Deciding to pick up the phone and make that dreaded first call when you feel the time is right to contact an attorney is a petrifying moment. It’s one of those times in your life where you just have to take the plunge, dial the phone and make the call.
(US law) Criminal acts commonly result in collateral damage. When the criminal act results in the taking of a human life, the victim’s family may be left with a lost source of income and an emotional toll that can never be overcome. In such cases, members of the immediate family may file a civil action to recover damages. Fraud against the government is no exception, although in such cases, family members have an additional option.
Suing for Wrongful Death
Wrongful death lawsuits entitle certain people, usually immediate family members, executors of an estate, or other appointed parties, to sue on behalf of a person who was killed as the result of another person’s wrongful act. A wrongful act is an illegal or tortious act. In the context of an unnecessary medical procedure, the wrongful act may be fraud; in the context of a procedure that the patient never consented to, the wrongful act may be battery.
The only difference between a person being killed by a drunk driver and by an ongoing Medicare fraud is the chain of events that led to the death and the complexity of the fact pattern. The underlying concept is the same: a wrongful act caused a death and the persons responsible are liable for damages. The law does not require that the wrongful act be directed at the decedent. It is sufficient that a wrongful act occurred and that the decedent died as a result thereof.
Suing Under the False Claims Act
If the death resulted from fraud against the government, victims have another avenue of recourse. 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733, more commonly known as the False Claims Act of 1863, prohibits a long list of conduct committed in furtherance of defrauding the federal government. It is unlawful, among other things, to present fraudulent claims for payment or make false statements in connection with any claims made to the federal government. Billing for unnecessary procedures or defrauding the government in sales of equipment that is claimed to meet certain specifications but does not meet those specifications is a federal crime.
The False Claims Act of 1963 creates a private right of action; any citizen can sue the offending parties for the unlawful conduct. Parties may initiate a claim under the False Claims Act by filing a qui tam action and serving it upon the U.S. Attorney General as well as the local U.S. Attorney. The government has 60 days to investigate the claim. If the government decides to pursue the claim, the plaintiff’s involvement ends and the government prosecutes the case. If the government declines to pursue the case, the plaintiff may still pursue the case privately on behalf of the government.
This opens up another avenue of recovery for victims and their families. Wrongful death lawsuits normally limit damages to expected future income; proving such damages can be difficult and a large damage award may be reduced upon appeal due to the speculative nature of such awards. In contrast, a successful qui tam action will result in a percentage of the recovery being awarded to the original plaintiff. The False Claims Act allows for recovery of treble damages and disgorgement of profits; as a result, the awards from such claims can be high. If the government takes over the case, the plaintiff may receive 15 percent of the settlement or award; if the plaintiff litigates the matter and obtains a settlement or judgment, the plaintiff may be entitled to as much as 30 percent of the damages.
Deterring future conduct is as important as obtaining compensation for a lost friend or family member. If your family member underwent unnecessary procedures or was victimized by defective products as a result of ongoing fraud against the federal government, it is likely that your family member was not the only victim. If nothing is done, your family member may not be the last. Seek legal counsel as soon as possible; consult a tort lawyer for a wrongful death claim and a whistleblower attorney to discuss the feasibility of pursuing a claim under the False Claims Act.
Valerie Stout Cyrus is a freelance writer who frequently researches claims of fraud against the government. She has found that the attorneys at the whistleblower law firm of Goldberg Kohn Ltd, at www.whistleblowersattorneys.com, are experienced in securing judgments against entities that commit fraud against the government.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/20692718@N00/4038317140/
A DUI conviction can have repercussions that go beyond the stigma of having a criminal record. For instance, a drunk driving charge can affect whether a person can continue on with school, get employment, make purchases that require loans like real estate and vehicles, and even rent an apartment. Another thing that a DUI can affect is the ability to adopt a child since quite a few investigating agencies use DUI convictions against parties desiring to adopt. Below are some steps that individuals may take in order to help their cause with adoption authorities.
First – Hire a DUI lawyer
If you are considering adopting a child and you have a DUI conviction, a DUI attorney can assist you with several key steps that may make you a more desirable candidate for adopting. Katz & Phillips, a law firm in Tampa, offers this about defense against DUIs, “…you really might have been perfectly fine to drive, but something went wrong during the arrest process to convince the authorities otherwise.” A critical defense such as this could be the key to getting a DUI conviction expunged from your criminal record. Your lawyer can assist with the following steps:
1. Gather court and Department of Motor Vehicles records to review exactly what anyone who is performing a basic background check will see.
2. Ask a DUI attorney if an appeal is possible on a conviction. While this may not entirely clear a record, it could still be beneficial.
3. Consider having a DUI conviction expunged from the criminal record. While it is no guarantee, this process can help other things besides adoptions, so it is worth the time and effort. Contrary to popular belief, DUI convictions do not automatically clear from a criminal record once seven years have passed. Unless it is expunged, the conviction will appear on most any criminal background check. However, keep in mind that felony DUI convictions are rarely expunged. Also, some states disallow expunging misdemeanors as well.
Ensure that the court record as well as the DMV record is cleared. Otherwise, there is a risk that it will still show up in a background check. Also, while the conviction may not appear on a background check, it may surface during the course of a more thorough investigation. Because adoption agencies operate under more stringent guidelines, they may have access to this information in the same way that a police department or the FBI would. This is because once a DUI is on a record, law enforcement can become aware of it even after expungement when they are checking for prior arrests and convictions.
4. Have the court record examined thoroughly as well as the DMV record to ensure that the conviction was actually expunged.
5. Arrange to complete a homestudy program with regard to the DUI. This will help convince an adoption agency that responsibility was taken for the situation to increase the possibility for a successful adoption.
