Articles Posted in Child Custody

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THIS%20KID.jpgVirtual visitation is the latest custody-related family law fad. California family law courts are issuing virtual visitation orders in lieu of face-to-face visitations where face-to-face visitations are feasible, albeit inconvenient. This is not good. Virtual visitation orders should only be issued where in-person child visitations are not possible.

Admittedly, virtual visitation helps people like deployed military personnel who have no control over their deployments and work locations keep in touch with their families back home. In some cases it is the only medium through which a very young child is able to know the removed parent at all. In such cases, virtual visitation orders allow non-custodial parents and children to have a “virtual relationship”, which is better than none at all.

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Proposed federal legislation would require state family law judges, including California’s, to automatically re-establish, upon a servicemember’s return from deployment, the custody and visitation schedule in effect at the time the servicemember was deployed. Under current law, many servicemembers lose custody and visitation time when deployed because they cannot be present to defend against requests modifying child custody and visitation orders.

According to this March 19, 2012 “Washington Post” article, if, during specific qualifying types of deployment, custody is temporarily granted to another person, upon the servicemember’s return, the court would be required to re-establish the custody arrangement as it was prior to deployment. Essentially, the court could not consider the servicemember’s deployment in determining what custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child.

Qualifying deployments would include such deployments as those that prohibit the accompaniment of family members (e.g., combat assignments)l Also, deployments must be between 60 days and 180 months in duration.

As the “Washington Post” article points out, similar bills have passed the House six times since 2008, but none has passed the Senate.

If enacted, this bill will modify the The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

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A five year-old kindergartener’s hands and feet were hand-cuffed with zip ties by a Stockton, California police officer who then arrested the five year-old ADHD sufferer for battery on an officer for kicking the officer in the knee. Lieutenant Frank Gordo was apparently victimized by five year-old Michael Davis. As an American, it is embarrassing to read articles like this November 2011 KCRA news article As is unfortunately typical of articles like this, this article only hints at the real story and raises more questions than it answers.

Why were the five year-old’s parents not told for two weeks that their son was handcuffed with zip ties?

Why weren’t the parents called as soon as the decision to transport this child to a psychiatric hospital was made? In 2012, do American parents retain any rights to act on behalf of their children or can the State take a minor child into custody at will in much the same way the State can take possession of your dog or cat?

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1381644_kid_picking_raspberries_from_the_bush.jpgState-sponsored child abuse is epidemic in Los Angeles and throughout the United States as evidenced by law enforcement protocols, family and juvenile court proceedings, adoptions, foster care programs and, increasingly, schools. For example, in November 2011, Hawaii’s Child Protective Services, in cooperation with the Honolulu Police Department, traumatized a three-year old girl by taking her into custody to punish her momentarily distracted parents who forgot to pay $5.00 for two sandwiches at a Safeway. Read this Fox New story and ask yourself these questions:

Isn’t abuse, regardless of who commits it, still abuse? Or do you believe that a law enforcement uniform somehow excuses the wearer from responsible, socially accepted norms of behavior?

Who at Safeway was fired?

Who at CPS was fired and ordered to pay restitution from his or her own savings and assets to these parents (rather than from taxes levied upon innocent taxpayers)?

Who at the Honolulu Police Department was reprimanded and terminated?

What did the government do to ensure that the people responsible at each step in this psychotic process never work with children again?

Why are people who have a sense of human decency, a sense of proportion and balance, and a basic understanding of the difference between guilt and innocence, who possess common sense, normal judgment and compassion, and who have the courage to act on their convictions when confronted with obvious injustice, culled from the ranks of law enforcement in favor of people whose demonstrated stupidity borders on the primitive?

Shouldn’t statutes be enacted waiving sovereign immunity so that citizens have standing to sue government employees for what would otherwise be crimes if committed by anyone other than someone wearing a uniform?

Has American law enforcement lost its moral compass and ability to distinguish between innocent and criminal behavior? (At the “scene of the crime” the police knew or should have known that the Leszczynskis lacked the specific intent necessary to prove the crime of theft.)

Why didn’t the Leszczynskis sue Safeway, CPS and the Honolulu Police Department for a million dollars?

The answers to these questions are not pretty.

Above all, ask yourself: “What am I doing to “Protect and Save” my family and this country from the growing tyranny that is inherent in the government’s drive to force everyone to conform and comply with its orders–right or wrong?”

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The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”) governs many international child custody disputes involving California (or any state within the United States) and a foreign country. In addition, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“Hague Convention”) as made effective in the United States by the International Child Abduction Prevention Act (“ICARA”), which is a federal law, governs international custody disputes between countries that have both signed the Hague Convention treaty. Whether the foreign country has signed the Hague Convention or not determines how the California court can proceed as a matter of law and this determination in turn

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Attorneys who either want to churn fees or who are afraid their client will not do well on a psychological/custody evaluation will oftentimes resort to litigating a psychological/custody evaluation during the evaluation. Their purpose in doing so is to unfairly influence the outcome of the evaluation. Unfortunately, they oftentimes succeed and the family is forced to endure a custody arrangement that is not based on the best interests of the children.

In California, the better practice is to wait until the psychological/custody evaluation is competed and distributed to the respective attorneys and the court and then, if you believe the evaluator’s methodology is problematic, challenge it by either impeaching the evaluator or by hiring another evaluator to perform a “unilateral” evaluation and to critique the first evaluator’s work. (Some states like California allow parties obtain “unilateral” evaluations without a court order; other states require permission from the court.) A “unilateral” evaluator is an evaluator hired by

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WARNING: Never attempt to litigate a “move-away” case on your own. As every divorce attorney in California who has filed or defended a “move away” case will tell you, this area of law is fraught with fatal technicalities and a single innocent mistep can cost you your relationship with your children.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”) is the controlling law. This statute has been adopted, with some minor modifications, in every state. We have litigated a number of “move-away” cases with great success.

1209814_little_girl_with_pigeons.jpgOne recent case involved a Nigerian couple residing in New Jersey. (Foreign nationals living in the U.S. are subject to the UCCJEA. Custody disputes in which one parent resides in the United States and the other parent resides in foreign country may be covered by the Hague Convention.) They had one young child and Mother decided she wanted to move to California. Father had to stay in New Jersey. Mother moved without Father’s consent and Father retained us.

At the hearing on jurisdiction, the New Jersey court and the California court conferred with each other telephonically, which is what the law requires courts to do when determining which state has jurisdiction. We were present in Pasadena and were able to satisfy the court that New Jersey had jurisdiction. Producing this result “tipped” the case in Father’s favor and within a month, Father was able to secure substantial custody rights in New Jersey.

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