September 29, 2011

Melissa Etheridge Custody Battle

Posted in Celebrity Child Support, Custody tagged at 2:02 pm by demetriagraves

Singer Melissa Etheridge and her ex-partner, Tammy Lynn Michaels, are currently battling over custody of their twins, division of property, visitation rights plus child and spousal support. The Grammy-winning Etheridge, 50, and Michaels, 36, were together nine years before their breakup last year. Michaels gave birth to the couple’s four-year-old twins, son Miller and daughter Rose, using an anonymous sperm donor. Among other disputes, Etheridge is reportedly claiming that the couple’s marriage vows in 2003 were non-binding and that they were never married.
In separate filings to end their California domestic partnership, each claim “irreconcilable differences.” Etheridge is asking the court for joint custody of the couple’s twins. Michaels,  says she wants full custody of the children with visitation rights for Etheridge.
Michaels has previously claimed that Etheridge left her and their children penniless, allegations Etheridge has denied.
Michaels, said on her blog that she gave up an acting career in 2001 to care for the children. She has filed for a dissolution of marriage, rather than domestic partnership, believing she is more likely to prevail in her claim for spousal supports if the court views their relationship as a marriage.

September 8, 2011

Why You Should Choose A Family Law Attorney

Posted in Custody, Family Law tagged , at 10:51 pm by demetriagraves

Choosing an attorney to represent you in a child custody dispute can be overwhelming. A simple internet search can produce hundreds of hits. But, not all attorneys are created equal. In a case where your relationship with your child is in jeopardy, you must give this decision a great deal of thought and consideration.

 Firstly, its important to commit to hiring an attorney to assist you in your family law or child custody matter. Many people believe that they do not need an attorney to represent them in court. This is true; you do not need to hire an attorney and are free to represent yourself in all legal matters. However, proceeding on your own, or pro se, can be a very difficult undertaking. Attorneys are familiar with court rules and procedures, and good attorneys will know how to utilize those rules in your favor. Do you have lots of evidence that you are an excellent parent and you want a judge to review this evidence? Well, if you fail to present it to the judge in the appropriate manner, a judge may never see this evidence. At the very least, it is important to know your rights as a parent. You should consult with an attorney at some point during your legal proceeding, even if you are unable to retain an attorney to represent you for the entirety of your matter.

 Family Law is a very specialized field, so it’s important to go with a family law specialist. Even within family law, there are further specializations. Imagine going to your family doctor for a serious neurological problem. If that doctor doesn’t refer you to a neurologist, then he has failed to fully care for you and your needs. Likewise, if you contact an attorney with a general practice who doesn’t refer you to a family law attorney, he or she is not giving you the best service. Each area of law has its own set of rules and hundreds of applicable statutes. For your child custody matter, you want an attorney who has committed themselves to the exclusive practice of family law.  This attorney will likely be up to date on the newest developments in family law, the latest changes to family law statutes, and best equipped to handle your matter. He or she may be familiar with the various family court judges in your area, as well as other local attorneys. All of this knowledge will benefit you.

Personality and philosophy; are you and your attorney a match? If you are not already familiar with a family law attorney, its important to find the right attorney. Many people look just for an attorney they can afford, but its also important to find an attorney who understands your goals and the manner in which you would like to achieve your goals. Do you want a pit bull attorney? Do you have unlimited resources and want to overturn every rock, exploring every possibility? Are you sick of fighting, ready to move on, and hopeful to reach agreements with your child’s other parent?  I recommend meeting with your potential attorney and talking with them. Plus see if they have any references who wouldn’t mind talking with you about their experiences. Hiring an attorney can be a major financial commitment. Make sure you have hired someone who shares your values, and clearly understands the outcome you are seeking.

If you would like to speak to an attorney to better determine your rights, and move forward in a child custody matter, or any family law concern. I offer a free initial consultation where you can get your questions answered.

