Family Law Blog

How Does Mental Illness Effect Child Custody

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Mental illness can be a tricky issue, more so when it is brought into a custody case. Raising a child can be a challenging endeavor, and this can be problematic for people who suffer from mental illness. However, there are parents that have mental illness who are great parents, and also those who are not. This means when it comes down to mental health issues, it is left to a judge to carefully consider and decide on custody.

Rest assured that the judge will always make decisions in custody cases that are in the best interests of the child. However, if you suffer from mental illness and are worried about losing complete custody of their child, there are things that can affect the judge's decision for better or worse.

When a judge is considering your case, here is what you should keep in mind:

  • Is the mentally ill parent compliant with treatment?
  • What specific mental health issue the parent suffers from
  • Is the home environment stable?
  • Does the mental health issue affect the parent's ability to meet the emotional and physical needs of a child?

Naturally, if a parent suffers from depression, they are not considered as potentially destructive to a child as a manic schizophrenic. However, any mental health issue, if treated and the patient willingly undergoes treatment, can still allow them to keep custody. The willingness to undergo treatment and provide a stable home environment for a child both go a long way to keeping custody of them.

If you are divorcing and worried about your mental health issue affecting your custody case of your child, contact us today. The Law Firm of Jamra & Jamra believes that if you are seeking treatment and a good parent, any mental health issue shouldn't keep you from spending time with your child.

When Can a Grandparent Gain Custody of a Child?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

When parents cannot properly raise a child, for whatever reason, grandparents often take over the responsibility. This is often done without a court's intervention but legal custody requires a judge's order. This poses difficulties if one or both parents refuse to relinquish custody. Learn what events can convince the court to give the legal responsibility of a child to a grandparent.

You must have a compelling reason for seeking custody of a child as courts are reluctant to take children away from parents. Judges are most likely to rule in your favor when you can prove a serious issue threatens the physical, mental and/or emotional health of the child. These include cases where a parent abuses drugs or alcohol, is physically abusive or neglectful or has a serious mental illness that impairs her ability to care for the child.

A judge's obligation is to always consider what is in the best interest of the child. So, if you are a grandparent seeking custody of your grandchild, you must prove the child will fare better with you than anyone else. So, you must provide a healthy, safe environment that the child does not have with his parents (or other legal guardians). Show the court you have a stable home and can provide the child with such things as proper nutrition, a bedroom, peaceful environment, toys and an appropriate education.

A judge is more likely to give you custody in cases where you are already a prime caregiver for the child. If you can prove you regularly take care of the child in your home, then the court knows the child is familiar and comfortable with the environment you provide. In general, judges prefer to place children with family members rather than foster or adoptive homes so this is something in your favor.

You can gain custody of your grandchild in certain circumstances. If you believe the child is in danger or his welfare is in jeopardy by remaining with his parents, you can petition the court for custody. Bring evidence such as pictures, letters and digital messages and affidavits from witnesses to prove the child needs relief  from his current environment. Also, show the court proof of your ability to provide a home and the best care for your grandchild.

Contact us for more information regarding legal custody of children.


What You Need to Know About Child Custody

Thursday, February 23, 2017

If you're getting divorced, you are wondering what it takes to attain the custody of your children. Fortunately, it is possible to come to an amicable agreement with your ex-spouse concerning whom the children will live with, as well as visitation rights.

Negotiation

Negotiations can involve a professional mediator, or consist of just you and your former partner. This is preferable in many ways to pursuing the court option because time and money are saved, not to mention the psychological health of any children involved. Keep in mind that negotiations don't need to take place in an "official setting." For instance, you can arrange to meet at a local restaurant where you will both be put at ease and will be able to focus on the important and relevant issues.

The Courts

If for some reason negotiations fall through, you could try your luck in court. The judge will look at various factors to determine what is best for the child. What is in the child's best interest includes their psychological and physical health, as well as what seems best for him or her long-term. Usually a court appointed psychiatrist will assess any children involved, and this will heavily influence the court's decision as to which parent will be awarded custody.  

Physical vs. Legal Custody

The two main types of custody that you should be aware of are physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where your child will reside day-to-day. Legal custody concerns the ability to make decisions affecting the child's education, health-related concerns, and other important aspects of life. Despite which parent is awarded physical custody, legal custody is typically shared between both parents. 

Please, contact us immediately. 

Understanding a Change In Circumstances for Child Custody

Thursday, February 16, 2017

First and foremost, it is supremely important to understand that each state uses its own laws to determine which relevant factors to consider, and how much weight should be given to each factor as it relates to child custody. The information given here is in no way intended to be substituted for actual research for your state's laws and regulations concerning child custody.

Most importantly, the outcome of the child custody case will change the contour of life for you, your child, AND the other parent. Parenting requires a constantly moving, dynamic, and systemic series of decisions, that should NEVER be taken lightly. Hire an attorney, and listen to what they have to say. After all, they went to school for a very long time to learn to help you, and for the most part, they are much more emotionally detached from the situation than you will be.

