“Shared Parenting” – What does it mean?

Background

Separating parents have long expressed frustration with certain aspects of the family justice system, with fathers’ rights groups in particular defiant in their stance against the apparent bias in favour of mothers when it comes to addressing the ongoing residence of the children. In a bid to tackle this issue, the Government has proposed several changes to the family justice system by way of the Children and Families Bill (“the Bill”).

One amendment put forward by the Bill is that Residence Orders and Contact Orders will cease to be, and a single concept Child Arrangement Order will take their place. The reality of Residence Orders and Contact Orders in their current form is that one tends to be seen as a “victory” over the other, adding to the animosity between conflicted parents.

The proposal follows from the Government’s response to the 2011 Family Justice Review, where it announced its commitment to promoting the importance of both parents remaining responsible for the care of their children. As a result, the concept of “shared parenting” has overshadowed the remainder of the legislative changes to become the buzzword(s) of the Bill.

“Shared Parenting”

A public consultation on the notion of shared parenting ran between June and September 2012 and the Government concluded that the starting point in any matter before Court should be that both parents should be involved in a child’s life (presuming of course that welfare is not an issue).

The concept of “shared parenting” to many evokes the presumption of a 50/50 division of residence and contact between parents, which is reinforced by a Child Arrangement Order. However, this is simply not the case and a starting point of 50/50 residence is in fact discouraged in the Family Justice Review.

It is crucial to remember that the Court will always give the most weight to the interests of the child when considering childcare arrangements. Therefore, whilst those parents who have less contact following the breakdown of a relationship are likely to feel let down by the justice system, those feelings are ultimately not the Court’s concern. The paramount consideration remains the child’s best interests and, more often than not, the Court deems that those interests are unlikely to be best met by a straight down the middle 50/50 split of residence.

That said, the importance of maintaining a relationship with both parents, taking into account all aspects of parental responsibility, is very much at the forefront of the changes proposed by the Bill. Contrary to much public opinion, this notion is nothing new to the Courts and does in fact form a major consideration in deciding almost all of the cases which appear before them.

What does the Children and Families Bill mean for you?

It has long been understood by the Courts and related agencies that more often than not, an ongoing relationship with both parents and close members of both extended families is likely to be beneficial to a child’s well-being following parental separation. It is also understood however that the quality of those relationships, rather than the quantity, is likely to be the most crucial factor in fostering and developing family relationships to the child’s greatest benefit.

Proponents of “equal access” for parents are likely to be disappointed by the Bill which does not, on that view, go far enough.

However, it will be open to the Courts to test the question of what shared parenting amounts to exactly and it may yet be the case that the Bill goes quite some way in leveling the playing field in respect of parents’ involvement in their children’s lives.

For advice regarding children matters or any other aspect of family law, contact Lisa Kemp

Are Child Custody Laws Biased Against Fathers in Washington State

Changes in child custody law reflect the changes in American families that have taken place over the last several generations. Earlier eras assigned child care duties to the mother and tasked the father with supporting the family’s economic needs. While this traditional structure still prevails in some families, many homes today see both parents working outside the home and sharing child care responsibilities. There are also families today in which the father takes care of the children while the mother serves as the breadwinner.

While the structure of families has evolved greatly in modern times, child custody laws in some states have failed to keep pace. Some fathers trying to win custody of their children may be confronted with archaic statutes that preference maternal rights and leave fathers wondering if child custody laws are biased against them.

Washington Child Custody Laws Are Gender Neutral

Child custody statutes vary by state. While a handful of states retain an explicit preference for awarding primary custody to the mother, the state of Washington has adopted a gender-neutral standard. In Washington State, as well as many other states across the country, the prevailing factor in child custody cases is what outcome is in the best interest of the child. While there is no guarantee that a father won’t encounter a biased judge, the laws in Washington regarding child custody make no reference to gender. In fact, in Washington divorce cases, state statutes encourage parents and judges to agree to joint custody whenever possible.

In Washington State, joint custody may be awarded if the following minimum conditions are met: each parent is active in making decisions for the child, the proximity of the parents allows a joint custody arrangement to be feasible, and the parents are willing or able to work together to serve the child’s best interests.

