Recently in Juvenile Law Category

Kerri Kasem Fights to Protect the Right of Children to See Ailing Parents

Thumbnail image for when-elder-abuse-hits-home.jpgLegendary Casey Kasem, who died in June of this year, held many positions in the entertainment industry but perhaps was best-known for his American Top 40 radio countdown program, which he started in 1970.

He was also famous for his distinctive voice and held a renowned place in radio history. He retired in 2009 due to his struggle with Parkinson's disease.

Casey Kasem's last years were also famous, but unsavory reasons that weren't associated with his many achievements. As he lived his last months and days, news stories flourished about the acrimony between his daughter Kerri Kasem and his wife (Kerri's stepmother), Jean.

Unfortunate Fight Over Visitation Overshadowed Kasem's Last Days

Kerri accused Jean of elder abuse while also fighting for the right to see her dying father. Two weeks before Casey Kasem died at the age of 82, authorities removed him from his wife's care and admitted him to the hospital with an infected bedsore.

Kerri is now taking her personal fight to an even greater public platform. She has aligned herself with California State Assemblyman Mike Gatto to author a new bill titled the Parental Access Legislation. The bill would protect children from earlier marriages from being prohibited from seeing a parent by the spouse or child from a later marriage.

What Kerri discovered during the final years of her father's life was that adult children don't have the legal right to visit an acutely ill or dying parent, especially if a stepparent bars access.

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Congress Considers Tighter Restrictions on Private "Re-Homing" of Children

rtr183p9.jpgThe longhorn state of Texas outranks every other state in this country for foreign adoptions, followed by California and then New York. The inter-country adoptions that occurred in these states in 2013 were respectively 489, 477 and 360, according to the Bureau of Consular Affairs, part of the U.S. Department of State.

Where were these children born? The number one choice for expectant American parents wanting a foreign-born baby tends to be China. Last year, couples adopted 2,306 Chinese babies while Ethiopian babies ranked second at 993, followed by Ukrainian babies at 438.

Inter-country adoptions aren't cheap. They can range from $6,250 - the cost of a typical adoption in Kenya - to as high as $27,160 in Albania. Not always included in these estimates are additional expenditures for international travel, hotel and associated costs.

As expensive as those adoptions may seem, foreign adoptions can cost far less than surrogacy. In fact, the most expensive form of adoption these days may be gestational surrogacy, a procedure that involves obtaining sperm and eggs from both biological parents and then implanting the embryo into the uterus of the surrogate using in vitro fertilization. This procedure can cost as much as $100,000 or more, depending on the number of in vitro fertilization procedures needed.

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Gay Marriage Bans Overturned in Utah and Indiana

600x4179.jpgNot only has the tide changed on the issue of same-sex marriage, last year's US Supreme Court's pair of decisions has caused a tsunami to sweep across the shores and Midlands of this country.

Just last week, a federal appeals court in Denver ruled that gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry. If there is an appeal, the issue will head to the Supreme Court where justices will be forced to tackle the issue head-on.

The 10th Circuit Appeals Court that made the decision about Utah's ban on gay marriage also governs Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and New Mexico, where it is already legal for gay couples to marry.

Last Wednesday, the justices found little justification under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution to bar same-sex couples from marrying. In fact, the justices found the opposition's arguments based on procreation and parenting skills lacking in merit.

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Deportation Sparks Custody Battle

US_border_patrol.jpgSince its inception, the United States has welcomed immigrants from around the world so it's only natural that immigrant-related cases would find their way to a family law court.

Take the case of Ruby Maldonado-Morin, who married American-born Michael Daniels of Omaha. They married, Ruby gave birth to a son, and then the couple ended up in divorce court. Ruby, who enjoyed having primary custody of the child, eventually married a Mexican immigrant by the name of José Morin.

The triangle of parents worked amicably together for a while. Ruby and her second husband went on to enjoy the birth of two more children while Ruby shared custody of Deonte with Michael.

Can Divorced Parents Move Their Children Out of the Country?

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Gay Adoptions - Bans on Gay Marriages Ruled Unconstitutional in More States

Thumbnail image for gay-adoption.jpgA lesbian couple from Virginia has a lot to celebrate these days. Desiree Bryan recently gave birth to twin girls, but not in her home state. Instead, Desiree and her partner Stephanie drove two hours to the District of Columbia were Stephanie gave birth to two healthy girls.

When children are born in the District of Columbia to a gay couple, both parents' names are added to the birth certificate. However, the birth certificate is not considered legal proof of parentage. That is why within a few months, the mothers will return to the District of Columbia were Stephanie will be able to adopt the girls and share full parental rights with her partner, Desiree.

The women couldn't have equal parental rights if the child had been born in Virginia. However, a recent law allows the courts to grant adoptions to out-of-state lesbian couples when the children are born in the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia is one of few jurisdictions where second-parent adoptions can occur even when the parents don't reside there.

