Archive for July, 2015

Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Discusses Parent Representation in Child Custody Cases

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

When parents struggle with drug addiction or other issues, the Mississippi Department of Human Services often intervenes and removes their children from their custody. When this happens, the parents’ struggle with their issues continues, and a new battle ensues regarding child custody. Unfortunately, this dual fight does not often end in reunification of the children with their parents.

A pilot program in Rankin County and in three other Mississippi counties is hoping to change that by providing parents whose children are in the foster care system because of drug addiction or other reasons with legal representation. Parents whose children are in state custody are often unable to afford to hire an attorney. They end up trying to represent themselves in court while trying their best to fulfill the expectations that are set out for them by the Department of Human Services, which, necessarily, involve pursuing and succeeding at recovery from substance abuse or whatever other issues prompted state involvement.

When parents who are battling addiction while attempting to regain custody are given legal support and advice, they have a much better chance of success. This is likely the reason why all of the other states make attorneys available to these parents. Attorneys who represent indigent parents in child custody cases can provide parents with the information that they need to make choices that may help them to regain custody of their children. They can advocate for parents when the Department of Human Services is setting up expectations for the parents, and they can help to ensure that the expectations are reasonable, so that parents are not essentially set up to fail. If family members who can provide a suitable home for the children are available, an attorney can advocate for that placement to be made. They can also help their clients get into facilities where they can get the treatment that they need.

The results of the pilot program in Mississippi look promising, and more counties are slated to become involved. Reunification is happening more often. Children are spending more time being cared for by family members, and less time in the foster care system. The legal advice and information that the parents have been receiving has led to parents thinking about how they can best solve their problems and making more choices that keep them on track to be reunited with their children.

Child custody cases are often difficult and complex matters, in addition to being highly emotional experiences. A Mississippi Family Law Attorney can help you to understand your child custody case and provide you with legal support and the information that you need in order to make informed decisions about how to proceed with your case. Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole has helped many parents in diverse sets of circumstances to navigate child custody cases, and he may be able to help you, too. Please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429, to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Family Law Attorney Says Parents who Fail to Pay Child Support May go to Jail

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

There are many types of parents in Mississippi. Unfortunately, one type of parent that exists in Mississippi (as they do everywhere else) is the parent who believes that they can avoid their child support obligations indefinitely without eventually encountering harsh consequences. A couple of recent incidents in Mississippi show that this is simply not true. These incidents show that parents who don’t pay child support may eventually be sentenced to jail.

An Ohio man was recently given a five year sentence in Forrest County as the result of his failure to pay child support. In addition to paying over fifty thousand dollars in back child support, he must serve two years of his sentence in prison, with the remaining three years to be served on supervised probation. This particular incident also illustrates that the State of Mississippi is capable of locating parents outside of the state and holding them accountable for their failure to pay child support.

Another man fled the scene of a traffic stop because he was afraid that he would be arrested for failing to pay child support. There was a warrant out for the man’s arrest at the time that officers attempted to stop his vehicle. At first, the man did not stop his vehicle. When the man eventually stopped and exited the vehicle, he ran into a thickly wooded area in an attempt to evade law enforcement officers.

When child custody cases are resolved by settlement or through court proceedings, a child support order is often part of the outcome. In some cases, parents waive child support because they agree that since both of them share time with the children evenly, their child-related expenses are roughly equal. However, most child custody cases do involve some form of child support calculation and order. Once this order is in place, it can only be changed if a substantial and unanticipated change occurs that affects the paying parent’s ability to meet their child support obligation while still being able to meet their own needs for food, shelter, and the like. These changes, called modifications, are best pursued with the aid of a Mississippi child custody attorney.

Your child support obligation is just that – a legal obligation. If you are a parent who has been ordered to pay child support and you are having trouble paying child support according to the order, it is important that you contact a Mississippi Family Law Attorney right away. An attorney can help you understand more about your child support obligation, including possible consequences of nonpayment. Your attorney may also be able to help you explore options that could temporarily or permanently change the terms of your child support obligation. If you have questions about child support as it pertains to your Mississippi child custody case, Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole may be able to help you. Please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429, to set up a free consultation.


Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Discusses Addiction and Newborn Babies

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

Some of the individuals that are at risk due to a nationwide opiate addiction epidemic are very, very tiny. They are too young to talk, but their cries are unmistakable. Babies who suffer from withdrawal symptoms after being born to drug addicted mothers cry hard, they cry loud, and they cry for a very long time as their tiny faces become red and their tiny bodies stiffen.

