Archives : Family Law

  • Protecting Children – Domestic Violence or Kidnapping

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  • Is it Too Late to Sign a Prenup?

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  • Should a Family Suffer Because of DNA?

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  • Essentials of Family Leave and Paternity Leave in the USA

    It is not easy to be a new dad in the United States of America. When it comes to paternity leave, it is still generally difficult for a father to bond with the new baby. Yes, there may be bills for family leave in America, but just a few cities and states have passed family leave laws. Everyone should understand that if there is no paid leave for new parents, children, families, and the entire society gets hurt.

    Paternity Leave Laws (State and Federal)

    Currently, only New Hampshire, New York State, New Jersey, Washington D.C., and California have laws that require employers to provide their employees paid leave. Washington’s paid leave law has been passed but it won’t take effect until 2020. For fathers who work in the rest of the US, they only receive paid leave if their employers are considerate enough to offer it.

    The FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), established in 1993, gives most new parents leave without the threat of being fired. Employees who qualify are those who have worked more than 1,240 hours and a year for a company that has 50 employees. Those who are employed by small businesses and those who work part-time are not counted. Just about 60% of workers in America can avail of the leave under the Leave Act. Sadly, the FMLA doesn’t require the employer to pay the new father while he is spending time at home with the new baby. Even if the father has a legal right to avail of the leave, he must be able to afford it.

    Companies Offering Parental Leave

    Here are some of the companies that offer parental leave to their employees:
    • Walmart (offers family leave)
    • Netflix (offers allow unlimited paternity leave to fathers during the first year the child is adopted or born)
    Only 41% of American workers work for companies that give paid paternity leave and 9% of workers work for such employers. Usually, companies use paternity leaves to retain their employees whose experience, skills and knowledge are valuable. Employees who earn not as much have more difficulty in getting paid paternity leave. Despite many advocacies and proposals for passing the family leave bill, there is still no way for low-income employees to avail of paid paternity leave.

    Paternity Leave Laws

    Below are the paternity leave laws implemented by state:
    1. California
    • The state passed the very first American paid parental leave law in 2002.
    • By 2004, parents were given 55% of their salary for a leave of up to six weeks.
    • In 2018, parents were given 60% or 70% of their salary.
    • Percentage may increase by 2021.
    2. New Jersey
    • Parents can receive two thirds of their salary for a parental leave of up to six weeks.
    3. Rhode Island
    • In 2013, it passed temporary caregiver insurance or paid family leave.
    • The leave took effect in January 2014.
    • Now, Rhode Island law gives 4 weeks of wage replacement at 60% of the employee’s salary.
    4. New York State
    • Most generous paid leave
    • Parental leave can even start eight weeks after the baby’s birth.
    • Parents receive half their salary.
    • Weekly payment their salary rises yearly
    • It is projected for the salary percentage to rise to 67% by 2022
    5. Washington DC
    • Depending on income, parents on leave can receive up to 90% of their salary
    • Law will take effect in 2020
    6. Florida, Ohio, North Carolina
    • Passed their parental leave for their municipal employees

    If employers give parental leave to parents, the family system and society, in general, will benefit. The government just needs to figure out how to fund it efficiently.

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  • The Basics of Spousal Support or Alimony

    It is a sad day when a marriage ends. Yet, there may be some good despite all the hurt because it is possible for the courts to award spousal support or alimony to the former wife or husband. It may be granted based on the court’s decision or the agreement between the former couple.

    How Alimony is Important

    Spousal support aims to limit the unfair negative economic effects of the divorce process. It provides a regular income to a spouse who earns a lower wage or a spouse who doesn’t earn at all. This is justified by the other spouse’s decision to refrain from pursuing a career to care for the family. The said spouse would then need time to develop the necessary job skills to support herself or himself. Another reason for support is to help the economically challenged spouse to continue the lifestyle during the marriage.

    Determining the Amount

    Various courts have different discrete factors in determining whether to award spousal support or not. If it is to be granted, the courts also decide how long the other spouse will give the support and how much it would be. The UMDA (Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act advises the courts to consider these factors in deciding on alimony cases:

    • The payer spouse’s ability to pay alimony and still support herself or himself
    • The marriage period
    • The emotional state, age, financial condition, and physical condition of the former spouses
    • The standard of living during the marriage
    • The period for the recipient spouse to become educated and trained for self-sufficiency

    Period of Paying Alimony

    The courts consider alimony as rehabilitative they order it as long as the recipient spouse still needs training for self-sufficiency. If there is no alimony termination date indicated in the divorce decree, the support payments should continue until the courts order it to end.
    Most alimony awards terminate the moment the recipient spouse remarries. It doesn’t necessarily end when the payer spouse dies. The courts may order support payments from the payer spouse’s life insurance or estate proceeds.

