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Step Parent's Quick Guide to Teen Custody Questions

Monday, July 27, 2020

With the way modern families form today, custody and parenting questions can get pretty complicated. There are rock-solid families where the parents are not married, dedicated spouses raising step-children, and co-parenting teams with two to ten different family members working together. One of the most common "gray areas" of custody is the role of step-parents who may be acting as active parental roles with limited legal grounds to make decisions.

This is especially challenging for step-parents of teenagers who are often at least partially aware of their rights and have a great deal of choice in which parent they live with, if they choose to exercise that power. Being a good parent to a teenager requires a balance of giving space and enforcing boundaries, something that can be uncomfortable for even the most dedicated step-parent. You may be wondering where your real enforceable authority begins and ends. As a child custody attorney office, we're here to answer those questions as clearly as we can in general terms.

Your Parental Rights as a Step-Parent

If you have adopted your step-child, you have full legal rights as their parent, the same as a biological parent would. So, that should clear up a whole slew of teen authority related questions. If you haven't adopted your step-child, then your authority comes through the biological parent you are married to.

You are, effectively, functioning with implicit permission to exercise parental duties and make decisions your partner -- their parent -- would agree with. Much like a camp counselor has implicit permission to care for kids under their supervision. However, as the spouse of the biological parent, you also have some extended rights to sign things like permission slips for your step-children instead of their parent.

Your Step-Parental Rights Against the Wishes of Your Spouse

What about in cases where you disagree or are splitting up with the biological parent of your step-children? This issue comes up often with modern blended families. Particularly, in cases where the step-parent has become the more dedicated caretaker. Without a custody battle, your rights are usually still limited to anything that is an extension of the biological parent's wishes.

However, in a legal separation or divorce, step-parents who are a dedicated part of a child's life have a surprisingly strong chance of winning at least partial custody. Your custody rights will more likely be determined by what is best for the child, including your existing parent-child relationship. This is true even if you are not the biological parent. However, your custody rights do not overpower those of both biological parents.

There are very few situations where a step-parent is able to take full custody or make a decision directly against the wishes of capable and reputable biological parents.

Your Parental Rights Dealing With a Rebellious Teen Step-Child

So, your teen step-child, about whom you love and care, has shouted that you're not their real parent and can't make them do __X__. Now, you're wondering if they're right. As we said before, your parental power are an extension of their biological parent's rights. Therefore, if their parents agrees with the rule you are enforcing, yes. You can probably ground them, lock their phone in a drawer, deny their allowance, or forbid them from dating someone for a few more years.

Alternately, your teen step-child has made it clear that they want to live with you and not their biological parent after a breakup. Now, you're wondering if you can support them in that. Would be charged with kidnapping, or something similar? This goes back to the custody question. The teen can absolutely speak at a custody hearing and make a strong case for living with you, as teens get a lot of say if they explain themselves well and their reasons are good.

Additionally, if your teen step-child shows up on your doorstep and insists on staying, most courts would not consider this as a qualified kidnapping. But the teen may be forced to go back to their biological parent's home once found. 

Conclusion

As a step-parent, you exist in an interesting custody limbo unless you choose to step up and make yourself a separate entity in a custody battle. For the most part, as long as you are parenting with your spouse, you have all the parental authority you need to handle step-children and even rebellious teens. For more information about family law or to consult with a child custody attorney, contact us today!

How a Parent's Home Could Impact Child Custody

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Judges may take each parent's home and overall living conditions into account when determining custody in California. Although considerations can vary from court to court, a judge may consider the total number of children, their ages, and their genders when evaluating the parents' homes.

The Total Number of Children Involved

Judges will decide whether or not the number of children may impact their living conditions. If multiple children are involved, parents may need to make sure they have sufficient space to accommodate them.

For example, a parent with four children will need to ensure that the home has enough bedroom space for each child to spend the night comfortably, or else the judge may rule unfavorably.

The judge will also consider whether the children are from multiple relationships and the primary parent with whom they live.

Ages and Genders

Generally, older children will need more space than younger children. Thus, courts could consider this whether the older child shares a bedroom with a younger sibling when determining custody.

Regarding gender, the court may require parents to maintain children's privacy if the children are of the opposite sex. This could include providing each child with his or her own bathroom or bedroom.

The Children's Safety

The overall safety of the children is also a huge consideration, including the safety of both the parent's home and the surrounding area. If the judge perceives any risk of injury at home or in the neighborhood, this could result in certain visitation restrictions. Parents should gain a good understanding of their neighborhoods, including the specific kinds of crimes that take place, the presence of sex offenders in the area, and the frequency of crimes.

