Guest post by David Williamson

Mothers Obtain Child Custody More Often than Fathers

In 82% of cases, mothers get custody of the children.  One reason for this may be, that On a purely statistical stand point, mothers are the primary up-bringer of the children (data:  2009). Even in cases where both parents work, statistics show mothers spend twice as much time engaged in primary childcare responsibilities than the fathers with mothers at 12.9 hours a week and fathers at 6.5 hours.

Court Involvement in Child Custody

In terms of how courts involve themselves in the custody process, a mere 4% of cases are actually litigated.  The vast majority of cases are settled long before trial.    In 51 percent of custody cases, both parents agreed on their own that the mother should have custody.

  • In 29 percent of custody cases, there was no third party involvement.
  • In 11 percent of custody cases, the parties agreed during mediation that the mother should have custdoy.
  • In 5 percent of custody cases, the issue was resolved after a custody evaluation.

Only 4 percent of custody cases went to trial.  Even of that 4 percent, only 1.5 percent completed custody litigation.  Fathers won about half of those litigated cases.  Approximately 91 percent of child custody cases are decided outside of court.

Child Support

When it comes down to child support post settlement, there is another gender divide. In 2009, mothers would get on average $5,997 in child support, whereas fathers would only get $5,601. The problems for fathers doesn’t end there, however, as only 30% of custodial fathers receive any child support, compared to 55% of custodial mothers. To put this in perspective, then, 91% of total child support dollars are given to custodial mothers, and 9% to custodial fathers.

These statistics seem to show a stark difference between male and female custodial experiences. The figures show an average, however, so it would be unwise to lean to heavily on this picture when considering how your situation might unfold. Should you require further information and an informal discussion regarding your individual circumstances, get in touch with one of Coles-Law Solicitor’s Family Lawyers for expert advice.

There are many divorce cases where only one spouse is employed and there are no significant liquid assets or those assets are all under the control of the employed spouse.

In such cases, the financially dependent spouse can seek an award of pendente lite support.  “Pendente lite” is Latin for “pending the litigation”.  It means temporary support until the divorce trial.

Pendente lite support hearings are short and the only issues considered are need for support and ability to pay.  Some jurisdictions have established guidelines for  pendente lite spousal support.

For example the Fairfax County formula is:

When child support is also payable – monthly spousal support equals 28% of the payor’s monthly gross income minus 58% of the payee’s monthly gross income.

When child support is not payable – monthly spousal support equals  30% of the payor’s monthly gross income minus 50% of the payee’s monthly gross income

Child support is generally determined under the child support guidelines. Those guidelines are also used to determine child support pendente lite.

Virginia Courts can also enter pendente lite orders on maintaining health insurance coverage for a spouse or children, responsibility for debt payments during the case, exclusive use and possession of the family residence during the case, payment of attorney’s fees and other costs of the suit, and custody of the children pendente lite . However, most courts are reluctant to rule on custody pendente lite.  This is because custody matters have scheduling priority and will soon be heard as a final matter so pendente lite relief is not necessary unless there is an emergency.  And the judges do not like emergencies, so if you claim you have an emergency it better be a real emergency.

The Court’s ruling on any issue at a hearing on pendente lite relief can be reviewed and modified at the final hearing.

Contracts and Father’s Rights

William Marotta of Topeka, Kansas, answered an ad on Craigslist to be a sperm donor for a lesbian couple who wanted a child. He signed a contract saying he would have no father’s rights nor parental rights nor responsibilities.

Following the birth, the mother, the child’s mother, Jennifer Schreiner, applied for public assistance. The Kansas Department for Children and Families has paid her about $6,000 in public assistance. That agency filed suit against Marotta to recoup the money saying that he owes back and future child support.

Besides the contract, there is a law in Kansas that exempts sperm donors from child support claims. Judge Mary Mattivi pointed out, however, that the law does not apply unless a licensed physician performs the artificial insemination. There was no licensed physician in this case.

Father’s Rights, Wanted or Not

The judge also said that a private contract cannot override the law and negate his father’s rights and Marotta is therefore the presumptive father of the child. Whether Marotta has to pay child support is yet to be determined. What do you think?

Guest post by Lauren Williams, staff writer at King Law Offices, Family Law Attorneys in NC & SC.