6. Consult with an adoption lawyer and explain the entire situation so that he or she may recommend how best to proceed.
7. Try speaking with several adoption agencies about the situation. While some agencies require several years after a DUI before they will consider an application, others may have different guidelines to deal with the situation.
8. Consider Disclosing DUI Information because, in the end, if a DUI arrest is not disclosed and is later discovered, an adoption agency may have the right to deny the application automatically. However, if it is explained that the matter was expunged from the record, there could be a possibility that the agency will consider the adoption application.
Both DUI convictions and adoption are complex processes. Therefore, regardless of which avenue is pursued, it is best to first clear the DMV and court records as well as possible with the help of a DUI lawyer. Then concentrate on the adoption process with an expert family lawyer guiding you through the process.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/4886622275/
Effects Of Domestic Violence On Children – As Per Age Group:
Exposure to domestic violence has negative effects on children. To properly understand these effects, it is important to first understand the dynamics of domestic violence. Domestic violence is prevalent in all groups of people regardless of age, education, race, occupational, social-economical and religious factors.Characteristically, it involves a series of repetitive abuse, including psychological, physical, economical and emotional abuse. The perpetrator uses violence to gain control and power through the use of humiliation, intimidation, and fear.
Children get affected by domestic violence differently at various developmental stages. This is because as they grow and develop both mentally and physically, they learn new things at each age. Being a victim or witnessing domestic violence can interfere with the child’s normal growth and threatens their sense of security.
Studies indicate that children who have been exposed to domestic violence have a greater likelihood of experiencing various difficulties than their peers.
Studies indicate males exposed to domestic violence at a tender age are more likely to develop violent behavior; likewise, females are more likely to become victims.Effects Of Domestic Violence On Children – As Per Age Group:Unborn Child (Infants):
Infants and toddlers learn through play and exploration, how to form secure attachments. If exposed to violence at this age, they learn that the parents are not likely to constantly respond to their needs which hinder the development of a strong bond between the parent and the infant. Thus, the child becomes afraid to explore their world, which interferes with play and slows down their learning process.
The effects to Infants include:
1. Emotional Effects: Hyper-excitability; Anxiety Tension and stress; Helplessness; Terrorized and Traumatized.
1. Emotional Effects: Traumatized, jumpy, nervous, hyper-alert, anxious, stressed, and fearful; Emotional deprivation; and Strong need for safety.
3. Behavioral Effects: Colicky, excessive crying; Injuries and bruises; Chronic constipation; Eating problems; Sleep disturbances; Malnutrition; Digestive problems; Allergies/skin rashesPreschoolers (One To Five Years):Children at this age bracket have started learning how to express most of their emotions, including those of anger and aggression. Thus, children at this age living in situation where there is domestic violence can learn detrimental ways of expressing anger and frustration. Moreover they get confused with the mixed messages their parents are sending them; for instance, they are punished for talking rudely while their parents talk rudely to each other.
The effects to Preschoolers include:
1. Emotional Effects: Fearfulness; easily frustrated; anxiety; fearful of abuser; feels split between parents; hesitant and uncertain; low self-esteem, and feels powerless to protect self.
The children have a better sense of their own emotions and can also recognize the emotions of others. They are more conscious of their own actions and reactions towards violence inflicted to them and may worry about their father being jailed or their mother being harmed. This distracts the child development process which at this age revolves around social and academic success. They become distracted hindering their ability to learn in school. Moreover, they develop poor social skills and tend to pay more attention to negative responses from their teachers and peers and miss hearing positive responses leading to low self esteem. At this age group, the children begin to have multifaceted thoughts about what is right and wrong. Thus, they are more susceptible to learning and accepting biased, incorrect explanations to support violence.The effects to School-Age Children include:1. Emotional Effects: Cries easily or frequently; lack of trust; lack of normal feelings; feelings of despair; helplessness or hopelessness, lack of empathy or concern for others; and anger towards the parents, especially the mother.
3. Behavioral Effects: Violence towards abuser; Destroys property; Tries to be in control; Violent acting out behavior; Perfectionism; Running away; Lack of boundaries and limitsAdolescents (Teenagers):These children are fully aware of what is right or wrong but have the need to have a sense of belonging. They experience similar problem that the school-age children undergo but at a higher level. They are characterized by secretive and guarded behavior about the situation at home and are also embarrassed of their family members. Thus, they do not invite friends over and are likely to spend most of their free time away from home. Aggression and Denial are the major ways of solving problems.
The effects to Adolescents Boys include:
1. Emotional Effects: Feelings of guilt and powerlessness; withdraws and shuts down; embarrassment and Shame; Needs to control; and Lack of friends.
1. Emotional Effects: Distrustful of others or have trust issues; blames or hates mother; needy – wants to be taken care of and protected; restlessness and feelings of tension; Feels hopeless or helpless; Confused about role models; self-blame and feels guilt about abuse; manic-depressive and “Numbs out” emotionally.
Cally Greene is an online consultant for domestic violence lawyer at JoeyGilbertLaw. She likes blogging about Legal issues,Business law,Family Law and other Legal advice.
You can contact her via Twitter.
When most people think of divorce, they envision scenes from War of the Roses or Kramer vs. Kramer. Yet more people in Tampa Bay are learning that there is another way, collaborative divorce, which is just a sensible method to resolve private family disputes. However, just as mediation was characterized in the 1980’s and 1990’s as a rich person’s option, many people think that the collaborative process is only for the very wealthy. Not only attorneys, but also a collaborative facilitator and financial professional are retained, so only the very rich can afford the collaborative model, right?
A four year study conducted by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals found that 87% of female participants and 47% of male participants of collaborative family law cases had an annual income of less than $100,000.
Though the collaborative process may not be the cheapest in all cases, it has a substantial opportunity to save you money as compared to the courtroom battles we have all come to associate with divorce.
