Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Case Law Development: What is Proper Documentation of College Enrollment for Purposes of Post-Majority Child Support
Missouri is one of the few states that requires post-majority child support for children attending college. The statutory scheme has been amended a number of times in recent years to provide more detailed requirements regarding notice of enrollment to the obligor parent, minimum credit hour enrollments, and the like.
In a case of first impression, the Missouri Court of Appeals has interpreted one of those statutory requirements: that the child provide each parent with a "transcript or similar official document." The court held that a print out of courses, credits and grades from a college's web-based system, while not an "official transcript" sufficiently met the meaning of "transcript" in the statute to require Mother to pay child support.
Waddington v. Cox, Mo. App. January 2, 2008
Opinion online (last visited January 8, 2008 bgf)
For a chart comparing state approaches to post-majority support for college students, see the National Conference of State Legislatures' 2005 Summary
A Jackson County Missouri judge has given custody of adoptive Baby Max to a man who claimed that his obesity was the reason he had been denied custody previously in the adoption case. Gary Stocklaufer and his wife, Cindy, had sought adoption of the child of Mr. Stocklaufer's cousin after bringing the baby to Missouri. However, the court had removed Baby Max from the Stocklaufers and placed him with another couple for six months, who also have been trying to adopt him.
Stocklaufer had claimed that the judge had denied his opportunity to adopt the child because he was obese, weighing 550 pounds. Mr. Stocklaufer has recently lost over 200 pounds after undergoing gastric bypass surgery. However, in ruling that custody of Baby Max be returned to Mr. and Mrs. Stocklaufer, the judge said the prior removal of the child had nothing to do with Mr. Stocklaufer's weight but was because the couple did not follow proper procedures when moving the child into Missouri from another state.
Monday, January 7, 2008
The confusion between the status of attorney for the child and guardian ad litem was the target of appeal in Marriage of Anderson, an Iowa Court of Appeals decision. In this case, Mother requested appointment of a guardian ad litem in a custody case. However, the trial court's response was to appoint an attorney under the Iowa statute allowing appointment of an attorney for the child. The court then rejected the attorney's report and request to testify, finding that the attorney had not been appointed as a guardian ad litem.
Read In Re Marriage of Anderson (Iowa Court of Appeals, Dec. 28, 2007) (Last visited January 7, 2008 bgf)
The case is a fine example of the continuing debate regarding the role of attorney representatives for children. The Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing Children in Custody Cases require that a judge appointing a lawyer for a child specify whether the attorney is a “Child’s Attorney” or a “Best Interests Attorney.” The ABA’s Standards of Practice for Attorneys Who Represent Children in Abuse and Neglect Cases, while recognizing the hybrid attorney/guardian ad litem role for lawyers under certain circumstances, expresses a clear preference for the attorney for the child model. Based in part on these standards, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws is preparing a Uniform Representation of Children in Abuse and Neglect and Custody Proceedings Act. Professor Atwood's fine article exploring the policy choices in the uniform act can be accessed from her SSRN page: Atwood, Barbara Ann, "The New Uniform Representation of Children in Abuse, Neglect, and Custody Proceedings Act: Bridging the Divide Between Pragmatism and Idealism" . Family Law Quarterly, 2007 Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=938211
For tables reflecting a 51-state analysis of the standards of representation of children in adoption and guardianship, see 41 Family Law Quarterly (Summer 2007) article "Hearing Children's Voices and Interests in Adoption and Guardianship Proceedings" of the American Bar Association Child Custody and Adoption Pro Bono Project.
- Appendix A—Appointment Provisions in Adoption Cases
- Appendix B—Appointment Provisions for Guardianship Cases
(last visited Jan 7, 2008 bgf)
According to a report from UNICEF, despite the international community's commitment to gender equality, the lives of millions of women and girls throughout the world are plagued by discrimination, disempowerment, and poverty. The report outlines the status of women in the household, employment, and politics and government. The authors argue that, when women are empowered to live full and productive lives, children prosper (referred to in the report as "The Double Dividend" of gender equality).
Read the full United Nations report (in pdf format) (last visited Jan. 7, 2008 bgf)