In addition, even in states that don't have gay-friendly laws, court rulings are enforced despite the state court that issued them.

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California Refuses Back Child Support to Woman Who Hid Children - Texas Outlaws Proxy Marriages

baby-child-support.jpgYou Can't Hide Your Children and Still Receive Child Support

Can an ex-wife who hid her children from their father collect child support even after the adult children are more than 30 years old?

That is exactly what Vladixa Boswell tried to do.

Boswell divorced her husband in 1985 when her daughter was five years old and her son was three. The court ordered her ex-husband, John, to pay $70 a month per child. He obeyed that order until Vladixa left California, changed the children's names, and failed to notify the ex-husband of their new address.

The ex-wife returned the 16-year-old son, John Jr., to the father when the daughter was already an adult in 1998. It wasn't until recently that Vladixa decided to sue her ex-husband for $92,735 in back child support.

The courts were probably appalled. A Ventura County judge, ruled in favor of the ex-husband. Vladixa appealed the decision but the California Court of Appeals concurred with the judge.

Vladixa was lucky that she wasn't fined for filing a frivolous appeal.

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Courts Argue over the Rights of a De Facto Father

mediationdv.jpgWhat happens when a woman involved in an intermittent relationship over the course of eight years becomes pregnant?

In the case of Amanda Moore and Matthew Pitts, the boyfriend filed a complaint in 2011 seeking parental rights and responsibilities for the child, who was by then nearly three years old. Matthew succeeded, even after a pregnancy test proved he was not the biological father, to be designated as a de facto parent.

Amanda filed an appeal to remove Matthew's de facto parenthood and to recognize Eric B. Hague as the father. A paternity test determined that Eric, with whom Amanda dated for a few months in 2008, was the biological child.

Amanda also asserted that Matthew's role in her son's life had been short, inconsistent and devoid of caretaking.

At the time of the appeal, Eric was on active duty in the military and lived in Wisconsin with this wife, son and two stepchildren. In court, Eric testified that he and Amanda wanted the child to recognize him as his true father.

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ACLU Joins Fight Over Same-Sex Marriage in Michigan

bilde.jpgYou may recall that a Michigan judge, not too long ago, stated his conviction that a ban on same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution and issued an order invalidating the state's constitutional restriction limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman.

Following U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman's ruling on March 21, 2014, 300 same-sex couples jumped at the opportunity to marry until, that is, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, following a request by Attorney General Bill Schuette, temporarily stopped same-sex marriages in the state.

Shortly thereafter, Gov. Rick Snyder issued a statement noting that same-sex couples who had been legally married would not necessarily be afforded the same benefits as married heterosexual couples.

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Offsetting the High Cost of Adoption

adoption.jpgLast week I discussed the unexpected political issues that nearly derailed the adoption of four children from the Ukraine (International Politics Can Affect Your Foreign Adoption). This week I'll explain how you can offset some of the expenses involved in adoption.

First, let's review some of the costs associated with private adoptions whether you use a private adoption agency or find a surrogate. These costs can include:

  • A home study
  • Post-placement supervision
  • Orientation meetings
  • Case management services
  • Prenatal medical care
  • Delivery and hospital costs
  • Living expenses provided during pregnancy, including housing, transportation, food, and maternity clothing
  • Physical examinations by a pediatrician
  • Legal expenses
  • Termination of parental rights, including publications, court costs, attorney fees
  • Finalization of adoption
  • Diligent search for birth fathers
Total costs for adoption can range from $10,000 to $40,000 or higher depending on if you decide to adopt a child from this country or you elect to have a foreign adoption.

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International Politics Can Affect Your Foreign Adoption

adoptions.jpgAn Alabama family was on the verge of completing their dream - to bring four adopted children to the U.S. from the Ukraine - when violent protests broke out.

The conflict intensified and then soon after the Olympics ended, Russia invaded the peninsula of Crimea, which until last week's vote belonged to Ukraine.

The adoption of three of the children was processed smoothly, but Lisa Bundy needed to remain in the Ukraine until she could secure final approval to leave Ukraine with her fourth child.

According to CBS News, the Montgomery, Alabama couple decided a year ago to adopt the children, Nastia, Karina, Max and Alla. The couple arrived in Kiev last November and anticipated leaving quickly until the protests began and delayed their plans.

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Child Abuse Allegations Fuel Custody Battle

February 25, 2014, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

parental-alienation-270.jpgA child custody battle has been brewing in Maine for the past six years.

The battle began when the parents of "M.M." divorced in 2008 and the mother received primary custody of the child with parents equally sharing parental rights.

Unhappy with that decision, the father later sought custody, and a district court awarded him sole parental rights but noted that the mother had the right to frequent visitation.

The custody struggle was far from over.

Petitioners Allege Child Abuse Against the Father

In 2013, four petitioners who were unrelated to the child - the mother's investigator and three private citizens who had no legal or familial relationship to the child - filed a petition for a child protection order and alleged the father abused M.M. The petitioners also sought a preliminary protection order granting custody to the mother.