Babies who are born addicted to drugs often face health issues after they have gone through withdrawal. The additional health concerns that often accompany neonatal abstinence syndrome include respiratory issues, slow weight gain, and, in some cases, seizures. These conditions require extra care and attention from parents and caregivers.

The number of drug-dependent babies born in America has been rising for a while now, and the number of child custody cases involving the parents of those babies has been rising as well. Hospitals and public health agencies know that reaching out to parents is one way that they might be able to reduce the number of babies who are born addicted to drugs, but it is not always easy to find effective methods for doing so.

            When babies are born addicted to drugs, their withdrawal symptoms are often treated with morphine or methadone. Research has indicated that there are other types of care that can also be effective in easing the pain of withdrawal, including swaddling, music therapy, and rocking, which are all treatments that parents, caregivers, and volunteers who work with parents can learn how to provide.

Improving the outcomes for drug addicted babies involves more than improving the types of care that they receive in the hospital. When pregnant mothers who struggle with addiction are provided with support and resources during their pregnancies, they may be able to begin the process of recovery before their babies are born and remain in recovery after their child’s birth by using the skills and tools that they learned about during their pregnancies. Unfortunately, substance abuse rehabilitation programs for pregnant women are in short supply all across America. Less than two thousand of the eleven thousand substance abuse treatment facilities that are listed by the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration include rehabilitation services for pregnant women.

Because there is a great need for programs that support addicted mothers, some states are designing and implementing new programs to meet that need. For example, a three-year pilot program called the MOMS Project has been created in Ohio. It is estimated that during the three year time frame, the MOMS Project will provide treatment, prenatal care, mental health support, and other important resources to three hundred pregnant women.

For parents who are battling addiction while facing a child custody case that could lead to termination of parental rights, the road forward is not likely to be easy. A Mississippi Child Custody Attorney can help you to understand your child custody case and provide the straightforward legal advice that you need during this challenging time in your life. If you need legal support regarding your Mississippi child custody case, contact Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Matthew S. Poole today, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Discusses the Connection between Marijuana and Custody Disputes

Monday, July 20th, 2015

As more and more states permit their residents to use various forms of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, it will be interesting to see how information about parents’ marijuana use will be utilized in child custody cases. As of right now, in Mississippi, almost all marijuana product use is illegal, except for a very small exemption for the use of certain formulations of marijuana oil for medicinal use. This means that in the overwhelming majority of Mississippi child custody cases, any evidence of any form of marijuana in a parent’s system at any time could be viewed as evidence of drug use and could be considered as such in a child custody case. However, as more and more pieces of marijuana legislation are introduced in Mississippi and throughout the nation that may change. Unfortunately, changes to rules regarding child custody do not always keep pace with changes in other legislation, as the stories below indicate.

Thirty eight states have legalized some forms of marijuana, and the number of states to do so is steadily rising. Other states, like Pennsylvania, have decriminalized it without legalizing it just yet. Parents on both sides of child custody cases around the nation, along with their attorneys, make allegations regarding marijuana use frequently during court proceedings. Allegations of marijuana use are also frequently included in reports that are made to child welfare agencies, and these allegations can lead to custody cases.

Because of the amount of confusion surrounding marijuana use and its legality and appropriateness, parents should always approach the marijuana use issue with great care and caution. Parents across America have lost custody of children because of various types of marijuana use. It happens in states where marijuana has been legalized for recreational use. It also happens in states where medical marijuana is legal, in situations where parents have been prescribed marijuana by their physicians. This creates a great deal of frustration and confusion, because parents can be found to be abiding the law as regards marijuana use, yet they can be found to be violating other laws that are related to the care and custody of their children. To further confuse things, courts in other states are treating marijuana use more like alcohol use and holding parents responsible for using it only in cases that involve situations where it may have affected their ability to keep their children safe, or where they are providing it to minors.

Child custody cases involve many complicated legal and personal issues. It is important to get accurate answers to the questions that you encounter along the way. A Mississippi Child Custody Attorney can help you understand the issues in your child custody case, and they can help you find the information that you need to make important decisions. If you need legal assistance with any type of child custody matter, Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Matthew S. Poole may be able to help you. Please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429.

Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Discusses Jurisdictional Issues in Child Custody Cases

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Actress Kelly Rutherford’s high-profile, high-conflict international child custody battle has been through many twists and turns since it began. The latest issue to crop up in this family’s child custody case is whether any of the parties have sufficient connections to the state of California to justify the state’s maintaining jurisdiction over the matter. The issue of jurisdiction has recently been raised by Rutherford’s former husband, and it is worth noting that the issue had been raised before, by Rutherford, and a conclusion had been reached by the court that California did have jurisdiction over the matter.

In 2012, a Los Angeles judge ruled that Rutherford’s two children should move to Monaco and live with their father while he worked through some issues that he was having with his United States visa. At that time, neither of the parties lived in California, yet the state retained its jurisdiction over the matter. At that time, Rutherford told the court that she was living in New York for eight months out of each year while she was filming “Gossip Girl”. She had even tried to move the case to New York, because of the amount of time that she was residing there, but California continued to assert its jurisdiction in the matter. Not much has changed regarding the parties’ residences between 2012 and now. However, due to the California court’s renewed focus on jurisdiction, Rutherford is being asked to provide many types of evidence of her ties to California because the judge is now questioning whether he should make any new orders in her family’s child custody case.

According to Kelly Rutherford, the court’s focus on the jurisdictional issue is frustrating in and of itself, but it is especially so because it is drawing the focus of the case away from something that she considers a very important matter. When Rutherford went overseas for a scheduled visit in May of this year, her former husband refused to let her spend time with her kids. After that incident, the California judge issued an order granting emergency custody to Rutherford. However, the validity of that order is now under attack, as Rutherford’s former husband has questioned whether California has jurisdiction over the matter.

Jurisdictional issues are just one of many types of issues that can come up in child custody cases. A Mississippi Child Custody Attorney can help you understand complicated issues like jurisdiction so that you can make decisions that will work for your children and your family. If you are involved in a Mississippi child custody case, you need a strong ally. Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Matthew S. Poole understands that parents who are involved in Mississippi child custody cases often encounter many different challenges as they move through the various types of child custody proceedings. If you have a question about any type of Mississippi child custody case, please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429, to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Talks About Life in a Blended Family

Monday, July 13th, 2015

When people who have children from previous relationships decide to get married, they form a blended family. As with any other type of family, the relationships within a blended family have the potential to create joy, tension, and just about every other kind of feeling within the household. If you are considering forming a blended family, you may not know what to expect. Life in a blended family does have some unique challenges, but parents who work together to find solutions that work for their family often find that the rough spots are far outnumbered by the pleasant moments.

One area that can be confusing for both parents and children in a blended family is how to address each other. Children will naturally refer to their biological parents as “mom” and “dad”, but they may not know what to call their step-parents. Many step-parents have found that giving children the freedom to choose what they call their step-parents works out better than insisting that they call them “dad” or “mom”. This may be because children who are free to choose how they address their step-parents feel as though their step-parents respect their relationships with each of their biological parents, not just the one that they married.

Some blended families experience difficulties when parents find themselves blindsided by challenges that are unique to blended families, such as the aforementioned scenario involving how family members refer to each other. If parents learn about blended family life and the unique challenges that they may face as they combine their families, they may be able to avoid some troubles altogether by planning ahead and coming to an agreement about how they will handle certain situations if and when they arise.

It can be difficult to decide on house rules for a blended family. Each parent is likely to have their own views on discipline, as well as experience with the rules and practices that they had established in the home that they had shared with their former spouse. To further add to the confusion, research has shown that children adjust to life after divorce more easily when their divorced parents maintain the same rules, boundaries, and other matters related to discipline in each of their homes. Some blended families have found that having each child’s biological parent handle disciplinary matters in a way that is compatible with what goes on in the home of the child’s other biological parent works well for them.

These are just a few of the unique situations that blended families experience as they make their way together. Child custody cases can be difficult to navigate as a blended family. Parents who are involved in child custody cases often have many questions, and a Mississippi Child Custody Attorney can often help them find the answers that they need. Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Matthew S. Poole has helped many parents with their child custody cases, and it is possible that he can help you, too. Please call our office today at (601) 573-7429, to set up a free consultation.