First, child issues, such as custody schedules and decision-making authority, are some of the most emotional and costliest issues in family law matters. Lawyers in courtroom cases tend to prepare interrogatories (questions) to be answered under penalty of perjury, set depositions, conduct opposition research to put the other spouse in the worst possible light, and prepare for trial. Attorneys’ invoices pile up along each stage of this process. Alternatively, these fees and costs can be greatly reduced in the collaborative process where facilitators, who usually are licensed mental health professionals, can cut through the clutter of emotionally-charged issues and bring the clients (and lawyers) to focus on the future and best interests of the children.
Similarly, a financial professional (who is usually either an accountant or financial planner) adds cost-saving value to the process. In litigated cases, lawyers prepare “requests for production of documents and things” that demand reams of financial documents which could conceivably be relevant. Searching for those documents cost clients tremendous time and money while, when received, the requesting attorney will spend countless billable hours meticulously combing through the documents. In the collaborative process, on the other hand, the financial professional will only request documents that are necessary to make an informed settlement option. His or her expertise in finances enables the financial professional to review and assess the documents and develop settlement options more quickly (and often times at a lower rate) than attorneys.
Finally, the dirty little secret in family law is that the vast majority of litigation cases eventually settle. However, because having a judge decide on the parties’ personal matters always remains a threat, in traditional courtroom divorce the attorneys will always work on two tracks: (i) attempt to settle the case while (ii) conducting opposition research and preparing for the courtroom battle in case the parties cannot come to an agreement. In the collaborative process, attorneys are retained solely for the purpose of settlement and are contractually barred from taking disputes to be decided in court, and so they are not racking up those billable hours planning to fight it out in court.
Now, back to the question, is collaborative divorce only for the wealthy? Absolutely not, and I would be happy to speak with you and talk more about how the process can help your family.
If you have questions regarding how a Tampa Bay collaborative divorce process can help you, schedule a consultation with attorney Adam B. Cordover at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.
Adam B. Cordover is Vice President of the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay and is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. Adam spearheaded the taskforce that drafted the Hillsborough County collaborative family practice administrative order signed by Chief Judge Manuel Menendez.
Divorce and other family issues can get very frustrating and messy. Whether you are going through an uncontested or contested divorce, some matters will arise that will need an expert to resolve them. Some couples may consider representing themselves during the divorce proceedings, but the presence and services of a family lawyer can significantly reduce the stress and problems that might occur during the procedure.
Family lawyers can not only represent you in the court but also provide legal assistance and advice to both parties in order to settle divorce issues. Simply put, the services of a family lawyer can help ensure that all decisions pertaining to the divorce are made properly and with the acceptance of both parties. Here are some ways in which family lawyers help:
Providing legal advice on annulments and divorce
A family lawyer can offer legal advice and explanations of the circumstances under which a couple may seek divorce after a separation. Some states have laws that require for the filing of annulment under certain situations and within a certain period of time after the marriage, and a family lawyer’s advice and services are needed to understand and follow these laws.
Making all the courthouse presentations and filings
There are various laws at federal, state, and municipal levels regarding divorce proceedings and filings, and a family lawyer can ensure that the necessary pleadings and documents are filed properly. They can also represent you in court and put in favorable light through beneficial evidence and testimony, as well as prevent your spouse from presenting irrelevant, false, or misleading information.
Assistance during property division proceedings
It helps to maintain separate debts and accounts as some amount of protection during a divorce, but it is not enough. There are several federal and state laws that define marital property and the separation of this property, and your family lawyer can not only explain these laws but also tell you how it applies to your particular situation.
Helping through child custody and visitation proceedings
Child custody and visitation issues are determined by the various laws and procedures in various states, and family lawyers can explain the procedure in your state, what the laws are, and what your parenting rights are after entering a court order.
Guiding you through child support issues
Once again, the rules and procedures for determining the child support obligations of the non-custodial parent can vary with each state. Your family lawyer can advise about the procedure in your state and the calculations used to determine child support obligations. He or she can also explain the additions and deductions that can be expected to your child support obligation.
About the author: Guest post from a family law blogger – find services of a family lawyer here
Law Commission was backed by the Resolution on need for reform to avoid postcode lottery saying that the current laws on matrimonial property was not sustainable policy choice and the rules should be reformed on a principled basis.
The Family Law Bar Association yesterday questioned Law Commission’s plans to introduce a “clear, principled basis” for sorting out disputes, warning that they could make settlements harder to achieve.
Responding to the commission’s consultation on matrimonial property, Resolution said it shared concerns of the commission about the lack of an ‘objectives clause’ in section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
The family lawyers group said there were currently “wide differences of approach” in the way courts across the country dealt with disputes, resulting in a “postcode lottery” on orders for periodical payments raising difficulties in advising some clients, but also the issue of forum shopping.
An expert practitioner would have the knowledge of whether a particular court would transfer a matter back to the home court and the possibility of a different type of order likely to be made against the home courts orders.
Resolution said that unreliable evidence meant that clients were more likely to get a joint lives order if the matter was heard at the Principal Registry of the Family Division in London rather than a less generous order if issued in Birmingham.
The family lawyers group stressed that litigants in person were unlikely to make a starting point for the payment of spousal support from section 25 of the MCA in principle or guidance. The group said that principled reform should take the place of a “reformed discretionary approach” rather than a formulaic calculation.
It favoured “non-absolute limits” on the extent of financial support for former spouses, both on the percentage of net income one should pay the other and the length of time the payments should last.
The group illustrated that the limits should not cause hardship to wives over 55 years of age who have not worked during the marriage. It also said that there was merit in reform to prompt the courts to fully and properly consider the exercise of their powers. The courts normally ignore question of any increase in earning capacity which should be reasonable for a party to expect to take steps to acquire.
