Planning for a Special Needs Child as Part of Divorce or Parental Separation

Divorce is complicated.

When the spouses have a special needs child, it gets a a lot more complicated.

Parents of special needs children have to plan together for their child’s future … even if they won’t be together themselves.

In the specific context of the parents’ divorce or separation, the parents should know that child support obligations for a dependent child may continue beyond the age for children who don’t have special needs. Possibly indefinitely.

And that support may include significant health-related expenses that don’t apply to children without special needs.

Additionally, timesharing with a special needs child may involve significant expenses that don’t apply to a child without special needs.

Both support and access expenses should be addressed by the parents’ divorce or custody case.

Especially if a special needs child receives or will be eligible to receive benefits or government services related to their special needs, it may be advisable to establish a special needs trust to protect the child’s right to those benefits and to ensure compliance with the applicable law so that benefits and/or services are not inadvertently forfeited.

Additional matters to cover in such a trust are future housing, medical insurance and potential inheritances for the child.

Beyond the financial aspects, caregiving for a special needs child is more complex and demanding than for a child without special needs.

If responsibilities are going to be allocated, there should be a clear and comprehensive allocation of responsibilities.

If not, one parent should be designated as primary custodian and caregiver and be awarded sufficient parental responsibility and authority to provide appropriate care unfettered.

Designation of an alternate legal guardian should be made in the event that the primary caregiver dies or becomes unable to care for the special needs child. In appropriate cases, a legal guardian may be appointed for a special needs child who is an adult based on chronological age but nonetheless in need of a legal guardian.

A primary caregiver should maintain a care journal that captures the daily caregiving routine, to aid any successor guardian. It should include information about the child’s preferences and behaviors.

Read more in this Lexington [Kentucky] Herald-Leader article: Divorce planning for children with special needs.

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Ex-Husband Enters Plea Agreement to Avoid Twenty Different Counts Arising from Alleged Violation of Domestic Violence Restraining Order of Protection

Ex-Wife has injunction for protection against domestic violence against Ex-Husband.

Ex-Husband moves from upstate New York to Oklahoma four years ago.

But that hasn’t stopped Ex-Husband from reportedly repeatedly violating Ex-Wife’s domestic violence restraining order.

Ex-Husband admits making repeated phone calls and sending multiple e-mails and regular mailings to Ex-Wife over the last four years.

The magnitude of Ex-Husband’s order of protection violations prompted the prosecutor to charge Ex-Husband with more than twenty counts of criminal contempt, stalking and aggravated harassment, and to have Ex-Husband returned to New York state to face the charges.

Under the plea deal, Ex-Husband pleads guilty to just one count of criminal contempt, and avoids incarceration. And a new order of protection goes into effect against Ex-Husband for the next eight years.

If Ex-Husband violates the plea agreement and terms of his probation, though, Ex-Husband could face as much as four years in jail for his violations of the domestic violence restraining order against him.

Ex-Wife just wants Ex-Husband to leave her in peace.

Read more in this Syracuse Post-Standard article: Oklahoma man admits guilt in long-distance stalking.

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British Columbia Expected to Jump on the Bandwagon of Phasing Out Child “Custody” Terminology

British Columbia, Canada, following in the footsteps of Australia, Florida, other US states and other countries, is the latest to trumpet their impending revolutionary changes in family law.

In British Columbia, the revolution will be accomplished by swapping the words “guardianship” and “parental responsibility” for the word “custody”.

In Florida, our revolution was accomplished by swapping the word timesharing for the words visitation and ” (physical) custody”, and the words “parental responsibility” for ” (legal) custody”.

Anticipation of the revolution inspires lofty goals and high hopes about a kinder, gentler divorce and separation process.

But the reality of the post-revolution world proves that the more things change, the more they stay the same…

Except for the terminology, of course.

Read more in this Vancouver Sun article: Eliminating child ‘custody’ tries to ease pain of separation.

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Early Neutral Evalution Pilot Program Expanding Geographically and Topically

I previously posted in Minnesota Pleased with Early Results in Pilot Program to Resolve Custody Issues Amicably Outside Court about a pilot program in Minnesota using Early Neutral Evaluation.

