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Everything posted by Ted_from_Texas

  1. Your message begs the question, if you don't like your mother's response to your misbehavior, why do you misbehave? At 15 you are old enough (and presumably smart enough) to modify your behavior around your mother to minimize or avoid entirely her negative reaction. I'm not talking about walking on eggshells here. You say yourself you are misbehaving, which implies you know the difference between right and wrong. To deliberately choose to do wrong is ill-advised and counterproductive. But on to your question. The law is intentionally vague as to the degree and severity of corporal punishment necessary to cross the line into child abuse. The general criterion seems to be that it's okay unless it causes or could cause the child lasting physical or emotional harm. So if you're in a heated argument with your mother and you call her a [whatever] and she slaps your face with her open hand, that's one thing, but if she hits you in the mouth with her closed fist, that's another thing entirely. Furthermore, context and circumstances surrounding the incident, and whether it's repetitive, make a difference. Even calm, rational parents can be provoked once into uncharacteristic behavior by a kid who knows where their buttons are and how to push them. Given only the facts in your message it's impossible from here to say whether you may have been subjected to abuse or not. The only authority competent to rule on weather you have been abused is Child Protective Services, or the equivalent authority in your county of residence. If you or anyone else has reason to believe you are the victim of abuse or neglect, you (or they) need to contact CPS and speak to a caseworker. From the facts provided the caseworker can determine if the abuse allegations have merit, and if so open the case for investigation. The result of the investigation could suggest any of a wide variety of possible options for resolution. Your mother (and/or you) could be required to undergo counseling, separately or together. If it's determined (unlikely from the scenario you describe) that you should be removed from your mother's care pending resolution of the issues, the obvious choice would be to place you with your father. If that's not possible, then a willing relative or family friend. Foster care would only be considered as a last resort. Contrary to widely held misconceptions, CPS is not in the business of breaking up families. Juvenile Hall ("juvie") is only for kids who indulge in violent, criminal or abusive behavior themselves. Probably not for you, but I suppose since you don't say anything about the nature or severity of your own alleged misbehavior, we can't rule it out. I hope this answers your questions.
  2. Hard to guess what kind of advice you're looking for, since you don't ask any questions. I can tell you that there is no law in any state that dictates the sleeping arrangements of family members. Unless your parenting plan explicitly states otherwise, your children are not required to have their own bedroom or even their own beds, nor are they required to be separated according to their gender. The number of persons (children and adults) that are permitted to occupy a given dwelling at any time is governed by local ordinance, but while the scenario you describe is certainly cramped, it does not look from here like it would be legally excessive. For further information, you'll need to elaborate more specifically on what it is you want to know.
  3. I can't speak to Virginia law in particular, but in every state I know about, a parent is no longer required to support (which includes providing shelter) to a child who has reached the age of majority, which in Virginia is 18. Whether she is still in school is irrelevant. However, it's not simply a matter of tossing her stuff in the street. As a legal adult, she has the right to be treated as a tenant and her parents, as landlords, are subject to whatever state statutes and local ordinances are relevant to evictions. Generally, this means she must be first notified in writing that she must vacate the premises, and then must be allowed a reasonable time (usually 30 to 90 days, depending on circumstances and the jurisdiction) to find other lodgings and move out. Only then, assuming she hasn't moved out, may they initiate legal proceedings to have her forced out. Again depending on circumstances and jurisdiction, this could take some additional time, although I wouldn't bet too heavily that this would take her to graduation. I would strongly recommend that your friend's wife's niece either start looking for another place to live ASAP, or take whatever conciliatory steps are necessary to convince her parents to allow her to stay on a few more months. A local attorney who handles landlord/tenant matters can provide her with accurate and more detailed information and advice in accordance with her location and circumstances.
  4. In every state, sleeping arrangements of children are left up to their parents' or legal guardians' judgment. Note that when a child is in foster care, his or her legal guardian is likely to be the state, which then may exercise its judgment in the form of regulations imposed on the foster caregiver. However, absent state involvement, the law has nothing to say about where a child sleeps or who he or she sleeps with.
  5. In a word, no. Child support is never owed to the child, but to the person who has physical custody of the child, as reimbursement for the out-of-pocket expenses of providing for the child's needs. Even if the child is away from home, there's a reasonable assumption that the custodial parent is still providing some level of support. If your husband has reason to believe his child has become self-supporting and has evidence to back it up, He is free to petition the court for a modification to his support order that reduces or terminates his obligation to his ex; however, I can think of no legal mechanism to transfer that obligation to the child. Consult local counsel.
