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Meredith McKell Graff
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Meredith Graff’s Answers

71 total


  • Does he still owe me child support.

    I had child custody from 1995 to 1997. Our ex abuser got custody without me knowing. he still owes me child support. Does he still have to pay child support to me?

    Meredith’s Answer

    Call the Department of Social and Health Services-Child Support Division. The phone number is in the blue state government pages in your phone book or online. They can tell you if there is an outstanding amount owed to you by the other party. If there is, you will need to talk to an attorney about how to go about getting a court judgment against the other party and then how to enforce the judgment once you get it.

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  • Custody

    i have a friend who is 14 years old. and she is trying to have someone else get full custody of her. how does she do this???????

    Meredith’s Answer

    It is not likely to happen unless her parents consent to "nonparental custody," that is, custody by a non-parent. The person wanting to be the nonparental custodian will have to prove to the court that both parents are unfit. If your friend just doesn't like the rules in her parents' house, does not mean they are unfit. If her home situation is dangerous to her, she should call Child Protective Services and they will take it from there.

    When your friend is sixteen, if she is able to keep up her grades in school and work a job that pays enough to support herself, she can apply to the court for emancipation--which means she will be legally responsible for herself.

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  • Mediation

    the judge want us to go for mediation is that a good thing? what will happend after that?

    Meredith’s Answer

    Not only is mediation a "good thing," it is fair, balanced, and it is entirely voluntary. But the best part is, if you settle, you don't have to go to trial. One of the lawyers drafts the final, agreed documents, everyone reviews them for accurately stating the agreement(s), and then one of the lawyers takes the documents to the judge to sign. Often that means the parties won't even have to appear in court again. It is an awesome process--almost magical, the way it feels good to make agreements and get the legal matter resolved.

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  • If my daughter's dad relinquishes his rights to her does he still have to pay child support or what he's behind on?

    My daughter's father has not been in her life for the 11 1/2 years she has been alive. He now wants to be in her life and she wants nothing to do with him. He now has come back with wanting to relinquish his parental rights and stop child support ...

    Meredith’s Answer

    A parent may not terminate his/her parental rights unless the state is terminating parental rights in a dependency matter, or unless there is a pending step parent adoption matter before the court. If parents who did not not want to pay child support were allowed to terminate their parental rights, the court would be flooded with people trying to cut their ties to their children.

    It makes no difference if this parent never sees his child. If he has a child support order, he must pay it until the child is no longer eligible or until the mother remarries and a step father petitions the court to adopt the child. Upon the entry of the adoption order, the child support ceases for the bio parent.

    Know that child support is enforced from one state to another. Your daughter needs to consult with an attorney so she knows her rights.

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  • If my daughter's dad relinquishes his rights to her does he still have to pay child support or what he's behind on?

    My daughter's father has not been in her life for the 11 1/2 years she has been alive. He now wants to be in her life and she wants nothing to do with him. He now has come back with wanting to relinquish his parental rights and stop child support ...

    Meredith’s Answer

    A parent may not terminate his/her parental rights unless the state is terminating parental rights in a dependency matter, or unless there is a pending step parent adoption matter before the court. If parents who did not not want to pay child support were allowed to terminate their parental rights, the court would be flooded with people trying to cut their ties to their children.

    It makes no difference if this parent never sees his child. If he has a child support order, he must pay it until the child is no longer eligible or until the mother remarries and a step father petitions the court to adopt the child. Upon the entry of the adoption order, the child support ceases for the bio parent.

    Know that child support is enforced from one state to another. Your daughter needs to consult with an attorney so she knows her rights.

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  • If a man is not married to the mother of his child but he is paying support, what are his legal rights to visitation?

    The mother is using visitation as a power weapon and causing untold distress. The child is now 21 months old.

    Meredith’s Answer

    You have no rights to parenting time because you have no parenting plan. If you want parenting time (visitation), you will have to petition the court for a parenting plan. Paying child support is not related to the parenting plan, in that, paying child support does not give you rights to visitation. You need a court order. She is able to dictate when you see the child because you have not pursued your legal rights. You need to do so ASAP!