Resolution said courts should be under a stronger obligation than that contained in section 25(a) of the MCA to decide whether it would be possible for support to be terminated, but the hardship rule should be retained. A term order could encourage increasing income and earning capacity and recognise the vanishing of the historic gender imbalance in earning capacity.
Resolution added that there could be guidance warning clients not expect to get ‘half’ of the other party’s income, “to provide more certainty, soften the unrealistic expectations of some claimants and avoid discouragement to payers making them seeking to reach agreements on their own or in mediation.
Guest post from family lawyers based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Almost three-quarters of adults agree that kinship carers – grandparents and other family members who are bringing up a child because their parents cannot look after them – should receive similar support to foster carers, says a new nationwide poll.
Boost for kinship carers
The YouGov survey has been welcomed by charities Grandparents Plus, the Family and Parenting Institute and Family Lives, as a massive boost for the estimated 200,000 kinship carers in the UK.
It reveals that:
- 76% of those surveyed agree or strongly agree that kinship carers should receive practical help from the local authority;
- 67% agree or strongly agree that kinship carers should receive a financial allowance;
- 78% agree or strongly agree that kinship carers should receive a financial allowance if they are on a low income; and
- 60% agree or agree strongly that kinship carers should be entitled to a period of paid leave from work.
Wider family networks
The charities commissioned the poll in the wake of new welfare reform proposals, which they fear could impact on families who have taken on additional caring responsibilities.
“The poll findings demonstrate clear public support for a diversity of family forms in the UK and the importance of drawing on wider family networks in times of strain. Even in austere times, there is public support for valuing the enormous contribution that kinship carers make in bringing up vulnerable children,” said Katherine Rake, chief executive of the Family and Parenting Institute.
The positive poll ratings have been followed by more good news for kinship carers, in the form of the announcement earlier this month that the Government will extend the right to request flexible working to all.
A report by Grandparents Plus last year found that 47% of kinship carers give up work when they take on the care of a child. Forty-one percent are then dependent on welfare benefits, while 60,000 have dropped out of the labour market entirely.
Flexible leave entitlements
Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of Grandparents Plus, welcomed the move.
“This is something that we have been calling for for some time,” she said. “Grandparents who are trying to juggle work and caring for their grandchildren are one of the key groups who will benefit. One in four working mums rely on them for childcare.”
“The next step is to make it possible for parents to transfer unused periods of parental leave to grandparents, if that’s what families want to do,” she argued. “And to create leave entitlements for those grandparents and other family members who step into the parenting role, keeping children out of care.”
Contact Family Law Solicitors
For specialist advice, contact FLE, family lawyers based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The family court judges across England have raised concern over lack of security from being attacked by angry or disturbed parents as often the security provided at the courts were dangerously inadequate.
Though judges have raised such concerns it is very rare for them to be openly critical about the security at the principal registry of the family division in central London and also at district courts around the country.
The concerns have been rising stemmed from the fact that in an incident a female judge was seriously injured in an attack and instances when parents shouted threats at them as well as throwing books and cups.
Speaking to Guardian on anonymity a judge had said that an angry father stood up and shouted anti-semitic threats at him. Another father had thrown a cup of water across the courtroom and another had thrown a book but fortunately the judge was far away from its reach.
Another judge said that he was constantly exposed while working as there was no security in the courtroom and sometimes he was alone with a parent. Generally they sit with a clerk who is mostly an elderly woman and vulnerable herself to make any defence in case of an attack.
He added how they were exposed while moving in corridors between the courtrooms, entering and leaving the building, going to toilets when they are to pass through a public area.
A third judge who has worked in the PRFD and courts across London said most district judges, even those doing highly charged family law cases, do not have courtrooms at all but hear the cases in their chambers with the public sitting around the table, and they don’t have anyone in the court room at all.
Judges said county courts often do not have a courtroom and a retiring room for district judges. This forces them to hear cases in their chambers, with those involved often sitting uncomfortably close, while the lack of a retiring room means judges have nowhere to go to go if it became necessary to escape an aggressive parent.
If anything happens only way of escape is through an adjoining door between the judges’ couirt and that of the other district judge said a family judge in London.
District judge Nicholas Crichton, founder of the family drug and alcohol court at Wells Street family proceedings court in central London, who was given a CBE in this year’s Queen’s birthday honours list, said it was a “recipe for flashpoint” to compel judges to walk through public areas and share corridors. Crichton said it was unfair to put anxious parents under the added stress of close proximity with the judge ruling on their case.
It was a hot spot where emotions run high with parents coming to court feeling criticised about their treatment to their children and possibility of their children being removed from them.
A spokesperson from her majesty’s courts and tribunal’s service said HMCTS took the security issue of judges within courts extremely seriously. And the security system was continually monitored to ensure that it was effective and proportionate and mitigates against risks faced.
Guest post regarding finance and inheritance from family lawyers.
Financial conversations are important, but not easy. New research reveals not only the peace of mind created when parents and children discuss inheritance, care needs and retirement planning, but also the struggle to have the conversation in the first place.
According to an Intra- Family Generational Finance Study from Fidelity Investments, the fault lies on both sides. It reveals that while more than nine in 10 (94%) US adult children and their parents agree it is important to have frank conversations about wills and estate planning, care needs or covering retirement expenses, there are significant barriers to even starting these discussions within families.
Why people don’t talk
The top barrier, noted by 30% of parents, is they don’t want their adult children to overly rely on a potential inheritance. And for adult children, 40% say that the top barrier is that they feel it is none of their business to ask their parents about these topics.
The timing of these discussions is also a barrier, reveals the study. In fact, only one in three (34%) parents and their children agree on the best time. Parents are more likely to cite when they near or enter retirement (37%) as the right time, while children indicate that they’d like to have a conversation before their parents retire or have health issues (37%).
