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"Child Custody" is one of the most misunderstood terms in family law.   Generally, one parent the custodial parent and the other parent is the non-custodial parent.  This is not meant to relegate the non-custodial parent into "visitor" status in the child's life.

Let our office help you understand the ins and outs of child custody - what "custody" means and what it doesn't mean.  

Then, let us help you form a parenting plan that allows you BOTH to parent your children.

Call for a free telephone consultation.

REAL Questions and Answers:  

Q: If I'm 15 can I move with my mom if she has custody of my brother and my dad has custody of me ?: I live with my dad and my little brother who has the same mom and dad lives with my mom I what to live with my mom because there's more opportunity and I think I'll be better off is it legal for me to live with my mom if my dads not okay with it 

A: Jacqueline’s answer: This area of law is frustrating for teenagers and parents alike. Unfortunately, the legal answer is that, aside from an agreement between your parents, the current parenting plan is the order that the parties (your parents) must follow. In other words, if your parents both agree that you can live the majority of the time with your mom, then you are home free. But if your parents do not agree to allow you to live with your mom, then you are going to have to find other ways to get what you are seeking. Why do you want to live with your mom? Is it that you want more time with her? Is it that you want more time with your brother? Is your mother's home a more convenient location from which to conduct your daily life (school,sports, friends, etc)? If any of these are the case, maybe your parents would be open to agreeing to some tweaks in the current schedule. If these small changes would truly benefit you, I would hope your parents would be open to discussing options with you and with each other. Best of luck.

Q: I am a roommate to someone who has a custody issue with their child - does my DUi affect their case since I live in the house?: I am renting the downstairs of their house. I going to have to get a background check since I am their tennant

A: Jacqueline’s Answer: Great question! Generally, your DUI conviction should have no bearing on your roommate's custody issue other than that there may be an order that your roommate may not allow you to transport the child. I would be very surprised if anything more came of it.

Q: Mother of my child is refusing to allow me to talk to child/refusing to let her visit. How do I get court ordered visitation?:

*Child is 5

*Mom has mental issues and should be medicated

*Mom is angry we're not together using child as weapon

*Mom has anger issues(lashes out at child)

*Child wants to visit me (father) and family(mother refuses)

*Mother has violent outburst(has physically attacked me while I was holding child)

*Mother lied and had me arrested for dv(I believe so she could use that against me)

*I am a heartbroken father who just wants to be able to have access to my daugter

A: Jacqueline’s Answer: The easy answer is that you need to get a parenting plan in place. If you are not married to the mother, then that can be done by filing a summons and petition to establish a parenting plan. Once you file, you can make a motion for temporary orders so you will at least have some orders in place while your case is pending. Your scenario is pretty complex, so I would highly recommend that you have an attorney to help you. You need an attorney to help you determine the relevance of the allegations you are making against the mother. You say you are just seeking access to your daughter, yet you imply that the mother is not a fit parent. So you are fine with your daughter living with an unfit parent? Doesn't that make you unfit as well? See what I mean? A case like yours can spiral out of control really fast if you are not very clear about what you are trying to achieve and how you are going to achieve it. If you are truly only seeking access to your child, then absent some severe issues on your part, you and your daughter are both entitled to the relationship and to time with each other. An experienced attorney can help you keep the case focused on getting the visitation you are entitled to. If there truly is a concern about abuse on the mother's part, then an attorney can help you address that as well.

Q: Can you modify a parent's visitation schedule (no court order is in place currently)?: Spouse is going to modify child support without a motion. We have no temporary orders or anything legal in place. If he cuts off my child support I would like to modify his visitation (not cut it off but just modify it). Can I do that? He sent me a letter stating that he is moving all credit card payments over to me. Can I do the same thing with the kids-- only just say two weekends a month and no more evenings during the week?

A: Jacqueline’s Answer: If there are no court orders in place, then you are both free to do whatever you want; however, this is a terrible position to put yourselves in and it is an even worse position to put your children in. Your question referred to your "spouse." Are you in the midst of a dissolution (divorce)? Have either of you filed the petition yet? Either way, it is absolutely essential that you get temporary orders on child support and residential time entered ASAP. Your children deserve better than to have their lives thrown into tailspin every time you and your husband have a fight between the two of you. Get orders in place for everyone's sake.

Q: Is there any consequences for not reporting a new job to child support enforcement?: My son's "dad" is currently $2000 behind in child support. This is now the third time that **I** have reported HIS new job because friends have happened to see him on the job. He doesn't report his new jobs, OR he reports it the day that he leaves the job (to appear as though he is doing his job of reporting, I assume) So are there consequences to his LACK OF actions? And better yet, can this help if I request for him to sign his rights away? THANK YOU!

A: Jacqueline’s Answer: It depends on what type of "consequences" you are referring to. If you are hoping that he will lose some or all of his residential time due to his non-payment of child support, it is not going to happen. I know it seems unjust when a parent is not paying child support, but the courts do not punish your child for a parent's non-payment. Your child still has every right to a relationship with the other parent. As to "signing his rights away," there are only two narrow circumstances where that is even possible. One circumstance is that the State could file a dependency action and seek to have his parental rights terminated. If this happens, your ex could agree to the termination of rights. The other circumstance is if you and your spouse have filed a petition for a step-parent adoption. In that case, your ex's rights would have to be terminated before the adoption could occur and your ex could agree to the termination. Other than those two circumstances, he is, and always will be, the father of your child and both parent and child have a right to the relationship regardless of child support.

