Adopting from China Getting Tougher

China is reportedly implementing new rules making it tougher for Americans and other foreigners to adopt their orphaned children.

Many Americans, some of whom have already adopted Chinese children in the past, are disappointed and angered over the changing policies in China.

But China is within its legal rights and is actually following in the footsteps of other countries with babies available for adoption, such as South Korea.

Some of the would-be parents who may be turned down in the future include:

  1. the extremely obese
  2. singles
  3. people on anti-depressants
  4. people with facial deformities
  5. people over age 50 (unless the children have special needs)
  6. people without high school diplomas and
  7. couples with more than two divorces in their collective past

Read more in this Los Angeles Times article: Babies’ best interest – China awkwardly but appropriately changes its adoption rules.

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Police expect the worst during the holidays

While everyone else may look forward to the holiday season, the police don’t.

The holidays typically see a sharp rise in volatile domestic disturbance calls.

Whether it’s holiday vacations, holiday drink, holiday depression, holiday stress, holiday guests, a combination of all of them and/or other factors, routine arguments are more likely to turn deadly and child custody and visitation disputes can turn particularly bitter during the holidays.

One officer recalls a man who killed his own cousin over a pork chop at Christmas time.

Read more in this Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel article: Police expect the worst during the holidays.

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Star Canadian Athlete Arrested for Abducting Her Child to the US

A former winner of Gold medals for Canada at the Olympics is in hot water.

She stands accused of abducting her daughter to the US in alleged violation of a custody agreement with the girl’s father. The child’s father reportedly feared that this was just the first step toward removing the girl to Iran, the athlete’s current husband’s homeland.

The mother denies any wrongdoing and insists that she is being politically persecuted. She is requesting to be released from her incarceration in Maryland so that she can return to Canada on her own.

Their daughter has already gone back to Canada with her father, who hadn’t seen her in a couple of months.

The Canadian government hasn’t yet officially requested extradition. It is allowed 60 days to do so …

The athlete’s Iranian husband allegedly also faces unrelated criminal charges in Canada. The athlete contends that those charges are also politically motivated.

Read more in this CanadaEast Interactive article: Bedard’s lawyer says she’s lucid amid bizarre trip and custody battle and this CTV.ca article: Myriam Bedard’s lawyers try to reach deal with Quebec in abduction case.

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The Post-Divorce Way to Do the Holidays

After divorce, holidays are never the same for the parents or the children.

One million children this year are experiencing their first holiday season after their parents’ divorce.

For the children, it’s an enormous adjustment not to have the entire family together with them.

For one of the parents, it’s an enormous adjustment to be alone for the holidays or a significant portion of them.

Besides the new emotional challenges, the family may also face new financial hardships that impact holiday gift-giving.

The first holiday season after divorce is the toughest.

Experts recommend maintaining as much continuity for the kids as possible but, at the same time, starting new traditions to replace those that cannot be continued.

Ideally, parents should plan and work together to ensure that the holidays go smoothly for the kids.

Parents should also take care to reassure their kids that they are doing OK, especially if the kids will be leaving them over the holidays.

Read more in this Houston Chronicle article: Divorce presents parents challenges during holidays – Coping with changes during time of traditions especially tough on children.

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Father of Unsupervised Child Suicide Seeks Reinstatement of Visitation with His Other Children

Last year, a 12 year old boy committed suicide in the middle of his parents’ bitter divorce. The boy used one of the nine guns that were freely accessible at the home of his father, an ex-Marine.

The father reportedly left the boy and his two younger brothers home alone, unsupervised.

Before the tragedy, it appears that the judge presiding over the divorce had ordered the father to secure his guns.

The father is said to be on probation now, under a plea of guilty to child endangerment, for which he served no time in jail. And he has been denied any contact with his two other sons since their brother’s death.

The father has reportedly admitted to suffering from depression and thoughts of suicide since his son’s suicide.

The father has taken a court-ordered anger management course.

But during his recent divorce, the father allegedly physically assaulted and injured four to five bailiffs. It took twelve bailiffs to subdue and restrain him.

According to the children’s mother, the father has threatened to kill her.

Now, the father wants to resume visitation with his two surviving sons.

The court indicated that it would reinstate visitation on a gradual basis – after the father served his criminal sentences. The children just may be legal adults before that happens.

Read more in this Las Vegas Review-Journal article: Divorce trial results in melee.

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Bipolar? Sorry, Your Parental Rights Must Be Terminated

A bipolar woman’s parental rights were terminated earlier this year upon the recommendation of a court-appointed guardian.

