Articles Posted in ClientVille

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by Leesa M. Poag, Attorney

We are officially in the midst of the best season of the year.  No, I’m not referring to the pumpkin-filled days of Fall.  I’m talking about football season.  But as we don our team colors and cheer on our favorite players, the on-field battles aren’t the only ones that family law attorneys are seeing this time of year.  As concerns about the long-term effects of head injuries from football continue to mount, we are beginning to see football leaving the locker room and heading to the courtroom.

Most parents would agree that extracurricular activities are beneficial for children of all ages.  They often provide the opportunity for exercise and allow for the development of skills like teamwork, perseverance, and hard work that will certainly serve the child well as he or she grows older.  Typically, the main dispute family law attorneys see regarding custody and extracurricular activities involve scheduling – can one parent sign the child up for an activity that will take place on the other parent’s custodial time, and vice versa.

But as the studies continue to emerge regarding concussions and traumatic brain injuries resulting from football, some parents are beginning to throw a flag on their children’s participation in the game.

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by Leesa Poag, Attorney

As autumn begins to creep across the Triad, it seems that the temperature isn’t the only thing dropping. According to a study done by the University of Maryland, the number of divorces in the United States is also on the decline. And the reason being attributed for the impressive drop, eighteen percent over the past ten years, might surprise you.

Millennials. It’s not a term that’s often meant as a compliment. In fact, it tends to be associated by many with attributes like entitlement and laziness. But this oft-maligned group of twenty and thirty-somethings seems to have figured out how to make marriages work in a way that older generations never seemed to master.

So what exactly are millennials doing differently that’s allowing them to dodge the divorce bullet? One factor that has a major effect is that millennials are waiting until they feel more financially stable before walking down the aisle. Its often said that money is the root of all evil, and it tends to be the root of many divorces as well. Struggling to pay the bills, keep the lights on, and keep food on the table when incomes are limited, or even nonexistent, can cause a tremendous amount of stress, and often this stress can put a major damper on a couples’ wedded bliss. By delaying marriages until they feel they are able to stand on their own feet and live comfortably, millennials are eliminating this major stressor from their marriages.

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Mark Griffin, M.E., Blog Writer

It’s summertime, and that means kids around Greensboro will be beating the heat. But they probably won’t be hanging out at the pool or lake like their parents did. It’s more likely they will be huddled around their electronic devices playing video games or watching YouTube. The World Health Organization has recently classified addiction to video games as a certified mental disorder. Our children are particularly susceptible during the summer months when they are out of school and have less structured activities.

The signs of video game addiction are disturbingly quite similar to other addictions such as exercise addiction or sex addiction. If your child has difficulty talking or even thinking about anything other than video games, then they might have a problem. The problem is exacerbated by the gaming designers attempting to make their games psychologically addicting purposely. As with drug and alcohol addictions, they may have such a compulsion to play that they let school work lag and their grooming and hygiene begin to suffer.

In the beginning, gamers may be satisfied to play one or two hours at a time; however as they become more addicted, they crave much longer sessions. Some children have to be physically removed from a game console, or they will play continuously. As the addiction worsens they frequently suffer from significant weight gain or weight loss, sleep disruptions, mood changes, sleep deprivation, Avoiding friends and family members. They may begin lying about the time spent playing video games and start skipping meals. Shoddy work and academic performance should also set off alarm bells.

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Mark Griffin, M.E., Blog Writer

Divorce is never easy. It turns your world upside down. Ending a relationship you thought was to last till death forces you to part is emotionally devastating. When you are a parent, and throw children into that emotional turmoil, then you have to deal with a hurricane of guilt and remorse.

However, we are parents and parents must be strong, we must be there for our kids when they need us. We won’t be legally able to spend as much time with our children as before the divorce, so what time we have must be devoted to them.

I have two children. My first daughter was 9 when left her mother in 2005. I still feel guilty about choosing to leave the home where my child and I formed that bond that a father and daughter share.

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Venn Crawford, non-attorney Marketing Assistant

Looking for a new way to organize or connect? Here are some of the best apps for families.

