Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Resolving Custody and Visitation Concerns

From Brian E. McKinley (Lawyers.com):

Divorces can be emotional and stressful, and when children are involved, child custody arrangements can make things even more challenging and may cause additional concerns. What if your ex-spouse doesn’t abide by the arrangement and doesn’t meet you with your children on time? What if they talk about moving out of state? Luckily, there are laws in place and legal professionals available to help enforce the terms of these types of agreements.

If your divorce has been finalized and you are wondering how the custody and visitation part of the agreement will work out between you and your ex-spouse, it is not unusual to feel uneasy about it. Below are the common custody and visitation concerns that divorced parents experience, and what you can do:

Failure to Comply with Requirements of an Agreement – You may wonder what happens if one or both parties fails to abide by the terms of the custody or visitation agreement. For example, a parent might intentionally extend their visit with the child to either spend more time with him or her or to intentionally deprive the other parent time with the child. If a parent fails to observe the terms of a custody agreement, you can contact your lawyer or a legal professional so they can help you enforce the terms of the agreement or to seek modification of the agreement. Keep in mind that there may be situations where the withholding of custody may be permissible, such as if an ex-spouse is keeping the child safe from danger or if they are late to an exchange due to traffic during the commute.

Read more here.

April 14, 2019 in Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds), Visitation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Anthem Indiana Joins Indiana Legal Services to Provide Medicaid Consumers Access to Free Legal Services

From The Associated Press:

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Indiana (Anthem) today announced the launch of a new medical-legal partnership pilot with Indiana Legal Services to improve the health and quality of life of Medicaid consumers in Central Indiana through free legal assistance. This first-of-its-kind partnership will offer legal counseling for issues with housing and utilities, income support, education and employment and family law, including guardianship, child support, child welfare and custody.

The program will be available to all Central Indiana Medicaid consumers, including those in the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), Hoosier Healthwise, Hoosier Care Connect and traditional Fee-For-Service.

“This program exemplifies Anthem’s commitment to not only providing healthcare services but also looking for innovative programs that help address other issues that impact health and quality of life,” said Dr. Kimberly Roop, Medicaid plan president at Anthem Indiana. “We know Medicaid consumers have a broad range of civil legal needs and providing access to attorney services will help remove a social barrier to their overall well-being.”

Read more here.

March 21, 2019 in Child Support (establishing), Child Support Enforcement, Current Affairs, Custody (parenting plans), Paternity, Property Division | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Pregnancy and Divorce

From Lawyers.com (Gerard F. Miles):

Couples going through a divorce are amid one of life’s most stressful episodes. When there is a pregnancy involved, the emotions and tension are amplified. When a baby is on the way, an already difficult situation becomes even more complicated. During a typical divorce, emotions run high as each decision and agreement are legally formalized. It can be dizzying for anyone trying to prepare themselves for the next phase of their life; one without their spouse. When a pregnancy is involved, a child brings the concerns for an additional person into the mix.

Working Together to Be Apart
Divorcing couples may benefit from an intermediary who can help to fairly divide their marital assets. Beyond that, a counselor may be able to help both divorcing parents remain focused on the future needs of the baby, who will surely benefit most from a peaceful and well-considered parental breakup.

Parental Planning
Parents want the best for their children, and children fare much better in life when their parents work together to address their needs. Often, these needs are best assessed even before the baby arrives. Typically, parents planning for a baby discuss all aspects of preparations. This is crucial in instances where co-parents will be living separately. In these cases, it is worthwhile to come up with a parenting plan.

Read more here.

March 20, 2019 in Child Support (establishing), Child Support Enforcement, Current Affairs, Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds), Paternity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Custody Dispute: A likely motive to Kill

From CNN:

The fiancé of missing Colorado mother Kelsey Berreth killed her by wrapping a sweater around her head and bashing her with a baseball bat and later burned her body in a water trough, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing in Cripple Creek, west of Colorado Springs.

On Tuesday, nearly three months after Berreth went missing, prosecutors filed new charges against Patrick Frazee, including tampering with a body and counts related to a crime of violence. He was arrested in December on murder charges and is being held without bond.

Colorado Bureau of Investigations agent Gregg Slater then testified about his interview with Idaho nurse Krystal Lee Kenney, who told investigators she had an intimate relationship with the defendant in early 2018 and provided details of the Thanksgiving Day killing, including that the weapon was a baseball bat. Kenney pleaded guilty to evidence tampering on February 8.
 
Read more here.
 

