Posts Tagged ‘Mississippi child custody attorney’

Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Discusses Behavioral Issues During and After Custody Disputes

Monday, June 29th, 2015

When a child’s parents are involved in a custody case, whether it is a divorce, CPS case, or some other matter, the child will undoubtedly experience their own feelings and emotions related to the situation. The range of feelings that children may experience during custody cases is widely varied, especially when you factor in things such as age and emotional development.

Parents who are involved in custody disputes may know to expect behavioral changes in their children, but since it cannot be predicted exactly what those changes will be and when they are likely to take place, they may still be caught off guard when their children behave in ways that are unlike anything that they have ever seen them do before. As stressful as the custody case is for the parents, they also have the additional responsibility of supporting their children emotionally throughout the entire ordeal. Ideally, this includes monitoring behavior and making note of when changes occur, communicating with the children, and supporting them as they experience whatever feelings they are experiencing.

When children are feeling confused, sad, frustrated, or angry, they may act out because they don’t know what else to do. Acting out can come in all different forms, from mild misbehavior to extreme destructiveness. Fortunately, parents can often help their children address the feelings that are underlying the unusual behavior. When children feel closeness to and support from their parents, they regain a sense of safety and security that they may have felt was threatened by the events taking place in the custody case. Children may stop misbehaving once they feel understood and secure, and once any confusion has been cleared up.

Sometimes, though, parents may need the help of a professional to help their children and themselves. Some children become depressed or aggressive, and they may be reluctant to communicate with you when you try to talk to them. If you begin to feel as though professional help may be a good idea, do not hesitate to find someone who can help you.

Although child custody cases often involve a great deal of tension between parents, it is often helpful to communicate with your child’s other parent regarding behavioral changes, so that the two of you can decide how to address them. This is particularly important when, as noted above, you begin to feel as though one or more of your children may need professional support.

If you are involved in a custody case, you may be having many different feelings of your own. Unfortunately, these feelings may affect your behavior without you necessarily knowing that they are doing so. Simply knowing that this can happen can help you to assess your own behavior and notice whether it is being influenced by how you are feeling at any given moment. If you do notice that your feelings are affecting your behavior in ways that you do not like, you might try finding a coping mechanism like exercise, talking to a friend, spending time in nature, or doing something creative. If you find that it is difficult for you to work through your feelings to a point where you can choose to act, you may want to seek professional help

If you need legal assistance with a child custody matter, Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Matthew S. Poole is a trusted ally that you can count on to help you during this confusing and difficult time. Please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429.

Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Talks about Mental Health Matters

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Although many people discuss mental health with their friends and family fairly frequently, they are often reluctant to discuss it with anyone that they do not know well or trust completely. The reason for this is that unfortunately, even in this time of greater understanding about mental health issues, people still pass judgment on those who seek treatment for or help with mental health issues. This stigma is persistent enough that it actually prevents people who believe that they need or would benefit from help to avoid seeking assistance.

Parents who are involved in child custody cases may feel as though they are not in a position to seek treatment for mental health issues because they believe that doing so could work against them as far as their child custody case is concerned. Unfortunately, this belief causes many people a great deal of unnecessary pain and suffering, and could even cause people to be in danger of harming themselves or others. In reality, seeking help for mental health concerns is a sign of strength and dedication, and it is important that those who feel as though they need help also feel like they may seek it without that being held against them.

The first safeguard that parents who wish to reach out for help can rely on is the confidentiality that is promised as part of the psychologist/patient relationship. This requirement of confidentiality exists in order to encourage people to seek help for mental health issues if they feel as though they need to do so. Unfortunately, sometimes, even the knowledge that whatever you say to a mental health professional will remain confidential does not preclude you from having other concerns about seeking treatment. You may also be concerned that if you do in fact seek help, your children’s other parent will attempt to use that information as evidence that is unfavorable to you.

Fortunately, courts are often inclined to view participation in mental health treatment, especially if there is a treatment plan in place and progress is being made, as a positive thing that reflects favorably on the parent who is engaged in such treatment. It is not easy to acknowledge that you need help with a mental health concern, so a decision to do so can be viewed as brave, and as evidence of a commitment to taking care of yourself so that you can take care of the needs of your children.

Mental health issues are serious issues that deserve careful attention. Professional help can be both life-saving and life-changing for those who need it. If you are concerned about the possible impact of mental health treatment on your Mississippi child custody case, we can help you. Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Matthew S. Poole has helped parents just like you accomplish results in their child custody cases that meet their needs and the needs of their children. Please call Attorney Matthew S. Poole today, at (601) 573-7429 to arrange a free, initial consultation.


Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Presents a Big Picture View of the Best Interest of the Child

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

If you are involved in a child custody case, you have undoubtedly heard of the concept of the “best interest of the child”. As with any legal concept, the concept of the “best interest of the child” is likely to leave people wondering what it looks like in real life. There are actually many ways that a person can get a feel for the concept of the “best interest of the child” by looking at examples from everyday life.

The simplest place to begin is by acknowledging that “the best interest of the child” is, by nature, a big-picture type of concept. It can be seen in all of the day to day interactions between parents and their children in homes all across America and all over the world. Also, in situations that do not serve the “best interest of the child”, those same day to day interactions, or the lack thereof, are what can help people who are a part of the child’s life to see that the child may need help.

It is not possible to get a sense of the best interest of any particular child in one day. Children need people and situations in their lives that are consistent, and observing a family over a period of time can provide a picture of how involved each parent is in the child’s daily activities and whether the involvement is consistent over time or not. This type of observation can also point to other things in the child’s life that provide stability, such as the routines they follow at home, their school or day care environment, grandparents and other family members, and regular activities that the child enjoys.

Observation over time is also important for gathering information about whether any changes that have been made by the child’s parents are likely to remain in effect. For example, if a parent has been asked to secure a more suitable apartment that will enable their child to have the appropriate amount of space available to them when they visit, it will take time for that parent to show that they can not only obtain the apartment that they need, but that they can keep it and maintain it in an appropriate condition. There are many situations in which a parent must address an issue, like getting treatment for substance abuse, making appropriate choices about which other adults spend time around their children, maintaining a safe living space for their family, and so on, that take time to address and for the parent to demonstrate a continued commitment to maintaining their success.

For parents who are involved in child custody cases, the “best interest of the child” may seem like a tough standard to meet. Fortunately, there are many ways that parents can meet that standard just by doing what they do every day to support their children with the physical and emotional resources that they need to feel safe, secure, and loved. If you would like to learn more about the “best interest of the child” or any other aspect of 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 Talks About Parenting Across the Miles

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Many custody cases involve parents who are and who intend to remain in close geographic proximity to each other. In some custody cases, though, the children’s parents live far away from each other. The distance between the homes of the parents becomes, in these cases, an important factor that must be addressed in the parenting plan.

Parents who are involved in custody cases that involve long-distance parenting can take heart in knowing that many families have created long-distance parenting plans that have provided both parents with plenty of parenting time and the ability to maintain close relationships with their children. Creating a successful long-distance parenting plans often involves a lot of careful thought and a high degree of attention to detail. Fortunately, that extra effort is often pays off in the form of a plan that works not just for a little while, but for years, because it has taken many different things into consideration.

The exact structure of long-distance parenting plans varies greatly because the distances between parents’ residences vary from one family to the next. Families where one parent lives in a place that is within driving distance of the other may plan for more transitions and shorter visits than families where the parents live in different regions or even in different countries. These families may establish a pattern of the children spending long periods of time with each parent, such as a situation where the children live with one parent during the school year and spend school breaks with the other. When the distance between parents does not preclude it, holidays can be given separate treatment from other visits if that is what the parents would like to do.

In addition to decisions regarding how often travel occurs, parents who are designing long-distance parenting plans must decide who is doing the traveling and what mode of transportation they will use. Sometimes, one parent will travel to visit the children at or near their usual home. At other times, parents will trade off on taking trips to see the children. Children can also travel between locations, especially as they grow older and are able to travel on their own. The distance to be traveled and the cost of travel are other considerations that go into a plan for who will travel where and when.

Communication between children and parents is an essential component of any parenting plan, and it is just as important of a consideration in long-distance parenting plans. Many long-distance parenting plans provide for daily contact between the children and the parent who is not present in the location where they are. Because video calling programs like FaceTime and Skype are so popular, families often incorporate them into their parenting plans as well. Plans for communication also often address the timing of communication between children and parents, so that the children are able to know when they will be able to talk to their parent and vice versa.

Child custody cases where parents live miles apart can seem difficult. Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Matthew S. Poole has helped many families design parenting plans that work for them, and it is possible that he can help, too. Please call our office today at (601) 573-7429, to set up a free consultation.

Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Discusses the Importance of Creating a Parenting Schedule Early on in Divorce Proceedings

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

When you begin thinking about getting a divorce, it is only natural to wonder how you will go about it. If you have children, it may seem like divorcing will be even more complicated, because so much of your family’s daily schedule may revolve around parents sharing both household and child care responsibilities. Fortunately, families can adapt to the changes that divorce brings. One way to help your family have as smooth of a transition from living in a single household to living in two households is to create a parenting schedule as soon as possible, perhaps, even before one of you moves out of the family home and into new living quarters.

Depending upon the circumstances of your divorce, it may seem like a parenting schedule won’t be needed early on, because the kids will remain in the marital home with one parent, while the other moves out. However, the relationships that the children have with the parent who is moving out of the marital home are important, to both the parent and to the children. Children thrive when they experience stability, and while you may think that you are providing that by having them remain in the home that they are accustomed to living in, staying in the same school, and attending their usual activities, there is additional stability that can be provided in the form of spending time with each parent.

In addition to giving children much needed stability, spending time with each parent throughout the divorce process gives them tangible reinforcement of something that they cannot be reminded of too many times – that the divorce is about their parents, and not at all about them. Whenever possible, it is a good idea for parents to create a parenting schedule before one of them leaves the home, so that they can discuss it with the children at the same time that they discuss the divorce, and that one parent will be moving into another residence. Children like to know what to expect, and while it will undoubtedly be difficult for them to experience one parent moving out of their home, knowing where that parent is going and when they can expect to see them again can make it a little bit easier.

If you are a parent who is considering divorce, it may be helpful for you to speak with a Mississippi Family Law Attorney as you prepare to file for divorce. Your attorney can help you to understand the process of divorce, and what you and your children are likely to experience at each stage of the process. They can also help you work through all of the issues that are related to your divorce, including child custody. Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Matthew S. Poole has helped many divorcing parents obtain results that work well for themselves and for their families. Please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429, to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Discusses the Termination of Parental Rights

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

The word “termination” invokes feelings of seriousness and finality. When you pair the word “termination” with “parental rights”, you describe the most extreme action that a court can take regarding the relationship between a child and a parent. Termination of parental rights is not something that courts like to do, but rather something which must be done in certain cases because of the severity of harm that a child has endured, and in other cases because it provides a child with stability and certainty about who their permanent caregivers are.

Because termination of parental rights is a serious and permanent matter, the party that seeks to terminate the relationship, which is often an agency, must prove by clear and convincing evidence that termination of the rights of one or both of a child’s biological parents serves that child’s best interest. There are a variety of circumstances that can lead to the termination of a parent’s rights, including abuse, abandonment, and a failure of one or both parents to address certain issues that prevent them from fulfilling their parental responsibilities.

Abandonment or desertion of a child can result in the termination or parental rights, and it can happen more quickly than you might think, because of the developmental needs of children of different ages. If a parent does not have contact with a child who is under three years old for six months or more, or does not have contact with a child over three years old for a year or more, that parent’s rights may be terminated. Children, especially young children, need certainty, and parents who essentially walk away from their children and remain apart from them cannot expect to be able to come back and parent their children at some future time of their choosing. Termination proceedings in the case of abandonment or desertion enable a child to find a permanent home with an extended family member or an adoptive family.

Repeated instances of child abuse and/or crimes against children can also lead to the termination of parental rights. The effects of abuse, especially repeated abuse, on children are undeniable. If a crime has occurred, criminal charges may be filed around the same time as the petition to terminate parental rights.

Addiction can seriously undermine a parent’s ability to fulfill their parental duties, including providing a safe and consistent home environment and responding to their child’s everyday needs. Because children need stability and consistency, termination of parental rights proceedings may be initiated in situations where there is evidence that a parent’s long-term addiction is interfering with their parental duties. In some cases, the removal of their children from their care serves as a catalyst for positive and lasting change in the life of a parent who is an addict, and the parent is able to pursue recovery and bring their parenting back to where it needs to be in time for the child to successfully return to their care and remain there. In other cases, parents attempt recovery, sometimes multiple times, and are unable to resume parenting. In these cases, termination is likely to occur on a timetable that is consistent with the child’s age and developmental need for permanency.