Highlighting a vast disconnect between parents and children, the study reveals that 97% of parents and children disagree on whether a child will take care of his or her parents if they become ill.
Major miscommunication also exists when discussing inheritance and estate planning. In fact, children are underestimating the value of their parent’s estate by more than $100,000, on average. Additionally, neither side is effectively communicating about retirement readiness. As a result, one-quarter (24%) of children believe they will have to help their parents financially in retirement, while nearly all (97%) of parents say they will not need help.
The impact of the disconnect
The lack of discussion is having a big impact on families, according to Kathleen A. Murphy, president of Personal Investing at Fidelity Investments.
“Given the economic pressures facing families today, it’s troubling that detailed conversations are not happening, especially among those in the sandwich generation who may be grappling with competing financial priorities ranging from planning for their own retirement and paying for a child’s college education to dealing with eldercare, estate planning and retirement challenges with their parents,” she said.
“Whether it’s a parent facing a shortfall in retirement income or an adult child weighing the tax implications of an inheritance, too often discussing these issues is considered taboo within families, but real emotional and financial consequences emerge when such conversations don’t happen or lack sufficient depth,” she warned.
Benefits of talking about the future
According to Fidelity, conversations about estate planning have an overwhelmingly positive impact. The study found that the peace of mind of parents jumps from 61% to 91% when comparing those parents who have not had detailed conversations with their adult children versus those who have.
On top of this, parents who have had detailed conversations with their adult children feel significantly more at ease about their children’s financial future – 68% compared to only 30% among those who have not had detailed conversations.
This guest post is courtesy of Gibson Kerr Family Law Solicitors in Edinburgh: http://www.gibsonkerr.co.uk/. Contact Fiona Rasmusen and their other solicitors for expert family law and estate planning advice.
(US family law procedure and generally) When a relationship ends, whether it is a marriage or two people living together, the emotional and financial toll it takes on the parties can be overwhelming. The impact of a break up is multiplied when the couple is embroiled in a dispute over custody of their children.
People fail to realize that a judge hearing a child custody case does not know either of the parties or the circumstances that brought them to court. A judge’s decision in a case is based only on the evidence presented by each side in the dispute; therefore, it is essential that you be prepared to provide your lawyer with the information, witnesses and documents she needs to prove that you are entitled to have custody of your children.
Do Not Involve the Children
If the children are living with you, do not bring them to court unless your attorney or the judge instructs you to do so. A child custody case is a dispute between the parents that affects the children. The children should not be made parties to the dispute.
Parents who speak negatively to their children about the other parent in an effort to win the children to their side are only hurting themselves. Judges hearing a custody case will usually speak to the children privately at some point in the proceedings. One reason for the interview is to determine if either of the parents has attempted influence the children.
Maintain a Diary
Your lawyer needs an accurate account of the facts and circumstances in the relationship both you and your partner had with the children. You should prepare a diary for your lawyer of current and prior incidents that have a bearing on the question of custody or the relationships you and your spouse have with the children.
Each diary entry should begin with the date, location and names of people who were present. After this preliminary information, there should be a brief, factual description of what occurred including statements that were made. Keep the description as accurate as possible and limit it to occurrences having to do with the issue of custody.
Witnesses who have information that bears upon your relationship with your child are more important than testimony from your high school classmate saying you were a wonderful person when she last saw you 15 years ago. The following are examples of useful witnesses in a custody case:
• Counselors who have treated you or your child
• Your child’s teachers
• Guidance counselors at your child’s school
• Friends and neighbors who have witnessed your interaction with your child
• Doctors and other health care workers
Documents and Other Evidence
Documents such as letters and photographs that are related to the issue of custody should be gathered and shown to your attorney. Keep in mind that not every piece of evidence can or should be used be used in court, so do not get upset if your attorney decides not to use something you believe the judge should see or hear. For instance, you may have a tape recording of a conversation you secretly recorded between your spouse and the children that your attorney refuses to use in court. Your attorney will probably advise you that such secret recordings are illegal in most states.
Listen to Your Lawyer
A family law attorney knows the custody laws in your state and the rules for the admissibility of evidence in child custody cases. Following your attorney’s instructions and advice is the best way to achieve a successful result.
Karen White knows how stressful custody trials can be. Seeking help from a Dallas family lawyer can bring good results to your divorce and custody trial cases.
The collection of outstanding child maintenance payments is still a major problem for families, with more single parents struggling to obtain the necessary support for their children from absentee parents.
Child maintenance arrears
According to recent figures from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), outstanding child maintenance arrears have increased from £3.802 billion in June 2012 to £3.814 billion in September 20121.
The figures also show that:
- In the quarter to September 2012, the CSA collected or arranged £305.6 million in child maintenance (regular and arrears), of which £28.1 million was arrears.
- In the year to September 2012, the CSA collected or arranged £1,204.5 million in child maintenance (regular and arrears), of which £113.2 million was arrears.
The Child Support Agency
The DWP took over responsibility for the work of the Child Support Agency (CSA) on 1st August 2012. Before this, the CSA was managed by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.
As well as changing the child maintenance organisational structure, the Government is also proposing a number of controversial changes to its operation, designed to encourage parents to make their own maintenance arrangements without resorting to a statutory collection scheme.
This new Child Maintenance Service will handle cases where parents cannot make their own arrangements – but it will charge for the service.
As well as a £20 application fee, the parent paying maintenance will pay an additional collection fee of 20% on top of each assessed payment. The parent receiving maintenance will have 7% deducted from each assessed payment.
These proposals have attracted a great deal of criticism, with single parent charity Gingerbread claiming that they will penalise thousands of families who have no choice but to use the statutory scheme.
