Coping with Divorce Feed

Family Court Judge in Hamilton County Ohio Orders Man to Apologize or Go to Jail!

Published:  February 22, 2012
Author:  Kimball Perry 

Photographer Mark Byron was so bothered by his pending divorce and child visitation issues that he blasted his soon-to-be ex-wife on his personal Facebook page.

That touched off a battle that resulted in a Hamilton County judge ordering Byron jailed for his Facebook rant – and to post on his page an apology to his wife and all of his Facebook friends or go to jail, something free speech experts found troubling.



Mark Byron, a local photographer, holds his iPad with a photo of himself and his son. Byron is involved in a divorce suit with his wife, Elizabeth, that has spilled over into Facebook. Due to a post on his Facebook page about his divorce and custody restrictions in November of 2011, a Hamilton County judge is ordering Byron to post an apology to his wife on his Facebook page every day for 30 days. The divorce is not yet final. / The Enquirer/ Liz Dufour

“The idea that a court can say ‘I order you not to post something or to post something’ seems to me to be a First Amendment issue,” Enquirer attorney and free-speech expert Jack Greiner said Tuesday.

Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney with the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the rulings are unique and “raise quite a few” free speech issues.

“There haven’t been a lot of cases that have dealt with this particular issue,” he said.

Mark and Elizabeth Byron had a son in July 2010, but their marriage soon became troubled. She accused him of verbally abusing her, threatening her with his fist and threatening to “end” her life.

While Mark Byron, an Over-the-Rhine photographer who has worked freelance assignments for The Enquirer, was exonerated of criminal allegations, a civil protective order was issued instructing him to stay away from his wife.

Mark Byron also argued the same court prevented him from seeing his son. In a Nov. 23, 2011, Facebook posting, he blasted the situation and the judicial system he believed wronged him.

“...if you are an evil, vindictive woman who wants to ruin your husbands life and take your son’s father away from him completely – all you need to do is say that you're scared of your husband or domestic partner...” he wrote on Facebook.

Elizabeth Byron saw it – even though her husband blocked her from viewing his page – and believed it violated a previous protective order by Domestic Relations Court Magistrate Paul Meyers that prevented Mark Byron from doing anything to cause his wife “to suffer physical and/or mental abuse, harassment, annoyance, or bodily injury.”

Magistrates act as quasi-judges and hear the bulk of the cases in Domestic Relations Court. Their work is reviewed by Domestic Relations Court judges, this time by Judge Jon Sieve who signed off on Meyers’ finding.

Sieve said Ohio judicial rules prevent he and Meyers from commenting on a pending case.

Elizabeth Byron, who couldn’t be reached, believed her husband’s Facebook rant violated the court order, said it and the comments about it made by Mark Byron’s Facebook friends embarrassed her. That, she said, violated the previous order from harassing her – even though the post wasn’t addressed to her and she was blocked from viewing it.

“She wasn’t harassed,” Fakhoury said, “because she deliberately sought this out.”

Meyers found Mark Byron in contempt and ordered him jailed for 60 days beginning March 19 – and to post for 30 days on his Facebook an apology to his wife, written by Meyers, if he wanted to avoid jail.

“In a million years I didn’t think he’d be found in contempt,” Elizabeth “Becky” Ford, Mark Byron’s attorney, said.

“He did nothing but vent. She didn’t like what he had to say. That’s what this boils down to.”

Particularly troubling for Greiner and Fakhoury was Meyers’ do-it-or-go-to-jail option for Mark Byron to post the apology. “I didn’t think I had an option,” Byron said.

“The court’s order to compel speech is as much a violation of the Fist Amendment” as suppressing free speech, Greiner said.

Greiner called the difference between a legal order to post the apology and then noting jail could be avoided if it was posted “a distinction without a difference.”

“Forcing someone to speak as punishment for speaking” could violate Mark Byron’s free speech rights, Fakhoury said.


Read the Entire Article at Judge: Jail for Facebook Rant


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A Rhode Island Divorce Tip for Those That Represent Themselves at their Nominal Hearing!

