family law

When Is It Too Late to File for or Modify Child Support?

In just about every divorce involving children, some child support arrangements will be made. But not every divorce is the same, and not all go as planned. And even if a child support agreement seems perfect at the time, circumstances can change.

Whatever the reason, you may find yourself trying to file a child support agreement, enforce or modify an existing one, or end your current child support obligations. But when is it too late? Here's a look.

Too Late to Create?

It's generally never too late to create a child support agreement. While most arrangements are negotiated during the divorce process, there's nothing that can prohibit exes from handling other issues first and hammering out child support later. You will want to be careful about waiting too long, though, because child support determinations are often made with each party's financial situations in mind, and the sooner those arrangements are made, the more accurate they can be and the sooner you'll receive the money (or, conversely, the sooner you'll know what you need to budget).

There are two ways you can go about creating child support arrangements: you can either go to family court and request a child support order from a judge (which may require multiple hearings, filings, and financial evidence), or you and your ex can negotiate a child support agreement on your own. Even if you come to your own agreement, however, you'll want to file it with the court, so it will be enforceable against both parties.

Too Late to Modify?

Child support agreements are not always set in stone, and as personal circumstances change, the amount a parent must pay or is owed can change as well. Obviously, these kind of life changes don't occur on a specific timeline, so there are no hard deadlines for child support modifications. Some child support agreements may have clauses that invite both parties to renegotiate payments at certain intervals -- otherwise you'll need to request a child support modification from the court or your ex. Courts will normally modify a child support order if there is a substantial change in your or your child's circumstances, so requests should be made as soon as possible after those changes.

Too Late to Collect?

Everyone wants to know when child support obligations end. Generally speaking, it's when the child turns the age of majority in your state, usually 18. But some states tie child support to high school graduation, and some child support agreements can cover college tuition as well. It's important for both parties to know, however, that it's never too late to collect back child support payments. While a child turning 18 may end child support obligations going forward, if a parent missed payments before the child turned 18, they are still on the hook for those payments.

States and the federal government are pretty serious when it comes to enforcing child support orders and non-payment can result in seized or revoked driver's licenses, passports, wages, tax refunds, or even jail time. Enforcement measures can continue after the child turns 18, although states may have varying statutes on the time a parent has to collect after the child turns 18.

Child support issues are often complicated, both legally and emotionally. If you have questions regarding child support obligations, you should contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.

By Christopher Coble, Esq.

10 Smart Back-to-School Tips for Divorced Parents

Back-to-school season is stressful for all parents but it’s a little more complicated when you’re divorced: Who’s doing the annual trek to Target to load up on school supplies — and more importantly, who’s paying? Are both of you listed on important school forms? 

 To make heading back to school a little less overwhelming for you and the kiddos, we asked HuffPost Divorce bloggers and readers on Facebook to share their tried-and-true advice. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Split the cost of back-to-school supplies. 

Between backpacks, calculators, school uniforms and that extra big box of Crayola crayons, your kids’ back-to-school supplies can end up costing a small fortune. To lessen the individual burden among parents, Lynsey Mattingly and her ex divvy up purchasing responsibilities.

“My ex and I always separate who’s buying what, with him buying the backpacks, lunch boxes and water bottles while I usually get the entire supply list the teachers send home,” she told us. “It comes out to about the same price and this way we are both playing to our strengths: he gets a few quality items that he’s better at picking out and I get the specific, detailed things.”

2. Create a shared Google calendar to keep everyone in the loop. 

Each school year, Elizabeth Denham dutifully updates the families’ shared Google calendar with the kids’ upcoming school events. This way, no one misses back-to-school night or a holiday performance. 

“For all of the really important events, I send invites through the calendar as soon as I enter the date so that I don’t have to remember to do it by phone,” she said. 

3. Drop the kids off together on the first day of school. 

The first day of school can be a scary, overwhelming experience for even the most confident kiddo. If at all possible, try to free up your schedules so both of you can drop the kids off and show your support, said Leah Porritt. 

