The Latest News Children and Divorce

The Law, Single or Divorced Parents, Custody and The Children

Posted On: November 05, 2014

Families come in all shapes and sizes. More and more these days, children and families are challenged with adjusting to transitions. According to the US Census Bureau, about half of all first marriages end in divorce and nearly one million children are affected each year by divorce. During the 2000s, single parent families rose to an all-time high of nearly 40%*.

NYS Laws vary regarding single and divorced parent families. What does that mean and what rights do single or divorced parents have? Custody issues can be complicated when parents of a child were never or are no longer married. Issues affecting single or divorced parents include:

Custody and Visitation
When parents were never legally married, there is no assumption of paternity for single fathers. If a single father wants sole or joint custody of his child, he must file a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Custody and/or take a DNA test. This makes it possible for him to pursue sole or shared custody of the child. It will also make him financially responsible for this child, regardless of whether or not custody and visitation is granted.

When a child is adopted, both parents will need to show proof of their standing in their child’s life if the relationship ends and both want custody and/or visitation. As long as both parents played a significant role in the care and upbringing of the adopted child prior to the separation or divorce, it will be treated similarly to if the child were biologically their own. For Gay and Lesbian couples, it is imperative that both parents have been legally recognized by a second parent adoption and/or joint adoption.

When parents were married and are divorcing, the custody and visitation agreement is part of the divorce proceedings. If parents are able to work out a custody and visitation arrangement on their own, the courts just need to approve this. If they are unable to agree on an arrangement, the court will make these decisions based on what it feels is in the best interests of the child.

Child Support
Children born to a married couple are deemed the child of those parents. This premise has yet to be put to the test for Lesbian couples. For an unmarried parent, in order for a parent to receive child support for the care of a child, he or she must prove the other parent is responsible for the child. This is done either through paternity testing or by demonstrating a parent’s role in the adoption of the child.

Best Interest of the Child
Above all else, regardless of the relationship of parents, the best interest of the child will be the standard of review used by the Courts. When parents are able to do this on their own, the court simply oversees their efforts and ensures the child is protected. If parents are unable to agree on the future of their child, family court will make a decision based on the needs and desires of the child. The wishes of the child however are not determinative and often not truly considered unless the child is fourteen or older.

If you are the parent of a child and were never married to his or her mother or father, or you are in the process of a divorce, it is important to work with an experienced family law attorney. This ensures your role in your child’s life is protected, especially if you are part of a non-traditional family.

If you need help in this area or have questions feel free contact attorney Concetta Spirio at 631-277-8844

* www.smartstepfamilies.com/view/statistics

0

What Exactly is a “Family” Lawyer?

Posted On: May 19, 2014

It might seem as if the term “family lawyer” would be used to describe an attorney who works for everyone in a family or a person who is a member of your family and happens to work as an attorney. Though these scenarios are possible, the term “family lawyer” is actually someone who specializes in family law. The field of family law relates to topics including divorce, custody, visitation rights, spousal and child support, division of assets in divorce, protection from abuse, and paternity issues.

Many family lawyers choose their field because they want to work with the “human side” of the law. It can be extremely challenging to practice family law because attorneys must connect with and support their clients during very emotional times in life. Family lawyers see people at their best and worst, and help these people transition through some of the most challenging phases of life. Despite its challenges, most family lawyers find a great deal of emotional reward in their work.

What Makes a Good Family Lawyer?
Like all attorneys, some family lawyers are more talented and successful than their peers. The best family lawyers have top-notch skills when it comes to negotiation and litigation. They must be good at time management and understand interpersonal communication. In addition to legal counsel, family lawyers often provide emotional support during a client’s most challenging life events. It also helps if a family attorney has an understanding of financial and real estate laws, though most attorneys have a network of expert resources at their disposal when questions arise.

As families continue to evolve, the practice of family law also changes. This includes handling the issues of same sex unions and their resulting families, for which the traditional legal system is still adjusting. Trends in the field of family law also include mediation and collaborative law, a practice that helps couples divorce and legally separate without traditional litigation. A family law attorney’s role is different in cases where collaborative law is used, as opposed to litigation. In some cases, the lawyer might even act as a mediator and work for both partners, as opposed to representing one or the other. It is important to find an attorney that you are comfortable with but has training in these areas. More divorce attorneys are representing that they will follow a collaborative approach but do not truly understand the dynamics nor have they been trained in this discipline.

Nearly 50% of all first marriages end in divorce. The odds are even greater for second and third marriages. Approximately 40% of all couples in the United States are step couples. The ongoing making and breaking of families creates complicated family ties and creates a need for legal protection as things change. Family lawyers provide the guidance and support these changing families need.

