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Divorce Settlement Agreements

Settlement AgreementsSettlement agreements in divorce cases tend to be long and detailed. These agreements cover issues involving child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, the division of property, how much time each parent spends with the children, who pays for college and various other issues. It is important that the language in the agreement is clear and not subject to multiple interpretations.

The agreement should lay out the responsibilities of each of the parents in a clear and concise manner.

Visitation and Parenting Time Issues

The agreement should have a chart that breaks down what holidays are being celebrated by the children and who has parenting time with the children in odd and even years on these holidays. The agreement should also clearly stress if the holiday falls after a weekend whether the weekend and holiday shall be observed by the same parent having parenting time with the children.

A Tiebreaker

Generally speaking most parenting agreements do not have time tiebreakers. So, if one parent has to confer with the other parent on a particular issue and the parents disagree how that issue should be resolved concerning the children, there needs to be a tiebreaker. The tiebreaker in most agreements is the residential custodial parent. Unfortunately, clauses giving the residential custodial parent the final say on significant issues involving the children can be misused by that parent.

Read the Agreement Carefully

If you are entering into a settlement agreement on a divorce to start with you should carefully read it. Review all terms, conditions, obligations and matters involving financial responsibilities, visitation and custody with your attorney. Make sure you are absolutely clear as to what your responsibilities are, and the responsibilities of the other parent are with regard to all of the terms and conditions of the agreemen

schlissel-headshotElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is the managing partner of Schlissel DeCorpo LLP. He has been representing parties in divorce and Family Court cases for more than 40 years. He can be reached for a free consultation at 800-644-6431 or e-mailed at Elliot@sdnylaw.com. .

Joint Custody

joint-custodyNew York State has a gender neutral custody law. There is no longer a presumption that either parent should have custody of the children. Both parents have equal rights to seek custody of their children. It should be noted equal rights to obtain custody is not the same standard as to what is in the children’s best interests. Courts determine who receives custody of the parties’ children based on what is in the children’s best interest.

Legal Custody

Legal custody of children is usually determined by a proceeding in front of a judge. Courts seek to avoid issuing court orders awarding joint custody to parents.

There is a Court of Appeals decision (the highest court in the State of New York) which states joint custody is encouraged primarily as a voluntary alternative for relatively stable, amicable parents behaving in a mature civilized fashion. Situations where the parents do not get along, are not communicative with each other, are not right for joint ustody arrangements.

Quality Time with Children

Joint custody arrangements tend to work out when the children are very young. As children grow older they develop their own social circles and own friendships. Joint custody arrangements tend to get in the way of the children’s lives. Some studies have found it is not necessarily a benefit to the children for them to spend equal time with both parents.

Conclusion

Many parents seek to have equal parenting time with their children. It seems to meet the parents’ needs to develop a strong relationship with their children. However, giving each parent equal time with their children does not necessarily work out to be in the children’s best interest and equal parenting time arrangements generally break down as the children mature and go through puberty.

schlissel-headshotElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is managing partner of Schlissel DeCorpo LLP. He has been representing parents in custody disputes for more than 30 years. He can be reached at 800-344-6431 or e-mailed at: Elliot@sdnylaw.com.

False Allegations of Child Abuse in Divorces

Child-Abuse-in-Divorces

Divorces can be amicable or be a type of limited warfare between the parents. Sometimes the issue of who is going to be the residential custodial parent is a significant issue in a divorce case. It occasionally leads unscrupulous parents to create accusations of child abuse to further their desire to become the residential custodial parent of the children and have a negative impact on the other parent’s parental rights. One spouse can accuse the other spouse of abusing the children. It can be the result of anger or concern that the parent making the allegations will not be successful in obtaining custody of the children unless they resort to this underhanded, inappropriate strategy.

Parental Alienation

There is a method for one parent to demotivate a child from spending time with the other parent. The alienating parent to engages in a type of brainwashing called parental alienation. In this circumstance one parent convinces the child the other parent is abusing them. This is done during a litigated custody case. It is extremely important if this happens that an experienced child custody attorney be retained. Advocacy by this attorney can be used to point out to the court the lack of evidence of child abuse and how the allegations are specifically related to the ongoing custody case.

