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When divorcing parties have children, their case is not over until the children are grown. The following is a brief overview of the issues parents might still need to deal with after a divorce is over.

Custody and timesharing

The needs of parents can change over time. Circumstances might arise that make the previous sole or joint legal custody arrangement impractical. The needs of children also change over time. It is also very common for parents to have to reexamine the timesharing (visitation) schedule they have in place for their children. A timesharing schedule that worked well when the children were very young might not be as practical when the children are teenagers. If you are experiencing “growing pains” with the existing schedule, we can help you determine if there needs to be a change in the schedule. We handle many cases involving modification of custody and timesharing schedules.

Parenting Coordination: A Good Option to Stay out of Court

Child Support

The amount of child support paid is not set in stone at the time of the divorce and can change many times over the years. Be on the lookout for the following changes that might cause a modification:

  • An increase or decrease in either parent’s income
  • An increase or decrease in the cost for daycare
  • An increase or decrease in the cost of health insurance for the children

If you have experienced any of the above changes or believe the other parent has, or if you become aware of any other changes, you should discuss the changes with an experienced attorney. We routinely resolve cases dealing with modification of child support.

Relocation

In our increasingly mobile society, it is inevitable that for some couples, after they split up, one or both might want to move away from their current location. If they have kids, this can have a huge impact.

In Kentucky, notification of any intended relocation must take place. The rules do not specify a minimum amount of distance before a move is considered relocation. Parents are urged to err on the side of caution and provide proper notification as soon as they become aware of their potential plans.

If the parties share joint legal custody of their children (meaning they both make legal decisions about the children) then the parent who seeks to relocate must provide written notice to the Court (no specific advanced notice amount of time is given) and the non-relocating parent has twenty days in which to object. The parties can also file an Agreed Order with new terms, if they are able to agree.

If one parent has sole legal custody and intends to relocate, then that parent must file written notice and server the other parent. If the timesharing is affected by the prospective move, the non-custodial parent has twenty days in which to object.

It is hoped that the parents can find a solution. If there is disagreement and no resolution, then there likely will be a trial. The types of evidence the Court will look at to make a determination about relocation (by way of evidence and witnesses) include: the current timesharing schedule and frequency of time with each parent, the reason for the relocation, the distance involved in the potential move, the wishes of the children and the parents, the children’s involvement in the current community, opportunities in the new community (schools, activities, church) compared to the existing community, the current involvement of each parent with the children’s lives, the involvement of extended family with the children and how that will be affected.

Options to resolve differences

Many, if not most, people choose to try to resolve legal issues outside of Court. Some agreements require the parties to try to solve their problems outside of Court before they may return to Court. Mediation is often a good option. Many mediators are also neutral attorneys, with no investment in your case, whose sole job is to help you reach a settlement with the other party. Mediation is often less costly, both emotionally and financially, than going to trial. Ms. Donovan is a certified mediator, trained to mediate a variety of legal problems.

Obtaining Passports and Custody

Are you thinking about taking minors on a vacation outside the country? Do they have passports? Are you considering applying for passports? After 9-11, the rules about obtaining passports for minors changed and grew more challenging. Do not wait until right before a trip to address this issue with the other parent and with your attorney. If addressed in advance, these matters can run smoothly.

UNDER AGE 16

The general rule is that all children under age 16 must apply for a passport in person with two parents or guardians, following the rules set forth on the State Department website.

If one parent cannot appear in person with the other parent to apply for the passport but is agreeable to the child obtaining the passport, there is a Statement of Consent form that can be utilized (see State Department website for more information).

The consent of the other parent is not required in certain circumstances (from the State Department website):

  • Complete court order granting you sole legal custody of the child, such as a divorce decree or other custody order
  • Complete court order specifically permitting you to apply for your child’s passport (photocopy is acceptable)
  • Certified copy of the child’s birth certificate listing you as the only parent
  • Certified copy of an adoption decree listing you as the only parent
  • Certified copy of the judicial declaration of incompetence of the parent that cannot appear in person
  • Certified copy of the death certificate of the parent that cannot appear in person

In these circumstances, among many other steps, the above document(s) would be submitted along with the passport application. Some of these options require legal documents your attorney can help you with. Confirm with your attorney that your legal documents are clear.

What if the parent is AWOL and the above exceptions do not apply? There is a Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances that can be filled out and submitted to try to convince the State Department to issue the passport without that other parent’s consent. There is no guarantee of success.

OVER AGE 16

Most applicants age 16-17 must apply in person, following the required steps. A minor who is 16 or 17 must show “parental awareness” when applying, which means that at least one parent or guardian knows that that minor is applying for a passport. (The State Department describes exactly what constitutes parental awareness). But, be aware that there is important caveat. A passport application under these circumstances may be denied if the State Department has received written objection to the issuance of a passport from one of the parents or legal guardians. (Enrolling in the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program is an excellent way to prevent a parent from fraudulently obtaining a passport). Again, the legal status of the parents and other legal documents can make a different in this situation.

The U.S. Department of State also has additional specific information and forms to guide you through this process. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html

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