Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Can't Help Falling in LOVE
Every year, we use the Philly LOVE statue in our Christmas card, incorporating a clever message, phrase or concept.  This year -- a hat tip to Elvis and his famous "Can't Help Falling in Love."


Merry Christmas
Happy Holidays
Happy New Year

Monday, December 22, 2014

I’m having his baby, how should I tell him?

Recently, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held that Facebook is not a proper mechanism for notifying an individual that he is going to be a father.  You can read about the case here.  

In short, a woman become pregnant with her then-boyfriend’s child, and soon thereafter the couple broke-up.  The woman notified her ex-boyfriend by message on Facebook, which he claimed he never received.  The child was placed for adoption upon birth, and now, several years later, the biological father is trying to obtain custody.

While it is unclear what will ultimately happen in that particular case, it does highlight the fact that notifying a person of litigation via social media is not valid in some court systems.  Likewise, other courts have determined that it is acceptable.  It is highly likely that this area will continue to evolve as social media, the internet and online presence for individuals continues to change.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Can you make a custody contract prior to even having a child?

A recent non-precedential Pennsylvania case, Huss v. Weaver, reviewed a situation where a girlfriend and boyfriend entered into a contract regarding custody prior to even becoming pregnant with a child.  In the agreement, the parties agreed that Mother would have primary custody of any future born child, and that Father would pay $10,000.00 to Mother per each petition he filed, if he tried to obtain a different custody arrangement.

Although this seems a bit odd, the appellate court ultimately held that it was not against public policy for Father to be required to pay $10,000.00 to Mother any time he filed a custody petition.  The court thoroughly reviewed its reasoning and logic in the opinion, but it ultimately boiled down to their belief that the payment was not meant to penalize Father for filing custody petitions and it would not inhibit him from filing for custody.  Furthermore, nothing prohibited a court from making a decision regarding custody according to the child’s best interests.  Instead the court found it plausible that the parties had intended these payments to be a “defense fund” for Mother if litigation arose regarding custody.

It is also interesting to note that the court alludes to a different result regarding child support.  The court does not make actual legal holdings regarding child support, but notes that child support is the child’s right, and therefore, parents cannot contract to limit or penalize the pursuit of justified child support payments.

Agreements can have long term consequences.  When negotiating a resolution, always think about the potential worst case scenario if your plan does not play out as expected.  Sometimes people are in such a rush to reach an agreement that they do not think through the long term consequences.  Additionally, your financial condition could become drastically different.  Think carefully before you sign an agreement.  

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Monday, December 15, 2014

What is co-parenting counseling and why do we need it?

In custody cases where there is any amount of conflict, co-parenting counseling can help parents figure out how to adjust to their new custody situation.  In cases where each parent sees eye-to-eye and is able to clearly and calmly communicate and cooperate with the other parent, there is no need for co-parenting counseling.  Those cases, however, are few and far between.

Co-parenting is simply the idea that each parent must work with the other parent in an effort to raise their child together.  Co-parenting is difficult even in intact families because each parent likely has a different style and priorities when parenting.  In divided families, co-parenting can become more difficult due to the frustration and animosity stemming from the divorce or separation.  Therefore, co-parenting counseling is simply a tool to help these parents work together for the benefit of their children.  

A co-parenting counselor is going to meet with both parents, ideally together, but sometimes separately.  Not only will the co-parenting counselor teach the parents general tips for communicating and cooperating, but also will help the parents tackle specific issues that they are facing.  For example, a co-parenting counselor could help parents navigate school-choice decisions so that parents are not left arguing the merits of their side to a court and letting a court ultimately decide.  By utilizing a co-parenting counselor, parents often are able to work their way through conflicts and arrive at mutually agreeable decisions without having to litigate the issues.

The ultimate goal would be for parents to utilize a co-parenting counselor early in the divorce or separation process so that they learn communication strategies and decision-making skills that will help them navigate parenting post-divorce.  Then, once the necessary skills are established, hopefully a co-parenting counselor would not be needed on a regular basis.  Once parents learn to cooperate and parent together, their children see tremendous benefits.  There is less stress and friction in the children’s life, and the children realize that their parents remain a united front in protecting their best interests.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

We already have a custody order, is the court going to re-evaluate the custody factors?

