Features

Parents never married: Biological dad gets custody, parenting time, Mich. appeals court agrees (access required)

A trial court properly awarded a biological father parenting time with and joint legal custody of the unmarried parties’ child, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled in a 2-1 published decision. Paternity testing determined that the child, MP, was the plaintiff’s biological daughter. The defendant mother had given birth to MP shortly after marrying another man, who was the child’s presumed father under Michigan law. The plaintiff later filed an action for custody and parenting time in Berrien County Circuit Court.

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Minn. lawmaker wants ‘sea change’ in divorce law (access required)

Ten years ago, when state Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, and his then-wife were ending their marriage, they decided to negotiate the terms themselves, and, in his telling, they were able to forge compromises on contentious issues such as parenting time and child support. But while Lesch is a lawyer, he said he knew his day job as a prosecutor in St. Paul hardly made him expert in matters of family law, so he and his soon-to-be former wife agreed to bring in an outside attorney to take a look at the proposal. According to Lesch, that decision put an end to the congeniality. Both spouses lawyered up, and soon the motions were flying, as were the recriminations. “It was harrowing, it was emotional, it was difficult and it was expensive,” said Lesch of the divorce.

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Conn. teen who fought cancer treatment heading home from hospital

A 17-year-old Connecticut girl forced by the courts to undergo chemotherapy for her cancer has finished that treatment and was expected to be released Monday from the hospital. The teen, identified only as Cassandra C, told The Associated Press in a text message that she likely would be discharged from the Connecticut Children's Medical Center on Monday afternoon. "I'm at a loss for words with how happy I am that I'm finally coming home," she said. "This day seemed like it would never come. I can finally start putting my life back together, and I look forward to spending time with my mom, friends and heading back to school/work."

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Rabbi in forced-divorces case convicted of kidnap conspiracy (access required)

An Orthodox rabbi accused of using brutal tactics to force unwilling Jewish men to divorce their wives was convicted this week of conspiracy to commit kidnapping. But the federal jury in Rabbi Mendel Epstein's case rendered a mixed verdict Tuesday, acquitting him of attempted kidnapping. Epstein's son was acquitted of conspiracy and kidnapping counts. Two other rabbis were convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted kidnapping.

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Mich. court debuts dedicated parenting-time docket (access required)

A specialized docket devoted exclusively to parenting-time issues is now up and running in Michigan's Wayne County Circuit Court, saving parties both time and money. A similar docket was in place several years ago but fell to the wayside when the presiding referee retired, according to Wayne Circuit Court Administrator Zenell B. Brown. The docket has been resurrected, she said, because it has been taking too long for parenting-time issues to be resolved. “When we scheduled motions across the board for all referees, they ended up coming after child-support issues and other filings, and people were having to wait a long time for a court date,” Brown said. “The judges were getting upset because parties were sometimes waiting 12 weeks for a parenting-time motion to be heard.”

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Mich. high court: Biological dad can’t revoke parentage affidavit (access required)

A trial court properly denied a biological father’s motion to revoke an affidavit of parentage that the child’s mother and her long-term partner had signed, the Michigan Supreme Court has decided. In Helton v. Beaman, the Supreme Court said it agreed with the Court of Appeals that In re Moiles, 303 Mich. App. 59 (2013), wrongly held that a trial court is not required to make a best interest determination under 722.1443(4) when deciding whether to revoke an affidavit of parentage.

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Mich. divorce cases raise ‘dirty laundry’ concerns (access required)

A sole practitioner trying to boost his divorce practice regularly visits trial court websites to take a look at the divorce complaints. He then sends letters to the non-filers, hoping to get them as new clients. On several occasions, the letters have notified non-filers of the divorce proceedings before the filers have been able to break the news. And in some cases where domestic violence is alleged, the letters have tipped off non-filers, making it nearly impossible for the filers to get away unscathed.

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Ind. program to resolve divorce, custody disputes sees uptick in caseload

Every day, a court-sponsored program in Indiana works with families struggling with divorce, custody battles and child support disputes. Their goal is to help resolve arguments, get cases through the court system faster and help families reach a resolution so they can move on. In nearly a decade, the county's court mediation program, also called the alternative dispute resolution program, has doubled its number of cases. Last year, the program took on nearly 700 cases, director Dustin Matern said.

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Bills of interest that passed this year

Bills of interest pertaining to Maryland family law passed by the Maryland General Assembly this year include DIVORCE: Enables childless couples to divorce through settlement agreement, thus forgoing the state’s one-year separation requirement before terminating a marriage. FOSTER CARE-INFANT DEATH: Added protections would be in place to prevent foster care children from being returned to abusive biological parents. It would give social service agencies the ability to keep children in foster care, if there is severe abuse by biological parents, or parents do not protect their children from serious mistreatment.

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Sisters reunite after Ohio unseals adoption records

For a moment, Ellaztre Barnett looked at the woman before her without a glint of recognition. Then her hands clasped to her face in a flash, tears welling. This was the sister she had waited her whole life to meet. Barnett, 34, was out to dinner this month with her family to celebrate her daughter Nataja Blakely's 18th birthday. That was special enough. She had no idea that Tina McDonald — the 46-year-old sister whose identity Barnett discovered only last week — was driving from Kentucky, intent on surprising her little sister.

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