Category Archives:Child custody

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Dwayne Wade Calls Foul: Ex Violates Visitation Order

One of the hardest parts of divorce can be losing daily contact with your child. This can be especially difficult when the court issues a custody and visitation order that you think is unfair. Either parent, custodial or non-custodial, might want to ignore the visitation terms of the order. However, a California parent who violates a visitation agreement can face contempt charges among other penalties.
In the midst of the NBA Finals games, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade has had to deal with his ex-wife’s violations of their visitation arrangement. The star is the father of two boys and is one of the few male professional athletes who have been awarded custody of his children. After a recent visit with her children, though, Wade’s ex-wife failed to return the children.
Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade (Photo credit: Keith Allison)
His sister was to pick up the children from the mother’s house and then take them to Miami so they could spend Father’s Day with Wade. However, when the sister went to pick up the children, there was no response at the house. After several hours, the sister called the police and was finally able to get the boys who were then flown to Miami to be with their father. The mother was charged with attempted child abduction, resisting arrest and unlawful visitation interference.
Wade has asked that the mother’s visitation rights be suspended after the violation. Not only is it troubling for a parent when the other refuses to cooperate with agreements, but it can be frightening for a child as well. Courts and law enforcement officials can get involved in these situations because of the danger that a child may be in.
It can be frustrating and upsetting when a parent violates the terms of a child support or custody order arrangement. From payment schedules to visitation hours, the guidelines of these agreements must be followed or a parent can face serious consequences.
You Can Enforce a Visitation Order
The parent who has not violated the visitation terms of a custody order can always take the other parent back to court to get the order enforced. This might happen if the child the parent lives with refuses to turn the child over to the other parent for visitation time. 
Conversely, the non-custodial parent might refuse to return the child after visitation. Judges will generally order make-up time to the parent who lost visitation with the child because of the other parent’s refusal. Many courts will also order both parents to attend counseling or mediation.
Contempt of Court for Violation of Visitation Order
When someone repeatedly abuses a visitation order, a judge can find that parent in contempt of court. This usually results in the violating parent having to pay the other parent’s attorney’s fees and legal fees for bringing the problem to the attention of a judge. Contempt can also result in the violating parent serving jail time. Usually, this is only for a short period of time if the parent promises to follow the visitation terms of the custody order in the future.
Criminal Charges for Violation of Visitation Order
In some states, interference with the visitation terms of a custody order  is a criminal offense. This is particularly true if the parent abuses the court order repeatedly. Some states are less strict about criminal charges than others. In some areas, the violating parent must keep the child for a period of days, in spite of the other parent’s objections, before the police will become involved.
Child Endangerment Changes the Rules
In some situations, a custodial parent can refuse to turn the child over for visitation. If the other parent has been drinking alcohol and is driving, for example, the custodial parents would be within rights to cancel the visit. If there is evidence that the child is being abused in the custodial parent’s home, a non-custodial parent can refuse to return a child to this dangerous environment. Since these situations are serious, you might need the help of an attorney to bring the problem to the attention of a judge
A Family Law Lawyer Can Help
California child custody is a complex issue that often requires legal assistance to handle. If court ordered custody and/or visitation have not been established, a parent will need to seek this type of ruling to ensure unhampered visitation.

Legal updates brought to you by the reputable Orange and Riverside County Law Firm firm of Don Ho, LLP.

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Could Social Media Cause You to Lose Custody?

Social networking has exploded in recent years, with millions of Americans and citizens around the world joining sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, or even starting their own blogs.  In fact, social networks are truly becoming extensions of our everyday lives.  However, as these websites continue to grow in popularity, many users are finding that the sites are affecting their lives in ways they never imagined.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

The use of Facebook in family court proceedings is becoming somewhat of a norm.  Unlike criminal or other civil cases where judges remain  fairly strict about discovery, family court judges have to this point been pretty relaxed concerning the allowance of Facebook photos and posts as evidence in family court cases.  In fact, some family law firms are even creating new departments for the sole purpose of controlling their clients’ social media accounts.