Have questions about Family Law or need help in this area, then feel free contact attorney SPIRIO at 631-277-8844.

0

The Law and Stepparents

Posted On: December 11, 2014

According to the Pew Research Center, there are about 30 million stepparents in the United States. Almost half of all adults have a step relationship of some kind. Stepparents and their stepchildren have special relationships. Sometimes a child is no more than “my partner’s kid,” but in many cases, stepparents and children bond as much as a child would with his or her birth-parents.

What should stepparents know about their rights if their relationship does not last?

Standing
One of the most important things about stepparents and the law is standing. Standing refers to the right of a person to seek legal intervention, in this case the rights of a non-biological parent, several factors are taken into account including:

  • The stepparent’s participation in the child’s life
  • The length of time the stepparent was in the child’s life
  • The emotional bond between the stepparent and child, and how ending the relationship would affect the child
  • The amount of financial support the stepparent provided

Being granted visitation, and even more so custody, when you are a stepparent is rare. It is becoming increasingly more frequent for stepparents to be granted visitation rights with stepchildren because blended families are more common, but it is still considered out of the norm and requires a great deal of effort on the part of the stepparent.

At present, about half of the states have laws authorizing stepparent visitation. Ten additional states expressly grant stepparents rights to seek visitation. And then thirteen more grant interested third parties rights to request visitation and categorize stepparents with these people. In the future, laws will likely address both stepparent custody and visitation with greater vigor.

Considering a Child’s Best Interest
As with all custody and visitation situations, the courts use the child’s best interest to guide decisions. A stepparent or any interested third party is more likely to be granted time with a child if he or she played a significant role in the child’s life prior to the request for visitation. Obviously, courts will show less sympathy for stepparents making bad life decisions that affect children more than in cases of birth parent in the same situation.

If you are the stepparent of a child and you are concerned changes in your relationship with your stepchild’s parent will alter your relationship with the child, you should speak to an attorney. He or she can help you determine your rights and will fight on your behalf so the court understands your role in the child’s life.

Have questions about Family Law or need help in this area, then feel free contact attorney SPIRIO at 631-277-8844.

Source:
http://www.smartstepfamilies.com/view/statistics

0

Protecting Children in Separations and Divorce

Posted On: January 19, 2015

According to the US Census Bureau, couples marrying today have a 50% chance of their marriage ending in divorce. Many of these marriages are between parents and 40% of children will be affected by divorce before reaching adulthood.

When couples with children divorce, their first priority is often the well-being of the children. Sometimes, unhappy couples even choose to stay together because they believe it is the best thing for their children. When a separation or divorce is the best option for the family, effort should be made to protect the most vulnerable members of the family. What can you do to protect your children when you separate from or divorce your partner?

Transition Phase
The process of divorce is stressful for the entire family, but it can be easier if it is handled well. Couples have the option of working together to alter their existing relationship. The inclination during a divorce is to “get rid of your partner” or pay him or her back for any perceived wrongs. Unfortunately, especially for the children, this causes more harm than good in the long run.

During your divorce or separation, do your best to protect your children by working with your soon-to-be-ex to devise an arrangement that is best for everyone. Try to be fair and try not to let your emotional wounds affect your child’s relationship with his or her parent. When possible, avoid a lengthy legal battle.

Custody and Visitation
Protecting your child from harm should be your first priority. If your soon-to-be-former partner has behaved in a manner that put your child at risk, you have every right to protect your child in the future. However, there is a difference between a child being at risk and a child spending time with someone whom you are upset or angry with. Just because your partner hurt you should not mean your child will benefit from estrangement from his or her parent. Do not put your child in the middle of any dispute or discord with your spouse or partner.

Working together to create a custody or visitation arrangement that helps your child feel comfortable and supported is the healthiest type of transition for a child. If he or she is old enough to discuss custody or visitation, take his or her feelings into account when creating an arrangement. Ideally, children will feel just as loved and supported after a separation or divorce as they did when the family was intact.

Finally, speak with your child about responsibility. It is important for children to understand they did nothing to cause the break up of the family.

No matter your personal situation, your children should be protected from the changes in your relationship with your significant other. Working with an experienced family lawyer helps you transition to separation or divorce with as little turmoil as possible. Share your concerns about your child’s safety and well-being with your attorney and he or she can help you determine the steps to take to protect your child.

If you have a legal situation concerning your family and are in need of help, call 631-277-8844 today for a no obligation initial consultation and personal service.

Source:
http://www.smartstepfamilies.com/view/statistics

0

Protecting Children in Separations and Divorce

Posted On: April 11, 2014

According to the US Census Bureau, couples marrying today have a 50% chance of their marriage ending in divorce. Many of these marriages are between parents and 40% of children will be affected by divorce before reaching adulthood.

