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child support order

Can You Sue Your Parents for Child Abuse?

Technically, the law permits a child to sue their parents as a result of child abuse. There are no special rules preventing this type of lawsuit. However, what a child considers to be abuse may not actually be legally considered abuse. Parents are generally permitted to punish their children, which can include depriving children of luxuries such as video games, computers, internet access, a car, dating, seeing friends, or even dessert. A parent can make a child sit in the corner, go to their room, do chores, or worse, babysit their siblings. Depending on the manner in which it is done, even corporal punishment or spankings can be okay in the eyes of the law (so long as they are not excessive) . Why Children Sue Parents Even though it seems rather out of character for a child to sue their parents, it happens. Most frequently, like all lawsuits, it’s about money. Recently, the Canning family’s case in New Jersey made national headlines.The 18-year-old daughter, still in high school, was suing her parents after moving out over disagreements over the house rules. However, the legal complaint that was filed alleged all sorts of objectionable, questionable, and downright deplorable parenting, ranging from crude comments to irresponsible boozing. The matter did not make it very far, particularly after the judge denied the child’s request for an emergency child support order of $650 per week. When to Sue? In every state, the statute of limitations for a minor’s legal claims do not begin to run until the minor reaches the age of majority. That means that if a state provides a two year statute of limitations on a particular claim, and a child is injured at age 12, they will have 2 years to file their claim after they turn 18 years old. Even if an adult child is suing a parent as a result of sexual abuse, or rape, there will likely be a short statute of limitations of no more than a few years after the child turns 18. Worthwhile to Sue? Regardless of whether the law supports an abused child’s case for damages against their parents, a prospective plaintiff may want to think twice before filing suit. Even assuming that the case is winnable, whether or not a judgment can be collected from a defendant is a wholly different issue. If a parent was convicted of a criminal act related to the abuse, or is presently incarcerated, there is a strong likelihood that any judgment a plaintiff secures won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.To find out if it’s worth your time to pursue a legal claim, speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer. Related Resources: Injured in an accident? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury) Student Suing Parents Loses 1st Round, but Case Isn’t Over (FindLaw’s Legally Weird) Son Sues Mom, Pop for Overtime at Family Biz (FindLaw’s Free Enterprise) Homeless Man Sues Parents for Not Loving Him Enough (FindLaw’s Legally Weird)
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Life Changes: Seeking a Child Support Modification

When married couples get divorced, the non-custodial parent must contribute financial support. Child support can be agreed upon between parents or court ordered, depending on how contentious the divorce is and the extent of disputed issues. The amount a non-custodial parent will have to pay is determined based on the family's financial circumstances, or ability to pay, and statutory guidelines. When circumstances change the support order can be adjusted to reflect new realities. Change Is Constant Change is constant in life, but some changes are intense and we need help to get through them. The kinds of life changes that generally lead to a modification of a child support order are changes in employment or the discovery or a serious medical condition impacting earnings. Remarriage by the non-custodial parent, however, is unlikely to be a valid basis for a changed support order. Parents can agree to almost anything and if your ex is fine with you discontinuing support because you are starting a new family, that is probably fine. But get it in writing. Parents may modify support arrangements to reflect their current needs but must still seek final court approval for the agreement to be official and legal. Court Approval If cooperation was so easy you might not have split up to begin with, so it's common to make modification requests with the court. Even parents who agree on an arrangement must have it reviewed and approved by a court following the procedures outlined in their state's statute. Generally speaking, a modification must be made to the court that issued the support order, and this applies whether you are seeking approval of an already-reached agreement or need the court's help reaching a new agreement. Proving Your Point Whether you seek modification and can reach an agreement or need the court to do the heavy lifting, you should make it easy to get what you seek by providing proof in support of your position. If you can show evidence of a life change so grave it impacts your ability to pay what you owe, you stand a much better chance of having a modification request approved. For example, say you seek a modified support order based on a serious injury or a diagnosis of serious illness -- make sure that along with your request, you provide medical documentation, newly arisen expenses, lost work time, and anything else that indicates you simply cannot make the payments as previously ordered. Talk to a Lawyer If you're having trouble making your child support payments or need a modification, talk to a lawyer and get help handling your request. Many family law attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case. Related Resources: Find Family Law Attorneys Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Get Legal Help With Child Support (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Summaries of State Child Support Laws (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Determining Parents' Income (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
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5 Legal Issues Single Parents Commonly Face