As we discussed in detail during November 2014 on this blog, Pennsylvania courts are required to use a very specific list of factors when making custody decisions.  Most people are or quickly become aware of this when they enter into custody litigation for the first time.  These factors guide our courts through a thorough best interests analysis when determining the best custody order for a child and family.

In a recent case, M.E.V. v. F.P.W., a Pennsylvania appellate court recently clarified when a court must use the factors.  In that particular case, the parties already had a custody order issued by a judge who had performed a thorough factor-by-factor analysis before issuing an order.  During the analysis, the court made clear that it’s decision was based on certain factors remaining the same.  For example, the court stated that Mother needed the stability of remaining married to her then-current husband.  Then circumstances changed, including the fact that Mother filed for divorce from her husband, and the parties each filed petitions to modify custody.  During the custody trial, the court relied on the prior court’s analysis of the factors and did not conduct a new analysis, despite the fact that circumstances had clearly changed.

The appellate court held that the trial court was wrong to not have conducted a new analysis of the factors.  In other words, courts must conduct a new analysis of the custody factors whenever there has been a change of circumstances.  It is not appropriate to simply rely on the prior analysis.

Therefore, if you are entering into continued custody litigation, you should expect that the court will perform a best interests analysis using the statutory custody factors.  Knowing this, you should use the factors to provide relevant evidence and information to your attorney in preparation for trial.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Monday, December 08, 2014

How can I communicate more clearly with my child’s other parent?

During custody and divorce litigation, communication between parents often becomes heated and non-constructive, which is wholly ineffective, especially when trying to co-parent children.  As parents try to re-establish the ability to effectively co-parent, it is often helpful to keep communication in writing.  By having something in writing, it is easier to make sure that miscommunications are minimized, and it is harder to have your words turned around on you.  Although people can be nasty and caustic in writing, people tend to be a bit more civil with each other in writing, especially if they know that a judge may eventually see the emails or text messages.

That said, incomplete email and text message threads are also not particularly helpful.  It is too easy for parents to argue that there are missing emails and messages.  While writings are helping, they are only helpful if messages are not deleted or altered and are in their original format.  There is a helpful website that helps with this problem: https://talkingparents.com. This website provides a free email and text message system between co-parents.  Each time a message is sent through the system, a record is created.  There is no way that a parent can later alter or delete the message.  Additionally, a parent can tell whether their message was viewed by the other parent.  Most importantly for the purposes of litigation, a certified record can be downloaded and printed from the website.

If you are interested in using this website, you certainly can discuss it with the other parent or your attorney to decide if it is right for you.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Which parent makes the pre-school choice in New Jersey?

A recent unpublished New Jersey case, Madison v. Davis, specifically discussed the novel legal concept of which parent should make a decision regarding pre-school choice.  The court distinguished pre-school from daycare and from later formal education opportunities, because it often is a blend of childcare and education.  While there were two leading prior cases that discuss childcare choice (Pascale v. Pascale, 140 N.J. 583, 599-600 (1995)) and education choice (Beck v. Beck, 86 N.J. 480, 485 (1981)), the court noted that neither of these cases applied in totality because the pre-school situation is a bit different.


Ultimately, the court issued a 7-prong test for pre-school choice in New Jersey:

1. If the pre-school program is being used in substantial part to provide childcare, then the primary residential custodian has the initial right to select the pre-school program for the child.

2. The primary residential custodian does not have absolute and unlimited authority when picking the program.  The choice must be reasonable.  For example, when compared to other available programs, the costs, location, programming, etcetera should be reasonable.

3. The primary residential custodian must inform the non-custodial parent of the change in pre-school in a reasonably, timely manner.

4. The non-custodial parent has the right to investigate the proposed pre-school program, but does not have the unilateral right to veto the program.  If the non-custodial parent is not happy with the program choice, he or she may file a motion with the court under Beck.

