Family Law Blog

Shared Custody of Children on the Increase

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Fewer child custody arrangements these days involve the mother getting sole custody of the child. In an increasing number of cases, parents are settling for joint or shared custody of their children.

According to a new study which analyzed Wisconsin Court Records between 1988 and 2008, the number of mothers who were awarded sole custody of their children after divorce, dropped dramatically from 8% to 42%. During the same period of time, there was a significant increase in the number of joint custody arrangements.

Equal shared custody arrangements during the same time increased from 5% to 37%, and unequal custody increased from 3% to 18%. There was little difference in the proportion of cases that involved father-only sole custody. These cases hovered at approximately 10%.

The study's findings may be slightly misleading. They don't seem to cover children born into single-parent households. About 45% of American babies are currently born to unmarried mothers. The study only included those families that were split up after divorce.

In a shared custody arrangement, the parents decide to share medical, legal, financial, and other decisions involving the child. Physical custody of the child may be split approximately 50/50. It is not possible to accurately divide the amount of time that the child spends with each parent.

But the study does seem to confirm that it is no longer a given that the mother will be granted sole custody of the children during a divorce. Joint custody is far moving towards the center, and in the future could actually be considered the norm. For decades, mothers were awarded sole custody, because of the general belief that they were better caretakers. In recent years, the interests of the children have taken the forefront during proceedings to determine the outcomes of such disputes, and those interests very often involve time spent with both parents equally.

Teenager Who Sued Parents for Child Support Returns Home

Friday, March 14, 2014

It seems like a happy ending to a case that has provoking discussions on everything from child support to teen behaviour. A New Jersey teenager who filed a child-support lawsuit against her parents, demanding tuition as well as living expenses after being thrown out of her parental home, has now returned home. However, the lawsuit is still on, so this might not be the last we've heard of this matter.

18-year-old Rachel Canning had filed a lawsuit against her parents after they threw her out of the house last year. That action by her parents came as a result of her rebellious behaviour, including at least one case in which she was suspended from school. As a last resort, her parents ordered her out of the home. She filed a lawsuit against her parents, claiming living expenses as well as high school tuition expenses.

At the hearing in court which was widely publicized around the country, the judge called her “spoiled,” refusing to grant her request to order her parents to pay for her tuition and living expenses. Her father however, said that the doors of his home were always open for the rebellious daughter to return home.

As of now, it seems that Canning has returned back to her parents’ home, but her child-support lawsuit has still not been dismissed. This is a case that has strong potential for setting legal precedents, because under New Jersey law, non-divorced parents who are still living together, have never been ordered by a court to pay child support for a child. However, in cases of a divorce, child support agreements will include clauses for payment of tuition expenses and other expenses of the child he/she reaches the age of legal emancipation.

Court Rules Kansas Sperm Donor Must Pay Child Support

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Kansas court has ruled that a man who donated his sperm to a lesbian couple qualifies as the father of the baby, even though he signed off his paternal rights to the child. The court has ruled that he must make child support payments.

The case seemed uncomplicated enough until the baby was born. However, after the baby was born, the lesbian couple broke up, and one of them suffered an injury that resulted in her losing her job. She now does not work, and is reliant on public assistance. The woman was asked to name the father of the child in her application for assistance, and it was at that point, that the sperm donor’s name came up. The Kansas Department of Children and Families decided to take the donor to court, claiming more than $6,000 in past child support and expenses as well as future child support payments.

The court has ruled in favor of the state agency. The decision seems to have been based on a legal technicality. When the man answered the Craigslist ad for a sperm donor, he signed off paternal rights to the child, as part of the agreement with the lesbian couple. However, the artificial insemination was conducted without the presence of a registered artificial insemination expert or doctor. Under Kansas law, child support requirements are subjected to all fathers, except those who donate their sperm in an artificial insemination procedure that involves the presence of a doctor. Since this case involved artificial insemination in the absence of a doctor, the court ruled that the man did qualify as a father, and could not avoid his child support obligations.

What has made this case even more complicated is that the state of Kansas does not recognize gay marriage, and therefore, the woman who wanted to apply for state welfare, was not able to seek child support payments from her partner when they broke up. She was instead forced to look to the donor for payments instead.

Los Angeles Child Support Case Gets Tainted by Attempted Murder

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Continuing in a growing trend of child support, divorce and child custody cases gone terribly wrong, a Los Angeles father is being accused of trying to kill his ex-wife, during a particularly contentious child custody battle.

33-year-old William Wallace of Santa Ana was recently charged with attempted murder with premeditation, and solicitation to commit murder. According to the accusations against him, he tried to hire an undercover detective to kill his ex-wife.

According to the charges against Wallace, in August he hired a private investigator to discover unknown information about his ex-wife, so that he could use this information against her in a child custody/child support battle with her. However, during the course of their discussions, Wallace allegedly asked the investigator if he would be willing to refer someone who could kill his wife and then dispose of her body.

He later met with an undercover detective, and asked him if he was he could help him carry out the murder of his ex-wife. According to the charges against him, he told the detective that was willing to pay up to $30,000 for the murder. He even showed the detective a picture of his wife, so that she could be identified and killed.

Wallace seems to have believed that it would be much more financial advantageous for him to dispose of his ex-wife in this manner, than to continue to pay child support payment or to settle the dispute in an illegal manner.

For California divorce lawyers, it has been fairly troubling over the past few months to see a series of incidents, many of them in California, involving violence committed by spouses in the middle of a divorce or child custody battle. Divorce can be a traumatic and stressful event, and in such cases, it's recommended that the parties involved obtain psychological or emotional counseling to help deal with this major transition.

Child Support Battle Gets Out Of Hand

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Defining matters involving child custody and child support payments at the time of the divorce is extremely important, and it is very important to resolve these matters in the interests of the parties concerned. Failure to do so right at the time of the divorce can lead to ugly situations down the line. Recently, three women were jailed after launching an assault related to failure to pay child support.

The assault occurred at a restaurant, and injured seven people, including several people who had nothing to do with the dispute in question at all.The incident occurred in Pennsylvania, where a woman frustrated at the lack of child support payments by the father of her child, entered a diner looking for the man. She found him there, and after an altercation with her, the man promptly left the restaurant. It is not yet clear if the man worked at the restaurant. The woman then left the restaurant, and returned with two of her friends. They then proceeded to attack other staff members at the restaurant.

One of the women poured a pan of boiling sauce on one of the staff members, leading to serious burn injuries to the face, head, neck and hands. The employee had to be rushed to the hospital for treatment of her injuries. Another woman was armed with an aluminum baseball bat, and proceeded to attack several of the staff members at the restaurant.

By the time the women were subdued, at least seven people at the restaurant had suffered injuries. The women were arrested soon after, and jailed on charges of aggravated assault.

Issues of child support and child custody can be very emotional, and unless these issues are resolved at the time of finalizing the divorce, things can very quickly get out of hand, like it happened here.