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Articles Tagged with custody

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Shak v. Shak, ____ Mass. _____, SJC-12748 (2020).

Nondisparagement clauses are ubiquitous in custody agreements and orders. Generally, they are a blanket prohibition on a parent from “talking bad” about the other parent in a form that the minor child(ren) will understand (whether in their presence or on social media, etc.). These clauses are commonly included so that the child will grow up in a less tumultuous environment, free from psychological harm that stems from hurtful exchanges of words. In fact, our own courts have guidelines that are commonly incorporated into custody orders. However, the Massachusetts Supreme Court recently reviewed these clauses under a constitutional lens, and the result is quite interesting.

1. Facts: The Mother filed an emergency motion to remove the Father from the marital home based on the Father’s aggressive behavior, temper, threats, and substance abuse. A judge issued the order to vacate and granted Mother sole custody. In a temporary order, the judge included provisions that “[n]either party shall disparage the other – nor permit any third party to do so – especially when within hearing range of the child[,] and “[n]either party shall post any comments, solicitations, references or other information regarding this litigation on social media.” Once Father made such posts on social media platforms and shared them with mutual friends, Mother filed for civil contempt. Father then raised free speech issues. The judge failed to find contempt and ruled that the temporary order was indeed an unlawful prior restraint on speech. The judge then sought to cure the previous language by narrowly tailoring the provisions that borrowed thematically from time, place, and manner restrictions on speech. The judge then submitted those provisions, along with the constitutional question to the state supreme court for review.

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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. Continue reading →

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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. Continue reading →

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

Dear Carolyn,

I am the father of two children, ages 10 and 12.  The mother of the children lives in West Virginia, where she moved after our divorce. The children were born and always have lived in North Carolina. The North Carolina order for custody allows the children to travel to West Virginia for 5 weeks in the summer. Last year the mother did not return the children when she was supposed to at the end of the summer, and the court here held mother in contempt. Continue reading →

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

Dear Carolyn,

I have a two year old daughter and the mother and I are facing a custody trial. The mother, in my opinion, has some mental disorders and has been treated for long-term depression. The mother breast fed, and mother and daughter are close.  I feel, however, that I am the better custodial parent.  Will the daughter’s age and sex keep me from being a custodial parent until she is older? Will the court listen to me, or am I just out of luck until my daughter is older?

– Dad

Continue reading →

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Dear Carolyn,

My ex is all over Facebook about what she did with the kids during Spring Break. She apparently took some young woman with her to babysit so she could spend more time with her boyfriend on the Florida beach. She posted my little boy “buck naked” on the beach on Facebook. She posted her “babysitter—young woman” drinking beer with at least a dozen empty beer cans in the background. She posted a picture of her boyfriend and her entwined on the beach on a blanket. And to top it all off, she posted a picture of her new engagement ring from him, and we are not even divorced. Continue reading →

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Dear Carolyn,

I am a legally blind mother with a ten-year-old daughter. My daughter was just diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. Just prior to the diagnosis, my daughter had a fainting spell, and my neighbor called social services. Now, I have the Department of Health and Human Services at my door. They have threatened to place her in foster care if there is another fainting spell. The fainting spells happen when her blood sugar gets too low. What are my rights? Do I need a lawyer?

– Please help

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Hello Carolyn,

I have a question regarding grandchildren who are in the custody of the grandparents.

Here is the scenario. My wife and I have legal custody of three grandchildren ages 13, 12, and 9.  We were granted legal custody by the court about 18 months ago.  Before that, we had been granted temporary custody of the children.  We have been given permanent custody because the parents cannot/will not take proper care of the children.  Continue reading →

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Dear Readers, let me hear from you regarding prescription drug abuse and its effect on your family.  In the second Ask Carolyn today, I touch on the Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne divorce and Prince’s death.

Dear Carolyn,

I am a pilot going through a divorce.  My ex is holding my pilot log books hostage.  I have asked her nicely to please give me the log books, and she simply will not do so.  How do I get my log books back from here in this divorce? Does she have any “marital rights” in my log books?