Termination of parental rights is a matter of the utmost concern. Whether you are facing termination of your parental rights or you are concerned about a child whose parents may be involved in termination proceedings, you could benefit from the assistance of a Mississippi Child Custody Attorney. Call Attorney Matthew S. Poole today, at (601) 573-7429 to arrange a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Explains the Concept of Bonding

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

There are a few concepts that are important for parents to understand when they are involved in a child custody case. Bonding is one of these concepts, and it is important that you understand it because the term can be used in both a positive way and in a negative way in child custody cases. Bonding is a term that describes the strength and quality of an individual child’s attachment to his or her birth parent, or to a foster parent.

The bond between a parent and a child is a complex one, involving both physical and emotional components. The type and nature of touch, how the child interacts with the parent and vice versa, caregiving by the parent in response to the child’s needs, and the reaction of the child upon separation are just some of the many things that make up the parent-child bond. In some child custody cases, the parents, social workers, and other witnesses will be the sources of information regarding a child’s bond. In other cases, an expert on bonding will assess the bond between parent and child, as well as between the child and other adults, such as foster parents, and provide that information in a report and, if the case goes to trial, testify regarding their findings.

Bonding can work in a parent’s favor, or it can work against them, depending upon the situation. When a parent is working towards reunification with their child and they can show that they had a strong bond with the child prior to their child being removed from their care, that is helpful. It is even more helpful when that same parent is able to demonstrate that they have maintained or even strengthened their child’s bond with them through visitation and other forms of contact throughout the period of separation.

Sometimes, parents who are pursuing reunification with their children find themselves on the negative end of the use of the term “bonding”. One example of this is when a father, who has previously been uninvolved in his young child’s life, steps forward and asks for custody or visitation as the mother of the child faces removal of the child from her care. He may be given a chance to develop a bond with the child through visitation or even temporary custody, but bonds take time to develop, and if the mother’s reunification efforts go well, his “lack of bonding” prior to the child being removed from the mother’s care may prevent him from being given as much parenting time as he would like.

Bonding can also be used in a negative sense when foster families are involved, especially when parents are working towards reunification and the foster family is seeking to adopt. Social service agencies sometimes try to show that the child’s bond with their biological parent or parents has been diminished while at the same time a strong and lasting bond has been developed with the foster parents.

Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Matthew S. Poole understands the role of bonding in your child custody case. If you have questions about bonding or other topics related to child custody, please call us at (601) 573-7429, to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Discusses the Indian Child Welfare Act

Friday, May 15th, 2015

In child custody cases where the children involved are of Native American descent, it is possible that the protections of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) will be invoked. The ICWA’s status has long been that it is legally persuasive, but not binding. This means that in the thirty seven years since the statute was created, judges, adoption agencies, and others involved in child custody cases have been able to circumvent or even blatantly ignore the provisions of the Act, which was designed to protect the rights of Native Americans to raise their children in their own communities.

This year, the Bureau of Indian Affairs is updating the ICWA, and seeking a federal rule that would make it binding instead of merely legally persuasive. Ultimately, their goal is to have the rule codified in the Code of Federal Regulations. In creating the updated guidelines, the Bureau of Indian Affairs worked with tribal nations from all over the United States, as well as other Indian child welfare organizations. As part of the rulemaking process, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has also conducted public hearings on the matter.

At the public hearings, arguments on both sides of the issue were presented. Adoption attorneys and others in the adoption industry expressed their point of view, including their assertion that Native American parents do not often intervene in ICWA cases, and concerns that the ICWA could be applied to children who are not living in tribal communities, but who do have some miniscule percentage of Native American descent.

Attorneys for tribes and ICWA workers had a different perspective, and different concerns. They have experienced irritation on the part of family court judges and social services agencies when they do intervene on behalf of American Indian children. They also feel as though the judges and social workers go beyond expressing contempt, to intentionally making it hard for tribes to locate their children, which they must do in order to reclaim them. The revisions to the ICWA have recently gained the support of the American Bar Association, Casey Family Services, and the American Civil Liberties Union, among others.

As indicated by the types of comments that were provided at the public hearings on the ICWA, there is a great deal of disagreement between what American Indian tribes and social service feel is in the best interest of American Indian children. As with any child, an American Indian child is at risk for being separated from their family from the time a child custody case begins with an emergency custody hearing. When children are placed into foster homes, they are often separated from family. For American Indian children, this separation often results in placement in a foster home outside of their tribal community. From that point of departure, it is a long and difficult path to reunification. A path which, in many cases, results in the ultimate adoption of a child by non-Indian parents or a lengthy stay in the foster care system outside of their tribal community.