Mississippi Family Law Attorney Says Single Dads are Not Uncommon

Friday, July 10th, 2015

In Mississippi, there are more children who are being raised in single-parent households than there are being raised by married parents. Approximately two out of every three kids in Mississippi are being raised by single parents. While many single-parent households in Mississippi belong to mothers, there are plenty of single fathers here, too.

Unfortunately, even as the number of single dads continues to rise, society is slow to acknowledge and accept the changing face of the single-parent household. There are nine times as many single dads in America right now as there were in the 1960’s. Part of the reason that people may be slow to catch on to the fact that there are more single dads now then there ever were before is that some people hold onto a traditional view of child-rearing as something that is done mainly by a child’s mother.

This traditional view has proven to be problematic because it has created additional challenges for single fathers, who are already working hard to navigate the ins and outs of their kids on their own. Many single dads report that they notice that other people, including fellow parents, teachers, coaches, and co-workers seem to regard them with a mixture of disbelief and disapproval.

Sometimes, both single fathers and their children feel left out because of the way that other people treat them. Children are not always kind to one another, and children of single fathers are sometimes singled out and picked on because their family situation is different than what many kids are used to. The views of other parents on the subject of single fatherhood can get in the way of single dads and their kids enjoying certain activities together. For example, hosting sleepover parties can prove difficult because parents are often reluctant to let their daughters spend the night at a home where there are no adult females present.

Fortunately, although society as a whole is not as accepting of single fathers as it could be, the legal system in Mississippi recognizes that fathers are just as capable of mothers of raising their children, even on their own. An increasing body of Mississippi case law supports custody decisions that serve the best interest of the child, regardless of whether that means that custody goes to the mother, the father, or it is shared equally between both parents. The criteria by which a court determines the best interest of the child in Mississippi consists of a group of factors called the “Albright Factors”. The application of the Albright Factors in multiple court decisions has shown that they do not favor one gender over another.

If you are a father who is seeking custody of your children, you need a strong advocate who can help you present your very best case to the family court. If you have questions or concerns about a Mississippi child custody case, Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole may be able to help you. Please call my office today, at (601) 573-7429 today, to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Shares the Questions That Can Help Co-Parents Work Together More Effectively

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Divorce is not easy, and divorces involving children are even more difficult. Once the parties’ lives are separated, the matter of parenting always remains in the picture. There are many ways that parents handle parenting after divorce, and co-parenting/shared parenting/joint parenting is increasing in popularity as more and more parents realize the potential benefits of working together as a parenting team after a divorce. These parenting methods do not work well for everyone, but for parents for whom co-parenting works well much of the time, there are a few questions which can help them co-parent even more effectively.

Taking time to reflect on parenting is important for any parent, and it is essential for parents who are co-parenting. If parents do not occasionally take time to think about what they are doing and why, problems can arise. Fortunately, those problems and others can be avoided by taking regular opportunities to openly and honestly reflect on co-parenting, both on your own and with your children’s other parent. If the other parent does not want to engage in this type of reflection that may be indicative of a co-parenting problem in the making, or it may simply indicate that they have a different way of evaluating co-parenting that works well for them.

            When parents are unhappily married, their dissatisfaction can affect their children without anyone even knowing that it is doing so. Once unhappily married parents divorce and go their separate ways, children may feel relief from the tension that had been present in their home previously. This sense of relief can translate into hope that family life will be even better after the divorce than it was before it. With this in mind, parents can think about how they can co-parent in a manner that reinforces positive and hopeful sentiments within their separate homes.

As parents prepare to divorce and to turn one household into two, they can think about how they will preserve their children’s sense of security and stability during the transition. Things like keeping routines and house rules consistent can go a long way towards making a transition that everyone can feel good about. Also, taking the time to really think about what kind of parenting schedule will work best for everyone may seem like a lot of work up front. However, when a parenting schedule is thought through carefully before being implemented by co-parents, it has a greater chance of working well for everyone and requiring little to no adjustment until the needs of the family change.

Co-parenting is not always easy, but parents can make it easier on their children by keeping discussions about problems and difficulties between themselves. When parents can keep conflict out from in front of their kids, everyone wins. Children are less likely to feel confused, scared, and frustrated when they see their divorced parents working together in a calm manner to guide their family through whatever issues they are facing.

If you are involved in a child custody case, you need an advocate who can help you accomplish the best possible outcome in relationship to your unique circumstances. Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Matthew S. Poole may be able to help you, so please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429 to arrange a free, initial consultation.