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  • Is the court approved parenting plan altered if the primary care giving parent allows the child to live with the other parent?

    My 16 year old son recently requested to go live with his mother in response to a disciplinary action he did not care for. (He was told he would have to change schools if he could not improve his effort) His mother also requested that she be given...

    Meredith’s Answer

    You have allowed your son to live with the non-residential parent by your consent. The longer your son is with her, the better her case becomes if she decides to ask the court to modify the parenting plan, based on "integration in the non-residential parent's household by consent of the residential parent." Given your son's age, I am sure he has an opinion, but as the named residential parent, you are eroding your legal rights the longer your son is living in your ex-wife's home.

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  • What are the chances this would be accepted?

    I am in the process of filing a parenting plan with the courts in washington state. It is not agreed upon between the father and I. I am restricting his visitation in the way that no visits without me or another trusted family member until the chi...

    Meredith’s Answer

    The fact that you had a restraining order against him for two months over a year ago doesn't help much unless he is currently dangerous to the baby. Has he threatened you or the baby recently? How is he unstable? Has he been diagnosed with a mental illness? These are questions the court will want to know to restrict his parenting time. Generally, the court is going to order very short, and frequent visits for a newborn, no matter what. It is not likely the court will give him every other weekend Friday through Sunday at the child's age. Overnights are a long ways off. I don't know if you have talked to a lawyer but I think you would be wise to have a lawyer represent you on your case.

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  • If my daughter calls my fiance her "DAD" & now her biological father wants in her life after 5 years, how do I fight it?

    My daughter is 5 and her biological father walked out when she was 4 months old and was gone until she was almost 3. I allowed him to see her a couple weekends a month when he but he was flaky and she threw a fit every time I took her to see him, ...

    Meredith’s Answer

    You may want to ask the court to appoint a guardian ad litem to investigate (talking to you, the child, the father, the fiance, and other people who could provide relevant information) report to the court with a recommendation. Unless the bio dad is willing to sign consent to step parent adoption, you are stuck with him. He may end up with a long process of reintegration into the child's life, little steps at a time, but until he terminates his parental rights in a step parent adoption case, he has a right to ask for parenting time.
    The court's standard is best interests of the child, but it is not based on your opinion, but an expert's opinion. If you have the child in counseling, that is also a good resource to tell the court what the child needs and what would be appropriate. But, bottom line, it is not likely you will be able to cut this guy out of your child's life.
    You may want to talk to the fiance about step parent adoption and the father also, because once it is final, child support stops for him. It may be, he has gotten tired of paying child support without parenting time and figures if he has to pay, he wants parenting time. This may go away if he finds out he can stop the child support. Of course, the fiance would have to be willing to start an adoption proceeding. AND, big issue: if the fiance adopted and you and he divorced, he would be able to ask for parenting time and would be obligated to pay child support.

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  • Do I have a legal case? how do I go about mediation?

    When my roomate and I agreed to move in together she agreed to babysit my daughter while I was at work on the days when she was not scheduled to work. In exchange I would pick up her kindergardner when needed and get/pay for our internet service. ...

    Meredith’s Answer

    Mediation is a method to resolve conflicts without having to go to court, or, in some cases, going to court only to file agreed court documents. In your case, you and she may not need to go to court, but could make a written agreement that would serve to resolve the issues and give you guidance in the future if conflicts arise.
    Mediation is voluntary, so she would have to agree. Usually the costs are split between the mediating parties. To mediate, contact a mediation association or use an online program, such as mediate.com. Let her know you would like to resolve the problems with mediation. Mediation is private and less expensive than court. If either you want to consult with a lawyer while you mediate you can, but many mediators in civil matters (not criminal, that is), don't want the lawyers to be in the mediation because they have a tendency to take over the process and not let the parties decide how they wish to resolve their issues.
    I wish you all the best with getting a mediation set up!

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