Category: Child Custody/Shared Time

Tips for Divorcing Parents Who Have Children

Any divorce that involves children has extra complications. How will you be able to get your children through this difficult experience? Every family has its own unique factors to consider. There is no one good answer to how it should be handled. But there are some general good practices to keep in mind that can make the process less painful for children.

  1. Encourage Children to Talk About How They Feel

Parents need to talk to their kids about what the kids are thinking and feeling. The parents also need to keep this discussion separate from their own feelings. Parents should be prepared to deal with strong feelings from the children that either parent or both are responsible for the divorce and the loss of their normal family life.

Most kids struggle with divorce for two or three years. That is not to say they “get over it” by the end of that time, but it is normal for them to have the strongest feelings for that length of time.

Tempting as it is to tell children not to have certain feelings, it does not work. Children, and adults, have the feelings that they have. Forcing them not to express unhappy feelings will make them less likely to share their true feelings with you.

  1. Take the High Road

It is difficult, but adult conflict should be kept away from the children. It is important never to say bad things about your ex-spouse in front of the kids. The single biggest factor in kids’ readjustment after divorce is the level of adult conflict they have been exposed to.

  1. Don’t Use the Children as Messengers

It is tempting to use kids as go-betweens, since they are on speaking terms with your ex-spouse and you may not be, but don’t do it. Also, resist using the kids to find out what is going on in the other household. The kids do not want to “spy” on their parents.

  1. Adjustments to New Mates and Mates’ Children Are Difficult

Blended families can add some temporary stress to kids’ worlds. Make sure your children continue to get one-on-one time, and that lines of communication are open.

  1. If You Need Help, Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For It

If you need support, you can get it, whether the need is large or small. Family, friends, religious organizations and support groups have advice and willing to help.

  1. Take Care of Yourself and Keep Stress Low

Stressed-out parents will have a hard time lowering their kids’ stress. Set a good example. Florida divorce attorneys know that lower stress all around will benefit everyone involved in a divorce.

Woman flees Illinois with child, violating visitation agreement

Child custody cases are complex, and the battle for rights over a child in Illinois may not always be between a mother and a father. In some cases when a parent is not present, is deceased or is disabled, the grandparents of a child may request visitation rights in order to maintain a bond with their grandchild. In these instances, a judge will determine if the grandparents should be awarded visitation rights and a schedule will be agreed upon that each party must lawfully follow.

Failing to adhere to a visitation schedule or a child custody agreement is a serious matter and one could face prison time for violating visitation and custody agreements. A woman who recently fled Illinois with her child has now been jailed and faces nine counts of unlawful child visitation interference for her actions.

In 2008, the woman was in the process of divorcing her husband. The two were fighting for custody of their baby daughter, but everything changed when the woman’s husband was shot and killed. The woman then had custody of her child, but the murdered husband’s parents requested to have grandparent visitation rights.

In September 2010, an Illinois judge finally granted grandparent visitation rights to the murdered husband’s parents. However, in November 2010, the mother of the child stopped adhering to the order and left Illinois with her 3-year-old daughter.

On March 1, an Illinois judge issued a warrant for the woman’s arrest after she failed to show up at a hearing regarding the visitation order she had violated. The woman was arrested in Florida and will be brought back to Illinois where the child visitation case will resume once the woman is released from jail.

Ohio Supreme Court hears same sex child custody case

Same sex couples routinely find themselves navigating a number of roadblocks in life. However, dealing with a child custody dispute after ending a relationship is certainly one of the most emotional and challenging.

Two women who had been living in Cincinnati together and are now fighting for custody of their child can attest to the stress of such a situation. After five years of being in a committed relationship, the women chose to have a child. While they apparently consulted with an attorney about how to handle the situation, in case any unforeseen events arose in the future, they apparently did not enter into any written agreement.
One woman gave birth to a baby girl, but both women provided physical, financial and emotional support in raising her. When the girl was still young, the women ended their relationship. In 2007, the child’s biological mother moved out of the house they had shared, bringing the girl with her.

While the women’s relationship ended, the non-biological parent wished to continue her relationship with the child. However, the biological mother refused to let her see the girl. She claimed she had sole custody of the child and did not need to let the other woman be part of the girl’s life.

The other woman petitioned the Hamilton County Juvenile Court for shared custody of the child. A magistrate granted the motion, but the decision was later overturned by the Juvenile Court. The reversal was upheld by an appeals court.

Last week, the Ohio Supreme Court heard both sides argue their cases. The court is not expected to make a decision for a few months regarding whether the girl has one mother or two.
In the meantime, the non-biological parent has been granted weekly visitation with the child.

Father regains limited visitation rights with daughter

Not all battles for father’s rights stem from divorce or disputes between unmarried parents. Sometimes the struggle is with the government itself. In the case of one young Chicago father, the opponent happens to be the criminal justice system in Cook County.