If you are going to be your own divorce lawyer in a Rhode Island divorce proceeding, then be prepared!  You could be held to the same standards that as a Rhode Island attorney I am held to.  I don't expect help from judges and if I were to goof up for a client then the blame falls on my head.  If you goof up in your Rhode Island divore and you are Pro Se then the same goes for you.  Don't expect to be able to blame anyone else.

So be prepared!  Do tons of reading about Rhode Island divorces and Nominal Hearings and then take the time to sit in on at least a dozen of them and make a note of how both attorneys handle the hearings and how those people who are "Pro Se" handle their own divorce.  If you haven't watched 6 sets of Pro Se couples act as their own lawyers then you haven't watched enough of them.

Note the questions that they ask that are consistent in each and every case. Particularly note any questions the family court judge's themselves ask either party because it is an indicator that a lawyer or Pro Se party has missed something the judge wants or usually needs to hear.

Your Nominal divorce hearing is crucial.  Take this tip to heart!  It is better to be prepared and get it right and get it right the first time! You may not have a second chance to get it right.  If the judge happens to have a short fuse or a long calendar on your hearing date you may find yourself coming back.  

If you ARE prepared, then make sure you say what you have planned to say.  Even if the judge seems to want to gloss over things or hurry things along (and they may have their own valid reasons for doing so with regard to their court calendar) BUT it is your divorce and if you have something that needs to be said in order to protect your rights and interests and you let the judge steamroll right over you then it's nobody's fault but your own.  

There are many ways to respectfully ask the court or even tell the court that what you have to say needs to be said (though not in that way) in order to get your statements on the record and either taken down by the court stenographer or the stenographic recorder in the courtroom.

Yes, court can be a scary thing at times, especially if you are not there day in and day out.  Yet ultimately you don't have the option to be a wallflower when it comes to your divorce.  These are your legal rights you are dealing with and if you do not speak up at the time of the hearing and you let the judge shut you down without at least making two attempts to say something important that must be on the record to protect your rights, then you won't have a second chance.

My Best to All those who go before the Rhode Island Family Courts,

I am Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall and I am "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach."

Connecticut Man in Divorce-Related Proceedings Sentenced to 70 Years Puts out Hit on Ex-Wife.

From the AP News Wires
Salon Post Date:  Wednesday, January 4, 2011 

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A former advertising executive was sentenced Wednesday to 70 years in prison for kidnapping his ex-wife, holding her hostage for nearly a dozen hours and burning down the Connecticut home they once shared.

Richard Shenkman was convicted in October of 10 charges including kidnapping, arson, assault and threatening. He faced a potential of nearly 80 years in prison.

Shenkman, 62, abducted his ex-wife, Nancy Tyler, from downtown Hartford in 2009 and forced her at gunpoint to drive to the home in South Windsor. The two were in the middle of divorce-related court hearings.

Tyler testified that Shenkman threatened to kill her, fired a gun near her head and threatened to blow up the house. She escaped unharmed. He was arrested after running out of the burning house.

During Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, Shenkman told Judge Julia Dewey that he has hired an assassin to kill Tyler. The judge had rejected a motion by Shenkman’s attorney to delay sentencing for further psychological evaluation of his client.

“Nancy’s assassin is experienced and he has killed in the past,” Shenkman said. “Ending Nancy’s life when I am in prison makes my sentence worthwhile.”

Read the whole article at 

Disclaimer:  This article is posted as a matter of public interest and no claim of ownership or authorship in this article, is made by, The Rhode Island Divorce & Coaching Institute or Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall.


The RI Divorce Coach Speaks on Keeping Your Marriage Together!

It's sad to see so many spouses divorcing on a weekly basis.  Many RI Divorce cases contain spouses who are bitter, unyielding and unwilling to come to any kind of compromise even when there may be minor children involved.  All too often I see the minor children in such situations victimized and hurt because one or the other parent can't control his or her animosity and the tension, anger, and stress carry over to the children.  That is why I have made it a major goal of my Rhode Island family law practice to try to bring divorces to an amicable resolution before tensions can rise and families can be torn apart.

