British Mother’s Toddler Taken into Protective Custody While in NYC

English Mother comes to New York with her 14 month old Baby. Mother happens to be a police officer.

While in New York, Mother is alleged to have left Baby in their hotel room alone and unsupervised and also of leaving him in the hotel lobby without a custodian.

As a result, Mother was arrested for endangering the welfare of a child … and resisting arrest. And Baby was taken into child protective custody in New York.

The criminal charges against Mother were subsequently dismissed, and Mother is back in her home in England.

But Baby remains in child protective custody in New York. Mother characterizes this as kidnapping.

But the circumstances are complicated.

In Brooklyn federal court, Mother has filed a case under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction seeking Baby’s return to the UK.

At the same time, Mother is suing New York City, including its police and child welfare agencies, for hefty damages. And objecting to the character of the foster mother with whom Baby was placed.

And in New York Family Court, a case is pending over Mother’s alleged neglect of Son.

Despite all the cases, Mother’s local attorney has no clue when Baby will be returned to the UK, regardless of whether he will be placed with Mother or others.

Read more in this [UK] Daily Mirror article: Brit policewoman’s baby at centre of international child welfare battle will remain in US for time being .


Parenting Classes for Inmates: They’re Not Just About Paying Support

Parenting classes. They are required in Florida when both married and unmarried couples break up and litigate parenting rights. Such classes have aimed to improve post separation co-parenting for years.

In more recent years, parenting classes in many states have sought to teach incarcerated parents how to parent better. The educational programs impart the message that not being there with your children due to incarceration (or anything else) is neglect.

“Neglect is when a parent fails at one of their five roles: protecting, providing, teaching, guiding and nurturing. Neglect can lead to serious consequences.”

In Florida prisons, the course has been a thirteen week program at federal expense. Now, greater Tampa is rolling out an abbreviated four week adaptation in local jails, at county expense, for parents serving shorter sentences.

County funding is justified by feedback that indicates that the curriculum really works. Parents in confinement grasp that they are failing their children. And just may be finding the will to do better after their release.

Read more in this Orlando Sentinel article: Classes for dads in jail help inmates learn about fatherhood .


Texas Boy Found in Mexico … Four Years After Alleged Abduction By His Mother

Husband and Wife live in Texas. Husband and Wife have six year old Son together.

Wife allegedly takes Son to Mexico. And remains there.

That was four years ago.

Wife is wanted in Texas on a charge of felony interference with child custody.

Mexican law enforcement officers recently caught up with Wife and arrested her under a federal warrant, and took Son into child protective custody.

It is unknown at this time whether Wife will be extradited to the US or first prosecuted in Mexico on Mexican charges.

It is also unknown at this time when (or if) Son will be returned to Husband’s custody in Texas.

Mexico is a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. But that does not always ensure swift or smooth compliance with the Convention.

Read more in this news article on Breitbart: Texas Boy Kidnapped by Mom Found After 4 Years in Mexico .


Swedish and English Studies Debunk Staying Together for the Kids

A large Swedish study of 150,000 children found no significant difference in mental health of children who lived with each parent part of the time. And in some of the sub-studies, children of divorce actually had better mental health.

A small survey of people in the UK, however, found a correlation between health problems at 50 years old and parents divorcing before child reaches age 7.

Read more in this UK Daily Mail article: Couples who stay together ‘for the sake of the  children’ are not doing the best thing for their youngsters’ mental health .


Facebook Communications May Violate Domestic Violence Restraining Orders of Protection

Woman has domestic violence restraining order of protection against her for benefit of Lady. That means no contact is allowed between the two.

Woman “tags” or sends a message to Lady within Facebook.

Now Woman faces criminal charges for violating the restraining order.

In her motion to dismiss the charge, Wife maintains that the order of protection does not specifically prohibit communications through Facebook.

The domestic violence judge disagrees, denying the motion. Because the order bars contact through “electronic or any other means”.

Past cases have likened tagging to e-mail.



Couple Rejected as Foster Parents Because They Believe in Corporal Punishment

Massachusetts Husband and Wife have two biological daughters and a biological son. Now they want to take a foster child into their home as well.

Husband and Wife are born-again Christians. They believe that the bible encourages parental discipline in child rearing. As such, they sometimes spank their biological children.

And because Husband and Wife embrace corporal punishment, Husband and Wife are rejected as foster parents by Massachusetts’ Department of Children and Families. Even when though they promise not to use corporal punishment on foster children.

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) maintains that corporal punishment would be damaging to children of abuse.

