Child Custody and Shared Parenting

child custody_divorce_siemensfamilylawgroupI used this article, Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report, successfully for a father in a recent child custody case.  The article is a consensus report on the merits of shared parenting.  There is an increasing body of literature – social science – on the merits of shared parenting.  This article represents the best distillation of the science on the subject that I have been able to find.  The conclusions begin on page 59, for anyone who wants to skip to the bottom line.  Every case is different, and I explore the facts of each of my cases to determine whether there is a reason to consider something other than a shared parenting relationship.  Locally, I think that is the majority approach, among my colleagues, and generally among the three judges in our Buncombe County Family Court.  Recently, I hired a local expert to read the conclusions of this article into the record of proceedings to reinforce for the Court what I believe to be the majority approach to child custody.  Whether you are a lawyer, a judge or a litigant, the time has come to think carefully about the emerging social science of child custody.  Ultimately, child custody cases are about the child’s developmental experience, which needs to include mom and dad, in equal proportion, absent unusual circumstances.

Buncombe Struggles with Income Mobility

asheville_siemensfamilylawgroupIn a recently published Harvard study on economic mobility in the United States, counties across the U.S. are ranked from best to worst.  Buncombe County comes in at the bottom, ranking 2,386 out of 2,478.  Boys and girls growing up in low-income households in Buncombe County will earn on average 13.1% less at age 26 than their low-income peers nationwide.  The impact is greater for boys, with an 18.6% loss in income, than for girls, at a 6.8% loss.

A New York Times infographic, The Best and Worst Places to Grow Up: How Your Area Compares, illustrates the projection that today’s low-income children in Buncombe County will make $3,420 less at age 26 than their counterparts across the U.S.

The growth we see in downtown Asheville makes it easy to forget that life for many young people in our community is hard – and getting harder.  This study, 16 years in the making, helps explain some of the harder things I have seen at the Courthouse in 20 plus years of law practice.  Policymakers should consider this study as the City and County continue to grow and develop.  It’s a matter of social justice that we can’t afford to ignore.

The study, The Impacts of Neighborhoods on Intergenerational Mobility, is part of The Equality of Opportunity Project, and you can find the story from the Asheville Citizen-Times here: Study finds little path from poverty in Buncombe County.

Consider Haiti: We are the Difference

Consider HaitiConsider Haiti is a not-for-profit organization founded in Asheville 15 years ago.  I serve on the Consider Haiti Board as Treasurer.  Many in the Asheville community have had a role in the operations of Consider Haiti.  If you have purchased a pumpkin from Grace Episcopal on Merrimon (the pumpkin patch on the hill), you have supported Consider Haiti.  If you ran the Asheville Marathon at the Biltmore Estate in 2015, you supported Consider Haiti.  Doctors, nurses and lay people from Asheville have been running medical clinics for Consider Haiti throughout the organization’s existence.  The program reflects the good will of Asheville.  In May, I visited the Consider Haiti program in Mountrois, Ivoire and Fond Baptiste, Haiti.  I made the trip with my Dad, the Consider Haiti Board Chair, and his son.  Consider Haiti is staffed by seven Haitian men and women living in the communities they serve.  This video was made during my trip, and it does a better job describing the program than I can do with words.

Loving Our Children Unconditionally

Here is a piece by David Brooks, a social commentator that I appreciate.  His point is that our love for our children should not be conditioned upon their achievements.  The piece resonates for me as a parent, and as a professional advising parents in the process of separation and divorce.  It could be that children affected by separation and divorce are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of love conditioned upon achievement and perhaps an expressed preference for one household over another.  Read Brooks’ column, “Love and Merit,” on The Opinon Pages: http://nyti.ms/1ONlDKy

Redefining Child Support

Siemens Family Law Group - Child SupportChild support can play an important role in helping families with children move on after a separation, but it can also contribute to a host of related problems for some parents. A less traditional view of child support can mean different types of support for different families. Read about how one single mother redefined what child support is for her family and forgave $38,750 in arrears from her ex-husband. “We focus on money, when ‘child support’ also means emotional support, academic support and the supportive power of a male influence in a child’s life,” she says.

Read her story on The New York Times Motherlode blog here: Forgiving $38,750 in Child Support, for My Kids’ Sake

Local Attorneys Supporting Consider Haiti

10360441_10152635429143001_8058354947429754920_nSiemens Family Law Group has formed a charity partnership between Consider Haiti and the Biltmore Marathon. Local bar members Ana Prendergast, Katie Fisher, Patrick McCroskey, Jennifer Moore, Jessica Walters, Matt Roberson, Bryant Webster and Jason Wilson are participating in the race on March 15 along with other members of the community.

Consider Haiti is a local non-profit that provides 110 children Sustainable Nutrition, Clean Water, and Community Health Agents. More information about the work being done in Haiti can be found on the Consider Haiti website, www.considerhaiti.org.

To support the charity partnership, visit http://www.gofundme.com/considerhaiti/ and click ‘Donate Now’ or select a runner to help us meet our goal!

Please also consider supporting the Consider Haiti/Biltmore Marathon partnership by volunteering. We need 40 volunteers on marathon day (3/15/15). Volunteer opportunities and sign-ups can be found on the website: http://www.considerhaiti.org/volunteer-signups/.

Thank you for supporting the great work being done by Consider Haiti!

Also see the partnership featured on the 28th Judicial District Bar website.

 

SFLG Running for Consider Haiti

Consider Haiti

On March 15th, Siemens Family Law Group is taking a little field trip to the Biltmore Marathon/Half Marathon. Dorothy and Ana will be running, and the rest of our team will be there volunteering. We will all be there in support of Consider Haiti, a cause Jim has supported for years and traveled to Haiti with in 2013.

Join us in supporting an amazing local non-profit that is doing incredible and valuable work.  Click on over to http://www.gofundme.com/considerhaiti/ to help us meet our goal!

Jim Siemens honored in 2015 Legal Elite

Siemens Family Law Group - balanceSiemens Family Law Group is pleased to announce Jim Siemens’ inclusion in the Family Law section of Business North Carolina magazine’s 2015 Legal Elite.

Legal Elite recognizes the state’s top lawyers in business-related practice areas, chosen by their peers. Members of the North Carolina State Bar are invited to nominate lawyers whose work they have observed firsthand and would rate among the best in their respective categories. Fewer than 3 percent of the state’s lawyers are honored in this year’s Legal Elite. The complete list can be found on the Business NC website.