Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Supreme Court to decide right to counsel in child support cases

child support.jpgIn the past, we have written about the problems many poor parents face when confronted with a contempt hearing for non-payment of child support. Although, jail time is a very possible outcome in these hearings, lawyers are not provided in child support contempt hearings as they are in criminal cases that involve the threat of incarceration. Is there a constitutional right to an attorney in child support contempt hearings? A case addressing this issue is now in the process of being decided in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case in question involves a man who had been jailed for more than one year after he failed to make child support payments. The man stated that he did not have the money to pay his child support. He believes that if he had received a court-mandated attorney then he would have avoided jail time.

Last week, the justices of the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether there is a constitutional right to legal representation during child support enforcement cases involving the possibility of jail time. Currently, the law requires that only individuals involved in criminal court cases be provided with legal representation.

Some justices felt that it is difficult to mandate a blanket ruling to cover thousands of future child support hearings. Justice Anthony Kennedy stated that creating a law that requires court-appointed lawyers during child support cases would completely alter current domestic relations court proceedings.

Attorneys against the right to counsel in child support cases expressed their concerns over requiring states to provide attorneys in child support cases. They argued that requiring states to provide legal representation might deter the states from punishing parents who fail to make child support payments.

Others have stated that there are generally no lawyers present during a child support hearing and that requiring legal representation could disrupt the effectiveness of the proceedings.

Justice Scalia mentioned that he was frustrated with the proposal to require legal representation since it dismissed any other procedures that could satisfy due process and provide both sides with a fair hearing in child support cases.
Now that oral arguments have concluded in this case, the nine Justices of the Supreme Court will make a decision in the matter over the course of the next few months. A formal decision will be released in June.

Source: The New York Times, "Justices Grapple With Issue of Right to Lawyers in Child Support Cases," Adam Liptak, 3/23/2011

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Divorced couples vacationing together for their kids

brucedemiREX468x638.jpgAction movie star Bruce Willis has taken multiple vacations with his ex-wife, and other divorced couples are beginning to vacation together.

While this type of closeness is not advisable for all divorced couples, it can be both emotionally and financially beneficial. Some couples that have vacationed together after divorce have said that the joint vacations were a great way to save money and provide excellent memories for their children. Parents have said that the joint vacations were less stressful since there was another parent to help care for the children.

Actress Meredith Morton is another advocate of joint vacations. At the time of her 2004 divorce, her son was less than a year old. The former couple decided to continue their family vacations so that they could both be available to experience their son's "firsts." Both have since remarried but they continue to take joint vacations, bringing along their new spouses.

Beverly Hills psychologist Fran Walfish said that she supports joint vacations. However, Walfish cautioned that children with divorced parents sometimes fantasize that their parents will reunite, and joint vacations could feed into that hope. She encourages parents to let children know that the trip is a special event that both parents wanted to be a part of but that it does not mean that the parents are back together.

It is recommended that former couples negotiate the terms of the trip ahead of time so that there are no issues during or after the vacation. For example, deciding who will pay for what expenses during the trip will prevent potential arguments afterward.

If the former couple is amicable and can agree on the financial terms of the trip, joint vacations can be an enjoyable experience for the children and the parents.

Source: USA Today, "Divorce-cations? Split couples travel together for the kids," Karen Schwartz, 3/19/2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Visitation rights changed by technology

video chat.jpgVirtual visitation orders may be changing the nature of child custody cases in Georgia.

Video conferencing and other virtual chat technologies allow separated parents to spend time with their children regardless of location or marital status. Skype conferencing software has become increasingly popular, allowing individuals to virtually connect with others through their computer. Apple has even created a video chat option that facilitates face-to-face interactions using one's iPhone or iPod.

A recent child custody case even required a mother to make her two children available for Skype sessions with their father. As a condition of the mother's move to another state, she was ordered to provide reliable Internet access to facilitate these Skype conversations. This is one of the first child custody cases where a parent was ordered to facilitate Skyping.

While Skype provides long-distance parents with an opportunity to virtually connect with their children, some are concerned about potential privacy violations. One individual allegedly used a video chat session with their child as an opportunity to spy on their former spouse.

The child was asked to carry the laptop computer around the home while the ex-spouse searched for new, expensive purchases that may have been made by the other parent. Any unnecessary, expensive purchases could have affected the payment of child support benefits.
Others have criticized virtual visitation as being less than ideal since one's former spouse may need to be present during a Skype session in order to operate the computer for a young child. Supporters of virtual visitations say that while it may not be the ideal situation it does facilitate interaction between the long-distance parent and their child.

Source: Huffington Post, "Virtual Visitation Rights A Looming Legal Question," Eric Villency, 3/7/2011
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Dwayne Wayne Custody Ruling - More Details

The Associated Press
dwyana-wade-sons.jpgMIAMI - When the Miami Heat ended practice Sunday, Dwyane Wade went home to his sons.

