child custody

Daughter returned in emotional fathers’ rights case

The majority of child custody cases in Massachusetts and elsewhere center on two parents struggling over the care and control of their shared children. Family courts see a wide range of custody issues, however, and one recent case demonstrates an unusual scenario. The outcome is being viewed as a significant win for fathers’ rights. The case involves a father whose child was adopted without his knowledge or consent. The man is a drill sergeant in the United States Army, and was transferred out-of-state just before his wife was scheduled to give birth to their first child. His wife, however, had different plans, and arranged to put the child up for adoption just days after her husband left the state. She told the adoption agency that her husband had abandoned the family and had no interest in their child. The adoption agency located an adoptive family and placed the child. When the father found out what had happened to his child in June 2011, he contacted the adoption agency and demanded that his child be returned to him. The agency chose to ignore his complaint, and proceeded to finalize the adoption. The father filed for child custody, and in a recent hearing a family court judge ruled that the child must be returned to her father by Jan. 16. While this case is unusual, it does serve as a reminder of the importance of taking immediate and aggressive legal action when one’s parental rights are threatened, in Massachusetts and elsewhere. This

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Custody rights affected by choice of venue

When a Massachusetts couple divorces, child custody issues often sit at the top of the list of priorities, and for good reason. Hammering out the details of who will hold legal and physical custody of shared children is an important consideration when a family is divided, and can lead to a great deal of strife concerning custody rights during divorce. However, in an ironic twist, some of the most devastating child custody fights can come from a divorce that was amicable and relatively easy. When a couple goes through a simple and cooperative divorce, it can seem as if child custody matters will not become an issue. The parties might agree between themselves that the child or children are best cared for by one parent, with the other remaining involved through frequent visits. This scenario may even play out amicably for years. However, if one party changes their mind and brings a child custody action against the other, the status quo can be drastically altered, and the children can suffer. One example might be when parents divorce and the noncustodial parent moves to another state. After a number of years, he or she might remarry and wish to have the child live with them. During a visit, that parent could begin a child custody action in his or her state of residence, and ask that the child not be permitted to leave the state until the case is resolved. While the other parent would still be able to visit with

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The holidays can lead to co-parenting challenges

When families are divided by separation or divorce, parents often struggle over the care and custody of their children. Many custody issues will be worked out during the divorce or child custody proceedings, but reaching an agreement does not always mean that the terms will remain acceptable over time. The holidays often bring out or heighten existing disputes over custody, and can lead Massachusetts parents to struggle and fight over custody rights as they pertain to holiday celebrations. There are a number of ways to handle the holidays when multiple families are involved. In the most cooperative of cases, families are able to celebrate at least part of the holiday together, in much the same way that holidays were handled while the family was intact. This can even include the participation of both extended families. This type of arrangement, however, is rare. More often, the holidays will be divided between parties, with children shuttled back and forth between multiple households. This can be a stressful time for children, and can alter the way that they feel about the holiday season. Parents should try to work together to determine a holiday schedule that puts the needs of the child or children at the forefront. Unfortunately, in many cases existing tensions and old resentments between parents prevent this type of collaborative approach. In such circumstances, it may be advisable to approach a family court to have the holiday schedule determined or augmented. Courts in Massachusetts and elsewhere are willing to consider custody

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Celebrity custody relocation ruling a win for fathers’ rights

In Massachusetts and across the nation, men continue to struggle with issues related to the care and custody of their children. Although the American legal system has come a long way in recognizing the essential role that men play in the lives of their children, many fathers still face an uphill battle in family court. One recent celebrity fathers’ rights case is making headlines, and represents a legal scenario that many fathers face. Movie star Halle Berry and former partner Gabriel Aubry recently ended a long and contentious custody battle over their 4-year-old daughter. That fight flared up again when Berry asked the court for permission to relocate with her daughter to France. The actress argued that she and her child would be safer in France due to the fact that two men who had stalked and threatened her are now free. Aubry argued that such a move would lead him to have limited access to his daughter. He stated that Berry’s intent was to estrange the two. A judge agreed with Aubry, denying the motion and putting a stop to the move. There is no word on whether the actress plans to appeal the ruling. Many Massachusetts parents face similar circumstances, although often to less glamorous locations. When a custodial parent wishes to move a child or children out of the area where the other parent resides, the issue can often lead the former couple back to family court. This scenario is not uncommon, and is a serious issue

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Fathers’ rights issue in “Housewives” custody case

