The world has changed since you graduated from law school. Gender neutrality is a thing, so it’s time to review your pleadings — and your documents, contracts, correspondences, procedures, and every other form of communication in your office — in a new light. (I’m looking at you, Family Law Practice Manual.)
Shortly thereafter, the IRS issued Revenue Ruling 2013–17. The terms “husband,” “wife,” and “husband and wife” now include same-sex spouses by operation of law.
As of June 26, 2013, all qualified retirement plans must reflect the outcome of Windsor.
The trend is escalating. Futurologists predict that gender neutrality will soon become the law of the land.
In 2017, California became the first state to allow gender-neutral birth certificates. Some states are considering legislation to forbid the use of gender-specific terms. What’s another word for manhole? What will we call a ladybug? Hernsberger QDRO Law Firm has chosen to get ahead of the curve. We’re reviewing our documents and purging them of gender-specific terms. Our team is also participating in gender bias sensitivity training, and we’re searching for more things we can do to address this issue.
Family lawyers will not get a pass.
For us, it all began with United States vs. Windsor, 570 U.S.744 (2013).
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defined “marriage” and “spouse” as heterosexual unions. Windsor held that DOMA’s restrictive definition violated the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause.
It’s a new world. And we intend to stay relevant to our clients.
Our goal was to collect $58,137.62 from the retirement fund.
We immediately contacted the plan administrator for the LyondellBasell retirement plan. Unfortunately, they responded with the same evasion and deception tactics.
We then prepared a petition alleging a violation of their fiduciary duties. Jurisdiction was in a federal court in Houston. Before filing, we mailed a copy of the petition to LyondellBasell with a formal demand. Within hours after receiving the demand and petition, LyondellBasell called us. They admitted that someone in the organization had made a mistake. They wanted to negotiate a resolution.
We engaged in an “interest-based” negotiation. It was in our interest that Ms. Nordstrom received the $58,137.62. LyondellBasell told us that they intended to collect the funds from Mr. Gault. That’s how they defined their interest. We agreed to wait 45 days before filing our petition in federal court. LyondellBasell agreed to pay $58,137.62 in 45 days or less, whether they collected from Mr. Gault or not, and there was indeed a happy ending: LyondellBasell paid Carol Nordstrom $58,137.62 just 20 days later.
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