Friday, May 30, 2014

Does the ICWA protect me as a non-Native parent from having my rights terminated as a parent by a Indian Tribunal?

Q:  I recently lost all right to my kids in a native american court. Can the ICWA help me as a non-native biological parent? If not, Do i have any recourse at all? I have already been through the appeals court which upheld the decision.

A:  David's Answer:  If you already tried to challenge jurisdiction of that court & lost, then the ICWA would generally give that court authority to terminate your parental rights. It may be worth it to schedule a consult with a Family Law attorney in your area who is familiar with the ICWA for a full assessment.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My sons isn't listed as the biological father on my grandsons birth certificate another man is

Q:  his mother wants me to have custody

A:  David's Answer:  If the "other man" is not merely listed on the birth certificate but ALSO signed an acknowledgment of paternity, then presumptively the child is legally his. As such, unless the mother plans on having the "other man" served with the custody papers, then she'll need to commence a paternity proceeding with the real father (& serve the "other man" with notice of that case). Call a Family Law attorney in your area for more info.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (        

Am I able to change my last name on my child's birth certificate?

Q:  when my child was born, I was in the middle of a divorce. My ex is NOT her father. I wanted to know if I can change my last name back to my maiden name on her birth certificate. In the divorce I am able to go back to my maiden name.

I just wanted to know if this was even possible.

A: David's Answer:  Who's last name is the child's last name currently? Generally if the child's last name matches her father's last name, you'll need to give notice of the proceedings to that father. Forms & instructions are online: Schedule a consult with a Family Law attorney in your area.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Is it concidered harrasment for a school official to make a false hotline call to cps for educational neglect?

Q:  After a very sudden and debilitating onset of social anxiety and panic attacks I have decided to homeschool my son. I had done everything in including doctor appointments, councler apointments, constant calls to the school in attempt to gain any type of help. My once acheiving child began slipping behind because the school did zero for me. I couldnt even get them to collect or except missed work. This all happened over the course of one month and when I finally got them to have a formal meeting with me to discuss tutoring options they instead used the time to gang up on me and proclaim that I needed to provided them with more than just a doctors note (which they had) in order to help me. I enrolled him in an online school and handed in all paperwork that day. They hotlined me a week later

A:  David's Answer:  One cannot merely decide to "home school" a child without submitting a lesson plan to NYS Dept of Education & being approved for same. If you pulled your child out of school without being pre-approved for home schooling, then the school was correct to call in the report. You should immediately put the child back in school & then work with school officials and/or Dept of Education on a plan to home school (if that's still your intention). Schedule a consult with a Family Law attorney in your area for more info.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

What kind of lawyer do I need to see, what is the process needed to change my name from my maiden name to my married name.,

Q:  need to change my SS card which is my legal name. My first name is a nickname and that differs from the name on my birth certificate, marriage, license. My photo Id has the same name as on my birth certificate, first name being different than my SS card Medicare card, and filing taxes with IRS. Do I legally need to change my first name to that as the one on my SS card, and what about my marriage license. Do I need to get a new photo ID in my maiden name to get a new SS card.

A:  David's Answer:   I'm quite sure I'm confused on your objective, but if you are wondering whether the name reflected on your marriage certificate may be used for all other forms of identification, the answer is yes.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Visitation and custody agreement

Q:  we are grandparents with visitation rights our Ex son Inlaw has joint custody our daughter has gone on the run with the kids and her new boyfriend we found out the kids are not in school they haven't been going to school the ex husband goes to court keeps fighting them to do something about it they keep telling him theres nothing they could do that he would have to go to Ohio and file a claim Ohio tells him thay don't have jurisdiction New York Does can he file kidnapping charges or missing persons report
my name is Julio Vega can you please help or point me in the right direction.

A:  David's Answer:  You'd need to clarify who has the actual case in disputing the mother relocating to Ohio, you or your ex son-in-law. When you say you have "visitation rights," do you already have a court order of visitation? If yes, then it appears the relocation would've violated the order. If no, then the question is for how long your daughter's been in Ohio? If it's been more than 6 months, then Ohio is where you'll need to file for custody and/or visitation. Schedule a consult with a Family Law attorney in your area.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Will ACS take my baby boy even if the case has nothing to do with me?

