Family Law Quarterly
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Volume 43, No. 3 (Fall 2009) — Table of Contents

Please note that pursuant to the ABA's copyright and reprint policies, these articles may not be disseminated without written permission.

Potpourri of Family Law Topics: Military Retirement Benefits, Pro Se Litigants, Alternative Dispute Resolution

Editor's Note      
Linda D. Elrod (Cricket)

Division of Military Retired Pay
John E. Kirchner

It is now well settled that entitlement to military retired pay based on uniformed service creates a marital or community asset to be dealt with upon ending a marriage. However, even after more than twenty-five years, judges, family-law practitioners, and divorcing spouses often have limited and frequently wrong understandings of both the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act and the military compensation system. The author explains how both the Act and the system work and how lawyers can ensure that their clients get what they are entitled to.

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The Survivor Benefit Plan: Its History, Idiosyncrasies, Coverages, Cost, and Applications
James N. Higdon

This article explores survivor benefit options available in a divorce under the Armed Forces Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). The SBP and its various amendments were enacted to provide for the survivors of active-duty and reserve-component military personnel upon the death of a servicemember. The author explains how this plan is designed to work and what lawyers can do in a divorce case to ensure benefits to their clients. Also included is a discussion of how various courts have responded to claims brought under the SBP.

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Lawyer as Peacemaker: Building a Successful Law Practice Without Ever Going to Court
Forrest S. Mosten

The author discusses his experiences in reshaping his law practice over the last decade from one focused on litigation to one focused on peacemaking. He encourages family lawyers to focus on the big picture of a successful long-term outcome for families rather than inflaming hostilities between divorcing parties in pursuit of immediate litigation victories. He discusses his day-to-day practice, which is now divided roughly into two equal parts: one in which he serves as neutral mediator and the other, in which he plays four representative roles: as client representative during mediations presided over by other neutrals; as collaborative lawyer; as unbundled lawyer for self-represented parties; and as a transactional lawyer who builds relationship agreements, such as premarital, postmarital, cohabitation and one who handles other matters involving long-range relationships, such as business partnerships, probate disputes, and adoption and surrogacy agreements. He explains his practice philosophy, his actions, his interactions with clients and other professionals, as well as how he views potential ethical concerns.

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An Overview of Self-Represented Litigation Innovation, Its Impact, and an Approach for the Future: An Invitation to Dialogue
Richard Zorza

This article explores the innovations both inside and outside the court system in response to the growing numbers of self-represented litigants. The author chronicles the many innovations in terms of helping those who cannot afford lawyers; improving access to and the operations of the courts; and increasing, rather than decreasing, the available pool of paying clients for lawyers. The author lays out the lessons and implications of these innovations and concludes that while the foundational work of changing the courts to enhance access for all has begun, in the family law area much remains to be done. The next phase will require a dialogue between stakeholders, particularly the bench and the bar, to ensure a stable and efficient system that works for all.

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Educational Workshops on Settlement and Dispute Resolution: Another Tool for Self-Represented Litigants in Family Court
Jim Hilbert

This article proposes that court systems make available to self-represented litigants (SRLs) a number of educational programs about settlement. The author discusses the specific challenges this concept creates for both the parties and the courts and highlights some successful initiatives that have been implemented in support of SRLs. Finally he lays out a general outline for proposed educational programs and suggests some additional ideas and issues to think about.

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Effects Upon Divorce Proceedings When a Spouse Suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder
David Crump & Joan S. Anderson

This article seeks to describe Borderline Personality Disorder and how it may present in a party to a divorce case. Part I defines the disorder and discusses development of the concept among psychologists. Part II defines the diagnosis and its effects. Part III offers a psychologist's description of the behaviors that may result. Part IV addresses the likelihood of the sufferer's improvement, and the final section contains the authors' conclusions.

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Book Review
Common Misunderstandings
Common Law Marriage: A Legal Institution for Cohabitation by Göran Lind

Review by Rebecca Probert

Rebecca Probert reviews the book, Common Law Marriage: A Legal Institution for Cohabitation, by Göran Lind.

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Ordering Information

You can purchase a hard copy of this issue or call the ABA Service Center at 1-800-285-2221 and ask for product code 51301004303. You can also purchase a downloadable version of this product.

Publication Date: January 2010