  6. When a child is born out of wedlock (that is, when the child's parents are not married to each other) the father has no legal parental rights or obligations whatsoever until there's a court order that says he does, and what those rights and obligations are will be spelled out in the order. Until the order is in place, the mother retains all parental rights exclusively, regardless of whether she leaves the child in the temporary care of another person, whether that person is the father, a relative, friend or neighbor, or professional caregiver, and regardless of the reason she left the child in that person's care. While the mother may not just "walk in" and take the child (no person may enter another person's residence without permission of the owner or resident) she may show up on the father's doorstep with a law enforcement official and demand return of the child, and if he refuses he may be subject to any of a number of civil and/or criminal penalties. I hope this answers your questions. If you are the father in question and you want to establish and maintain your parental rights, you will have to go to court to prove your paternity (if you haven't done so already) and obtain a formal, enforceable custody and support order ("parenting plan") that specifies in detail your rights of custody and visitation, and your obligation to pay child support. A local family law attorney can help you get started.
  7. Tell your Mom that when food spoils it releases pathogens (bacteria, molds, toxins, and other whatnot) into the air around it, contaminating everything inside the refrigerator, perishable or not, in ever-increasing concentrations until it's cleaned out. At room temperature or warmer, the inside of the fridge becomes a virtual Petri dish of nasty. Even meds that are hermetically sealed (such as pills in individual foil packets) would have to be thoroughly decontaminated before they could be safely opened and consumed. The elderly, and folks not in the peak of health to begin with, are particularly vulnerable to diseases these pathogens may carry. The staff, whether she realizes it or not, did her a big favor and may even have saved her life.
  8. If your Jamaican marriage was valid 25 years ago, it's valid now (unless you have since divorced or your spouse is deceased) regardless of whatever paperwork you do or don't possess. Who is asking you to document your marriage, and why?
  9. The truth will out, sooner or later. There are too many people who know, and you have no control over what they say or do, now or in the future. Much better to reveal the truth yourself now, so you can maintain some control over how it's revealed. I'm curious as to how you think it's in your son's best interest to withhold the truth of his true parentage. Care to elaborate on that?
  10. Because your son and the child's mother were never married, he has no enforceable parental rights whatsoever until there's a court order in place that says he does and specifies what those rights are. Your son needs to go to court and obtain a formal, enforceable custody and support order ("parenting plan") that confers on him the right to see his child and the obligation to support that child in accordance with Missouri's child support guidelines. Part of the process will include a judicial determination of his legal paternity. DNA testing may or may not be required, but his name on the birth certificate is not by itself sufficient to establish paternity. A local family law attorney can explain how Missouri laws apply to his particular circumstances and help him negotiate the process. If you want to help your son, the best thing you can do is help him find and retain a lawyer. Good luck!
  11. You don't actually say, but the implication in your message is that your wife is living in the marital residence with your child, and you are not. In general, the law gives either spouse the right to invite into the marital residence anyone he or she wishes. If you could produce credible evidence that your wife's friend presents a threat to your safety, you could get a restraining order to keep him away from you, but if you're not staying in the marital residence with your wife, that won't do you much good. Even if you divorce your wife and regain control of the residence (an iffy proposition since she's there with the child) you still couldn't keep him away from her wherever she lives, as long as she wants him there.
  12. If "no one knows" about this law, how does it come to pass that you know about it? Perhaps instead of asking a bunch of lawyers -- whose job is, after all, to know the law -- or a bunch of strangers on the Internet (none of whom, to my knowledge, practice in Pennsylvania) you should approach the person who told you about it. Is he or she a lawyer? where did they get their information? It may be that you are looking at a draft piece of legislation that was never passed into law or signed by the governor. In any case, you can get a "no fault" divorce in Pennsylvania with or without your spouse's consent or cooperation. Consult local counsel.
  13. Again, your use of language gives me pause. What exactly does "She was told by the court..." mean? Does she have a court order, or is she relying on what someone told her? What does your brother turning 21 have to do with anything? I really think your mother needs to consult a local family law attorney who can ask all the right questions to determine for certain what is going on, and advise her how best to proceed. To answer your question, if she has a court order that specifies the amount of arrears owed her, she can make a claim on the father's estate and use the court order as proof of the debt.