Q:  My sister is 15 soon to be 16, I'm 21 and have a 10 month old baby. My sister doesn't go to school only when she wants to, were in and out of court every month for her due to a PINS case, we were working with a MST Psych for 8 months but that case is now closed. My sister school contacted my mom to ask why she isn't assisting school, last thing they said was they will contact acs. Now I'm scared they will come and take my baby too if anything.. help what will happen in a case like this? Can my son be taken away from me also?

A:  David's Answer:  It seems extremely unlikely CPS would file a case against you - and even less likely your child would be taken away. Your mother, if anyone, would be the one potentially charged with educational neglect. It seems like you may wish to advise your mother to schedule a Superintendent's meeting or otherwise a meeting with school officials to determine what they're recommending she do. Schedule a consult with a Family Law attorney in your area.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

What must I do to seek an order of protection via the family court?

Q:  Recently divorced via Supreme Court westchester county. In the midst of the divorce action, my ex-spouse created a fraudulent profile for me basically identy theft. After investigating which included subpoenas from both and cable vision, I can prove it came from her IP address linked to her email account. I was advised by my divorce attorney to wait until the final divorce judgment. I may elect to file a criminal complaint.

A:  David's Answer:  You'll need to file a petition for same in Family Court. Your argument would be that this was harassment. Schedule a consult with a Westchester Family Law attorney for more info.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Friday, May 23, 2014

Panel Discussion: Struggles in Foster Care and Child Welfare

International Socialist Review
Invitation to discussion on
Struggles in Foster Care and Child Welfare
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York
On Sun June 1st 10:00am - 11:50am in Room 1.105
Abstract: The foster care and child welfare systems present issues of oppression based on race, class and gender, and regulates family life in the interest of capitalism. The system divides parents, foster parents and workers, and creates barriers to the coordinated struggle needed to fundamentally change the system. Panelists will discuss the kind of parent-led struggle that can change the relationship of the child welfare system to the families it regulates and the communities in which it has its biggest impact.
Dave Bliven -- International Socialist Organization, Don Lash -- International Socialist Organization, Jovonna Freison -- Child Welfare Organizing Project
Left Forum is the largest annual conference of the broad Left in the United States. Each spring thousands of conference participants come together to discuss pressing local, national and global issues; to better understand commonalities and differences, and alternatives to current predicaments; or to share ideas to help build social movements to transform the world.
This year's theme of Left Forum is
Reform and/or Revolution: Imagine a World of Transformative Justice.”  Speakers include Harry Belafonte, Angela Davis, Cornel West, and over 1,000 more.
Please register online at

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Our legally adopted daughter has siblings in foster care & adopted into other families. other families are suing for visitation

Q:  Our adoption was finalized 12-18-13. Child has lived with us through foster care since birth. Never lived with older siblings. Our daughter doesn't want to continue visitations. She doesn't like or dislike birth siblings but has no real connection with them. We have 6 bio sons our daughter is close to. We are fostering and nearing termination of our adopted daughters younger sister. She also came to us at birth. DSS att swore he spoke to all children (7) and all want to keep visitation going/increased. Our girls were never spoken to, youngest can't even talk yet. When we do go to visits our girls don't like going and our adopted daughter has to be bribed to go. We want to know our rights and if fighting this will affect our upcoming adoption.

A:  David's Answer:  Is the foster care agency handling the adoption proceeding for you? If yes, then you may need to retain your own attorney, if your plan is to not cooperate with their plan for you & the kids. You're best advised to schedule a consult with a Family Law attorney in your area.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

My stepson is so disrespectful to his father, don;t obey rules , smokes weed , thinks he is untouchable, 19 still in high school

Q:  doesn't attend classes. Can he's father kick him out. Has been arrested twice.

A:  David's Answer:  The father still has an obligation to provide financial support until age 21, but it may be argued that the son has emancipated himself by virtue of his actions. The father is well-advised to schedule a consult with a Family Law attorney in his area before doing anything.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Can my son's name be used on birth certificate of ex-girlfriend's kid? He most likely is father, but wants to give up all rights

Q:  Ex-girlfriend was told by him years ago (in advance) that if she were to ever get pregnant he definitely would want it terminated. She is refusing and plans to have the kid and her parents are fine with it. My son is 22 yrs old and she will be 21 yrs old in May 2014. We told her & her parents not to use his name on birth certificate and they said they wouldn't. I don't trust them. She is approx 8 - 9 weeks pregnant. He is a full time college student with a minimal part time job. He wants to sign off on a legal document that says he voluntarily relinquishes his parental rights for ever. Is that possible?