    Changing Trends

    Decades ago, the courts awarded spousal support to former wives because the husbands used to be the sole breadwinners of families. In modern family culture, most couples establish two-wage earning families, in which men are more suitable primary parents and women are less dependent on their husbands. The number of cases in which wives pay alimony to their husbands is increasing dramatically.

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  • Reasons for Choosing Child Mediation

    When things are not going so well between a married couple, they should start thinking about the welfare of their children. Separation of the parents usually results in having to make choices. These include the often confusing process of where the children should stay. To avoid the stressful and traumatizing court hearings that could settle the matter, many parents resort to child mediation. Below are some of the reasons why disagreeing parents choose child mediation:

     Divorce is filled with conflict. It can leave a negative effect on  children who see their parents go through the process. As the fight goes on, the children are often caught in the middle. Through child mediation, the situation becomes a lot easier for the children because here, the parents cooperate in deciding what’s best for their kids.

    There is no one to blame in child mediation. When parents always argue and blame each other, they become ineffective in caring for their children. In child mediation, there is a child mediator, who looks out for the welfare of the children. Through the mediator, the parents eventually agree on a parenting plan for their children. Whatever the result may be, no one blames each other because the decision is made by both parents.

    Child mediation is classified as non-adversarial. Mediation for child custody is a collaboration that aims for what’s best for the children. This process is unlike the process of divorce, which is usually a fight between the couple. Child mediation concentrates on what is best for the kids. This process intends to come up with a good parenting plan enabling both parents to be present in the lives of their children. If things do not go smoothly, everyone must go to court.

    Child Mediation reduces conflict and stress. Stress is terrible when the conflicts heighten during a divorce. It usually leads to lack of concentration, diminished patience, and inadequate sleep. Child mediation lowers the stress by making the parents forget their conflicts whenever they work on the parenting plan for their children. This prepares a brighter future for the children.
    Every disagreeing married couple should stop and look at their children first. Through child mediation, both parents can make sure that their children won’t suffer even if their marriage ends.

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  • Winning Child Custody

    Families differ from each other. Sometimes, there are families that must divide to function the right way. This leaves the family to undergo child custody procedures. Both parties struggle to fight for their right to raise the kids. Below are some pointers to remember if you truly want to win the child custody case:

    1. Exercise your rights as a parent. Take advantage of visitation rights once they are granted to you. Do your best to spend time with them. While doing so, make sure they stick to their routines like chores and schoolwork.
    2. Be willing to cooperate with your ex-spouse. There have been cases in which the parent lost child custody because they are not willing to work with the other parent. Even if you dislike your ex, that person is still part of the lives of your children. You must exert effort in showing the court that you are willing to work with the other parent for the well-being of the children.
    3. Request an “in-home custody evaluation”. If you are concerned that your ex would say negative things about your home life with kids, request this evaluation. This will be helpful to the court during their evaluation of your performance.
    4. Learn about family law. Know more about family law, particularly about child custody laws. This way, you will know what to anticipate.
    5. Remember that perception is everything. It is difficult to digest that it truly doesn’t matter if the things being said about you are true or false. In a custody case, the most important thing is what the court believes. Exert your best effort in presenting yourself as a loving, competent, and hands-on parent. Examples of such efforts are dressing properly, practicing proper etiquette in the courtroom, and being on time.
    6. Work with a credible and experienced lawyer, specializing in child custody. A free consultation is enough for you to gain information about your possible options, even if you don’t have the money to hire a lawyer.

    Child custody battles are exhausting, challenging, and expensive. If you want to win it, follow the given tips. Also, talk to your lawyer for more information about what you must do to be with your kids as they grow up.

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  • Grandparents Rights

    Sometimes circumstances can change within a family setting. If you’re a grandparent and are worried about being unable to see your grandchild(ren) you should know that you have the rights. Separation, divorce, and death are life-altering changes and can affect your relationship with your grandchildren. In some cases, you do have legal rights as a grandparent.

    There are times when a grandparent, in the state of New York, has the right to request court-ordered visitation.

    This can happen when:

    • The grandparent has a substantial relationship with the grandchild.
    • The parents of the child are interfering with marked efforts by the grandparent to maintain a relationship with the grandchild.
    • One or both parents have died.

