Category: Child Support

More Grandparents Are Raising Their Grandchildren

More and more grandparents are raising their grandchildren. Part of the explanation is the poor economy, but another reason is the increased emphasis on keeping kids from troubled homes out of foster care if they can be placed with a relative.

Child custody issues related to divorce may or may not play a part. There are many reasons why parents may not be prepared to do the parenting of their children. U.S. Census data shows that grandparents are raising nearly 3 million children in the United States. That represents an increase of 8% over the past decade. The biggest jump came after 2008 when the economy went sour.

Experts say that the primary reason children are raised by grandparents tends to be that the parents are abusers of alcohol or drugs. In addition, some parents are unprepared simply because they themselves are very young. Mental health problems, financial problems and criminal court problems that lead to incarceration all contribute to the number of kids raised by grandparents.

Some observers believe the actual number of children raised by grandparents is underestimated.

Some also say that when the bad economy forced parents to move back in with their kids’ grandparents, grandchildren stayed with the grandparents when the parents moved to find work.

It is difficult for many grandparents navigating the poor economy and their reduced retirement accounts with more mouths to feed and more energy needed for keeping up with young children.

One grandmother raising grandkids said, “We’re squeaking, but we’re okay. It’s hard, but you just kind of play it by ear and you hope that you raise them to be really decent, good people.”

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.

Understanding How Sole Custody Laws In Florida Work

While someone may be able to get sole parental responsibility in certain situations in Florida, sole custody is no longer an option in Florida. To head this route, a person will need the services of a good custody attorney. Trying to get sole parental responsibility can be a lengthy process. If the other parent is unreliable or unstable, then this may be a realistic option.

Sole Parental Responsibility

Sole Parental Responsibility is closely aligned with time sharing. Time sharing is considered the time that parents actually spend with the child. To get rid of the custody battles over which parent was the primary, a new bill was established that started the concept of parental time sharing and responsibility instead of custody and visitation. The Florida Governor signed the bill to help make the concept sound more pleasant.

Parental responsibility explains who makes the decisions concerning the child, such as their medical care and schooling. Each parent should be informed of any issues in the child’s life. The courts may award sole parental responsibility in cases where parents are arguing over serious issues, such as a medical procedure. Some parents feel that sole custody is similar to trying to terminate the rights of the other parent. However, that is simply not the case. Even in the most extreme circumstances, both parents will be allowed supervised visitation.

The courts may use provisions to protect the best interests of the child. One parent would have the ability to make decisions over the other one. There is a push in the Florida House and Senate to mandate equal parenting time for each parent.

Other Strategies To Consider

Dependency Court is an option, with its own court. In dependency court, the majority of custody issues are taken care of. In most cases, Child Protective Services is involved, because there are parents who have abandoned or neglected their children. Dependency courts are known to award sole custody to a parent, and is one place where sole custody actually involves the other parent being totally cut off.

Parents also have the option of using a parent plan that uses principles similar to sole custody. There must be paperwork to show the courts if the parents agree to change the parenting plan at some point. Work with a custody attorney to create a good plan.

Terminating Parental Rights

Requests to terminate the parental rights of the other parents are risky and can be a lengthy process. Under regular circumstances, a parent is not allowed to consent unless there is a step parent adoption.

Getting Sole Custody

The Florida courts prefer not to deal with sole custody cases. Its important for parents to decide what their desires are, and how important getting sole custody is. Think about the financial outcomes of this situation and check to see if there are any reasonable alternatives.

Child Support Payments Took a Hit Due to U.S. Economy

In Illinois, many parents rely on child support in order to provide for their children. Child support payments allow custodial parents to allocate funds towards food, clothing, daycare, tuition and other expenses. All of these expenses add up quickly, and for any parent it can become overwhelming when trying to keep up with all of the other payments such as housing, insurance and a car loan.

In Illinois, a custodial parent may receive child support up until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school. There are some cases when a parent would qualify for child support beyond that. Overall, many parents are entitled to receive funds in order to pay for the expenses of taking care of a child. However, this economy is proving to be difficult to pay and receive child support.

According to the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Child Support Enforcement, child support payments fell in the U.S. in 2009. This is the first decrease in payments for more than three decades. It is believed that more custodial parents are receiving less in child support because of the horrible mess our economy is in. Reports show that in Illinois, 88% of child support cases were delinquent at some point in the fiscal year of 2009.

The amount of personal bankruptcies has risen, unemployment and underemployment levels are high and debt continues to increase. People are struggling to make ends meet, and in some cases individuals may choose not to make a full child support payment. Parents on both sides are struggling. One parent can’t make the payment and the other doesn’t get the money to support the child. The director for California Child Support Services Department explained, “For many of our families, [child support payments are] the difference between being in poverty and rising out of it.”

Family law attorneys can help custodial and noncustodial parents work out child support agreements that are manageable and accurately based. Family law attorneys can also speed up the process so that parents can possibly collect payments that are delinquent and still owing. Many can become frustrated with the legal process, but family law attorneys work to ensure that payments are correctly calculated and enforced in a timely manner.

NFL lockout sends players seeking modifications for child support

As of this week, the National Football League lockout will continue. The lockout between NFL players and the owners of the league has been going on since March. The two sides have failed to reach an agreement on how to split more than $9 billion in annual revenue, and now players are worried that they will lose their income if a labor contract cannot be reached.

As a result of the lockout, many players have been seeking modifications for child support and spousal support payments in order to financially prepare for a potential decrease in their incomes. An attorney who is already representing some NFL players commented that the NFL industry is in “trouble” and as a result, players may no longer be able to meet their current financial obligations.

Many wives and mothers fear that the modifications will require them to make some serious adjustments if child support and spousal support payments are significantly decreased. One woman who is a nurse with a 2-year-old son said that she may not be able to afford child care if her son’s father, a player for the New York Jets, seeks a modification on his payments.

However, just because NFL players are seeking modifications doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be granted a reduction in payments. When a judge reviews the modification request, he or she will consider other income and assets in addition to paychecks. Some players could be required to sell some of their assets such as real estate, vehicles or championship rings in order to continue paying the agreed upon amounts for support.

Supreme Court hears argument over representation in child support cases

New Jersey children are entitled to support from both parents, regardless of whether the parents are married or live together. Child support determinations are made in New Jersey by using a strict formula, and it is the role of an experienced family law attorney to see that the formula is properly applied.

Child support is also one of the few areas of American law where parents can be jailed for failing to pay a debt. Many fathers are jailed for failing to pay child support because a court can hold a delinquent father in civil contempt.

Civil contempt is not a criminal matter, but rather a coercive measure a court can use to force a person to comply with a court order. Many judges say that delinquent fathers “hold the keys to their own cells” because a father can be released by complying with the court’s child support order.

Fathers’ rights advocates say that the threat of jail should entitle poor fathers to a court-appointed attorney in child support hearings. The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on a case involving an indigent father who was jailed for being delinquent on his child support payments. The New York Times reports that the Justices appeared frustrated during oral arguments.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy told one attorney that a blanket rule requiring court-appointed attorneys would change the entire landscape of domestic relations proceedings. He also told a lawyer on the other side that a ruling requiring a court-appointed attorney in only some situations was likely unworkable and then mused as to what such a ruling would say.

“There’s no absolute right,” the Justice said. “But there might be in some other case, depending. We don’t give much help to the system that way.”