If one parent is awarded sole custody, the non-custodial parent will usually be awarded visitation rights. Visitation rights are granted in almost all circumstances, except in cases of abuse or abandonment. Child support in Washington may be ordered of either parent, regardless of gender.

Custody Cases in Washington State Require a Parenting Plan

Washington law requires parents who are fighting a custody battle to submit, and eventually agree to, a parenting plan. Each parent may draw up their own plan and then negotiate a final agreement in front of a judge or mediator. Alternatively, both parents may agree on a joint parenting plan by themselves, and then present it to a judge for approval.

Parenting plans will differ for each family, and joint custody is often different from equal custody. Although Washington law does not preference maternal rights, it does allow that the best interest of the child may require a majority of his or her time to be spent with one parent. While gender is not a factor is assigning these responsibilities, the courts will take into account each parent’s financial status, work schedule, proximity to the child, the existing relationship between the child and each parent, and the parents themselves.

Fathers Often do not Fight for Child Custody

Statistics demonstrate that nationwide, mothers are granted sole custody more often than fathers. These statistics do not necessarily represent a legal bias against fathers; the fact is that many fathers do not ask for sole or joint custody, but cede these rights without contest. In Washington State, there is no legal reason why a father seeking to protect the best interests of his children should not get a fair hearing.

About the author

Kevin Danielson is a freelance writer who concentrates on a variety of legal topics such as Personal Injury, Brain Injuries, Family Law, Intellectual Property and others as well.

A Closer Look at Child Support Today

(U. S. Family Law and generally) Child support is an important aspect of the legal system, especially when a couple separates or divorces. After all, it is during these time periods that emotions tend to run extremely high, and that can cause one or both of the parents to shirk their parental responsibilities in lieu of getting a so-called revenge against their former partner or spouse. Therefore, it is necessary for the legal system to impose specific guidelines that determine how much child support must be paid on a monthly basis and which parent is responsible for paying it to ensure that the child’s needs are taken care of.

Abuse of the Child Support System

Unfortunately, not every parent who receives child support utilizes it in an appropriate way. For example, some parents will take the bulk of the money and use it on themselves. When this happens, the child is often left with only the most basic food and a lack of proper clothing and other necessary supplies. Although most parents would never do something like this, it is an issue that some children face, and it is important for the child to receive assistance as soon as possible. In other words, if you are parent who is responsible for paying child support, you need to keep an eye on the situation. If your child is always hungry and wearing old, ill-fitting clothing each time you have visitation, it is a good idea to petition the court to do an assessment of their living situation. This can be especially useful if you desire full custody because improper usage of child support can be construed as the actions of an unfit parent.

Adjusting Child Support

In some cases, it might become necessary to adjust the amount of child support that you are paying. However, the amount that was first set when your divorce was finalized is legally binding. Therefore, it is best to utilize your lawyer in order to file a petition to have the child support amount amended. You will need to have a good reason for your request, however. For example, if your salary has changed dramatically or if you have proof that you ex is not using the money properly, you can ask for a reduction. Unfortunately, not all judges will approve your request. Remember that Riverside County child support laws in California for example, can differ from say child support laws in Dekalb county Georgia. If you use a lawyer, however, your odds of making a strong enough case to receive proper consideration from a judge will be increased.

If you are on the receiving end of the child support and you believe that you are not getting enough money, you can also file a petition with the assistance of a lawyer. Because the child support is based on a formula that considers the amount of children that you have and the annual salary of both you and your ex, you should definitely consider filing a motion if you lose your job or your ex gets a promotion. There is nothing in place that will cause an automatic adjustment to occur if the financial status of one or both of the parents changes, so your only recourse is to ask a judge to increase the child support based on the evidence that you submit.

Regardless of which side of the child support you are on, it is important to do your best to remain civil with your ex. After all, this is not only in the best interests of your children, but it will also help you in front of a judge.

Freelance author Anthony Joseph enjoys writing about the laws that affect children, and contributes this article toward raising awareness on child support issues. The Riverside County child support lawyers from Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, know that these laws can either work for you or against you. They have more than 140 years of combined experience, and know exactly how to provide a successful legal defense.