A preliminary protective order can be issued upon the filing of a petition provided the request is supported by an affidavit or sworn testimony before a judge.

The petitioners provided the court with documented incidents of child abuse, including evidence that the father had assaulted the child's head with a metal pan, physically abused his second wife, and was unwilling to allow the mother to visit her child.

The court dismissed the petition and denied their request. The judge determined that the petitioners lacked legal standing and that the claims asserted by the petitioners were barred by the doctrine of res judicata. Res judicata is Latin for "a matter already judged."

Displeased with that decision, the petitioners appealed to the State Supreme Court.

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Paternal Grandfather Tries to Usurp Mother's Custody Rights

February 18, 2014, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

Grandparents.jpgChild custody cases can take unusual turns. You win your child custody battle and feel secure until something occurs that turns your world upside down. That's exactly what happened in this case to the mother of an autistic child.

The mother, while living in Ohio, received sole custody of her daughter in 2009. Sometime thereafter, she and her daughter moved to Arizona.

In 2012, the mother made plans to travel temporarily to Ohio and left her daughter with the maternal grandmother. While the mother was out of state, the child's paternal grandfather filed a motion for emergency temporary custody of the child in Ohio, which the juvenile court granted.

Upon learning this, the mother filed a complaint for a writ of prohibition. She contended that the Ohio court lacked jurisdiction because she and the child were residents of Arizona.

The Ohio Court of Appeals dismissed the mother's complaint. It reasoned that the juvenile court had jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and that the mother had an adequate remedy by way of appeal if the juvenile court erred in its rulings.

While all of these court cases proceeded, the paternal grandfather retained custody of the child.

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Don't Let Your Child Custody Battle Turn Deadly

December 31, 2013, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

Police-outside-Westminste-007.jpgSometimes child custody issues turn deadly.

Take the case of the Ukrainian father who threw his 3-year-old son and them himself to their deaths from a Manhattan high-rise building a few days before Christmas. In that case, the 35-year-old father, Dmitriy Kanarikov died instantly; his son died later at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital.

The murder-suicide was surprising considering a Facebook post that Kanarikov wrote just three months earlier. In that status update, the father wrote that his greatest desire was to be a great father and husband. "I want to be the best dad - nothing is more important to me," Kanarikov said.

In response, his wife, Svetlana Bukharina commented on Facebook, "I have the best husband and son in the world."

What Went Wrong in this Case?

Not long after those glowing and very public messages appeared on social media, the couple broke up and a custody battle ensued. The father's anger over the custody battle was so intense that the parents met at a local police station to exchange their son for their visits.

What could have angered the father to the point that he would not only take his own life but that of his son's as well? Some believe it might have been something as innocuous as his wife not arriving on time to deliver the son to his father. But those are only rumors.

The reality is that emotions always tend to be tense during divorce and custody battles. Issues of fairness and justice can sometimes appear to be weighted in favor of the "other spouse." And the slightest indication of disrespect can enrage an already angry parent, causing them momentarily to lose sight of reality.

How to Stay Calm During a Custody Battle

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U.S. Attitudes Shift About Single-Father Households and the Role of Dads

December 17, 2013, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

Single Dad.jpgIt was once inconceivable for a father to pursue custody of his children. Decades ago, mothers routinely received physical custody while the fathers were relegated to the occasional weekend or holiday visit.

We've come a long way--but we have further to travel.

The most recent Census Report (published in June 2013) contains interesting statistics on this topic.

  • There are an estimated 70.1 million fathers in the U.S. (these numbers are for the year 2008).
  • There were about 1.96 million single fathers in 2012.
  • 15% of single parents are men.
  • About 44% of the 70.1 million fathers were divorced.
  • 42% of the 70.1 million dads had an annual family income of $50,000 or more.
  • In 2009, single-parent fathers received $1.9 billion in child support payments

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Seek Supervised Visitation When Your Ex Is Mentally Ill

December 3, 2013, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

supervised-visitation-1.jpgThere are times when divorce happens for the saddest reasons. I'm talking about mental illness today.

Sometimes couples meet and fall in love and don't realize that a partner is taking medication for a mental illness until they are living together or engaged. When a partner discovers the truth, his or her fears may be assuaged by the fact that the other person is on medication and takes it regularly.

But what happens when the couple marries and has a child, and then the spouse with the mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or severe depression, stops taking the medication? Sometimes divorce happens and oftentimes, the parent with the mental illness is restricted to supervised visitation with the child.

Parent's Mental Illness Can Affect Children

How a parent's mental illness affects children depends on various factors. For example, the illness is more likely to have deleterious effects when the child is young. Other factors need to be examined as well. For example, what is the severity of the parent's illness, how does the illness affect the parent's positive parenting, and does the parent show real interest in the child? These are all important considerations.

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