In Maryland, a child’s entitlement to support does not depend upon parents’ marital status. Every child is entitled to a level of support in proportion to the parents’ economic position regardless of whether the child is born of wedlock or out-of-wedlock or to parents whose marriage ended in divorce.  As with children of divorce, children born out-of-wedlock are entitled to fairness and equity in regard to child support.

“Born out-of-wedlock” means born to an unmarried female or born to a married female but begotten during the continuance of the marriage status by one other than her husband.

Under Md. Code Ann., Est. & Trusts § 1-206(a) there is a presumption that the child is a legitimate child if the child is born or conceived during a marriage. A child born to parents who are not married is considered to be the child of the mother. Pursuant to Md. Code Ann., Est. & Trusts § 1-208(b), the ‘father and child relationship’ can be established in one of the following four methods: (1) Judicial determination of paternity, (2) Acknowledgment by father in writing that he is the father of the child, (3) Open and notorious recognition by the father that he is the father of the child, or (4) Acknowledgment by father that he is the father of the child after marrying the mother.

The Paternity Statute (Fam. Law §§ 5-1001 through 5-1048) provides a rebuttable presumption that the child is the legitimate child of the man to whom child’s mother was married at the time of conception. Upon request of a party, the court may order the parties (mother, child and the father) to submit to blood or genetic tests to determine the paternity. If the test reveals a statistical probability of the father’s paternity of at least 99.0%, it may be received into evidence and constitutes a rebuttable presumption of the paternity.  The court may pass necessary orders declaring the father based on the test.  The court may also pass necessary orders for 1, support, 2. Custody of the child, 3. Visitation rights with the child, 4. Giving bond, and 5. Any other matter that is related to the general welfare and best interests of the child.

If the child was conceived during a marriage, mere declaration by father claiming to be the father of a child born out-of-wedlock is not sufficient to overcome the presumption of legitimacy of the child based on the time of conception.  In order to overcome the presumption, the father must provide certain proof(s) specified in Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 5-1027(c)(2), (3), and (4).

Maryland follows the income shares model for child support.  Under this model, a child is entitled to a standard of living that corresponds to the economic position and lifestyle of the parents.

Guest Post by John Ellsworth, Esq.

If you’re paying alimony, you can take a tax deduction for the payments, even if you don’t itemize deductions.

Keep in mind, though, that the IRS won’t consider the payments to be true alimony unless they are spelled out in the divorce agreement. This is another rule for you to memorize: unless the divorce decree spells it out, it’s probably not going to be accepted by the IRS as alimony.

Your ex, meanwhile, must pay income tax on those amounts. Be sure you know your ex-spouse’s Social Security number. You have to report it on your tax return to claim the alimony deduction.

The opposite is true for child support: You don’t get a deduction for paying child support and the recipient doesn’t pay income tax.

Facebook photos may be used in a child support case in Wisconsin according to Kristal Roberts writing for ABC Action News.  The pictures show the father, who is behind in child support, holding wads of cash and visiting Buckingham Palace.

The father says the money is not necessarily his and he photo-shopped the Buckingham Palace picture.

Defense attorneys will argue this week that, in the real world, the father is impoverished and cannot pay his child support.

Father’s Rights Under “Duress”

Danny Carr, Counselor and Attorney at Law, punched the button on his phone this morning to listen to messages left last night on his voice-mail.

“I need to hire you for a custody case.  This is Ken Woodard. Call me at 301-555-5555.”

Carr hit redial, and when someone answered, he said,  “Mr. Woodard, this is Danny Carr, returning your call.”

“I was forced to give up custody and visitation by my wife’s attorney by duress,” said Woodard.

“Did he hold a gun to your head? “

“No, but he told me I would lose if I didn’t agree.”

“That’s not duress.”

“OK, well then I found out I still have to pay child support.”

“Right.  Parents are obligated to support their children.”

“But if I don’t have custody or visitation, haven’t my parental rights been terminated?”

“No.  You are still the children’s father.”

“My wife accused me of neglecting and abusing the kids.  Can I file a petition to terminate my parental rights on the basis of her saying I’m an unfit parent?”

“No.  You can’t file a complaint against yourself to terminate your own parental rights.”

“That doesn’t sound right.”

“I have to go now, Mr. Woodard.  Good luck with your case.”

Guest Article by Myburgh Law P.C.

