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Thyden Gross and Callahan LLPCounselors and Attorneys at Law

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FATHERS’ RIGHTS
NOT JUST EVERY OTHER WEEKEND

This is about fathers' rights law, and protecting the best interests of your children. It provides information, news and comments on laws, cases and strategies for life as a single father and winning your custody, access or child support case.

Parents Spend Two Million Dollars Fighting Over Custody

April 27th, 2015

“How much will my custody case cost?” is a question I hear over and over.  I don’t know is the answer.  If things go well, if both parents and attorneys are reasonable, and you are lucky, the cost may be below my initial retainer of $5,000 and you will get a refund. If you get into litigation, your fees could be two or three times that, or even more.  The sky really is the limit.

Witness the Toronto case known as M. and F.  The mother alleged that the father was not entited to overnight visits with their six year old son because he had been violent toward her.  That made him, according to the mother, unsafe to be alone with the child. The mother owns a successful insurance brokerage.  The father is a lawyer.

The trial lasted 34 days. Then the case went to the Ontario Court of Appeal.  In the end, the father won.  The court ordered the mother to pay $540,000 of the father’s legal fees.  The total amount of legal fees spent by the two parents was over two million dollars.

Abraham Lincoln’s Letter to His Son’s Teacher

April 16th, 2015

He will have to learn, I know,
that all men are not just,
all men are not true.
But teach him also that

for every scoundrel there is a hero;
that for every selfish Politician,

there is a dedicated leader…
Teach him for every enemy there is a

friend,

Steer him away from envy,
if you can,
teach him the secret of
quiet laughter.

Let him learn early that
the bullies are the easiest to lick… Teach him, if you can,
the wonder of books…
But also give him quiet time
to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky,
bees in the sun,
and the flowers on a green hillside.

In the school teach him
it is far honourable to fail
than to cheat…
Teach him to have faith
in his own ideas,
even if everyone tells him
they are wrong…
Teach him to be gentle
with gentle people,
and tough with the tough.

Try to give my son
the strength not to follow the crowd
when everyone is getting on the band wagon…
Teach him to listen to all men…
but teach him also to filter
all he hears on a screen of truth,
and take only the good
that comes through.

Teach him if you can,
how to laugh when he is sad…
Teach him there is no shame in tears,

Teach him to scoff at cynics
and to beware of too much sweetness…
Teach him to sell his brawn
and brain to the highest bidders
but never to put a price-tag
on his heart and soul.

Teach him to close his ears
to a howling mob
and to stand and fight
if he thinks he’s right.
Treat him gently,
but do not cuddle him,
because only the test
of fire makes fine steel.

Let him have the courage
to be impatient…
let him have the patience to be brave.
Teach him always
to have sublime faith in himself,
because then he will have
sublime faith in mankind.

This is a big order,
but see what you can do…
He is such a fine fellow,
my son!

— Hat tip to David Goldberg, Maryland Family Law Mediator, for bringing this to our attention.


Appeals Court Reverses Custody Award to Mother

March 24th, 2015

In 2014, a judge in Talbot County, Maryland, gave custody of a 14 year old girl to Mrs. Hostetter, writing in his memorandum opinion that as “an adolescent female, this may be the most important time in her life to have a solid relationship with her mother.

What’s wrong with this decision?

While the judge may have been correct about the importance of the mother-daughter relationship, he was wrong about the law.

In an unreported opinion in March of 2105, the Maryland Court of Appeals reversed the decision as contrary to state law and cases.

In 1974, Maryland abandoned by statute the maternal preference doctrine, under which children were presumed to belong with their mother.”

And in 1998, the Maryland Court of Appeals, held that the state’s Equal Rights Amendment prohibits custody determinations based on gender.

The Maryland legislature is currently considering a bill that would create a rebuttable presumption in favor of joint physical custody.  Sponsors of the bill say such a presumption is necessary to prevent a latent preference by judges to award custody to mothers rather than fathers.