What’s All About Step Parenting

As a step parent, getting the legal rights of a biological parent can be a complex procedure. In California, you need to be married to or living with a biological parent, over the age of 18 and at least 10 years older than the child. Read on to find out the other requirements you need to fulfil to get the rights of a biological parent, when you are a step parent.

Read more..

About the Author
Christina M. Hernandez is the Director and Owner of Attorney Assisted California Centers in Orange, CA. Attorney Assisted is a leading paralegal service provider in Orange County, preparing and filing all legal documents. Also known as Legal Document Assistants, they are a more affordable alternative than going through lawyers for the same notary services. We also offer full divorce services, handling all divorce papers and child support orders for our clients.

 

 

The Different Types of Cerebral Palsy

cerebral palsyCerebral palsy is a broad term for a condition that affects an individual’s posture, muscle tone, balance and movement. Cerebral palsy can result during embryonic development or it can be the unfortunate result of a traumatic birth injury. Often, cerebral palsy results from inadequate blood or oxygen.  Other possible causes can be seen here. There are five different types of cerebral palsy, each explained below.

 

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

When children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy, most children will be diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy. In fact, spastic cerebral palsy affects between 80 and 90 percent of cerebral palsy sufferers. This type can affect one side of the body, it can affect two limbs, or it can affect all four limbs. When two limbs are affected, this is known as spastic diplegia. When four limbs are affected, this is known as spastic quadriplegia.

Spastic cerebral palsy causes muscle tightness and can sometimes cause an individual to have difficulty communicating. The symptoms of this type of cerebral palsy are treated with physical therapy, stretching, exercises, and sometimes, Botox. It is important to note that this does not affect an individual’s intelligence.

 

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

Athetoid cerebral palsy affects about 20 percent of cerebral palsy sufferers and the symptoms are slightly different from the previously mentioned type of cerebral palsy. Athetoid cerebral palsy can cause slow, involuntary muscle movements, especially of the torso and of the extremities. Sometimes this type of cerebral palsy also affects face and tongue muscles, in which case drug and speech therapy is required. Muscle tone with this type of cerebral palsy is mixed; it can either be too high or too low.

 

Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy

Hypotonic cerebral palsy results in very uncontrollable, floppy arms and legs. It also tends to affect the individual’s posture, so they will often slouch or lie down. Trouble controlling and holding the head in a neutral position is also difficult for individuals with this type of cerebral palsy. Additionally, fatigue is a very common symptom of hypotonic cerebral palsy.

 

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Ataxic cerebral palsy is the least common type of cerebral palsy, and less than 5 percent of individuals with cerebral palsy will have the ataxic variety. This type of cerebral palsy affects how well an individual can balance and coordinate their muscles. Individuals will have poorly defined muscle tone and will have difficulty moving.

 

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

It is possible for individuals to be affected by a combination of different types of cerebral palsy, which is known as mixed cerebral palsy. When this presents, it is most common for the spastic and athetoid types to be mixed together, although mixing of any of the types of cerebral palsy is possible.

Sometimes cerebral palsy cannot be prevented, as it can occur during embryonic development. However, sometimes cerebral palsy is the result of a traumatic birth injury. Again, this can be unpreventable or it can be result of medical negligence.

If you or someone you know has a child with cerebral palsy, and you believe it could be the result of medical negligence, consider seeking the professional help of an experienced birth injury lawyer. Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C. is a law firm comprised of cerebral palsy injury and birth injury lawyers located in Illinois.  For more information about birth injuries and cerebral palsy, visit the website at www.CerebralPalsyInjuries.com.

Cerebral Palsy Risk Factors

Cerebral PalsyCerebral palsy is often seen as a muscular disorder, but it is actually a combination of several neurological conditions that can affect the muscles quite dramatically. The word “cerebral” references the cerebrum, which is a part of the brain. Therefore, cerebral palsy is a disorder that originates in the brain. This article discusses cerebral palsy risk factors.

Cerebral Palsy and Medical Malpractice

Some babies are born with noticeable signs of cerebral palsy, while other children have symptoms but are not properly diagnosed for a few years. However, most cases of cerebral palsy are noticed within the child’s first three years of life. One key sign of cerebral palsy includes the child being slow to do any of the activities that are normally done at their age, such as sitting up, crawling, laughing, and talking. A lack of muscle control is also a noticeable sign of cerebral palsy.