Ultimately, the truth is that many marriages can be saved and spouse's can keep their marriages together whether they have children or not.  Naturally it all takes work not just one day a week but every day.  The way to make it easier is to turn what is at first "work" into an enjoyable exercise that keeps the love and communication alive in your family.

Personally, I recommend reading John Gray's books that started with "Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus" as a good start.  Ultimately I have come to realize that men and women do, in fact, think and act differently from one another.  This, of course, makes a big difference in how each spouse perceives what the other spouse has said or done in a particular situation.

As I write this I can give you a specific example.

A husband is tired and has just finished a household project that has taken him two days to complete and he sits down to rest and have a bowl of ice cream as his reward.  His wife is sitting nearby.  

His wife likes to sew, perform embroidery and make small quilts but she's has been sick off and on for the past year and she has been somewhat limited in what she can do and she has found it discouraging. She has a nice sewing room which was the first room in the house to be recarpeted and in which she has acquired 6 or 7 sewing machines, embroidery machines and sergers to do the things she enjoys.

WIFE:  I'm looking forward to when we can get new furniture.

The husband suddenly becomes angry, defensive and snaps at his wife.  He feels tired and unappreciated for the work he just did.  Even if she told him "Thank you." or tells him "You did a great job.  That probably isn't going to help if she talks about furniture the same day. The appreciation is going to be forgotten because he now thinks it isn't good enough that he spent the last two days she has to have the furniture right away too.  In a nutshell, the husband is most likely going to feel that he isn't appreciated.  

HUSBAND: "It just doesn't matter how much I do or how much I make.  You'd just rather that I work forever till I die for all the money we need to get all this stuff when you know I hate my job.  There's just no pleasing you." 

The wife is quiet a moment.

WIFE:  Well, we were talking about getting new furniture, weren't we?   I keep having to wait to get things done when I would like them to get done but because I can't do it myself and I don't make the money that is needed then I have to wait till you feel like it.

The husband becomes angrier and even more defensive.  

HUSBAND:  I don't remember talking about going to get new furniture right away.  This all takes money you know.

WIFE:  Oh, I know!  It's just like that $25 per week you said I could have for an allowance each week.  That's the same amount of money my ex-husband used to give me . . . 20 years ago.  

Fortunately, the Wife realizes it's best not to say anything more to hurt their relationship and she decides to calmly leave the room before either of them says something they'll regret.

WIFE:  I need some alone time.  I'm going to our bedroom for a while to calm down.

This is a typical exchange between a husband and a wife.  Now granted it seems like a regular type of disagreement that spouses may have, but clearly there are feelings and perhaps misunderstandings that may be hidden in the conversation which left unaddressed are only going to grow, become bottled up and may possibly destroy the trust and communication between this couple.

So what happened here.  The man has been working on a home project that has taken time during two days out of his life.  While he may or may not be happy with the end result of this project, he may have spent money, time, energy and his own frustration to get this project done.  If it's a home project then it's very likely that this was a project that his wife wanted done as well for one reason or another.  Maybe it provided more spacing in a closet or closed off an unsightly wall or some ugly wiring.  If this is the case, the man may be proud that he did something for his wife and for his house.  From his statements he put some money into it and thought both he and his wife benefitted from what he had just done.  

So, we have a tired man who believes that this may have been a pretty good project to move things along at the house and to help his wife be happier with their home.  Now, whether she knows it or not a man needs to be proud of what he has done and hopefully have others be proud of it too, especially his wife if he was doing it to make his wife happy too.  For a man, I've learned myself that this period of time is usually a few days.  A man in this position usually doesn't want to hear about another project that involves either more time or money on the very day he's completed one project.  What this says to the husband is that the time, money and effort really weren't appreciated that much so let's get on to things that really make a difference.  In the end, mentioning another project or purchase right after one was just finished makes the husband feel as though his accomplishment is meager and that the appreciation wasn't genuine at all.