April 22, 2011

Charlie Sheen Custody Case

Posted in Custody tagged , at 9:24 am by demetriagraves

Charlie Sheen has lost his battle to get custody of his two-year-old sons Bob and Max. A Los Angeles judge ruled that the actor’s estranged wife Brooke Mueller should maintain legal and physical custody of the twin boys, despite a rumored drug relapse. Sheen had been seeking temporary custody of the boys following reports that Mueller had returned to rehab after a week of alleged substance abuse. Apparently Mueller refused to take a drug test recently. As part of their previous custody arrangement, Sheen and Mueller had agreed to be drug tested randomly three times a month. While Mueller undergoes drug treatment at an undisclosed rehab facility, her mother Moira Fiore, will provide primary care for the boys.

Sheen left court flanked by security and immediately headed to Washington, DC, for a performance of his Violent Torpedo of Truth stage show. Attorneys for both sides refused to divulge details of the hearing.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Hank Goldberg had earlier sealed the hearing at the request of Mueller’s attorney, saying it was ‘in the best interest of the children’ because of ‘questions of abuse and other inflammatory and emotional issues.’ The judge was aware that Mueller had relapsed into drug use but was equally disturbed by Sheen’s past substance abuse and the fact that he bragged about it. The judge ruled that they will continue to share custody under their existing agreement.

March 18, 2011

Dwayne Wade Wins Custody Battle

Posted in Custody tagged at 1:26 pm by demetriagraves

Miami Heat’s Dwayne Wade has been awarded sole custody of both of his sons, 8 year old Zaire and 3 year old Zion. This has ended a very long and public custody battle with Dwaye’s ex-wife Siohvaughn Wade. The sole custody to Dwayne was awarded by Judge Renee Goldfarb of Cook County Illinois.

Wade’s divorce from Siohvaughn was granted last June, after a lengthy separation.

Siohvaughn will have what the court described as “regular parenting time” on alternating weekends in Miami, as well as several other times during the year, including Mother’s Day. Dwyane Wade has also repeatedly stated that he wants his sons to have healthy relationships with their mother.

Still, the 102-page ruling had some sharp words for Wade’s ex-wife.

“This court finds that (Siohvaughn Wade) has embarked on an unstoppable and relentless pattern of conduct for over two years to alienate the children from their father, and lacks either the ability or the willingness to facilitate, let alone encourage, a close and continuing relationship between them,” read a portion of the ruling entered by Judge Renee G. Goldfarb.

According to Wade’s attorney, James Pritikin, the custody trial was one of the longest ever in Cook County history. Wade filed the motion asking for sole custody nearly a year ago, though the legal tussle has gone on considerably longer.

Speaking on the recent court victory, The Miami player commented:

“I am very thankful that the court has given me custody of my boys and they are already at home with me in Miami and settling in. Going through a custody trial was difficult and I wish it hadn’t been necessary, but, I felt it was the only way that I could continue to play an active part of my kids’ lives and provide them with a happy and stable home. My hope is that their mother will also choose to play a healthy role in their lives and we can all move on from this in a positive way.”

Now that the boys are finally back home with their father, Dwayne can now focus on helping his beaten and battered Miami Heat as they try to close out their NBA season.

March 4, 2011

Sheen Surrenders Children to Authorities

Posted in Custody tagged at 12:00 pm by demetriagraves

Charlie Sheen has given up his twin sons who turn two this month to Brooke Mueller, his estranged wife, after Brooke served him with a temporary restraining order. The children were removed by police from Sheen’s Los Angeles mansion. Sheen claims he was blindsided by the police when they removed his sons, Bob and Max. According to Brooke, she is concerned that Charlie is presently insane, and fears an attack from him, as well as being in great fear of the safety of the children when in his care. Forbidden per legal papers, Charlie is not to come within 100 yards of Mueller or the children. While holidaying in the Bahamas last week, Charlie allegedly threatened Brooke with violence, an allegation which Sheen denies.

The whole sad event has been captured on video and Charlie appeared sober and composed when his children were taken away. This is a very sad and unusual case. Taking children away from a parent is an extreme measure that should be used only as a last resort because of the damage it can do to kids. Charlie handled it well.  It’s clear from the video that he loves his kids and they love him.

The court will hold a hearing on the allegations Brooke has made against Charlie to determine if they are true and, if so, what the proper custody orders should be.  Just because the children were taken from him recently does not mean that the court will strip him of his custody rights forever.