The American judicial system has come a long way in recognizing the importance of fathers in the lives of their children. Many states have laws that recognize that mothers are not always the better parent simply due to gender, and that they should not have an automatic advantage in child custody cases. However, there is still a lag between the increasingly involved roles that many American fathers play in the lives of their children and the manner in which the courts, including those in Massachusetts, award custody and visitation. A recent celebrity case exemplifies the uphill battle that men still face in regard to fathers’ rights. In the bitter divorce between ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ star Adrienne Maloof and husband Paul Nassif, child custody has become a contentious issue. A judge recently ruled that Nassif’s access to his children be restricted to supervised visitation. This decision is the result of a temporary restraining order that Maloof obtained against her estranged husband, claiming that he is abusive toward their three sons. It is reported that the Department of Children and Family Services determined that there was no abuse. When the safety and welfare of children are concerned, courts in Massachusetts and elsewhere err on the side of caution, and rightfully so. In this case, Maloof has also stated that her husband carries a gun in his briefcase, leading the judge to order that the weapon be turned over to authorities. In the end, no one except the two halves of

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High net-worth divorce may spell image trouble for Tom Cruise

Massachusetts readers may be aware that yet another movie star marriage has hit the rocks, though this one appears to have hit with a thud. While Cruise marked his 50th birthday on July 3, Holmes has apparently been occupied with putting the finishing touches on her divorce paperwork, which was filed on June 28. The meticulously chronicled union between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, cynically dubbed TomKat, has apparently come to an end. It was recently announced that Holmes has filed for divorce from Cruise, citing irreconcilable differences. In what surely will be a high net-worth divorce, the couple appears set to focus primarily on their 6-year-old daughter, Suri. The paperwork for the divorce was filed in New York. Some observers have speculated that her choice of jurisdiction may indicate that she intends to seek sole custody of their daughter. It is predicted by many that New York will lend Holmes a greater child custody advantage than by filing in California — another location where the couple owns residential property. In a high net-worth divorce between any high-powered couple, whether in Massachusetts or elsewhere, one important element for each party is their public image. Each will likely want to protect their personal brand at the same time that they are negotiating over issues important to them both, most probably child custody issues. Some believe that Cruise’s brand could take a hit because media reports about his personal life and religious views may run counter to the nice-guy/hero image typically portrayed

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Will property division tarnish amicable celebrity divorce?

Celebrity couple Courtney Cox and Davis Arquette has filed for divorce. The couple has been married since 1999, but separated two years ago. Despite at least one attempt to reconcile, the marriage seems destined to dissolve through the requisite court procedures. Massachusetts residents will remember the actress from her role on the hit show “Friends.” The attractive couple has long received a great deal of media attention, which will likely not abate as they work out issues of child custody and property division in divorce court. What makes this celebrity divorce unique is the lack of acrimony between the parties. Cox and Arquette have spoken kindly of one another throughout their separation, and have appeared together at multiple events. They have asserted that they are, and will remain “best friends.” The two filed their divorce papers on the same day, June 8, citing irreconcilable differences as the reason for the filing. They are also pursuing joint legal and physical custody of their 8-year-old daughter, and are committed to raising her together. At the present time, neither party has retained an attorney; they are planning to represent themselves during the court proceedings. Massachusetts fans of the couple will no doubt watch this divorce as it unfolds. Many are hoping that the courtesy and grace with which the two have handled their split will continue. However, even what could be considered a simple divorce proceeding can become contentious. In a case involving spouses with high net worth it becomes even more difficult

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Transgender man maintains his father’s rights in custody case

Father’s rights can always be a tough issue in court, no matter the circumstance. But this is especially so for fathers that might be considered non-traditional in many circles. While Massachusetts and a handful of other states currently are leading the way of marriage equality and progress, many other states unfortunately still lag behind. Because of this, it is encouraging to see a judge assert that a transgender man still has father’s rights over his own children. The couple, including a transgender man and a woman, had been married for nine years before they finally divorced. In this span, the couple had three children together, including one which the husband gave birth to in 2008, earning him the title of the “pregnant man”. However, apparently in 2012, the relationship ended when the couple divorced, with the husband citing that his wife had physically attacked him several different times. Though the wife denied this and said that he had attacked her, after looking at the evidence available, a judge issued a restraining order against the wife. In addition, the transgender man has been awarded full custody of his three children in their divorce. Though their mother is allowed to see her children for six hours each week, the parenting time must be supervised. While it is always hard to speculate what would have happened in past decades, it is plausible that, considering the circumstances of this particular situation, the father would not be granted his father’s rights or given custody of

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