The cold hard truth about child custody cases is that they are so state-specific and even judge-specific, that almost anything can beconsidered relevant. Although the judge's discretion ultimately prevails, most courts have several factors they weigh when determining the best interests of the child, and how it might be impacted by the adoption of a Permanent Parenting Plan (PPP). 

In custody disputes, the court is primarily trying to determine which parent should be the Primary Residential Parent (PRP) and which parent should be the Alternative Residential Parent (ARP). In order to make this determination, the court will consider any factors it deems relevant, including but not limited to, the age and cognitive abilities of the child, the prior relationship each parent held with the child prior to the divorce, any history of addiction, any history of physical or emotional abuse, the ability of either parent to assume the same, more, or less parenting duties due to work schedules, the geographic location of work or home of each parent, and the educational opportunities each parent can provide. 

Once the court weighs the factors and adopts a PPP, any proposed modification of the PPP must be accompanied by evidence that the circumstances which led to the court making the decision it made regarding the PPP, have changed to the extent that the PPP should bemodified to allow the ARP more time with the child. Because the parent opposing the change will NEVER acknowledge that the change in circumstances requires a custody modification, and the proponent of the modification will ALWAYS feel the opposite way, the court will rely heavily on the discretion of the judge making the rulings. 

Actually defining what constitutes a material change in circumstances can be just as challenging as the circumstances themselves. Basically, the person asking for modification has the burden of proving that the factors considered in the best interests of the child would be greatly impacted by the change in circumstances, and that due to said change in circumstances, continuing the PPP as ordered would actually be against the best interests of the child. 

Things such as serious changes in the needs of the child, or the financial or educational support being given to the child, the PRP or the ARP changing locations, changing jobs, getting remarried, developing illnesses, or any other factor the court deems relevant, can beconsidered a material change in circumstances. 

The bottom line is, if you and the other parent are at odds as to what is in the best interest of your child, both of you should make every attempt to reasonably accommodate the other parent. If you choose not to, the court can use any number of factors to determine what it thinks is in the best interest of the child. 

Remember that when life happens, if it happens in such a way that these factors need to be revisited to determine what is in the best interest of YOUR child, it is best to be the parent who acted in the most reasonable manner possible under the circumstances. If you don't, and either parent asks the court to decide what’s best for your child, it is possible you will not be pleased with the decision made.

If you are currently in need of advice regarding a child custody case, contact us

Dealing With Tardiness in Child Custody Matters

Thursday, January 19, 2017

When figuring out a parenting plan and child custody schedule, parents might work something out before finalizing a divorce or have matters settled by a judge. Either way, everything won't always go according to plan. A visitation order might list how often and at what times a noncustodial parent receives access to a child or children. Problems may arise if one parent stops following the schedule by showing up late or not showing up at all. Here are some tips for dealing with tardiness or absences.

Occasional Slip Ups

Parents should try to work with each other when possible and realize that unplanned events do arise every now and then that could interfere with the regular schedule. Being late once or twice will happen, and it's better to not get worked up if little things like this occur.

When It Becomes A Habit

If a parent is always late or frequently changes plans without warning, start by talking to them. Maybe there is a reason and an easy fix for the problem or the person doesn't even realize there is an issue. Though a fixed schedule is helpful for kids and adults, real life can get in the way. Changes to a schedule might be needed as time passes.

When Parents Can't Work It Out

Mediation could be the right solution if both parents want to reach an agreement but are unable to communicate and solve the problem. A mediator could help parents find and agree on a compromise. If mediation doesn't work and nothing improves, going to court to enforce or change an order might be necessary. Try to document what is happening and how it affects your children.

When divorcing or trying to raise children after a divorce, an attorney's assistance may be needed. Contact us today for information about how we could help you.

What To Do When Your Ex Is Alienating You From Your Child

Thursday, January 12, 2017

After undergoing a divorce, you may find that your ex-spouse is alienating the child from you. When they are preventing the child from meeting you, it is simply known as parent alienation. The case becomes more complex, however, when the other parent is having a damaging psychological effect on your child’s relationship with you.

The other parent may be denigrating you in front of your child or telling them that you do not love them. When the child develops negative feelings towards you, it is called Parent Alienation Syndrome, which was researched by Richard Gardner some decades ago.

The problem over here is to get the court to recognize what is going on. Parent Alienation Syndrome is not a medically recognized syndrome. Of course, if the court determines that the other parent is undermining your relationship with your child, they will probably step in and attempt to remedy the situation by setting up therapy sessions for the child or even by giving you child custody (in severe situations). The court is looking out for your child's best interests, which is to have a healthy relationship with both parents. 

However, before the court will take action, they will usually order a third-party psychological evaluation for the child. This can take time, and before you know it, the case can drag on for a year, with the alienation only getting worse.

The key to winning over here is to get the court to take action quickly, without dragging their feet. That’s why you need a lawyer who is knowledgeable in child support and alienation matters. For legal help, and to save your relationship with your child, make sure to contact us.

Child Custody: What Are The Best Interests Of The Child?

Thursday, January 05, 2017

One of the most heated and intense moments in your life can happen when child custody becomes the topic. For years, people have made their claims on why they should obtain custody of the children when a marriage or relationship ends. 

