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Why an Acknowledgement of Paternity Matters

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

Becoming a father is a really big deal in a man’s life. You have contributed to the creation of a life—a person who shares your genetics, who has some of your physical looks and features, and who needs a father. It is therefore critical to understand how the law treats “paternity”, or a man’s status as a child’s father. If a child’s father and mother are married at the time of the child’s birth, then there is a legal presumption that the husband is the child’s father and no further steps need to be taken to establish paternity of the child. The same is true if a mother and father get married after a child is born, which retroactively creates the presumption that the man is the father. However, if …

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Teenagers and Child Custody

In Child Custody, Parenting by Elizabeth Stephenson

Working through the realities of child custody is challenging for any parent. Even with the most thoughtful, well-intentioned parenting plan agreement or child custody order, and co-parents who communicate well, our life circumstances evolve and our children age. In fact, as children of separated parents become teenagers, new custody challenges can arise that will challenge the best of us. Teenagers Have Their Own Lives A natural part of children’s development is that they are less and less dependent as they grow up. Long gone are the days when they were super-attached and always wanted to be around you. Now they have their friends, they start to date, they have school, they have extracurricular activities, and they have hobbies. In other words they are increasingly busy. Because of their social lives, …

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Are Custody and Child Support Linked?

In Child Custody, Child Support by Elizabeth Stephenson

Parents Improperly Fight Using Support and Custody Unfortunately, the two issues are often intertwined in the minds of parents, since they both involve the children and generally come about during the same period of time. As a result, we often see parents attempt to punish one another by using custody and visitation or child support as leverage. In other words, when a parent is late paying support or stops paying support, then the parent deprived of support sometimes decides to withhold custodial time in retaliation. Or, when one parent deprives the other of visitation, then the wronged parent stops paying child support in response. When parents engage in this conduct, not only is it contrary to the child’s best interest, but it is also often unlawful. The fact is child …

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Fathers and Summer Visitation

In Parenting by Sarah Hink

If you have children, summertime can be really awesome. There is a freedom to be spontaneous and to plan fun activities that simply doesn’t exist during the grind of the school year. For parents that are separated or divorced, the summer takes on an additional layer of significance. If you are currently operating without a formal parenting agreement or court order, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney to ensure you can maximize your time with your children. Summer Visitation and Parenting Plans When parents work on agreed parenting plans regarding custody and visitation of children, some of the primary goals are to create structure, stability, and normalcy for the children. This means creating parenting plans that accommodate the children staying in the same school, maintaining a …

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Making Your Children Your First Priority

In Parenting by Sarah Hink

If you are in the midst of a separation or divorce, you know that it is really easy to get caught up in the break-up aspect of it all. Whatever led to the end of the relationship is fresh, raw, and real. Nobody is perfect, but a lot of people have trouble making decisions during this tumultuous time period. In fact, sometimes people make unhealthy decisions in order to make themselves feel better, or to make the other spouse feel worse. When there are children involved, it is important to be very mindful of their experience. Your children are suffering a trauma, one that will have an impact on the rest of their lives no matter how smoothly a divorce goes. Children rely on their parents to help them make …

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Happy Father’s Day!

In Child Custody, Parenting by Elizabeth Stephenson

You love your children and work hard to meet their needs and raise them well. If you are a father who has recently separated or divorced, you understand just how treasured your time with your children is. Therefore, Father’s Day takes on an entirely new significance. So when you are separated or divorced, what are your legal rights to visit your children that day and give them an opportunity to celebrate with you? First, is there an agreement or order? If you have a separation agreement or child custody order, check to see what it says regarding Father’s Day. It would be surprising if your agreement or order does not account for this holiday. In fact, attorneys understand how important Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and birthdays are to parents, making …

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What is a “Substantial Change in Circumstances”?

In Child Custody by Elizabeth Stephenson

When it comes to child custody, change is constant. This is because parents get new jobs, enter into new relationships, and move. Of even greater significance is that children get older. As they do, their needs change, their relationships with parents change, they want more time to themselves and school commitments grow. This is why child custody orders and agreements are not expected to last forever. However, just because circumstances change does not mean that parties should ignore existing orders. That could result in civil contempt. Instead, parents should consult with attorneys about modifying an existing child custody order. In order to obtain a modification of an order, a party seeking a change must first demonstrate that there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.”the statute does not define what …

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Are Mothers Given Custody Preference Over Fathers?

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

  When it comes to child custody matters, many people presume that mothers automatically get the children. In fact, many fathers feel discouraged or that fighting a custody proceeding is a lost cause because they won’t get a fair opportunity from the legal system to actually obtain custody of their children. While it is important to understand why there is some historic truth underlying this belief, it is equally important to understand that maternal preference is not the law. The “Tender Years” Doctrine Prior to the nineteenth century, the law in Britain automatically gave children to their fathers when parents divorced. This wasn’t based on the children’s best interest, but was more due to women’s lack of legal rights at the time. The law changed when Caroline Norton, a well-known …

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Self-Care Suggestions for Fathers

In Child Custody, Health by Elizabeth Stephenson

When you are a single father, you can get pulled in a lot of directions: role model, provider, co-parent, friend, and co-worker, to name a few. If your separation or divorce occurred recently, you find yourself in new and uncharted territory. You are likely stressed about finances, trying to navigate your own emotions, working out a custody and visitation plan, and trying to find a way to co-exist with your child’s mother. Even more importantly, as much as you are struggling with a separation or divorce, you are painfully aware that your child is experiencing grief and loss as well. You are therefore trying to be a good parent to a sad and confused child. You try to do the right things and say the perfect words to reassure them …

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Co-Parenting During the Holidays

In Child Custody, Parenting by Elizabeth Stephenson

Depending on your circumstances, holidays can be a strange mix of wonderful and terrible. They are great in that we have time off to spend with our families and loved ones. But they can also be times of loneliness and family conflict. Even for intact families, there are in-laws that battle over valuable time. When parents are separated or divorced, holiday visitation isn’t easy on anyone and these battles only intensify. This is why it is important to know what to expect during the holidays and to take the appropriate steps to foster an emotionally healthy holiday season for yourself, your children, and even your former partner. The holidays will not be smooth or easy, and that is normal. Following a separation, everyone is adjusting to their new normal. It …