Articles Posted in Children

Car seats: photo of baby being fastened into car seatJust as New Jersey parents were adapting to new car seat laws that went into effect this past September 1, a new study gives them something else to worry about – does their car seat even fit in their car?

The new car seat law, which we reported on here earlier this summer, was expected to clear up confusion for parents when deciding which model of car seat was most appropriate for their children. The new law outlined very strict guidelines for when to use booster seats versus car seats and which way to face the car seat according to the child’s age and size. Now a new study indicates that even if parents abide by all these regulations, their child’s safety may still be in jeopardy if the car seat does not properly fit the car in which it is being used.

According to a recent article on, dozens of tests were conducted only to find that some car restraint seats simply do not fit certain cars properly, posing serious consequences for children. One of the problems is that while cars are getting smaller, car seats are getting bigger and this discrepancy in size can affect the angle at which the car seat sits.

For more information on this safety issue and some tips on how you can overcome it, read’s article by Tim Darragh’s article, “Child car seats often don’t fit cars properly, study says.”

children of same-sex marriage; photo of young girl kneeling on park benchWhen the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision that paved the way for legally-sanctioned, same-sex marriages, it granted couples in those unions equal accessibility to some of the same rights traditional married couples enjoyed. These rights include, but are not limited to, such things health insurance coverage under family plans, social security and insurance survivor’s benefits, and involvement in end-of-life medical decisions. While the Court’s ruling did protect spouses in same-sex relationships, it seems to have failed to go far enough to protect children of those relationships.

In traditional relationships, there is such a thing as marital presumption. This presumption means that with children born into a marriage, a legal parent-child relationship is recognized between the children and their mothers’ husbands regardless of the existence of any biological relationship between the two. This same presumption does not exist for children of same-sex marriages.

Beyond denying certain financial and health benefits to children of same-sex marriage, the lack of this presumption could prove disruptive to the child’s family life as well. In traditional marriages, if something were to happen to a child’s biological mother, the father would still be considered a legal parent. That is not the case in same-sex marriages where the non-biological parent has no marital presumption. Adoption is not always the answer either since a number of states fail to recognize adoptions by same-sex spouses.

To read more about the issues facing children of same-sex marriages, read “The New Battleground for Same-Sex Couples is Equal Rights for Their Kids,” by Tanya Washington, a professor of law at Georgia State University.

Divorce and special needs children: picture of back of girl sitting alone in playgroundDivorce affects every family member, but it can be especially difficult for families with special needs children.

In the process of obtaining a divorce, couples will also work details involving child custody, visitation and support arrangements. Generally, the best interest of the child is taken into consideration when arriving at these arrangements. Usually, unless circumstances cause the arrangements to be challenged, they will remain in effect until the child reaches 18, finishes school or is otherwise emancipated. This is not necessarily the case, however, when the child in question is afflicted with an emotional, physical or medical disability.

Parents of special needs children face other considerations when they are divorcing. Because special needs children often need physical, emotional and financial support well past the age of majority, and because they sometimes have extreme difficulties adjusting to frequent changes in their environment, special considerations need to be made regarding their custody, visitation and financial support.

What these special considerations may entail is spelled out more in the article, “When Parents of Children with Disabilities Divorce,” found on the Medical Home Portal website.

single-parent-travel-400-06092614d-(1)International custody fights are more common than you might realize. Many people may remember the story of New Jersey resident David Goldman who spent years battling his ex-wife’s Brazilian family following her death to regain custody of his son Sean. More recent news articles are following actress Kelly Rutherford’s fight with her ex over custody of their children who currently live with their father in Monaco.

These custody disputes are devastating for the families and problematic for the countries involved, so it’s no wonder why authorities may question a parent’s intention when travelling abroad with his or her children. While no one welcomes their parental rights being questioned, the best way to handle a situation like this is to be prepared. For suggestions on how to be prepared, read “8 Travel Safety Tips for Single Parents Going Abroad with the Kids” on, paying particular attention to tip number seven. A blog that appeared on titled “The Single Parent’s Guide to International Travel With Kids” offers additional tips.

co-parenting-400-04058827dOne of the most emotionally trying issues of divorce is the question of child custody. Although spouses may be more than ready to part from each other, they usually are not willing to give up their relationship with their children – and for good reason.

