Tips for Altering a Custody Arrangement

3 Things You Should Do To Protect Yourself During A Divorce

Going through a divorce is incredibly stressful. There are so many different emotions that you will go through, not to mention the legal battle that must be fought. This is why it is so important that you do everything that you can to protect yourself before and during the divorce. Here are a couple things you should to do help the divorce run smoothly. 1. Don’t Leave The House Until You Have A Legal Separation Agreement Although you and your spouse may be fighting a lot, you shouldn’t leave the house if at all possible. Once you abandon the house, you give your spouse possession of the house. Your spouse could change the locks and prevent you from coming onto the property for some time. This won’t be a permanent thing, but it could last for a while until you can get the formal separation agreement, or the divorce is final and your spouse is ordered by a judge to let you come onto the property to get all of your things. If you have to leave the property because you are in danger, take what you need and don’t expect to get back in until after the divorce. 2. Don’t Leave Until Custody Has Been Determined Custody battles can be incredibly hard to fight, and your spouse may do anything they can to prove that you are not a trustworthy parent. One of the worst things you can do is abandon the children. When you abandon the children you send a message that you don’t believe that you are responsible for their care. You pretty much say that your spouse is the primary parent. If there is abuse, you need to take the children with you. You should never leave them in a dangerous situation. This is why you should stay with the children, and keep them with you as much as possible during the divorce so that it is obvious that you are an integral part of their lives. 3. Have A Separate Bank Account During a divorce, money may be a sensitive topic. Any account that has both of your names on it may be hard to access. In addition, your spouse may empty the account, leaving you with nothing. This is why it is important that you have a bank account that is in your name only. If you can see that things are getting rocky […]

How You May Be Sabotaging Your Custody Battle Unwittingly

When making child custody decisions, courts base their decisions on the well-being of the child. This means that the child gets to stay in the household where he or she is likely to receive the basic needs as well as security and emotional support. Your behavior, words, finances – indeed nearly everything about you – will be discussed in court. This is why it’s easy to make a mistake that may end up costing you custody of your child. Some of the common mistakes that you are likely to make include: Yelling At Your Partner or Kids Whether you are acting in anger, or you think the tongue lashing is justified, you should never raise your voice at your loved ones. This advice holds whether it’s a phone call, or you are talking face to face. If your partner claims that you are abusing them, then it will be very difficult to defend yourself if he or she reveals recorded audio of your yelling. The risk is even greater if you are a man, and your partner is a woman. The way the society functions, plus entrenched beliefs and gender expectations, means that men are considered domineering creatures. It may or may not be right, but that is how the world functions. It doesn’t require a leap of faith for the court to believe that a man who can yell at his family can also abuse them, especially if your partner is making such claims. Damaging Your Partners Property Getting physically violent with your partner is one of the easiest ways of losing custody of your children. In fact, family courts are always on the lookout for early signs of aggression in partners who are divorcing or disputing child custody. One of these signs is property damage. Even if you get very angry, don’t break the window, kick in the door or smash your partner’s car windshield. The assumption is that it is just a matter of time before you move from kicking doors to kicking your partner. Taking Children from School or Daycare without Notice If your child is in school or daycare, let him or her be there for the designated period. You should only remove the child from school if there is an emergency, say he or she is sick, but even then you ought to inform the other parent. The school keeps attendance records, and your […]

Commonly Asked Questions About Divorcing

A divorce can be one of the most heartbreaking experiences that you will ever go through. Unfortunately, the legal issues that accompany a divorce can be daunting in their complexity, and it should be no surprise that many clients are very confused about what to expect from this process. However, if you take the time to learn the following answers to some common questions, you should be in a much better position to navigate the legal proceedings that accompany divorce.  Which Spouse Will Pay For The Divorce Proceedings? It is no secret that a divorce can be a very expensive legal proceeding to go through, and as a result, it is common for clients to wonder which spouse is responsible for paying these costs. However, it should be noted that these expenses will usually be deducted from the marriage assets.  This is done to ensure that both spouses have access to legal representation by avoiding a situation where one spouse is hoarding the financial assets. In situations where you decide you no longer want to go through the divorce, you will both be responsible for the legal expenses incurred, and you will have to pay these out of pocket.  Do You Need Joint Custody To Have Visitation Rights? If your marriage produced children, this may be one of the most contentious issues that you will be facing during these proceedings. Custody of children can be a major obstacle to settling a divorce, and this often stems from the fact that clients may not fully understand their parental rights following a divorce.  For example, it is common for people to assume they must have some form of custody over the child to be entitled to visitation rights. However, this is not always the case, and it is possible for a parent that lacks custody to enjoy the right to spend time with their child. While there may be more stipulations regarding these visits if you lack custody, the courts will still enforce your right to see your child.  If you are going through a divorce, it is important for you to understand some of the more common issues that can arise during these proceedings. By knowing that attorneys often take their fees from the marriage assets and that you do not need custody to be awarded visitation rights, you should find that it is easier for you to understand and defend […]