A:  David's Answer:  She can put his name on the birth certificate, but unless he also signs an acknowledgement of paternity, her act, in itself, does not establish paternity. Moreover, the only way he can "have his rights terminated" - outside of a child welfare proceeding - is for the mother to have the child adopted by another father. Schedule a consult with a Family Law attorney in your area for more info.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Can I, at 17, move out of their house without my parents permission?

Q:  i am a really good teen. I have never been in any legal trouble. I want to move out because me and my mother do not get along.

A:  David's Answer:  No - you are still a minor until age 18. You can only move out with your parent's permission.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Regarding claiming parental right and surrendering American nationality

Q:  I m sheraz from Pakistan my wife filed for separation and then left for us before we got separated by stating her self as single.There she gave birth to my baby daughter but she did not entered my name with her to deny my parental rights what should I do for parental claim and secondly as a father of minor daughter how can I surrender her us nationality in Pakistan. Also tell if I want to bar my wife who is still Pakistani nation from taking my us citizen daughter what should I do.

A:  David's Answer:  If you say your wife "filed for separation," where did she do so, in Pakistan or in the U.S.? Is your wife already in the U.S. with your daughter? If not - and your daughter is still in Pakistan - then you'll need to consult with a Family Law attorney in Pakistan to know your rights regarding a custody & relocation hearing.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

What happens in a case where a mother is indicated as an unfit parent by child services

Q:  Is it necessary to obtain legal representation

A:  David's Answer:  If CPS has indicated a report against you, but have not filed a case in Family Court against you charging you with child neglect, then you don't necessarily need to retain a lawyer at present. You would only really need one at this stage if you were looking to challenge the indicated report via an Administrative proceeding. Call a Family Law attorney in your area for more info.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Can I file a restraining order against my ex if I initiated the physical altercation?

Q:  i got into a physical altercation with what i then thought was my boyfriend over infidelity, I'm wrong in many ways, I went to his place of work & after his response to the situation I hit him in his face first before he started hurting me. but he is much taller & bigger than me and I am scared...I don't want to file charges i just want protection...can i get that though i initiated the fight? or if i go to the police will they arrest me?..i have bruises all over to prove the altercation.

A:  David's Answer:  You can certainly file for an order of protection. The fact that you initiated the fight may make you guilty as well of a family offense (i.e., disorderly conduct), but he would most likely be guilty as well. Schedule a consult with a Family Law attorney in your area.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

What rights do kinship guardians have?

Q:  I am a kinship guardian for two children, each have different law guardians. The law guardian for the 4 year has never met him- not sure if they are supposed to? There was a court hearing that took place last week that I did not go to. I was told by the preventative services worker that the lawyer said in court that she does not want him going to a certain person's home because she thinks that the mother goes there and from what I am being told, the Judge told this person that if they want visitation that there is a process. I have not received anything stating he cant go there and am only going on what the preventative services worker is telling me. There was a cps investigation done for this person and they were cleared.
Am I still allowed to still send the child over there?

A:  David's Answer:  Who is this person whom you're talking about - a relative or a family friend? Ultimately if the caseworker is telling you something, I'd advise to follow it. Your other option is to go into court on the next date & ask the Judge or Referee for clarification. Speak to a Family Law attorney in your area for more info.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Acs wants me to see their mental health dr for assessment Should I?

Q:  Ex called ACS to report every false allegation possible [except sexual] on my 3mth old baby. he called so he doesn't have to pay child support he wants sole custody. ACS advised me to file custody and OTP (threats and hacking into my accts)i did. I Got served papers for emergency temp custody. Filled with pictures from 2009 before i knew him and a bunch of saved text from 3yrs dating and fighting terrible things. I Just took their drug test. I cant afford an atty like him. IDK what to do or expect

A:  David's Answer:  First, if you cannot afford counsel, ask the Court to assign you counsel (the Judge will determine your financial eligibility). Second, are you sure it's ACS - as opposed to the Court - who is requesting a forensic psychological examination? Generally ACS does not do so unless a neglect petition is pending against you - or they are strongly considering filing one. At the very least, schedule a consult with a Family Law attorney in your area before deciding whether to comply or not.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

My ex lives in FL and I live in NY as per an agreed legal parenting plan established in divorce. He is claiming to be moving

Q:  to NY. Our current parenting plan is established until our child turns 18, what happens to the plan if he goes through with this? Does moving outside of the agreed locations nullify our present plan? What legal rights does he have to our daughter if he breaks this legal agreement?