Current child maintenance figures
The latest figures from DWP regarding child maintenance also show that, in the quarter ending September 2012:
- the CSA live and assessed caseload stood at 1.11 million,
- 80% of all cases in which maintenance was due had either received maintenance via the CSA collection service, or had a maintenance direct arrangement in place,
- maintenance had been collected or arranged by the CSA via the statutory maintenance service on behalf of 899,400 children,
- At the end of September 2012, the average maintenance calculation was £23.60 per week (including zero calculations).
About the author
Guest post courtesy of Austin Lafferty, family law solicitors in Glasgow, East Kilbride & Hamilton in Scotland offering expert legal advice to people and businesses. They have particular expertise with adoption and child cases. Contact Austin Lafferty for free initial advice.
Family lawyers have warned that the Euro crisis has had tumbling effect on property values across the EU leading to holiday homes becoming into a toxic legacy for couples who are in the midst of divorce.
Number of cases that are currently on the pipeline centre around the question of which partner would be taking on the villa in Spain, Greece or Italy rather than who would not.
One family lawyer described the task of dividing the assets between warring couples who own a holiday home as like a game of pass the bomb.
Case notes in one separation being negotiated currently include discussions about how to deal with a ‘dead duck’ villa in Spain which has lost its value but still has a hefty mortgage to service and little prospect of being sold.
Another case has a couple who are wrangling over what to do with a house in Cyprus which was now worth £53,000 less than its original value, and after calculating currency exchange issues and steep local taxes to transfer ownership.
In other cases, the added complexity of disposing of a property abroad has become a weapon used by one side or the other in already acrimonious splits.
One British divorcee is being forced to go through a lengthy legal challenge in France to recover proceeds from the sale of their former home, awarded to her by an English court but being withheld by her ex-husband.
A partner of family law solicitors firm said that fighting over overseas houses had become one of the biggest headaches in divorce proceedings in the last year.
The firm estimates that at least one in six of its cases involve the division of domestic and foreign property.
When everything is going well in a family it feels really great to own a property abroad but as soon as the relationship becomes rocky the same assets become a disaster the lawyer said.
The lawyer said that she always encouraged her clients to get rid of property abroad or let the other side have it because they are more trouble than they are worth. They become millstone around the neck of a divorcing partner’s neck.
She added that the majority of people who’ve got these second homes in places like France and Spain, were not the super-rich they but just normal middle class families who could managed to purchase a holiday home.
Another partner of the firm added that some divorcees who received Continental homes before the financial crisis have attempted to “unpick” the terms of their settlements in light of the crisis but were rebuffed by the courts.
Guest post from family lawyers and psychological strategists, GE Law http://www.gelaw.co.uk/
Families headed by married couples will be in a minority by 2050, according to a new report from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ). The report also finds that marriage is increasingly the preserve of the middle and upper classes.
According to the independent think tank, only about 50% of new parents on low income are married. This rises to nearly 80% for couples on £21,000 to £31,000 a year and to nearly 90% for those earning over £50,000 a year.
The report concedes that there have been some “promising” moves by Ministers to promote family stability, such as the publication of their Social Justice Strategy and the release of public money to provide relationship support. But overall the CSJ is deeply dismayed by the lack of progress since the Coalition was formed in 2010, warning that official efforts to promote stable families are “dwarfed by the scale and cost of family breakdown”.
The CSJ study draws on new data from the 2011 census and the Millennium Cohort Study to chart the decline of the married family.
The proportion of families headed by a married couple has dropped by 5% over the last decade while there has been a % rise in cohabiting couple families and a 2% rise in lone parent families.
The rise in cohabitation is actually fuelling lone parenthood because cohabiting couples with children are far less stable than those who are married, says the CSJ.
The report calculates that on current trends, by 2031 only 57% of families will be headed by married couples. By 2047, 35 years from now, families headed by a married couple would be a minority – 49.5% of all families.
If you are in need of some legal assistance for a divorce, child custody or even an adoption issue, you will need to retain the help of a family lawyers. To ensure that you are making the right decision and are choosing a lawyer who will be able to help you out of whatever sticky situation you have found yourself in, you will need to put them through an evaluation process that should give you all the answers you need.
Step 1: Begin by asking around for referrals. If you know anyone who has gone through a legal battle similar to the one you are about to embark on, ask who they used to represent them. Lawyers that receive several recommendations are generally a good bet.
Step 2: Arrange a meeting with each family lawyer that you are interested in hiring. Make sure that, when you arrive at the meeting, you have prepared a list of questions that you wish to ask. These questions should surround their experience, how many cases they’re working on at the moment, which courts they generally practice at, and so on.
Step 3: If you are satisfied with your initial meeting, you should call your state bar association to enquire as to whether there have been any complaints filed against the lawyer. The bar association should also be able to tell you whether the lawyer has been sanctioned.
Many people also like to use the initial meeting with their family lawyers to evaluate their personality and demeanor. Whilst this is not an imperative part of your decision regarding legal representation, it can give you a good idea of what kind of person you are dealing with. Remember that a good relationship increases your chances of a more favourable outcome.
One of the reasons that divorce law is so complex is that very often the rules are a matter of fine interpretation. Deciding what is the best case for a child as young as two or three can come down to a few difficult paragraphs of wording or just a better argued case.
Sometimes, however, the law is perfectly clear cut and in an attempt to simplify divorce legislation, the government has recently put through an amendment which will ‘enshrine’ the rights of both parents to have access to a child. In essence, what was once a complex and subtle issue is to be made explicit and the law will serve the rights of both parents in most circumstances. So do these changes make sense? Has the government made the right move?
Though at all times divorce solicitors will attempt to set out the proper, just way of dealing with an issue, this amendment will undoubtedly benefit fathers seeking access rights. In just under 10% of divorce cases children reside ‘mainly’ with their father and this legislation seeks to correct this bias.
