Archive for August, 2015

Mississippi Child Custody Dispute Lawyer Discusses the Latest Developments in Kelly Rutherford’s Custody Battle

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

The bitter custody battle between Gossip Girl actress Kelly Rutherford and her ex-husband Daniel Giersch has taken yet another turn. The couple first filed for divorce six years ago, and both parents were to share custody of their children. That may be changing, as a judge in New York has recently ordered the couple’s children to be returned to Giersch, who lives in Monaco, following an emergency motion that he had filed alleging that he did not know where the children were. Rutherford claims that Giersch did in fact know that the children were with her in New York, and that he had been in contact with them throughout their time with her.

The international nature of this case has created a great deal of difficulty for the parties. Rutherford is an American citizen, as are the couple’s children, who are currently six and eight years old. There are questions regarding whether Giersch, who lives in Monaco, is permitted to be in the United States. His United States Visa has been revoked, but Rutherford claims that Giersch is a German citizen who has a German passport which he could use to visit the United States. It appears, however, that Giersch is not allowed in the United States, and so in order for the children to have frequent contact with both parents, the New York court has said that they must go to Monaco.

The couple’s children have been through a few different custody arrangements over the past six years. As noted earlier, when the couple first filed for divorce, custody was to be shared. When Giersch’s United States Visa was revoked, a California judge ruled that the children should leave the United States to live with their father on a temporary basis. The children remained United States citizens and habitual residents at that point in time. Rutherford asserts that according to the California court order, no other country was to declare the couple’s children citizens or habitual residents, and that Giersch was supposed to work out the issues with his Visa in order to regain the ability to enter the United States. The issues with Giersch’s United States Visa have not yet been resolved, and he resides in France and Monaco. He has filed paperwork in Monaco seeking custody of his children.

In addition to international issues, there are jurisdictional issues that make this case very complicated. California courts now claim that they do not have jurisdiction over the case, even though they have issues rulings in the case in the past. Monaco has asserted jurisdiction. Rutherford lives in New York, and the more recent events in this case have taken place in New York and in the New York courts.

Whether or not jurisdictional and international issues are part of your Mississippi child custody case, Mississippi Child Custody Dispute Attorney Matthew S. Poole is here to help you. Please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429, to set up a free consultation.


Mississippi Family Lawyer Discusses the State of Mississippi’s Foster Care System

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Mississippi’s foster care system is in drastic need of reform. For seven years, there has been a court order in place which requires sweeping changes to many aspects of the foster care system in Mississippi. For seven years, the Mississippi foster care system has not made the changes that are needed to meet the needs of the growing number of children who are in state custody.

The Mississippi foster care system has been under scrutiny for some time now, and there is a great deal of documentation of how the system is failing to meet the needs of the thousands of children that it is supposed to serve. The problems with Mississippi’s foster care system are numerous and varied. Allegations of abuse are not being investigated promptly. Case workers have such high caseloads that they cannot check up on kids in their foster care placements often enough or do other things that they need to do in order to do their jobs properly. Children are being placed in foster care placements that are unlicensed, or that are otherwise not appropriate for their needs. Adoptions are being delayed. Children are going without health screenings and medical care in some situations. These and other issues are the reasons why a group of consultants will spend four months assessing the state’s foster care system before offering its recommendations to the state.

Additionally, the foster care system will soon be undergoing some changes in its leadership. These new leaders, which will likely include a new executive director and a new senior management team, will be responsible for implementing the recommendations of the consultants. In the event that the state is unwilling or unable to agree to implement the recommendations of the consultants, the attorneys who represent the interests of the children in the state’s foster care system have a backup plan. If necessary, they plan to ask the court to place the Mississippi foster care system in receivership. If the foster care system goes into receivership, the state government will no longer have the authority to run it, and it will be run by a party appointed by the federal court. Receivership is a rare and serious situation which has only occurred with one other foster care system, in Washington, D.C..

The Mississippi foster care system is in need of changes that will benefit both the children in it and the present and future parents and families of those children. If your child custody case involves the Mississippi foster care system, a Mississippi Family Lawyer can help you to understand that system and your child custody case. Your attorney can provide you with the legal support and information that you need in order to make informed decisions about how to proceed with your child custody case. Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole has helped many parents navigate Mississippi 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 Child Custody Attorney Discusses Parental Alienation

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

In some cases, judges in custody cases take extreme measures when they believe that children are at risk of physical or emotional harm. In a recent court decision in Michigan, a judge at a custody hearing decided that the children involved in the case needed to go to a juvenile detention facility in order to escape parental alienation that was so severe that the judge declared it “brainwashing”. The children spent a short time at the juvenile detention facility before their father asked the court to release them to a residential summer camp where both of their parents could visit them.

