India to Decide Whether It Will Exercise Child Custody Jurisdiction over an American Child of Indian Heritage Who Very Recently Moved to India with His Mother to Study for a Time

Husband and Wife, are both natives of India who immigrate to the US and become US citizens.

Husband and Wife have Son, who is also a US citizen.

The family lives in the US, specifically California, for Son’s whole life.

Wife is unhappy and now claims to be a victim of abuse.

While on vacation visiting family in India, Wife decides to stay in India to see how she enjoys the work there and to have Son in India while she is doing so.

Husband arguably consents to the seemingly temporary arrangement.

Two months after arriving in India and after Husband files for divorce and custody of Son in the US, Wife seeks an Indian court order awarding her custody and guardianship of Son.

Husband intervenes in the Indian action, arguing that India does not have jurisdiction over Son.

The Indian trial court nonetheless proceeds and find for the Wife.

But the intermediate level appellate court reverses, concluding that Son is a permanent resident of the US and merely a temporary resident of India and therefore defers to the California court’s jurisdiction over Son.

The case is now on appeal to the Supreme Court of India.

Its forthcoming ruling will impact many families in similar situations.

India is not currently a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Read more in this [Indian] Daily News & Analysis article: Can Indian judiciary interfere with orders of courts abroad? SC to decide.

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Protecting an Inheritance From a Spouse

One problem that never seems to go away is when one spouse inherits property prior to the marriage going on the rocks.

An inheritance is inherently separate nonmarital property … unless the inheriting spouse compromises that status.

After the marriage is on the rocks, the other spouse typically asserts a claim to the inheritance as marital property.

So, for purposes of protecting inheritances from subsequent divorces, an inheriting spouse should receive and maintain the inheritance as separate, nonmarital property.

That means that money should not be deposited into joint accounts. Title should not be taken in joint name.

The inheritance should be placed into a separate account or individual title in just the inheriting spouse’s name. No marital property should be combined with the inheritance. No part of the separate property should be used to pay marital obligations.

Unfortunately, some damage is often already done by the time talk of divorce erupts.

The only thing the person or persons providing the inheritance can really do to avoid this outcome is to protect their child (or other heir) from himself or herself … by not allowing the inheritance to pass outright into their child’s (or other heir’s) hands to taint.

One way to accomplish that is by directing the inheritance into a properly drawn trust.

Trusts are governed by state-specific law. In fact, not all types of trusts or specific trust provisions are recognized in all states.

So it is critical to have a trust intended to protect a married child’s inheritance from their spouse (and/or creditors) drawn by a licensed and qualified trusts attorney in the appropriate state.

Read more in this Napa Valley [CA] Register article: Parents get nothing unless will says so.

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Kinship Care Programs Face Severe Budget Cuts Despite Paying Off for Taxpayers with Lowered Foster Care Costs

Children whose parents are unwilling or unable to care for them typically end up in foster care. But there’s often a highly viable alternative.

It’s called kinship care: placement with extended family members, most commonly grandparents. Approximately 350,000 of New York’s children are in kinship care.

New York’s commissioner of Children and Family Services reports that displaced children fare better when placed with relatives than in foster care, with strangers.

The Commissioner spearheaded a statewide “subsidized kinship guardianship program”. The currently $3 million program saves the state considerable funds otherwise expended on traditional foster care.

The current budget funds case management, respite services, support groups, advocacy and legal aid.

But the program’s budget is being shrunk by budget cuts to one-third of its current amount. At the same time that the number of children brought into the program is rising.

What’s wrong with that picture?

Read more in this Albany Times Union editorial: Kinship programs benefit children.

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Oil Heir’s Wife Pursues Megabucks in Divorce

Husband’s father, an oil heir, is worth about $2 billion.

Wife is looking for more than $314,000 per month to carry on in the style to which she has become accustomed.

After living like an heiress for ten to eighteen years, anything less would be “slumming”.

And an award of attorney’s fees of $350,000, so she can retain counsel up to par with Husband’s.

And then there are the accountants’ fees. Another $100,000.

Imagine if there weren’t a recession on…

Read more in this Extra article: Getty Ex Wants Big Bucks in Divorce and this New York Post article: Getty oil heir’s ex demands $314K-a-month in divorce.

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Not Everyone in an Unhappy Marriage Can Get a Divorce

Couple gets married in Massachusetts.

Couple splits up in Pennsylvania.

One of the couple files for divorce in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Judge dismisses divorce action.

Couple are lesbians.

Pennsylvania does not recognize gay marriage.

Therefore, according to trial judge, Pennsylvania cannot grant couple a divorce.

Except that New York and New Jersey don’t recognize gay marriage either … but will grant a divorce to gay couples.

In the meantime, gay couples married in states that have legalized gay marriage cannot obtain divorces or obtain orders on property division and support in several states that do not recognize gay marriages or gay divorces, such as Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Read more in this Boston Herald article: Pa. judge refuses to grant same-sex divorce after Mass. marriage.

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Not All Supervised Visitation is Created Equally

Father and Mother have (now) 15 year old Son.