Of course, this should not overrule what is in the child’s immediate interest if, say, a father or mother is violent or unfit for the role, but it does give genuinely willing fathers a leg-up.
Admin over Justice
Plenty of family law solicitors have expressed their discontent with the changes and they claim that the new legislation is simply not required – in calculating the interests of the child, courts already take into account the benefits of having influence from both parents.
When parents are given rights to access, disputes start arising over whether the right to access should be equal or properly apportioned. Undoubtedly, this will put a good deal of extra strain on courts for what will be more or less the same end result.
The Paramountcy Principle
After all is said and done, what realistically and legally matters is the interest of the child – this is the paramountcy principle. Though there are many cases in which both mothers and fathers fall unfortunately the wrong side of the legislation, family law experts do understand and appreciate the benefit of enabling joint access wherever possible. Though these changes might redress the balance between those living with dad and those living with mum, the statistics really aren’t the point – what matters is the child’s well-being and at the moment, judges do all they can to ensure fair access to children.
Though we’ll have to wait and see what the real effects of these changes will be, it’s likely that they will be pretty unpopular throughout the justice system and, as happened in Australia, we might well see a reversal of the law in the future.
Clough & Willis – Manchester based divorce solicitors . Contact 0800 083 0815 for specialist advice & information about divorce law, divorce settlements & child custody.
If you’re facing a divorce and you legally share a child or children with your spouse, you may already be dealing with a variety of legal issues. Many times, the process of divorce brings along with it questions regarding property division, financial responsibility and future asset obligations; however, one of the most important and difficult issues to deal with is that of child custody after a marriage has been dissolved. Before you begin the process of divorce with children involved, here are some factors to consider:
1.) Financial Means
2.) Personal Responsibility
Along with your financial means, you should also consider the personal and social obligations that come along with child custody arrangements and parenting. Are you working late into the night each workday? Is your spouse able to offer adequate family time for your child? You may want to write out a schedule of your typical week in order to get a good, overall picture of exactly how much time you and your spouse will be able to devote to your parenting obligations. This can be done using a chart or a software program, and it may help you and your spouse to determine exactly how much custody each parent can handle versus how much each parent may be willing to give up.
3.) Family Life
While it goes without saying, being a parent means being able to raise a child in a mature, loving household. Unfortunately, you may be seeking a divorce because their spouse is not able to provide a warm, loving household, or they may have trouble with anger, drinking, drugs or other potential hazards. In some cases, abuse and neglect may even be taking place, and if these are the reasons for your divorce or custody concerns, then you need to factor in your spouse’s actions and attitudes when seeking custody arrangements. If needed, you may find yourself involving an attorney, the Department of Social Services and law enforcement agencies in making your custody decisions and arrangements.
4.) Seek Out an Attorney
If you find that you are having a difficult time deciding upon child custody arrangements, then you will want to seek out the best divorce attorney for you. A divorce lawyer can assist you with all facets of child custody, including the percentage of custody you should be seeking, visitation arrangements and more. Consult the best divorce attorney for you and your location, such as an Orlando divorce lawyer if you live in the greater Orlando area; a local attorney will be aware of any specific jurisdictional procedures.
When you work with a divorce attorney, you can also receive expert advice regarding child support payments, alimony payments and visitation rights during shared custody. Additionally, can represent you in court during your divorce proceedings, allowing you to concentrate on taking care of your child or children. To find such attorneys, you may want to use the Internet, or you can search through your local phonebook.
Molly Henshaw is a freelance writer living in the DC metro area. She is also a contributing author for the divorce team of Katz & Phillips. Consulting a third party professional is essential when dealing with the divorce process!
(US family law and general legal info) Child support laws are in place to ensure that adequate financial aid is given to the children from their parents, who are not staying with their children. Usually, child support is associated with divorce or separation, wherein both the parents are not raising their child together. Thus, a financial aid is generally paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to meet the financial requirements for care and support to the child. Child support amount can include expenses such as food, clothing, medical care, health insurance, education, housing, and other special needs of the child.
A child support lawyer is a specialist lawyer, who has studied family laws and gained legal experience in handling cases related to divorce and child support. If you are facing a separation or divorce case with children, you may need help of an experienced family lawyer.
Benefits of Hiring a Child Support Lawyer
Representing your divorce case may or may not be simple. If the decision is not mutual, it is likely to be emotionally distressing. You may not be able to represent your divorce case on your own. Thus, appointing a lawyer for the same is a wise option. One more reason to appoint an attorney to handle your divorce and child support case is that the divorce laws are complicated, and those related to child support are complex too. In addition to being complex, child support laws are different in every state of the United States.
A lawyer experienced in child support cases can be abreast with all the updates and has expertise in calculating the child support amounts. In case, there is any difference in the calculated figure and the amount announced by the court, your lawyer can protest the same. Your lawyer can also educate about other factors involved in child support such as how to make the payments, whether or not the child support can be recalculated, and when does the child support will stop etc.
Responsibilities and Duties
Job as a child support lawyer entails performing various tasks right from evaluating your case, advising you, conducting counsellings with you and your spouse for possible ways to handle the case.
Child support cases are filed with Department of Child Support Services. A lawyer has to oversee all the cases related to child support with the department. He has to be involved in advising department staff. He advices parents related to legal issues, and who are involved in support actions and paternity.
He prepares for the pleadings, hearings, motions and conducts discovery required for the case trail, and other legal proceedings. Creates and maintains accurate case records. He is also involved in negotiating settlements with your spouse.
A child support lawyer similar to other types of lawyers, focuses on one arena of the legal system representing child support. Such cases are associated with divorce and separation cases. These lawyers obtain a Juris Doctorate degree and should be active member of the state bar association. A child support lawyer will explain to you your rights related to visitation and the extent to which you can be held liable for child support, depending upon your monthly income and other relative factors.
