Former Lesbian Partner of Child’s Biological Mother and Primary Caregiver for Child for Several Years is Awarded Timesharing with Child After Breakup

Arkansas Mother and Girlfriend are gay.

Mother gives birth to Baby.

Baby is given Girlfriend’s last name.

Girlfriend is Baby’s primary caregiver for next few years.

Mother and Girlfriend break up.

Girlfriend seeks timesharing and visitation with Baby.

Arkansas does not permit same-sex marriages.

Nonetheless, an Arkansas family court awards Girlfriend timesharing and visitation with Baby.

And, on appeal, Arkansas’ Supreme Court recognizes Girlfriend’s right to timesharing and visitation with Baby.

The Arkansas court places great weight on the fact that Girlfriend has been Baby’s primary caregiver, and both paratners clearly intended that they would co-parent Baby together. This, in effect, equates Girlfriend with a parent.

Read more in this KATV 7 news article: Non-parent in same-sex bond gets visitation rights and this Arkansas Times piece: Supreme Court upholds visitation for same-sex ex

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Ex-Husband Arrested for Felony Interference with Child Custody Several Months After Allegedly Taking Off with Son … To Avoid Arrest for Non-Compliance with Final Judgment of Divorce

Florida Husband and Wife are divorced.

Husband and Wife have an eleven year old Son together.

Husband exercises visitation and timesharing with Son last October.

As Husband prepares to return Son to Wife at the conclusion of his timesharing, Husband discovers that there is a civil warrant out for his arrest. Husband allegedly failed to comply with the final judgment in his divorce.

When Husband arrives to drop off Son, Husband spots a law enforcement officer. Husband panics and takes off – with Son.

Not to return. They eventually end up in Michigan.

Where Son is found.

Husband is arrested for felony interference with child custody.

Read more in this Fort Myers News Press article: Missing Fort Myers boy found in Michigan.

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Florida Public Defenders Seek Freeze and Lien for Attorney’s Fees on Marital Assets of Wife Who Allegedly Murdered Her Two Children With Husband

Florida Husband and Wife have two teen-aged Children.

Wife allegedly murders both Children.

Wife is arrested on murder charges.

Wife is represented in criminal court by public defenders.

The County seeks to freeze Wife’s assets and slap a lien on them to recover legal fees for the public defenders’ services.

Wife agrees to the freezing and lien.

But Wife’s assets are marital property – shared with Husband.

Husband objects to both the freezing and lien in the criminal court proceedings.

Husband has recently filed for divorce from Wife.

Husband argues that it is family court, not criminal court, that should rule on Husband’s and Wife’s marital assets.

Further, Husband asserts, he should not be forced into funding Wife’s defense.

Wife contends, without explanation, that Husband’s interest in their marital assets would not be affected by the freezing and lien.

After a hearing on the issue, the criminal court denies the motion to freeze Husband’s and Wife’s assets and subject them to a lien in favor of Wife’s public defenders.

Read more in this St. Petersburg Times article: Schenecker contests wife’s motion to freeze assets and this St. Petersburg Times article: Judge denies motion to freeze Julie Schenecker’s assets.

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Domestic Violence Defendants: Beware Speaking Loudly and Clearly

“Your calls may be recorded.” That’s what the sign says.

In plain view of the residents. In a jail in New York.

Despite that warning, many inmates being held on criminal charges of domestic violence pay it no heed.

They flagrantly violate criminal court orders for “no contact” with alleged victims of criminal domestic violence, by calling the victims up and confessing, apologizing, warning, dictating, professing love, etc., etc., all with the goal of undermining prosecution of the cases against them.

But recordings of such calls are routinely admitted in New York criminal prosecutions for domestic violence.

Making the alleged victims (unwilling) witnesses for the prosecution – even if they don’t testify live in court, or do, but testify favorably to the defense live in court.

The tapes may be used in court under special rules of evidence that apply.

In one case, an accused called his alleged victim 1,200 times.

Read more in this New York Times article: Abuse Suspects, Your Calls Are Taped. Speak Up.

