Once upon a time, non-parents might have visitation or even custody rights, most commonly grandparents.
Then the US Supreme Court ruled that such third party rights trampled the rights of parents, which should be superior – provided the parents are fit parents.
Since then, some states have tried fashioning constitutional statutes granting third parties visitation or custody rights.
The most popular third parties are still grandparents. But there are other beneficiaries as well.
Stepparents. And the gay parent who is not the biological parent.
Utah is one such unlikely state to pass a new law allowing a non-parent to seek visitation or custody rights.
Arguably, in defiance of local court rulings.
Read more in this Salt Lake Tribune article: Measure would boost rights of stepparents.
In many divorce cases, the most thorny property division question is: what to do with the marital home?
That is especially likely in a depressed real estate market like the current one.
One commonly agreed to option is for the spouse who wants to remain in the house to refinance the other spouse’s name off the mortgage.
But what if the occupying spouse doesn’t have sufficient income or credit to accomplish what was agreed to?
Well, that may depend on what state you live in.
A Virginia women is apparently facing jail time for not being able to refinance as agreed.
Due to the downturn in the real estate market, she also has been unable to sell her way around the refinancing obligation.
Read more in this WAVY TV 10 (VA) article: York Co. woman faces possible jail time for failing to refinance, sell home.
A millionaire and his wife are pitted against each other in an ongoing custody battle … over their dog.
The “father”, who has no children, has spent over $60,000 to win custody of the pooch.
At first, the couple engaged in roughly equal timesharing, by agreement.
Then the “mother” accused the “father” of abuse.
The judge didn’t buy it, and the “father”‘s timesharing resumed …
Until the “mother” moved to Connecticut.
Since then, the “father” has had no time with their pet.
The “father” is filing an appeal.
Read more in this New York Daily News article: Fur flies over dog custody.
When children are taken into foster care due to alleged abandonment, abuse or neglect, it sets in motion a series of events, including various hearings in juvenile dependency court.
Juvenile dependency court is unlike any other court.
Many of the families of removed children are indigent. Parents attorneys’ and children’s attorneys are typically court-appointed. They handle hundreds of cases per year.
They barely know their clients, let alone the parents and the family’s circumstances.
Yet these overburdened court-appointed attorneys are the just about the only thing standing between children – and removal from their parents and families.
The courts don’t allow much time for parents to defend return of children to their families. In California, sometimes just five minutes or less.
That’s all the time a judge has to get the facts and determine the best outcome. Informed only by attorneys and case workers who have inadequate time and too large caseloads to sort out the truth and come up with solutions.
And so children are removed from their homes … whether or not they should be …
Read horror story after horror story in this troubling Mercury News article: How rushed justice fails our kids – BROKEN FAMILIES, BROKEN COURTS: A MERCURY NEWS INVESTIGATION.