Husband and Wife appeal DCF’s decision through Massachusetts’ court system. And both the trial court and Massachusetts’ highest court side with DCF over Husband and Wife.

Husband and Wife do not plan to appeal to the US Supreme Court, although they believe a freedom of religion constitutional argument applies.

Read more in this Worcester Telegram article: Fitchburg couple defend use of spanking after losing appeal to become foster parents .


Yet Another Stab at Custody of a Pet

Brother 1 and 80 year old Brother 2 share an apartment in New York.

Brother 1 buys a pedigreed dog and, shortly afterward, passes away.

At the time of Brother 1’s funeral, Cousin discovers Brother 1’s Dog in an allegedly grossly neglected state.

Cousin and his wife take Dog and nurse it back to health – at significant expense to them.

Brother 2 becomes personal representative of Brother 1’s estate. Brother 2 is also Brother 1’s sole heir.

Brother 2 wants the Dog back and applies to the Probate (called Surrogates in New York) Court accordingly. Months later, apparently.

Cousin argues by way of defense that Brother 2 relinquished Dog and should be deemed to have gifted Dog to Cousin and his wife. Cousin further contends that Brother 2 is unable to care for Dog and that therefore it is in Dog’s best interest that Dog remain in Cousin’s and his wife’s care.

This would be a leap, however, beyond New York’s (and all or nearly every state’s) current law, be it child custody and family law, or probate and intestacy law. By the strict letter of the law, pets are still considered mere property, no more and no less.

The court will not consider the pet’s best interest, as if it were a child. (There is some wiggle room in a legitimate case of full-blown animal abuse, but the court did not find that that here.)

On the contrary, the court did receive an evaluation by an independent animal rescue representative, which assured the court that Brother 2 could and would care for Dog properly.

Accordingly, the court ordered that Cousin restore the Dog to Brother 2’s custody, uh, possession.

Read more in this New York Law Journal article: LI Man Wins Custody of Deceased Brother’s Dog .


Family Court Holds Wife Gets to Keep Lottery Winnings During Divorce

Dutch Husband and Wife are married for 30 years.

Husband leaves the marital home to cohabit with his girlfriend, and Husband and Wife disentangle their finances.

A year or two later, Husband files for divorce, in October of 2014. Divorce goes to final judgment in June of 2015.

On New Year’s Day of 2015, Wife wins the lottery … a US $2.3 million pot.

Lo and behold, Husband seeks a cut.

Unfortunately for Husband, the Dutch family court denies his claim. The couple’s finances were long since separated when Wife paid for her lottery ticket with her own separate funds from her own separate account.

The ultimate ruling here would be exactly the same under Florida law. If the spouses don’t own it by the date of filing, it will be separate nonmarital property.

Read more in this Reuters – Amsterdam article: Woman who won lottery during divorce can keep it all – Dutch court .


Major Tax Impacts of Divorce

This is a good time for the annual refresher of the typical tax issues and impacts of divorce.

Filing status – If the divorce is finalized by December 31st of the year, then the filer’s status is considered single for that entire year.

Alimony – Typically includible in the income of the receiving spouse (yes, really) and deductible to the paying spouse.

Child Support – Not includible and not deductible. Note: The government can divert tax refunds and apply them to child support arrears (yes, really).

Dependency Exemption – By default, the parent who has the child most often receives the dependency exemption. The spouses or the court can deviate from the default. The parents and child collectively get the most bang from the exemption by assigning it to the higher earning spouse.

Marital Home – Transfer of one spouse’s interest to the other spouse in a divorce is not a taxable event

Legal Fees – Not deductible (except for enforcement of alimony obligations).

Retirement benefits – With a special type of court order called a QDRO, the other spouse can receive a share of the working spouse’s retirement benefits without triggering any taxable event or tax penalty.

Read more in this New York Law Journal article: Tax Considerations and Issues Relating to Divorce .


Marriage Counseling on Demand: On the Way?

Imagine a computer that could eavesdrop on you and your spouse and get a read on whether your marriage would get better or worse or just more of the same.

Actually, you don’t have to imagine it. It’s already here.

Under study of whether the computer can read couples and predict marital outcomes as well as a human therapist.

The verdict is that it can. Slightly better than a human, actually.

All based on the sounds of the couples’ voices rather than the words they express.

The stated goal of the University of Southern California and University of Utah study was to improve talk therapy provided by a human therapist.

An early warning system – in real time, no less – might be the first step.

But down the road, might your marriage counselor be an app? Or a robot?

Precisely when you and your spouse need it.

Only time will tell.

Read more in this Wall Street Journal article: A Computer That Can Hear a Marriage in Trouble .