Posts Tagged ‘parents’

Mississippi Custody Consideration (Albright Factors): Emotional Ties of Parent and Child

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

One consideration that seems to be the more famous of the Albright factors that a court focuses on in a child custody case is the emotional ties between parent and child. Two of the most common misconceptions about this factor is that the court only considers the child’s preference and that this factor inherently favors the mother. While these certainly may occur in any given situation, a chancellor delves deeper into the underlying interactions between each parent and their child when making this decision.

Provided through testimony in a child custody case, a chancellor relies on statements and facts to find which parent to whom the child is more bonded and attached to. For example, the court would consider the fact that the child would ask for the father when he was sick. The chancellor could also look to the bedtime ritual of the child to see which parent he or she preferred to put them to bed. Even labels such as “momma’s boy” or “daddy’s girl” may be taken into consideration by the chancellor and weighed in favor of the father.

When weighing this factor, the court also looks to the parent’s bond with the child. If both parents are found by the chancellor to have a supportive and significant role in the child’s life, this factor would be weighed against neither party. However, if there was testimony that only one parent had a predominant role in the child’s life, the chancellor could weigh this factor in favor of that parent. Testimony or facts showing that one parent, for instance, attended school programs, knew the child’s clothing and shoe sizes, and would regularly read and play games with the child would show that that parent and child had a more emotional bond, thus tipping this factor in their favor.

This factor is one where a guardian ad litem becomes very important, as during the writing of their report that guardian is likely to visit the home of each parent while the child is there to watch them interact with the child. While the other factors in a child custody determination will certainly be present in those reports, the emotional bond and interaction between parent and child often takes center stage, as that bond will obviously have an impact on the raising of the child for years to come.

Many who come into our office have questions about how this factor may relate to their case. We receive many calls from people who are merely ill-informed about how the court takes into consideration the emotional ties of the parent and child. If you have a question about how things in your life can impact your case, call the Law Office of Matthew S. Poole. Our office has the knowledge and insight of these factors and their application to answer any and all questions you may have. We are pleased to help you in this unpleasant time, and please continue to follow our website’s series on the Mississippi child custody factors.

What Visitation Rights do Grandparents Have?

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

Grandparents often hold a special and significant place in the lives of their grandchildren as a symbol of love, support, and, as many of us know, discipline. Grandparents also often step into the role of a parent for a child for any number of reasons. This special relationship is highly respected in Mississippi, and the laws relating to the visitation rights of grandparents are no exception. Courts in Mississippi understand the dynamic at play with grandparents and their grandchildren, and if the preservation of that relationship is in the child’s best interest, then that relationship should not be disturbed.

Mississippi law allows a grandparent to petition for visitation rights after the death or termination of parental rights of one of the minor child’s parents. A grandparent may also do so for other reasons, and the court will award those rights if the grandparent has shown a viable relationship with the minor child, that a parent has unreasonably denied the visitation, and that the grandparent’s visitation rights are in the best interests of the child.
Obviously, the phrase “viable relationship” is quite vague, and the statute goes on to define that as a level of financial support of the minor child by the grandparent for more than 6 months, the grandparent having had frequent visitation, including overnight, for at least a year, or the grandparents caring for the minor child for a significant period with the parent absent from the home (including military duty or incarceration).

The wording of the statute gives grandparents many different ways to prove a viable relationship worthy of having visitation rights awarded. Previous overnight visitation is one of the more powerful showings of a viable relationship, as a grandparent being allowed to keep a child overnight demonstrates a large amount of trust and respect between the parent and grandparent. One caveat that grandparents need to be aware of regarding overnight visitation is the presence of the word “including.” A strict reading of this makes it seem as though a grandparent who has not had overnight visitation has no claim, like if the grandparent lives next door to the child and has had frequent visitation, but never overnight. A court’s interpretation and an attorney’s argument of the Legislature’s intent behind this phrasing may both be the difference in a case like this.

Still, a viable relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild can be a tough thing to show in a court of law, as those relationships often go beyond hard proof. Testimony of the grandchild may be the key factor in many of these cases, and many grandchildren are likely too young to have their testimony hold much weight in court. These are just a few of the gray areas that these cases can find themselves in. While cases involving the visitation rights of grandparents can be stressful, expensive and time-consuming, the Law Office of Matthew S. Poole is extremely well-equipped to handle your case with professionalism and personal service. If you believe your visitation rights as a grandparent are not being properly respected and would like to fight for those rights, call our office at 601-573-7429 to schedule a consultation.