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Minneapolis Custody & Visitation Law Blog

Experts: Evaluate yourself throughout child custody litigation

Minnesota couples who are going through child custody proceedings may find themselves quarreling over visitation schedules and fretting over their ex-spouse's competence at parenting. Two people who want to be involved and loving parents should be able to hash out an acceptable child custody schedule. Experts say there are a few questions that parents can ask themselves to ease the transition into a child custody agreement.

The words you use during your divorce proceeding may have a potent effect upon your children. One of the ways in which parents unconsciously show that they may have hang-ups about the child custody process is by referring to their children as "my daughter" or "my son." This is an important distinction -- try to re-frame the situation by referring to "our children.' After all, it did take two people to produce these new, young lives! Taking the time to share the kids you love with your ex-spouse will pay off in the long run.

State seizes child custody of girl, alleges medical child abuse

Most Minnesota residents who think about child custody disputes probably imagine those disagreements within the context of a family court. Would you believe, though, that a state can actually seize child custody from parents who are trying to provide medical care for their son or daughter? That is exactly what has happened to one East Coast family, as the state of Massachusetts has been awarded permanent custody of a 15-year-old girl because of alleged medical abuse.

Official reports show that a judge in the state granted custody to the Department of Children and Families after a dispute about the girl's medical care. The child's parents had been seeking help for a rare mitochondrial disorder at nearby Tufts Medical Center. Physicians at Boston Children's Hospital asserted that the child's medical problems were largely psychological. That girl had been experiencing difficulty with eating and walking, among other issues.

Should grandparents be involved in child custody arrangements?

Grandparents' rights are a growing concern throughout Minnesota and other states. Courts in various American jurisdictions are attempting to sort out grandparents' roles in child custody proceedings and arrangements. Now, one state is on the verge of passing a bill that would allow grandparents to petition the courts for visitation after a divorce or extramarital birth.

The bill, introduced in Alabama, would allow grandparents to seek custody rights under certain circumstances. A previous Alabama law that allowed grandparents to receive visitation rights was struck down by that state's high court after justices decided that such regulations interfered with parents' rights to make family decisions. Now, the new mandate would grant specific rights to grandparents who can prove that they already have a presence in the child's life. Further, visitation must be in the best interests of the child.

Slashing child support interest rates leads to higher payments

Many parents with overdue child support bills are making the effort to catch up. The problem: Interest rates can make it difficult. Parents in Minnesota are often negatively affected by the large penalties associated with late child support, which may make them less likely to even attempt to pay.

That is why officials in neighboring Wisconsin have decided to slash interest rates on overdue child support payments. Instead of paying 12 percent for accounts that are in arrears, parents will only be subject to an annual 6 percent interest rate. The changes will officially go into effect on April 1.

Relationship contracts are becoming increasingly common

Anyone wishing to commit to a long term relationship will want to come to agreement with the other partner concerning reproductive, financial and other long term goals. We also would wish to take into consideration lifestyle issues such as how many children we want to have, what kind of pets we will own, etc. Marital contracts are becoming increasingly popular because these documents can be used to iron out these concerns.

Still, there is not a great deal of case law concerning enforceability of these contracts. Whether a contract can be legally enforced is largely dependent upon the subject matter and whether the provisions involve broader principles as opposed to matters that may be considered relatively petty.

Does child support continue when a teen heads off to college?

Scores of Minnesota teens will head off to college this fall with the expectation of their parents' full financial backing. What many of them may not consider, though, is the idea that they might sue their parents if their tuition money is not delivered as promised. That is what one 18-year-old New Jersey woman decided to do when her parents decided to withdraw offers for college tuition payments.

The question, of course, is whether the teen still falls under her parents' financial umbrella even though she has reached the age of legal maturity. This situation actually parallels common child support disputes, during which children's age of majority may not always be the end-point for payments. In fact, child support agreements may require one parent to pay a certain amount toward the child's continued education, which could include trade school or college.

Fathers' rights case ends in child's removal from couple

A definitive victory that may be felt by dads in Minnesota and other states was decided in a Northeastern state just days ago. The fathers' rights case was a decisive win because it forced a Maine couple to abandon their custody claims to a child who had been sent to another state to live with his biological father. The couple had sought to terminate the man's paternal rights, according to official news reports. The recent ruling confirmed a previous decision that had been handed down in October 2013.

The situation is rather complicated, but it began in 2009 when the child was handed over to the non-relative couple because of the boy's mother. She had agreed to award the couple with temporary guardianship, which is the first step toward permanent adoption. The mother, however, had multiple sexual partners around the time of conception, and she did not notify the child's father that she had given birth until months after the child arrived.

How your move might affect your child custody arrangement

Many Minnesota families find themselves facing unexpected child custody concerns when one parent decides it is time to move. Parents who share child custody may be required to return to court to create an arrangement that works for the best interests of the child. These changes can be difficult for everyone involved, so it is critical to know your rights and options before pursuing custody changes through a move-away order.

In some instances, moving to a different location might not change much for your kids. Imagine relocating to a town that is just an hour down the road, for example. That situation might even allow for a child custody plan that closely resembles your current agreement.

Minnesota Supreme Court grants man child support reprieve

A ruling from the Minnesota Supreme Court could turn rules about child support on their heads. Official reports show that a Minnesota man who refused to pay years of required child support for his two children should not be punished for the failure, largely because it is impossible to prove that he did not otherwise care for the kids. The man had owed more than $83,400 in connection with 11 years of delinquent child support.

The man had been convicted of felony charges in connection with the child support situation, with prosecutors citing a state law that made failure to provide both care and support a crime. The man contended that although he did not provide monetary support, it was impossible to tell whether he had actually cared for his children. The exact phrase "care and support" should not be construed to mean only financial assistance, according to attorneys in the case.

A victory for fathers' rights as illegal adoption rescinded

Adoption is a hot topic in Minnesota and many other states, as fathers' rights are still being clarified. Fathers' rights advocates cite a recent "win" for their cause, which has brought more attention to the paternity issues that plague some families. A 9-year-old girl has been returned to her dad in Nebraska after her adoption was overturned. She had been living in Tennessee.

The girl's biological father said his parental rights were illegally terminated while he was in prison. The adoptive parents assumed legal custody of the girl when she was 3 years old, according to official reports. They had been her foster parents.

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