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Texas Program Enhances Child Support Collections, Reduces Unemployment of NonCustodial Parents and Cuts Unemployment and Public Assistance Claims

The Texas Attorney General’s office and the Texas Workforce Commission work together to facilitate continued employment for Texas parents and ongoing payment of child support by noncustodial parents.

The lynchpin of their efforts is court orders mandating employment training and recruiting services for parents behind in their child support.

The program has proven both empowering for parents and cost-effective for the state.

Every dollar spent in providing services to parents yields a return of three dollars in collected child support.

Further, unemployment claims by noncustodial parents and public assistance claims are reduced, and more children are covered by medical insurance.

Some 7,500 delinquent parents have gone through the program since 2005 … and have since paid more than $25 million in support.

The Texas program is reportedly one of the most successful of its kind in the nation.

Read more in this [Columbus, TX] Colorado County Citizen article: Texas Attorney General helping noncustodial parents stay employed.

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Child Welfare Services: The Argument for Embracing Change … Which Costs Less and Accomplishes More

Today, child welfare agencies are most frequently associated with removing children who have been abandoned, abused or neglected from their families, and placing them in foster care or other alternative placements.

Immediate insulation from worst case scenarios.

The long-term outcome? Arguably, not so good.

Studies show that:

  1. more than half of the young adults coming out of foster care are unemployed in their mid-twenties

  2. one quarter don’t have a high school diploma or equivalent credential, and only six percent have achieved higher level degrees

  3. sixty percent of males have already been convicted of a crime

  4. seventy-seven percent of females have been pregnant

  5. twenty-five percent have post-traumatic stress disorder

There is another approach to child welfare. Intensive, in-home services, including mental health and juvenile justice, furnished to youth and their families, without breaking the family up, often without separating family members.

Programs self-report on their “graduates” as follows:

  • two years out of the programs, eighty-three percent of kids are doing well with their own families

  • two years out of the programs, eighty-five percent remain in school or have attained a high school diploma or equivalent credential

  • two years out of the program, eight-two percent have had no run-ins with the law

  • these programs carry a price tage of about ten percent of traditional child welfare intervention

These programs practice Multisystemic Therapy, and maintain close contact with and oversight of the children in their programs and their families.

Speaking less clinically, the children are happier and have greater stability.

Read more in this New York Times Article: A Families-First Approach to Foster Care.

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Divorcing Wife Seeks Compensation for Expected Lost Alimony and Retirement Benefits Due to Husband’s Salary Reduction Resulting From His Alleged Workplace Affair

Husband and Wife are in the middle of their divorce.

Husband works for a California City.

Husband allegedly promotes his Girlfriend from a low level purely administrative position to a high level supervisory position.

The City then demotes Husband for violating the City’s employee romance policy.

Husband’s demotion costs Husband $36,000 in annual salary.

And, according to Wife, costs her substantial lost alimony and retirement benefits as well.

Which is why Wife is suing the City for approximately $4 million in damages.

Wife asserts that Girlfriend is so glaringly underqualified that Husband’s supervisors were negligent in supervising him. Girlfriend, however, remains in the position to which Husband promoted her.

Husband is also suing the City, in a separate lawsuit.

There is some dispute as to whether City’s formal prohibition on supervisors romantic entanglement with subordinates was in effect at the time Husband’s affair began. However, Husband’s supervisor reportedly objected to the two married City employees having an affair.

Some commentators conclude that Wife has no standing because she was not an employee of the City and she cannot prove any damages to herself, at least not until her divorce is final.

Read more in this Sacramento [CA] Bee article: Affair has legal fallout

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For the New Noncustodial Parent: How to Spend Timesharing and Visitation

After a breakup, parenting takes on a new dimension.

For some parents, they really begin learning how to parent themselves for the first time.

One of the things the noncustodial parent must now do is find meaningful yet enjoyable activities to do with their child during their visitation or timesharing.

One father shares some resources he has come to rely on:

  • visitors bureaus can acquaint you with activities and attractions you probably don’t know about.

