September 2011 | Cordell & Cordell

Archives for September 2011

Fathers encouraged to stay in childrens lives thanks to community organizations

Child services organizations have often had a reputation for being the enemy of fathers and non-custodial parents, as the agency is usually the one seeking past due child support payments or seeking to incarcerate non-payers. However, some agencies are attempting to reach out to fathers in their communities to provide support, dispel myths and help these men become better parents.

One such organization is Lucas County Children Services in Ohio, the Toledo Journal reports. Recently, the agency hosted a town hall meeting at a local church. When fathers expressed personal problems at the event, someone from the organization was introduced to them to provide help.

Other fathers spoke up in praise of the organization.

“I’m here to tell you that the Children Services Board isn’t here to take your children,” Carl Christopher, a father of three, told meeting participants, according to the news source.

The agency helped him have the opportunity to clean up his life and after improving his situation, he was granted full custody of his children.

According to Fathers and Families, an agency devoted to promoting two-parent approaches to child custody, half of American children are growing up without a father in their homes due to divorce or unmarried parents. However, the agency feels that fathers often get inaccurately dubbed as irresponsible when misguided laws, government policies and judicial traditions also play a role.

Hawaii opens door to child support past age 23

The Hawaii Supreme Court recently upheld a 2006 ruling that forced a father to pay child support for his 25-year-old daughter who was blind and studying to become a flute teacher, The Associated Press reports.

Typically, child support ends at 18, but these payments can be ordered extended to age 23 if a child is going to school. However, the ruling has opened the door to court ordered child support and educational support that goes beyond age 23. Certain factors will be taken into account in each ruling, such as both parents’ financial situations and the ability of an adult child to contribute to educational expenses, according to the news source.

The family law attorney for the mother in the case told the AP that the ruling is significant because it will forever change the way the courts deal with child support.

Other states have come up with new laws recently to handle child support cases.

In Ohio, the Lorain County government is trying to collect old debts. Non-custodial parents who have fallen behind on their child support payments were granted amnesty during the month of September. If these parents paid at least one month’s worth of owed child support, as well as a $25 fee, the person could have their licenses reinstated by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the Chronicle Telegram reports.

Navigating child custody disputes

Divorces are never easy, but the resulting child custody arrangements can sometimes be even more difficult to navigate, as the livelihood of dependent offspring is considered. Typically, each parent has strong feelings about what is best for a child, and when these opinions do not mesh, a custody battle could ensue, according to ABC News.

When disagreements over custody occur, parents can still avoid getting involved in the court system. Informal settlement negotiations can take place when both spouses hire a lawyer to negotiate outside of court. Arbitration and mediation are also possibilities, but attorneys are also helpful during these resolution proceedings.

If an arrangement can’t be decided upon, the courts must get involved. Child custody laws differ by state, so it is important for parents to educate themselves before landing before a judge, the news source suggests.

In family court, judges will attempt to decide upon an order that is in a child’s best interest. The news provider reports that factors considered in this decision are the mental and physical health of the parents, religious considerations, schooling and the age and sex of the child.

The Fathers at Work Initiative advises that if there is any doubt, fathers may want to establish paternity to protect visitation and custody rights.

Unemployment and its effect on marriage divorce

Unemployment has had a considerable effect on many individuals’ financial situations, but this issue is also taking a toll on relationships, the Fiscal Times reports.

The news source reports that a recent study found that 75 percent of women would not marry a man who was unemployed, pointing to dating difficulties for adults without a job. In blossoming relationships, unemployment has caused more couples to live together. According to the publication, the number of unmarried couples cohabitating increased 13 percent from 2009 to 2010. In addition, many people have delayed marriage plans or downsized these celebrations due to unemployment.

For couples having marital troubles, tough financial times can force them to delay divorces. The news source found that there was a decline in divorce rates between 2008 and 2009, when the recession began. In some cases, finances are to blame, as the average divorce can cost around $5,000.

According to Psych Central, a study published in the American Journal Sociology found that a man’s employment status was a major factor in divorce. Male unemployment increases the changes that his wife will initiate a divorce.

Keeping a small business running after divorce

After a divorce, many things come to an end. Financially, many ties are severed, and this can be devastating to a small business owned by the couple or one of the spouses. According to Reuters, the cost of a divorce and the time away from a business to handle divorce-related issues can easily sink a venture.

In some cases, divorce and small business troubles may be even more interrelated, the news source found. The difficult economy has left many entrepreneurs working long hours to keep their businesses afloat, which can have a negative impact on family life. Additionally, financial struggles can also strain a relationship.

However, a small business does not have to die along with a marriage. A family law attorney told BusinessWeek that business owners must make wise decisions as the divorce proceedings continue. For example, all finances will be an open book, so entrepreneurs must not try to conceal anything financially. These actions could come back to haunt them. Additionally, hiring a financial expert could be beneficial in the long run.

“It’s also important to hire a savvy forensic accountant who can provide in-depth understanding of the applicable law and who has the expertise to testify in court,” the lawyer explained.