5. The non-custodial parent must be able to demonstrate to the court a specific alternate plan that is more reasonable, and cannot generally complain about the choice.

6. If the court finds that the primary residential custodian’s choice is unreasonable, the court may override the choice.  Conversely, if the court believes the choice is reasonable, the court may implement that choice.

7. Lastly, the court may issue sanctions and/or fees and costs if the court believes that either party is acting unreasonable.


Perhaps the most important take-away of this case is the court’s emphasis that parents must try to cooperate with each other for the benefit of their children, rather than continually litigating issues.  Normally on this blog, we try not to quote extensively; however, the court summed up their thoughts on this issue in a poignant way.


“While legally there was merit to each party's position, and while each party's counsel did an exemplary job representing their clients' respective interests, one cannot help but wonder how much more litigation the future holds for these parents, who apparently have no present ability to constructively cooperate with each other, and who may predictably and perpetually continue spending time, money and energy on repeat court appearances. Such a future would be most unfortunate, since the parties remain joint legal custodians of a very young child whose happiness and well-being clearly depends on both parents' ongoing ability, and willingness, to reasonably communicate and cooperate with each other on important issues.”

Ultimately, a child is more likely to see long-lasting benefits from having parents that can work together and cooperate, as opposed to the benefits that might arise from attending one pre-school that might be slightly better than the other pre-school but was the result of long and adversarial litigation.


Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, Pennsylvania-licensed associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.


Monday, December 01, 2014

Tips for managing custody during the holidays

The holidays are a wonderful and celebratory time of year for everyone, but they also can be incredibly stressful, even for intact families.  That stress can and often does multiple in divided families.  So that your holidays can be more enjoyable this year, here are some tips:

1. Plan ahead.  Before all of the last minute hustle and bustle, look at your calendar and figure out exactly what obligations exist.  List all parties, school activities and events, family functions, and community events like parades or caroling.

2. Prioritize.  Remember that your child’s other parent is going to have a similar list - either formally or informally.  It is unlikely that both parents will be able to do each and every item on their list with their child.  Therefore, decide what is absolutely most important to you and what you would be willing to skip this year.

3. Be ready to negotiate.  Try to work with your child’s other parent the best that you can.  Give a bit on some requests so that you can receive some.

4. Be flexible (and try to see whether your extended family can be flexible).  Sure, a holiday falls on a specific date, but your family celebration does not absolutely have to be on that date.  Try to figure out what will work best for you and your family, but be willing to use your imagination.  

5. Put it in writing and confirm. If you work out something with the other parent, try to put it in writing, and then confirm the arrangements so that there are no misunderstandings.

6. Remain child-centered.  Keep your child’s best interests at the focus of all holiday planning, and your holiday season will be happier and more joyful.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Custody Factors Series: Factors 15 and 16

As we noted on our blog on November 3, 2014, we have been discussing each of the sixteen Pennsylvania custody factors under 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5328, and now is time to wrap up our series.  No one of these factors has been found to be more important than another with perhaps the exception of factors that are related to safety.  Therefore, the court must review each and every factor when making a custody determination.  Some factors are given more weight by a judge, depending on the individual.  This series is designed to give you familiarity with the law, but not to substitute for legal advice.  An experienced attorney can give you specific advice on your particular case.


Finally, the last two factors, 15 and 16:

15.  The mental and physical condition of a 
party or member of a party's household.

Again, this factor applies not only to the parents of the child, but also to any person who resides in the same home as one of the parties.  By examining all members of the household, the courts hope to protect children from any and all members of the household that might negatively impact the child.  Also, there are times where a parent is forced by a sudden change in circumstances to live with friends or relatives that they do not know well, and this factor, along with some of the others, forces a parent to make sure that they really know the people with whom they are living.

