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Child Custody

When asking the Court for custody or visitation of your child, the court will look to the “best interest of your child.” The Court may order “Supervised Visitation” in certain cases and it can be defined as visitation limited to special situations where a third party is present with the visiting parent during the period of visitation. Supervised visitation (or “monitored visitation”) may be the order of the Court when there is a need to protect children due to past or current substance abuse, child abuse or neglect, family violence, or other serious problems. The Court may also make orders for supervised visitation when children are getting to know a previously absent parent, during the reunification process. If the Court makes an order for supervision, there are three options for providers: non-professionals, professionals, and therapeutic providers. Non-professionals are not paid for their supervision service and are typically a family member or friend; they are usually required to be of a certain age, with a clean criminal record for a certain amount of time, with no financial dependence upon the parent being supervised, and no other conflicts. Professional supervisors are paid for their services and are usually strangers to the parent/child being supervised. Professionals have age requirements, clean criminal records, the ability to speak the language of the parties involved, no other conflicts of interests, and agree to abide by and enforce the court orders regarding visitation. Therapeutic providers are licensed mental health professionals who are paid for providing visitation services; these include a psychologist, psychiatrist, clinical social worker, etc. A therapeutic provider should meet the requirements of a professional...

Can I Get an Annulment?

I have been asked several times recently about the difference between a divorce and an annulment. It might be because many people were raised to believe that “until death do us part” really meant just that; so the idea of an annulment is the easiest way to justify the divorce they need but can’t sell to the family. An annulment is the legal process that renders a marriage “null and void” and is different than a divorce, (which recognizes the marriage and terminates it). The annulment says that the marriage was never good from the beginning. Renee Zellwegger, who had her four-month marriage to Kenny Chesney annulled, claimed fraud; as did Britney Spears who was only married for about fifty-hours to her friend from high-school love interest. Although fraud is the popular, “catch-all” claim to an annulment, so is being a minor at the time of marriage (with conditions), being married at the time, or being mentally/physically incapable to enter into a marriage or marriage...