The judge who issued the ruling believes that what she did was in the best interest of the children, who have been stuck in the middle of their parents’ custody battle for approximately six years. She says that the children had been refusing to meet with their father because their mother had alienated them from him. Parental alienation is a serious situation in which one parent’s efforts to present a negative view of the other parent are so successful that the children no longer want to see or have a relationship with the other parent. It is highly detrimental to children, who benefit from a strong relationship with both of their parents.

If you are concerned that parental alienation may be an issue in your child custody case, there are some things that you can look for which could help you to identify efforts at parental alienation. If you see any of these things happening in your family, share your concerns with your attorney so that the issue can be dealt with promptly. For example, there may be a “campaign of denigration”, which involves the creation of stories about the family which portray one parent in a very negative light. For example, denying a child the opportunity to visit their other parent and then telling the child that the visit happened because the other parent cancelled the visit.

Other signs of parental alienation can be seen in the way that a child talks about his or her parents. If the child can rattle off a long list of things that they do not like about the targeted parent without mentioning any of their positive attributes, they may be experiencing parental alienation. Additionally, children who are affected by parental alienation are careful to state that their negative statements come from their own experience and that no one told them to say those things. They often express themselves in a way that sounds scripted, and which makes them sound like they are really smart for their age. Unfortunately, words aren’t the only things that children who experience alienation use against the targeted parent. They sometimes even engage in very cruel behaviors and then exhibit no remorse afterwards. Children who experience parental alienation express a deep and profound loyalty to the parent who has caused the alienation.

Parental alienation is a serious issue in child custody cases and it is important that you act fast if you believe that it is an issue in your case. 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 Discusses Same Sex Adoption

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

Now that marriage equality is the law, same-sex couples in Mississippi are beginning to focus on another area in which they are presently on unequal footing with heterosexual couples. Mississippi is currently the only state where same-sex couples are expressly prohibited from adopting children. This prohibition on adoption is the subject of a federal class-action lawsuit that is being brought by same-sex couples against the state of Mississippi.

The lawsuit challenging the ban on adoption by homosexual couples is based upon a constitutional argument that is similar to the argument that was presented in the recent successful lawsuit that challenged the validity of the prohibition of same-sex marriages. That argument is that the law is unconstitutional because it discriminates against people on the basis of sexual orientation.

Interestingly enough, the ban on same-sex adoption was not the law in Mississippi until fairly recently, in 2000. Perhaps even more interestingly, some of the people who were instrumental in getting the ban signed into law now regret having done so, such as Ronnie Musgrove, who was the governor of Mississippi at the time that prohibition on same-sex adoptions became official.

The ban on adoption by same-sex couples affects many different children. Of course, there are children who are available for adoption through adoption agencies and the like. There are also children in Mississippi’s failing foster care system who are in desperate need of safe and loving homes who are unable to be adopted by homosexual couples. In fact, same-sex couples cannot even provide foster homes for children on a short-term basis because the Mississippi Department of Human Services will not permit them to become foster parents. Mississippi law says that single people and married couples can become foster parents, so same-sex couples may be able to become foster parents if they get married first.

There are many children both in the foster care system and outside of it who are available for adoption and who need safe and loving homes. There are also many same-sex couples in Mississippi who are willing and able to adopt these children if the law would permit them to do so. There are also children who have entered the foster care system after being kicked out of their family homes because they are LGBT. Some foster parents are unwilling to care for LGBT kids, and since same-sex parents are unable to adopt, there is an entire group of children whose needs for safety, acceptance, support, and stability are not being met.

There are also families who are affected by the adoption ban because many same-sex couples are raising children even though they cannot adopt them. Many of the parents in these families do not have the custodial or parental rights that biological or adoptive parents have, which causes problems with everyday activities like signing kids up for sports programs, giving permission to go on school field trips, and seeking emergency medical treatment.