Q:  What is it like to go through a GAL?  My ex - husband who sees our 5 year old daughter every other weekend constantly bad mouths me to her. Without writing too much here, he is causing so much emotional damage. It's been emotional torture as a mother seeing my 5 year old so upset and changing so much from it. It's been going on for years. I have kept a very good journal. Every single weekend my daughter visits my ex, he spends the time trying to brainwash her about adult things, i.e. Why mommy left him and that mommy is bad for doing that and that mommy lies all the time. I can't write everything on this site, but it's crazy what my daughter has been submitted to. My husband and I would like to know specifically what it would be like to have a GAL for this situation? What would a GAL do?

A:  Jacqueline's Answer:   If you are seeking a modification of your parenting plan, then you can make a motion to the appointment of a GAL. A GAL will research the matter from many angles, including interviewing and visiting the homes of the parties, speaking to the child, interviewing the child's teachers or even counselors. A GAL would then make a formal report and a recommendation to the court as to what outcome the GAL believes is in the best interest of the child.

Q:  What are my legal rights as a biological father if the birth mother wants to give up our baby for adoption to a relative?  We are currently separated and never married.

A:  Jacqueline's Answer:   In order for your child to be adopted, your parental rights would have to be terminated. There are two ways that could happen: 1. you agree to have you rights terminated, or 2. the State files an action in court to have your rights terminated against your will. If there are no allegations of abuse or neglect on your part, then the State will not file such an action. If there are allegations of abuse or neglect on your part, then the State may file such an action, but you would be given opportunity to correct the situation without having your rights terminated. In absence of either of the options above, the child's mother cannot simply give your child up for adoption without your consent. If she does not want to parent the child, the YOU are first in line.

Q:   If I plan to relocate, How can I access my childs fathers address since he refuses to give it to me so I can send him appropriate paper work out can I have someone serve him at one of the scheduled supervised visit

A:  Jacqueline's Answer:   If you don't know his address, then you will have to have him personally served someplace else - like at his work or the supervised visits. Once you are in front of a judge, there may be a reason for the judge to compel him to disclose his address.

Q: Would this be considered "Harrasment"? Could I place restraining order on him for my child and I?  The father of my 1 year just started paying his child support this 2015, he believes he is entitled to claim my son on his taxes. even when hes only seen his 1 yr old son tops, 5 times. I denied to give him my sons ssn, so he told me he would take me to court., and I would be the one that would loose if he did. I know he said this to scare me. Once again stood by my answer, but this time he said if i didnt, he would take me to court to take my son away, or atleast have him more than half the time. Now, I wouldnt mind him seeing his son, but since he expressed himself this way, I feel like he is doing this out of spite, not because he is interested in his child. I dont feel like my son would be safe with someone who is only doing this to obtain the ssn to get money out of it.t. Thank you!

A:  Jacqueline's Answer:   Don't let him bully you with all the things he says he is going to do if you do not comply with his request. In the absence of child abuse and/or severe substance, alcohol, or mental health issues, he would not succeed at "taking your son away." Further, he is extremely unlikely to succeed at having your son more than half the time. Now, as for regular parenting time, he is entitled to that and he will most likely get it. It is one of those things where you can do this the easy way or the hard way. A judge is extremely unlikely to be persuaded by your perception of his motivations for seeing more of his son.

Q:  2 mos pre-divorce. Custody will 60/40. She makes more per hour. I pay more insurance. Does the court consider the insurance?  My wife and I will be divorcing in two months. We previously agreed for me pay $250/mo, plus continue to carry health insurance $210/mo; and, split daycare $120/mo. We have two kids. Spouse is reneging and has calculated the Child Support Worksheet; however, she did it wrong. She did not include her actual income. I did not get our agreement in writing. From what I am researching, I will owe approximately $540/mo, but is that $540 on top of the medical and daycare I already pay which is $330/mo? As of now, I pay her $250; daycare $120; and, medical $210 for a total of $580. She makes more an hour than I do. Does this matter?

A:  Jacqueline's Answer:   When you fill out the child support worksheet, there is a line for you to give your self a credit for the amount you pay for the children's health insurance. This should adjust the standard calculation.

Q: What to do when we are uncomfortable with living quarters at the other household?  Our girls' mom has primary residential time with them. The girls are ages 5 & 9. She had a family move into her home and said it was "temporary" and its now been over 2 years. The girls have to share a room with the daughter. Now, we found out they are moving out and her new boyfriend is moving in. We don't know him and we have seen some interesting things on social media regarding him. Anyways, she wants to leave the girls alone with him while she works. Daycare has to be a "joint decision". Can she do that? Can we request another GAL investigation?

A:  Jacqueline's Answer:   Read your current parenting plan carefully to determine if you are required to attempt mediation before looking to the courts. If you are required to mediate, then do so. If not, or if mediation is unsuccessful, then you may want to consult with an attorney to determine the viability of your case if you should go to court. Courts are very hesitant to pass judgement on living quarters as long as they are safe (as that can appear to be economically discriminatory). However, you stated that the living quarters are soon to change, and the new problem is that the boyfriend is moving in. If you and your ex have joint decision making authority as to daycare, then yes, you would have a say in whether or not the boyfriend provides the daycare. Beyond that, if there are no articulate concerns with the boyfriend (concerning criminal history, domestic violence, untreated mental health issues, drug use, etc), then there may be no basis for a modification. And id there is no basis for a modification, then there is no basis for a GAL.