This is why it is so important to have the help of an experienced child custody attorney who can help protect the rights you have as a parent. You are fighting for your children, and you deserve to get the best results for the children you love so much.

Many people think that child custody cases are always ruled in favor of the mother. However, this is no longer the case. Many states across the United States will view both sides of the situation and determine the best situation for the child.

The child's best interest should always be number one. Several factors will determine where the child will live and who gets to make the important decisions in the child's life. 

If you do not understand how child custody battles work and you need someone to fight on your behalf, an experienced family law attorney will explain everything you need to know so that you can move forward with getting the results your child needs.

Some of the factors that are taken into consideration during a child custody case include the following:

  • Where the child wants to reside(if he or she is old enough to determine what he or she wants)
  • What the parents want
  • How well the child adjusts to the current environment
  • The mother/child and father/child relationship
  • The type of home life each parent can provide

This is only a small list of the things that will be considered when you are in the middle of a child custody battle. It is important to remember that the best interest of the child is what the judge will consider. 

If you need to be advised on what your chances may be in obtaining custody of your child, Contact a California child custody attorney today.


Can Social Media Impact Your Divorce? The Answer Is Yes

Thursday, December 29, 2016

We are living in the days where almost everyone has signed up for a social media account. While using social media can certainly be fun and entertaining, you have to be careful about the type of things you post to those social media websites. 

The information you post can be seen by a significant amount of people. If you are going through a divorce, you need to be very cautious about the type of things you post on any of your social media pages. If you think you may post anything that may get you into any trouble, you may want to avoid logging into your account until your divorce has been finalized.

Anything On Social Media Can Be Used Against You

If you are in a heated divorce, your husband or wife may be looking for anything that can make you look bad so he or she will receive everything they are looking for.

Since many people share a significant amount of information online, people who are divorcing will turn to social media for information they can use against one another. Social media postings cannot only impact spousal support and child support orders, but it can also impact a custodial agreement. 

If you are fighting for custody of your child or children, you should definitely avoid posting any photographs or videos that will show you using illegal drugs, drinking alcohol, fighting, partying, etc. 

If you tell the judge you cannot make spousal or child support payments, but you are posting photos of your money, posting photos of expensive merchandise, or posting vacations pictures, your spouse can use those photographs or videos against you to prove that you can indeed make those payments. 

We understand that divorces can get heated and difficult, but social media can get you into more trouble than you think. If you are going through a divorce, do not hesitate to contact us for information on how social media can impact your divorce. 


3 Mistakes That Could Inadvertently Hurt Your Child Custody Case

Friday, December 16, 2016

If you are going through a divorce, this can be a stressful time. If you have children involved, this can be an even tougher process. It is important not to make any quick decisions while separating that might hurt your child custody case. Here are three mistakes you should try to avoid during your divorce process that could give your ex leverage when it comes to custody.

1. Moving for a New Job

You may feel as if your financial resources are being depleted or you need to protect your personal assets during a divorce. The thing is, needing to move for a job or adding significant commute time might come off as not putting your child’s needs first, especially if this will limit your time for visitation. Wait until the dust settles to make any significant career changes.

2. Moving in With a New Significant Other

While you may have quickly found love after your divorce, it is important to focus on custody matters before fully moving on with your life. If you quickly move in with a new significant other, those making decisions on visitation and custody might not think you are putting your children's needs first.

3. Moving into a Home That Doesn’t Accommodate Your Kids

If you are the spouse that will be expected to move out of the family home, you might be worried about finances and want to move into a smaller space. It is important that you find a home that can accommodate your children, or your visitation and custody might be limited. This doesn’t mean you need a space as nice as your family home, but having a room designated for your children or an apartment with a pool or near a park can go a long way when it comes to being granted visitation.

While you might be in an emotional and working through personal issues during your divorce, keeping your children's needs in mind should be priority. If you are separating from your spouse and need guidance with your child custody case, contact us to ensure that your children's needs are protected.

Child Custody Advice: Help Make The Holidays An Enjoyable Time For Your Children

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The holidays are supposed to be about giving thanks, being joyful, being peaceful, and celebrating life. With parents who are going through a child custody battle or parents who are already sharing custody, the holidays can be filled with arguments, frustrations, and disappointments.

Some parents can handle the custody issues without conflict and others cannot. In order to have a conflict-free and worry-free holiday season, both parents should keep these things in mind:

Communicate

If both parents do not have an open line of communication, things will certainly go downhill very fast. We understand that if your relationship did not end well you may not always want to communicate with the person who is now your ex. However, it is important that both parents communicate clearly and in a timely manner.

Parents should make time to talk about any plans for the holidays. These plans should be talked about early and not at the last minute. Everyone should have time to communicate and openly discuss everything that is going to be planned.

Stick To The Plan/Schedule

We understand how quickly things can change and how some things are out of your control, but it is important to stick with the regular routine. Some things change and you cannot do anything about it, but you should let your children know ahead of time. You want to keep them in the loop of what is going on so they will not be blindsided by the changes.

Child custody issues, divorce, child support, are never easy issues to deal with. Your children should be your main priority, and it is their best interests that matter. If you need advice on child custody issues or if you would like a consultation, contact us today.