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Fargo Family Law Blog

How do I request or adjust an adoption assistance agreement?

A previous blog post discussed additional forms of post-adoption support for North Dakota residents who adopt special needs children. In addition to the North Dakota state-funded adoption assistance program and the federal adoption assistance program (Title IV-E), families may also qualify for other benefits including Medicaid, public mental health services, residential treatment costs and nonrecurring fees such as court costs.

To receive such adoption assistance after a family has finalized their adoption, adoption assistance must be requested from the child placement agency that facilitated the adoption. The application will be accepted if the child is diagnosed with a congenital, genetic or predisposed condition by a qualified diagnostician. The agency will also ensure that the cost of caring for the child exceeds the family's income and ability to pay and that the applicant is not eligible for other financial benefits, such as social security.

Co-parenting begins with negotiating your parenting plan

You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may have discussed sharing custody and co-parenting your children after the divorce. You could rely on the court to make the arrangements on your behalf, but that may defeat the purpose of continuing to share parental duties post-divorce.

A North Dakota court only has a limited number of options when it comes to entering child custody orders. Moreover, the court does not understand your family's dynamics and cannot possibly know what would work best for your family. In many cases, the court's only concern is the best interests of the children, which may not result in an order that works for all of you.

Helping you handle the challenges of military divorce

Every divorce involves challenges, such as division of property, child support and alimony. Couples involved in a military divorce face some additional issues regarding where to file for divorce and military personnel benefits and special requirements for military personnel regarding child custody.

Service members should not file for divorce overseas because those rulings may not be recognized in the United States. That risk may be avoided by filing for divorce in the state where the service member is either stationed or a legal resident, or in the state where the nonmilitary spouse lives. If divorce proceedings are initiated while a service member is deployed, the lawsuit will be delayed until the end of the deployment.

ADR offers you more control and a more peace during divorce

Divorce is a stressful, complex time for both parties. In order to minimize the complications and stress of ending a marriage, North Dakota couples may look for ways to work through disputes quicker and more easily than typically possible with a traditional divorce. For some, it is beneficial to employ one or multiple methods of alternative dispute resolution.

Not all divorces have to end up in court. In fact, it is quite possible to avoid litigation altogether and resolve all divorce disputes in a peaceful, respectful manner. Of course, this is not a reasonable option in every situation, but it could be the right choice for you if both parties are willing to commit to the process.

Adoption assistance: medical and other post-adoption support

A previous blog post discussed adoption assistance and eligibility for North Carolina residents who adopt special needs children. In addition to the adoption subsidy, there are other forms of post-adoption support for which North Carolina residents may be eligible.

One type of adoption assistance is Medicaid. In North Dakota, any child with special needs who qualifies for adoption assistance benefits is eligible for Medicaid. There are many Medicaid services in North Dakota including physician and hospital services, physical and occupational therapy, nursing care services and family planning services. For those who are developmentally disabled, Medicaid services include adult day care, chore services and respite care.

Adoption assistance in North Dakota

According to recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. Many of these children have special needs and therefore may have a more difficult time getting adopted. To aid in the adoption of these children, federal and state adoption assistance programs are available which provide adoptive parents with various forms of support for children with special needs.

In North Dakota, adoption assistance, or adoption subsidy, is available for eligible special needs children. A special needs child is defined as a child who is between the ages of seven and seventeen, a minority, one who has a physical, mental or emotional disability, one who is at high risk of a physical, mental or emotional disability or one who must be placed for adoption with a sibling. The child must also be legally available for adoption and in the custody of a public, private or tribal agency before adoption.

Happy selfies break the outdated image of divorce

If you are on social media, you may have noticed the recent trend of couples memorializing their divorces with selfies. For many of these smiling couples, their divorce does not signify the end of their marriage as much as it confirms the continuation of their friendship.

Like many in North Dakota, you may be surprised to see these incongruous snapshots. Perhaps to you, divorce conjures up images of couples battling each other for control over the assets or scheming to get revenge for some hurtful actions. Maybe you even imagined such couples using their own children as pawns in the vicious game. Now that you are facing your own divorce, you may wonder if it is possible for you and your spouse to come through with enough dignity to take your own selfie.

Establishing paternity in North Dakota

Married and unmarried couples may operate in much the same ways. However, certain legal procedures are different for married couples than for unmarried couples -for example, establishing paternity. In a marriage, the husband is legally presumed to be the father of any children born during the marriage. For unmarried couples, that legal presumption does not exist, therefore paternity will need to be established according to state law.

The issue of paternity often arises when a mother seeks child support from the child's biological father. For unmarried couples, it will need to be established that he is in fact the child's biological father before a court will grant child support. In North Dakota, there are two main ways to prove that a child's biological father is also the child's legal father.

The transforming legal landscape for gay and lesbian adoption

The Human Rights Campaign has designated June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender and Queer Pride Month. The recent increase of gay and lesbian biological parents has, in part, led to more open consideration of gay and lesbian men and women as adoptive parents. The laws in most states - like North Dakota- do not explicitly prohibit gay and lesbian adoption, however, some courts have expressed concerns about the welfare of children raised in lesbian or gay households.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there are six to 14 million children in the United States living with at least one gay parent. While over 20 states have granted second-parent adoptions to gay and lesbian couples, a few states have laws expressly banning gays and lesbians from adopting children.

Custody: Do you have your children's best interests in mind?

When going through divorce as a parent, you naturally want your children to suffer as few negative impacts as possible. Because each case has its own unique conditions, the manner in which you look out for your children may differ from other families. Nonetheless, when it comes to creating a viable child custody agreement, you may want to minimize conflict as best as possible while also ensuring that your children's best interests remain at the forefront.

Though many individuals maintain that the best interests of the children play the most important role in custody decisions, you may not fully understand what that phrase entails. You may have an idea of what terms will work best for your kids, but if the court must have a say in the arrangements, you may wonder what the court will consider.

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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