It’s rare to see a case where there is one good parent and one bad parent.  Custody decisions aren’t usually made based on a parent’s lifestyle choices or who the parent is currently dating. Drug or alcohol abuse is not enough unless it can be shown that the parent is endangering the child.  Charlie appeared sober and composed when his children were taken away.  He didn’t display any anger and make it as comfortable as possible for the kids, reassuring them that nothing was wrong.  That shows that he had the best interests of his kids at heart at that moment.  I question whether any of us would have handled that situation any better.

February 3, 2011

Halle Berry’s Custody Battle

Posted in Child Support, Custody tagged , , at 11:33 am by demetriagraves

Halle Berry’s ex, underwear model Gabriel Aubry, wants child support and custody of their 2-year-old daughter Nahla. Halle tried to keep her custody dispute with Aubry private but their custody battle went public after Gabriel filed for joint custody and child support last week. In court documents, Gabriel complained that he was unable to see and co-parent his daughter because Halle takes the child with her overseas to visit her boyfriend, French actor Olivier Martinez when he’s not visiting her in Los Angeles.
It’s rumored that Halle is so worried about this latest development that she’s cancelled her film work and appearances to be available to battle him in court. It was thought that they had worked things out between them outside of court after their break up in 2009. But apparently Gabriel has hired lawyers in Canada (where he resides) and the United States to represent him.
Halle, 44, released a statement recently claiming that she has “serious concerns for her daughter’s well-being while in the care of her father for any extended period of time and is prepared to take all necessary steps to protect her.”
Meanwhile Gabriel, 35, is ready to fight and is trying to seek custody of Nahla, who has dual citizenship, because of her Canadian-born father. Gabriel will argue that he can provide Nahla with a much more stable, consistent home life than Halle. He is willing to totally put his career on hold to care for her, whereas Halle is constantly traveling around the world and working on film sets.  Halle is trying to build a case that Gabriel is an unfit father and it’s rumored that she is pushing hard to try to get a hearing at family court before the end of the week – something she has, so far had no joy achieving.



November 19, 2010

Parenting Plan

Posted in Custody, Divorce, Parentage tagged , , at 1:40 pm by demetriagraves

If you have children and your relationship is breaking down working out what will happen with your children is one of the most important issues to resolve – this is commonly known as a parenting plan. Any cases involving children, whether it’s a divorce or separation between spouses or custody cases between unmarried couples, always involve certain issues. These issues can be resolved by an agreement or by trial, but they must be addressed one way or the other.

Here’s a list of issues that must be addressed to form the basis of a parenting plan:

  • Which house is identified as “home base” for the children?
  • When will the children be with each parent during the school year?
  • When will the children be with each parent during holiday breaks?
  • How will the summer break period be handled?
  • What arrangements will be made for exchanging the children at the beginning of each parent’s time?
  • Who will decide which extracurricular activities the children will participate in? How will these activities be paid for? What happens if an activity falls during the other parent’s time?
  • How will the children’s religious upbringing be handled?
  • Who will make decisions for the medical and mental health needs of the children? How will these needs be paid for?
  • Who will have the right to represent the children in legal action and make other legal decisions for the children?
  • How will the children’s access to the internet be handled?
  • Who will carry the children on health insurance? Who will pay for the coverage? How will the uninsured medical expenses be handled?
  • Who will make decisions regarding the children’s education? How will private schooling be handled? What happens if the children need additional educational assistance such as tutoring? How will those expenses be handled?
  • What plans are being made for the children’s future college education?
  • Will the children talk on the telephone to the parent not in possession of them?
  • Will the children be allowed to travel outside the country with each parent? How will the passports be handled?

Unless the courts have ordered something different, both parents have the right to:

  • Receive information concerning the health, education and welfare of the kids;
  • Talk with the other parent before making a decision concerning the health, education and welfare of the kids;
  • Access their children’s medical, dental, psychological and educational records;
  • Consult with the kids’ doctors;
  • Consult with the school concerning the kids’ welfare and educational status;
  • Attend school activities;
  • Be listed as an emergency contact on the kids’ records;
  • Consent to medical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the kids;
  • Be offered the chance to take care of the kids during the other parent’s time if the other parent has something that keeps them from the kids.