Orders of Protection

Temporary orders of protection are often granted to one spouse when they falsely accuse the other spouse of abusing the children. Aggressive legal action must be taken to demand a hearing with regard to these issues. These issues should not be allowed to linger. The longer the order of protection is in effect preventing one parent from having any interaction with the other parent or children, the more likely this will impact on the long term relationship between the parent whose kept away from the children.

schlissel-headshot

Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is an attorney who has dealt with child abuse and child neglect issues for more than 3 decades. He can be reached at 800-344-6431 or e-mailed at Elliot@sdnylaw.com.

Grandparents’ Rights and Custody Issues

General-Website-Grandparents’-Rights-and-Custody-Issues

Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren face many practical, legal issues. Grandchildren who live with grandparents for periods of time are impacted on by a variety of the laws in the State of New York. Issues involving custody, visitation with the parents, who has custody of the grandchildren long term, where the grandchildren go to school, medical insurance for the grandchildren, child support issues between the parents and the grandparents are just some of the legal issues grandparents face. Is a grandparent authorized to make medical decisions for a grandchild?

Limitations Placed on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren do not necessarily have a legal right to make decisions involving a variety of issues concerning the health and general welfare of their grandchildren. For a grandparent to have legal authority over a grandchild the grandparent must obtain a court order. Physical custody is not the same as legal custody. If the children simply live with the grandparents they have what is commonly referred to as physical custody. However, the fact the grandchildren reside with the grandparents does not give them legal rights to make decisions regarding the grandchildren’s health care and school issues. Grandparents must bring a case in the Family Court to obtain temporary custody of their grandchildren. This will put them in a position where they can make decisions involving significant issues for their grandchildren. When a court grants a grandparent legal custody the grandparents then have legal authority to make decisions concerning the health and general welfare of the grandchildren.

Temporary Power of Attorney

In situations where the parents are cooperating, a temporary power of attorney can be given by the parent to the grandparents. This temporary power of attorney would give the grandparents temporary authority to make specifically delineated decisions on behalf of the grandchildren. The temporary power of attorney gives the grandparents specific legal rights that are clearly enunciated in the power of attorney. An example of these types of provisions may involve a grandchild travelling with a grandparent to another state or country and the grandparent is given authority during this trip to make medical decisions for their grandchildren. It should be noted the power of attorney can be revoked by the parents and has no impact on the legal rights of the parents to maintain custody of their children.

Adoption

Adoption is a permanent route for grandparents to exercise both parental rights and responsibilities over a grandchild. In essence, once the grandparents adopt the grandchild the grandparents now become the parents of the grandchild. Adoptions by a grandparent can be on consent of the parent or can be done in situations where the parents don’t consent but they have been found to be unfit, incapable or have deserted their children.

Elliot-Schlissel

Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq. has been working for grandparents’ rights with regard to issues concerning custody and visitation of their grandchildren for more than 3 decades. He can be reached at 800-344-6431 or e-mailed at Elliot@sdnylaw.com.

Custody: Who Is The Parent?

Who Is The ParentThere has been an unusual, and highly publicized case in Kentucky. This case involves a nine year old girl. She uses the middle and last name of a woman who is not biologically related to her. She lived with this woman and the woman’s partner until she was four years of age.

The girl’s biological mother became pregnant in 2006. The father was a sperm donor. The woman maintained a same sex relationship until 2011. The biological mother has now married a man. She has cut off the non-biological mother from having contact with the child. The man now seeks to adopt this child.

What Does It Mean To Be A Parent?

The case in Kentucky deals with the question of what it means to be a parent. Although the United States Supreme Court has legalized same sex marriage, the issue surrounding custody of children and visitation with children involving non-biological parents is still up in the air. The long and short of the issue is this, can the non-biological parent obtain visitation or custody of their child from a same sex relationship after the relationship ends? In a heterosexual relationship the answer to this question would be yes. However in many states in the United States, the answer to this question is still no. Same sex marriage has not created a biological relationship with the non-biological same sex partner. Although the marriage may be legal, many states are reluctant to give parental rights to non-biological partners. The solution to this issue is for the non-biological parent to adopt the child.

custody attorneyElliot S. Schlissel is matrimonial and family law attorney representing clients in same sex and heterosexual relationships throughout the Metropolitan New York area with an emphasis on custody and parenting time issues.

Dealing With Parental Alienation Problems – Part II

custody attorney in New YorkFighting Parental Alienation

The best way to deal with a situation involving parental alienation is for the alienated parent to take immediate legal action to ask for either a change in custody, an order enforcing visitation, an order of protection, and/or other legal remedies. The longer the parental alienation is allowed to go unrestrained, the harder it is to stop the programming of the children against the alienated parent. When parental alienation exists for a substantial period of time, it is often necessary to reestablish the relationship with the alienated parent through a family therapist or psychologist helping de-program the children with regard to the negative feelings and attitudes they have against the alienated parent.