A:  David's Answer:  Assuming you have primary residential custody of the child, then arguably the established visitation schedule would need to change if he's now much closer (presumably he could then see the child more). You can simply do an update to your prior agreement (best to do so via a lawyer) & file a custody modification petition in Family Court. Call a Child Custody lawyer in your area for more info.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

I turned 17 in February of this year, and I can't stand being at home anymore. So is there any chance that A judge would let me?

Q:  I take care of my mother's animals, and my little siblings(I do their homework with them and I get them ready for school in the morning including myself)My mother got surgery for her colen on february 12th and she got stitches and she wasn't allowed to lift more than twenty pounds, but yet she could go bowling every other wednesday and she couldn't take care of them,but when i did i got yelled at that i wasn't doing it right. Than one night I had to grow up and convince my mother to stay and take care of my little sister and brother because even though i wanted to i could not support them if she left.

A:  David's Answer:   Unfortunately, as you are still a minor, you cannot determine for yourself where you will live. If you leave home without your parent's consent, she could file a Person in Need of Supervision ("PINS") petition against you. Speak to a Family Law attorney in your area for more info.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Is CPS in NY state required to notify the legal father if his wife is being investigated for abusing the kidskids?

Q:  CPS is investigating (false) allegations that my wife neglects,and abuses the kids. I am not accused but am named as the other parent in the report. It has been over a week since the worker came to our home and i the father of the kids have not been notified, or interviewed. Not a letter or a phone call. Is this the usual procedure?

A:  David's Answer:  Yes, CPS should have sent you a letter notifying you of the existence of the report. Moreover, proper procedure would have been to interview you as well. You may follow-up with the caseworker and/or his/her supervisor. Speak with a Family Law attorney in your area for more info.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

I have my boyfriends 13 yr old daughter stealing from me. What can I do? Her mother says any thing in her dads house is hers

Q:  Too and she has every right to it!

A:  David's Answer:  Your boyfriend should try capturing the mother's statements on tape & then file for custody modification. The other options would be to call the police or file a PINS petition. Have your boyfriend call a Family Law attorney in your area for more info.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

How can my niece be emancipated or how can I gain custody of her from her parents?

Q:  My niece is 17 and living with her boyfriend. She goes to a community college but is unable to get student aide because the parents are either unable or unwilling to fill out the necessary forms. Her mother won't give her money for necessities, such as gas and food and clothing although she gets child support for her and her sister from her father (my brother- drug addict). Her father is a drug addict on Workmen's compensation right now. Her mother is unemployed living with her boyfriend (employed), whom my niece does not get along with. Her mother has a child with this boyfriend and also my other niece, sister to the niece I am referring to, lives with her mother, goes to HS and works part time. I give her money for necessities whenever she asks me as well as pay her college.

A:  David's Answer:  You may file for custody in Family Court. That said, I disagree with the opinion that a 17yo can "do anything she wants." Any child under 18 can theoretically be the subject of a person in need of supervision ("PINS") petition if s/he disregards parental control. You're best advised to schedule a consult with a Family Law attorney in your area.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Religious marriage outside the US

Q:  I got married out of the USA, the marriage was religious. What should I do in order to make that marriage effective in the USA, I live in NY state. How can I obtain a marriage certificate?

A:  David's Answer:  Yes, the marriage should be effective so long as you complied with all legal requirements in that country. You would need to contact a Family Law attorney in that country to best inquire as to where to pick up the certificate.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

If I only have copy of stip can I ever address court and ask for it to be enforced if it has not been approved by supreme court

Q:  only have copy of stip. can it be enforced even if it was not included in divorce

A:  David's Answer:  A stipulation that has not been "so-ordered" or incorporated into a judgment cannot be enforced within the matrimonial action. Depending on whether it's a properly-drawn stipulation of settlement or separation agreement, it's arguable its nevertheless enforceable as a stand-alone contract. That said, I'd need more facts as to why - if it was a stip of settlement - it was not incorporated into the judgment. Schedule a consult with a Family Law attorney in your area.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Can I refuse paternity test

Q:  I had an affair and got pregnant a few years ago. My husband knew about it and knows the possibility that the child is not his. He has accepted this and the child. Now the other guy who is in another state is trying to get a dna to see if the child is his but I don't want him to have anything to do with the child since my husband and I have been raising her.Can I refuse this? If not and he is the father since I am married and she was born in another state can I refuse him the right to see the child?