During an uncontested New York divorce, many couples feel the understandable desire to speed things along as quickly as possible. It’s common to fall into the trap of thinking that, because the dissolution of the marriage is quick and uncontested, they will not need the services of a lawyer. While it is true that an uncontested marital dissolution will enable both parties to go their separate ways much more quickly, there are both long term and short term reasons why hiring a qualified New York attorney is important even in an uncontested divorce.

As part of the process, both parties will have to come to a marital settlement agreement, also known as a stipulation of settlement. If there are children involved, a parenting plan has to be agreed upon as well. Thus, a mutual agreement must be reached on terms such as child custody, where the child will reside, child support, spousal support, division of debt and division of assets. Marital settlement agreements and parenting plans can quickly become confusing to someone who does not have training in family law. A lawyer with experience in family law will ensure that their client understands the terms they are agreeing to and will work to make sure that their client’s wishes are fairly represented in the final agreement.

While some people may feel that they are able to represent their own needs in an uncontested situation, it is easy to underestimate the emotional toll that the dissolution of the marriage can have. Increased levels of stress and frustration often occur during the negotiation process. While these reactions are to be expected, they sometimes prevent individuals from making decisions which are best for the long term. A momentary rash desire to just have the process be over can result in life-long consequences when it comes to assets such as retirement savings, pensions, investments, houses, and 401ks. An attorney can look after these interests for their client without the added emotional turmoil often felt by the client.

Additionally, not all uncontested divorces remain that way through the entire legal process. Unfortunately, some parties will begin negotiations and realize that they simply did not agree on as much as they previously believed they did. Child custody arrangements are often a major point of contention between the parties, as is debt division. If the negotiations do take a turn towards contested territory, it’s good to have an attorney present to help one navigate through the much trickier legal issues surrounding this type of marital dissolution.

However, the proceedings may go just as smoothly as expected. Yet if one partner has a lawyer present, the one without legal representation may feel exposed or resentful without proper counsel. In such situations, both parties having an attorney to represent them promotes an atmosphere of equality and cooperation that is necessary for a successful negotiation.

Ultimately, a divorce is a life-altering event whether it is contested or uncontested. While the dissolving of a marriage will rarely be entirely pleasant, having the proper representation can be the deciding factor in how smoothly the process will go. Having a comparatively quick, hassle-free dissolution of marriage is very possible, and choosing to use the services of an attorney familiar with all aspects of family law is the best way to reach that goal.

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were able to settle their divorce quickly.  Part of this was due to the fact that they had a prenuptial agreement.  A prenuptial agreement determines alimony and property distribution in the event of divorce.

But you cannot provide for custody, visitation or child support in a prenuptial agreement.  The reason for this is that the court has jurisdiction to determine what is in the best interest of the children based on circumstances at the time of divorce.

Likewise, child support will depend on custody and income at the time of divorce.  The parties can agree on custody, visitation and child support in a separation agreement or marital settlement agreement and the court will normally approve such an agreement.  These issues related to the child are the ones that Cruise and Holmes had to negotiate and resolve.

Why would anyone marry a narcissist?  Because they can be charismatic and charming and put on a show to make you fall in love with them.  Only later will you discover the reality.  It’s all about them.

Narcissists lack the capacity most of us have for empathy and emotionally recognizing the needs of others.  The narcissist thrives on constant conflict to stay connected and fight for his or her own rights.  They are usually oblivious to the needs of their spouse or children.

The narcissist will not forgive and move on if you divorce them. Their anger lasts for years sometimes.  They cling to the narcissistic injury: “How could you do this to me?”

It is probably not possible to have an amicable divorce with a narcissist and co-parent in a reasonable way. They will disparage the other parent, make up false allegations, and resist child support because that requires giving money to their ex.  Their feelings of entitlement get in the way of dividing assets fairly.  They do not think about what is best for the children. They think about what is best for them.

The narcissist is not aware or conscious of their own bad behavior and feels entitled.   They have excuses for everything and blames others for their actions. They are used to exploiting others to meet their own needs. The way to regain power now is in creating massive chaos in the divorce process and using the children as pawns.

Sometimes it takes two to Tango.  But sometimes it takes only one.  Divorcing a narcissist requires an understanding of this personality type.  It may require a mental health consultant and appointment of a strong parenting coordinator for post divorce disputes.

Learn more.