During divorce or child custody proceedings, the seemingly mundane details of your life can be misconstrued and even prove detrimental to your case. Social media posts and comments can provide damaging information for opposing counsel in family court proceedings.  Anything you post may be used as evidence against you, from status updates to pictures and everything in between.

California child custody laws focus on the best interests of the child.  Such an investigation usually includes an examination at whether one parent is willing and able to help his or her child maintain a good relationship with the other parent.  Therefore, public displays of animosity against another parent on a social media site can be harmful when it comes to determining child custody arrangements.  Additionally, the social life of the parent can be a factor in the custody decision.  Posting pictures of a night out with friends or other social activity may raise questions about a parent’s actions or contradict previous statements which may influence a judicial determination.  Even though it may be completely innocent behavior, comments and images gleaned from these social media sites can paint a deceptive picture.  This is especially true in the courtroom where the only thing the judge has to go on is the evidence presented to him or her–they do not know those in front of them personally.

Many individuals incorrectly believe that they can keep private information on social networking sites.  That such information will be protected as long as they block their spouse and his or her close friends from seeing what they post.  If you are contemplating or have already filed for divorce or child custody it may be smart to terminate ALL social networking sites, Twitter accounts and blogs to avoid even the possibility of revealing information that may later prove to be harmful.  However, if you choose not to deactivate social media accounts (or at a minimum temporarily abstain from using them), here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Remove your spouse or ex-spouse, his/her friends and family from your “friends” list on Facebook and other accounts.  Even people who appear to be your “friends” may pass along posted information to opposing counsel.  Also, be careful who you “friend,” as it may be a private investigator or someone who is aligned with your spouse or ex-spouse.
  • Do not post any negative, derogatory or slanderous comments about your spouse, ex-spouse or his/her family and friends.  These posts may be taken out of context when read to the judge or jury by opposing counsel,
  • Do not post any negative comments about your children.
  • Do not change your status to “single” or “looking for a relationship” if the divorce is not final.
  • Do not post photos or comments about yourself, family members or friends doing anything illegal, that might appear to be illegal, or is otherwise compromising.
  • Do not post photos or comments about yourself, family members or friends drinking alcoholic beverages or appearing to be intoxicated. To a judge, this is not recreational fun, but irresponsible behavior.
  • Do not post comments that include foul language.
  • Do not post photos or comments about your significant other or anyone you may be dating.
  • Do not post comments about your divorce or custody proceeding.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly – NEVER post any comments about what you discussed with your lawyer!
    There are several inherent risks in using social media sites; risks which are elevated exponentially when going through a divorce or child custody proceedings.  For motivated litigants, such sites can provide evidence to use against an opponent and few litigants are more motivated than warring exes.  Therefore, the Orange County and Riverside Law firm of Don Ho, LLP would like to share one piece of advice: If you have a pending divorce or child custody case, simply assume that anything sent in an email or put onto a social media site may eventually be seen by everyone and that it is best if you simply terminate ALL social networking sites, Twitter accounts and blogs for the duration of the case.
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    Turning to Mediation in Tough Economic Times

    In tough economic times, it is important to find ways to ease the cost of divorce, both emotionally and financially.  One way to do this is by taking advantage of mediation.  Mediation has always made sense for a lot of couples, and is even more attractive in today’s tough economy.
    Why Mediation?
    Though the mediation process can often be misunderstood, it can also be a highly viable alternative to litigation.  Although mediation may not be the right path for all divorcing couples — particularly in instances where domestic abuse is present, judgment is impaired by drugs or alcohol or a spouse is hiding assets — it does have significant advantages over courtroom litigation for many people.
     Here are some reasons why mediation is a good option for many divorcing couples:
    1. It can be less expensive than litigating a divorce in court;
    2. It can offer privacy as California law protects settlement discussions in mediation as confidential;
    3. It allows the parties in a divorce to have more control of the outcome, rather than a judge; and
    4. It can be a more amicable way to part ways, which can prevent hostility for years down the road, especially if children are involved.
      Issues for Mediation
      The mediator will typically mediate the following issues:
      • Child Custody and parenting plan
      • Support including: Child Support; Spousal Support; Family Support
      • Property division
      The Mediation Process
      Whether you have been referred to mediation by the courts or have chosen to initiate mediation on your own, the first step is to secure a qualified mediator and schedule a time that is best for all of the parties involved.