As with the other factors, simply because a parent has a mental or physical condition does not mean that the court will limit his or her custody time.  Rather, the court will assess whether that parent has the ability to appropriately maintain physical custody and can protect the child’s best interests.  To the extent necessary, the courts will make accommodations for the parent so that the parent can have physical and/or legal custody of their child.  Many parents involved in custody litigation experience mental health issues.  As long as the mental health issues are properly treated and managed through therapy and medication and the person can still effectively parent, then a mental health issue is not dispositive in custody litigation.


16.  Any other relevant factor.

This last factor is a catch-all factor that essentially allows the court to consider anything and everything that could feasibly impact the best interests of the child.  At the end of the day, the court’s analysis is still a best interests analysis.  It is simply that the courts now have specific parameters that they must examine.  Therefore, it is extremely important for you to present any and all evidence that you think could potentially impact your child’s best interests.  It is impossible to predict what the court will do with the information presented to it, but it is important that the court receive a clear understanding of the family’s situation.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Custody Factors Series: Factor 14

As we noted on our blog on November 3, 2014, we will be discussing each of the sixteen Pennsylvania custody factors under 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5328.  No one of these factors has been found to be more important than another with perhaps the exception of factors that are related to safety.  Therefore, the court must review each and every factor when making a custody determination.  Some factors are given more weight by a judge, depending on the individual.  This series is designed to give you familiarity with the law, but not to substitute for legal advice.  An experienced attorney can give you specific advice on your particular case.


Up next, Factor 14:

14.  The history of drug or alcohol abuse of 
a party or member of a party's household.

This is another factor that it is important to remember applies not only to each parent, but also to each member of the household, including family members, significant others and friends that reside in the home.  Simply having a history of drug or alcohol abuse will not be enough to cause a court to limit a parent’s custody time; however, if there is current evidence of current drug or alcohol abuse that may negatively impact the child, then the court certainly will take it into consideration.  What you deem a negative impact may not be enough for the court to decide to limit the other parent’s custody time.

The court may even order on-the-spot drug testing during the custody trial, but this testing is not as useful for allegations of alcohol abuse, unless the party shows up at court intoxicated.  Alcohol abuse is particularly difficult to prove to a court, because our ability to test a person for alcohol is extremely time-limited, unlike some other drugs that show up in a person’s system for many days or even weeks.  Obviously, if a person has history of driving under the influence or other alcohol-related arrests, the court will take consideration of the evidence.  That said, it is extremely important to remember that the court views this information in light of how it will impact the children.

Even if there is a history of drug or alcohol abuse, judges look to whether the parent is obtaining help and support for the problem.  Attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous will be viewed in a positive light in this regard.  Although some people are afraid of seeking counseling or support due to the stigma, seeking help for these types of problems will actually work in the addictive parent’s favor.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Custody Factors Series: Factor 13

As we noted on our blog on November 3, 2014, we will be discussing each of the sixteen Pennsylvania custody factors under 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5328.  No one of these factors has been found to be more important than another with perhaps the exception of factors that are related to safety.  Therefore, the court must review each and every factor when making a custody determination.  Some factors are given more weight by a judge, depending on the individual.  This series is designed to give you familiarity with the law, but not to substitute for legal advice.  An experienced attorney can give you specific advice on your particular case.


Up next, Factor 13:

13.  The level of conflict between the parties and the willingness and 
ability of the parties to cooperate with one another. A party's effort 
to protect a child from abuse by another party is not evidence 
of unwillingness or inability to cooperate with that party.

This factor is one of the more important factors to the long-term success of any custody order, because parents must be able to cooperate with each other in order to deal with the curve balls that life throws and effectively co-parent.  Courts recognize that custody litigation can bring out a high level of animosity and conflict between two parents.  That said, courts must look at whether the parents will be able to work together in the best interests of the child.  Even if you believe that the other parent will not cooperate, you should make every effort to show that you are able to cooperate.

From routine custody exchanges, to making sure that the child complete his daily homewok and long-term projects, to awareness of parent-teacher conferences and activities, courts are looking at the parents to determine whether they can potentially cooperate with each other.  To the extent that there is clear evidence that one parent specifically undermines the parents’ ability to co-parent, then the factor likely will weigh against that parent.  Yet, courts are eternally optimistic, despite past behavior, that parents will do what is right for their child and eventually cooperate in the best interests of the child.