When couples with children divorce, their first priority is often the well-being of the children. Sometimes, unhappy couples even choose to stay together because they believe it is the best thing for their children. When a separation or divorce is the best option for the family, effort should be made to protect the most vulnerable members of the family. What can you do to protect your children when you separate from or divorce your partner?

Transition Phase
The process of divorce is stressful for the entire family, but it can be easier if it is handled well. Couples have the option of working together to alter their existing relationship. The inclination during a divorce is to “get rid of your partner” or pay him or her back for any perceived wrongs. Unfortunately, especially for the children, this causes more harm than good in the long run.

During your divorce or separation, do your best to protect your children by working with your soon-to-be-ex to devise an arrangement that is best for everyone. Try to be fair and try not to let your emotional wounds affect your child’s relationship with his or her parent. When possible, avoid a lengthy legal battle. Children should never be used by one parent against the other to address a wrong or as leverage for results in a separation or divorce. This is extremely harmful to the child and often is never successful in obtaining a resolution to the matter.

Family counseling and counseling for the children is highly recommended. Making sure children have the support system and resources available to them to navigate this life changing transition is extremely important.

Custody and Visitation
Protecting your child from harm should be your first priority. If your soon-to-be-former partner has behaved in a manner that put your child at risk, you have every right to protect your child in the future. However, there is a difference between a child being at risk and a child spending time with someone whom you are upset or angry with. Just because your partner hurt you should not mean your child will benefit from estrangement from his or her parent.

Working together to create a custody or visitation arrangement that helps your child feel comfortable and supported is the healthiest type of transition for a child. If he or she is old enough to discuss custody or visitation, take his or her feelings into account when creating an arrangement. Ideally, children will feel just as loved and supported after a separation or divorce as they did when the family was intact.

Finally, speak with your child about responsibility. It is important for children to understand they did nothing to cause the break up of the family.

No matter your personal situation, your children should be protected from the changes in your relationship with your significant other. Working with an experienced family lawyer helps you transition to separation or divorce with as little turmoil as possible. Share your concerns about your child’s safety and well-being with your attorney and he or she can help you determine the steps to take to protect your child.

If you need help in this area or have questions feel free contact attorney SPIRIO at 631-277-8844.

0

The Law and Grandparents

Posted On: November 24, 2014

There are more than 70 million grandparents in the United States. According to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, more than half of these people believe they would do a better job raising their grandchildren than they did raising their own children. Thirteen percent of these grandparents are raising their grandchildren and serve as the primary caregiver for their children’s children.

In order for grandparents to receive custody and even visitation time with their grandchildren, certain conditions must apply. These conditions vary from state to state, but in general, the best interest of the child is the most important factor.

If custody of a child is an issue, courts typically attempt to award it to the mother. If the mother is unavailable or unfit, the next person to be awarded custody is the father. If the father is not an option, grandparents or other blood relations are typically given next priority. In cases where grandparents feel the child’s parents are unfit, the burden of proof is on them to establish the parent is unfit and in most situations, it is extremely difficult to do so. If neglect is found, the court may remove a child from the custody of the parents. Grandparents would then have to qualify for custody. Again the best interest of the child is the Court’s standard. In many instances the Court may appoint a Law Guardian, a legal representative appointed to represent the child’s interests in the proceeding. The Law Guardian will interview and visit all parties home and prepare a report for the Court.

Receiving visitation as a grandparent is easier than receiving custody. Courts take various factors into consideration when determining whether or not to grant grandparents legal visitation, including:

  • Needs of the child, including his or her physical and emotional health
  • Capability of the grandparents to meet the needs of the child
  • Distance between the child’s primary residence and that of the grandparent(s)
  • Wishes of the parent(s)
  • Wishes of the child, if the child is capable of making decisions on his or her own
  • Strength of the relationship between the grandparent(s) and grandchild
  • Length of the relationship between the grandparent(s) and grandchild
  • Evidence of abuse or neglect
  • Ability of the grandparent(s) to provide love, affection, and contact with the child

Ideally, parents are able to work out an arrangement that includes time with grandparents interested in being a part of a child’s life, even after the child’s parents have separated or divorced. However, this is not always the case, especially if the parent’s relationship does not end amicably or the relationship with in-laws was strained when the couple was together. This can be especially problematic in non-traditional families where grandparents are not accepting of life choices, but still wish to play a role in a grandchild’s life.

If you are a grandparent who wants to continue a relationship with a grandchild once his or her parents separate or you are the parent of a child whose grandparents are threatening legal action, it is important to speak with a family attorney. He or she can explain to you the rights of grandparents and determine what action to take to best protect your family.

