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Subscribe to this list via RSS Article posts tagged in Family law
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Both parents must decide on custody of minor children under the age of 18. Divorce courts are very concerned regarding the well-being of any children born naturally to both parents or adopted by the parents. If the wife is pregnant, the child should be listed as "one unborn" in the petition and be treated as a born child for purposes of a dissolution of marriage. There are four basic types of child custody recognized under state laws:  1.Sole Physical Custody: Sole physical custody means the children shall reside with and under the supervision of one parent, subject to the power of the court to approve the parent's plan for visitation rights granted to the other parent.  2.Joint Physical Custody: Joint physical custody means that each of the parents shall have significant periods of physical custody. In other words, the physical custody of the children shall be such that both parents...
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I recently presided over a trial in which two parents who had been divorced for almost 4 years spent more than $15,000 to pay lawyers and a psychologist to argue about what should have been an arithmetic problem--child support adjustment. Even though I have presided over dozens of such trials, I am still shocked every time I see divorced parents spend thousands of dollars to change child support. Actually, the cases usually involve more than child support disputes. They start out when one parent asks for an increase in child support. The parent who is being asked to pay more support counters with a request to change custody. That is when the war really begins, and the legal fees skyrocket. One solution would be for divorced parents to hire a lawyer for their children. It could be a part of their divorce settlement agreement. The children's lawyer would review child...
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Abandonment: A Divorce Issue In high conflict divorces, those that never seem to end, abandonment is a common factor. These days, when we see divorced spouses returning to court two or more years after the divorce process was technically completed, we inquire into their early childhood experiences, and we frequently find abandonment trauma in their family histories. The most obvious form of abandonment is when a parent deserts the family, but it can also be the result of a parent dying when a child is young. Sometimes the effect of a parent being ill and away at hospitals or just not able to invest adequate time and energy into parent/child interactions is perceived by the child as abandonment. It can even be one consequence of parental drug or alcohol abuse. A substance-impaired parent is not emotionally available, and to a child that can feel like abandonment. Not surprisingly, many adopted...
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  I was talking with a judge from South Carolina a few weeks go about an interstate custody problem. When I told him that I hear only family law cases, he said: "How in the world do you stand it? I find after hearing a few divorce cases, I need to hear a friendly first degree murder case or two to regain my sanity." A number of judges have told me they'd sooner preside over grisly criminal cases than divorce or custody suits. I think the reason so many judges don't like to decide divorce cases (and the reason so many lawyers won't even accept divorce cases) is the fact that in so many divorce and custody cases, both sides are absolutely right. Lawyers and judges are trained to concentrate on the past and to think in terms of right and wrong. An automobile collision occurred--whose fault was it? A...
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Sharp-tongued parents turn child into chameleon. Chameleon kids are an all too frequent product of divorce. These are children who behave, think and feel one way at dad's house and an altogether different way at mom's house. Chameleon kids often tell each of their parents different stories to keep them both happy. Telling each parent, "I want to live with you." is a common example. Complaining about or criticizing one parent to the other parent is another. Chameleon kids go far beyond that, however. Sometimes they change the way they dress, their interests, and virtually all aspects of their lives as they go back and forth between their parents' homes. In one case a teenage girl rode horses at her mom's house and talked about rodeos. At dad's house, she wore preppie clothes and talked about school proms. The most extreme case I can remember involved a young girl whose...
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One of the issues involved in divorce cases is which spouse has to pay what debts. In divorce cases debts come in two flavors: community debts and separate debts. A community debt is, by and large, any debt created by either or both spouses while they were married. Community creditors generally look to both spouses to pay community debts, but the creditor is within his rights to ask only one spouse to pay the whole community debt. It is the right of the creditor to demand payment from only one spouse that creates a good deal of confusion for divorced husbands and wives. One of the divorce court's tasks is to decide and order which community debts each spouse will be responsible to pay. But the divorce court's order affects only the two spouses. The divorce court's order has absolutely no effect on the creditors, who can demand that the...
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