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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 the ‘Visitation’ Category

Medical Pot And Custody

Tuesday, 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.

Enforcing Visitation Schedules

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

If a parent is withholding visitation in Maryland, DC or VA, and there is a custody order in place, we have to file a motion to show cause why that parent should not be held in contempt of court.

Many clients have noticed the disparity in the enforcement of child support orders and visitation orders by the courts.

Oklahoma has passed a new law that says a parent who denies visitation to a parent who is current on child support can face fines and be held responsible for attorney fees, mediation costs and court costs.

There is a court form available at the clerk’s office and a hearing must be held within 21 days.  The non-custodian can be awarded make-up time.  One or both parents may be ordered to counseling or parent education classes.  The judge can even order a change in custody if appropriate.

States Consider Shared Parenting Laws

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Arkansas passed a law last year providing for “approximate and reasonable equal division of time” of children between parents in divorce proceedings.

The Connecticut General Assembly has created a task force to study family law issues, including whether the state should have a presumption in law that shared custody is in the best interest of children.

The Maryland General Assembly created a Commission on Child Custody Decision Making last year.

Florida pass a shared parenting bill last year, but it was vetoed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Minnesota passed a bill in 2012 that would have increased the minimum amount of custody from 25% to 35%, but it was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

Bode Miller Custody Battle

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Bode Miller, 36, Olympic skier, met Sara McKenna, 27, former marine, through an online dating service in April, 2012.  They dated briefly and she became pregnant with his child.  They were both living in California at the time.

Miller married someone else, and McKenna, seven months pregnant, decided to move to New York to go to college at Columbia University on the G.I. Bill.

In November 2012, Bode filed a “Petition to Establish Parental Relationship” in California, checking the box on the form to say he was the father of “a child who is not yet born”.

The baby was born in February 2013.  Two days later, McKenna filed her petition for custody in the New York Family Court.

There is a uniform law that governs child custody cases between the states which provides that the child’s “home state” has jurisdiction.  Since the baby was born in New York, that state should decide custody.

But the family judge in New York sent the case back to California saying she appropriated the child while in utero, which was “irresponsible” and “reprehensible”.  He gave custody to Miller and his new wife.

Then that order was overturned by a New York appeals court and the baby was returned to McKenna.  The cases continues as the two sides try to work out a parenting plan.

Needless to say, it is spurring controversy among fathers’ rights and mothers’ rights activists regarding the right to relocate if you are pregnant.

Taking the Children Out of State

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Someone asked today for the Maryland case that prevents a parent from relocating to another state with the minor children before a custody order is entered.

Surprise!  In Maryland, there is no case and no law against it.  Some lawyers and some judges will disapprove of this tactic, especially in the middle of a school year, but it is not illegal.

Until there is a custody order, both parties have joint legal and physical custody of their children under the common law.  That means either parent can take them anywhere.

It is then up to the parent left behind to go to court and try to get an order for their return.

How to Lose a Child Custody Battle

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Sometimes celebrities can teach us what not to do.  TMZ reports that an Atlanta family court judge has awarded Tawanna Iverson custody of her five children with NBA basketball star Allen Iverson.

The judge found that Allen “does not know how to manage the children; has little interest in learning to manage the children and has actually, at times, been a hindrance to their spiritual and emotional growth and development.  For example, he has refused to attend to an obvious and serious alcohol problem, which has caused him to do inappropriate things in the presence of the children while impaired.  He has left the children alone without supervision. He has left his young daughters in a hotel room with men who are unknown to the mother.”

The judge gave Allen visitation on the conditions that he:

  • not drink alcohol for 18 months
  • after that, not drink alcohol within 24 hours of visitation
  • engage in mental health therapy
  • attend AA meetings for a year

Divorce Can Make You a Better Dad

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Thomas Matlack writes in the New York Times today  about how his painful divorce taught him to be a better dad to his children.

“My time with Kerry and Seamus was limited to trips to McDonald’s and a walk across the highway to Federal Hill for pizza a couple of times a week. But even that was progress. I had been an absent dad up until that point, working nonstop. And when I wasn’t working, I was drinking and getting into trouble. I was 31 going on about 14.” said Matlack.

Later he became an active parent for his children, which he says may never have happened without the divorce.

“For six years I was on my own with two little children for long stretches of time: wrestling, crying, laughing, cooking, cleaning, traveling to visit family, throwing up (a lot), and cuddling them into bed only to come back later and look in wonder at the angels who had transformed me.” Matlack says.

Free Online Tools for Divorced Dads

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Steven Small and Shelly D. Mahon are conducting a survey of divorced fathers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  They are looking for fathers of children, ages 8 and 16, who have been divorced or separated within the last two years.  You can register at their website, “Apart, Not Broken”.

This is a free, 12 week, multi-media program over the Internet which includes:

  • Videos reflecting the real life experiences of other divorced fathers;
  • A discussion forum for you to connect and share with other fathers;
  • Online tools for sharing photos, comparing calendars, journaling, using a whiteboard, and communicating via chat, video chat, and email;
  • Current and concise information about divorce and parenting after divorce;
  • Recommended activities for you and your child; and
  • Additional resources such as book lists and helpful web sites.

Children Spending More Time with Fathers

Monday, November 26th, 2012

A study by an Australian College has found that divorced and separated fathers are spending more time with their children than the traditional every other weekend visitation schedule.  Dr. Bruce Smyth sampled 408 separated parents.  He found that, regardless of the parenting arrangements, children usually moved between homes two to four times every two weeks.  The study found that separated parents were cooperating with each other in balancing their schedules with the children’s needs and being more flexible in their timesharing.

The Prospective Client

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Danny Carr, Counselor and Attorney at Law, punched the button on his phone this morning to listen to messages left last night on his voice-mail.

“I need to hire you for a custody case.  This is Ken Woodard. Call me at 301-555-5555.”

Carr hit redial, and when someone answered, he said,  “Mr. Woodard, this is Danny Carr, returning your call.”

“I was forced to give up custody and visitation by my wife’s attorney by duress,” said Woodard.

“Did he hold a gun to your head? “

“No, but he told me I would lose if I didn’t agree.”

“That’s not duress.”

“OK, well then I found out I still have to pay child support.”

“Right.  Parents are obligated to support their children.”

“But if I don’t have custody or visitation, haven’t my parental rights been terminated?”

“No.  You are still the children’s father.”

“My wife accused me of neglecting and abusing the kids.  Can I file a petition to terminate my parental rights on the basis of her saying I’m an unfit parent?”

“No.  You can’t file a complaint against yourself to terminate your own parental rights.”

“That doesn’t sound right.”

“I have to go now, Mr. Woodard.  Good luck with your case.”

 
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