Studies have shown that in most situations, children thrive better under the influence of both parents. Family courts recognize this and more often than not will award joint custody unless circumstances cause them to rule otherwise. While it is in the best interest of the children, co-parenting isn’t easy. The logistics alone of such an arrangement can be tricky, but what makes co-parenting even harder are the fears many divorced couples share. Family coach Karen Becker identifies and explains those fears in her article “What I Wish Every Co-Parent Knew” for The Huffington Post.

divorce-and-child-weightDivorce can be a stressful event for the whole family. For children, it can affect not only their emotional health, but their physical health as well. In fact, a new study has revealed that children of divorce are at greater risk of being overweight. The study pointed to a number of factors that could contribute to this, including stress, which can lead to emotional eating, and changes in financial circumstances, which can result in poor diets.

An article on titled “Divorce Can Impact Children’s Weight by Lauren Gaines,” looks at the results of this study and offers suggestions for what parents can do to hopefully help lessen their child’s risk of excessive weight gain or incurring other health issues as a result of their divorce.

Statistics show seat belts help save lives in accidents and that message seems to have made an impact. Reports state a majority of people – 87% nationally and 87.6% in New Jersey – use seat belts for their protection. But how do you protect young children?

new-car-seat-lawSeat belts offer insufficient protection for infants and toddlers so the law requires the use of car seats and/or booster seats. Unfortunately, about two-thirds of parents use car seats incorrectly, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP offers guidelines for switching children from rear-facing car seats to front-facing seats and from car seats to booster seats but only about 23% of parents nationally follow these guidelines. State laws and car seat manufacturers offer their own guidelines which, in some cases, conflict with those offered by the AAP. This conflict can result in confusion, causing the incorrect use.

Last month, New Jersey lawmakers took steps to alleviate this confusion by adopting a new car seat law that includes age and height requirements more closely in line with AAP guidelines. To learn how to properly use car seats and booster seats under New Jersey’s new law, read “The Big Changes to the NJ Car Seat Law: What You Need to Know.”

A recent article on msn.comsplit-custody disclosed that Jon Gosselin of the former TLC television series, Jon and Kate Plus 8, was seeking emergency custody of one of his eight children. Currently, Mr. Gosselin’s ex-wife, Kate, has custody of all eight children. If his petition is granted, it would put the Gosselin children in an arrangement known as split custody.

Split custody is uncommon, but not unheard of. It is an arrangement under which different siblings live with different parents. Generally, courts view this type of arrangement as being especially hard on children because not only are they separated from a parent, but they are separated from their brothers and sisters as well. The article, “Splitting Up the Kids,” by retired family law attorney Brette Sember, looks at the negative impacts of split custody, as well as situations where this type of arrangement could be warranted. The article also offers suggestions on how to make the best of a split custody arrangement should the court deem it necessary.

joint-custodyDivorce ranks among the top five most stressful life events. Not only are the adults involved affected by this stress, but their children can suffer as much if not more. Despite this, there are times when divorce is inevitable. Keeping emotions in check, though difficult, can help reduce stress levels. How you react to the process and the choices you make along the way, particularly regarding child custody matters, have a great impact on how your children fare through this experience.

A study published last week in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community explored various living arrangements and the affect they have on children. In an article titled “Study: Joint Custody After Divorce Least Stressful on Children,” which appears on, author Brad Myers reports the study found that living arrangements where children can spend equal quality time with each parent were least stressful on the child.

custodyOne of the most difficult and emotionally charged decisions facing couples contemplating divorce involves the custody of the children. Most agree that, whenever possible, equal involvement in the child’s life on the part of both parents is the best solution. New Jersey family courts share this opinion but will put the best interest of the child first when deciding custody issues.(1)

There are two separate forms of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody determines who has the responsibility for making important decisions for the child, particularly concerning medical and educational needs, while physical custody relates to the parent with whom the child lives.(2)

Couples who are able to maintain open communication and work together cooperatively on matters concerning their children can craft a child custody plan either on their own or through mediation based on what works best for parents and children alike. That plan can then be submitted to the court to be filed as a custody order.

Parents can share both legal and physical custody of their children. Sharing legal custody means both parents work together in making major decisions for their children usually on matters relating to finances, medical treatment, school, religious upbringing and where the children live. It helps when parents share similar opinions and values regarding these issues. If there are strong differences of opinion, the court may decide that it would be in the best interest of the child if legal custody was granted to only one parent.

Sharing physical custody means that the child spends equal time living with each parent, whether that time is divided by months or days of the week. This arrangement requires that the parents live in close proximity so as not to cause too much disruption in the child’s school and social life. The goal is to find the arrangement that works best for everyone involved.(3) Continue reading