The program is still going strong, and has expanded to other counties in Minnesota and to divorce cases with disputes over more varied issues, including financial disputes.

In this variation on mediation, both parties meet with two different evaluators, who each offer their own opinion as to the outcome on that issue if taken to court.

The program still boasts a settlement rate of between seventy and even eighty percent. After an investment of just six to fourteen hours of time.

The program’s proponents concede that early neutral evaluation is not suitable in cases where there is a history of domestic violence or other abuse.

The statistics on early neutral evaluation are certainly promising.

Some other metrics of the program’s success are whether participants feel satisfied with the outcome afterwards.

Unfortunately, a significant number of participants in ordinary pro se (without lawyers) mediation don’t totally understand that they aren’t required to reach agreement or to “give in” to the proposal that the mediator (here, evaluator) seems to be directing them toward.

This can lead to “settlements” that are, in essence, coerced and don’t keep the peace for long.

Read more in this press release: Early Neutral Evaluation Pilot Showing Great Promise in Minnesota.

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High Impact Child Support Enforcement Measures Pending in Israel

Israel appears to be behind the US in regards to its child support enforcement infrastructure … but poised to overtake us before long.

Behind the US in that they are just now establishing governmental child support collection specialists who focus on support enforcement to assist custodial parents with enforcement. The specialists will have access to tax, inheritance and other financial transactions records of deadbeat parents.

Poised to overtake, with some proposed new measures with teeth, including:

  1. denial of government benefits to parents behind in paying child support
  2. exclusion of deadbeat parents from public office
  3. prohibition of ownership of cellular phones by parents who don’t pay their child support and
  4. barring of deadbeat parents from government employment

Read more in this Israel Haaretz news article: New bill may keep deadbeat dads from cell phones, state jobs.

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US Federal Trial Court Disregards California Family Court Custody Award, and Greek Mother Who Originally Abducted American Child to Greece Seizes Second Opportunity to Wrongfully Keep Child in Greece

California Husband and Wife, who is originally from Greece, have a Son together.

When Son is an infant, Wife takes Son to Greece to visit extended family.

And decides not to return to US. And to keep Son in Greece.

Husband promptly obtains a divorce in California. The California family court awards Husband sole custody of Son.

But the Greek family court, even though Greece is a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, does nothing to enforce the US court order.

After a couple of years of that, Husband goes to Greece and simply takes Son back to the US. Husband advises California family court of his actions.

Then Wife, as Husband had done in Greece, files an application under the Hague Convention for Son’s return to Greece.

Inexplicably, the US federal court judge presiding over the Hague Convention case in the US disregards the California family court custody order!

Instead the judge rules that Son return to Wife in Greece at that time, but establishes a rotating timesharing schedule in which Son alternates between Husband and Wife every three months.

Husband appeals the federal trial court’s ruling disregarding the California family court’s custody award.

Eventually, Husband wins his appeal. Son is to return home to California.

But now the US federal court judge rules that Wife should have a final visit with Son in Greece.

Needless to say, Wife once again retains Son in Greece. And cuts off all contact with Husband.

And, despite multiple US court orders requiring Son to be returned to Husband in the US, Son remains in Greece.

The California State Attorney’s office and the US Attorney’s office are both investigating Husband’s case.

Son likely will soon begin kindergarten in Greece.

Even if Wife would permit it, Husband cannot return to Greece to visit Son for fear of being arrested there.

Read more in this Santa Cruz Sentinel article: Watsonville native, Greek citizen embroiled in international custody dispute to get his son back.

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Ex-Wife Keeps Filing Divorce Paperwork in Family Court From Jail After Husband Survives Her Conspiracy to Commit Homicide

Husband and Wife divorce.

Wife allegedly hires her ex-husband and her boyfriend to murder Husband.

Husband is shot three times, but survives.

Wife serves eight months in jail awaiting trial.

Then Wife and her accomplices all plead guilty to criminal conspiracy to commit Husband’s homicide.

Wife is sentenced to between six and twelve years in prison.