“On the first morning of school this year, we met before and walked our son to school together,” she said. “He had both of us there to send him off to first grade and I think that meant a lot to him — even if the normal school year mornings are a mixture of mom, dad, stepparents or before-and-after care. For his sake, we put differences aside and make an effort to both be present together.”  

4. And if your ex can’t be there for day one, text a pic. 

If your ex is unable to make it that first day, be generous and send him or her a pic. (You have at least 20 on your camera roll — why not share the love?) 

“Texting a pic is an act of goodwill and will be greatly appreciated,” said blogger Valerie DeLoach. “And you never know — one kind act could change the whole dynamic of your current relationship.”  

5. Let your kids’ teachers know who’s who in your blended family. 

Your family tree likely got a lot more complicated post-divorce, especially if you or your ex remarried. Early on in the school year, fill your kids’ teachers in on who’s who in your family; that way, there’s no confusion when your child’s stepdad picks her up. 

“I do it because it can be confusing for teachers to hear my son talk about his parents, stepparents and numerous siblings on either side,”said Porritt. “He’s old enough now to explain who is who, but it makes it more comfortable for him if his teacher already understands his extended and blended family situation and doesn’t need to question him!”

Another bonus of touching base with your kids’ teacher? Backpacks that are a little less heavy, said reader Carmen Poff. 

“When my ex and I tell the teachers our kids have two homes, most will send home a second set of text books so they won’t have to haul them back and forth,” she said.

6. Attend parent-teacher conferences together. 

Heading to parent-teacher conferences as a team — like writer Carolyn Flower does every year with her kids’ dad — sends a strong message to your children and their teachers: Regardless of what happened in the past, today we’re partners who have the kids’ best interests at heart. 

“As a collaboratively divorced family, we’ve never missed a parent-teacher meeting,” Flower said. “We feel that demonstrating we are still a team shows the children and the school they are loved and supported in all they do. It plants healthy seeds for successful mindsets.” 

7. If your ex lives out of state, have him or her call into the meeting. 

Don’t let distance interfere with both parents taking a proactive, involved role, said Honorée Corder. 

“Because my ex lives in another state, when it’s time for parent-teacher conferences, we schedule a time that works for both of us so he can be conferenced in,” she said. 

8. Set times when you and your ex can debrief on your kids’ progress at school. 

To ensure that no book report or soccer meet falls through the cracks, Kasey Ferris and her ex have have scheduled communication days where they discuss and update each other on their son’s life. 

“Every Sunday and Wednesday there’s an email exchange where we discuss the week, any tests coming up and updates on projects that need to be completed,” she said. “Anything crucial or time-sensitive is handled via text, but everything else goes into a Sunday/Wednesday email. It’s created a lot of peace between us.” 

9. Don’t leave your ex’s side out of the family tree.

Regardless of how you feel about your ex, your kids still need him or her in their lives. When there’s a family tree assignment — or a photo project that calls on family photos — rise above any bitterness and include your ex’s side of the family (yes, that includes new spouses). 

“If there is a project at school that asks for family photos I always make sure that the kids try to include pictures of their mom, their mom’s partner and kids as well as my own partner and kids,” said reader Barry Fraser. 

10. Create a group chat where you discuss your kids’ wins and progress. 

Start a group chat that includes the parents and the kids and send texts whenever your kids ace an assignment or need a little encouragement to bring that C grade up. It’s a little communication trick that has worked wonders for blogger Emma Bathie and her family. 

“The idea is to direct the reminders and notes to the kids but they’re there for both parents to see and comment on if needed,” she said. “It can also be a nice way for the parents to make positive/encouraging comments about each other in front of the kids (‘Hey Matt, I really appreciate you picking up the kids for me last night when I was stuck in a meeting and then traffic. It was really helpful!’) You’re also showing the kids you can be the grown-ups they need you to be.” 

Together, you’ve got this school year! 

by: Huffington Post

Can Your Family Force You Into Rehab?

