Where Have All the Parental Child Abductors Gone? Could Be Ireland

Ireland has the dubious distinction of emerging as a popular destination for parental child abductors all over.

The number of parental child abduction cases there has risen dramatically in recent years.

Despite entering the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which requires return of children to their place of “habitual residence“, Ireland often doesn’t.

For example, last year, the Irish high court ordered return in only about half of the cases before it.

While 2,000 kids were involved in Hague Convention cases in the last 15 years, last year alone the figure was 160.

Statistics show that twice as many children are abducted into Ireland as out of Ireland.

Read more in this Irish Independent article: Ireland a haven for love-tug abductors.

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Remembering Tax Impact in Divorce Settlements

Granted, taxes are not foremost in the minds of most couples going through a divorce.

But for couples with sufficient assets, income and civility, tax impact is an important consideration which may be factored into any divorce settlement.

Couples should pay particular attention to alimony, the sale of the house, income tax filing status and timing of the divorce.

An interest in real estate can be transferred from one spouse to another tax-free, but alimony payments are normally taxable income to the receiving spouse.

Capital gains treatment on sale of real estate may favor selling as a couple before the divorce, rather than as a single after the divorce.

For late-in-year divorces, it may pay to wait until early the following year.

In appropriate cases, it may be well worth consulting a tax accountant or tax attorney on the structuring of any divorce settlement.

Read more in this [New Jersey] Courier Post article: Keep your cool in a divorce to avoid tax headaches.

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MN: Court to Review Guardian ad Litem Recommendation against Mother’s Decision to Breast-Feed Despite Medications and Consider in Custody Determination

A guardian ad litem appointed to advocate on behalf of a 14 month old baby has recommended to the court that his mother stop breast-feeding him.

The guardian was concerned about the child ingesting medications prescribed for his mother.

The mother maintains that she researched this issue carefully and that her baby nurse and one of her son’s doctors all encouraged her to breast-feed with full knowledge of her medication regimen. The mother also sought out the input of the author of a book on medications in mother’s milk and he too approved her choice to breast-feed.

Nonetheless, the dispute over whether the mother should breast-feed will be put before a family court judge and could influence whether he will leave the mother as the baby’s primary residential custodian.

Just in case, the mother is stocking up on formula for her son.

The unusual case raises troubling issues regarding the propriety of this intrusion into the mother’s parental rights and rights to privacy.

Read more in this Atlanta Journal Constitution article: Breast-feeding debate impacts custody battle.

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Reality TV: Respecting and Guiding Kids Through Divorce

CBS’s Early Show has been airing a series called Reconcilable Differences. It’s focus is on helping the kids through a divorce.

The series explores settling cases amicably utilizing tools such as mediation, collaborative divorce, divorce coaching and education on parenting for divorce.

Of course, the most important rules are not to put the kids in the middle and to make sure they understand they are not to blame.

Nothing new here, except the medium and format. But this medium has a wide reach.

For those who missed the series, videos of excerpts can be viewed over the internet.

For more information, read this CBS News Early Show article: Reconcilable Differences, Part 3: Respecting And Guiding Kids Through A Divorce.

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Florida Court Asks New York Court to Unseal Adoption Records To Identify Victims in Criminal Abuse Case

Woman adopts eleven children in New York City. Woman later moves to Florida.

Woman raises children – with no education beyond fourth grade, no medical care, without adequate food, without normal social contact, without freedom.

Why?

She adopted the children to collect payments from New York City. Over a million dollars in fact.

All of the children, now aged 15 to 27, suffer from physical and mental disabilities.

The woman, now 62, faces criminal charges of abuse and neglect in Florida.

And the Florida court can now request that the New York courts unseal the normally confidential adoption records.

The records are needed to nail down the identities of the victims, nine of whom are now disabled adults in the care of the state of Florida.

The whereabouts of two others is unknown.

The state just took the woman’s grandchildren from her biological son into protective custody as well.

Read more in this ABC ActionNews.com article: Florida prosecutors can ask judge to unseal records in abuse case and this Newsday article: NY adoption records relevant in Florida abuse case, judge says.

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More Reasons to Quit Smoking

New York City is contemplating banning smoking in a car in which there are minor children.