Here’s some other tips that I’ve found to be important as a family law attorney who works with parents who are splitting up and I recommend that you should keep in mind:

  • Alcohol consumption – limit the amount of alcohol you consume during your time with your kids, especially if alcohol has been a problem before. Never drive with your children if you’ve been drinking.
  • New romantic partners – take care to introduce your new boyfriend or girlfriend to your kids slowly, so they don’t feel as though their other parent is being replaced.
  • Travel – when planning trips for business or pleasure, with or without your kids, keep your kids’ schedules and your parenting plan in mind.

October 1, 2010

Tips for Custodial Parents

Posted in Child Support, Custody tagged , at 3:08 pm by demetriagraves

As a family law attorney, I often get asked advice on what is appropriate to tell the kids regarding, divorce, custody and child support. Deciding what you should or should not tell the kids you have custody of is very simple. It requires you to keep in mind what is healthy for your children and what they really need to know. Reasons for the separation and divorce of their parents is not something that children need to know. Especially if the circumstances were painful for either parent. Far too many parents use their ex’s flaws to drive a wedge between them and the children. They fail to recognize that this doesn’t just hurt their ex, it can have a lasting impact on their kids emotional well being.
Divorce and the court proceedings are not information that kids need to be privy to. Should your child question you about things that happen, be firm in telling them that the divorce is between you and your ex and not something they need to have details on. Not only is this the “right” way to handle it, most judges will warn the parents against saying things which may result in alienation.
Child support should never be discussed with your kids. That is a financial issue that should be left to the adults. You would not be likely to sit and discuss a cut in your wages with a child, why should you feel that telling them support was not paid is any different? Using potentially harmful information to turn your child against the non-custodial parent can be damaging. Furthermore, child support is the monetary way in which courts insist the other parent pay to help with their needs. It is not, nor should it ever be treated as payment to see their children.
Any derogatory comments about the other parent should not be said in front of the children you share. Just because the marriage did not last, does not mean that you have the right to turn kids against the other parent. While you may briefly get some enjoyment out of this, ultimatley this can put you in a less favorable light in everyone’s eyes.
Sadly, many divorced parents use their children as weapons against the other parent. They encourage them to take sides, wanting the child’s devotion to them to be a slap in the face to their ex. It is so important for custodial parents to take the high road and encourage a healthy relationship between their children and the other parent. Hurt feelings and bitterness should be put aside in order to make the best decisions for your children.
As a family law attorney I always work toward the outcome which is going to be best for the kids and having the parents at war with one another doesn’t help anyone. If you are uncertain about the best way to move forward no matter what your custody situation is, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I offer a free confidential initial consultation where you can get all your questions answered.

September 17, 2010

Helping You Through a Child Custody Hearing

Posted in Custody tagged at 5:24 pm by demetriagraves

As a family law attorney one of the most challenging situations I help clients with is going through a child custody or child support hearing. Being a parent can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. The unconditional love between you and your child is probably one of the most unique and amazing things you have ever known. When conflicts arise between you and the other parent of the child however, the situation may escalate to such a level that you may end up in a court hearing for any number of reasons, including a child custody hearing or a child support hearing.

If you and the other parent of your child will be going through a court hearing regarding your child, you might want to consider seeking help from an attorney. As going through a child custody hearing will probably be one of the most stressful and difficult times of your life. It will be difficult and stressful because both you and the other parent of your child will likely both be fighting for custody of the child. Just the fear of losing custody of your child may be enough to raise your stress to an unhealthy level, and if you do not know what to expect during the hearing, it may put your emotions over the top. A family law attorney will be able to inform you of what to expect during the hearing and can help make sure that you are properly portrayed during the hearing, which can be the difference between being awarded custody and losing custody of your child.

The court will likely consider many factors during your custody hearing before determining how custody will be split and to whom it will be awarded. One of the main factors that the court will probably consider during the hearing is your parenting ability. Keep in mind, the other parent of the child will probably be trying as hard as they can to gain custody, so having a legal professional on your side that has experience in these types of cases can be crucial.

Once you have made it through the custody hearing, you may also have to endure a support hearing. The support hearing will probably be held to determine how much money the non-custodial parent will be required to pay each month in child support. Whether you are the parent making the payments, or the parent receiving the payments, a family law attorney can be a great help in making it through this hearing as well.