And while serving her sentence, Wife files divorce court papers:

  1. seeking alimony for the time period between her arrest and her guilty plea
  2. seeking distribution of marital personal property she claims Husband withheld from her
  3. seeking part of Husband’s pension

The family court rules against Wife on her alimony and personal property claims, but rules in Wife’s favor on her pension claim.

The criminal court ordered Wife and her accomplices to pay Husband $2,300 in restitution. So far, Husband has been able to collect a total of $80.

Husband suffers from permanent nerve damage, shotgun “pellets” embedded in his head, anxiety and nightmares .. and, from his perspective, legal abuse.

Read more in this Wilkes-Barre [PA] Times Leader article: Murder in her heart, law on her side.

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So-Called Amicable Divorce Via Mediation Up Close and Personal: Whether It’s For Better or For Worse is in the Eye of the Beholder

Sign of the times.

Arizona Husband and Wife’ s marriage has broken down.

Husband and Wife have three Children.

Husband and Wife can’t sell their home in the current economy.

So Husband and Wife – and Children – are all still living together … going on nine months into their “divorce”.

Along the way, Husband and Wife attend mediations – and family counseling.

And it’s all being filmed for public airing on primetime television.

Still living together. Nine months. Dirty laundry on TV.

And yet another three months of “living together” after Husband and Wife reach a settlement.

It would appear to be somewhat subjective whether so-called amicable resolution via mediation is always better than not-so-amicable resolution via litigation (which can also place people in mediation and result in settlement – and separation … faster).

Husband, Wife and Children’s psychologist doesn’t recommend the “living together” approach to divorce that Husband and Wife have adopted.

But different strokes …

Read more in this ABC News Primetime article: House of Hurt: ‘Separated’ Couple Stuck Living Together Through Divorce.

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Australian Studies Conclude That Rotating Physical Custody with Roughly Equal Timesharing Harms Children Younger Than Four Years Old

Research studies sponsored by the Australian government raise troubling implications for rotating physical custody arrangements with roughly equal timesharing with children after divorce or separation.

In a nutshell, the studies conclude that young children are happier and do better developmentally living primarily with only one of their parents.

More specifically, babies up to two years old having overnights away from their primary caregiver tend to be more irritable, experience separation anxiety and cling to the parent who is their primary caregiver.

Toddlers from two to three years old having several overnights away from their primary caregiver also tend to experience separation anxiety, as well as more turmoil, eating disorders, aggression and difficulties maintaining concentration.

After three or four years of living with rotating physical custody with roughly equal timesharing, children tend to exhibit poorer attention spans and focus, and boys tend to suffer from clinical ADHD.

More generally, fixed rotating physical custody with roughly equal timesharing schedules, such as are spelled out in court orders, correlate with symptoms of depression and anxiety in young children and are disliked by the children – and their mothers.

The only ones who favor rotating physical custody arrangements with roughly equal timesharing are generally fathers.

The head researcher concludes that rotating physical custody with roughly equal timesharing adversely affects emotional and behavioral development in young children, and that having a primary residence benefits young children.

For children four years and older though, the children’s difficulties are attributed to parental conflict and detached parenting rather than rotating physical custody arrangements with roughly equal timesharing.

Read more in this Health Canal Health News article: Infants struggle in shared care while rigid, shared parenting puts school aged children at risk – new reports.

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Father Jailed for Allegedly Owing $200,000 in Back Child Support Has Been Masquerading as a Wealthy Austrian Prince … While Reportedly on the FBI’s Payroll as an Informant

Father has Children with Mother, his first wife, as well as his current wife.

Father lives a high lifestyle from his loft in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan.

Father uses multiple aliases and holds himself out as being a wealthy Austrian prince.

In reality, Father is an FBI informant from Michigan, with both a psychiatric history and a criminal history.

And Father allegedly owes $200,000 in past due child support to his first wife.

Father is now under arrest in Michigan and confined in jail for nonpayment of child support.

For which charge an attorney has been appointed by the Court.

Read more in this New York Post article: Phony prince outed after child-support bust

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