Many addicts are the last to recognize that they have a problem. Others feel that they can solve it themselves, without the need for admission into a full-fledged rehabilitation program. Still, some exasperated parents and siblings may not be willing to wait for a family member to sort out their addictions on their own, and will seek to forcibly institutionalize them.

But is that legal? Can you be compelled to go to rehab against your will?

Just Say No

The general answer is: No. Most state laws don't permit forcible rehab of adults (outside of criminal sentencing for drug- or alcohol-related crimes, of course). And almost no rehab facilities will admit a patient who doesn't want to be there -- both out of legal liability issues and because a recalcitrant patient is rarely successful at managing their issues. This is not true for children, however. A parent or legal guardian can put a person under the age of 18 into a rehab program without their permission.

So, for the most part, while your family may come up with a compelling argument for you to go to rehab (and perhaps withhold money, room, or board in exchange for such a deal), they can't legally compel you enter a rehab or treatment facility.

Hold Up

There are some exceptions to that rule, though. If someone believes a person is a danger to themselves or others, most states allow a temporary period of custody or a "hold" on them for assessment and possible treatment. Known in California as a "5150" (in reference to the section of the Welfare Institutions Code under which it is permitted), it allows officers to take a person into custody "for a period of up to 72 hours for assessment, evaluation, and crisis intervention," if that person "as a result of a mental health disorder, is a danger to others, or to himself or herself, or gravely disabled."

Such holds are often temporary, although some statutes allow doctors to recommend a longer custody period if the person requires intensive treatment prior to their release.

Family members may be at their wits' end when it comes to a loved one dealing with addiction. But for better or worse, forced rehab is normally not one of their options. If you're the family member or the loved one struggling with addiction in this scenario, consider contacting an experienced health care attorney to discuss your legal options

By Christopher Coble, Esq.

Jury Awards $4.7B in Another J&J Baby Powder Lawsuit

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on July 17, 2018 11:10 AM

The long and winding road of baby powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson took an expensive turn last week, with a St. Louis jury awarding almost $4.7 billion in damages to 22 women and their families who claimed that asbestos contained in the company's talc-based powder products contributed to their ovarian cancer.

It's the largest of five previous verdicts against Johnson & Johnson involving their Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products. But like those others, it is sure to be challenged, appealed, and may be overturned or reduced.

Risk / Reward

The incredibly complex litigation has been leaking allegations, jury verdicts, appeals, and reversals for at least two years:

Last year, Bloomberg estimated that Johnson & Johnson was facing over 5,000 talc and baby powder claims, many of which were consolidated in St. Louis. Litigants have cited a 1997 internal from a Johnson & Johnson medical consultant saying, "anybody who denies" the risk of using hygienic talc and ovarian cancer is "denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary." And the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified the genital use of talc-based body powder as "possibly carcinogenic to humans."

Awards & Appeals

The enormous verdict in the latest case is somewhat due to the number of litigants involved: 22 plaintiffs including six who sued on behalf of deceased relatives and others who had a spouse who claimed health effects. The jury awarded $25 million to each family who sued, along with $3.15 billion in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson and another $990,000 against Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.

An unnamed female juror told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the jury multiplied the estimated $70 million Johnson & Johnson pocketed from baby powder in a single recent year by the 43 years it's been since the company denied their products contained asbestos. "We were just trying to find something they would feel," she added.

That award may be tenuous. Plaintiffs' attorneys conceded punitive damage awards are limited by state law to five times the amount of compensatory damages awarded and Johnson & Johnson attorneys have already vowed an appeal. "Johnson & Johnson remains confident that its products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer and intends to pursue all available appellate remedies," the company asserted in a statement. "Every verdict against Johnson & Johnson in this court that has gone through the appeals process has been reversed and the multiple errors present in this trial were worse than those in the prior trials which have been reversed."

If there's anything that's certain about J&J's talc litigation, it's that the trials are far from over.