  14. Your syntax is somewhat garbled but as near as I can make out, when your half-brother was 18 his dad owed your mother nearly $20,000 in child support arrears. Then sometime in the next three years the court lowered the arrears from $20,000 to "very little". Who sought this reduction, and on what grounds? Did your mother agree to the reduction? If in fact a court order was issued reducing the arrears (unusual but not unheard of) then your mother cannot collect on the "old" arrears. She is owed whatever the court order says she is owed. If the father passed away before even this new amount was paid, then it is still owed to her by the father's estate, but only until the estate is probated and closed. Your mother needs to file a claim on the estate ASAP if she hasn't done so already, assuming the estate is still in probate. Her claim for child support arrears should be given priority over the other debts owed by the estate. If the amount she is owed exceeds the value of the estate, she can only collect up to the value of the estate. I'm not aware of any legal mechanism by which she can collect from a source other than the estate. Consult local counsel.
  15. Just so you know, child support arrears are never paid to the child. They are paid to the person to whom they are owed, which would be the person you were directed to pay by the child support order that was in effect when the arrears were incurred. As far as arrears are concerned, the fact that that person no longer has custody of the children is irrelevant. You don't say anything about current child support, as distinct from child support arrears. If there is a court order in place designating the grandmother as the child(ren)'s custodian and awarding her support, you should be paying that to her as well. If there is no such order, you are, at least for now, off the hook for current support. Your public defender's role is probably limited to the matter of enforcement of the support arrears, and has nothing to say about current support. To find out where to go from here concerning current and future custody, support, and visitation matters, you should consult a local family law attorney.
  16. If you really do have all the facts, and you are aware of the legal significance of each fact, and you know how to present these facts to the court in a way that best supports your case, then no, you don't need a lawyer. On the other hand, if that's the case, why do you keep asking for advice in a forum that expressly prohibits, by its own rules and by California law, giving legal advice? No member of this forum who practices law will ever tell you you don't need a lawyer, and why would you credit anything you read here from someone who doesn't practice law? It seems clear to me (in spite of what you wrote in your original message) that you don't want to hire a lawyer, and that's your call to make. So my advice, which is free and worth every penny, is to get offline, gather your facts, take them to court and present them as you feel will be most effective, and when the judge rules you'll find out whether you did the right thing.
  17. Based only on what you've shared here, and knowing nothing about his side of the story, he's blowing smoke. In the first place, he can't put you in prison, only a judge can do that, and then only if you've been convicted of a felony. Even if you were a horrible mother and even if you really did lie about him to the kids, and even if you violated your custody order, you wouldn't have committed a felony offense. If your ex had consulted a lawyer, he or she would have told him that. In the second place, if your ex had retained an attorney to take you to court for custody, the first step would have been to file a complaint or petition in the appropriate court and you would have received notice officially, not second-hand through your father. I suggest you listen to your own logic and put this whole incident on the back burner. When and if you are served notice, you can consult a local attorney who will help you effectively defend your case.
  18. As far as I know, Ohio is not a state where recreational use of marijuana is legal. The drugs were in your house. The paraphernalia was in your house. The fact that the kids were not in your house at the time of your husband's arrest does little to help your case. You and your husband both use, and you apparently use in the house where your kids either reside or visit frequently. It's possible you have managed to keep your habit so far concealed from the kids, but I doubt it. Kids aren't stupid, especially by the age of 13. If they don't already know what's going on in your bedroom, they will soon, and kids learn by example. I can't predict how the custody action(s) will pan out, but the choices you and your husband have made up until now do not make you look good in the eyes of the court. Consider this a wake-up call, clean up your act, and get a good lawyer.
  19. So, your wife attempted suicide by overdosing on painkillers and your response was to record her talking about it? You argued with her but didn't call the police, but you say nothing about calling 911. Did you take her to the ER? Are you doing anything to see that she gets the help and support she clearly needs? Whether your wife is so mentally unstable as to pose a risk to your children is a question for mental health professionals, not you, to decide. Many forms of depression can be treated successfully with medication and therapy. If you want to use your wife's mental health history to support your claim for primary custody in the divorce, you'll need to provide written and/or verbal testimony from her doctors and therapists who have treated her to back up your claim. The court will not just take your word for it. Your attorney is the best person to help you obtain the required evidence, and to organize and present your case.
