Child Custody Modification Hearings

When a hearing involves child custody, it can be very emotionally draining, even under the best of circumstances. While it is best that you do obtain legal representation in these cases, there are a few things that you will be able to do in order to prepare yourself for the hearing. Following are some tips on what to do in order to make this process as easy as possible for you and your child.

You should know that the language will be different according to the state you’re in, but in most cases, the standard is to determine child custody based on what is best for the child. In order to make a change or revision in child custody, the court will need to determine if there has been a significant enough change in circumstances to keep the custodial parent from taking adequate care of the child.

Some of the factors that the court will consider when determining a change or revision in custody are as follows:

  • Mental/physical ability of the parent to care for the children
  • Condition/atmosphere of the home
  • Financial ability of parent to care for children
  • Other individuals with access to the children
  • Allegations of abuse- whether or not they involve the children

According to Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyers, whether your intention is to keep custody or to change custody, it is very important that you properly document your case. You will need to make sure that you have a record of any positive factors/conditions that prove that you can care for the children and that it is in their best interest to be in your custody.

You will also need to be ready to prove any negative factors/conditions about the other parent and their situation. Though this is not the time nor the place to engage in mudslinging, it is an opportunity to make the court aware of any detrimental effects your children may suffer if not in your custody.

In order to collect proper documentation, you will need to keep track of important dates and details of occurrences. You will also want to take the chance to draft an affidavit that supports you having custody of your children. You will also want to make sure that you have some witnesses who are willing to support your claims.

When appearing before the court, you want to make sure that you and your witnesses are appropriately groomed and dressed. While it’s not required that you wear a suit, you definitely want to wear something that you’d wear to a religious service or job interview. Women should avoid wearing anything overly sexy and men should avoid wearing graphic t-shirts.

Finally, you want to make sure that you are completely and totally honest in your dealings with the court. You will not want to make any allegations that you will not be able to prove and you don’t want to attempt to mislead the court about the facts of the case, or else you may need a criminal lawyer.

Child Abduction

Child abduction is the illegal removal of a child who is under the age of eighteen (a minor) from their home without first having confirmation from the child’s parents or legal guardian. As you can most likely already tell, there can be a lot of different scenarios involving child abduction. Perhaps a family friend thought that their child’s friend was coming over to play for the afternoon, so they picked up the child from his or her home without approval of the parents. That case would more likely be a misunderstanding, but it could also fall under child abduction.

But the most common kinds of child abduction are when a parent takes their child from the other parent without permission, during a custody battle in a divorce proceeding between the parents. And even though it’s more rare, child abductions do happen where a child is randomly kidnapped by strangers, and taken to an undisclosed location and hidden there from the parents.

What if a Parent with Visitation Rights abducts their Child?

-In custody battles, one parent will usually end up with custody over the child while the other parent will be granted visitation rights. If the parent with visitation rights only abducts the child on a day where they are not allowed to visit the child, then the parent with custody should immediately file a police report allowing law enforcement to find and return the child. The parent in this case will have to prove that they have custody of the child, and many other documents proving this will have to be filed with the police department as they file their police report.

Can I Parent with Primary Custody Be Charged with Child Abduction?

– There is one instance where a parent with primary custody over their child could be charged with child abduction, and this is if they deny the other parent with visitation rights to visit with the child. However, this parent with primary custody could also simply be charged with not complying with a court order, which is a whole different ball game. If the parent with primary custody is legally required to allow the parent with visitation rights to see their child on certain days, then by law, they have to do so. The rules regarding this will be stated clearly in a custody agreement between the two parents, as determined in court.

Blackmail

Blackmail is a crime where one uses written threats in an attempt to get a statement from another individual and release that statement or information to the public. Regardless of whether the statement is true or false, it is still blackmail.

The Complications of Blackmailing

– Blackmail is a very tricky subject in criminal law because it opens up a lot of other illegal activities as well. For instance, if you use threats and physical harm on someone to get something or a piece of property from them is coercion, which is something entirely different from blackmail.

– In addition to the complications of blackmail, it is also a term that is very loosely used. It has been used to describe a number of different crimes for centuries, to the point that many other criminal law terms have become almost synonymous. Coercion is a prime example, and another one is extortion. All of these criminal law terms involve either somebody or a group of people using threats or mental or physical force to illegally get something from another individual.