No one, not even the mother, denies that she was unable to be a fit parent when her baby boy was born … almost three years ago.

But the mother argues that her illness is well-managed now and that now she is fit and well able to care for her son. Yet, she contends, no one involved in her son’s case is willing to look past her past.

Mental health advocates are taking up the mother’s cause on behalf of the many parents whose parental rights are routinely terminated solely because they suffer from a mental illness – without any showing that the mental illness actually jeopardizes the welfare of their children or that support from social services couldn’t adequately address any legitimate concerns.

Read more in this St. Louis Post-Dispatch article: Mental health is at crux of parental rights case.

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Should Agreed Alimony End Because Paying Spouse Alleges Receiving Spouse Tried to Have Him Killed?

Missouri ex-husband stops paying alimony due under an “unmodifiable” divorce settlement.

His defense: he contends that his ex-wife tried to hire a professional hitman to murder him, and he shouldn’t have to finance her misdeeds.

The man’s argument is hampered, however, by a complete lack of corroboration of his allegation. He didn’t even report the alleged attempted murder to the police.

The appellate court posed tough questions about the dangers of opening the floodgates to litigation to terminate support obligations based on nothing more than unsupported allegations of misconduct.

But the ultimate flaw in the ex-husband’s version of events, however, is that the ex-wife has no rational motive for murder. She would lose out on all future support if her ex-husband were murdered.

Read more in this St. Louis Post-Dispatch article: Ex-husband alleges murder-for-hire plot in alimony case.

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AR: Parental Rights Should Not Be Terminated Just Because Parent Incarcerated for Substantial Time

A 7 year old boy has been raised by his foster mother for five years. The boy’s father has been in jail practically since the day he was born. The child’s mother is also imprisoned.

While in prison, the father made efforts to keep tabs on his son, to contact him, to have visitation with him and to obtain custody of him.

Possibly in anticipation of the father’s impending release on probation, the foster mother instituted proceedings to adopt the child.

At trial, the court terminated the father’s parental rights and approved the adoption.

But, on the father’s appeal, the judgment was reversed. The appellate court held that the father should not automatically be deprived of his parental rights just because he had been incarcerated. The father, by his efforts, had earned the opportunity to pursue visitation and, ultimately, custody upon his imminent release.

The ruling appears to have been grounded solely in parental rights. It did not appear from the report whether the court considered any rights the child might have or the best interests of the child after five years living with his foster mother and probably with no memory of either of his biological parents.

The boy’s mother does not appear to have attempted any contact with the child nor to have participated in the adoption proceedings or appeal in any way.

Read more in this Little Rock, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article: Imprisonment no bar to son, judges decide – They void lower court’s adoption OK.

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Japan: No Visitation Rights for American Fathers of Children Abducted to Japan

According to news reports, American fathers essentially lose their kids when their Japanese wives steal away with them to Japan. And it’s not a rare occurrence.

Japanese courts reportedly almost always disregard prior US custody decisions and award custody to the Japanese parent every time, favor children being raised in Japan in every case and typically deny American fathers any visitation rights at all.

Japan apparently does not treat parental abductions as criminal, no matter the circumstances.

Surprisingly, Japan is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. And so the US government and the American fathers left behind are helpless.

Ironically, the Japanese have chronicled, in a cinematic appeal for a US show of support, parental abductions of half-Japanese children by North Koreans – in which Japanese fathers suffered similar fates to the American fathers described above – to the outrage of the Japanese people.

Read more in this Axcess News article: Frustrated Fathers of Abducted Children Turn to Public for Support.

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Domestic or Non-Domestic Violence?

For many people, the phrase “domestic violence” still conjures up images of a husband abusing his wife.

Some states’ domestic violence statutes stick strictly to such images in defining crimes of domestic violence.

Yet many modern day couples are not husbands and wives. And violence may still be very much a part of the relationship between the members of such a couple.

So where do abusers within the context of such relationships stand under domestic violence laws?

It depends upon the state and how broadly its domestic violence laws are written.

In Florida, domestic violence laws cover cohabitants.

In Ohio, however, a man was arrested for felony domestic violence – allegedly committed against his live-in girlfriend.

At trial, the court reduced the felony domestic violence charge to misdemeanor assault, holding that the state’s domestic violence statute was unconstitutional as it applied to unmarried couples.

The case is now on appeal for the Ohio Supreme Court to decide whether Ohio’s domestic violence laws apply to unmarried couples living together.

Read more in this Dayton Daily News article: Top court to rule on domestic-violence law.

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