      Initial Appointment: Once a mediator has been selected, an initial appointment is held during which both spouses attend and the general goals of the parties are discussed.  During this appointment, a written agreement between the parties themselves as well as the mediator will be reviewed and signed and the mediator will assign certain tasks at this initial meeting, such as bringing in certain documentation for the next meeting.

      Subsequent Appointments: A series of subsequent appointments are then conducted.  Most of these appointments will involve both spouses and the mediator but sometimes the mediator may have individual meetings with only one spouse.  The number of appointments will depend on the number of issues the spouses need to negotiate and the degree to which they are willing to compromise.  The frequency of appointments is scheduled according to how much time spouses need to complete “homework assignments” and/or to “think” between sessions.
      Agreement:  The mediator will make detailed notes of agreements as they are reached during the sessions.  Once all issues are resolved as a result of the mediation sessions, the mediator will draft a settlement agreement which summarizes all agreements that have been made.  It is recommended that each spouse take the agreement to a “consulting attorney” to look over the final document before signing. Once signed, the document is sent to Court for approval by the Judge and the matter is concluded.
      Legal updates brought to you by  the Orange and Riverside County Family Law firm of Don Ho, LLP.
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      Surviving the Holiday Season After Divorce

      The first holiday season following a divorce can be very difficult.  You may find yourself emotionally weakened by long-term stress and the hectic pace of the holidays, combined with a fresh divorce, can prove to be overwhelming.  For many, the holidays can be an unwelcome reminder of how much life has changed as a result of a divorce.  Holidays with children after a divorce can be worse, even terrifying.  There will be relatives asking about your split, and you may feel as if you are on the defensive. Additionally, you may have to spend the holidays away from your children for the first time in their lives, which can be intensely painful.
      Holiday HDR

      Here are some tips for making your first holiday season following a divorce easier.
      Be Flexible and Realistic
      “Perfect” holidays are usually reserved for the end of movies.  Make sure you are flexible and be realistic in your holiday expectations about the holiday season, especially in the first year after your divorce.  It is just as possible to have a great Christmas celebration a couple days before or after December 25th, and you can still have a special Hanukkah even if you don’t get to celebrate all eight nights together.  The special time with your children matters much more than the date you celebrate.
      Sort Out Details in Advance
      Talk with your ex-spouse about holiday plans well before they occur and nail down the specifics about who gets which days around the winter holidays, including pickup times and locations.  Both parents should discuss their needs, desires and travel plans and try to come up with a solution that works for everyone.  Neither parent should make concrete plans without first discussing them with the other parent.  If the details are not in your custody agreement already, put it all on e-mail or in writing and stick to it.  Do not fight about time or anything else with the children present.
      Reassure Kids that Holiday Celebrations Will Continue, but in a Different Way
      Children are an essential part of your new holiday traditions, and giving them a voice in the process can help everyone feel more at ease with the situation.  While past traditions may be preferable because they are comfortable, it is a good idea to start some new rituals with your close friends and family.
      Take Care of Yourself and Ask for Help from Supportive Family and Friends
      Get the proper amount of sleep and exercise, and eat healthy to maximize your energy and coping ability every day.  When you are emotionally hurt, overeating and partying are easy short term medications that create long term problems.  If you feel isolated, lonely, or depressed, rely on a healthy support system of family and friends.  Make sure you clearly communicate your needs.
      Put the Kids First
      Remember how special holidays felt when you were a child?  Do everything you can to help your kids hang onto that feeling.  Do not make kids feel like sharing the holidays with both parents is a burden.  Even if you are upset that you cannot spend as much time with your kids as you would like, do not pass that guilt onto them. 

      One Day at a Time, One Holiday at a Time; One Year at a Time

      Just concentrate on one thing at a time, and life will get easier, better, and more pain-free.

      The holidays can be a fun and special time for divorced families, as long as the parents can agree to be civil and work together.  The best gift you can give your kids is a celebration full of love and joy.

      Legal updates provided by the Orange County and Riverside Law firm of Don Ho, LLP.

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