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Legal Issues Involving Children When parents divorce or when a child is a born out of wedlock, it is important to learn about the child custody and visitation options that are available and the legal standards that apply. Every family is different and each requires an independent look into how the children would best be served when determining custody and visitation options.

In many cases, parents can ultimately agree on custody and visitation issues without the need for a court order. When an agreement cannot be reached, knowledgeable advice and representation from a family law attorney can often make the difference in getting the results that you want.

Child custody determinations are very difficult to change after established so it is important to seek legal counsel from the beginning. Call The Law Office of Jessica Fox Flinn, PLLC at (270)226-1103 to set up an appointment to speak with an attorney about the child custody matters you are facing.

Continuing Child Custody and Child Support Services

Issues associated with children often continue even after the divorce is final. As living arrangements change, parents may file for modification in child custody, visitation, and child support arrangements. We are committed to representing our clients in any necessary post-divorce modifications of child custody, visitation, or child support orders. We can also assist in enforcing child support or visitation orders.

Child Support

In the United States, nearly one-half of all marriages end in divorce and almost one-fourth of all children are born to unmarried parents. Therefore, the regulation of child support is an important social issue. Federal legislation and uniform state laws exist to make enforcement and collection of child support easier for single parents. In Kentucky, child support amounts are established by state guidelines based largely on the parents' incomes and the number of children. The court can deviate from the guidelines if there are significant reasons for doing so. Child support amounts can be modified if there is a change in circumstances justifying the change, such as an increase or decrease in a parent's income or cost of living, or a change in the child's needs.

If you have any questions about the child support laws in Kentucky, and the rules for child support collection or enforcement options that apply in your particular situation, contact The Law Office of Jessica Fox Flinn, PLLC to schedule a free consultation.

Paternity

In cases involving unmarried mothers seeking child support, or unmarried fathers wanting to gain custody or visitation rights, the first step may be to legally establish the father's “paternity” of the child. The mother and father can do this voluntarily, but if one party is not willing to consent, the mother or father may need to bring a lawsuit to establish paternity, which is usually done using genetic (DNA) testing. The court can order DNA testing if necessary to compel cooperation between the parties. Once paternity is established, the court can determine custody,visitation and a child support in a manner similar to that in a divorce situation.

Father's Rights

Contrary to many misconceptions, fathers have the same rights as mothers in regards to their children. Kentucky statutes govern the rights of unwed father, fathers absent during the birth of their child, as well as rights pertaining to custody of children in cases of divorce. If you are a father who was initially not notified of your child's birth, or was intentionally left out of the decision making process, you don't have to stand back and do nothing. You still have time to establish and exercise your rights as a father.

The first step in asserting your father's rights is being informed. For more information regarding your rights, contact The Law Office of Jessica Fox Flinn, PLLC today.

If you are the mother or father of a minor child and you need assistance with the process of establishing paternity, custody or visitation, call (270) 226-1103 for a FREE initial consultation.

Relocation With Children

In today's fast-paced world, it is not uncommon for a parent to relocate for a job or a new spouse. However, for divorced or unmarried parents, relocation with their child is not as easy as packing up and moving across the state or country. Kentucky law has special guidelines and standards for relocating with a child to another state or country.

In order to relocate a significant distance with a child, a parent must obtain either permission from the other parent or approval from the court. In addition, if the relocation is allowed, modification of existing child custody and visitation orders will be necessary.

Call The Law Office of Jessica Fox Flinn, PLLC at (270) 226-1103 to set up an appointment to speak with an attorney about the child custody matters you are facing.

Grandparent Rights

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has established special statutory provisions that allow for grandparents to request reasonable visitation with their grandchildren. As with all matters involving children, the Court will evaluate what is in the best interest of the child in setting the visitation. The Law Office of Jessica Fox Flinn, PLLC provides dedicated advocacy for grandparents seeking to secure their visitation rights. We understand that grandparents can impart valuable life knowledge and provide additional support during a child's formative years. Don't wait to call; a case for grandparent visitation is always stronger when you don't allow the passing of time to weaken the bond between grandparents and grandchildren.

Adoption

Our adoption service is one of the most rewarding that we provide. It is always a joyful occasion to assist our clients in establishing an official legal relationship between adoptive parents and their children. Whether you are a grandparent, a stepparent, or a couple wanting to adopt an unrelated child, the assistance of a caring and understanding lawyer can help to ease the process and make the process as pleasant as possible.

Services Available for Client's Unique Situations:

  • Grandparent Adoption
  • Step Parent Adoption
  • Private (Non-family) Adoption
  • Adoption after Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
  • Adoption after Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

The Law Office of Jessica Fox Flinn, PLLC praises those families that want to provide a stable home to a child. We take great pride in helping you provide that security to a child in need and will work diligently to assist you in making the best decisions possible for you and your family. If you have questions or concerns regarding adoption, please call to schedule a free consultation at (270) 226-1103.