February 21, 2019 in Custody (parenting plans), Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Co-Parenting After Divorce

From JD Supra:

In Lehigh County, and in other jurisdictions, parents who have entered the divorce process are ordered to attend a co-parent education class. “Co-parenting” is a term coined by the family law section to encourage cooperative parenting between parties who are no longer married or in a relationship, for the benefit of the child. The Court finds this concept to be so important that it will not allow two divorcing parties to proceed to trial without attending a co-parenting class. If one or both parties refuse or fail to show, the Court will go as far as to hold them in contempt.

Co-parenting does not come naturally. Divorced parents are frequently so focused on splitting up, that coming together to parent shared children can be difficult. As family lawyers, we suggest our clients use a co-parenting counselor, usually a certified therapist, to learn how to co-parent successfully. It can be an uncomfortable process. Recently, a blended family in Texas went viral with their social media post of getting past the uncomfortable phase and successfully co-parenting as a team. While not all families are able to reach that level, we do find that those that utilize a co-parenting counselor are able to work out their issues in session, rather than in court. At the very least, this reduces court filings and can make the process less costly for both parties.

Read more here.

February 5, 2019 in Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Why Prince Harry and Meghan Won't Have Full Custody

From Country Living:

Juggling the complicated protocol of the royal family is always going to be difficult. As Meghan Markle has learned since she first began dating Prince Harry, there’s rules and expectations for all aspects of life. But if you thought that the leg crossing and wardrobe choices were confusing enough, just wait until you hear how things work when it comes to having children-especially now that Meghan Markle is expecting their first child next spring.

According to reports, the royal family operates with a strange custody agreement when its couples have their own children, which states that, actually, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has full legal custody over the young royals. Royal expert Marlene Koenig explained to news outlets: “The sovereign has legal custody of the minor grandchildren.”

Confused? It’s a seriously backdated regulation, as Koenig continued: “This goes back to King George I [who ruled in the early 1700s], and the law’s never been changed. He did it because he had a very poor relationship with his son, the future King George II, so they had this law passed that meant the King was the guardian of his grandchildren.”

Read more here.

 

October 23, 2018 in Current Affairs, Custody (parenting plans), International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Child Abduction

From The Guardian:

Three men and a woman have been accused of helping parents abduct their own children across Australia in contravention of family law orders.

Detectives say as part of a two-year investigation 10 missing children have been located with a parent who had abducted them.

“Five of these are believed to be linked to this group of people,” federal police assistant commissioner Debbie Platz said in a statement on Thursday.

Read more here

October 18, 2018 in Current Affairs, Custody (parenting plans), International, Resources - Children & the Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 3, 2018

Surrogacy and Thorny Issues of Identity, Parenthood and Status in Modern Families

From Lexis Nexis:

AB v CD and others [2018] EWHC 1590 (Fam) illustrates how the needs of modern families formed through assisted conception and surrogacy continue to challenge and outpace the law. Louisa Ghevaert and Richard Jones analyse the case in the September issue of Family Law ([2018] Fam Law 1187).

On one level, the case focused on disputes about arrangements for the children’s upbringing, including exercise of parental responsibility and contact. However, at the heart of this case were fundamental issues about the legal identity and status of the parents and children because the biological intended parents had not applied for parental orders.

This case marked the first time the court had to deal with a situation whereby a family created through surrogacy encountered serious domestic violence, marital breakdown, divorce and remarriage forming a new blended family.

Read more here.

September 3, 2018 in Alternative Reproduction, Custody (parenting plans), International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Court Jails Mother Who Hid With Sons in Custody Battle

From BBC News:

A Spanish court has jailed a woman for five years for going into hiding with her two sons rather than hand them to the father, whom she accused of abuse.

Juana Rivas has also been stripped of custody rights for six years and told to pay hefty legal costs.

Spanish politicians and women's groups have criticised the verdict.

The long-running custody battle for the boys - now aged 12 and four - has become a rallying point in Spain's battle against gender violence.

Read more here.

July 31, 2018 in Custody (parenting plans), Domestic Violence, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 6, 2018

Hoosiers With Disabilities Now Have a Less Restrictive Alternative to Guardianship

From Faegre, Baker, & Daniels:

After working for years to become more independent, Richmond native Jamie Beck has made Indiana history in how she successfully terminated the letters of guardianship over her. Indiana Disability Rights (IDR) recently announced that Jamie filed the first petition in Indiana seeking to terminate a guardianship in favor of a Supported Decision Making Agreement. In a matter of first impression, the court granted Jamie’s petition, potentially paving the way for guardians across the state to formalize existing support systems and encourage Hoosiers with disabilities to achieve the greatest degree of independence possible.

Jamie was diagnosed with mild intellectual disability and attention deficit disorder and was adjudicated an incapacitated person in November of 2010. But her petition, filed last month, detailed her improvement since the adjudication. At the time of filing, Jamie lived in the community, worked two part-time jobs and did volunteer work. In October of 2017, Jamie began a vocational training program in environmental services in Muncie, Indiana. Her participation recently led to an offer of full-time employment with Ball Memorial Hospital. Two weeks after Jamie’s petition was filed, she was set to begin orientation.

Read more here.

July 6, 2018 in Current Affairs, Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 18, 2018

Medical (or not) Marijuana and Child Custody

From Fox Rothschild, LLP:

Pennsylvania uses the standard “the best interests of the child” when determining custody issues. What happens if the best interest of the child breaks the law? Such is the case in Georgia where parents of a 15 year old boy suffering from epilepsy resorted to marijuana to treat his seizures. Their argument is compelling: their son suffers from debilitating seizures that have not responded to traditional treatment and medical help is forty-five minutes away from them. They feared his seizures would eventually kill him.

Having seemingly exhausted their medical options (including a legal form of marijuana oil in a capsule), they began having their son smoke marijuana. His seizures stopped. However, the state of Georgia’s child welfare agency, acting on a tip, investigated the family and removed the young man from his parents’ care in April. Having gone nearly 70 days without a seizure, on the day he was removed from his home he was hospitalized for a severe seizure. He is in a group home and reports did not mention whether he continued to have seizures, but presumably he has and those facts will emerge later this month when a hearing is held.

Read more here.

June 18, 2018 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 11, 2018

Couple Who Insisted Stuffed Animal Was Their Lawyer Lose Child Custody

 

From Newsweek:

A couple from British Columbia in Canada lost custody of their child after insisting to have a stuffed animal act as their lawyer during the trial.

Inside the bizarre courtroom, the couple—who have not been named to protect the identity of their daughter—consulted with a stuffed lion that they believed was transmitting the advice of God, reported the Vancouver Sun. The pair refused normal legal assistance and instead referred to the small toy for guidance.

The Provincial Court of British Columbia declared in November that the couple’s daughter—who was one at the time—needed protection and placed her in provincial custody. The parents appealed the decision to the British Columbia Supreme Court, claiming the judge was discriminatory towards them as Christians, violated their Charter rights and made procedural blunders.

Read more here.

June 11, 2018 in Custody (parenting plans), International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act Passes Senate

From Senator Susan Collins:

Today, U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Bob Casey (D-PA) celebrated the U.S. Senate’s passage of the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act (S. 1091), which would create a federal task force charged with supporting grandparents raising grandchildren as the opioid epidemic increases their numbers. The U.S. House of Representatives must pass the legislation before it becomes law. The bill is cosponsored by a bipartisan group of 15 senators and supported by a wide array of child welfare and aging organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics and AARP.

Approximately 2.6 million children are being raised by their grandparents and experts say this number is rising as the opioid epidemic devastates communities across the country. Senators Collins and Casey, who are both members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, introduced the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act last year after an Aging Committee hearing during which witnesses testified about the need for grandparents to have easy access to information about resources available to assist them.

Read more here.

June 10, 2018 in Adoption, Child Abuse, Current Affairs, Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

When Living Your Truth Can Mean Losing Your Children

From New York Times:

The questioning went on for days. Did she allow her children to watch a Christmas video? Did she include plastic Easter eggs as part of her celebration of the Jewish holiday of Purim? Did she use English nicknames for them, instead of their Hebrew names?

This grilling of Chavie Weisberger, 35, took place not in front of a rabbi or a religious court, but in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, during a custody battle with her ultra-Orthodox Jewish ex-husband after she came out as lesbian and decided to leave the ultra-Orthodox fold. The stakes could not have been higher. In fact, the judge, Eric I. Prus, eventually ruled that she should lose custody of her children, largely because she had lapsed in raising them according to Hasidic customs.

Ms. Weisberger’s case, which was reversed on appeal in August, is still reverberating through New York courts that handle divorce and custody matters for the state’s hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Read more here.

May 29, 2018 in Current Affairs, Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Former Playmate Kills Self, Son, in Custody Battle

From The New York Post:

A former Playboy Playmate killed herself and her 7-year-old son in a murder-suicide leap from a Midtown hotel penthouse Friday amid a bitter custody battle with her estranged husband, sources told The Post.

