Interstate Jurisdiction in Child Custody

Child custody issues can be difficult for all parties involved in any scenario, but when multiple states are involved, child custody laws become especially complicated. They can involve state, federal and even international law.

There are multiple laws that have been created to deter interstate parental kidnapping. The most relevant and comprehensive law that prevents “seize-and-run” situations in the United States is the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. The UCCJEA compiles a set of rules regarding child custody and visitation, however it does not regulate child support.

Prior to UCCJEA, a parent could take their child to another state, get granted sole custody, and the original state would have to abide by the ruling. This changed after UCCJEA passed. Before making a custody determination in any interstate case the court must have jurisdiction over the parties by giving notice to the other parent in the form of a “notice to appear” or a “summons.” There are four options and  criteria that will be looked at when determining which state has jurisdiction under UCCJEA. They appear in order from most ideal to least ideal:

•     The “home state” is where the child is living with a parent for 6 months or immediately prior to the filing of the proceeding, and extending for another 6 months as long as a parent remains in the home state
•     If there is no home state, the state with a “significant connection” would be the next court in line for jurisdiction. This will generally be the state in which the child is attending school.
•     “More appropriate jurisdiction” will be relevant when there is no home state, no significant connection or either of the previous mentioned have declined jurisdiction. This situation can arise in cases where one or both parents is a migrant worker.
•    vacuum jurisdiction” – no other state can or will take jurisdiction.

It is important to note that a court can decline jurisdiction if the location, since determined, has become inconvenient for both parties, or if there has been misconduct on the part of either parent. Once a court has made a custody determination under any of the above jurisdiction requirements, that court will be awarded exclusive jurisdiction. This means that that court will have sole jurisdiction over any further custody issues. The UCCJEA, however, allows a court to issue temporary orders in emergency situations when the child is present in the state as long as the order is made to protect the child from abuse or threatened abuse from a family member.

Many child custody attorneys practice in a single state. If you are involved with an interstate child custody case it is imperative that you consult an attorney who is aware of all interstate laws and can help you understand your rights.

Chad Johnson Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers

In recent gossip, former Miami Dolphin receiver Chad Johnson is refusing to sign divorce papers served by recently wedded “Basketball Wives” star Evelyn Lozado. Aside from the enticing drama surrounding the story (the head butt incident, the subsequent release from the dolphins, the new tattoo of her face on his leg), we would like to stay focused on the divorce aspect and use this incident for a case study and educational opportunity.

Lets examine the facts. According to reports, Evelyn is adamant that she wants nothing to do with Chad anymore. Even before the now famous head butt that caused lacerations to her head and required medical treatment, Evelyn disclosed in an interview that Johnson had allegedly given her occasional pushes and shoves in weeks prior to the incident. Chad, though unable to contact Evelyn due to a court order forbidding him to do so in any way for fear of her safety, remains adamant that he wants to work things out. So what happens next for Evelyn?

First it is important that Evelyn understand the difference between a contested and an uncontested divorce. In cases where both parties agree to a divorce, it is referred to as an Uncontested Divorce. Parties both want it, the court grants it, and wham bam thank you ma’am here is your last name back. In instances where one party refuses (as we have here), it is considered a Contested Divorce.

The next step for Evelyn is to file a petition to the appropriate family court. The petition will explain in detail that the marriage is dissolved and describe the basis for the separation. In Evelyn’s case, she will most likely cite Domestic Violence as it is very serious offense and in most cases establishes clear grounds for a divorce and possibly even further injury settlement. For situations such as these, the petition only requires the signature from one of the parties involved.

After a petition has been filed, the court can proceed with the divorce action. This is where both parties and their respective divorce attorneys will work out the distribution of applicable property, assets, and child custody is necessary. If the couple cannot agree on mutually beneficial terms of separation, a trial will most likely ensue. After which a judgment will be handed down from the courts and the matter can hopefully be put behind them.

Fortunately for Evelyn, it is tough to see an instance where she will not be granted a divorce. Unfortunately, divorce is still never an easy thing to go through. That is why if you are going through a messy divorce as well, you should always hire an experienced family lawyer to help you handle the difficult and sensitive nature of your case.

High Asset Divorce in Arizona

High Asset Divorce AttorneyIn many divorces, one of the most contentious points is the division of property and assets.  Couples have a difficult time giving up things, compromising, and coming to agreements.  Examples of assets that may be subject to division in a high asset divorce include real estate, cars, stocks, business and partnerships, investments, and pensions among other things.  When a couple has significant assets and get divorced, courts considered the dissolution a high asset divorce.

Different states have different laws on what constitues separate property and community property.  In Arizona, any property that one spouse owned before entering a marriage or gained after dissolution of marriage was filed is considered separate property, while anything obtained during the marriage is community property.

High asset divorces usually involve wealthy couples with complicated investment portfolios, multiple real estate properties, and vehicles.  In Arizona, these cases generally require the insight of financial advisors, tax experts,  and a Phoenix divorce lawyer.  Often times, spouses do not play fair  and either attempt to hide assets or greatly exaggerate their own financial needs.  An attorney can serve help protect your standard of living and resolve your disputes.


Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements, Explained

Prenuptials and Postnuptials: What They Are and When to Get Them Dallas Prenuptial Agreements

In recent years, prenuptial agreements have become more widely-used and socially acceptable. For reasons such as rate of occurrence, range (less wealthy couples are using them more and more often) and the heightened level of equality between men and women, most courts no longer frown upon prenuptial agreements or assume that one party has a wandering eye or wavering values.

A prenuptial agreement, or “prenup,” is a written contract created by two people before they are married. A prenup typically lists all of the property each person owns (as well as any debts) and specifies what each person’s property rights will be after the marriage. Reasons that couples get prenups vary, but listed below are some of the most common:

  • To provide clarity about financial rights and responsibilities during the marriage
  • To provide protection from each other’s debts
  • Especially in circumstances when one or both parties has children from a previous marriage, a prenup can provide protection and structure regarding what is given to the kids in case of death.
  • For precautionary reasons: without a prenup a couple will be subject to divorce laws in their state.

If a couple decides to enter into a marriage without a prenup they can choose to create a postnuptial agreement, which is a contract that is signed after the couple has been married. Although they are becoming more commonly used, “postnups” are not yet valid in every state and are more likely to be scrutinized by courts, mainly because they can be looked at as “divorce-planning tools.” Below is a list of some reasons married couples choose to get a postnup:

  • The couple wants to amend their prenup
  • New business ventures: For example, it is common that in the case that one party enters into business with a new partner, the partner will request that the party get a postnup in order to ensure that the party’s spouse does not receive any of the business after the marriage.
  • Separate property is used to purchase community property
  • One party receives a significant inheritance

A couple can feel free to discuss what they want out of a prenup or postnup and begin creating it on their own, however it is crucial for each party to hire a separate lawyer to review the contract and advise the client. I