Dependency, Neglect And Abuse

Are you being investigated by social services? Have your children been removed from your custody? Have your children been placed in foster care?

Dependency, neglect and abuse (often referred to as DNA) cases cover a broad range of issues regarding children. A dependency case can be brought for many unintentional circumstances such as a mental illness that prevents a parent from being able to care for their children. A neglect case can involve any number of acts or lack of action on the part of a parent that harms a child or puts the child in the risk of harm. Neglectful acts can be characterized any number of ways from medical neglect, failing to properly provide medical attention to your children, illegal drug use, or environmental neglect where a home is unsafe or unfit for children to live. An abuse case may address all types of child abuse including physical abuse, sexual abuse, or mental abuse. The purpose of DNA court is to protect children while parents are given the opportunity to better themselves and resolve various issues so that they can be reunified with their children.

The dependency, neglect and abuse legal system has its own rules, procedures and regulations. If you, as a parent or guardian, facing a dependency, abuse or neglect investigation, you have the right to an attorney at all hearings regarding your case. The removal of your children from your home is a serious infringement on your rights as a parent and should not be taken lightly. Don't go through this process alone. Jessica Flinn of The Law Office of Jessica Fox Flinn, PLLC has experience in dependency, abuse and neglect cases and can help protect your rights as a parent or guardian.

Do not work with an attorney unfamiliar with juvenile and family law processes.

Ten Commandments of Co-Parenting

The 10 Commandments of Co-Parenting by Lynn Nelson was originally published in Minnesota Parent in 1995.

  1. Resolve conflicts without putting kids in the middle. This requires being objective about your children’s needs (and not confusing them with your own) and compromising when the situation warrants. Stick with a conflict until it’s resolved; don’t let a problem fester and then punish the other parent passive-aggressively or be difficult in unrelated situations.

  2. Treat the other parent with respect. This goes a long way toward easing your relations with your former partner. It also provides a good model for your children; more than we are willing to admit, our children imitate our behavior. Disrespect toward the other parent will be played out by the child. It’s important for a child’s healthy development to have respect for authority figures, including both parents.

  3. Observe appropriate boundaries. When it comes to your kids, it’s sometimes difficult to tell yourself what they’re doing with the other parent “is none of my business.” But if an activity won’t harm them physically or psychologically, it probably is none of your business. Recognize it’s okay, maybe even good, for children to learn different ways of doing things. It’s almost certain that the other parent won’t do everything your way.

  4. Communicate regularly with the other parent. There’s lots to share. When children are small, the other parent needs to know the basics when parenting responsibilities are being transferred. Has the child eaten? Gone to the bathroom recently? Does he or she need more sleep or a bath? When children are older, both parents need to know about school activities, sports events and trips out of town. It’s good to get into a regular habit of checking in with each other on the days when parenting is shared. A worst-possible scenario is that lack of communication could lead to a child not being picked up after school or day care, or important medical treatment being disrupted.

  5. Demonstrate positive conflict resolution. Don’t try to hide conflicts when they arise. Children generally know more about what’s going on than we give them credit for. Use conflict as an opportunity to show kids how to resolve issues in a responsible manner. “Don’t step into the ring without taking time to cool off.”

  6. Share with your co-parent what you need from him or her to do a good job of parenting. In some cases, a regular schedule is important. Frequent schedule changes can be disruptive and particularly irritating, especially when it involves “telephone tag.” It is always comforting for a parent to know that they can depend on the other parent to do what they says they will. Everyone has different requirements for support. Be sure to be clear with the other parent about yours, and take time to inquire about his or hers. In our experience, guessing hasn’t been very productive.

  7. Don’t allow all of the parenting tasks to fall to one parent. Typically, things that are out of balance don’t work well. Work at sharing parenting chores as equally as possible. Don’t hoard tasks and act like a martyr, and don’t expect the other parent to be in charge of all of the communicating, all of the extra purchases for your child or all of the discipline.

  8. Be consistent - to the extent possible – in disciplining, feeding and caring for your child. This makes transitions from one household to another easier, thus minimizing the outbursts from children after visits with the other parent. Respect each other’s parenting approaches, and recognize that while consistency is optimal, differences are okay. Children are able to distinguish that something that’s okay at Dad’s house may not be okay at Morn’s, not because one parent is bad or wrong, but because the two parents are different.

  9. Help your children recognize the other parent with appropriate gifts or cards. These express your children’s sentiments and make them feel good about themselves when they’re praised for their thoughtfulness. Take the time to help your children make or pick out holiday and birthday gifts for the other parent. Recognizing Mother’s and Father’s Day are particularly important because other relatives aren’t involved in celebrating these days.

  10. Don’t punish your in-laws by keeping your kids from them after a divorce. Your in-laws are probably as disappointed as you and your former partner about the dissolution of your relationship. Grandparents can be a child’s greatest cheerleaders; don’t hurt your children and yourself by cutting off visits with them. In many cases, grandparents also provide back-up child care; this-isn’t something any single parent should give up willingly.
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