The bodies of Stephanie Adams and her son, Vincent, were found on a second-floor balcony area by a guest at the Gotham Hotel, police said.

Adams, 47, had been battling with her husband, Manhattan chiropractor Charles Nicolai, in court, and the dispute had heated up Tuesday when he filed a motion for sole custody of the boy, said his lawyer, William Beslow.

Read more here.

May 24, 2018 in Child Abuse, Current Affairs, Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds), Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Who Gets Embryos In Divorce?

From AZ Today (part of the USA Today Network):

State law may soon dictate who has the right to their own frozen embryos, regardless of what the potential parents think.

In cases of divorce, Senate Bill 1393 would require courts to give frozen embryos to the spouse who "intends to allow the embryos to develop to birth."

If both adults want to use the embryos to have a baby, the court would have to give them to the one who "provides the best chance" of successfully doing so.

The bill, which has passed the Senate and now just needs a final vote in the House before going to the governor, would override any agreements or contracts that the couple previously had on the matter, and would ignore either person's current objections or concerns. 

Read more here.

March 13, 2018 in Alternative Reproduction, Current Affairs, Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Judge Gives Grandparents Custody of Transgender Teen

From CNN:

A Hamilton County, Ohio, judge on Friday gave custody of a transgender teen to his grandparents rather than his parents, allowing them to make medical decisions regarding his transition.

The parents didn't want the teen, a 17-year-old who identifies as male, to undergo hormone treatment and refused to call him by his chosen name, triggering suicidal feelings, according to court testimony. The parents wanted custody in order to make medical decisions for the teen and prohibit the treatment that his medical team had recommended.
 
Judge Sylvia Sieve Hendon had instructed that the family's names not be released.
 
Read more here.

February 22, 2018 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sperm Donor Denied Parental Rights

From USA Today:

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — A married same-sex Chemung County couple can rebuff an effort by a sperm donor to exert parental rights on the daughter born as a result of the arrangement.

A midlevel New York appeals court ruled in favor of the couple, suspending a decision by the Chemung County Family Court that originally ordered a paternity test to determine the donor's parental rights.

In a 19-page decision released Thursday, the New York Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, said the lesbian couple has the same parental rights as a traditional couple in a sperm donor arrangement. The mother and wife are the presumed natural parents, the court ruled, and the donor has no specific legal right to be a part of the rearing of the child no matter how the child was conceived.

Read more here.

February 11, 2018 in Custody (parenting plans), Termination of Parental Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Japanese Supreme Court Upholds Refusal to Return Children

From International Family Law Firm:

The Osaka High Court has just issued a decision in a case under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the “Hague Convention”) that provides strong support for the claim that Japan does not comply with the terms of the treaty and that is, indeed, in violation of its treaty obligations.

It has not been possible until now to analyze the decisions of the Japanese courts in cases brought under the Hague Convention since they are unpublished and confidential.  Such secrecy has precluded Japanese lawyers from reporting on specific cases, and has frustrated scrutiny of court decisions.  However, the author has now obtained a copy of the shocking decision of the Osaka High Court in the case of Arimitsu v. Cook, issued on February 17, 2017.

This author has long asserted that the law by which Japan brought the Convention into Japanese law -- Act No. 48 of June 19, 2013, which is identified as the “Act for Implementation of the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction” (the “Implementing Act”) – contains provisions that inappropriately and excessively expand the so-called “grave risk exception” to the treaty. The author has also long expressed serious concerns that return orders issued by the Japanese courts would not be effectively enforced in Japan.

Read more here.

January 15, 2018 in Custody (parenting plans), International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Pending Legislation Will Significantly Change Michigan Child Custody Laws

From The National Law Review:

Late this spring, members of the Michigan House of Representatives introduced House Bill No. 4691, the Michigan Shared Parenting Act. The proposed legislation stands to fundamentally change Michigan's child custody law. Some of the major changes include creating a presumption of joint legal custody and equal parenting time, and reducing the distance a parent may relocate without court permission from the current 100 miles, to 40 miles.

Joint legal custody means that the parents share decision-making authority as to important decisions affecting the child. A legal presumption would require judges to enter an order requiring joint legal custody in all cases, absent one of the parents establishing that a child's health, safety, or well-being would be materially compromised. The current law only requires the court to consider an award of joint custody based upon the best interests of the children. From a practical standpoint, most judges tend to order joint legal custody despite the fact that there is not a legal presumption. However, in cases involving domestic violence, abuse and neglect, judges do not always award joint legal custody.

Read more here.

January 13, 2018 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0)