A:  David's Answer:  Assuming you were married at the time of conception, there's a presumption of legitimacy that the Court would need to overcome prior to ordering the DNA test. As such, you're entitled to a paternity trial prior to the Court ordering the DNA test. You should hire a lawyer who has conducted such trials in the past. Call a Family Law attorney in your area for a consult.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Does legal separation of unregistered legal marriage in US requires approval from both partners?

Q:  i am in my home country now and possess b2 visa. my spouse is in US and she is a permanent resident. can i process for the legal separation from here or can she process it from there ? how can we get legally separated? i dont have any SSN and tax file number. if i have to apply for any other visa category (j1)independently; should i get legally separated before that for our marriage is not registered yet........

A:  David's Answer:  You can get separated here so long as you consent to NY jurisdiction. You'd need to bear in mind that once NY has jurisdiction, they'll have jurisdiction to do the divorce and any modifications/enforcement thereof. Speak to a Family Law attorney in the Rochester area.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (



A:  David's Answer:  If the kids are in college now, then the expenses must be paid now. That said, you can always take out Parents loan to cover your portion (assuming the divorce agreement/judgment requires you to contribute to same). You can then payback the loan once the house sells. Schedule a consult with a Putnum/Westchester Family Law attorney for more info.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Does a distinct red hand print left on a child more than 48 hours later constitute child abuse - a medically normal child of 4?

Q:  Hand print was left by maternal grandfather.

A: David's Answer:  It seems like it's indicative of child neglect (excessive corporal punishment). You may wish to take the child into a Doctor just to get checked as a Doctor is a mandated reporter of child abuse. If there's a custody issue it's always better that the report be called in by a neutral party such as a Doctor. Schedule a consult with a Child Custody lawyer in your area.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Can my husband, a Level 3 Sex Offender, live with myself and my daughter legally in New York State?

Q:  My husband, who is a registered Level 3 Sex Offender in NYS, is due to come home from prison next year on a Class E felony of failing to notify the registry of an address change. To make a long story short, is he allowed to parole home to me (his wife) and my daughter once he is released? Unfortunately society has stamped him with this "violent sex offender" label on an incident that occurred more then 10 years ago. I'm not asking to be judged here or for side commentary, my daughter views him as her own father as he has been in her life for 2 years. I just want to know if my family can be together when he comes home. Any help would be greatly appreciated so I know what to expect when he is due to parole home.

A:  David's Answer:  What are the terms of his parole? Also, how old is your daughter? The younger she is, the more likely it may result in a CPS case. You're best advised to schedule a consult with a Family Law attorney in your area.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Relationship dissolved: forced to move out of home, ex refuses to return some property plus ex and roommate owe me for bills.

Q:  My now ex had me and our kids put out of our apartment by obtaining a TRO against me, which he has since dropped. The judge in that case and the support case for our children ordered him to return all of my belongings and that of the children. He has not and those things add up to the sum of $1000. He and his roommate had a verbal agreement with me that I would open all the utilities in my name and that between them they would pay the bills. My ex was to pay 2/3rd and the roommate 1/3rd of all the bills. I was told in both courts that I am allowed to either sue him for the agreed bills in civil court OR work out with his lawyer for him to pay what is owed. His lawyer only wants to give me half of what he owes because she says that is all the court will give me. How do I get what is owed?

A:  David's Answer:  The question I have is: ex what? ex-boyfriend? Or ex-spouse? If ex-spouse, then what does your divorce agreement/judgment say? Otherwise, you may have a tough job proving a "verbal agreement," especially if there was no consideration given for same. Schedule a consult with a Family Law attorney in your area.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

In 2003 I married a non-US citizen in Fla and shortly after he left the country and has never returned. Is the marriage legal?

Q:  The ceremony was performed in a court in Florida and I have a copy of the marriage certificate but the person I married is not a US citizen. He has since moved back to Nigeria and has remarried there. I have no way to reach or contact him. It was been many years since we last spoke. I am currently engaged. My fiancee and I are in the marriage application process. I do not want to bring up this issue with my fiancee unless absolutely necessary. How do I know if this marriage is legal? If it is legal, what can I do to terminate the marriage if the person I married is not in the US and is not reachable?

A:  David's Answer:  From the facts you've presented, you're legally married. You would need to commence a divorce action & have your husband served in Nigeria. If you do not have an address for him, you may need to hire a P.I. in Nigeria to conduct a diligent search. Speak to a Family Law attorney in your area.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (