Articles Posted in Children

grandparents-rights-400-06098211dIn an ideal world, grandparents and grandchildren share nurturing relationships that can prove beneficial for both generations. Sometimes, however, rifts in the relationship between the grandparents and their own children and/or their children’s spouses can adversely affect the relationship between grandparent and grandchild. In extreme cases, the courts may be called upon to determine whether or not the grandparent/grandchild relationship can be saved. In those instances, it may fall to the grandparents to show proof that preserving their relationship with their grandchild would be in the best interest of that child. See the New Jersey law case Major v. Maguire.

snow shoveling bill -- photo of person shoveling snow from walkway of a homeIt isn’t unusual in winter to see teenagers shoveling their neighbors’ sidewalks and driveways in exchange for a little extra spending money. In fact, most people would applaud these teens for their hard work. And if they take the initiative to schedule snow removal jobs in response to a snowy forecast, most people would congratulate them for their entrepreneurial nature; however, this advance scheduling could put them in danger of breaking the law. Some New Jersey lawmakers want to change that.

The State Assembly was expected to vote today on a bill, a version of which gained unanimous approval by the State Senate last May, allowing New Jersey’s teens to solicit snow removal jobs without regulation. This bill was drafted in response to an incident last January in which a couple of Bound Brook teens were stopped by local police from handing out flyers in their neighborhood announcing their snow removal services. According to reports, the teens were warned that their actions were in violation of the municipality’s anti-solicitation laws. To read more on this issue, read “Could your kids be breaking the law when it snows?

car seat safety: photo of baby dressed in heavy fur coat buckled into child safety seatFor decades now, statistics have shown that it is safer for young children to be in properly sized child safety seats when riding in the car. From time to time, news stories pertaining to car seat safety remind parents to make sure their car seats are properly installed and alert them to manufacturers’ recalls when faulty details are uncovered. Now there is a new car seat safety concern to be aware of.

According to recent reports, children wearing heavy winter coats may not be as securely fastened into their safety seats as parents may think. The fact is the very coats that are keeping children snug and warm could prove hazardous in the event of a car accident. For details and tips for correcting this problem, see “Car seat alert: Could wearing a winter coat endanger your child?

photo of man and woman standing apart with their backs to each other and heads downFor couples coping with fertility issues, in vitro fertilization (IVF) can help dreams come true. IVF is a procedure through which human eggs are fertilized outside of the body and often frozen and stored for future use, making it possible for some couples who had difficulty conceiving to become biological parents nonetheless. Sometimes, however, relationships don’t work out as expected – couples go their separate ways; marriages end in divorce. In situations such as these, what becomes of the stored embryos?

This has been the question of several lawsuits, most recently a case in San Francisco, CA, which made national news. According to an article, “S.F. woman who sought to have embryos preserved loses legal case,” a California couple underwent the IVF procedure shortly before their wedding after learning the woman had cancer and that the intended treatment was expected to leave her infertile. While the woman survived her illness, the marriage did not last and a petition for divorce was filed in August of 2013, prompting the issue of the couple’s frozen embryos to come up.

The couple had signed an agreement with the reproduction center that performed the IVF procedure stating that the embryos should be given to the surviving spouse only upon the death of his or her partner; under any other circumstances, including divorce, the unused embryos were to be destroyed. Despite this agreement, the woman sought to protect her chance at becoming a biological parent and claimed the agreement was signed in haste.

The judge hearing the case disagreed. Noting that the woman never informed her spouse or the reproduction center that she would attempt to change the terms of the agreement, the judge ruled that it be upheld. Similar cases heard in other state courts have resulted in similar decisions. Rather than an issue of custody, it comes down to the question of whether or not one person should be able to put another person into a position of accepting parenthood or relinquishing their parental rights.

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.