If there is a history of conflict in your relationship with your child’s other parent, then it would be a great idea to propose or at least be open to co-parenting counseling.  A co-parenting counselor will help you and the other parent learn how to communicate better and help you navigate decision-making for your child.  These sessions can be invaluable to parents, especially in the early days of divided custody.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Custody Factors Series: Factor 12

As we noted on our blog on November 3, 2014, we will be discussing each of the sixteen Pennsylvania custody factors under 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5328.  No one of these factors has been found to be more important than another with perhaps the exception of factors that are related to safety.  Therefore, the court must review each and every factor when making a custody determination.  Some factors are given more weight by a judge, depending on the individual.  This series is designed to give you familiarity with the law, but not to substitute for legal advice.  An experienced attorney can give you specific advice on your particular case.


On to Factor 12:

12.  Each party's availability to care for the child or 
ability to make appropriate child-care arrangements.

This is another factor than can split a couple different ways, depending on the judge.  Many judges will simply say that each parent, in typical situations, at the very least has the “ability” to make appropriate child-care arrangements, and therefore, say that this factor does not weigh in either parent’s favor.  Other judges will look to one parent’s past role in primarily either caring for the child or in arranging for childcare, and will therefore place this factor in favor of that parent.  Obviously, there are some situations where both parents have been equally involved in the child’s care and arranging childcare and in those situations it really is a draw.

Other factual situations give rise to other concerns for the court.  Where one parent has a particularly demanding work schedule, the court will try to determine how much time that parent will actually be able to spend with the child.  In assessing the entire family and each parent’s work schedule, the court will try to determine what the best schedule is for the child.  That might mean that the parent who has a more demanding work schedule may have less physical custody time with the child.  This is not designed as a punishment to the hard-working parent, but instead is in recognition that it is likely better for the child to be with one parent than simply in childcare.

Also, a court will certainly listen to concerns that a parent simply does not have the good judgment to recognize that he or she needs to arrange childcare for the child.  This area can be particularly tricky when parents disagree on what appropriate care is for a child or especially a preteen.  One parent may be comfortable letting an older sibling watch the younger siblings, or letting a preteen stay at home alone after school for a couple hours.  How a court will feel about any of these “childcare” arrangements will greatly depend on a myriad of factors, including the safety of the neighborhood, the maturity of the child and the availability of an responsible adult if needed.

When moving forward in custody litigation, carefully think about the childcare arrangements that you intend to propose.  Try to identify concerns that the other parent or court may have with the situation and proactively create solutions to those issues.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Custody Factors Series: Factor 11

As we noted on our blog on November 3, 2014, we will be discussing each of the sixteen Pennsylvania custody factors under 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5328.  No one of these factors has been found to be more important than another with perhaps the exception of factors that are related to safety.  Therefore, the court must review each and every factor when making a custody determination.  Some factors are given more weight by a judge, depending on the individual.  This series is designed to give you familiarity with the law, but not to substitute for legal advice.  An experienced attorney can give you specific advice on your particular case.


Here’s, Factor 11:

11.  The proximity of the residences of the parties.

We’ve previously discussed briefly the importance of living close to the other parent.  This factor specifically calls out to parents to live close to each other so that children can maintain stability and continuity in their lives.  Additionally, reducing the burden of commuting on children is important.

A court understands that parents need to have the ability to move to a new home, but this factor highlights that courts believe that parents should keep their residential decisions child-focused.  Sometimes, it cannot be helped that parents do not live close together, either due to financial constraints or job commuting or childcare issues.  However, courts will look closely at evidence to try to ascertain why a parent chose to move to a particular location that is not close to the other parent.  If the court does not find reasonable and sufficient evidence to support the parent’s decision, the court may take a negative view of the parent’s actions.

