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Debra Joan Cheatham Reece
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Debra Reece’s Answers

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  • Recently went through a custody case, ex is pulling stuff with the kids what can I do now?

    I recently went through a custody battle (I 'am custodial parent) and I kept custody of my children. I find out today from my child and they said that their dad had been talking them about him doing background checks on my current spouse. I have a...

    Debra’s Answer

    Hopefully your divorce decree or settlement agreement contained some language to the effect that the parties were not to disparage the other party to the children, or allow anyone else to do so, or words to that effect. You are correct that it is not healthy for either parent to discuss with the children the parent's personal opinions of the other parent or their new spouse. However, depending on the ages of your children, they may have brought the subject up, and it can be difficult to try to avoid talking about the divorce/custody, etc., with the kids.

    Talk to the attorney who represented you in the custody battle. If your ex is violating the terms of the decree or any mutual restraining order, then you may be able to take him back to court for contempt for discussing this with the kids.

    On the other hand, if there is some reason you think your new spouse will not pass a background check for something that is significant as to custody (for instance, he's a registered sex offender or he's got a violent criminal past), then your attorney is going to need to advise you on the possible outcomes.

    Performing a background check on your children's new stepparent is not "pulling stuff." It's caring enough about your kids that you want to be sure they are safe. I assume you already performed a background check on your new husband before you ever brought him around your children. If not, you may need to do that so you can find out what your ex is going to find out. It's always better to know. And get your lawyer's advice. If the news is bad, you could actually be looking at a legitimate challenge to custody.

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  • What rights do I have if I'm married but my wife is from south Africa, my daughter is a u.s citizen and is living in S Africa?

    I'm wanting to get a divorce and custoday of my daughter. But she is in South Africa and her mother got her a dual citizenship without my permission. My daughter was born in Searcy Arkansas and is a u.s citizen. My wife is a South African citizen.

    Debra’s Answer

    I agree with Mr. Scholl that you need a lawyer for this. First, your permission is not needed for your daughter to have dual citizenship. Citizenship is controlled by the laws of the country. For instance, if a US citizen goes to France, marries someone there and has a child, that child is a citizen of the US (because of parentage) as well as a citizen of France (because of parentage and birth), because those are the laws of the US and France. It is for your daughter to choose which citizenship she will have when she turns 18 -- that is not your decision, nor is it your wife's decision.

    And divorce/custody can be a very tricky thing when your spouse is living in another country and has the child there. You need to talk to a family law lawyer who has experience with international divorce and custody issues. The fact that your daughter is living in South Africa is going to be significant, and an American court may not have jurisdiction to determine custody, depending on the treaties that could be involved.

    Good luck.

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  • I live in a house I co-own w/ my parents but they're basically my landlords.What can I do about my dad's invasion of my privacy

    My dad has a habit of dropping by a few times a week.Often he stays for several hrs mowing&entering the house repeatedly to use the kitchen & bathroom.I've put up w/ this a long time since he's my dad&he does text first but often only 15-30 mins b...

    Debra’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    First, it sounds like your lucky to have a dad who appears to care about you and is taking care of responsibilities of the house like upkeep, yard work, etc.

    A good way to establish parameters would be for you to pick hours during the day -- for instance from 8-5, that he can come by, but he needs to notify you by the evening before if he's planning to come over. As him not to come over before 8am (so you can get up, get your shower, etc., before he ever comes), and after 5pm (so you can have a peaceful dinner with your boyfriend and spend time with him in the evening. Unless there's something else going on here that you are failing to mention, your dad will probably honor this request.

    Considering that you're on SSI for mental illness, he probably feels it necessary to stay involved in your life and be sure that you are okay AND that the property is being properly cared for. After all, he has an investment in it too. But that doesn't mean that you're not entitled to some privacy as an adult.

    As one of the other responders said, just talk with him. Sometimes an open conversation that doesn't involve high emotions can achieve a lot. Good luck.

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  • What are my rights as a mother if my mom has guardianship of my kids can she not let them stay night unless me n my boyfriend

    drug test

    Debra’s Answer

    As the other two attorneys mentioned, the guardianship order will control, to a degree. If you were given visitation in the guardianship order, then the guardian is supposed to comply with that. If she is not, then you can petition the court for her denial of the court's order.