Father and Mother divorce.

Father is a lawyer.

Mother suffers from bipolar disorder.

In their paternity settlement agreement, Mother and Father agree that Mother’s timesharing with Son will be supervised by a specified psychologist (Psychologist), or any “doctor” he recommends. Their agreement becomes part of the final judgment.

Psychologist delegates supervising timesharing to his own Daughter, a seemingly less experienced and less qualified social worker pursuing a doctorate in psychology.

Mother reportedly brings two knives (an ornamental dagger and a twelve inch drywall knife) into Psychologist’s office when she arrives for timesharing with Son one day.

During timesharing, Mother allegedly stabs Son repeatedly, seriously wounding him.

Father sues Psychologist (and his business partner) for damages from Psychologist’s alleged negligence … and claimed improper billing of supervision at Psychologist’s rate rather than Daughter’s rate.

Psychologist defends that Mother has never been dangerous in Psychologist’s presence during the time that Psychologist did personally supervise Mother’s timesharing with Son.

Mother is charged with attempted murder and aggravated child abuse, but Mother is found incompetent to stand trial and is placed in an inpatient psychiatric facility.

Dedicated supervised visitation centers typically have strict formal security protocols, trained security personnel and security devices.

The choice of supervisor and the environment in which supervised visitation will take place should be appropriate to the person being supervised and the reason for the supervision.

Too often this is not appreciated by parties and, sometimes, their counsel.

Read more in this St. Petersburg Times article: Father sues over attack on son during supervised visitation.

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Father Awarded Custody of Missing Baby Mother Allegedly Absconded with Previously

Mother and Father have Baby.

Mother and Father split up when Baby is less than one year old.

Custody battle begins.

Father is awarded timesharing or visitation with Baby.

Mother allegedly absconds with Baby last December.

Mother reportedly tells Father that she killed Baby. Then recants.

And then says she gave Baby away to a couple.

Mother is arrested for child abuse, kidnapping, custodial interference and conspiracy to commit custodial interference.

Family court now awards custody of Baby to Father in the event that Baby turns up.

Mother now refuses to provide any information about Baby to Family court or Father, apparently due to criminal charges pending against her.

Father seeks to hold Mother in contempt. A hearing on the contempt allegation will take place later this month.

Read more in this Arizona Republic article: Father awarded custody of missing baby Gabriel

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“Army Brat” Dies On-Base From Abuse by Soldier, And Army Denies State Law Duty to Report Child Abuse to Civilian State Child Protective Services

Daughter lives with Father and Stepmother.

Father is in the US army and lives on-base.

Father regularly beats Daughter.

Stepmother regularly beats and whips Daughter.

Stepmother confesses beatings to military Coworkers.

Coworkers report the child abuse to appropriate military personnel.

Military social workers and military police neglect to report suspected child abuse to state child protective services – as required by state law.

Military protocols are also violated.

Daughter dies as a result of abuse.

US army fires base’s highest child abuse official.

Army acknowledges that Daughter’s death could have been avoided by appropriate intervention by military officials.

Mother sues US army for damages.

Military attorneys argue that Army personnel “have no legal duty to report child abuse to civilian authorities” and that therefore Mother is not entitled to damages.

The Court has taken the matter under advisement and will rule at a later date.

In the meantime, Father is charged with murder and could be sentenced to death, if convicted.

Stepmother, having already pleaded guilty, is serving a twenty year sentence.
Read more in this Honolulu KITV 4 TV news article: Attorney: Army Has No Legal Duty To Report Child Abuse.

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Technology May Aid Amicable Couples and Families in Inventorying and Dividing Personal Property

Anyone who has had to inventory personal property and distribute it knows it’s a complex process on multiple levels.

Lawyers have computer programs to assist them in this process, but those programs generally recognize only one dimension of personal property – present fair market value.

Personal property and the people involved are multi-dimensional though and emotions may impact both subjective valuation and the distribution process.

Divorcing and separating couples are among those who must work through this distribution process.

A web-based program offers to assist people with inventorying their assets and distributing them collaboratively and cooperatively.

For couples breaking up, this vehicle permits safe interaction at arm’s length.

For aging relatives and dispersed extended families, it also permits interaction item by item over time and distance.

This tool probably won’t help couples or families who are at war, but it may be worth considering for those who aren’t.

Read more in this PRWeb press release: New Website Provides a Solution to the Problem of Equitable Property Distribution After Death or Divorce and .

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Bill Threatens Equal Timesharing by Default, Unless One Parent is Clearly Unfit

A bill has been introduced in the Tennessee legislature that mandates that children of divorce spend half of their time with each of their parents.

There is one exception: where there is “clear and convincing evidence” that one of the parents is “unfit”.

A tough standard to meet. Which may serve to tie judges’ hands in custody cases.

If the bill is passed, children will arbitrarily bounce from one parent’s home to the other’s, without regard to whether that is in any particular child’s best interests in any given case.

At least one legislator is looking to put the child’s best interests back into the legal standard under the bill.

Read more in this Nashville Tennessean editorial: Custody bill goes too far.

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