Posts Tagged ‘custody’

According to an article in the ABA Journal, see the full article here, “among pet owners, ‘re-homing’ an unwanted dog or cat is a relatively straightforward process. The owner who seeks an alternative home often places an ad on the Internet, and a private transaction occurs that moves the pet to a new family. But with the rise of foreign adoptions of children and the inability of some parents to handle troubled youths, more and more desperate families are taking that approach with adopted youngsters and re-homing the children with strangers. Often those re-homed children report gruesome tales of physical, sexual or emotional abuse by their new guardians.”

“The process of re-homing has been largely unregulated—no federal laws prohibit the exchange of unwanted adopted kids. Most states allow private adoptions, but the processes vary widely and oversight is limited. In most cases, re-homing may be executed by a simple power-of-attorney letter or a notarized statement without government authorities or even any lawyers vetting the new parents.”

“Kids shouldn’t be in want ads like: ‘Our dog just had puppies. Want one for free?’ ” adds Haralambie, a former chair of the ABA Family Law Section’s Juvenile Law and Needs of Children Committee. That’s precisely where people like the mentally ill and pedophiles go to get children. At best, it’s abandonment, and at worst, it’s human trafficking.”

Children adopted internationally face other problems: Those from institutional homes may have attachment disorders from prior neglect or have language differences that limit their understanding of expectations.

“Myers says the remedy for re-homing is twofold. ‘First, it has to be a crime, and I’m not a big fan of criminalizing. But the analogy is baby selling, which is a crime. Plus, it’s always been a crime to abandon a child.’ Criminalizing the practice sends a very clear message to the very unfortunate parents who find themselves in a situation where they think: ‘I simply can’t do this.’ ”

State legislatures are taking note. In April, Wisconsin became the first state to make it illegal for anyone not licensed by the state to advertise a child older than age 1 for adoption or any other custody transfer, both in print and online. Parents who want to transfer custody of a child to someone other than a relative must seek permission from a judge. Violators face up to nine months in jail or as much as $10,000 in fines.

Last summer, Louisiana also banned nonlegal adoption, with offenders facing a penalty of $5,000 and up to five years in prison. Colorado, Florida and Ohio are considering similar laws.

Unfortunately, Babb says, most states aren’t making prohibiting online advertising of children or re-homing a priority. “This requires urgent attention, but children and families are at the bottom of the totem pole in policymaking.” It’s an effort, she insists, that must be led by the federal government.

For its part, the Adoption Committee of the ABA Family Law Section has informally discussed re-homing, but it has no plans to take active steps such as drafting a model statute, says family lawyer Carl Gilmore, the committee’s chair.

“I’m always hard-pressed to say under all circumstances that a practice should always be illegal,” says Gilmore of Woodstock, Illinois. “I can see circumstances where replacement of children might be advantageous, such as when there’s been no attachment between the child and the family. But there needs to be oversight.” Re-homing must be viewed “with a great deal of caution” and include, at the very least, investigations and criminal background checks, he says.

For Babb, re-homing raises broader issues. “We should question why so many parents are relying on international adoptions given that many of America’s children are available for adoption,” she says. “Parents should reconsider working with local departments of social services. There would be much more willingness and, in some cases, legal authority to help adoptive families facing challenges.”

I personally have often wondered why more American children are not adopted, as there are many children here in the United States who are deserving of a loving family.  I would love to hear how others feel about this as well as the issues of re-homing the children who are adopted, whether internationally or not.

In an article in the JD Journal today, it was reported that the SB 1476 Bill proposed in California by Senator Mark Leno, offers the chance of radical social engineering and reform. The modifications sought in Family law and proposed, wants the statute to establish that a child may legally have more than two parents – thus altering prevailing notions of a family. Leno told the Sacramento Bee “The bill brings California into the 21st century.”

This bill is to amend Sections 3040, 7601, and 7612 of, and to add Section 4052.5 to, the Family Code, relating to parentage.   In existing law, a man is conclusively presumed to be the father of a child if he was married to and cohabiting with the child’ s mother, except as specified. Existing law also provides that if a man signs a voluntary declaration of paternity, it has the force and effect of a judgment of paternity, subject to certain exceptions.

This bill would authorize a court to find that a child has 2 presumed parents notwithstanding the statutory presumption of parentage of the child by another man. The bill would authorize the court to make this finding if doing so would serve the best interest of the child based on the nature, duration, and quality of the presumed or claimed parents’ relationships with the child and the benefit or detriment to the child of continuing those relationships.

The Uniform Parentage Act defines the parent and child relationship as the legal relationship existing between a child and the child’s parents, including the mother and child relationship and the father and child relationship, and governs proceedings to establish that relationship.  This bill would provide that a child may have a parent and child relationship with more than 2 parents.