Based on the media reports about his case, it appears the father’s rights are being upheld even in the face of criminal allegations. That seems only as it should be in a society where the notion of innocent until proven guilty is enshrined as an individual right.

To get a clearer picture of the matter let’s provide some history. The legal ball for this 21-year-old unwed father started rolling in December. He was said to have been spending time with his 22-month-old daughter.

According to prosecutors, he allegedly used blue painter’s masking tape to bind the girl’s ankles and wrists and to gag her mouth. He then snapped a photo of her and put it on Facebook with the caption, “This is wut (sic) happens wen (sic) my baby hits me back.” The message included a winking emoticon. An arrest followed.

Reaction from the justice system was swift and perhaps a bit overzealous for a person who has no previous criminal record and whose family and friends are uniform in their defense of his character. Even the girl’s mother defends him. They all say it was a joke.

He was charged with felony aggravated domestic battery. Bond was set at $100,000, out of his reach to make. The court lowered bond to $30,000 in January and he won release with the admonishment to stay away from mother and child and to cooperate with a Department of Children and Family Services investigation. His reply, “I’ll comply with everything you just said, your honor. No problem.”

Since then, the DCFS determined the father poses no threat to the child. Earlier this month, the court ruled that he can resume seeing his daughter under supervised visitation pending the outcome of his criminal case.

As dedicated family law attorneys we don’t suggest that father’s rights should override the obligation to protect children when abuse is suspected. But in a culture that insists on innocence until proven guilty and in the face of evidence of a person’s decent character, it seems more measured reaction might be sometimes be appropriate.

Parents who named child after Hitler lose custody of newborn

The case of a couple who named their child Adolf Hitler has captivated people throughout Illinois as well as the entire nation. According to a feature story in the New York Daily News, the couple has now lost custody of all four of their children. It is not clear what visitation rights the couple might receive.

According to the story, the New Jersey couple’s fourth child, a boy, was taken into custody hours after his mother gave birth. This child joins the couple’s other three children, who were taken into custody in 2009.

According to the Daily News story, one of the couple’s children was named Adolf Hitler while a second was JoyceLynn Aryan Nation.

The couple maintains that the only reason the state of New Jersey has taken its children into custody is because of these children’s names. But an appeals court has argued that the couple suffers physical and psychological disabilities that put their children at risk. According to news reports, the court has not specified what these disabilities are.

This is certainly a unique case. And because of the children’s offensive names, it has received plenty of media attention. In most states, including Illinois, the best interest of the children is taken into consideration when dealing with child custody matters. The history of abuse or the threat of violence are just a couple of the things that are looked at.

Because the stakes are high in child custody cases it is a good idea to see the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.

Biological father seeks custody from child’s adoptive mother

A heated child custody battle between a prospective adoptive mother and a 2-year-old child’s biological father is well underway. In a long-delayed hearing this week, the court was scrutinizing whether proper procedures were followed when “Baby Vanessa,” born in Ohio, was placed in a private home in California.

The baby was born at Miami Valley Hospital in June 2008. Shortly after the birth, the biological mother announced she wanted to put the child up for adoption. According to reports, a representative from Montgomery County Children Services noted that the child’s “parents have not bonded with the baby … and visits are not taking place at this time.” Therefore, the child has been living in California with her 46-year-old prospective adoptive mother nearly since birth.

Now, the child’s biological father and that man’s mother, who is currently raising two of the man’s other children, are both seeking custody of the baby. Apparently, the father had filed a petition for custody approximately three weeks after the child was born. In the present hearing, he is claiming the baby was removed to California in violation of Ohio law shortly after her birth. Specifically, his attorney argued that proper procedure was not followed in accordance with Ohio’s Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children Law, which regulates the adoption of children from Ohio to other states.

The child’s biological mother has voiced support for the prospective adoptive mother. In fact, she was one of 10 people who attended a candlelight vigil in support of keeping Vanessa with the California woman. The birth mother said she worried that situations like these may prevent people from trying to adopt children in the future. The prospective adoptive mother said that if the judge asks to her relinquish custody, she will be ready to file an immediate appeal. In many media interviews, she has spoken out, saying it would be unfair to keep Vanessa away from “the only mother she has ever known.”

Some have voiced concerns about the father’s violence past, including his 2005 conviction for domestic violence against the child’s biological mother. Further, reports indicate that the man’s 15-year-old son taken from him and put into foster care.

People are speaking out on both sides in this important matter. Should the baby remain with the prospective adoptive mother? Would the child be better off with her father? What do you think?

Criminal charges dropped in bizarre Facebook child custody case

A child custody dispute recently took an odd turn when authorities arrested a man who they believed bugged his ex-wife’s vehicle. The arrest was based on information provided by the 29-year-old ex-wife, who created a fake Facebook account in order to dig for information to use against the man in their ongoing child custody dispute.

