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Divorce Law Monitor

What you never thought you'd need to know about divorce

Every Child Deserves Representation in a Contested Adoption

Posted in Court Decisions, Parenting, Children & Divorce

In my previous post on Adopting a Stepchild, I explained the steps to go through for an uncontested adoption. Many adoptions are very simple and straightforward. However, in situations where there are disagreements about what is best for a child or a parent’s rights are being terminated, the courts must become further involved.

The news media has been buzzing about an internal Memorandum reportedly sent from the Chief Judge of the Probate and Family Court, Angela Ordonez, on August 20, 2015 seeking review of all contested adoption cases in the court system. Specifically, the memorandum is said to require that all pending private adoption cases be reviewed to ensure that children at the center of those disputes have attorneys appointed to represent their interests. Pursuant to the case of Adoption of Meaghan, decided in 2012, children are entitled to counsel in contested adoption proceedings, even private adoptions.

It is reported that Judge Ordonez may have been spurred to order this review because of the case of Randall Lints, a Hardwick father who was granted custody of his son and is accused of starving and abusing the 7 year old resulting in the child lapsing into a coma. Fingers have been pointed at the Probate and Family Court Judge who granted custody to the father and at the Judge for failing to appoint an attorney to look out for the interests of the boy, who had been in his grandmother’s custody for years. The grandmother petitioned for adoption, but a family member objected.

The objection by the family member would have made the matter a contested adoption, prompting the appointment of an attorney for the child under the Adoption of Meaghan case. No attorney was ever appointed. However, what happened in Court was that the child’s mother, father and grandmother all agreed that custody be given to the father. The grandmother did not pursue her adoption petition. The contested nature of the proceedings ended when the adults came to agreement. Attorneys are not routinely appointed for children in custody matters and there would have been no investigation done in this case given the resolution by agreement.

Supposedly a Department of Children and Families (DCF) worker saw the child two weeks before he was taken by ambulance from the father’s home after a call to 911. If that’s accurate, the spotlight should be focused on DCF, not the Probate and Family Court. Appointment of an attorney or guardian ad litem to report to the Court on the child’s best interests does not happen in uncontested matters, nor should it. Rather, those who saw this child suffering, which should have included the DCF worker, needed to speak up and protect him. Tragically, that didn’t happen.

If your family is involved in a contested adoption, make sure that you have experienced counsel by your side and that the child’s rights are protected with appointment of counsel for the child.

Until next time,

Divorce Is Hard

Posted in Divorce Planning

Hellen Keller_character through sufferingHi there,

As the summer winds down and kids start back to school, a lot of folks decide to take their first real step in the divorce process. I routinely see a lot of people in August who haven’t decided what to do and need to know what will lie ahead of them legally before they make a very tough decision.

There’s something about the beginning of fall and the kids going back to school that clarifies things. It’s a time of new beginnings and for some the new beginning is divorce.

Divorce is hard. It doesn’t matter if you’re the one who chooses to divorce or the one on whom the choice is imposed. It is a life-altering event. Like all life-altering events, it makes you stop and really evaluate your life. The good, the not so good. 25 years ago I had breast cancer, and at the time I’d been a divorce lawyer for 10 years and thought I understood my clients. I found as time went on that I had really hadn’t understood the unexpected positives that come from pain endured and fear survived. You learn how strong you really can be.

I was inspired for this post by a recent post by Shawn Garrison for DadsDivorce. While DadsDivorce is of course written for divorcing fathers, it can be a good resource for moms too.

Enjoy this beautiful day.


Ashley Madison: Karma Strikes

Posted in Adultery
Our barn cat, Ashley, is shocked and appalled.

Our barn cat, Ashley, is shocked and appalled.

Hi there,

Well, cheaters beware! Last week I posted on the Ashley Madison hack. The hackers were largely silent for about a month after they went into Ashley Madison’s database and lifted information on 32 million of the 37 million subscribers.

Lo and behold, last night the hackers released the stolen list of Ashley Madison users. I think our Divorce group may want to do some cross referencing of names here…

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