Apps for Organization

Stridepost – This family managing app features chore lists, allowance trackers, and a family calendar, all of which sync across devices so that the whole family’s on the same page. Parents can add tasks to a child’s to-do list, which the child then receives points for completing. At the end of the week, kids get their “payday” and collect the points, which are redeemable for rewards. Both parents and kids can add rewards. Both kids and parents can add events to the shared family calendar, and family members can keep each other updated using the built-in family chat. (For parents: iOS, Android; for kids: iOS, Android)

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Mark Griffin, M.E., Blog Writer

If you have children, you likely have gotten that dreaded call from your child’s teacher. Unfortunately, it’s almost always negative. I am a public school teacher of 87 middle schoolers but I also have two daughters. Therefore, I’ve been on both ends of the call. I have experienced exasperation as both a teacher and a parent. However, I’ve also experienced the unstoppable synergy that occurs when teachers and parents work together to help a student reach their academic potential.

So go to your child’s open house. Meet the teacher, shake hands and show a great deal of interest and enthusiasm in what’s going on in the classroom. Ask lots of questions, make sure you sign up for class newsletters and websites. It’s easier for a teacher to check email than return phone calls, so make sure you have the teacher’s email address and that the teacher has yours. I love all the emails I get from my parents on a weekly basis. I always thank them for their support and listen to their concerns.

About three years ago, I received an old-fashioned letter from a parent. The letter was mailed from one of my student’s home with an actual USPS stamp! In my 15 years of teaching, I’d never received a “snail mail” letter from a parent, so I opened it with great interest. It stated that due to a work conflict she was unable to attend the open house. However, she expressed a great deal of interest in how her daughter could be successful in class. She gave me all her contact information and detailed her daughter’s academic strengths and weaknesses. She expressed a positive attitude toward homework and maintaining a regular line of communication. I’ve decided to copy her idea, and mail my daughter’s teachers because I know that teachers get thousands of emails so handwritten letters stand out.

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Mark Griffin, M.E., Blog Writer

No family wants to suffer the social embarrassment of having the cops called on them. As a former police officer, I discussed domestic violence calls in my last blog. Now, here are three of my tips to prevent that from happening in the first place.

#1: Establish family ground rules for communication

  • Never speak when someone else is talking.
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Mark Griffin, M.E., Blog Writer

In this blog on communication, I will share what I have learned from my experience, both recovering at Cone hospital and from my time as a Greensboro police officer.

In my last blog, I spoke about Angela, the Assistant Director of the Rehab unit. Communication is vital in rehabilitation. Angela deals with patients who have suffered brain injuries, due to strokes or trauma, and has learned tricks to help her and others more effectively communicate.

She said that when she feels an argument brewing between her and her husband, she applies her experience with brain-damaged patients to curb potential arguments:

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Mark Griffin, M.E., Blog Writer

Too often here at Woodruff Family Law Group, we encounter families who are splitting up, often in the aftermath of a breakdown in communication. Once a family is no longer able to effectively communicate with one another, it is just a matter of time before even simple matters must be adjudicated with the help of our legal team.

According to an article in The Huffington Post, lack of communication is the number one reason couples split up. Communication in dysfunctional families frequently involves lots of screaming,verbal threats, and all too often, physical violence.

When communication breaks down with the ones we need to communicate with the most, the frustration becomes overwhelming as we desperately seek to be heard and understood.  Ironically, the more we try to make ourselves understood, the less likely it is that our message is being absorbed by our intended target. When it becomes obvious that our calm and rational words are not enough, we escalate to louder tones. The communication we receive in response tends to rise to meet or exceed our level of agitation. Soon, we are screaming at each other in a blind rage. Ironically, the deeper our love is for one another may actually raise the intensity level of the arguments.

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Carolyn Woodruff, J.D., C.P.A, C.V.A.

Dear Carolyn,

I reluctantly entered into a consent child custody order with the mother of my child in 2013. We were never married and never actually lived together. The child is now five having been born in 2011. I get visitation under the 2013 order, but the court never heard any evidence in 2013. We simply agreed. Now, I am very concerned this mother is unfit. She continues to smoke around the child who has asthma. She also has been charged with drug possession in both 2012 and recently. She will not let me have a relationship with my kid. She threatens to move out of state. There are things I need to tell the court about from the child’s birth until 2013 (date of current custody order), but my attorney says I cannot use the 2011 to 2013 evidence in my motion to modify custody. I want primary custody with the mother having supervised visitation. Is there any way I can present the proof of what this mother was like from 2011 to 2013? I think the mother of my child is unfit. What can I do?

– Worried about unfit mother