The ex-wife pretended to be a flirtatious 17-year-old girl and chatted with the man for several weeks. The husband told the purported 17-year-old that he bugged his wife’s car with a GPS device so he could keep track of her movements. The ex-wife then became alarmed when the man told the 17-year-old that he was finding someone to murder his ex-wife.

Authorities arrested the man after his ex-wife filed for a protective restraining order against him. The man was in federal custody for four days and was then abruptly released because prosecutors discovered that his ex-wife had been outwitted.

The man provided a notarized affidavit in which he details receiving a friend request from a 17-year-old girl who he believed was really his ex-wife attempting to fish for information.

“I am lying to this person,” he stated in the affidavit, “to gain positive proof that it is indeed my ex-wife trying to again tamper in my life.”

The man also added that he did not wanted to harm his ex-wife or his children despite what he would say to the account. The man sent the incriminating messages approximately a week after signing the affidavit. He retained one copy of the affidavit and gave another copy to a relative.

Considerations in New Jersey child custody awards

In our previous post we discussed a controversial child custody case in which a judge considered a mother’s breast cancer as a prominent factor in awarding child custody to her husband. Child custody is one of the most contentious issues in New Jersey divorces and the determining factor in child custody awards is what is in the best interest of the children.

The judge ruled that living with an ill parent was not in the best interests of the children because the children would separate their worlds into a cancer world and a cancer-free world and become maladjusted. The judge also wrote in his opinion that it is difficult for the children to watch their mother deteriorate.

The director of the clinical fellowship program at the Family Institute at Northwestern University said that cancer is also a reality and that the mother will not simply disappear from these children’s lives. The children will experience trauma from being separated by their mother and worry about her, she said.

The stress of losing one’s children and worries over an impending divorce can adversely impact a cancer patient’s health. Worries about insurance and treatments also make this worrisome time even worse for survivors. Cancer experts note that children are the reason why most cancer patients endure chemotherapy despite poor odds of recovery.

“They think, ‘If I keep doing chemo, I’m going to see my child graduate,'” an oncology social worker at a cancer institute said. “So if someone is threatening taking their children, it’s the worst a woman has to deal with.”

Others, including one law professor, say that the judge made the right decision in this case. The professor noted that the court did not simply award custody to the father because of the mother’s illness but because she failed to make adequate contingency plans for the children in the very likely case of a medical emergency.

“The problem is that there were lots of things of concern to the court,” the professor said. “And it’s impossible to say what was actually motivating this judge.”

Mother’s cancer a factor in longstanding child custody battle

Cancer survivors in New Jersey and around the country were shocked to learn of a high profile child custody case in which a judge considered a mother’s breast cancer as a significant factor in awarding custody to the children’s father. The judge told the mother that the children would benefit from more contact with “the non-ill parent” which sparked outrage across the country. Debate over the ruling erupted on the American Bar Association’s website and 100,000 people have signed an online petition against the judge’s ruling.

The mother’s breast cancer was one among many factors in this messy child custody battle that has sent both parents to jail for fighting. Both parents have also filed domestic violence protective orders against each other and there is evidence that they are so angry with each other that most child custody arrangements would be unworkable.

A regional director for the Cancer Legal Resource Center called the ruling “a slippery slope” and questioned whether other illnesses like diabetes could be used against parents in the future. Similar concerns were voiced by a cancer survivor who runs a cancer support group.

“People in our community had a strong reaction to the case and used social media to spread the word because we can all imagine, ‘What if a judge used our diagnosis against us?'” she said.

The father would not comment on the case but his attorney said that the case was not about breast cancer or divorce, but child custody. Indeed the couple is not even divorced because the husband’s job provides health benefits for his wife’s costly cancer treatment.

Japan set to join child custody pact

New Jersey families with Japanese mothers will no longer face the child abduction issues that became so severe that some countries banned Japanese mothers from bringing their children to Japan even for family visits. Japan came under severe global criticism for its laws which essentially allowed Japanese mothers to flee to Japan with their children amid foreign divorces and prevent foreign fathers from seeing their children again.

These child custody disputes will now be put to an end because Japan’s cabinet has said that the country will change its laws to align with the 1980 Hague Convention on international abduction. Japan was the only G7 country not to sign the treaty.

Japan’s child custody law became the center of an international controversy in 2009 when an American father was arrested in Japan for trying to take his children back to the United States. The Japanese mother of the children violated a United States’ child custody order by fleeing Tennessee and whisking the children to Japan. The mother claimed that the father abducted the children, but the charges against the father were dropped after substantial American pressure.

The Associated Press reports that the child abduction issue was so serious that the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelming enacted a nonbinding resolution condemning the “abduction” of American children held in Japan .The resolution also stated that the abductions were in violation of international law, American law, and human rights.

The U.S. State Department said that there were over 100 active causes of American child abductions to Japan as of the beginning of this year. There are approximately 30 more cases were both parents live in Japan but one parent has denied access to the children to the other parent, according to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.