Medical malpractice can be a risk factor associated with the disorder. However, it’s not only medical malpractice that can cause cerebral palsy; many children are born with cerebral palsy where medical malpractice was not proven to be a part of the equation.

Hypoxia and Cerebral Palsy

There is a condition that develops when the brain does not receive the proper amount of oxygen; this condition is called hypoxia and it can develop over the period of time between birth and the few days after birth. Babies born with a limited oxygen flow to the brain have a 40 to 70 percent chance of ending up with a life-long disorder such as cerebral palsy, while the other percentage will end up with no disability.

Limited oxygen flow to the brain can sometimes occur for no known reason when the baby is in the womb, but it can also occur during the birthing process. When the baby is in the womb, the following things can happen: the umbilical cord may become wrapped around the baby’s neck; there may be an infection; or the baby may suffer congenial heart disease. All of these issues can result in a decrease in oxygen to the baby’s brain. Hypoxia occurs in approximately 2 to 10 of 1000 births in the Unites States.

Head Trauma and Cerebral Palsy

Head trauma is serious, and it can result in cerebral palsy. Head trauma can occur as a result of medical negligence during the birthing process. When head trauma happens to full-term babies during labor or delivery, it is usually evidenced by the abnormality of the pH in the cord blood. In addition to pH, the baby usually scores quite low on the Apgar scale, and the fetal monitor will often indicate oxygen deprivation.

Cerebral palsy is a serious condition that develops in nearly 10,000 new babies every year in the United States. It is a life-long condition that significantly affects the quality of life for children and their families. It’s important for new parents to better understand cerebral palsy, its risk factors, and learn what they can do to improve their situation.

If your child was born with cerebral palsy and you believe that it was a result of medical malpractice or hospital negligence, seek a legal professional to review your case.  Janet, Jenner & Suggs, Attorneys at Law represent cerebral palsy victims nationwide.  For more information, visit the website of cerebral palsy attorneys Janet, Jenner & Suggs at www.Cerebral-Palsy-Injury.com.

Guidelines for Being Awarded Alimony

divorceWhen two people decide that it is time for them to end their marriage and get a divorce, the idea of alimony payments is always brought up. Alimony is a monthly financial payment from one spouse to support the other after a marriage ends. Alimony payments were historically made from the husband to the wife, the idea being that the husband was the one who worked and the wife would be the one to stay home and raise children. Since the ’70s there has been a movement in the other direction towards equality, and today where many wives support stay-at-home husbands, alimony is paid both ways.  This is determined by assessing the financial situation of each person involved and after taking into account certain factors concerning the marriage. Here are the guidelines that are followed to determine who is awarded alimony after a divorce.

Determining Who Has the Ability to Earn an Income

The main factor that is taken into consideration when it is determined which person will pay alimony is the ability to earn an income. Alimony used to be easier to determine when there was only one earner in a marriage, but in today’s world it’s far more difficult. In many cases, both members of the marriage have good careers and earn their own income, but they still wish to be awarded alimony. It can be difficult to discern which party needs the extra income. When there is only one person with an ability to earn a living because the other spouse gave up a career to raise children, then that person would be the one who would be required to pay alimony. The court also takes each person’s ability to earn a future income into consideration, so if a stay-at-home wife left a successful career, that would also count.

Determining Who Has the Ability to Pay Alimony

In some cases, neither spouse earns an income, but instead live off of a passive income. Lotto winnings, a trust fund, income from investments, or savings are all examples of passive income. In these cases, the person who the money belongs to is the one who has the ability to pay alimony, even though they are not actively earning an income.

Standard of Living and Length of the Marriage

One of the big factors of a divorce is making sure each person has the ability to maintain the same standard of living that they had during the marriage. A high standard of life would need to be maintained for each person, which would result in higher alimony payments.

The amount of time the marriage lasted is also a major factor. If a week-long marriage ends in divorce, then there would not be a significant amount of alimony paid out. However, if a marriage lasted over 10 years the amount of alimony would be significant.

It can be difficult to see your marriage come to an end, but even worse is being in a situation where you give up your career and dedicate your life to one person only to end up divorced with no form of income. Alimony is designed to protect people from situations like that, and the first step to getting alimony is to know the guidelines that are followed when determining who is awarded alimony.

