WAAY 31 Law Call Recap, Part 1
I am grateful that my good friend, Tommy Siniard, and his team at Siniard Timberlake & League trusted our expertise enough to have me as a guest on a recent episode of the Law Call on WAAY TV 31 here in the Tennessee Valley.
This post is a chance to recap the issues and questions that Will League, Sharon Doviet and I had an opportunity to address on the show. There were questions about children’s decision making and value as a witness, Grandparents’ Rights, alimony, and even bigamy (being married to more than one person at once). Interesting stuff. Let’s unpack it.
The first question I recall was “how old does a child has to be before the child can decide which parent he or she wants to live with?”
The answer is NEVER! You are the adult. The child is the child. If the adults can’t agree, the Court, (also presided over by an adult) breaks the tie!
At a certain age, the child’s preference, and his or her motivation for that preference, should be relevant to the parents’, caregivers’ and Court’s decision-making, but that is as far as it goes.
Even then, putting a child on a witness stand should be avoided, if possible. BUT, one of the most-often misunderstood concepts I run into specializing in Child Custody law is that parties in a Child Custody case fail to understand that HEARSAY prevents the statements and reports of a child from coming into evidence unless that child takes the stand. (See our Glossary or Youtube Videos on Hearsay and Using Your Child as a Spy for more information related to this question and subject)
Next, a gentleman called in and asked “what his 3rd wife would be entitled to in a divorce since he had been married twice before and had never been divorced?”
The answer is NOTHING. Congrats, dude! Your 2nd and 3rd marriages were never legal because you never divorced your 1st wife. (This gentleman obviously hasn’t seen the Chris Farley classic, Tommy Boy, which deals with this subject).
Let’s assume the bigamy issue didn’t come into play, though, and say that “what your spouse is entitled to?” is a great question and basically what an entire divorce proceeding is about. There’s no good way to answer that without months of working with an attorney through the litigation process to identify assets, debts and the circumstances of the marriage itself, as well as the grounds for divorce.
A lady called in with another classic question regarding Grandparents’ Rights.
I don’t even like the term “Rights” here, because, simply put, there are no substantive rights for Grandparents. Yes, there is a lawful statute on the books in Alabama that allows Grandparent(s) to petition the Court for visitation, but any relief granted is still at the discretion of the Court under very specific circumstances.
There is a procedural right to avail yourself of the Court system and ask for Grandparents’ Rights, but you are still not entitled to them even if you check all the boxes. The Judge still has the authority to make the final call based on the best interests of the child.
That said, many of our clients have received Grandparents’ Visitation and even Custody of their grandchildren. If you’d like to learn more, contact us or visit https://www.thinkfoxtrot.com/blog/consultation/ to learn more about hiring Foxtrot Family Law to help you be effective!)
I’ll follow up later this week with some more of the great questions we had on WAAY 31 Law Call and the information you need to know to be effective.
This article contains general information and should not be construed as legal advice for you or your unique situation. If you would like to speak more about how you, as a committed parent or caring relative, can be more effective in your Child Custody case, please visit www.ThinkFoxtrot.com/public_calendars/ to schedule your initial consultation at one of our offices. ~SW, Foxtrot