    Grandparents rights apply only to biological or adoptive grandparents. This right does not extend to other relatives or great-grandparents.

    You may have questions about what you need to prove in court in order to be granted court-ordered visitation.
    One of the things that you must have is called the “burden of proof”.

    What does “burden of proof” mean?

    This means that you must have the sufficient evidence to back up your request for court-ordered time with the child or children in question. You must prove that ordered visits are in the child’s best interest.

    Once you have established that there are legal grounds for your visitation you need to then give reasons why spending time with the grandchild is in their best interest. Things that are considered are:

    • The child’s age.
    • The distance from your home or visitation site and the child’s home.
    • The child’s wishes. (If the child is old enough to express their personal preference.)

    Etc.

    The court will likely assign an attorney to any children in this case. The attorney for the child(ren) will then represent the child and what actions are in the child’s best interest.

    How do you start the process?

    It all begins with a petition which is filed in court. This petition is typically filed in the county where the child involved resides.

    For more information on the process of grandparent’s rights, please contact our office. In many cases, grandparents do have a legal right to see their grandchild.

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  • Child Custody Laws

    Child Custody Laws differ from state to state. You need to check with your state’s laws to get the most current information. When it comes to child custody Laws, there are a few states that have all the procedures laid out for the separating parents and there children. The judges must follow these guidelines to assist in determining the custody of the children during and after a divorce.

    There aren’t many federal laws that apply to children’s custody, with the exception of transporting across different state lines. States do have differing laws that deal with jurisdiction between other states, but not all states have this understanding however. So if one parent lives in one state and the parent and children in another, the state where the children reside will have more influence. Of course you must take into consideration which state the separation and custody papers where filed.

    Child custody Laws are designed with interest of the children as the first priority. Child custody laws are designed to prevent custody going to abusers of drugs or alcohol. Laws are also in place that prevents the children from going to an environment where there is clear mental or physical abuse. Most states prefer joint custody between the parents, where both parents can be a functional part of raising the children. The parents would share both physical and legal custody of the children.

    It’s really important to understand these two distinctions in the Child custody laws. Physical custody is where the children are residing. When a child lives a large portion of time with one parent, that parent has what is known as physical custody. Often times during the summer months children leave one parent to live in the house of the other. During those situations physical custody moves from one parent to the other.

    Legal custody is the right and responsibility to make important decisions regarding health, education, and well being issues. Often both physical custody and legal custody are with the same parent, unless the parents have joint custody. During those situations the court may decided that where the children reside at the time that that parent can determine what is best for the children at the time. However is would be wise to have a consensus between the parents.

    Again, research the child custody laws of your state or province to determine what the best solution is for you during these trying times. Always have the children’s best interest when making these decisions.

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  • Child Mediation Preparation

    Child custody has always been a sensitive matter for parents and children. The couple often discusses it when the pressures, conflicts, and emotions are very high.

    Parents and children usually become very overwhelmed by the idea of not living together anymore.

    Child mediation is the best solution to come up with a parenting plan for the children’s future. If you are considering child mediation, the following are some tips to help you prepare for this process:

    • Make a list of your concerns. Start preparing by writing down all the matters you would like to talk about during the mediation process. Also think about how you would like to resolve these issues. By making a list, you organize your thoughts. This enables you to cooperate and negotiate with a clear head.

    • Gather enough evidence. If you fear for your children’s safety or worry about their well-being, gather documents that can support your claims. More evidence can shorten the discussion.

    • Get the sample custody schedules and agreements ready. Before the mediation starts, you should know what you really want from the process. Do you want a joint custody plan, or do you want the kids to stay with you more? Create a sample plan that includes the days and times the kids will stay with you and with their other parent. Consider the kids’ school schedules, holidays, functions, and vacations. Understand that the sample schedule you prepare will still change because of the compromises you must make.

    • Stay calm about the process. Disagreements and confrontations are expected to happen during the mediation process. To have a successful child mediation, you should remain calm. This is the only way you and the other parent could come up with a final parenting plan that benefits everyone. Practice breathing exercises. Though it can be very frustrating, do your best not to lose your temper. Just be willing to make compromises and keep your mind open.

    • Talk to your lawyer. Tell your lawyer about your child mediation plan. Even if your lawyer cannot come with you during the mediation process, he or she will be able to come up with a good strategy. Child mediation can be grueling for the parents and the children. Make sure you remain collected.

    Always keep your children’s well-being in mind and by the end of the process, everyone will go home happy.

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