Articles Posted in Children

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

tuition-lawsuitNew Jersey once again is grappling with the issue of how far parents’ financial obligations toward their children should go, particularly in relation to paying for their higher education. At least one State lawmaker is looking at ways to keep such decisions within the family and out of the courtroom.

In a legal battle that began last year, Caitlyn Ricci, a 21-year-old New Jersey resident, filed a lawsuit against Maura McGarvey and Michael Ricci, her divorced parents, seeking to force them to pay for her college tuition. Last month, a judge ruled in her favor citing a 1982 New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that made divorced parents financially responsible for the college education of their children.(1)

Ms. Ricci’s case was originally filed in 2013 soon after she left her mother’s home and moved in with her paternal grandparents. At that time, Ms. Ricci’s parents were ordered to pay their daughter’s tuition at Gloucester County College, a public State school, provided Ms. Ricci applied for available scholarships and loans to help defray the costs. According to reports, the parents did not pay the tuition because their daughter did not meet her court-ordered obligations. This past summer, Ms. Ricci transferred to Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, and returned to court asking that her parents be forced to pay her tuition, which now amounts to $26,000 a year.(1)

In hearing the case, the judge referred to Newburgh v Arrigo, the 1982 State Supreme Court case that decided divorced parents are responsible for providing college educations for their children, and ordered Ms. Ricci’s parents to pay $16,000 of her Temple University tuition bill.(1)

This case is reminiscent of another case that made headlines earlier this year involving a then high school student, Rachel Canning, who went to court seeking emancipation and support from her estranged parents. That support was to include the continued payment of her private high school tuition costs, as well as payment of her future college tuition. That case eventually was dropped and Ms. Canning returned home to her parents’ house before moving to college this past fall.(2) Continue reading

400-07265449Although New Jersey ranks among the three states to claim the lowest suicide rate, suicide does remain a serious issue that has been attracting a lot of attention lately. Among the groups working to increase awareness of this growing problem is the group most affected by it – teens and young adults.(1)

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), statistics compiled in 2010 showed that suicide ranks second as the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 24. A Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted in 2011 disclosed that one out of every seven high school-age students in the U.S. has either attempted or considered suicide.(1)

These sobering statistics have led other young adults in New Jersey to take action to raise suicide awareness. Keystone Club members from the Boys and Girls Club of Jersey City were instrumental in preparing a bill currently being considered by the State legislature.(2)

The “Boys and Girls Club’s Keystone Law” would allow minors to get help from therapists and social workers without prior consent of an adult, much like existing bills which allow teens and young adults to receive treatment for alcohol or drug abuse, sexual assault, certain sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS without adult consent. The bill, if passed, would add New Jersey to the list of 16 other states with similar laws on their books.(2)

The CDC stated that one out of every three deaths in the 10 to 24 age group is due to suicide. Based on these numbers, it estimates there will be about 2,000 suicides and 5,000 attempted suicides each year by this age group. The Keystone group believes that giving minors direct access to treatment will help them overcome the stigma that too often keeps them from seeking the help they need.(2)

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400-07275223A recent Woman’s Day magazine article discussed “grandfamilies” or households in which grandparents fill the role of parent for their grandchildren and how these situations are becoming more common. The article cited a number of factors contributing to the need for this arrangement, including a rise in drug use between 2002 and 2012; a 25% jump in the number of young parents imprisoned between the years 1997 and 2007, and a recent recession which left many people without work. Whatever the reason, there are more grandparents parenting their grandchildren than one may think.(1)

The 2010 Census showed that one out of every ten children in this country lives with a grandparent. That Census also disclosed that in the U.S.

  • 7 million grandparents have at least one grandchild under the age of 18 living with them;
  • Of those grandparents, 2.7 million were caregivers, meaning they were in charge of providing the basic needs for their grandchildren;
  • A little more than half of the caregiving grandparents – 1.7 million – were still actively employed;
  • About 670,000 of those caregiving grandparents had a disability.(2)

Custodial grandparents come from all walks of life representing all socio-economic strata and ethnicities. And, while stepping up to fulfill a need in a child’s life may be admirable, it does not come without risks.

Oftentimes these arrangements occur when parents face some type of tragedy – loss of job, imprisonment, addiction – and, when these troubles are resolved, they look to regain custody of their children, sometimes leading to contentious or strained relationships between parent, child and grandparent. In order to preserve their relationships with their grandchildren, custodial grandparents are often urged to legalize these relationships.(3) Continue reading