If your child custody case involves a child of American Indian descent, the current status of and pending updates to the ICWA are relevant to your situation. If you have questions about how the ICWA could affect your child custody case, Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you. Please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Discusses the Role of Bonding in Child Custody Cases

Saturday, May 9th, 2015

The bond between an adult and a child, whether it is between the child and his or her biological parent, a foster parent, or some other adult who is in a caregiving role plays a large part in shaping the course of a child custody case. In a previous article, we described the basics of bonding and described some examples of how it is commonly used in child custody cases. Now, we invite you to take a deeper look at how bonds between children and adults form, as well as how bonding impacts the timeline for child custody cases.

Every child has a history, and an important part of that history is who their caregivers have been over time, as well as how much time the child has spent with each caregiver. Over time, birth parents will either remain constant as a child’s primary caregivers, or other things will happen, such as situations where one of both birth parents find that they cannot, for some reason, care for their child and entrust most or all of their day to day care to a grandparent, family member, or even a family friend. Children can have all different kinds of caregiving histories, so each child’s bonding situation is unique.

            The parent child bond is a two way street, so for a bond to exist, both the parent and the child must both want it to continue and expect that they will be a part of each other’s lives long-term. This sort of reciprocal attachment can be observed in the interactions between a parent and a child, and it involves both outward and obvious things like language, responsiveness, and general attitude, as well as subtle things like body language and whether the everyday interactions between the parent and child, which involve things like eating, playing, getting dressed, toileting, and so on seem natural or forced. Bonding also involves the child having a sense of identifying as part of a family, and of the child as being perceived by others as part of a specific family.

A bond may begin to form between a child and one or more caregivers after three months of a caregiving relationship. When six months of a stable caregiving situation have occurred, it is more than likely that a bond has formed. By the time that a year has passed since a change in custody, it is virtually certain that a child has bonded with their caregivers, whomever they may be.

            The time frames that relate to the development of bonds between caregivers and children have been incorporated into the timelines for child custody cases. Temporary placements are expected to be short-term solutions until a more stable and long-term placement can be located. Parents who want to be reunified with their children are expected to work on maintaining a strong bond with their children as they address the issues that led to the children’s’ removal from their care. They are also expected to have resolved those issues within a relatively short amount of time, and this expectation comes from the knowledge of how bonding works and a mandate to get children into stable and permanent homes on a time frame that meets their developmental needs.

Child custody cases can be difficult to navigate on your own. Call Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Matthew S. Poole today at (601) 573-7429, to set up a free consultation.


Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Talks about Group Home Placements

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

A recent report published by a major child welfare research group has revealed that approximately fifty seven thousand of the four hundred thousand children in the American child welfare system live in group homes. This study is particularly relevant to Mississippi, because the percentage of foster children living in group homes is slightly higher than the national average.

Many group homes are designed for children who face specific behavioral challenges. Forty percent of the children who are living in group homes do not have the behavioral challenges that the homes are designed to accommodate. In theory, in child custody cases, group homes are supposed to be pretty far down on the list of desirable placements, far behind family members and other less restrictive placements. What’s more, when children are placed into restrictive placements like group homes, social services agencies are supposed to provide a justification for doing so. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.

Family members are able to become licensed foster parents through an expedited process, so that children can be placed in their homes as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, not all family members who are willing to become foster parents are able to obtain certification, so non-family licensed foster homes become the next best option. The demand for licensed foster homes currently exceeds the supply, and that is how children who do not need the type of care that is provided by group homes often end up there, for lack of a better alternative.

The reason that the current shortage of licensed foster homes in Mississippi is such an important issue is that children who are able to remain in stable, family-centered placements are likely to have better outcomes than those who are not because of the support that a family can offer during a difficult time in the child’s life. Perhaps even more importantly, the children who are most often affected by the shortage of foster homes are older kids and teens. These are the children who are most often sent to group homes when group home care is not needed. This can have a negative impact on the outcome of their experience, because the turbulent world of adolescence is a time during which the stabilizing and positive effects of being part of a family are very much needed.

If you are a parent whose child is involved in a child custody case, it is important to proceed with a Mississippi Child Custody Attorney by your side. Your attorney can help you to understand your options, as well as the path that your particular type of child custody case is likely to follow. In a child custody case, there is so much at stake. You and your family deserve the very best in experienced and compassionate legal assistance. To learn more about how Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you with your child custody case, please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429, to schedule a free, initial consultation.