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December 2013 Archives

DCS, Esq. Writes Guest Blog for Lauren Napolitano, PsyD on Grandparents Visitation Rights!

Licensed psycologist, Lauren Napolitano, works with many families going through the divorce and/or custody process, addressing their needs and helping them find practical solutions.  She writes an extremely informative and fun blog.  This week, she asked if I would submit a guest blog relevant to our shared clients.  Below is the link to my posting, "To Grandmother's House We Go? Custody Rights for Grandparents This Holiday Season"  

DCS, Esq. Volunteers at The Women's Resource Center's 'Legal Night'

The Women's Resource Center of Wayne is a great local non-profit assisting women from the community in need.  One of the many services it provides, is an informational legal night geared towards providing women going through (mostly) family law matters guidance and information.  

The Field Center Hosts Community Symposium- Parental Representation in Juvenile Dependency Proceedings: Best Practice from a Multidisciplinary Perspective

As a co-chair of the Young Professionals Council of The Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice and Research, I am always looking for ways to contribute to the broader work of the respected Philadelphia organization. When the discussion of community symposium topics came up at a recent meeting, I suggested a topic rapidly emerging in Philadelphia. Recently, there has been an attempt at reform of parental representation in the juvenile dependency court system, raising a discussion of best practice. The City put out a Request for Proposals, asking private firms to bid to create what was envisioned to become conflict counsel for parents when the Public Defender could not handle the case.

To Grandmother's House We Go? Custody Rights for Grandparents This Holiday Season

This holiday season one very important custody question frequently comes up: Do grandparents have legal rights to see their grandchildren? Unfortunately, the answer is not super clear and depends on your particular state. The Supreme Court weighed in on the matter in 2000 in Troxel v. Granville, where it held in a 6-3 decision that a Washington statute which allowed any individual to petition for court-ordered rights to see a child over the custodial parent's objection, if it was in the child's best interest, violated the parents' due process rights to make decisions concerning the care, custody and control of their children. Here are some topics to consider when navigating this issue:

  1. Is your state law restrictive or permissive?

    A permissive state is one that allows third parties to seek visitation; a restrictive state only allows petitions if the parents are either divorced or deceased (PA is a restrictive state). Check with a local family law attorney or read the statute to find out the requirements necessary before filing.
  2. Has your grandchild been adopted?

    In some states, if there was an adoption, this can effect third party rights and block a grandparent from access to visits with the child. This can even mean adoption by a step-parent.
  3. Are your grandchild's parents divorced?

    Sometimes divorce can be a threshold requirement in order for a grandparent to petition for rights. A state may require that a divorce be finalized before a third party can intervene.
  4. Should you try mediation before court intervention?

    In cases where there is bad blood or one parent does not want the grandparent to see the child, mediation can be an option to help mitigate some of that tension. This alternative to going to court can be cheaper, faster and less contentious.

Guest Blog by Lauren Napolitano: The Benefits of Co-Parenting Sessions in Custody Matters

Licensed psychologist, Lauren Napolitano, writes an amazingly informative and empathetic blog about the process of divorce and co-parenting.  She has turned her own divorce experience into a focused private practice where she helps parties understand what it means to co-parent and to do so efficiently.  

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