A Few Simple Things You Can Do That Will Help With Custody And Visitation Rights

Unfortunately, not all divorces involving child custody and visitation rights go smoothly, with both parents receiving equal or fair time with the children. If your soon to be ex-spouse is trying to keep the children away from you or severely limit how much time you spend with them, you are going to need to hire a lawyer experienced in family law. He or she will work to show the judge spending time with you is not going to harm the children in any way and is actually in their best interest. There are a few simple things you can do to prove your case: Learn Small Things About the Children Anytime you are with the children, pay attention to everything they do or say. If the children are older, you can ask them about school, friends, and the things they like to do. If the children are younger, pay attention to what makes them laugh, how they play, and bathroom habits. Knowing how often a toddler needs a diaper change, what book your preteen is reading and who your teenager hangs out with shows you are interested in them. It also gives you something to talk about or do with them that they enjoy and keeps them on the same type of routine. Get Involved in School If your children are school aged, make sure you know what schools, what rooms and who their teachers are. Go to the schools’ websites and print out a calendar of upcoming events. Make sure you attend the events. Talk to the children beforehand to find out how/if they are participating in the event and ask if there is anything you can do to help out. This is a great way to learn more about the kids while creating good connections with the teachers and other parents. If necessary, these connections can be used to prove your case. Learn to Cook, Do Laundry and Sew Having kids around a lot means preparing meals, doing laundry and the occasional seam sewing. Sure, you could take them to restaurants all the time, or cook up some hotdogs and noodles, but eventually the money will run out and the kids are going to need real meals. Being able to do laundry and sew any small tears is important for keeping them in clothes while with you. They are going to get dirty, and you don’t want them […]

Caring For Pets After A Divorce

Divorce can be a difficult time to go through not only for the people involved, but for pets, as well. Depending on which person gets custody of the pet, animals will have to learn to adapt to their new surroundings. Believe it or not, it can be a traumatic experience for an animal not being around both owners – the only life they’ve known. However, there are some things that can be done to make that transition into a new life much easier for your pet.  Never Use Your Pet to Hurt the Other Person  The first thing to keep in mind is that both you and your soon-to-be ex both care about the animal. To some people, pets are like children, and, like with children, there may be the urge to want to use them to hurt the other. Do not hurt the animal just to spite the other person. Animals are innocent and helpless creatures that will also be going through their own period of adjustment after having their home torn asunder, so don’t take out your frustrations on them.  Never Argue Around Pets  It is never good to argue around pets. Arguing around pets only creates a negative response in a home. It can also cause stress in the animal and make the animal physically ill. Your pet may act out negatively in his or her own way, such as tearing up items or relieving themselves indoors. Are You Able to Handle the Expenses?  You should also consider the expenses involved in caring for your pet. If you are not able to financially afford to take care of your pet, maybe you should consider letting your soon to be ex-spouse have the animal. At least your pet can be in a comfortable surrounding and you can still work out a visitation schedule.  Shared Custody of Pet  In some divorce cases, people may decide on shared custody of the pet. If custody of the pet is shared, the two parties should agree on a set schedule for the animal for things such as when to walk the animal and when to feed the animal. If both pet parents want to share the responsibility, then both parents should be willing to follow the established schedule. As with children, there should not be the “fun” parent who lets you do whatever you want, and the “not-so-fun” parent who is extremely […]

