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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.

Archive for August, 2009

Bad Economy Means More Motions to Decrease Child Support

Friday, August 28th, 2009

The number of motions by dads to decrease child their child support payments are on the rise as a result of the problem economy.  The rate of unemployment for men is 9.8% compared to 7.5% for women.  And there are more noncustodial dads than moms out there.

Motions to modify child support have tripled in the last one and a half years in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  It used to be most motions were from custodial parents seeking an increase.  Now most motions are from noncustodial parents seeking a decrease.

Unless the parties are able to work it out for themselves, and file a consent order changing alimony, the court will have to determine whether it is in the best interest of the child to reduce child support.  There will be a hearing and it is not enough to say the economy is bad and I lost my job.  The judge will want to know what actions you are taking to do something about it.

Read more at this article by AP Reporter, Megan K. Scott.

My Best Deposition Tip

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

A deposition is part of the discovery process in a custody trial.  Your spouse’s lawyer gets to ask you a lot of questions, some rude or embarrassing, at his or her office, in front of a stenographer who is taking everything down to be used against you at trial.  You are in the hot seat and it may take all day.

The lawyer has usually done this hundreds of times and knows a lot of tricks, trips and traps.  And the lawyer gets to ask the questions.  You have to answer them.

Here is the number one thing I tell my clients before their deposition.  Repeat the question in the form of a declaration, pause, and finish the sentence.  Put a period at the end of it and then stop talking.  Wait for the next question.

So the lawyer asks, “Where were you on the night of August the 7th of this year?”

You say, “On August the 7th of this year…I was at work.”

This approach has several benefits.  It gives you time to think.  It keeps you focused on the question asked.  It keeps you from talking too much.  It keeps you from guessing.  It keeps you calm.  And it might keep you from saying something that can be used against you at trial.

Determining Child Support When Parties Move to Another State

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

by Nelson Garcia

Mary Connole married Ernst DeGroot in 1984 in the District of Columbia.  They had two children.  Difficulties arose between them and they decided to separate in 1997 and they were divorced in 1999.  Neither party asked for child support, but Ernst paid $600 a month in child support to Mary until 2004 when the oldest child turned 19.  Then he unilaterally reduced the payments to $300 a month and Mary filed a motion in DC to award child support.

The trouble was that no one still lived in DC.  Mary and the children now lived in Maryland and Ernest now lived in Virginia.  The trial court denied the motion finding it had no jurisdiction over the subject matter.

The DC Court of Appeals reversed.  First it looked at prior cases in the District of Columbia holding the court does not lose jurisdiction to modify child support when the parties move to other jurisdictions.  The court then turned to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) to see if it limited the court’s powers.  The court noted that UIFSA did say that a court loses its powers to modify its child support orders when the parties leave the jurisdiction.

However, in this case, Mary was asking the court to establish an initial child support order in a divorce it had already decided.  The court could find nothing in UIFSA that prevented the DC court from doing just that.

Man Jailed for Child Support but Child Is Not His

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

In 1986, Essie Lee Morrison of Georgia had a child.  She told her boyfriend, Frank Hatley, now 50 years old, that the child was his.  The two never married and broke up shortly afterwards.

Morrison applied for public support for the child when the child was two years old.   Georgia then collected child support payments from Hatley for the next thirteen years.

In 2000, Hatley learned that the child might not be his. A DNA test confirmed it.  The Court released him from any future child support.  But he signed an agreement with the Office of Child Support Services to pay over $16,000 in past due child support.

Hatley continued to pay that debt down to about $10,000, but fell behind in 2006 when he lost his job.  He was jailed for six months.  He resumed paying.  Then he became unemployed again and lost his home.  The court put him back in jail in June of 2008.

Finally, the court released him from jail last month finding that he was indigent and should not be jailed for failing to make the child support payments.  The debt has been canceled but the State has yet to release his driver’s license and income tax refunds.

More on this story at CNN.com

A Child’s View of Divorce

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

I read somewhere yesterday something that stuck in my mind.  It said that you should resolve to love your children more than you hate your ex.

Divorce has a major impact on children.  Parents in conflict usually have so many problems of their own, that they don’t think about it from the child’s point of view.

The National Network for Child Care has published online “Divorce Matters:  A Child’s View”.  The article has bullet points for what children understand, how they react and what parents can do for each age group, including infants, toddlers, preschoolers, elementary students, preteens and adolescents.

Dad’s Parental Rights May Be Restored After Death

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

A Florida man, known only as CA in court records, had his parental rights to his daughter, now 13 years old, terminated.  That was because he was a crack addict and the state had placed the girl with foster parents who wanted to adopt her.

CA appealed the decision.  Before the Court of Appeal ruled, CA was hit by a car and died.  There may be a wrongful death suit by the deceased father’s estate.  With parental rights terminated, the daughter would not be entitled to share in any recovery.

The Court of Appeal has ordered the Trial Judge to reconsider.

“Even if the final judgment (severing C.A.’s rights was) soundly based and affirmed, it may not now be in the best interests of the child to do so,” says the Court of Appeal.

More details at Better Dad Dead by Miami Herald Reporter Carol Marbin Miller.

 
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