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Newark Family And Estate Law Blog

Family court judges generally want children of divorced parents to spend time and build their relationship with both parents. Unfortunately, sometimes there are concerns that it’s not safe — physically and/or psychologically — for children to be alone in the care of a parent.

A mom or dad may have a history of substance abuse, for example, which made them neglectful of their kids or even endangered them. In some cases, visitation must be supervised while allegations of substance abuse, neglect or other problematic behavior are investigated.

If you’re the custodial parent of your children and a judge has ordered supervised visitation for your co-parent, you likely have some concerns. You may feel that your co-parent is a bad influence on your children and shouldn’t be allowed to see them at all. You may fear that your co-parent won’t abide by the terms of the visitation order and further disappoint your kids.

If a judge has approved supervised visitation, you have a responsibility to do your part to make those visits as enjoyable as possible for your kids. It’s essential that you — like your co-parent — adhere to the terms that have been set.

For you, that means getting your kids to the designated visitation site as scheduled. Often, supervised visitations take place in a visitation center where multiple parents and kids spend time together, monitored by professionals.

It’s essential for custodial parents to prepare their children for these visits. It helps if kids know the schedule and can see the visits on a calendar well in advance. This gives them a sense of routine and control.

Let your kids know what they can anticipate. Explain that there will be adults there to help them if they need anything. Tell them what time you’ll be picking them up.

Help your kids get ready for the visits by letting them choose a game they want to play with their parent or book they want to read with them. Be enthusiastic about the visit, whether you are or not. After each visit, let your children share as little or as much as they want, but don’t pressure them to talk.

If you have concerns about anything your kids tell you about these visits, talk with the people who are monitoring them. If you believe changes to the supervised visitation plan are in your children’s best interests, talk with your attorney.

It’s been over 15 years since the creator of the Law & Order franchise, Dick Wolf, and his wife divorced. However, Christine Wolf has continued to fight for money she believes she was cheated out of because of information that wasn’t shared with her when the two reached their divorce settlement.

Mrs. Wolf received a settlement that included $17.5 million in cash, $2 million a year in spousal support for eight years and a home in Maine. That was based in part on a $4 million valuation of Law & Order.

That might seem unusually small for a hit series and spinoffs that had already been running for years. However, evidence was presented that it was a money-losing proposition for NBCUniversal.

After the divorce settlement was finalized, Wolf reached a new billion-dollar deal with NBCUniversal. Christine Wolf says she learned about the deal when it was reported in the Los Angeles Times.

She attempted to get the couple’s original settlement set aside on the grounds that her husband and financial advisors had concealed the fact that he was in talks with the company for a deal that could net him considerably more than the money on the table in the settlement. She also claimed that the person who acted as a mediator in the divorce — the couple’s business manager — was biased toward her husband.

A trial judge ruled against Mrs. Wolf in her fraud case and denied her request to obtain documents she claimed would prove her assertions. The judge also ruled there was no evidence that the man who mediated their settlement — with whom she continued to have a business relationship — acted to help her husband. Last month, a California appeals court upheld that judge’s ruling.

Timing can be crucial in divorce settlements. Spouses can find ways to put off the payment of bonuses, for example, until after a divorce is final so they don’t have to share them with their spouses.

If considerable assets are at stake in your divorce, it may be worth the time and money to have professionals look into your spouse’s financial dealings to help spot any pending deals or payments. It’s typically best if the people providing advice and helping you make decisions don’t have a loyalty to either you or your spouse. Your attorney can help you get the professional guidance you need to seek a fair settlement.

For many people, the only thing more emotionally complicated than considering their own mortality is the thought of their parents’ mortality. It’s also common for the adult children of older parents to believe that their parents have everything well planned and under control. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

Even extremely organized and cautious people often put off estate planning for a variety of reasons or may fail to create a thorough estate plan. Sometimes, it is discomfort with facing the inevitability of death that makes people want to avoid this process. Other times, it is a lack of understanding about what is truly necessary for a comprehensive estate plan in California.

While it may not be a pleasant discussion, talking with your parents about their estate planning wishes is a necessary conversation. You can review their wishes and help ensure they’ve committed them to legal documents.

A last will probably isn’t enough

One of the most common estate planning mistakes is the assumption that all a person must do is create a last will that allocates their various assets to members of their family. The truth is that an estate plan is much more than just a last will.

It is also a way to provide a safety net in the event of medical incapacitation and a means of providing family members with guidance about important medical and funeral decisions. If your parents created a last will but not a comprehensive estate plan, you might want to talk to them about expanding their estate planning.

Creating a living will means making a power of attorney and describing medical preferences in an advance medical directive. Having your parents put their wishes in writing will make them easier to follow in the event of a sudden medical emergency.

Older estate plans may require a modern update

Families grow and change over time, but estate plans remain the same unless someone takes the time to change them. Another major oversight many people fall victim to with estate planning is the assumption that the process is over once they create a few documents.

However, family circumstances can change at any time with little warning. Those changed circumstances could necessitate updates to the last will or an expansion of the family’s estate plan. For example, the death of a family member would mean they should no longer be a beneficiary. The birth of a child or their diagnosis with special needs could mean that you will need to restructure the estate plan to provide for that individual.

Whether you need to create a living will or update a last will with your parents, sitting down with an estate planning attorney can help you make the best decisions to protect your family’s assets.