Absent Abandonment, Abuse or Neglect of a Child, Should the State Sit in Judgment, Second-Guessing a Parent’s Decision as to What is in that Parent’s Child’s Best Interests?

Issue presented: absent abandonment, abuse or neglect of a child, should the state sit in judgment, second-guessing a parent’s decision as to what is in that parent’s child’s best interests?

Some recent Canadian court decisions:

“The case involved a separated father who had been granted custody of his 12-year-old daughter. He had refused to let her go on a school trip for chatting on websites he disapproved of, and because she had posted images of herself online which he deemed “inappropriate”.

“The girl objected, the lawyer appointed to represent her interests after the parents’ separation intervened, and the father was taken to court. The court found in favour of the girl on the basis that the punishment was too severe.”

I recently posted on another Canadian decision Canadian Children Taken Into Protective Custody To Save Them From … Parents’ Offensive Political Views striking a similar chord.

The editorialist criticizes an alarming trend toward “nationalisation” of children – and opposes it taking root in his country, Ireland, in the name of a proposed amendment to the Irish constitution characterized as “protecting children’s rights”.

Read more in this Irish Independent article: Parents the best judges of what’s good for a child.

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MI and FL: Random Dispositions for Failing to Report Child Abuse

In Mississippi:

Stepfather is convicted of allegedly abusing two year old Mississippi Baby, including biting him, and is sentenced to twenty years in prison.

Baby received medical treatment after the abuse, thanks only to Grandmother’s intervention – over Baby’s Mother’s objections.

Mother was concerned that Stepfather, her husband, would “get into trouble” for abusing Baby.

Mother pled guilty to the charge of accessory after the fact to child abuse, for failing to report Stepfather.

For her admitted crime, Mother is sentenced to one year of “house arrest” and four years of supervision by the Department of Corrections.

There is no indication that Baby was removed from Mother’s care for her failure to protect Baby.

In Florida:

Teenager is charged with sexual battery allegedly perpetrated on five year old Victim at a religously affiliated Florida daycare center. The Victim’s older brother was reportedly a witness to the molestation.

Adult Employee left Teenager and Victim alone together.

Employee is arrested for failing to report child abuse. Teenager and Victim’s brother both claimed to have told Employee about the sexual assault. But Employee denies knowledge of the assault.

Under Florida law, one is required to report child abuse by “a parent, legal custodian, caregiver or other person responsible for a child’s welfare“.

The prosecution ultimately drops the charges against Employee, because Teenager does not fall under the category of abusers that the statute is aimed at. Therefore, Employee is not legally required to report the abuse.

There is no indication that Employee is barred from working in child care.

So much for crimes arising out of failure to report child abuse ….

Read more in this Columbus [MI] Commercial Dispatch article: Mom sentenced for inaction after child’s abuse and in this Lakeland [FL] Ledger article: Caregiver Won’t Face Charges In Sex-Abuse Case.

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How to Find Hidden Assets in Divorce

When the marriage starts heading south, it’s time to start paying attention to the finances – especially for spouses who never paid attention before. With some spouses, the window of opportunity to prove the existence of assets and that they are marital will close rapidly.

So it may be important to act quickly. And it may be necessary to engage various experts, ranging from divorce financial investigators to forensic computer analysts.

The things to look at, preserve and copy may include joint and the other spouse’s:

  1. Credit card receipts
  2. Credit reports
  3. Cellular phone bills
  4. Personal computers
  5. Laptop computers
  6. Cellular phones
  7. Text messages
  8. Secret e-mail addresses
  9. Internet surfing histories
  10. Offshore accounts
  11. Tax returns
  12. Safe deposit boxes
  13. Credit card statements
  14. Insurance documents
  15. ATM receipts
  16. Bank statements
  17. Brokerage account statements
  18. Other investment account statements
  19. And so on

Once you have your hands on them, study them, or have an expert do so.

Read more in this Olympian [WA] article: Spouse hiding assets? Learn how to protect yourself from secrets, lies.

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Convicted New York Murderess Seeks Jailhouse Visitation with Five Year Old Child

New York Mother and her mother, Grandmother, battle for custody of Child. Father is not in the picture at the time.

Mother allegedly murders Grandmother. Mother is convicted of the killing and sentenced to twenty-five years to life.

During the criminal investigation, Father discovers he is Child’s Father. Father wins custody of Child.

Now, Mother seeks visitation with five year old Child at the prison where she is incarcerated.

Father opposes Child visiting Mother in jail.

A New York court will rule on the prison visitation next month.

Read more in this Newsday article: NY killer requests child visitation rights.

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Oklahoma Program Helps Deadbeat Noncustodial Parents Become Employable and Find and Keep Jobs to Pay Support

One Oklahoma county is testing a new approach to child support enforcement.

Separate the noncustodial parents who don’t want to pay from the noncustodial parents who do want to pay but can’t, because they don’t have a job.

For the noncustodial parents who fall into the second category, a Court Liaison works with local organizations to help them become employable, find and keep a job, in return for regular support payments. The Liaison also keeps tabs on the noncustodial parents.

The employers who hire the noncustodial parents receive a tax credit as well as an employee.

Read more in this Shawnee Sun article: New Program Aimed At Better Child Support.

