Articles Tagged with child custody attorneys

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custody and same-sex divorceIf you are in a same-sex marriage and considering a divorce, you are entitled to a divorce with essentially the same procedural map as heterosexual couples. There are, however, potential complications related to child custody issues that may require additional attention. Seeking the help of a local divorce attorney could make the path ahead easier.

Same-Sex Couples and No-Fault Divorce

In California, getting a no-fault divorce is the norm. That means that neither party will be blamed or shamed, and assets will be equally divided. There is no reason to expect debt and asset issues to be any more or less complicated than they are for any other couple.

Same-Sex Couple Child Custody and Visitation

There could be, however, issues with child custody if only one partner has a biological or a legal connection to the children. Legal rights are determined based on several potential questions:

  • Was the child born into a civil union, domestic partnership, or marriage in California or in a state where parental rights are given to a non-biological parent?
  • Was the child legally adopted by the non-biological parent?
  • Did the parents jointly adopt the child?
  • Was the child conceived prior to marriage, but with the full intent of sharing child-rearing responsibilities?
  • Are both partners’ names on the birth certificate?
  • Can de-facto parentage be established?
  • Is the biological parent unfit, opening the option for a third-party custody petition (family code 3041)?

In some situations, a biological parent who is not involved in raising a child may have refused to waive parental rights, leaving no room for a stepparent adoption.  In other cases, children have already been adopted by one partner prior to the marriage. The new partner in the marriage is a step-parent. As a stepparent, one may have engaged in all the normal parenting activities and responsibilities that the children needed. Nevertheless, a step-parent’s legal standing with regard to custody is virtually non-existent under normal circumstances.  

Essentially, establishing parentage is the best way to be assured of the rights and responsibilities associated with being a parent, including gaining physical and/or legal custody, obtaining visitation rights, receiving or paying child support, and/or sharing childcare and medical costs.

On the other hand, even if parentage is not established, the court does have discretion to provide visitation under California Family Code Section 3100. While a step-parent may not have a legal claim to custody, reasonable visitation is clearly possible to anyone who has a vested interest in the welfare of the children. Continue reading →

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You may have seen the cursing toddler viral video of a two-year-old Omaha, Nebraska, toddler repeating curse words as a group of adults teach him and cheer him on. The video was released by the Omaha Police Department, ostensibly as a way of drawing attention to some of the problems the city faces. The video sparked outrage, directed at both the police for releasing the video, and the boy’s mother for putting her son into that environment. Some people even accused the 17-year-old mother of child endangerment, and demanded that the state forcibly remove the child from the mother’s custody.

SwearingCursing toddler to remain with mother

The mother did not make matters any better when she defended her son and herself from critics, stating that she was out of the room when filming occurred and that her son does not normally talk that way. However, an Omaha juvenile court judge ruled that the mother can maintain custody of her son, and both mother and son would be placed with the same foster family. After the video went viral, the mother and son were both removed from their home and placed in child protective custody. Their removal actually had very little to do with the video. Authorities said adults in the household “repeatedly allowed known gang members into their home.” At one point the state even tried to help relocate the family out of Omaha.

Child Endangerment Can Lead to Parents Losing Children

The state can take a child from his parents if it determines that the child has been severely neglected or abused. This can take many forms, such as ignoring a child’s medical needs, allowing him to become obese, expressing extreme disinterest in the child, or inflicting severe emotional damage to the child. In this case, the mother allowed her child to have continual contact with adults who clearly were not interested in the child’s well-being, and actively inflicted emotional harm on him. The judge apparently determined that the mother was more a victim than victimizer, and therefore should not lose custody of her son.

There are other factors that often lead to parents losing custody of their children. One is abandonment, in which the parent or parents simply leave the child on the street, with a relative, or with a foster family. Along the same lines, parents who fail to support or maintain contact with their children can lose custody. Parents who suffer from long-term mental illness or addiction can have their children removed from the home if the state determines that such action is in the best interests of the children. Long-term incarceration can lead to loss of custody, for obvious reasons. Finally, failure to follow the directives of child services can result in a loss of custody.

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