  20. No judgment here. It's clear from your posts that you want to find a legal way to allow your son's biological father to have contact with your son over your ex-husband's objection. For two years after your son's birth the law was on your side and provided such a way. For reasons of your own (and I'm not saying they weren't justified) you chose not to use the means the law provided. Now after the time limit has expired you want to undo or at least mitigate one of the (perhaps unintended) consequences of your choice. The law in California and every other state I know about is very clear on this matter and the answer to your question, based on the information you provided in your first and subsequent posts, is no, it can't be done. This seems unfair, and probably under your particular circumstances it is unfair, but there it is. I know this isn't what you want to hear. I'm sorry.
  21. Michigan law, like that of every other state, makes no distinction between an adopted child and a so-called "natural" child. In the eyes of the law, one is the same as the other. In no state -- including Michigan -- can a minor child legally move out of the home designated by their parent or legal guardian without that parent or guardian's consent. You may have heard of minors who have left their home and law enforcement officers due to various possible circumstances have declined to get involved in picking them up and returning them. That does not mean that they moved out legally. Not every speeder gets a ticket, and not every 17-year-old gets sent home. You want to roll the dice, go for it.
  22. At the risk of belaboring a point (which I usually try to carefully avoid doing) I want to respond to your response to my hotel analogy, because it's come up before in this and other discussion groups. Your response fails due to the matter of consent. True, the hotel couldn't make us share a room if we didn't want to, but if accommodations were scarce (say, we're in Indianapolis on Memorial Day weekend) we might actually elect to share and the law wouldn't forbid it. Suppose for the sake of argument that I am a single father and you are a single mother, and we aren't exactly friends but we're both interested in astronomy, and we have no other family or social connection other than our shared interest in that topic. There's a rare solar eclipse coming up that can be viewed in a certain place at a certain time, and we decide we'd both like to see it. We both have limited means and agree to share a hotel room for one night to save money. We also agree to bring our kids, both to save on sitters and to allow them to share the experience with us. I have a daughter and you have a son. Their ages are irrelevant but let's say they're both 12. We check into a room with two queen-size beds. Now, who sleeps where? I can share a bed with my daughter and you can sleep with your son. Or, I can sleep with your son and you can sleep with my daughter. Or, you and I can share one bed and let the kids share the other. Or we can pay a small fee and have the hotel supply us with one or two rollaway beds (assuming they'll fit in the room). Or the kids can sleep on the floor in their sleeping bags, or we can let them have the beds and sleep on the floor ourselves. There may be any number of other available options. The point is, once we're in the room and the door is closed, we can choose whatever arrangement we want and neither the hotel nor the law has anything to say about it. Any law that would interfere with our choice would not only be an invasion of our privacy, but would be unenforceable to boot. Yes, occupancy rates are posted and have to be observed in hotel rooms, but occupancy rates of houses are a matter of local ordinance and are surprisingly lax, and don't enter into the fact pattern in your original post, and in any case don't apply to temporary arrangements such as family visits.
  23. Whether your mother is being unreasonable or not in denying you extra time with your dad isn't for anyone here to say, since obviously we don't know all the facts, or what your parents' custody order says. I can tell you unequivocally that if your mom is violating the custody order it's your dad's job, not yours, to take the matter to court for enforcement. If your mom's refusal to budge is within the terms of the custody order but your dad wants more time with you, again it's his job to go back to court to have the order modified to allow it. When you take matters into your own hands and visit your dad outside the court-approved schedule without your mother's consent it creates trouble for your dad in at least two ways: First, it puts him in the awkward position of having to send you back to your mother which he is required by law to do; and second, as the number of "extracurricular" visits increases, it makes him look bad in court when and if he does go back to court for a modification. If you visit Dad outside the schedule and he doesn't send you back, it's he that's in violation of the custody order, and while he won't be fined (as your mother seems to believe or at least threatens) there are other ways the law can deal with him if it lands back in court, such as by further reducing his time with you. Is that what you really want? Have you discussed this with him? What does he say?
  24. There is no law in any state that requires a parent to provide a child with his or her own bedroom, or even bed. In the eyes of the law it's fine to sleep on the couch, or on an air mattress, or a pallet on the floor. Furthermore, the law has nothing to say about children sleeping with relatives or non-relatives or with persons of the same or opposite sex. Think about it: would you outlaw every hotel and motel in the country? What about camping trips? As long as the accommodations are reasonably safe and secure, and there are provisions for a modicum of privacy for bathing and changing clothes, kids can sleep wherever their parents say they can. You could have any number of legitimate reasons for not wanting your kids to sleep over at your ex's friend's house, but the sleeping arrangements therein is not one of them.
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