Now let's assume that this husband is a man who likes to please his wife and that when he hadn't done too much around the house for some time he started talking with her about new carpeting, doing some painting and getting some new furniture.

So what has happened here.  The wife is likely to be very excited about these things.  In fact, noone could blame her if she couldn't wait to get them all done.  Now here the husband has given the wife the impression, belief or hope that these things can be done.  She's excited and there's nothing wrong with that!  So now the wife has an expectation that her husband is going to follow through on the other things he talked about with her.  Now, here husband has told her that one thing is done and she's told him it looks great and thanks him.  Now, in the wife's mind it's okay to move on at least to talking about the next thing and so on.  The husband may have been referring to all these things in the long term or maybe over a period of six months but if he didn't specify any timeframe at all then how is his Wife to know that?  The fact is .... she can't!  She certainly isn't a mind reader.  When his wife gets excited when one thing is done by her husband.  Suddenly all the things her talked about seem possible.  The end result is that she gets more excited and so she naturally thinks its just fine to talk about one of the other things because her husband had been the one to mention them.  After all, if he mentioned them then it should be a safe topic for her to talk about, right?  It makes sense, doesn't it?

What the husband and wife need to understand here is that each of them processes things differently and they each have different inherent expectations about some things that they expect the other spouse to know about.  The husband got defensive and upset because he needed to have some time off between projects and he probably even needed time for himself to appreciate what he had done so he could regain momentum for something else he had mentioned to his wife.  The wife didn't know this because she didn't realize that her husband thinks this way and so she began talking about what was really a taboo subject right after the completion of one project.  

How can we know things like this?

How are wives supposed to know that their husbands most likely think like this and understand their responses and reactions?  And by the same token how are husbands supposed to understand that they may be the one that caused the wife to bring up the taboo subject in the first place?

The answer is as close as your local bookstore or library or even the internet.  Though there are many writers who write on the interactions between men and women.  It has become more important in today's age to understand the very fact that husbands and wives see, feel, understand, and experience things differently and therefore we process things differently.  As a result of these things, what we say, mean and expect may be very different.  We need to understand that we are opposite sexes not just by our anatomy but also in the very way our brain functions and how we interpret things.  

Men speak one language and Women speak another language.  When we learn to understand the language of the opposite sex then we can insure that we clear up these misunderstandings in communications and restore love and trust in the marriage relationship.

In this particular instance, the husband and wife would both be best left to calm down and approach each other with cool heads remembering the best things they love about their spouse and then try to come to terms with how they each felt about each of the things they each said and why they said them.  By sharing this particular dynamic honestly with each other, they will strengthen their marriage, their bond of trust and their understanding of each other to prevent possible future misunderstandings along the same lines.

Keeping these things bottled up is always detrimental to the relationship.  Bottled up emotions often cause anger, jealousy, unappreciation, and other negative emotions to fester and may cause spouses to relive or repeatedly bring up old incidents that simply exist because they were left unresolved by one or both spouses.  Communication and understanding is the key to any effect marriage in which love truly resides.

Make no mistake about it, I am no advocate for divorce.  However, if a divorce must take place and the parties need to go their separate ways, it is always my goal to bring the parties to a resolution without the destruction of either spouse, children involved in the relationship, or the family unit as a whole.

I am here to help and I am . . . The Rhode Island Divorce Coach!

Saving Your RI Marriage from a Difficult Rhode Island Divorce!

Though Rhode Island lawyers who practice divorce may make a decent part of their living from helping people through the Rhode Island divorce process, there are those of us who dislike divorce but accept it as a part of life's processes and try to make it easier for people.

For my posting on saving your marriage from a divorce, see my category about saving your marriage from divorce at the

Here is the first posting for the category  RI Divorce Prevention Tips

A Quick Tip for Men to Avoid a Divorce and Save Their Marriages - "Listen"