This Guest post is written by Lords Screw. He is a writer for Typeoflawyer.com
Vardags Solicitors are a Top Divorce Lawyer based in Central London that specialise in complex and substantial cases
The Court of Appeal decision of Imerman v Tchenguiz  2 FLR 814 confirmed various principles, including but not limited to the following, in summary:
- The need to ensure full and frank disclosure in family law proceedings does not allow a party, or another person on their behalf, to breach the other party’s right to confidentiality of their documents / information. Likewise, the process of disclosure does not entitle a person to breach the law (for instance, committing theft, or hacking into a person’s computer in order to obtain their confidential documents).
- It is an actionable breach of confidence for a party, without authority, to review confidential documents belonging to another person. This is also the case where the party makes and retains copies of the confidential documents, or provides copies of those documents to a third party, or seeks to use the information contained in the confidential documents.
- In principle, spouses enjoy rights of confidence as against the other in respect of documents and information which would otherwise be confidential if they were not married.
- Confidence may be lost in respect of documents that are left out in the open in the matrimonial home (for instance, on the “shared desk”).
- For the reasons outlined above, “self-help” disclosure is not acceptable. Where a party has concerns that the other party intends to conceal or dispose of assets, or destroy or conceal evidence, then there are remedies available to that party in the form of search and seize, freezing, preservation, and other similar orders.
If a party does have possession of confidential documents, they must promptly return those documents to the other party and destroy any copies they have made. If the party is represented by solicitors, those solicitors must not look at the documents nor retain copies (or else they may be required to cease acting for their client). In default of compliance, the aggrieved party will be able to seek appropriate injunctive relief with possible costs and other consequences.
However, there are corresponding obligations in respect of the owner of the confidential documents. The breach of confidence does not override the obligation to make full and frank disclosure of all relevant documents within the family law proceedings. If the owner of the confidential documents is represented by solicitors, those solicitors are obliged to take reasonable steps to consider and advise on the documents, with a view to ensuring that their client complies with their obligations of disclosure. If the owner of the documents ceases to instruct their solicitors, then those solicitors are obliged to retain copies of the documents unless otherwise agreed or ordered. These obligations are designed to ensure the preservation of the confidential documents, with a view to a party complying with their obligations of disclosure or alternatively the other party seeking the production of the documents by way of an application to the Court.
Clearly a great deal hinges upon the solicitors for each party doing the “right” thing and following the correct protocol. Is it therefore appropriate to rely on the integrity of the solicitors who are obliged to retain the Imerman documents?
Unless there is significant and persuasive evidence to suggest otherwise, it must be assumed that the relevant solicitors will comply with their obligations to retain copies of the documents and advise their clients to make any relevant disclosure. Solicitors are under strict professional and ethical obligations, and their duties to the Court extend beyond even their duties to their client.
This, however, may be of little comfort to the party who came across the confidential documents, particularly where the matter is fiercely contested as can often be the case in family law cases and associated litigation.
An alternative approach going forward might be to require that Imerman documents be lodged with independent third party solicitors. This may provide the party returning the confidential documents with some peace of mind and ensure that the issue is dealt with, at least at first instance, by solicitors entirely independent of the parties and removed from the adversarial process.
However, one can also perceive some possible difficulties with this approach. For instance, to what extent would the third party solicitor be involved in the process of reviewing, considering and advising on the relevance of the documents? It may be that they are simply required to prepare a list of the confidential documents, but this in turn gives rise to further questions regarding the subsequent disclosure of that list and the appropriate procedure going forward. Finally, the use of independent third party solicitors is likely to increase the costs of the case by some degree (which could be significant depending on the extent of their role) and will be even more problematic when the parties are self-represented or on legal aid.
An alternative to the use of independent third party solicitors might be for the confidential documents to be lodged with and considered by a Judge, who can then make appropriate directions. This idea is also problematic for various reasons, not least because wide-spread use of such an approach might inundate the Court system with significant numbers of applications in respect of documents with little or no relevance to the case.
There is little doubt that the issue of Imerman documents and related procedure is and will continue to be fraught with difficulty – and many agree that greater direction and clarity is required to enable parties and practitioners alike to navigate this challenging legal obstacle course with greater confidence.
To find out more about Vardags Solicitors, visit their website.
The result of a divorce or separation is that two households will often have to exist on the same amount of money as one did previously. This is unfortunately made worse by the costs that will flow from your divorce. There are three main ways in which you can reduce on your legal costs in this procedure.
The first method would be to attempt to carry out the divorce informally, known as informal separation. If you and your partner are married, you can separate by such an informal arrangement. If you and your partner agree, you can also make arrangements about children, money, housing and other property without going to court. However, any informal arrangement made when you separate may affect future decisions if you do ever go to court. You should be aware that a court may change an arrangement you and your spouse made if it considers it to be unreasonable or, in the case of a child, not in their best interests.
Another method that can be employed to reduce legal costs is through what is known as a separation agreement. This is a written agreement between you and your spouse when you intend to stop living together. It sets out how you wish to sort out financial arrangements, property, and arrangements for the children. It is advisable to consult a divorce lawyer when drawing up a separation agreement, but you should work out in advance the general areas you want to cover. This will help to reduce your legal costs.
A final method that may be used in such circumstances would be for you to utilize the services of Legal Help. Legal Help allows people with a low income to get free legal advice and help from a specialist divorce solicitor or an experienced legal adviser. The solicitor or adviser must have a contract with the Legal Services Commission (LSC) to be able to provide Legal Help. You should be aware that in such cases the divorce solicitor will only be able to help you with legal advice and not with the drafting or endorsement of any legal documents.