– The laws regarding blackmail vary by each state, but many have taken steps to discriminate it from the other similar terms that we have talked about. Today, most states require that the blackmail has to be in writing. Whereas coercion is actually doing physical harm on somebody and extortion would be taking property from someone and threatening harm upon them if they resist, blackmail has to be a written form to another individual informing them that they need to release a statement to the public or harm will befall them. This form of writing can be more traditional in the form of a letter, or more modern in the form of e-mail or a text message. If you’re in Queens, NY you may need a Queens criminal lawyer. Michael Dreishpoon is a Criminal defense attorney, Queens NY.

Exposing the Blackmail of another Individual

– You can also find yourself in a rather tricky situation if you try to expose the illegal blackmailing activity of another individual, perhaps of someone you know at work or your employer. However, you would have to be careful in how you go about this. For this example, let’s say that you have discovered that your boss is blackmailing other people. You shouldn’t inform your boss that you know of their blackmailing activity, and then tell them that you won’t tell the authorities in exchanging for perhaps a promotion or a higher paycheck. You would be borderline on blackmail yourself. Instead, you should simply inform the authorities with the proper evidence.

Benefit Fraud

Benefit fraud, according to the Department for Work and Pensions, is when someone obtains a benefit that they were originally not entitled to, and then fails to report that change either to the authorities or to the person that the benefit was originally entitled to. A very common form of benefit fraud is when one individual receives unemployment benefits that they either should not be receiving or that should be going to another individual, and then they deliberately choose to keep accepting the unemployment benefits without reporting it to anyone. This is the most common form of benefit fraud, and even though it sounds simple enough, as we shall see it can actually get just a little more complicated than that.

What is the Punishment, or Punishments, for Benefit Fraud?

Lots of things are taken into consideration with each benefit fraud case in order to determine the proper punishment for the convicted. Things that will be looked at include if the convicted had any previous criminal records, if they had the obvious intent to commit the benefit fraud, if they had a lack of knowledge concerning the benefit fraud, and how much money they took from the fraud and thus owe. The sentencing will most likely not be very strict for the convicted if they didn’t take very much money, or if it’s clear that they had no intention to commit the fraud and didn’t know what they were doing. However, this is also not always the case, and anyone convicted who had previous criminal records or an obvious intention to commit the fraud may be delivered a harsh sentence of multiple years in prison and a hefty fine.

Is it still Benefit Fraud if it was done Overseas?

Plain and simple, benefit fraud is when an individual fails to report an income that they got through fraudulent resources or means. This same logic applies to even if they were receiving payments through these fraudulent resources overseas from another country. This also includes if you were receiving the payment for someone else in your family, say your spouse or children, and even if you didn’t know you were committing the benefit fraud. If you truly didn’t know that you were committing the fraud, however, you can discuss this with your lawyer so that you receive a much lighter (and less expensive) sentencing in court.

 

Arraignment

Arraignment is an official announcement of a criminal complaint, where the defendant has to be present and inform the defendant of the charges.  Each time that a crime has been committed, the court system springs into action through a series of steps.  The process of going through the court system has a reputation for being slow, with some court cases not being decided for six months to up to a year after the case has begun.

The Arraignment Process

In the arraignment process, the defendant will be expected to answer to the arraignment by first entering a plea, which can include guilty, not guilty, or not content. Without a plea to begin with, a court case will not be able to proceed.  Following the plea, the judge will read out loud the charges with both sides present, after which, the defendant will officially read their plea (they would have had to decide on the plea earlier, and perhaps announced their intention of what they were going to plea for).  Should the defendant plead not guilty, the court date will then be scheduled for a later date.

Changing the Arraignment Date

A person should be able to get their arraignment date changed most of the time. This can be done by simply contacting the court and requesting an adjournment, and they must have a valid reason for the request.

Missing the Arraignment

When a person misses their arraignment, a warrant will usually be issued stating their failure to appear in court. This will make the person an official fugitive, and the warrant will remain official until the person agrees to the arraignment.

Other circumstances that can arise here is if the person is simply unable to get to their arraignment. Choosing to not go to the arraignment is one thing, but actually not being able to go to it is definitely another.  Solutions to this include still going through with the arraignment via a live video feed, or requesting a change in the arraignment date beforehand with the court.  Usually, this request will have to be done at least five days before the arraignment is to begin.  Otherwise, it will be too late.

As we have said, the legal system in court is definitely long, and due to its ever increasing complexity, it can be confusing.  It’s important that you show up for your arraignment and that you enter your plea.

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