Today is National Single Parents' Day, an observance that began 30 years ago with a proclamation by President Ronald Reagan. While raising a child isn't easy, dealing with legal issues as a single parent can make your life even more challenging. But even though you can deal with many of legal issues on your own, you don't always have to go it alone. Here are five legal issues that single parents commonly face -- keeping in mind that professional help is just a click or a phone call away: Child custody. Custody can include both physical and legal custody. Physical custody determines where a child will live and is usually determined by where the kid goes to school and whether or not a court can grant sole or joint physical custody. On the other hand, legal custody determines who gets to make decisions for the child, including medical care or religious instruction. For a concise overview of this topic, check out FindLaw's free Guide to Child Custody. Child support. Whether you're paying or collecting child support, this is often a major legal issue for single parents. It's important to remember that child support amounts aren't set in stone and can be modified according to your new income or special needs of your child. FindLaw's free Guide to Getting Child Support Payments provides a summary of what you need to know. Rebellious teens. Even if your teenagers are driving you crazy, it's not the best idea to kick them out of your house and make them fend for themselves -- unless they are legally emancipated. Often, kicking out an underage child who isn't emancipated and refusing to support that child can be considered child abandonment and can lead to criminal charges. Adoption. While states usually don't prohibit an unmarried person from adopting a child, adoption agencies may have different policies when it comes to single parents. In fact, some agencies may prohibit single parents from adopting altogether. Housing discrimination. Under the Fair Housing Act, it's illegal to deny housing to people based on familial composition, the presence of children, or gender stereotypes. So landlords can't refuse to rent you a house solely based on the fact that you're a single parent or that your kids will be living there with you -- even though some may try. Of course these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to legal issues facing single parents. If you find yourself a bit overwhelmed, let an attorney experienced in dealing with your specific type of issue help you figure out the best solution for you and your family. Related Resources: Top 10 Legal Issues for Single Moms (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) What to Do If Ex-Spouse Won't Pay Support? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Single Parents at Work: 3 Legal Facts for Employers (FindLaw's Free Enterprise) Sign Up for Our Free Legal Planning Newsletter (FindLaw's Legal Heads-Up)
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Does Your Divorce Settlement Cover College Tuition?

College tuition may comprise a large chunk of your divorce settlement, but it shouldn't be unexpected. It was a bit of a surprise for one New Jersey father who was ordered to pay half of his daughter's Cornell Law School tuition -- a whopping $112,500. What settlement language should divorcing spouses focus on when considering future tuition obligations? Child Support for 18+ Although the term "child support" may be misleading, divorce settlements can guarantee support for children of divorcing spouses well into their 20s. Depending on the terms of your child support agreement -- which is often negotiated as part of a divorce settlement -- child support might continue after a child turns 18. In many instances, child support obligations to adult children are governed by state law. But it may also come down to the specific terms of an ex-spouse's divorce settlement agreement. If your agreement outlines specific parental obligations for a child if he or she chooses to attend college, you will likely be held to those terms. You can, of course, attempt to modify your existing child support agreement once a child turns 18 or decides to attend college or graduate school. But absent any major changes in your child support agreement, you may still owe child support toward an adult child in college or grad school. Paying for or Choosing Schools Depending on the specific terms of your child support order and/or divorce settlement agreement, you may have control over whether your child goes to an expensive out-of-state school. Married couples often disagree on this topic, so it isn't any surprise that ex-spouses might come apart when deciding which school is appropriate for their children. Much of the guesswork can be avoided if the divorce settlement or child support order contains specific provisions regarding: How much tuition each spouse is responsible for; Who has the final say in deciding which school to attend; Payment obligations for living on- or off-campus; and Meal plans, books, and other class-related expenses. If these areas are left unexplored, it may be left to a family court judge to delve into each spouse's expectations and the child's best interests to determine college choice and how much tuition is owed by a parent. Consulting an experienced child support attorney can help remove many of these if's and maybe's about whether your divorce settlement covers college tuition. Related Resources: Honors Student, 18, Sues Parents Over Paying for College (FindLaw's Legally Weird) Does Child Support End Upon Graduation? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Legal How-To: Modifying Child Support (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Divorce: Child Custody and Religion (FindLaw)
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