  • local public libraries sponsor many activities and events that appeal to children, as well as provide information about even more.

  • you can fashion a tour or itinerary for each day you have timesharing and visitation. Take advantage of the changes of season (if applicable) where you are enjoying your timesharing and visitation.

  • put on a “kid’s thinking cap” to help you evaluate all the possibilities from a child’s – your child’s – point of view.

Read more in this AOL Travel article on Gadling:Divorced Dads: Five travel tools and ideas to make visitation more fun.

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Beware of Unintended Gifts to Your Ex

OK. Maybe it’s not your absolute worst nightmare, but it’s probably close.

You die. Your ex inherits some of your property.

What! How can that be? you ask.

Actually, in some states, there may be more than one way.

In Florida and many states though, the way this happens is that a spouse forgets to change their beneficiary designations on their nonprobate assets upon their divorce.

Clients always have a hard time getting this one when I raise this subject with them.

At risk of being simplistic, there are two kinds of property: probate property and nonprobate property.

Probate property is inherited as directed in the owner’s will.

So if you make a will during your marriage and don’t update it upon your divorce, your will still names your ex as your beneficiary. But Florida and many other states have laws that, in effect, write your ex out of your will if your will was made before your divorce was final.

So much for probate property.

But for many people, the majority, if not all of their assets are the other type of property, called nonprobate property. Some examples of nonprobate property include life insurance policies; IRAs, 401Ks and pension plans; a home or other property held in a trust; many bank accounts that are not titled in just one name, and so on.

Nonprobate assets have designated beneficiaries spelled out in their title documents. Wills don’t apply to them at all (unless the named beneficiary is an “estate”).

Suppose a spouse is named as the other spouse’s beneficiary for one of these assets during their marriage. Does the law write the ex out of the beneficiary designation after their divorce?

No, it doesn’t. If the owner-spouse doesn’t change their beneficiary designation after their divorce, their ex remains their beneficiary and inherits from them upon their death.

This was upheld by the US Supreme Court as recently as 2009.

Nightmare come true.

Easily avoided by immediately heeding your divorce lawyer’s advice to update all beneficiary designations and, just to be on the safe side, your will, immediately upon your divorce.

And while your at it, that’s also a good time to consider and address whether your ex is the right person to manage the assets you leave to your children in the unhappy event that you die while your children are still minors. Even if your ex is a wonderful parent, they may not be wonderful at managing those assets … especially if they are significant.

Read more in this Financial Planning article: Heir Loss.

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Norwegian Mother Seeks Return of Toddler Who Has Been Living in Malta under Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

Maltese Father and Norwegian Mother meet over the internet.

Mother and Father move to Malta in 2008 and remain there until early 2009.

Then Mother returns to Norway … and there learns that she is pregnant.

Father joins Mother in Norway due to Mother’s pregnancy.

Mother gives birth to Baby in Norway.

While still in Norway, Father finds out that Mother had had another child earlier … who was removed from Mother’s care by Norway’s child welfare agency.

Mother’s and Father’s Baby, upon birth, goes through withdrawal from medications Mother had been taking.

Norway’s child welfare agency becomes aware of Baby’s withdrawal symptoms and the cause.

Both Mother and Father are worried that Baby will be removed from Mother’s care by Norway’s child welfare agency.

And Mother and Father together decide to move back to Malta with Baby, when Baby is only a few days old.

Baby is “registered as a Maltese national” by Mother and Father.

Mother and Father break up in 2010.

A Maltese court then awards Father custody of Baby in early 2010.

Mother later files an application for return of Baby to Norway under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

A Maltese Court concludes that the Hague Convention is not applicable to Baby, because Baby was never abducted. Further, even if the Hague convention did apply, Baby’s “habitual residence” has, in fact, been Malta, not Norway.

Evidence also supports that Mother is mentally ill.

The Maltese Court denies Mother’s application for return of Baby to Norway and leaves custody with Father.

Read more in this Times of Malta article: Maltese father wins child ‘abduction’ case.

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