Collaborative divorce trades negotiation for confrontation

Lisa Kimmell knew what she wanted from her divorce, starting with a written guarantee that her ex-husband would help pay for their sons’ college expenses, and working through a number of other items.

The 46-year-old Mariettan also knew what she did not want — expensive, time-consuming warfare.

"I could have gone through all that, and it could have been very ugly," she said. "But I decided to try what I hoped would be an easier route."

That route turned out to be collaborative divorce, an alternative that substitutes negotiation for confrontation. It is becoming more popular, in part because more people have discovered it and in part because more professionals are practicing it.

In too many traditional divorce proceedings, each party gets lawyered up and prepares to make war, not love. An attorney becomes a weapon of choice, and the process itself becomes a fight.

Now a growing number of lawyers and other professionals are trying a more constructive path. About 80 lawyers now are members of the Collaborative Law Institute of Georgia, along with 20 financial consultants, nine mediators, and 32 divorce coaches and child specialists.

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Fact Sheet on Passports for Family Law Judges and Lawyers

Istock_000002913345small GENERAL PASSPORT FACTS

By federal statute, the Secretary of State of the United States may issue a passport only to a United States citizen or national. Every United States citizen is entitled to a U.S. passport provided that they, or an adult acting on a child’s behalf, comply with all applicable requirements, and that there is no statutory or regulatory reason to deny the passport. The United States issues a passport to each eligible applicant. [Generally see: 8 U.S.C. § 1401, et seq.; 22 U.S.C. § 211a, et seq.; 22 CFR, Parts 50, 51].

Acquisition of one country’s citizenship does not prevent the automatic acquisition of another, concurrent citizenship if the law of the other nation provides for such acquisition. Thus, many children acquire the citizenship of a non-U.S. citizen parent, and could potentially have a passport from both countries at the same time. Some countries, but not the United States, allow the inclusion of dependent children and/or a spouse in the passport of an adult.

A U.S. passport for an adult is valid for no longer than 10 years; a U.S. passport for a child under 16 is valid for no longer than 5 years.

U.S. passports may be applied for within the United States and at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. Most passport applicants, and all children, must appear in person. Within the United States passport applications may be filed at passport agencies or at any of over 5,000 post offices, or clerks of court and other municipal offices designated to accept passport applications (information available at http://iafdb.state.gov). Passport applications for children under 14 must be filed in person by a parent or by an individual specifically authorized as a person in loco parentis . The application must be accompanied by documentation of the child’s U.S. citizenship, identity and compliance with the Two-Parent Consent Law (see below).

Although the U.S. does not require a passport to be used for travel between the United States and Western Hemisphere countries (except Cuba), many Western Hemisphere countries do require U.S. citizens to carry passports. The Department recommends U.S. citizens use their passport for all foreign travel.

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Even Celebrities Can Benefit from Parenting Classes

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Too often in child custody cases, children are asked the following questions or subjected to these comments:

  • "Who do you love more? ‘Mommy’ or ‘Daddy?’"
  • "Was mom’s boyfriend there?"
  • "Your father is always late on payments."

Children should never be put in the position of having to deal with "adult" issues.  Just because their parents can’t get along, their childhood should not be ruined by such inappropriate conduct. 

Some judges require feuding parents to attend parenting classes to attempt to resolve (or sometimes prevent) such problems.  These classes vary widely in their format, but they generally aim to teach parents how to deal with each other while protecting their children and also to make parents realize how their actions can affect their children.

Even celebrities can benefit from these classes, as evidenced by the ugly child custody battle between Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher and his former lover.  Both parents in that case were ordered to attend a four-hour parenting class to help deal with the problems in their case.

Source:  "Urlacher Custody Judge: Take a Class" by Rummana Hussain, published at The Herald News.

