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What are the “Best Interests of the Child” in Phoenix?

Most state laws refer to child custody decisions as being in the “best interests of the child” but this may be interpreted differently in each situation, and each case is unique. In Arizona, family courts take into consideration many factors to determine where the child’s best chance of a balanced life lies.

The court considers the preferences of the parents as well as the child, and evaluates the relationship between child and parent as well as siblings (if any) and significant others such as grandparents. It will also look into the current educational and community situation of the child to determine if it would be healthier for the child to maintain the status quo or to allow the child to be placed in a new situation. Another important factor would be the age, mental state, and physical health of the child.

An Arizona family court judge is just as likely to award sole custody as well as joint custody depending on the circumstances, and to award sole custody regardless of the parent’s gender if it is in the best interest of the child. Historically, family courts tended to favor awarding physical custody to the mother for very young children when the parents cannot reach an agreement on their own, but this is not supposed to be the case any longer. The court will also decide on a visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent.

The parents are encouraged propose a jointly-prepared parenting plan subject to the court’s approval. This includes a custodial schedule, plans for education, religion, and health as well as plans for vacations and holidays. Unless there is a case of domestic violence or false allegations of such, or the judge discerns a level of coercion or duress in the custody agreement, such parenting plans are considered favorably as long as it conforms to the law. It would be advisable to have family law attorneys like the San Jose lawyers of Daniel Jensen draft such agreements in accordance to the parents’ wishes to ensure that it is a legally binding and fair agreement.

Nursing Home Abuse Cases on the Rise

After noticing bruising on their grandmother, two North Texas women decided to hide a camera in her room at a nursing facility. Camera footage revealed that their grandmother’s primary caretaker was verbally and physically abusive. Instead of helping the resident out of her bed gently, the caretaker would yank the 98-year-old woman up by her arm. Daily dressing and undressing proved to be a constant battle between the resident and the caretaker. The caretaker didn’t display gentleness while changing the resident’s clothes and was seen slapping and taunting her multiple times.

Despite their compelling video evidence, the family couldn’t do much to take the nurse’s certification away. Apparently this is one of many instances where nursing home residents suffer at the hand of unpunished facility employees. A study of reported incidents shows that abuse occurs regularly in one third of all United States nursing homes. According to the website of the National Injury Law Center, bed sores, fractures, dehydration, malnutrition, theft, gangrene, septic shock, infection, are all common ailments that neglected nursing home residents suffer from. A reprehensible practice called “double diapering” has landed some nursing home facilities on probation. Attendants will put two diapers on a resident so that they don’t have to take the resident to that bathroom as often.

A report indicates that the amount of nursing homes that have been cited for violations has increased yearly since 1996. Some people credit stringent rules for citing as the reason for this rise in violations. Facilities are legally required to report incidents, sometimes trivial in nature, as abuse. However, many incidents of abuse in nursing facilities are much more serious in nature. Since elderly residents require heightened supervision and care, a mistake like switching medications or not meeting dietary needs can have grave consequences.

Texas Child Support Laws

It is an unfortunate fact that when children are a factor in divorce, child support issues become a bone of contention, especially if the divorce is dissentious. As it is with child custody, the concern of the courts is to look out for the best interests of children of divorce, and to protect their rights to financial maintenance by their parents.

The laws governing child support in Texas is embodied in Title 5 Subtitle B Chapter 154 of the Texas Family Code. In it, the laws are very specific on what the courts may and may not order based on the circumstances. It is possible that both parents will be assigned a certain amount of child support in cases when neither parent has physical conservatorship (which is what they call custody in Texas). In most cases, however, the parent who is the physical conservator is the one who will receive child support payments from the non-conservator parent.

There are many possible scenarios described under Chapter 154, but perhaps what would be an important point to know is that the failure of one parent to pay regularly court-ordered child support may be considered a quasi-criminal offense under Texas Penal Code §25.05 if that parent does so even if he or she has the financial capability to make payments. The penalty for this (considered contempt of court) can be as much as 180 days imprisonment each time the case is brought before the Texas Child Support Division as well as $500 in fines. According to the website of the BB Law Group PLLC, the non-paying parent may also risk losing state-issued licenses including professional, driver’s, business and recreational.

If you live in Texas and have been having difficulty in getting your spouse to pay child support regularly even though there is a financial capacity for it, consult with a lawyer in the area about your legal options. Your child or children should not have to suffer from your spouse’s refusal to fulfill legal and familial obligations.

Emergency Room Errors: More Common than You Think

If you have ever watched an episode of the tv show ER, you will know that it is a scene of much drama and tension. But while the award winning show focused primarily on the lives and personalities of the medical personnel, the stars of the show in a real emergency room are the patients, with the medical personnel acting as supporting characters. In real life, however, the stars of the drama don’t always come out triumphant in the end, and in some cases it is due to preventable emergency room errors.

It is a fact that the medical personnel in an emergency room need to be on their toes and to make quick literally life-or-death decisions for their patients. In most cases this can save a person’s life, but when in some instances because of carelessness or negligence, errors are made that can adversely affect a patient’s life, sometimes permanently. For example, a patient dies of a ruptured appendix an hour after a busy ER doctor sends her home with a prescription for antacid for her belly ache. This is a case of emergency room error that may land the ER doctor in court for medical malpractice.

Some of the most common human errors that occur in a hospital emergency room include:

  • Anesthesia errors
  • Delayed treatment
  • Medication or dosage error
  • Failure to diagnose
  • Incorrect diagnosis
  • Incorrect treatment method

This happens more often than it should, notwithstanding the effects of stress and time-constraints often prevailing in an emergency room. Patients have a right to a standard of care from medical practitioners, and there is no excuse for sloppy work. If you or someone you know suffered injury or death due to emergency room errors, you have a right to pursue compensation from the person or entity responsible for the medical mistake in question.

The Dangers of the Caffeinated Food Trend

In response to the increasing trend of food products that have caffeine added into them, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is holding an investigation into the effects of caffeine, especially on children and adolescents.

The announcement comes alongside the release of a new gum from Wrigley that features caffeine as an additive. One piece of the gum has the caffeine content of half a cup of coffee. After discussions with the administration, Wrigley today announced that it will cease selling the caffeinated gum pending the results of the FDA investigation.

The concern is that these caffeinated food products are often marketed to children, who should not have stimulants in their diet. Too much caffeine can cause an increased heart rate or arrhythmia.

Officials at the FDA applaud Wrigley for taking interest in public health. Not much is yet known about the effects of prolonged caffeine exposure in children, so the administration is hoping other producers of caffeinated foods will make similar decisions as it moves towards enacting appropriate regulations.caffeinated foods

 

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