3 Important Questions About Divorce In Military Families

Divorce is a complicated issue in any family, but military families face special complications. When contemplating a divorce, it’s possible for the two parties to be in separate states, which may bring up questions about which state’s divorce laws need to be followed. An active duty spouse may be overseas, which can delay things. And the military has its own set of rules that can complicate things for the divorcing couple. Check out a few things that you should know if you’re a military member or the spouse of a military member contemplating divorce. Which State Should You File In? If you and your spouse are physically separated, either voluntarily or because of military duties, you may be questioning which state you should start the divorce paperwork in. The fact is, either one of you may initiate divorce proceedings in whatever state you happen to legally reside in – so if you’re living in Florida and your spouse is in California, you could start the proceedings from Florida or they could start the proceedings from California, as long as whoever files meets the residency requirements of their state.  However, you should know that under federal law, the state where the military member lives is the only state with the power to divide a military pension. The enlisted spouse can consent to allowing a different state to make that division, and if it’s an amicable divorce, that might be an option for you. However, if this is a point of contention between you and your spouse, then you will have to leave the question of dividing the pension up to the court in the military spouse’s state of residence, which means that it may be preferable to file the divorce in that state as well. What About Active Duty Military Members? If you or your spouse is currently on active duty, you should know that this can seriously delay any action on your divorce case. Military spouses on active duty can postpone divorce proceedings for their entire tour of duty, and for up to 60 days after it ends. While this can be frustrating for the civilian spouse of a military member, federal law dictates that these stays in the process be allowed in the interest of fairness to the servicemember. They may not be able to participate in divorce proceedings if they’re stationed far from home. These delays also allow […]

Can Your Legal Marijuana Use Impact Your Child Custody Or Visitation Case?

Marijuana laws are changing all over the country, with more than 20 states legalizing the use and possession of marijuana for either medical or recreational purposes. The changes in the laws are also having an unintended effect in family court, as well. Now, your completely legal use of marijuana can actually endanger your rights to visitation or custody of your child. What’s In The Best Interests Of The Child? When courts decide child custody issues they have to consider what’s in the “best interests” of the child. What exactly that means, however, is somewhat vague and can vary drastically from court to court and case to case. Judges are allowed to consider: domestic violence concerns the wishes of the parents the living conditions of each parent the parent’s ability to care for the child the child’s age, physical, and mental health the relationship (or lack of one) between parent and child the child’s wishes (if he or she is old enough to express them) the mental and physical health of the parent evidence of any child abuse or neglect The court can also simply decide that your marijuana use is important when deciding whether or not to give you custody or visitation because judges have very broad discretionary powers when it comes to deciding what is and is not relevant in child custody cases. Can Your Marijuana Use Be Considered Child Abuse Or Neglect? In a variety of cases across the country, the legal use of marijuana by parents has been brought into court as evidence of child abuse and neglect. In some cases, it’s a vindictive ex-spouse that’s bringing the issue up, and in other cases it’s been brought up by schools or other concerned individuals. In some cases, the issue is resolved without any undue prejudice against the legal use of the drug. In other cases, however, parents haven’t been so lucky. The problem for parents who use marijuana is that marijuana has a mixed legal status no matter where you possess it. While state laws may allow its possession and use for either medical or recreational purposes, federal laws still treat marijuana as an illegal drug. That makes possessing it while your children are in your home illegal – and judges can consider that a form of recklessness or an inability to put your children’s needs ahead of your own. For many judges, that alone is enough to be […]

