You can love your kids or hate your spouse- but you can’t do both

Headlines this week: “Woman arrested for parental alienation in New York.”

Mom, who had primary custody of her two daughters, was accused of programing her children to hate their father. Mom made the father come to her driveway for Hanukkah celebrations in the middle of winter outside; she uttered the words, “I wish you got cancer,” in the presence of her darling children; and, she trashed gifts from dad and his relatives.

These actions were not only condemned by the court, but a Long Island, New York judge sentenced a woman to six weekends in jail for repeatedly undermining her ex-husband’s relationship with their two daughters.

Apparently, even celebrities are afflicted with this problem: Dennis Hopper‘s (of the film Easy Rider) daughter was forbidden to attend her own father’s funeral because Mr. Hopper insisted that his ex-wife be banned from the ceremony and his daughter lived with mom.

Published on nataliegregg.com.  To read the full article, click here.  For more information on family law and divorce matters in San Diego and/or Riverside county, please visit our website at www.jwbrookslaw.com, and follow us everywhere @jbwrookslaw.

Child support payments could go up significantly

Some child support payments in Maryland could soon go up – a change that state Human Resources Secretary Brenda Donald called “long overdue.”

For the first time in two decades, lawmakers are poised to revise the guidelines that courts use to set child support when divorcing or unmarried parents cannot agree on an amount. Those guidelines are based on household expense data from the 1970s, and although they accommodate rising incomes, advocates say they don’t account for the escalating costs of raising a child.

Human Resources officials estimate there are about 500,000 child support orders in Maryland – a mix of private agreements and court cases.

Written by Julie Bykowicz. To read the full article, click here. For more information on family law attorneys, visit our website http://www.jwbrookslaw.com

Divorce, Custody, Child Support, and Alimony in Denmark

I attended a social gathering in Denmark hosted by a successful businessman with two teenage daughters. “Their mom didn’t want custody,” he explained, “so I’ve had them since the youngest was four years old”. The mother had initiated the divorce, but had not sought any contact with the kids other than an optional twice/month (every other weekend) visit. “It isn’t the life that I expected to live, but it is a good life.” The Americans at the party were shocked by this. What about the maternal instinct? Was it different in Denmark than in the U.S.? “Most middle class parents who divorce simply split the children 50-50,” explained a Dane. “Children aren’t cash cows in Denmark, except for lower class people with six children, for whom state subsidies and child support from the other parent can be a significant source of income. The previous government tried to limit this by paying only for the first two children. But they watched Muslim women in black burkas rioting across the bridge in Sweden so the new government restored the benefits for an unlimited number of children.” Child support payments in Denmark can continue until a child turns 24 (if the kid is still in school, which of course he or she is likely to be in Europe, the original home of infinite adolescence). Our host’s income was easily high enough that in Massachusetts he would have been tapped by a divorce lawsuit plaintiff for $50,000 tax-free dollars per year in child support (roughly $1 million over 20 years; see worksheet). Could it really be the case that children who supposedly cost $1 million to rear in Massachusetts would yield only minimal child support in Denmark, where the cost of almost everything is far higher?

Written byPhilip Greenspun. To read the full article, click here. For more information on family law attorneys, visit our website http://www.jwbrookslaw.com

Is Divorce Bad for Children?

Many of the 1.5 million children in the U.S. whose parents divorce every year feel as if their worlds are falling apart. Divorcing parents are usually very concerned about the welfare of their children during this troublesome process. Some parents are so worried that they remain in unhappy marriages, believing it will protect their offspring from the trauma of divorce.

Yet parents who split have reasons for hope. Researchers have found that only a relatively small percentage of children experience serious problems in the wake of divorce or, later, as adults. In this column, we discuss these findings as well as factors that may protect children from the potentially harmful effects of divorce.