If you are going through a divorce and you think you will have to pay alimony or are hoping to receive alimony payments, contact a lawyer who can advocate for you.  Charles R. Ullman & Associates is a spousal support/alimony law firm located in North Carolina.  For more information about spousal support, visit the website at www.DivorceLawCary.com.

Organizing Your Finances after Divorce

divorce and finances The process, as well as finalizing a divorce can be extremely hard on a person mentally. Facing possible financial ruin definitely adds to the stress. In general, most people lack the knowledge they in order to recover and move on financially. Knowing what to expect and how to handle it, is the only way to get through a divorce with your assets still intact. Surviving financially is especially important if you have children and other dependents.

 

How Divorce Impacts Your Money

Getting a marriage license is less than $50 in most states, but dissolving that union is going to cost much more than that. Even if the couple kept their finances separate and agreed to take their own money & assets and part ways amicably, the filing alone can be costly. If for some reason a mediator is needed, fees can go into the thousands. The situation only gets more complicated from there. Married people generally see an increase in wealth through their union, while divorced people lose 77% of their net value on average, according to DailyFinance.com. When children are involved, one spouse may end up owing child support or alimony which can greatly reduce their money left for all of their other independent expenses. On the other hand, the spouse who is supposed to receive child support or alimony may have a hard time getting their former partner to pay up. Additionally, divorce means splitting your assets and income while doubling the bills.

 

Take Action Before You Even File for Divorce

This is a very important step that could save you loads of money and time when the proceedings start. Once your partner knows you have filed, they may make every effort to hide money, transfer funds from mutual accounts to their own, and put away assets. Even if the judge rules against these actions, it’s going to be very hard to recover them, and waiting for a judgment could take a very long time. Smart actions for you to take include: getting copies of all financial statements, acquiring credit reports, and setting aside money for living expenses.

 

Restructuring Once the Divorce is Final

Here is where the real work begins. Getting back to stability once the divorce is finalized will be challenging, but possible. If you are paying child support or alimony to your ex-partner, it may take a while to adjust. Having your support payments drafted automatically from your checking account is the best way to handle it. This way there won’t be risk of forgetting to make payments, and there will be an electronic record of paying. Keeping other financial obligations simple for a while is advisable; now is not the time to go out and purchase high ticket items. The divorced person needs to be very forward thinking for at least the first year after separation; make plans for tax returns, stocks, and savings ahead of time. A well mapped out plan for paying existing and new bills will get you through it. This will put you on the path to rebuilding your financial worth. MoneySmart.gov has additional information on adjusting to the change in income and additional expenses spawned from divorce.

Managing Life as a Single Parent after Divorce

When a divorced couple has children, life can get very complicated. Each parent is now on their own and suddenly realize all of the small things they did not notice when they had the other parent to back them up. Parents of babies and toddlers are tested by late nights and early mornings, with no one to alternate sleep, feedings, changing, and difficult nights with. Mothers and fathers of school aged children have to handle the morning routine: getting the kids to school, meeting with teachers, and driving the kids to after-school activities, all on their own. Managing life after divorce as a parent is not easy, but life will get back to normal much faster if steps are taken to deal with the challenges, instead of just hoping for a solution.

Struggles of Single Parents

Going through a divorce and living with divorce are very complicated life events which statistics show that many people in this country go through. Below are the two main challenges for single parents:

  • Childcare

This can be tricky one when the other parent doesn’t want to play nice. Developing a set schedule, if at all possible, for visitations will make it a little easier to figure out childcare. After visitation is established, each parent needs to find their own sitters or agree on one childcare or babysitter for both schedules. Both parents should have their own backup in case help bails at the last moment. This will keep the other parent from having to cancel their own plans to watch the children.

  • Finances

If child support or alimony is in play, you could come out a little better or a little worse; this depends on if you are the one receiving it or not. Large house payments and car leases might not have fazed you before, but now that there is one income, it’s likely time to downsize. The best way to downsize is to move into a smaller house with lower rent or mortgage; otherwise, make sure you’re not overdoing it on the spending – credit card bills can drown a single person.

 Coping with Stress

Divorce and death are the two most stressful events for people to deal with in life. Stress can take its toll on the individual and potentially destroy their life. With such a high stress situation, how does a single parent cope? Below are the five best ways to cope with stress during a divorce.