Ability to Adjust 

Another factor that could impact visitation and custody could include the child's ability to adjust psychologically to a new living environment. For instance, a child may find it difficult to adjust to smaller accommodations when used to living in a more spacious home.

Conclusion

Contact us today to learn more about child custody and visitation and find out how the attorneys at Jamra & Jamra can help you.

What Happens When A Child Doesn’t Want to Have Visitation?

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Often when it comes to visitation issues, typically it is one parent not showing up to a scheduled visitation, resulting in understandable heartbreak. However, occasionally it can actually be the child that doesn't want to attend a visitation. Maybe they are bored just watching TV with dad all day, or maybe mom is seeing someone new and it is resulting in some discomfort on their part. Regardless of the reason, what happens when a child no longer wants to attend visitation?

If the custodial parent denies visitation, they can be held in contempt of court. This can still happen if your child is refusing. This is why the custodial parent needs to take steps in order to remedy their relationship with the non-custodial parent.

The incontrovertible first step should always be to ask your child why they don't want to go. Sometimes it can be from neglect or abuse, and then that becomes a whole different ball game where you can often have visitation revoked. However, if it is something like boredom and negative emotions, often you can ask your ex-spouse to address these issues. Perhaps it would be better to spend time with their child doing more interesting things or it would be better if their new significant other wasn't around until they were more comfortable. You, as the custodial parent, need to explain very clearly how spending time with both parents is important. Make sure it is known that both sides love them and both sides always want to spend time with them.

If your child still refuses, a last resort may also be asking your ex-spouse for a little break from visitation. However, this might open you up to legal action. This means that if your child is refusing visitation, you may want to contact us to talk your options over with a lawyer.

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.

How is Visitation Decided in California?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

When a couple gets divorced, the court will identify one person as the physical custodian of the child, which means that he or she will have primary physical custody of the child. At the same time, the court will also sign off on a visitation schedule which allows the noncustodial parent visiting hours with the child.

The visitation schedule must be specific, and must include details like the number of hours the child will spend with the noncustodial parent, vacation breaks and so on. The visitation schedule is typically decided on by the parents. In fact, Los Angeles divorce lawyers recommend that you work together with the other parent to decide on a schedule. Even after a couple has agreed on a visitation schedule, it must be submitted to a court for approval. Your visitation schedule is not valid until the judge signs off on it.

However, if the parents can't come to an agreement, the court will intervene, and will issue a child custody order. This child custody order will also include a visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent.

Apart from the times of the week, vacation breaks and other details about the amount of time the child will spend with the noncustodial parent, your visitation schedule must also include other details, including pickup and drop-off times, who is responsible for making the pickups and drop-offs, and other details. It is important to have all of these details in order to avoid legal wrangling later.

The visitation schedule must also identify how the custody will be shared during special times like birthdays and holidays. The summer break must also be divided with the noncustodial parent getting a fixed number of days over the summer.

Child Custody Dispute Has Horrific Ending

Saturday, December 28, 2013

No one could have guessed when they saw 35-year-old Dmitri Kanarikov walking with his three-year-old son up to the roof of a 52 story apartment building in New York that his intentions were so horrific. A few minutes after they reached the roof of the high rise, Kanarikov proceeded to throw his three-year-old child off the building. The child fell on the lower rooftop of another building close by, and died. Dmitri followed this by jumping off the building himself.

This murder-suicide has shocked the nation, and already, a possible motive for Kanarikov’s actions has emerged. According to his ex-wife and the mother of his child, the two were involved in a nasty child custody dispute.

The couple’s divorce had been finalized in August after four years of marriage, which was followed by a hostile and often contentious child custody battle over the custody of the child and the home.The divorce is believed to have been linked to her husband’s split personality change as he became more violent and controlling. Initially, there were attempts at reconciliation, but those failed, and after some incidents of verbal assaults, the wife was ultimately forced to get a restraining order against her husband.

According to the mother, she had pleaded with the judge not to allow Kanarikov unsupervised visitation rights to the child, because he had a history of temper tantrums, and she had been the victim of domestic incidents earlier. However, the judge granted visitation rights, and those visitation rights kicked off in December. By the time of the horrific incident, Kanarikov had already had two separate unsupervised visits with his child, and according to the mother, those two visits went off perfectly well without any untoward incidents.