Parenting Plans

Legal Needs of Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender Individuals and Families

Parties in non-traditional, but committed, relationships have special needs with regard to legal planning and resolution of conflict when needed.   Non-traditional families do not presently enjoy equal protection of the law in South Carolina with regard to marriage, divorce, adoption, intestacy, or guardianship, just to name a few areas where protection of committed relationships can be nontraditional familiesimportant.  I cannot “fix” the law, but I am happy to help LGBT and transgender people plan preventively and implement measures designed to provide some protection for your loved ones.   Advance planning is important for everyone, but it is especially critical for nontraditional families!

There are many areas where documents can be drafted which provide some of the legal protections which do not exist as a matter of statute.  These include

  • health care decisions,
  • estate planning,
  • retirement savings,
  • recognition of your marriage if you have been married in another state.

Not only is there a lack of legal protection for your spouse with regard to financial and property matters, but also because sometimes outside or estranged family waits until your most vulnerable moments — a time of death or disability — to try and come in and upset the apple cart.  There are nightmare stories of spouses being ejected from hospital bedsides on account of their not being “next of kin.”   A long term spouse ejected from a family home because the law of intestacy provided for the home to go to someone other than the spouse.   Death and disability are traumatic enough to endure, without the added nightmare for your loved one of dealing with hostile or unjust legal battles.

In addition to planning that protects your spouse, gay and lesbian couples also at times deal with the same issues as other families.   When gay and lesbian couples break up, they have no recourse to the courts for protection of property rights, child custody matters, or spousal support.  This is when divorce and child custody mediation can be especially valuable, because it works no matter what your family composition.    The transformative mediation approach I use in my practice is based on your commitment to principles of fairness rather than reliance on legalistic arguments about what the law requires.   While the loss of a relationship is a painful life event, my goal is to make this difficult event less traumatic for everyone.  I help you work together to meet several key goals:

  • help preserve that which is good in your relationship without poisoning it with bad feelings and resentment,
  • for both parties to end up with a result that feels fair and is sustainable in the long run, and
  • for parents to end up with solutions that are in the long term best interest of their children.

I also offer legal services to facilitate the legal and paperwork aspects of gender transition.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 803-414-0185 or fill out the form below:

Mediation of Child Custody and Parenting Plans

You are right to be concerned for the effect your divorce will have on your children.   There is good news and bad news.  First the good news.  Children do not have to be traumatized by divorce.   While changes in living circumstances can be stressful, what traumatizes children the most is parental conflict.  It can actually be a relief to children when parents separate and they are no longer subjected to the stress and anxiety of daily parental conflict.  Now for the bad news.   Exposure to parental conflict has devastating effects on children.  Parents who engage in high conflict litigation and who use their children as pawns in the divorce process do all kinds of emotional damage to their children.  Mediation of child custody and parenting plans can stop this damaging conflict.  Mediation helps parents get back on the same page as parents.

If you or your children are experiencing the effects of parental conflict, please call me today at 803-414-0185,  to see if I can help.  Read More

Can Child Support be Mediated?

Yes.

The court always maintains jurisdiction to oversee child support, but there are many aspects that can be mediated.  This could range from setting an initial amount, agreeing to modification, or (in the case of arrearage) setting out the terms by which the amount overdue might be made up or even forgiven in part (if that is appropriate).  Once parties agree to the modified terms, this should be taken to the court for approval.  Because the mediated terms are uncontested, however, court action to seek ratification of the agreement will be  less expensive than a court battle.  The advantage of mediation is not just to save time and expense, however.  A key advantage of mediation is that it allows for better solutions.

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Parenting through divorce

Sadly, the two of you have decided to split.  In the old days, the baby would have been split too, in a sense.  Divided between two warring households, children would be shuffled back and forth begrudgingly by parents who put them in the middle.   Fortunately, children of divorce are now adults.  They can now tell their story.   What these adult children say to parents divorcing today is, “Stop! Act like adults!”

The word now is COPARENTING.    When parents split up, they divorce each other but not their children.   Parents are expected to formulate a parenting plan which affirms and supports the parenting role of each.

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