Miami Heat's LeBron James, left, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, right, sit on the bench during the final minutes of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Miami, Saturday, March 12, 2011. The Heat won 118-85. 

That will be a regular event going forward.

Ending a long and often-vengeful fight, a Chicago court has awarded Wade sole "care, custody and control" of his two sons. The boys arrived in Miami on Friday, shortly after the ruling was filed, and Wade told The Associated Press that "a huge weight is off my back."

"My life changed in a huge way," Wade told the AP. "Mentally, I've been preparing for it for over a year now. To me, it's bigger than that. For me, it shows a lot of people that you need to fight to be in your kids' lives sometimes. You fight until you can't fight any more. That's all I was trying to be, a father in his kids' lives."

Wade did not immediately announce the decision after receiving word Friday, trying to make sure that his sons fully understood what it meant first. Teammates, informed of the ruling in a locker room meeting on Saturday after Miami's victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, gave him a rousing ovation.
Wade had one of his finest all-around efforts of the season Saturday: 28 points, nine assists, five rebounds and five blocked shots.
It may not have been a coincidence.
"I heard the best news I could possibly hear," Wade said. "So I was like, 'I'm going to go out there and play free and enjoy it.'"
Wade's divorce was granted last June, after a lengthy separation. The financial portion of the divorce remains unsettled.
The boys' mother, Siohvaughn Wade, 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 said 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.

Wade's attorney, James Pritikin, said 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.

He and his ex-wife separated in August 2007 and it took Wade years to get the divorce, a process that was slowed by his ex-wife often changing attorneys. He also sued Siohvaughn Wade for defamation after she made unfounded allegations against him in 2009 - claims she eventually withdrew.

More claims against Dwyane Wade followed during the custody case, including that he was abusive to his children. The court found them all to be baseless.

"The court agreed the best home is with Mr. Wade and that he is also willing to foster a relationship with the children's mother," Pritikin said. "I know he will continue to be a phenomenal parent."

The court acknowledged that Wade's schedule as a professional athlete is "demanding," given the rigors of training camp, preseason, an 82-game regular season and then the playoffs.

"Is every day the same? No. Is it consistent? No," Goldfarb's ruling read. "But, to posit that (Dwyane Wade) does not have the time to be a primary parent is incorrect. He has the time if he makes the time."

Wade said all the measures are in place for as smooth a transition for his sons as possible. A school for the boys has been selected, and a plan for child-care was presented to the court, which found it acceptable.
"We had to have that, nanny care, everything already booked and planned out," Wade said. "That's the easy part."

The court ruling also had some other interesting items, including Siohvaughn Wade's contention that Dwyane Wade could have found employment in Chicago, where she has lived with the boys.

Wade met with the Chicago Bulls twice last summer when he was a free agent, but according to the ruling, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf never met with Wade, nor did the team ever present the 2006 NBA finals MVP with a contract offer.

The ruling also states that Wade is on the U.S. roster for the 2012 London Olympics. Wade played with the U.S. team at the Athens Games in 2004 and the Beijing Games in 2008, but has not yet said publicly if he definitively plans to play at the London Games.

Wade told the AP that the waiting for the ruling has been difficult, and expressed again Sunday a desire for his ex-wife to "play a healthy role" in the boys' lives.

"I'm not going to say, 'OK, I won,'" Wade said. "I think them living here, being here, it's a great opportunity for them and I'm looking forward to it for them, to grow up with me and us learning together, how to be father-son. So I'm excited."
March 13, 2011 03:22 PM EDT

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dwyane Wade wins custody of sons

Dwyane Wade wins custody of sons

Associated Press
MIAMI - Dwayne Wade has been awarded custody of his two sons, ending a long legal fight with his ex-wife.

Wade's children arrived in Miami on Friday, and will remain with their father going forward. Wade's Miami Heat teammates gave him an ovation when he revealed the news to them in the locker room Saturday, and the boys are expected to start at a new school in South Florida on Monday.

Wade tells The Associated Press that "a huge weight is off my back," and that he's beyond relieved that the fight is over.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The 3 million dollar custody case

Oksana Grigorieva: WINNING!

3/6/2011 1:00 AM PST by TMZ Staff


Sources connected with Oksana tell us ... Mel must pay the $300k immediately ... per Judge Scott Gordon.

TMZ has been privy to a partial tab on how much Oksana's lawyers -- which total more than 40 -- have asked requested. That figure exceeds an incredible $3 million. Mind you ... it's a custody case involving one kid.

We don't have a tally of how much was actually rewarded, but it well exceeds $1 million, and counting.

Justice -- it ain't cheap.
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