If you have a legal situation concerning your family and are in need of help, call 631-277-8844 today for a no obligation initial consultation and personal service.

Source:
http://www.statisticbrain.com/grandparent-statistics/

0

Marital Rights – What Every Spouse Should Know

Posted On: June 03, 2014

Marriage is a challenge and not all couples are meant to stay together forever. According to the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri, half of all first marriages end in divorce. Data also shows people are not learning from their mistakes – second marriages tend to end at a rate of more than 65% and nearly one-third of all third marriages end in divorce.

Fortunately, legally ending a marriage and starting a new life is an option, but the process can be complex. If you are considering divorce or you and your spouse have decided the time has come to end your marriage, there are several things you should know concerning your marital rights:

No-Fault Divorce is an Option
No-fault divorce refers to the ending of a marriage where neither party is accusing the other of marital misconduct. If you and your spouse simply grow apart or determine together for whatever reason you no longer wish to be married, no-fault divorce is the best option. Both parties are held equally accountable for the end of the marriage.

Marital Misconduct Plays a Role in Divorce Settlements
Should your desire to divorce arise because of some transgression committed by your spouse, you have the right to assert marital misconduct. This might entitle you to a greater settlement in the divorce. Examples of marital misconduct include abusive behavior, adultery, addiction to drugs or alcohol, or economic fault. Keep in mind these transgressions can also affect child custody, as well as the division of marital assets and spousal support.

It is within the Court’s Power to Force an Attempt to Reconcile
As much as either you or your spouse might want to end your marriage, the court system does have the power to order reconciliation if you or your spouse denies the marriage is irretrievably broken. There are also instances in which an attempt to reconcile is ordered if there are minor children in the family.

Typically, the court delays divorce proceedings for a few months, during which time couples are required to attend counseling or mediation. It does not mean the court can force you to stay married forever, but it can delay the divorce and require that you make an effort to repair your marriage.

If you are considering divorce or you have questions about the best way to end your marriage, it is important you speak with a qualified divorce attorney. He or she can guide you toward the right decisions and ensure your rights are protected during the divorce process.

Have questions about Family Law or need help in this area, then feel free contact attorney SPIRIO at 631-277-8844.

0

The Law and Blended Families

Posted On: September 17, 2014

Blending families is always a challenge, but it is one that most agree is worth it. When families change and parents find new partners with which to share their life, it affects everyone involved. Children must adjust, relationships with former partners might change, and legal issues arise. The social, psychological, and economic challenges are enough to make anyone feel stress, but a little planning and support go a long way. Ultimately, your goal as a blended family is to protect your children, your new partner, and his or her children, and to blend your new family as seamlessly as possible.

What should you know about the legal issues blended families might encounter?

Your Children
One day your children will be entitled to an inheritance from you. Ensuring the assets you want them to have transfer without any legal challenges takes a bit of planning. It is important to speak to an attorney familiar with estate planning, so he or she can help you create a will that addresses these issues. In most cases, your partner or spouse becomes the beneficiary of a significant portion if not all of your estate by default, so if you would like to determine the distribution of your estate, you must take action to ensure this occurs.

Your New Partner
Most couples in blended families tend to combine their wealth. Assets obtained after marriage are in the names of both spouses and partners are listed as beneficiaries on retirement plans and life insurance policies. Keep in mind if you die before changing your beneficiaries and/or without having made specific arrangements regarding changes to your estate; your new spouse and your children could find they are accidentally disinherited. Further you could have a circumstance that your assets pass to your spouse and upon his or her death, those assets could pass to his or her children or even his or her new spouse, if there is a future marriage after you are gone. Chances are you want your new partner to inherit a portion of your estate and you want to protect him or her as much as your children. However, once your family is blended, it is very important you address specific issues concerning your estate. Assets will not automatically funnel to your children as they would if you were married to their mother or father.

Other Issues to Consider
In addition to updating your Will and beneficiaries on various items when your family blends, you will also want to consider a few other important factors. Both you and your new partner should discuss financial goals and make decisions about spending, investing, and saving. Establishing mutual financial goals is a great way to plan for the future and commit to the practical, financial aspect of your new relationship. Take his or her priorities into account when planning. If you both have children, create a fair plan that reiterates you are both ready and willing to provide for and protect your new family.

According to statistics from the US Census Bureau about one third of all marriages include at least one partner who was previously married. This means he or she might bring assets, retirement funds, and children to the new relationship.

If your relationships have led to a complicated family tree, take time to plan your estate and work with a professional who understands the complexities of a blended family.

If you need help in this area or have questions feel free contact attorney SPIRIO at 631-277-8844

Source:
http://www.census.gov/hhes/socdemo/marriage/data/census/index.html

0