Parental Alienation and Child Abuse

Parental alienation is a form of child abuse. The long term effects of parental alienation upon children are still being determined by psychologists and therapists. However, I have personally been involved in numerous cases representing individuals who have been alienated from their children. A common factor in many of these cases is, once undergoing therapy, the children come to realize they really don’t understand why they dislike or don’t want to spend time with one of their parents. Through therapy the children can be made to realize the alienated parent really loves them, and has done nothing wrong. In these situations the alienation can be overcome and this parent can re-establish his or her loving relationship with the child. The problem with the therapeutic approach is it can be a long drawn out process. For it to succeed, the alienation by the alienating parent must stop and there is no guarantee that it will work.family law attorney

Dealing With Parental Alienation Problems – Part I

divorce and custody attorneyIn divorce and Family Court litigation involving custody and spending parenting time with children, sometimes one parent seeks to alienate the children from the other. God gives each child two parents. A parent who estranges the children from the other parent for selfish, inappropriate and/or vindictive purposes, doesn’t understand the damage they are doing to their children. Unfortunately, family law attorneys see parental alienation situations all too often.

Parental alienation usually occurs when one parent tries to isolate the other parent from the children by engaging in conduct or saying things to the children which causes an estrangement between the children and the other parent. The alienation can be subtle and inadvertent or it can be very straight forward. In these cases, both the parent who is the object of the parental alienation and the children are victimized. The victimization can cause an estrangement between the alienated parent and the children and, sometimes, a total breakdown in that relationship.

The development of the parental alienation can be either a subtle or an overt series of actions which manipulates children into believing a parent who loves them is evil, dangerous, or really doesn’t love them.

Custody and Parental Alienation

Sometimes the parental alienation by one parent against the other is a tactic used in divorces and/or Family Court custody proceedings to try to guarantee the success of the alienating parent to obtain custody of the children.family law attorney

ACS Cannot Prove Mother Neglected Her Children

child custody attorney in New YorkThe Administration for Children’s Services (hereinafter referred to as “ACS”) had filed a petition against a mother, Simone S. They claimed she had neglected her child, Xavier. The matter was heard by Justice Valerie Pels in a Family Court in New York County. ACS took the position Simone did not provide adequate supervision and guardianship for Xavier. They also alleged she suffered from a mental illness which made Xavier’s continued supervision by the mother not to be in his best interest.

ACS sought to submit evidence to show after Xavier’s birth the hospital staff noted and reported to ACS that Simone had no connection with Xavier. Xavier was left unattended and Simone did not take care of Xavier’s basic needs.

ACS Failed to Prove Their Case

A hearing was held before Justice Valerie Pels. Justice Pels found ACS failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence Simone had neglected her child. Simone did not testify at the hearing. The fact she didn’t testify allowed Judge Pels to take a negative inference against Simone. However this was not sufficient to make a ruling in favor of ACS. Justice Pels found ACS did not submit appropriate affirmative evidence with regard to supporting their allegations of inadequate supervision and guardianship.

Judge Pels stayed her decision for five days. The purpose of this was to give ACS sufficient time to obtain further evidence to prove their case. Justice Pels stated in her decision ACS should evaluate whether they should bring a new petition for inadequate supervision and guardianship. She requested ACS look into whether there was new information available concerning this case and they should look into Simone and Xavier’s current living circumstances.

Conclusion

Here is a case where a woman who allegedly is not taking care of her child, doesn’t even testify, and ACS still cannot prove their case against her. This is an example of how poorly organized ACS is and how they can’t prove their cases even if they are unopposed.family law attorney

Child Custody Litigation

Watch today’s video blog on the topic of Child Custody Litigation:

Elliot S. Schlissel is a divorce attorney representing clients for more than 35 years. He and his associates handle all aspects of family law child custody proceedings, and divorce litigation in both the Supreme Court and the Family Court. Elliot can be reached for consultation by calling 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or sending an email to schlissel.law@att.net.

Child Custody Issues

To watch today’s video blog, please click on the link below:

Elliot S. Schlissel is a child custody attorney. He has been representing parents for more than 35 years in all aspects of custody litigation. He and his associates are available for consultation by contacting one of the attorneys at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or by email to schlissel.law@att.net.

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