Beware the Affair Scam (Especially If You're Actually Having One)

Look, we're not saying that you cheated on your spouse. We're not even saying that you've thought about it, received a steamy email, or had a stranger's number burn a hole in your smartphone. All we're saying is that some unsavory scam artists are playing the odds that your marital history is less than pristine, and hoping your insecurity will lead you to paying some big bucks to keep them quiet.

The first step to avoiding the scam is obvious: don't cheat. After that, know that the scammers probably don't have any real evidence, and report the incident.

Broad Bitcoin Blackmailing Scheme

"I know you cheated on your wife." That's how the letter Dave Eargle found in his mailbox began. "It is just your bad luck that I stumbled across your misadventures while working a job." The letter assured Eargle that the writer was "ready to forget all about you and let you get on with your life." All he had to do was fork over $2,000 in bitcoin.

Eargle had never cheated on his wife, but the letter gave him pause. "And I had to think for a second because I was in a bit of a fluster," he told CNBC. "'Am I actually keeping a secret from my wife?'" Eargle wasn't, so he contacted police and blogged about the letter. It turns out he was far from the only attempted victim. Based on responses to his blog, Eargle determined the letters were sent out in waves from various locations nationwide, but the message to pay up or be exposed as a cheater was always the same. "It was really comforting to find out that I wasn't probably being necessarily targeted," he said, "that this was just part of some more broad blackmailing scheme."

Getting Lucky

That might be little comfort to spouses who are stepping out on the side, and the scam probably worked to some degree. "The amount of money is such that it's not so much that someone might be willing to just pay that to make it go away," Patrick Wyman, a supervisory special agent with the FBI's money laundering unit told CNBC. "They're hoping that they might get lucky with someone who actually ... [has] some infidelity there. And if they hit that target, that's a person who's probably willing to pay."

Eargle also noted that later versions of the letter increased the bitcoin demand to $8,000, meaning that some of the scam's targets probably paid up. But that doesn't mean you have to -- because of course you didn't cheat, right?

5 Legal Tips for Uncontested Divorces


When it comes to divorce, there are two basic kinds: contested and uncontested. In the former, the parties seeking to dissolve their union fight out their issues over who gets what in court. In an uncontested divorce, the parties still have to go to court, but there is no fighting involved. Rather, in an uncontested divorce, the parties simply ask the court to approve the divorce agreement they have come to on their own.


Typically, while courts will ensure that uncontested divorces meet minimum state requirements and that the parties are aware of and agree to the terms they set forth, that might be all the courts do. As such, divorcing parties trying to utilize the uncontested process may want to consider the following five legal tips.

1. Don’t Trust Your Soon-to-be-Former Spouse

Even though the decision to get divorced may have been reached amicably, trusting your soon-to-be-former spouse is not necessarily recommended. Do your own research and investigation to ensure that all assets and debts have been disclosed. The last thing you want is to agree to take on debts you don’t know about, let alone not get your fair share of community assets.

2. Retain Your Own Lawyer

Even when there may not seem to be anything to fight over, hiring your own lawyer to represent your interests is highly advisable. Apart from looking over, or potentially even drafting, the divorce agreement, your own attorney will be able to advise you about specific concerns that you may have never even considered. Remember, during divorce, debts are also divided. So even if there are no assets, you may need some help dividing debts.

3. The Personal Property Trade

When negotiating the division of personal property, it is common for separating spouses to negotiate over costly community personal property items like cars, furniture, electronics, and even collectibles. However, the value of these items can often be exaggerated. If there are hard to value items, it can be useful to hire a third party appraiser to assess the value so that a fair division can be made.

4. Early Mediation

If contested issues are discovered while working on the divorce agreement and division of property, rather than let the whole uncontested process blow up into a full blown contested divorce, the parties can engage a mediator to help them resolve their issues. While engaging a mediator is likely to increase the costs, compared to going through a contested divorce, mediation will be a drop in the bucket.