Rapid Recovery

Divorce affects most children in the short run, but research suggests that kids recover rapidly after the initial blow. In a 2002 study psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington of the University of Virginia and her then graduate student Anne Mitchell Elmore found that many children experience short-term negative effects from divorce, especially anxiety, anger, shock and disbelief. These reactions typically diminish or disappear by the end of the second year. Only a minority of kids suffer longer.

Written by Hal Arkowitz and Scott O. Lilienfeld. To read the full article, click here.

Child Support and Taxes

Will the fiscal cliff changes affect your child support payments? As divorce mediators, we can tell you – the short answer is probably, but not quite yet. And having a clear support agreement in place will minimize any potential problems.

You may have already seen changes to your take home pay. Currently, Social Security is financed by a 12.4 percent tax on wages up to $113,700, with employers paying half and workers paying the other half. So your maximum share in 2013 is $7,049. Our government reduced the share paid by workers from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent for 2011 and 2012. However, this benefit expired on December 31. So, if you are first determining child support using the current child support guideline program, until the new guidelines are released for 2013 (sometime in the spring), the program will underestimate the employee portion of taxes (the old 4.2% instead of the updated 6.2%). Parents can consult with a divorce mediator to help calculate child support for this and any future years. A divorce mediator can help save you time, money and decrease stress when addressing child support, as well as other areas such as issues of parenting (child custody), division of assets and liabilities, and spousal support (alimony).

Written by Randi M. Albert, JD and Michelle Weinberg. To read the full article, click here.

Equal Child Custody Revisited

Several months ago I submitted a blog entitled “Why Equal Child Custody Should Not Be Presumed.” It is accessible on the Huffington Post Divorce Website in permanent archives. In that blog I stated that one size does not fit all and that I believed the statutory policy requiring 50/50 equal custody should not be the law.

I have received some comments where people have been very upset over my position.
In the state of Michigan where I practice there have been proposals in the legislature to have the statutory presumption for joint, equal, physical custody. The law has not been passed as of this date.

The general view of the attorneys who specialize in family law is that one size does not fit all. The view is that custody and parenting time should be decided on a case by case basis without a mandate or rebuttable presumption.

There clearly is a trend in Michigan and elsewhere towards a sharing of custodial arrangements.

There is also a trend to get away from some of the arguments over semantics. In Michigan there is a presumption favoring joint legal custody, which means that in almost every case the parents are to share in any major decision making consistent with the best interests of their children. This covers medical issues, school related issues, religious issues, and extracurricular activities by way of example.

Written by Henry Gornbein. To read the full article, click here.

Family Law in the Age of Facebook

Call her Ms. Smith. She was single, fun and interested in men, she declared on her Facebook profile. Photographs on her page depicted her canoodling with her latest boyfriend at a Dallas cocktail lounge. A Budweiser sign is prominently displayed overhead.
But for Rick Robertson, the family law attorney who was representing her soon-to-be ex-husband (call him Mr. Smith) in a divorce and child-custody dispute, Ms. Smith’s Facebook postings afforded a Perry Mason moment.
Until then, Ms. Smith had successfully been denying her husband full visitation rights with his infant son on grounds that he was “abusive and had alcohol issues.” After Robertson asked for—and got—Ms. Smith’s Facebook password in open court, however, the discussion no longer turned on Mr. Smith’s moral character but on her own.
Ms. Smith’s statements and postings on Facebook “came back to bite her,” Robertson says. “The woman was clearly not single, but still married. She was also the mother of a 1-year-old son.”
The result? Ms. Smith undermined her credibility and accusations toward Mr. Smith. Robertson’s client won full visitation rights and ultimately gained leverage in securing more favorable terms in a divorce settlement. Even so, as Robertson emphasized while sitting in his tastefully appointed offices overlooking the manicured fairways of Gleneagles Country Club’s golf course in Plano, a posh suburb just north of Dallas, divorce court is not the place for clear-cut legal victories.

Written by Paul Sweeney. To read the full article, click here.