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Category: dependent

CHILD CUSTODY AND GRANDPARENTS

Although grandparents do not have rights to enforce visitation with their grandchildren.  There are a few limited ways that a grandparent may help save a grandchild who is being abused, neglected or forced to live in unsafe conditions.  In Birmingham, Alabama there is a family court that will assist a willing grandparent make sure their grandchild is not being subjected to abuse, neglect or unsafe conditions.  A grandparent may file a juvenile dependency action and gain custody of their grandchild if these conditions exist.  Dependency actions are simply a case that is filed that says that the parents are unable or unwilling to provide the care sufficient to make sure their child is not abused or neglected in some way.  This week my firm was able to gain custody of grandchildren for two sets of grandparents.  These cases are those that are difficult with emotion but are satisfying when a child is saved from an unsafe condition by a loving grandparent.  The family court of Jefferson County will jump into action if a grandparent presents a case of emergency relief where they can show their grandchild is in an unsafe environment.  Most important to understand is that a family law attorney who regularly deals with these court can make the case move at a quicker pace.  Literally this week grandparents came in with stories of their grandchild in an unsafe drug infested environment and within an hour we had them a pick up order to get their grandchild into their care.  Family Court can be confusing and it may be difficult to understand the procedures that is why it is vital that whoever a client hires for this work is well versed in the procedures of family court.  Having a good relationship with the court is often times only achieved by those attorneys who regularly work in this area.  Dependency petitions often take a while to get pushed through the courthouse but with the help of one of our attorneys, a client may breeze through at a much faster pace.  Also, the filing of a private petition meaning a filing a grandparent does with an attorney can be a much faster process than dealing with DHR.  If you are experiencing issues with the care of your grandchildren and act quickly before DHR becomes involved, you could file your own petition and get custody of your grandchild quickly.  This eases the child into a transition quickly instead of dealing with DHR several court hearings.  This is the most common way that grandparents can establish rights to have custody of their grandchildren.  There are other ways such as a family adoption which can be costly but also very effective.  If you need help getting your grandchild into a safe environment, do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced attorneys at (205) 623-1001 and look at our other information on our website www.birminghamdivorcefirm.com.

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Pyschological Evaluations, Divorce, and Child Custody

Counseling-Mental-HealthIn divorce and especially child custody matters, psychological evaluations are a tool that your attorney can utilize to determine the mental well-being of a child's parents.  Unlike any other type of case, divorces involving child custody are special in that respect.  Psychological evaluations can pinpoint mental illness that may make a parent not suitable to have physical full time custody of a child.  Behaviors that may put the child at risk for neglect or abuse can easily be detected in a psychological evaluation. 

As far as the divorce or child custody cases are concerned, a psychological evaluation can be a useful too to negotiate a settlement if it yields issues that a parent may be better suited than the other.  Psychological evaluations are typically performed by a licensed psychiatrists with tests and evaluators that are not available to other professions.  Attorneys faced with difficult child custody cases often request a psych eval to determine if their client or the opposing party is masking some mental illness or issues that would affect their ability to care for the child.

Most parents are amazed that they may be forced to sit for a psych eval.  Some cite their constitutional rights to examination are being violated.  However, when child custody is at issue a psych eval can easily be ordered.  Scrutiny of a parent's mental state is always available to be explored during child custody cases.  If you feel that the other parent is not mentally capable of caring for your child during times of visitation, it would be good to ask your attorney to file for a psych eval.  You will need specific instances of when they demonstrated a behavior that suggests issues with their mental health.  If you think you may be involved in a child custody case whether divorce related or through a DHR case, you should consult an attorney immediately.  Call today (205) 623-1001.  Do not go without representation. 

Which parent gets to claim the child on taxes?

tax-dollars-e1276903266555In years past, this question was an easy answer.  Moms were getting custody routinely and dads were getting the children every other weekend.  Every parent knows the more dependents you are able to claim the lower your tax bill will cost them.  That is the primary reason parents want the ability to claim their children as dependents.

Today with the ever-changing parenting plans that occur in divorce situations, tax exemptions come up over and over again.  Despite how complicated the parenting plan or visitation schedule becomes, the simple rule-of-thumb is the parent with whom the child has more overnights with is the parent entitled to claim the tax deduction.  When this simple formula is put into place, it separates the line of who is the custodial parent and who is the noncustodial parent.

With all of this in mind, there are ways to simply this decision during a divorce.  Should the parties agree to who can claim the child and some times for which years (even or odd, etc), they can enter into an agreement which creates a contract between them.  Parents can even alternate years which will allow each parent to change their deductions on the years they do not claim the child.

A recent decision from the IRS in May 2013 from the United States Tax Court says that the IRS is not bound by state court rulings that allocate which parent may claim the child for a tax dependent.  So, for federal income tax purposes the the IRS rules govern.  The decision sums up tax dependency by saying that it is the IRS rules and state court orders that determine which parent can claim the children.  Since federal law governs a person's federal returns, they should look to IRS rules.  This makes it impossible for state courts to rule which parent may claim the children on their federal tax returns and that is based upon eligibility set out by the IRS regulations. However, state tax returns may be governed by state court orders.

The state of Alabama defines tax dependent eligibility as the parent who supports the child for more than 50% of his or her support during the tax year.  This ultimately puts the tax dependent claim with the custodial parent since even though a parent pays child support that does not cover more than 50% of that child's support.  This is ordinarily the case but not the rule.  There are a lot of considerations to be taken into account before answering this question.  Consulting a family law attorney will be most helpful in this case.  Our firm handles divorce and child custody cases routinely and the tax question is one that we have litigated in several cases.  Obtaining an opinion and order from the court puts the issue at rest.  Plus the parent who claims the child on their taxes has an order to produce in cases of dispute.  If both parents claim the same child as a tax dependent, the one with an order as proof of tax dependency will win the deduction.  Call us today if you need help in any divorce or child custody case (205) 623-1001.  We are here to help you find real solutions.

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