Important Facts About The Different Types Of Child Custody

If you are a parent of a minor child, you have the legal and moral obligation to contribute financially and physically to their upbringing in virtually every situation. It is crucial to understand the different types of custody and how they will pertain to you. Fortunately, there are several types and sub-types of custody today. What Is Sole Physical Custody? When you have sole physical custody of your child, it means that you are exclusively granted the right to make all decisions for the child, including those pertaining to their education, health and socialization. You will not need to consult with the other parent about those decisions. In addition, the child lives with you, although the other parent may be given supervised or unsupervised visitation.   In this context, you will be known as a “Primary Custodian” for your child.  What Is Joint Custody? Joint custody can include several different arrangements. Both parents have time with the child. This option differs from sole custody in that both parents usually have to agree on major parenting decisions. In recent years, shared custody has become a more common situation. It is also not unusual for parents to be required to get permission from the other parent to move out of the area or state, due to the difficulties of maintaining equal visitation over long distances.  Is Alternating Custody Right For You? Alternating custody is a type of joint custody. It is often an ideal choice when both parents live in the same area. It offers a more evenly divided period of time with the child for each parent and can have a dramatic impact on the need for or amount of child support. It can be described as a more precise division of time and frequently allows the child with to spend half the week with one parent and the rest of the week with the other. Alternating custody may also be known as divided custody and is useful because while the child is in your custody, you have the sole right to the parenting decisions. The other parent has that right during their time with the child. What About Shared Custody? Shared custody is almost identical to alternating custody. Two differences are that you and the other parent will need to agree on major decisions for the child and there may not always be a 50/50 split for custodial time with […]

Examples Of Custodial Interference, And Possible Remedies From The Court

If you have been awarded your child’s custody or visitation, then it is only the court that can deny you this right. However, there are situations in which the other parent may act in a manner that bars you from visiting your child—this is referred to as custodial interference. This interference can take several forms, for example: Refusing a visit – consider an example where you are meant to have the child from Friday evening to Monday morning, but when Friday comes, the other parent refuses to let him or her leave. Restricted telephone contact – your former partner restricts your phone calls with the child to certain hours of the day. This may not be explicit; for example, he or she may always give you an evasive answer when you call to talk to the child. Keeping the child past the scheduled time – it may not be a big issue if it happens once or twice because unavoidable circumstances may create such problems. However, if he or she is always returning the child later than the scheduled times, then he or she is interfering with your custody. Encouraging the child to stay away – sometimes the parent may work indirectly to keep the child from you. For example, he or she may promise the kid gifts if he or she stays away from you, or threaten him or her if he makes contact with you. If you are experiencing any of these problems, then you should desist from taking the matter into your hands, for example, by taking the child away forcefully. Rather, you should contact your lawyer to petition the court for a remedy. Some of the possible solutions that the court may offer include: Makeup time – this directive gives you additional time, apart from the original schedule, to spend with your child. It may not be exactly the same duration that you were denied, but it should be comparable to this lost time. Change of primary custody – if you can prove active interference from the other parent, then you may succeed in getting primary custody of the child. Fines and fees – these may be levied if there has been repeated and serious violations of the custody or vitiation order. Third party visits – the court may also involve a third party in your dealings to ensure that vitiation runs according to the appointed […]

Getting Unhitched? Choose Your Divorce Attorney With Care

You should never go into a marriage with your exit strategy already on your mind, but sometimes you have no other option but to consider divorce. If you find that your marriage is in shambles, divorce might be the best path for all of those involved. Because divorce most likely is not something that you do everyday, you should consider hiring a divorce attorney, and because your divorce will have an important impact on the rest of your life, you should carefully consider who you hire to be your lawyer. Lawyer or Mediator? If you do not have children or a lot of assets, then you may not need a lawyer to handle your divorce. Sometimes all you need is a mediator. Staying out of courtrooms and away from litigation can help you to keep your costs down while still arriving at a divorce scenario that will work for both you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. If you don’t think that mediation is right for you, but you still want to stay out of the courtroom, then you should consider a collaborative divorce, which is designed to arrive at a workable co-parenting relationship.  Headed to the Courtroom If you think that traditional litigation is the only option that will work for you, you need to be very careful about which lawyer you pick. You should start by interviewing three different lawyers to try to find one that will work well for your situation. When you interview a lawyer, pay attention to warning signs. For example, if your lawyer barely has time between answering emails and phone calls to listen to your interview, then chances are that they will have a hard time focusing on your case. You should also screen your potential lawyers to make sure they have experience with cases like yours. Don’t be afraid to research all you can about your lawyer before you go into your interview. The more you know about your lawyer, the better able you are to make a good decision. If you are thorough with your vetting process, you can avoid the unfortunate circumstance of finding out partway through your divorce that your lawyer is not right for you.  When you are faced with the need to end a marriage, you need to be sure that you don’t rush into it. Taking time to weigh your options before you start divorce proceedings will give […]