The ban on same-sex adoption is one way in which the state’s policies regarding sexual orientation can affect child custody cases. If you are involved in a child custody case, your Mississippi Child Custody Attorney can help you to understand legal issues regarding sexual orientation in the context of your case. If you need legal support regarding your Mississippi child custody case, contact Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole today, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Child Custody Dispute Lawyer Talks about the Nationwide Shift towards Shared Parenting

Friday, August 21st, 2015

A hearing that was recently held at the State House in Massachusetts during which fathers shared details of their family lives following their divorces is representative of similar hearings that are taking place in state houses across America. At the hearings, parents, especially fathers, are advocating for legislative changes that will promote and shared parenting. Some states have already enacted legislation that favors shared parenting over other types of custody arrangements, and approximately twenty states are currently considering such legislation.

One of the main reasons why states are feeling the need to reexamine their child custody laws is that parental roles have changed. Some child custody laws have been on the books for a long time, and family life has changed a great deal since the laws were enacted. For example, approximately seventy percent of women work outside of the home, and fathers are more involved in the day to day care of their children than they have ever been, with some dads even choosing the role of stay-at-home dad.

Another reason why a move towards legislation that favors shared parenting makes good sense is that it can shorten the length of custody cases and in doing so reduce legal fees for parents. Perhaps the most compelling reason for states to support courts ordering shared parenting whenever possible is that it works well for children. Research, including a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, shows that children living in shared custody arrangements exhibited fewer psychosomatic issues than those living in a situation where one parent has custody and the other has visitation.

It is important to note that there are concerns over what forms legislation supporting shared custody will take. For example, if legislation is passed which mandates shared custody that could overstep the courts’ authority to make decisions that are in the best interest of the children. Legislation that promotes shared custody must contain some type of acknowledgement that there are situations, such as those where parents simply cannot make it work or where domestic violence is a factor, where shared custody does not serve the best interest of the children.

Some of the ways that proposed legislation in various states would support shared parenting include specifying a minimum percentage of time that a child would spend with a parent, encouraging compliance with court-ordered or court-approved parenting plans, and discouraging noncompliance with court-ordered or court-approved parenting plans or lack of cooperation with the other parent through the use of sanctions.

Shared custody works well for many families, and it might be right for your family, too. A Mississippi Child Custody Dispute Lawyer can help you find all of the information that you need to make important decisions for your family, including information about whether shared custody could benefit you and your family. If you have questions about a 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 Lawyer Discusses Grandparents and Custody

Friday, August 14th, 2015

In some child custody cases, grandparents feel a need to assert their right to have access to the child or children. This often occurs in situations where they feel as though a custody arrangement will be made which could result in them having less access to their grandchildren than they are accustomed to having. One grandmother in Georgia has gone a step further than asking for visitation, asserting that she should share custody of her ten year old grandson with the boy’s father.

A judge in Gwinnett County had ordered that the grandmother and the father share custody, and the child’s father objected to that decision. The Georgia Supreme Court recently reversed the county court’s decision because state law does not permit such an arrangement.

The grandmother has, at times, filled the role of primary caregiver for her grandson. The boy’s mother is unable to fulfill a parental role because she struggles with drug abuse. The boy’s father moved out of state to start his own business, and he does not dispute that the grandmother has a strong bond with his son and that she takes good care of him. However, the father has now established his business, he is able to provide the child with a stable home, and he has maintained a strong bond with his son.

The ruling in this case does not seek to undermine or diminish the role of grandparents in their grandchildren’s lives. In some cases, grandparents provide much needed stability for children whose parents are having a difficult time providing it for them. Some parents depend upon their children’s grandparents for child care, or even to fulfill the role of primary caregiver some of the time. In some cases, parents even voluntarily relinquish their parental rights to their children so that the children’s grandparents can raise them.

The difference between the aforementioned situations and the case at hand is that the arrangements in the aforementioned situations are all voluntary, and the county court had ordered shared custody between the grandmother and the child’s father when the father did not want to share custody with her. Custody involves not only the day to day care of a child; it involves the ability to make decisions regarding education, health care, and other matters. This is why Georgia law is written so as to preclude situations where a fit parent shares custody with another individual who is not a parent, so as to preserve the rights of parents to make decisions regarding their children. Grandparents can be granted liberal amounts of visitation in Georgia if they can meet certain criteria, but this does not have the same effect as a grant of shared custody would because visitation does not include parental rights and responsibilities.

Custody and visitation issues involving grandparents do sometimes arise in child custody cases. A Mississippi Child Custody Lawyer can help you understand how these issues could affect your family. Mississippi Child Custody Lawyer Matthew S. Poole helps parents with the challenges that they face as they move through their child custody proceedings. To learn more about your Mississippi child custody case, please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429, to schedule a free, initial consultation.


Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Shares Back to School Tips for Divorced or Divorcing Parents

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

The beginning of a new school year brings mixed feelings for parents and children alike. Whether this is your first time navigating the school year as a divorced or divorcing parent or you have done it before, now is a good time to make sure that you enter the school year feeling prepared and knowing what to expect.

If your family’s routines went by the wayside this summer, now is a good time to establish them again. Even better, check in with your children’s other parent to see what routines look like at their house and see how the two of you can become more consistent so that the kids have the same or very similar routines at both homes. Make sure the kids know what to expect on school days and weekends, and you will be on your way to establishing a smooth flow to your days.

Get familiar with your child’s school and their new teacher. Teachers benefit from knowing about each child and their family situation, so do be sure to let them know the basics about what has been going on in your family so that they can be aware of it. If you are the custodial parent, be sure that your child’s school, teacher, coaches, doctors, and other people who your child spends time with know that they should share information about your child freely with your child’s other parent. This will benefit you, because you won’t have to make copies and send countless messages or make frequent phone calls to share the information yourself.

Speak with your child’s parent about school activities, and consider making an agreement that both of you can attend all of their events. If this just won’t work, make a schedule that specifies who will attend each event so that you can plan ahead. While you are doing all of this planning and coordinating, discuss what items your children will need for school this year and decide which expenses each of you will pay. Once you decide that, follow through and get the things that you have agreed to provide. This type of planning can help to ensure that the kids have everything that they need, and that one parent or the other doesn’t buy something for a child that the parents do not agree that the child should have, like a cell phone.

If you are involved in a child custody case, the beginning of the school year is a good time to make sure that everything is working well with your child custody arrangement by checking in with your child’s other parent about what both of you would like to see happening during the school year. Many parents can work together to adjust parenting schedules and other things so that family life will be easier for everyone. If you are having difficulties with a child custody situation, Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Matthew S. Poole may be able to help you. Please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429 to arrange a free, initial consultation.


Mississippi Divorce Attorney Talks about Arrests and Custody Disputes

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

In some child custody disputes, questions regarding custody arise when one parent is arrested and subsequently incarcerated. A couple in Texas is currently navigating this type of situation. The estranged parents of a four year old had been ordered by the court to share custody. Sometimes, parents are able to make shared custody work for them. At other times, parents have issues with communication, scheduling, or other things, and there is a great deal of conflict over sharing custody. This case is a situation in which the custody battle has been both complicated and contentious.

Things just got even more complicated for the family because the child’s father was recently arrested for assaulting his estranged wife, who is the child’s mother. After the arrest, shared custody and an alternating visitation schedule continued. The father is now in jail after surrendering to assault charges, and the mother is seeking custody of the child.

The four year old was in his father’s care when the father was arrested, and the boy’s mother was not told where he was after the arrest. It is likely that he was in the care of his paternal grandmother, but the grandmother would not return the mother’s calls. The boy’s mother has enlisted the aid of the local sheriff’s office, the police department in the town where the child’s grandmother lives, and even child protective services. She is concerned that the grandmother may have taken the child to Mississippi for a vacation, which could complicate matters even more.

In Mississippi child custody cases, modification of a custody order is possible if there is a material change in circumstances, that the change adversely affects the child’s welfare, and that a change in custody would serve the best interest of the child. Cantin v.Cantin, 78 So. 3d 943, 948 Miss. Ct. App. 2012. Since the aforementioned case is taking place in Texas, the criteria for modifying custody may be different than they are in Mississippi, but the case is worth mentioning because it is possible to predict what would likely happen if a similar situation were to take place in Mississippi.

The incarceration of a parent is an event that could, depending upon the circumstances and other factors like the length of time that the parent is expected to remain in jail, be considered a material change in circumstances because it renders that parent unavailable to provide care and supervision for the child. Depending upon the nature of the offense, it is likely arguable in many cases that the parent’s incarceration and the conduct that preceded it have a negative impact on the child’s well-being. The factor which might weigh most heavily on whether a court would modify custody would then become the third requirement for modification, which is whether the proposed change in custody would serve the welfare of the child. If the parent seeking custody is able to provide a stable home environment, they would likely prevail. Likewise, if the parent seeking custody has not been arrested but is unable to show that their home is a stable, safe, and otherwise suitable environment, they would not likely be granted custody.

If you have questions about your Mississippi child custody case, Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole is here to serve you. Please call my office today, at (601) 573-7429 today, to schedule a free, initial consultation.