    However, I assume there must have been a problem with drugs since you mention them and since your mother has guardianship in the first place. Therefore, she may be well within her rights and responsibilities as a guardian to prevent the children from visiting unless she can be assured the environment is safe. As the legal guardian, she is charged by the court with caring for the children just like a parent would. And, just like a parent, she must be sure the children are in a safe environment. If you and your boyfriend have drug problems and she cannot be assured that you have gotten them under control, she could be held responsible for endangering the welfare of minors and could actually be charged criminally.

    So if she's willing to let them stay so long as you get drug tested, and you've had drug problems in the past, you may want to comply so that you can see your kids. The judge's biggest concern is going to be the children's safety, and your ability to visit the kids will take a second chair to that. If in doubt, contact a good family law attorney in your area who can walk you through everything and can examine the guardianship papers to see what your rights may be. Good luck!

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  • How does my husband adopt my children?

    My husband and I gave been married for 3 years. I have two children from before. Their father has not been in their lives since my middle sons first birthday he is turning five in August. My daughter is the only one who has a fathers name on her ...

    Debra’s Answer

    You will need to file a petition for the adoption. This is not a do-it-yourself thing. Adoption law is complex. You need to hire a good family-law attorney to be sure everything is done correctly.

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  • Does the remarriage after divorce law in Oklahoma apply to me?

    I live in Arkansas. My fiance lives in Arkansas. We are a same sex couple so we cannot marry in our home state. We are planning to marry in Oklahoma. My divorce will be final 5/11/15 and we are planning to marry 5/15/15. There is a waiting period ...

    Debra’s Answer

    You need to check with a lawyer licensed in Oklahoma. Since the law deals with rules for marriage rather than rules for divorce, and you are getting married there, it would seem the law would apply to you. Oklahoma would recognize your Arkansas divorce, but if they require a 6 month waiting period after divorce before you can obtain an Oklahoma marriage license, it would make sense that the six-month clock would begin running the date of your Arkansas divorce. Check with an Oklahoma family - law attorney to be sure.

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  • I am going to court soon for child custody. Well, I did a background check on child's father. Says hegot convicted of child abus

    I did background check on child's father and it said he got convicted of criminal felony child abuse in violation of 21 O.S. 843 ( In oklahoma) What does that mean? i couldnt find any other information. Is their a way to look up court cases?

    Debra’s Answer

    It probably means Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes, section 823. You need to verify that with an Oklahoma attorney.

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  • Do I need to worry about going to jail?

    I was working in a correctional facility and I met an inmate. We kissed. I then left the facility and we started to communicating. Well, now I have police questioning me about drugs and sexual contact. I've never touched drugs a day in my life and...

    Debra’s Answer

    You should contact avvo.com immediately and ask them to let you delete your question. Prosecutors read these things just like we do, and you made some admissions you shouldn't have made publicly. As others have said, DO NOT talk to the police. Nothing is ever served by talking to them. If they have enough to arrest you, nothing you say will talk them out of it; and if they don't have enough to arrest you, anything you say could give them enough. You should consult with a criminal defense attorney immediately to try to mitigate any damage that may have already been done.

    Good luck!

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  • I need legal advice on a discrimination case

    CB&J Properties kicked me out after I paid my rent and a few weeks ago I called looking for a place they told me that I didn't need to contact them ever again. The managers name Is Betty Sutton

    Debra’s Answer

    Getting kicked out may have nothing to do with discrimination. There are many reasons you can be kicked out even if you paid rent. Drug activity, having people living there who are not on the lease, having pets without permission, neighbors complaining about noise or loud music, domestic fighting, police being called on you, causing fights with neighbors --these are all things that can get you kicked out.

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  • How much does a basic divorce cost in the state of AR

    One 14 yr old child joint custody

    Debra’s Answer

    There is no such thing as a "basic" divorce. If the divorce is uncontested--meaning both parties are in complete agreement about everything (who gets the divorce, grounds for divorce, custody, child support, visitation, property division, who pays marital debts, etc.), then most Attorneys will handle it for under $1000. Plus there is a $165 filing fee and the cost of a process server to serve the papers on the other party, unless s/he will sign a waiver.

    But if any of those issues are contested by the other party, the attorney fees go up greatly because there's much more work involved. Most Attorneys charge a minimum of $150 per hour and, in a contested divorce, they charge by the hour.

    Under some circumstances, Central Arkansas Legal Services will handle the divorce at free or very reduced rates that are based on the income of the person. But it's up to them whether to take your case. They are really swamped, as you can imagine.

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