Existing law establishes an order of preference for allocating child custody and directs the court to choose a parenting plan that is in the child’s best interest.   This bill would, in the case of a child with more than 2 legal parents, require the court to allocate custody and visitation among the parents based on the best interest of the child, including stability for the child.

Under existing law, the parents of a minor child are responsible for supporting the child.  Existing law establishes the statewide uniform guideline for calculating court-ordered child support. The guideline directs a court to consider the parents’ incomes, standard of living, and level of responsibility for the child.  This bill would, in the case of a child with more than 2 legal parents, direct authorize the court not to divide deviate from the statewide uniform guideline when dividing child support obligations among the parents using the statewide uniform guideline . The bill would instead direct the court to divide the child support obligations among the parents based on the income of each of the parents and the amount of time spent with the child by each parent, as specified. f a child with more than 2 legal parents, require the court to allocate custody and visitation among the parents based on the best interest of the child, including stability for the child.

According to Leno,  “Most children have at most two parents, but some children have more than two people in their lives who have been a child’s parent in every way.” And according to him confining parenthood only to two persons neglects the emotions and contributions of other persons who, in a modern world, should also be held in equal status with parents.

Not everyone is happy about this new two-and-more parent family concept and hold that parenthood in a family as a social unit is not amenable to “the more the merrier” concept.

I can see good and bad in this bill.  In reading the proposed new Family Code Section 4052.5, the court may deviate from the statewide uniform guideline and divide the child support obligations based on each parents income and the time spent with the child.  One of the biggest problems I see in this new section, is going to be the allocating of child support and the enforcement of the same.  Then again, this could be a good thing in both of the non-custodial parent’s views, as they will not be paying as much in their child support obligation as they would be if there was not another non-custodial parent in the picture.

This is one bill I will continue to watch, it will be interesting to see how it turns out.  What do you think about this proposed bill?










As stated in Capital Weekly on August 17, 2011, the Marin-based Center for Judicial Excellence (CJE) has announced it will file a complaint with the State Bar of California demanding the disbarment of Sacramento attorney Nabil Samaan. The group says Samaan’s license should be taken away because of comments Samaan made to a reporter that, according to CJE, appear to support his brother’s decision to allegedly murder his own two-year-old daughter.

This is a sad case of a father taking his life and the life of his child in an alleged custody dispute with the mother.  The complete article is below.

Capitol Weekly: Complaint filed with State Bar against lawyer in AMBER Alert case.

New Jersey dad David Goldman may get to spend the new year with his 9-year-old son, after a Brazilian federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that the boy must be handed over to him at the U.S. Consulate in Rio de Janeiro within 48 hours.

In 2004, Bruna Bianchi, Goldman’s wife, took the 4-year-old boy to Brazil for what Goldman says was supposed to be a two-week vacation. Instead Bianchi stayed in Brazil, got a divorce, and remarried before dying last year while giving birth to a daughter.

Goldman had already been seeking the return of his son under an international treaty covering cross-border child abductions. Since then, the boy’s maternal grandmother and stepfather have been trying to keep him in Brazil in a widely publicized custody battle that has moved President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the U.S. Congress to weigh in seeking the boy’s return. The current court decision has already been appealed by the child’s stepfather and maternal grandmother, who is now asking for custody of the boy.

Mr. Goldman is on a plane to Brazil as the Supreme Court in Brazil decides whether to hear the stay that has been submitted to the Court.

In an interview with the Today show before boarding the plane, Mr. Goldman states that he has been down this road 14 times before and while he is hopeful that he can bring his son home this time, he does not want to put himself out there emotionally again and have his hopes dashed.

To see the full video on the Today Show, click here.

Read it at Associated Press

According to The National Law Journal in an article written by Tresa Baldas, divorce lawyers have found a new smoking gun to wave around in court: text messages.

Infidelity, bad parenting or threats — you name the issue in marital disputes, family law attorneys say, and the evidence can be found in text messages sent over hand-held gadgets.

The unfaithful, in particular, are paying a high price for their salacious messages. “In the sixties, we had private investigators bursting into hotel rooms to catch cheating spouses,” said Paul Talbert of New York’s Chemtob Moss Forman & Talbert. “Now it’s simply as easy as taking a BlackBerry or phone off the dresser.”

Talbert is both relying on texts to prove marital troubles and defending those who get busted over their careless words. For example, he recently represented a woman whose suspicious husband picked up her BlackBerry while she was in the shower and discovered messages that showed that she was having an affair with a co-worker.

The result? “Well, it produced a quick settlement,” said Talbert, who offered some advice for the soon-to-be divorced. “Change your password if you’re going through a divorce … and don’t use your new girlfriend as your password.”

California is a no-fault state in divorces as many of you are aware, so private investigators are never used to prove infidelity.  While cheating brings an end to many relationships, it is not grounds for divorce or for even getting more out of a settlement from the other spouse here in California.

