Just Another Visitation Dispute – with Murder Attempts and a Terror Threat against the Judge

An Alabama man, who was reportedly denied court-ordered visitation with his kids by his wife, is still waiting to have his visitation.

First, his wife’s stepfather allegedly shot at the man and his mother – while the children were being carried in their arms.

Two shots found their targets, one being the man’s head. The man didn’t want his children to see his injuries.

Next, the man’s wife’s mother allegedly made a terrorist threat against the judge who had held the children’s mother in contempt of court and sentenced her to 25 days in jail for denial of visitation.

At this point, social services is struggling to come up with a safe and secure way for the man to have his visitation with his children.

And now the kids’ father is no longer seeking visitation only.

He’s seeking sole custody.

This may not be one of the presiding judge’s more difficult decisions.

Read more in this Huntsville [AL] Times article: Man shot in custody dispute seeks visitation.

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Girls Benefit From Divorce In Unhappy Marriages But Boys May Not

A new study conducted here in Florida finds that girls perform better academically after their parents in turbulent marriages divorce.

The people behind the study believe that bitter fighting between parents adversely affects girls worse than divorce does.

Boys, however, did not benefit academically from divorce under similar circumstances.

Boys appear to suffer more from the loss of the father in the household, and often act out after their parents separate.

Read more in this Gainesville Sun article: Are girls better off if parents divorce?

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A 40 Year Separation May Come to An End

A 66 year old woman from Michigan has filed for divorce from the husband she claims married her while she was still a child in India.

They live in distant US states now and haven’t seen each other in 40 years – but they had several children together.

He denies the marriage – but she reportedly has two dozen witnesses to the wedding.

There could be a good bit of money at issue.

He’s a physician while she is scrimping on social security.

Read more in this Grand Rapids [MI] WOOD TV 8 article: Child bride hasn’t seen husband in 4 decades, sues for divorce and in this Hindustan Times article: ’55 bride takes hubby to court.

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New Product: Divorce Insurance

A North Carolina company is about to introduce a brand new product – divorce insurance.

The plan is marketed as enabling people to insure against the adverse financial impact that often accompanies a divorce.

The company claims that the insurance will be widely affordable.

One interesting feature: the policies offers financial incentives for insureds to stay married!

Details are fuzzy now because a patent is pending on the business method behind the product.

Sort of a cross between a prenup and a nest egg for a rainy day.

Read more in this press release: North Carolina Entrepreneur Plans to Add Divorce Insurance Product.

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Safe Child Custody Support Group for Child Advocacy

The recently formed Safe Child Custody Support Group describes itself as a child advocacy organization. As its name suggests, it seeks to promote the safety of children and serve as a resource to families and the legal system alike.

Read this press release about the Group: 16-year-old Illustrator of Children’s Book, “Doors,” Creates “Child Protector” Superheroes on Child Advocate Website.

Visit the Safe Child Custody Support Group’s website.

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Father Drowns Son in Custody Battle

A 4 year old boy’s parents were going through a divorce in California.

In family court, the mother reportedly advised that the father was abusive toward her in the presence of their son.

It is unknown whether the allegations were reported by the court to child protective services.

As is often the case in family court, the father retaliated with choice allegations against the mother as well.

Social services had been slightly involved with the family during the divorce case, but reportedly found no need for continuing involvement.

After a child custody evaluation was completed, the parents agreed to joint custody of their son.

Presumably, that was the arrangement suggested, if not mandated, by the evaluation.

Then the father confessed to drowning his boy. Now he is under arrest.

Are our family courts doing enough to protect our children? And their parents who are victims of violence and abuse?

Read more in this Orange County [CA] Register article: Drowned boy’s mother called father abusive.

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Old Paternity Judgment Trumps New DNA Test

A while back, I posted on Paternity Challenged After Child’s Death But Before Wrongful Death Suit.

A Florida court, relying upon an old judgment of paternity, has upheld the legal paternity of the man who acted like a dead boy’s father, despite the recent DNA test that disproved his biological paternity.

Now, the man who raised the boy can press a high-ticket wrongful death lawsuit.

Read more in this Sun Sentinel article: Man responsible for PBC teen could benefit from wrongful death suit, judge rules.

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Grandparents May Fare Better Outside Family Court

Granted, you may not see much of them in family court these days, as indicated in my recent post, Grandparents’ Rights: Another Comeback?

But family court proceedings don’t tell the whole story.

More than 297,000 children in New York state live with their grandparents.

Many of those children end up placed with grandparents via social services action in juvenile dependency court cases arising out of abandonment, abuse or neglect.

Other kids end up with their grandparents through formal agreements with their parents, informal dropoffs and informal stepping up to the plate.

Others through guardianship proceedings.

A few even get there through family court proceedings, agreed orders, placement or custody agreements, even the occasional trial.

If the vast majority of those kids aren’t placed with their grandparents through family court, that’s still a lot of grandparents actually exercising grandparent (if not parental) rights (and responsibilities).

Just likely not in family court.

Read more in Remember grandparents who are parents, too.

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Proposed Ban on Sealing Court Records Without Publicly Noticed Hearing

I’ve posted previously on sealed cases and secret dockets in South Florida and elsewhere in Florida in South Florida Super-Sealing: Secret Dockets Filled with Hidden, Secret Cases and More Sealed South Florida Cases Found Omitted From Public Docket.

Now rules are being proposed, at the request of the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, to prevent this from happening again in the future.

These proposed rules go to the opposite extreme, requiring a public notice of a public hearing before any motion to seal may be granted.

Under the proposed rules, judges would also have to specify in writing precisely what case records are being sealed.

The rules will not go into effect unless and until approved by the Florida Supreme Court.

Do the proposed rules go too far in requiring a public, publicly-noticed hearing on presumably sensitive information?

Read more in this Bradenton Herald article: Study group urges ban on hidden court cases.

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Grandparents’ Rights: Another Comeback?

It’s tough being a grandparent today. No one can really predict where you stand, what rights you do or don’t have to have contact with your grandchildren.

I previously posted in Grandparents Have Rights. Or Do They? about how grandparents used to have greater visitation rights in Florida, but how they’re gradually being whittled away.

That’s largely a result of federal law cases elevating parental rights to a fundamental constitutional right and trumping state statutes on grandparent visitation rights.

But it may not be all over for grandparents. (Not that it was ever really all over; it just required special, unusual circumstances.)

Recently, grandparents’ rights seem to be making a comeback, as state courts purposefully test the boundaries of federal parental rights law.

It should be noted that in all of these cases, the child had lost a parent, creating a special circumstance.

On the other hand, for a while after the latest US Supreme Court case, such tragic circumstances were disregarded by courts in rejecting grandparent rights’ claims.

The pendulum just may be slowly swinging back in favor of grandparents seeking visitation with their grandchildren.

Read more in this USA Today article: Recent legal rulings favor grandparents.

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