SOURCE FOR POST: South Carolina Family Law Blog

A Win-Win Custody Battle Strategy

Divorce and Family Law in Tarrant County had a great post this week concerning a win-win custody battle strategy which I think all PARENTS should consider. While it is not something new or really all that different, my fellow blogger actually puts it in writing for all to consider. Below is the meat of his post and I would strongly suggest all of those involved in a custody battle consider it. (Thanks also to Grant Griffiths at the Kansas Family Law Blog for alerting me to it):

Instead of limiting yourself to only two options, winning it all or losing, there is another, more productive way to approach the custody issue. The approach may require more maturity than some parties can muster, but, for those able to shift gears, think rationally and be patient, the following approach can be rewarding for them and their children. These steps can lead to a better solution for all, especially the children.

1. Think about, discuss and decide what your ultimate goals are for the kids. What outcomes would you like to see? Many people would want some of the following (or similar) goals:

The kids having a great relationship with both parents
The kids having a great relationship with their extended families
Financial security for the children
Having a safe, secure home for the children
Having good schools for the kids
Providing for a college education for the children
Providing sports opportunities for the children
The opportunity for the kids to learn music, art or other interests

Each parent can decide what he or she thinks would be important goals for their children. Broader, underlying goals are more helpful and meaningful. If both parents think of goals in broad terms, they often can agree on them.

2. Look at the big picture. What are the resources to work with:

Financial abilities of the parents
Parental/family member time available
What homes and schools are available and affordable
What the parents’ neighborhoods are like
The existing relationships between parents and children and the roles each parent plays with the children
What community resources are available
What special needs, if any, a child has
What interests the child has

3. Brainstorm options. Think up as many different solutions as you can. Sometimes it is helpful to get help from a parenting expert. Spend some time and try to be non-traditional or unconventional. Don’t limit yourself to ‘standard’ solutions. Open up your thoughts to come up with some crazy ideas because they might just turn into good ideas.

4. Evaluate your options. See if they can help achieve your identified goals. Criticizing and testing your options can lead to the discovery of other ideas and can help you narrow down the choices until you are left with an idea or ideas that work.

Implementation: This process can helpful if just you do it, but it is really better if you can do it with the other parent. Collaborative Law is one way to accomplish that. This is actually a very common approach to problem-solving in Collaborative Law. Even in traditional litigation, you can use this system alone or together with the other parent. If you work on this alone, you can create a better plan to present in court or in negotiations. If both parents work together through this process, there’s an excellent chance they will reach an agreement that will be satisfactory to both parents and to the children.

Please give this a try and let me know how it works for you!

Sources for Post: Divorce and Family Law in Tarrant County and Kansas Family Law Blog

Child Dependency Deductions Requirements To Be Strictly Enforced: Must File Form 8322

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In order for the non custodial parent to take the dependency deduction, it is essential to file the Form 8332 with the tax return. The Family Law Taxation blog cites a case in which the tax Court announced that this requirement will be strictly applied.

In Chamberlain v. Commissioner, the U.S. Tax Court ruled that the former husband (taxpayer) was not entitled to the dependent deduction for one of his children because he didn’t attach a valid IRS Form 8332 (Release of Claim to Exemption for Child of Divorced or Separated Parents) to his 2003 Federal tax return (the child credit was also denied because it is premised on being entitled to the dependent deduction for the child).

The taxpayer’s former wife executed a Form 8332 in which she relinquished the dependency deduction for one of their two children beginning in 1995 and for all future years. The taxpayer claimed that he attached the original Form 8332 to his 1995 return, but that a subsequent fire destroyed all of his copies. The IRS was unable to provide a copy because their 1995 tax return information had been destroyed (pursuant to IRS document destruction policies).

This result may seem harsh, but as the Court indicated, "Although we are sympathetic with [taxpayer’s] plight, we are bound by the wording of the statute as enacted and accompanying regulations when consistent therewith.

It is clear,  if  you are  seeking to claim the dependency deduction,  make sure the proper forms are filed with the tax return.

SOURCE: New York Divorce Report