Text messages also proved embarrassing for Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, whose estranged wife has alleged in court documents that Gibbons had extramarital affairs with two women, including one to whom he allegedly sent 860 text messages on a state cell phone. Gibbons publicly apologized for sending the texts — which he claimed were business-related — and reimbursed the state $130. His divorce is not final yet.

Text messages came up in the high-profile divorce trial of multimillionaire George David and Swedish countess Marie Douglas-David, but this time the texts weren’t about infidelity. Instead, the wife’s lawyer accused the husband in court of sending his wife a text message on her birthday because he didn’t want “to speak with her.” Douglas-David wants $100 million, plus $130,000 a month in alimony, from David, who says she’s entitled to just $43 million under a postnuptial agreement.

Text messages are playing into custody battles, too. Lenorae Atter of Jacksonville, Fla.’s Wood, Atter & Wolf is handling a case in which text messages are being used to show that the children are having a hard time living with their mother. The kids, she said, are sending texts to their father about problems with their mother.

It is tough to get a judge to listen to a child but maybe texts will soon come to play in California custody matters.  I personally have not seen this used in any custody cases in Sonoma County, but it would not surprise me if it has been.

Atter has also used text messages to help women obtain restraining orders against abusive husbands, who send threatening messages to their wives. She said that, while e-mails are pretty standard evidence now in family law matters, “text messages are slowly but surely coming into the fold.”

I have seen text messages and e-mails used to prove threats against both men and women in the Court here, which contributed to a restraining order being issued on the threatened party’s behalf.

In another article in The Connecticut Law Tribune, written by Christian Nolan, the text threat issue is explored and discussed more in depth.  To see that article, click here.

The lesson here is if you don’t want anything you say to be used against you, don’t send texts or e-mails to anyone that can be construed as threatening or abusive.

No matter what you thought of Michael Jackson, it is very apparent that he was loved by his family, especially his children.  The speech that his daughter Paris gave at the end of the memorial will forever be remembered and referred to.  She spoke from her heart and it was apparent she loved her father.  We should all remember that these children only care how they felt about their father, they don’t need to hear negative things about him, nor should they.

Michael left a will which specifically spelled out who he wanted caring for his children in the event of his death.  We all need to remember that in California, it is always “what is in the best interest of the children.”  Some may think that Katherine Jackson is to old to be raising her grandchildren, after all, she is 79.  Michael certainly felt she was more than capable, and in the event she was not living or unable to care for them when he passed, he listed an alternate person, Dianna Ross, to care for his children.  He purposely left the biological mother, Debbie Rowe, out of the equation.  Ms. Rowe herself has said she has limited ties with the two oldest children, Prince Joseph and Katherine Paris.  She rarely sees them, rarely talks to them and is not involved in their daily lives at all.  She has given up her parental rights, which as we all found out, the Court said she couldn’t do and reinstated her parental rights in 2006.  However, since that time, Ms. Rowe has continued to have limited contact with the children, her own accounts corroborate this.

Recently, we heard that the custody hearing was postponed again to July 20, 2009 to allow the parties, Ms. Jackson and Ms. Rowe to try to amicably reach an agreement about the custody of these children.  In my opinion, I don’t see a Court giving Ms. Rowe custody of the two oldest children and splitting them up from their youngest sibling, Prince Michael.  That, in my opinion, and many others opinion as well, would not be in the best interest of the children.

I also don’t see the Court giving Ms. Rowe all three children as she has no relationship with them and taking them from a family they are so close to, and a grandmother who they adore, would not be in their best interest.  There is also the fact that Ms. Rowe is not the mother of the youngest child, and clearly, in my opinion, the Court could not put the child in her custody. While it is important for children to have contact with both parents, this has never been the case with Ms. Rowe.  For whatever reason, she has chosen to stay out of their lives.  I believe that the children may want to have some type of contact with her at some point in their lives and that door should be left open for them.  They should not be forced to have contact though because their father has died.

Today I heard that Joe Jackson is stepping into the custody ring and wants to jointly raise the children with his estranged wife, Katherine Jackson.  I seriously doubt that this would happen either, (even though recent information has been leaked  that Michael and his father mended their disagreements about the childhood drama), as Mr. Jackson and his wife have lived apart for years and he resides in another state, Nevada.

I believe this is going to be a tough case to resolve, whether it goes to Court or not.  What we all need to remember is that it is about the children and what is best for them.  It is not about what we think of Michael, Ms. Rowe, Ms. Jackson or Mr. Jackson.  It is about who will be the best person(s) to care for these children, what is in the “best interest of these children,” whether it is with Katherine Jackson, Debbie Rowe, Joe Jackson, Dianna Ross or another family member and we all need to remember that and remember that these children have been through enough with losing their father and having their world turned upside down.