Like all of the other factors, this is a highly, fact-specific inquiry by the court.  The courts will carefully look at the party’s evidence and testimony when trying to decide whether this factor is in favor or against either party.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Custody Factors Series: Factor 10

As we noted on our blog on November 3, 2014, we will be discussing each of the sixteen Pennsylvania custody factors under 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5328.  No one of these factors has been found to be more important than another with perhaps the exception of factors that are related to safety.  Therefore, the court must review each and every factor when making a custody determination.  Some factors are given more weight by a judge, depending on the individual.  This series is designed to give you familiarity with the law, but not to substitute for legal advice.  An experienced attorney can give you specific advice on your particular case.


Moving on to, Factor 10:

10.  Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, 
emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child.

This factor can go a couple different ways.  Sometimes the courts look at this factor as a draw between the parents, because each parent is capable of attending to the child’s needs, whether or not each parent typically has participated in the past in attending to the child’s needs.  For example, the court may say that this factor does not weigh in either parent’s favor, despite the fact that dad stays at home with the kids and provides for their daily needs, because mom is capable of providing for the kids’ needs.

In other cases, courts look at the parents’ past actions as indicative of future action.  For example, mother always make lunches and gives the child a bath and helps her do her homework; therefore, this favor weighs in favor of mother, even though father might be capable of performing the actions.

In other situations, courts will recognize that there are some circumstances where a particular parent is not capable, for whatever reason, of attending to the child’s daily needs.  Sometimes a parent is not capable of attending to a child’s needs because of an ongoing mental health or addiction issue.  Other times a parent is not capable of attending to a child’s needs because he or she will not recognize the child’s needs.  For example, sometimes one particular parent disputes a child’s special needs or other diagnosis, and therefore, feels that the child does not need therapy, medication, special services, etcetera.  In a case where the court feels that the evidence is clear that the child has special needs, that parent’s actions may be viewed negatively by the court.

In short, courts tend to vary on how they view this factor; therefore, it is important for parents to think about how they have met their child’s needs in the past and how they continue to plan to meet their child’s needs in the future.  Realize, however, that even if you believe that the other parent has never demonstrated the ability to be a good caretaker, more often than not a judge will overlook the past, knowing that the other parent can learn to be a parent.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Custody Factors Series: Factor 9

As we noted on our blog on November 3, 2014, we will be discussing each of the sixteen Pennsylvania custody factors under 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5328 over the next few weeks.  No one of these factors has been found to be more important than another with perhaps the exception of factors that are related to safety.  Therefore, the court must review each and every factor when making a custody determination.  Some factors are given more weight by a judge, depending on the individual.  This series is designed to give you familiarity with the law, but not to substitute for legal advice.  An experienced attorney can give you specific advice on your particular case.


Up next, Factor 9:

9.  Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, 
consistent and nurturing relationship with the child 
adequate for the child's emotional needs.

For most families, this factor is not likely to weigh in favor of one parent strongly over the other parent, because despite individual differences in how parents express their love to their children, they are capable of providing for their child’s emotional needs.  Not only are parents capable of providing this positive relationship, but they also do.  However, some parents, due to mental health issues or otherwise, are not able to identify their child’s emotional needs or are unable to provide for their child’s emotional needs.  This factor is important in those particular cases, because it allows the court to consider whether a particular parent is not in a position, for whatever reason, that allows him or her to provide the love and support that the child needs.

What this factor emphasizes is that the courts believe that no matter what, including custody litigation, is going on in parents’ lives, it is a parent’s responsibility to maintain a “loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship” with his or her child.  During custody litigation, it is easy for a parent to become focused herself and her needs and what she believes is best for the child; however, what this factor highlights is that it is more important for the parent to continue to focus on her relationship with her child and making sure that her child’s emotional needs are being properly addressed and that she is still fostering a positive relationship and bond with her child.  It is often easy for a parent to look at his child and say “Oh, he is doing fine,” because children are resilient and often hold back their emotions, but this factor is a reminder that a parent must always focus on his relationship with the child and make sure that he is attuned to the child’s emotional needs.

Written by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, Esquire, associate attorney at the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.