A Lesson from The Walking Dead

March 18th, 2015

My son and I watched The Walking Dead together last weekend.  We both looked at each other after it was over because we were still trying to figure out the ending.  We rewound and rewatched it several times.  Then we discussed it and  put the clues together.  Aha!  So that’s what it meant.

I told my son I liked stories like that.  The author doesn’t tell you what happens but leaves enough clues for you to figure it out yourself after you close the book and think about if for a while.   John le  Carre writes his spy novels that way.

I like to use this in my law practice.  I find it much more persuasive when I write a letter to opposing counsel where he comes to the right conclusion himself rather than me telling him.  The same goes for argument to the judge or jury and briefs to the appeals court.  Don’t hit them over the head with the answer.  Leave enough clues for the reader to figure it out on their own.

Those Winter Sundays

March 4th, 2015

by Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

Medical Pot And Custody

February 3rd, 2015

Jeanette Daggett and Dustin Sternick became involved in a custody struggle over their daughter after Jeanette decided she wanted to move from Maine to Florida.

There was evidence at trial that the father used medical marijuana which is legal in Maine.  Of the 20 states that have legalized medical marijuana, Maine is one of the few that say a parent’s custody and visitation rights cannot be denied based on his or her use of medical marijuana unless their conduct is contrary to the best interests of the child.  The trial judge ruled in favor of the mother and the father appealed.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court that the use of medical marijuana, and whether it impairs the ability to parent, could be considered in determining the best interests of the child.  The father’s appeal was denied.

Things I Want to Teach My Children

January 22nd, 2015

Growing up, my brother and I could never figure out why our dad was so obsessed with us putting our shoes away in the closet instead of leaving them by the door.  He also seemed similarly obsessed with us turning off the lights when we left one room and moved to another.

This morning, I picked up my children’s clothes on the floor and put them in the hamper.   I turned off the lights they left on and thought about the Pepco bill I have to pay this month.  I hung up the wet towel one of them left on the carpet.  I washed their cereal dishes and put the cereal box away.  I tripped over their sneakers as I left for work.

Now I finally understand where my father was coming from.

Child Support Scam

December 19th, 2014

T.K., who lives in a Minneapolis suburb, met Jhona Vandemore on a dating website in 2007.  Shortly afterwards they arranged to meet in person

Two or three months after Vandemore told T.K. she was pregnant with his child. He asked for a paternity test and she said that would cause her to file for child support in court.  T.K. acquiesced and agreed to pay her $1,000 a month.  She sent him a birth certificate and pictures of the child.

Over several years, T.K. paid more than $100,000.  T.K. married and his new wife became suspicious.  She hired a private investigator who took his findings to the police.

It turns out there was no child, the birth certificate was faked, and the pictures were of her cousin’s daughter.

Vandemore pled guilty this week to federal mail fraud and awaits sentencing.

Homework

December 11th, 2014

My youngest son is in the sixth grade.  He asked me to help him with his math homework last night.

I took a look at the problem.  Er…how do you divide exponents?

I’m not exactly a slouch at math. I have a degree in chemical engineering, a law school degree, and a master of law degree in taxation.  I’ve taken every math course available including differential equations and laplace transformations.  I’m in Mensa.

But I couldn’t divide exponents.  I must have missed that day in school.

Fortunately for me, I’ve never encountered a real-life work situation where I had to divide exponents.

I do know how to ask Google though.  So last night I learned for the first time that one divided by x to the negative third power is x to the third power, that anything to the power of zero equals one, and how to divide exponents.

Most successful people can point to someone in their childhood who helped them with their homework.  Help your kids with their homework.  They will benefit and you might learn something new.

Hey, I’m Not Headed to Vegas with Your Child Support, Buddy

December 10th, 2014

Marye has written an interesting view of child support from her perspective as a mother of three at First Wives World.

 
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