Fighting with the other parent of your child regarding child custody, or any other matter, can be very stressful to endure. When these conflicts end up in court, it’s important to have an experienced attorney at your side to help you through the hearing. You’re more likely to get the outcome you want with the help of an experienced attorney. I offer a free initial consultation where you can get all your questions answered.

May 24, 2010

Child Support, Custody & Visitation

Posted in Child Support, Custody, Visitation tagged , , at 11:08 am by demetriagraves

Divorce is never easy. Seeing a relationship unravel before your own eyes can take its toll in many ways. Often this process can be hardest on the younger members of a family. When going through a divorce it’s important to remember that your kids need your support and assurances. No matter how bad it seems, it’s important to put aside your own difficulties and focus on helping your kids manage this transition as smoothly as possible. So that they come out stronger and relatively unscathed. In this article I’ll be focusing on discussing Child Support in financial and legal terms instead of emotional terms. I’ll also cover the topics of custody and visitation because they are also related to how child support is calculated.
Custody and visitation issues top the list of concerns for couples involved in a divorce. For many years to come the now ex-spouses must continue to plan their lives together and negotiate the dozens of choices that come up when raising children. Judges will go to great lengths to get the two parties to make their own decisions and solve their own conflicts.
When two parents separate, it is usually determined that a child will primarily reside with one of the separated parents. In those situations, the parent keeping the child will incur most of the child-related expenses: food, accommodation, clothing, groceries, utilities, transportation, school, lessons etc.
To reflect that inequity, the common law has established that each parent has a legal obligation to support their child, financially speaking. No law has made any rules regarding the fulfilling the emotional needs of the child.
It is typical practice to establish one parent as having primary custody. That parent is referred to as the ‘custodial parent’. The other parent is referred to as the non-custodial parent. Regardless of the schedule, in most cases the parents are required to make important child care and upbringing decisions together.
A strictly legal definition of child support is “Periodic money payments payable by a non-custodial parent, to the custodial parent, for the care of his or her minor child.” For those who are unfamiliar with law speak, custodial parent is the one keeping the child while non custodial parent will be the one making the periodic payments.
For the parent who does not have the child living with them, this means equally or fairly contributing to their child’s expenses and needs. This is done by requiring that parent to make monthly or other periodic payment (rarely a lump sum or annual payment) to the other parent as a contribution towards the expenses of raising a child.
Initially, costs were split fifty-fifty between the parents. But over time complex systems have been established to determine the payments that need to be made keeping in mind the income of both parents and the number of children.
There are unique rules to deal with children who are no longer minors, and have special or extraordinary needs or expenses, and when a child or the children spend close to equal time with, and maintain residence in the homes of, both parents.
If the parties cannot decide upon a support amount and payment frequency, child support is set by the court and will be calculated based on the California State Guidelines and on any data that the parties may present. The State Guidelines are designed to be fair and equitable to the parents and more importantly, be in the best interest of the children.
California law allows either party to apply for a change in child support payments. The law requires that before a support change will be considered by the court, a material change in the status of the parties or the children must have occurred. This can include a change in the financial status of either party (for better or worse) or a change in the needs of the children such as education costs or an illness.
In California, any couple who cannot agree on custody or a visitation schedule is obligated to participate in and complete a counseling program prior to their disagreement being taken up by the court.
Judges that are forced to make custody and visitation decisions will base their rulings on evidence provided by the spouses and by professionals, such as psychologists, family service representatives or doctors. The judge will also take into account any history of child abuse, drug or alcohol addictions and any protective orders that may have been issued to help determine what is in the best interest of the child. However, the courts in California tend to grant joint custody, where the parents share in the day to day care and in making decisions regarding upbringing.
Based on the above factors, most spouses come to an agreement regarding custody and visitation schedule for their children rather than depend upon a judge to decree what is best. This is an area where professional legal assistance is a must. As a family law attorney I offer an initial free consultation, where you can get you questions answered.
Child support as an issue is so important that the right to child support and the responsibilities of parents to provide such support has been internationally recognized. In fact, during the 1992 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a binding convention was signed by every member of the UN declaring that “the upbringing and development of children and a standard of living adequate for the children’s development is a common responsibility of both parents and a fundamental human right for children”. The convention further asserted that the primary responsibility to provide such for the children rests with their parents.

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