carlos Hughes from initiating any contact, Shawnna Hughes said she was terrified by the prospect of him coming back.

She has custody of their two boys, ages 5 and 3.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Northwest Women's Law Center, an advocacy group in Seattle, have joined in Shawnna Hughes' appeal. If the ruling is upheld, they say, it not only amounts to discrimination but also could establish a perverse incentive for an abusive husband to get his wife pregnant in order to force her to stay married. And it could prompt some women to terminate their pregnancies to obtain a divorce.

"You can't use a woman's status as a pregnant person to discriminate against her," said Lisa Stone, executive director of the women's law center. "You simply can't say, well, everyone else in the state is entitled to get a divorce in a timely fashion, except this one group of people."

Bastine, who retired Friday after 10 years on the bench, is well-regarded among family-law practitioners in Washington state, known for his efforts to expand access to legal services for low-income clients and his pro bono work, among other things. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil, he served as chairman of the Spokane Legal Services Board before he became a judge.

Some lawyers expressed puzzlement over his blanket statement that pregnant women could not get divorced.

"My personal view is that what Judge Bastine did is not necessary under the law," said J. Mark Weiss, a Seattle lawyer and former chairman of the state bar association's family law committee. "In this type of situation, forcing her to remain married, that's a real problem."

Further roiling controversy in the case, Bastine told Shawnna Hughes that she had forced a prolongation of her marriage on herself with the "intentional act" of getting pregnant.

"You have created the situation by your own actions that delay your opportunity to dissolve your marriage," he said in the Nov. 4 hearing.

Getting pregnant with a friend from her high school days was unintentional, Hughes said, the result of failed birth control.

Regardless, said her lawyer, Terri Sloyer, the standard right to obtain a divorce after the 90-day waiting period should not be affected by a pregnancy.

"What are we telling women here?" Sloyer said. "We're not living in 15th century England."

Carlos Hughes did not return requests for comment submitted to him at the detention center in Montana. A reporter for the Stranger, an alternative weekly newspaper in Seattle that first wrote about the case, met briefly with Hughes last month. But he declined to discuss the controversy, saying: "I want to talk to Shawnna first."

Shawnna Hughes has a houseful of responsibility, with her two young sons as well as her own brother, 8, and sister, 16, whom she looks after. She has said that she and the man she says is the biological father plan to name the child they are expecting Jazmine Aurora.

Asked whether she had any wedding plans, Shawnna Hughes said, "Oh, I just don't know about that.

"With everything I'm going through right now, I don't know if I ever want to get married again."

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion Date: January 8 2005 No: 373 Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion
Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, says in an op-ed, A chance to show the world America at its best: "Even as that worthy agency mobilizes a "Crisis Corps" of former Peace Corps volunteers to assist with tsunami relief, I believe an opportunity exists to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Peace Corps and its expansion to touch more and more lives."
RPCVs active in new session of Congress Date: January 8 2005 No: 374 RPCVs active in new session of Congress
In the new session of Congress that begins this week, RPCV Congressman Tom Petri has a proposal to bolster Social Security, Sam Farr supported the objection to the Electoral College count, James Walsh has asked for a waiver to continue heading a powerful Appropriations subcommittee, Chris Shays will no longer be vice chairman of the Budget Committee, and Mike Honda spoke on the floor honoring late Congressman Robert Matsui.

January 8, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: January 8 2005 No: 367 January 8, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Zambia RPCV Karla Berg interviews 1,374 people on Peace 7 Jan
Breaking Taboo, Mandela Says Son Died of AIDS 6 Jan
Dreadlocked PCV raises eyebrows in Africa 6 Jan
RPCV Jose Ravano directs CARE's efforts in Sri Lanka 6 Jan
Persuading Retiring Baby Boomers to Volunteer 6 Jan
Inventor of "Drown Proofing" retires 6 Jan
NPCA Membership approves Board Changes 5 Jan
Timothy Shriver announces "Rebuild Hope Fund" 5 Jan
More Water Bottles, Fewer Bullets 4 Jan
Poland RPCV Rebecca Parker runs Solterra Books 2 Jan
Peace Corps Fund plans event for September 30 Dec
RPCV Carmen Bailey recounts bout with cerebral malaria 28 Dec
more top stories...

RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid  Date: January 4 2005 No: 366 Latest: RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid
Peace Corps made an appeal last week to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps and more than 30 RPCVs have responded so far. RPCVs: Read what an RPCV-led NGO is doing about the crisis an how one RPCV is headed for Sri Lanka to help a nation he grew to love. Question: Is Crisis Corps going to send RPCVs to India, Indonesia and nine other countries that need help?
The World's Broken Promise to our Children Date: December 24 2004 No: 345 The World's Broken Promise to our Children
Former Director Carol Bellamy, now head of Unicef, says that the appalling conditions endured today by half the world's children speak to a broken promise. Too many governments are doing worse than neglecting children -- they are making deliberate, informed choices that hurt children. Read her op-ed and Unicef's report on the State of the World's Children 2005.
Changing of the Guard Date: December 15 2004 No: 330 Changing of the Guard
With Lloyd Pierson's departure, Marie Wheat has been named acting Chief of Staff and Chief of Operations responsible for the day-to-day management of the Peace Corps. Although Wheat is not an RPCV and has limited overseas experience, in her two years at the agency she has come to be respected as someone with good political skills who listens and delegates authority and we wish her the best in her new position.
Our debt to Bill Moyers Our debt to Bill Moyers
Former Peace Corps Deputy Director Bill Moyers leaves PBS next week to begin writing his memoir of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Read what Moyers says about journalism under fire, the value of a free press, and the yearning for democracy. "We have got to nurture the spirit of independent journalism in this country," he warns, "or we'll not save capitalism from its own excesses, and we'll not save democracy from its own inertia."
RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack
RPCV Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the U.S. consul general in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia survived Monday's attack on the consulate without injury. Five consular employees and four others were killed. Abercrombie-Winstanley, the first woman to hold the position, has been an outspoken advocate of rights for Arab women and has met with Saudi reformers despite efforts by Saudi leaders to block the discussions.
Is Gaddi Leaving? Is Gaddi Leaving?
Rumors are swirling that Peace Corps Director Vasquez may be leaving the administration. We think Director Vasquez has been doing a good job and if he decides to stay to the end of the administration, he could possibly have the same sort of impact as a Loret Ruppe Miller. If Vasquez has decided to leave, then Bob Taft, Peter McPherson, Chris Shays, or Jody Olsen would be good candidates to run the agency. Latest: For the record, Peace Corps has no comment on the rumors.
The Birth of the Peace Corps The Birth of the Peace Corps
UMBC's Shriver Center and the Maryland Returned Volunteers hosted Scott Stossel, biographer of Sargent Shriver, who spoke on the Birth of the Peace Corps. This is the second annual Peace Corps History series - last year's speaker was Peace Corps Director Jack Vaughn.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: LA Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Brazil; Jurisprudence; Law; Divorce



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.