5. Measure Twice, Divorce Once

Because of the way an uncontested divorce works, it is important to really make sure that the divorce truly is uncontested. While an uncontested divorce can save parties considerable money, if it comes out during the hearing to approve the divorce agreement that there are contested issues, the costs savings can quickly vanish as the court rejects the uncontested divorce.

By George Khoury, Esq.

- See more at: http://blogs.findlaw.com/law_and_life/2017/03/5-legal-tips-for-an-uncontested-divorces.html#more

Best Practices To Handling Real Estate in a Divorce

In many divorces, the biggest single assets are the retirement funds and the residential real estate. Sometimes, the only issue preventing an agreement is what to do about the house.

Some of the options for dealing with the marital residence are:

Award it 100% to one spouse;
Sell it and divide the sales proceeds;
Keep it as a joint asset after the divorce; or
Award it to one spouse but allow the other to reside in it for some specified period after the divorce.

Award 100% Of The Residential Real Estate To One Spouse

The most common means of dealing with the house is to award it to one spouse. There are a variety of reasons for this:

1. It can be the least disruptive for children.
2. It makes more sense to award the home to the lower-earning spouse if he or she is unable to purchase a home after divorce.
3. One of the spouses might have a strong sentimental attachment to the home.
4. The mortgage payment could be less than is now available to either spouse.
5. The mortgage payment might be less than the rent for an equivalent residence.

Residential Ownership And The Mortgage Are Separate

People sometimes assume that when a divorce decree awards the residential real estate to one spouse, the mortgage automatically changes so the one who wasn't awarded the house is no longer responsible for the loan. This is erroneous. The mortgage company has two signatures on a loan. Simply because those two people divorce and one of them no longer owns a part of the house does not change the loan. It is analogous to a co-signer who is not a part owner but co-signs the loan. The only way to take a person’s name off of a mortgage is to pay off the loan, sell the property, or refinance it. Refinancing requires the spouse who will receive sole ownership of the house be able to qualify alone based solely on his or her income.

In Florida, A Deed of Trust to Secure Assumption can be used when both parties will remain liable for the mortgage after the divorce.

In most cases, awarding the home to one spouse in a divorce decree is not sufficient to convey ownership. Although a divorce decree can be sufficient, most do not usually contain all of the language used in a deed. Years after the divorce, the spouse who received the home could have problems with a title company when he or she tries to sell it. Usually, the spouse who will no longer own part of the house signs a Special Warranty Deed. A Special Warranty Deed’s primary purpose is to aid with the sale of the real estate by the spouse to whom it is awarded. It is recorded with the county’s real property records and shows a clear chain of title from the original seller to the spouses jointly, and then solely to one spouse after the divorce.

Sell The House And Divide The Proceeds

This is relatively simple. The parties simply agree, or the judge orders, the property will be sold and the proceeds divided according to a percentage. The details of who will have authority to choose the realtor, set the listing price, and accept an offer must be worked out in advance, as well as who will live in the house and how the mortgage will be paid while it is on the market. As with everything else in divorce, if the spouses cannot agree about this the judge will decide.

Keep The House As A Joint Asset After Divorce

It is not generally a good idea to be in business with your ex-spouse. With all of the emotions involved, and the need to move on with your life, try to avoid joint ownership of real property after divorce. Occasionally, it is the best option under particular circumstances.

Award The Home To One Spouse But Let The Other Live There

When the children will live with the parent who cannot permanently afford the house, it is sometimes good to award it to the one who can afford it. Then let the other live there until the children graduate high school. This might require the parent who will ultimately receive the house to pay more than the child support required by law. The paperwork required for this arrangement includes the two deeds described above, and then the parent who will remain in the house temporarily leases it from the other after the divorce.

Seek Legal Advice

A house is just one part of a divorce. It can be more complicated than most people realize. Few try to sell or buy a house without a realtor and a title company. If you are in a divorce or thinking about one, and you own a home, it may not be a good idea to try to complete the legal process without the assistance of an attorney.