If it passes, New York won’t be the first place with such a ban. Similar bans already exist in Arkansas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, Bangor, Me., and Rockland County, N.Y.

Transgressions would subject the violator to potentially hefty fines.

But that may not be the worst penalty.

In some states, family court judges may and have considered “smoker status” as a factor in child custody determinations. See my previous post, Smoking Cigarettes Has Gotten Terribly Costly: You Just May Lose Custody of Your Child.

And certain states have banned smoking in homes with foster children. Presumably, infractions could result in foster parents being dropped from the fostering program and their foster children being removed from their home.

Read more in this New York Times article: A Call to Ban Smoking in Cars (With Children).

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Unique Program Facilitates Special Needs Children Attending College

All parents worry about their children’s future when and if something should happen to them. In “broken families”, the custodial parent often tends to worry even more.

But for no parent is that worry greater than the parent of a special needs child.

The College Living Experience, sponsored by the Educational Services of America, is working on alleviating that worry in a unique way.

Simply put, the program facilitates special needs children attending college.

The program houses special needs college students together in apartments where they can deliver tutoring, independent living skills training, social outings and psychological support services.

The program operates in several major cities, including neighboring Fort Lauderdale.

Read more in this PR Newswire press release: Students With Special Needs Attend College This Fall.

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NZ: Gender-Neutrality Applies in Child Custody Awards

According to recent statistics just released by the New Zealand family courts, child custody determinations there are gender-neutral, meaning that either parent may win custody without regard to that parent’s gender.

The New Zealand statistics demonstrated that roughly two-thirds of the time, whichever parents seeks custody, receives it. In New Zealand, that is still the mother more than twice as often as the father.

Gender-neutrality is also the rule under Florida statute and is becoming increasingly common throughout the US.

Read more in this Stuff.Co.NZ article: Gender ‘not a factor’ in Family Court decisions.

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Japanese Indifference to Foreign Parents and Foreign Child Custody Orders Instrumental in Backlash Lobbying and Legislation

Recently, I posted on NJ: Mother May Relocate to Japan Against Father’s Wishes.

And further back on Japan: No Visitation Rights for American Fathers of Children Abducted to Japan.

Knowing how Japan deals with child custody and visitation cannot help but influence one’s thoughts on the NJ Supreme Court’s recent ruling – although it clearly did not influence the court.

To its credit, the Japan Times just published a long, hard look in its legal mirror. Apparently, it didn’t like what it saw there. The published piece also unequivocally criticized the NJ Supreme Court’s recent ruling – on sound legal grounds.

“Professor Colin Jones of Doshisha University testifies in a recent law journal article, ‘In the Best Interests of the Court: What American Lawyers Need to Know about Child Custody and Visitation in Japan,’ … Japanese courts often act in the ‘best interests of the court’ to protect themselves from becoming irrelevant to society due to their inability to enforce their own orders. This authoritative source ensures that future judges will understand the unique meaning of the ‘best interests of the child’ in Japan and realize that even Japanese court orders are not enforceable, so neither are foreign ones.”

New Jersey, however, sees no legal distinction between relocating to, say, Virginia or Wyoming, and Japan.

But there is a such a distinction and many other states not only see it but address it squarely in their statutes and/or case law.

And more may join them in the near future as the The Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act (UCAPA) eventually gains adoption in more states across the US. Other legislation targeting this problem is also being lobbied vigorously.

Read more in this Japan Times article: U.S. takes tougher line on abductions to Japan.

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ND: Equal Timesharing Initiative Rises Again

Last year, North Dakota voters rejected a proposed legislation that would have mandated that a family court establish equal timesharing with minor children unless otherwise agreed by the parents.

This year, the proposal re-surfaces in considerably streamlined form. Any impact on child support is omitted from the language of the initiative.

If the current proposal is passed, if either parent seeks equal timesharing, the court must order equal timesharing.

There is only one means to protect children from equal timesharing:

if a parent “is found unfit or a danger to the children by clear and convincing evidence

That is a pretty tough standard to meet – and it may place some children at unnecessary risk.

This initiative also highlights that the term “joint custody” has different meanings as used in different states.

Read more in this Bismarck KXMB CBS 12 TV article: Supporters of joint custody in divorces trying another petition… and this Bismarck Tribune article: Another go at joint custody initiative.

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