 Manage your weight with diet and exercise

It’s not about vanity or attracting another partner, keeping a steady weight will keep your hormone levels normal.

 Get out and be around the people you used to spend time with

 When you’re married, you tend to push aside others in your life to spend time with your spouse. If you’re dealing with divorce, now is a great time to reconnect with the people you lost touch with. Reconnecting will give you a chance to talk to people about things other than the stressful separation – it also gives you ‘adult’ time away from the kids.

Laugh

 Laughing is a great coping mechanism; when you laugh your body releases serotonin and reduces cortisol levels. Watch a funny movie, go watch a comedian, or just have your kids tell you about their silly perspectives on childhood things.

 Don’t turn to vices such as smoking, drinking or drugs

This one is important for everyone, but most especially for parents. As tempting as it may be to turn to vices to get you through the divorce, do not give in. Smoking, drinking, or using drugs will only make you feel ‘okay’ for a very short while; most of the time, using these substances end up making you feel much worse as soon as they clear your system. More importantly, you don’t want to set that example for emotionally vulnerable children.

Read more about coping with stress on the CDC webpage.

 

Ginarte O’Dwyer Gonzalez Gallardo & Winograd, LLP is a family divorce law firm located in New Jersey/New York. For more information, please visit us at www.Ginarte.com.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy
One of the most common of all childhood disabilities, cerebral palsy, is a disorder which impacts the individual in many different ways. People who live with this condition experience difficulties in movement, motor skills, and muscle tone. Also commonly known as CP, the main cause of cerebral palsy is brain damage which happens in utero, during childbirth, or very shortly after childbirth – in some rare cases, cerebral palsy cans be from brain injury which occurred before the child researches 5 years old. Causes of CP are varied and sometimes unknown; BBC Health points out that some causes include an infection during the pregnancy of the mother or fetus can cause this disorder – other factors include fetal injury in the womb and during childbirth, and infant seizures.

Facts About Cerebral Palsy

  • Cerebral palsy is the number one most prevalent motor disability in children
  • According to the CDC, an average, 1 in 303 children are diagnosed as having cerebral palsy by the time they are 8 years of age
  • African American and Caucasian children suffer from CP at a much higher rate than Hispanic children
  • Boys are 1.2 times more likely to have CP than their female counterparts
  • 40% of children with CP also have a mental disability
  • 35% of people who have cerebral palsy also have epilepsy
  • 1/4 of children with CP actually have both a mental disability and epilepsy
  • Babies born prematurely and/or of low birth weight are more likely to have CP
  • A twin is 5 times more likely to have cerebral palsy
  • Children conceived through IVF are 1.6 times more likely to be born with CP
  • Medical costs for children with only CP are ten times more than a child without a disorder
  • Children with cerebral palsy and mental disabilities will face medical costs which are 26 times higher than a child without either

Signs and Screening

Sometimes symptoms of CP are not clearly visible or easy to pinpoint. Signs of this disorder are not as cookie cutter as they can be with other conditions; each person may have completely different symptoms than the next person. Most commonly, cerebral palsy will start to raise questions around early infancy; when a baby fails to meet developmental milestones, parents often start to become concerned. Babies with CP often miss important markers for rolling over, sitting up, crawling/scooting, and walking. Less obvious signs in infants are abnormal postures, underdeveloped muscle tone, and twitching – these signs might only be noticed by a doctor with experience in this area. Most experts will agree that the earlier a child is identified as having CP, the better. Diagnosis is also very important for families of these children as they will then be able to receive help for care of the child through insurance and certain government programs. Diagnosing a child involves monitoring & screening for developmental cues, and medical evaluations.

Getting Treatment

While there is no cure for CP, there are treatments which can help the individual manage their symptoms. Intervention treatments and programs have proven effectiveness for both children and adults suffering with cerebral palsy. Common treatments include speech therapy and physical therapy, both of which are usually carried out through adulthood. Learn more about research and prognosis for cerebral palsy on the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke’s webpage.

Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. is a Cerebral Palsy injury law firm located in Chicago, Illinois. For more information, please visit us at www.cerebralpalsyinjuries.com.