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UK Husband Convicted of Murder After Wife’s Request that He Move out of the Marital Residence Due to Affair

UK Husband had been a forensic accountant. Just the type of expert professional who might have made his career “following the money” and testifying in divorce cases.

Only this time, the matter at hand wasn’t someone else’s divorce. It was his own Wife whose lawyer had written him a letter asking him to leave the marital home.

He was having an affair. But he didn’t want to leave the marital home or his children.

So he argued with Wife one evening about leaving the home. The argument escalated.

He reportedly banged her head against the floor and doorframe.

And then he allegedly grabbed several kitchen knives and began stabbing his Wife. In all, eighty-six times.

While he had a history of mental illness and offered that as a defense, there was no evidence to suggest that his mental illness was not well-managed at the time of the killing.

He was charged with murder and later convicted and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for nineteen years.

Read more in this UK Telegraph article: Accountant stabbed wife 86 times over divorce.

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PA: Bench Warrant Issued for Mother Who Retained Child After Extended Summer Visitation

Pennsylvania Father and Mother divorce. Father gets primary custody of Child, who is now five years old.

Mother takes her extended summer vacation time with Child. At the end of her visitation, Mother is supposed to drop Child off at paternal grandparents’ home in Ohio.

Five days after the scheduled drop-off date, no word from Mother or of Child. Father finds out Mother has taken leave of absence from her nursing job.

It is not believed that Child has a passport. A Pennsylvania Court issues a bench warrant for arrest of Mother for failing to return the Child.

Father is exploring other criminal remedies as well as obtaining civil orders for pickup of the child by law enforcement officers for return to the County where he resides.

Unfortunately, such an order won’t be very useful if the Mother and Child can’t be found.

Of course, Father can alert the State Department not to issue a passport for Child – if one hasn’t already been issued.

Read more in this Macomb [PA] Daily article: Man seeks return of his son.

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Marriage Certificate, Then Premarital Testing for … the Divorce Gene?

Swedish scientists have isolated what has been dubbed The Divorce Gene.

Of course, the presence of the so-called Divorce Gene doesn’t guarantee that the person with the gene will get a divorce.

But there is a statistical correlation between the presence of the gene and the brain chemistry’s influence in weakening or countering bonding.

This discovery could potentially lead to a treatment that “cures” predisposition for divorce.

Failing that, it may lead to development of a test that could measure the extent of the gene-bearer’s predisposition for divorce.

So it may be possible to determine by genetic testing prior to marriage who may be at greater risk for marital difficulties and divorce.

Read more in this UK Telegraph article: ‘Divorce gene’ linked to relationship troubles.

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North Carolina Grandparents Lobby for Grandparent Visitation Rights Statutes

Grandmother often took Grandchildren into her home to watch them and visit with them.

Grandmother had argument with oldest daughter and son-in-law in November of 2005.

Since then, Grandmother has been denied any contact with Grandchildren.

This is not the most common scenario under which grandparents lose access to grandchildren.

Generally, there is a divorce, or death of their child. Or the grandparent reported suspicions of child abuse or neglect to authorities.

Under the current state of the law in many states following US Supreme Court rulings whittling away grandparents’ visitation rights, a parent generally need not justify denial of contact with grandchildren.

But that doesn’t stop grandparents from trying to change the law. In North Carolina alone, there are hundreds of grandparents who have been torn from their grandchildren’s lives.

Sometimes the wedge carries over to block access with other grandchildren by other parents too.

Abandoned North Carolina grandparents have banded together in Grandchildren/Grandparents Rights of North Carolina. They are a support group and lobbyists rolled into one.

They are advocating for a law to allow grandparents to seek visitation in court.

Read more in this Lexington, NC Dispatch article: Woman fights for rights to visit grandchildren.

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Abducting Parent Confesses Guilt Abroad Based on Misinterpretation of Consequences of Hague Convention

Gay male Manhattan couple adopt Baby together, using a surrogate mother.

Couple splits up before very long.

Court awards rotating joint physical custody.

Dad is awarded the weekends. Pop is awarded the weekdays.

Not satisfied, Dad allegedly procures a fake driver’s license – using Pop’s information.

Dad uses it to apply for a passport for Baby.

One visit, Dad asks Pop for a couple of extra days with Baby. Pop agrees.

Comes time for the return, Dad doesn’t show up at the agreed time. Or later.

Dad sends Pop an e-mail informing him that he has taken Baby to Israel – and will not be returning to the US.

New York cops call Dad on his cell phone. Dad freely admits his actions.

What gives? Simple.

Dad has studied the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. In Dad’s legal opinion, under the Hague Convention, Dad may remain with Baby in Israel.

Dad further concludes that Israel will not extradite him for mere custodial interference.

Dad, in effect, acted as his own lawyer – and, at his own peril, misinterpreted the law.

Based on Dad’s conduct, the New York court revokes Dad’s visitation.

And, contrary to Dad’s legal opinion, the Israeli family court rules that it has no jurisdiction, under the Hague Convention or otherwise. It holds that New York has jurisdiction over Baby.

Meanwhile, Dad is charged with custodial interference in New York. Other charges may follow.

Unfortunately for Dad, conviction for custodial interference carries a sentence of up to four years’ imprisonment.

Dad really should have consulted with an attorney.

Read more in this NY Times article: Man Arrested in Abduction Misread Law, Official Says.

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