Considerations When Determining Child Custody

If you and your former spouse are in the middle of a divorce and it is time to decide and agree on custody of your children there are important considerations to make. If you hire Tijjani Law to serve as legal representation we can walk you through the process, but it is helpful to think about your answers to the five questions in the article below. Hopefully these considerations help your custody process go smoother!

Whether you’re just getting divorced or still hashing out custody issues with an old ex, you’re probably wondering if you need the help of an attorney. Beyond having expertise in the field generally and familiarity with the court or judges involved specifically, an experienced child custody lawyer can act as a reasoned buffer between you and your ex (and possibly his or her attorney).

But how do you get a sense of the custody procedures and process and figure out which custody lawyer is right for you? Here are five questions to ask a potential child custody attorney, before you hire them.

1. Can You Make a Child Custody Agreement out of Court?

Most of us don’t like the idea of leaving it to a judge to sort out family issues. And some of us don’t want to air dirty laundry in court. So is there any way to avoid hearings while coming to an agreement on child custody? You do have options — here are a few of them.

2. What’s the Difference Between Split Custody and Joint Custody?

Unsurprisingly, child custody isn’t a black-and-white, either-or kind of scenario. There are different types of custody, and a million different ways to write a custody agreement that works for everyone. But before that you need to know exactly what your options are, and which might be best for you and your child.

3. What Are the Penalties for Avoiding Child Support?

While distinct legal issues, child custody and child support are inextricably linked for parents. After all, how much you pay may be dependent on how much custody you have. But, you can’t withhold child support just because your ex withheld visitation access. Here’s what you need to know.

4. When Should You Appeal a Child Custody Ruling?

Sometimes some new, previously unknown facts come to light. Sometimes our circumstances change. There are myriad reasons to alter an existing child custody agreement, and the process for amendment or appeal can be different depending on those circumstances and the type of original custody plan.

5. How Much Will a Lawyer Cost?

This is the main concern for most parents. Obviously you want the best possible representation, but you may have a limited budget. Lawyer’s fees often fluctuate depending on skill and experience, but here are some other factors to look for.

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Using an Attorney for Naturalization Processes

According to the United States Department of Homeland Security, “Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).” (Source:
If you are going through the naturalization process and think you need an attorney, read the article below and then give Tijjani Law a call!

Naturalization describes the process by which people not born in the United States or to U.S.-citizen parents can become citizens themselves, a process that can be long, extensive, and complicated. Given the language barrier, the numerous necessary documents, and the unfamiliarity with the naturalization process, many immigrants seeking citizenship never begin the process, get swamped in legalese, or have their applications denied.

While there is no statutory requirement for you to hire an immigration lawyer to file for citizenship, you may want to have someone with some professional experience on your side to guide you through the naturalization process.

Americans and English

One of the requirements of U.S. citizenship is an ability to read, write, and speak English. But basic language comprehension is one thing, and navigating the immigration and naturalization process is quite another. And if you have any difficulty reading and understanding English, applying for citizenship can seem impossible.

Most immigration attorneys will either be fluent in the language of their clients, or offer an interpreter or translator to aid the process. And an experienced naturalization lawyer will also be fluent in the legal requirements for citizenship. It is important that you and your attorney can understand each other, and what’s required in the naturalization process.

Proof and Documentation

There are several requirements an applicant must meet in order to be granted citizenship, and they will all require some form of proof or documentation. There are dozens of forms or documents that will make up your application, from color photographs of your face and biographical information to marriage certificates and IRS agreements. Understanding which documents need to be filed with Citizenship and Immigration Services — and what those documents should contain — can be difficult without legal assistance.

Time and Experience

A good immigration and naturalization lawyer will tell you just what to expect from the naturalization process, and an experienced attorney knows what Citizenship and Immigration Services wants to see on an application. A lawyer can give you an idea of how long the process might take, provide updates throughout the process, and may even be able to help you prepare for the examination segment. And an attorney can ensure that your application has everything necessary to give you the best shot at citizenship.

Whether you have difficulty understanding English, need assistance gathering the necessary documents, or just want to know why some applications are denied so you can avoid the same fate, you can find experienced immigration attorneys in our directory.

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Public Welfare for Immigrants

There are many uncertainties regarding immigration and the status of immigrants’ citizenship in our country right now. For those that have come to America looking for a better life with lack of financial means or missed opportunities for jobs, there could be question if it is possible to receive assistance. The article below explains what the current guidelines are.

One of the most contentious issues in the U.S. immigration debate involves the provision of public assistance to immigrants. Recently, during a rally, President Donald Trump riled up his crowd by stating that he planned on a passing a law preventing immigrants from receiving welfare benefits for their first five years in the country.

This statement not only drew cheers from Trump’s crowd, known to be anti-immigration, but it also drew much criticism. The criticism focused on the fact that a law to this effect has already existed for 20 years.

Clearly there is some confusion on this issue. Although immigrants are banned from federal welfare benefits, it’s important for immigrants to know that there are some exceptions. Also, there are non-federal resources an immigrant may be able to utilize.

Pay to Play Citizenship

Under the 20-year-old law, immigrants are not entitled to federal public assistance, or benefits, until the individual has been in the country for five years. This eligibility requirement is intended to prevent immigrants from coming to the country solely to receive public assistance.

However, true to our nation’s ideology, there are exceptions for refugees, children, and individuals victimized by crime or corrupt governments. Generally, the exceptions in place already provide for those immigrants that qualify to be eligible for limited federal welfare programs tailored to help by providing food stamps, and other assistance.

Public Benefits for Immigrants

While federal welfare benefit programs impose this five-year limit on eligibility for immigrants, many state and local social welfare programs do not. In addition to state and local assistance programs, there are private non-profit organizations that will provide assistance regardless of citizenship, residency, or documented status.

Even though it may seem fiscally unsound to provide public benefits to recent immigrants, doing so is much more likely to lead to a successful transition. By allowing immigrants the same resources available to residents and citizens, society on a whole benefits, as those denied welfare assistance generally are at a higher risk of needing more costly emergency, or medical, assistance, or worse.

For assistance with legal immigration issues, contact an experienced immigration lawyer as soon as possible.

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Divorce and Inheritances

Whether you or your adult child are going through a divorce, you need to consider property division including assets. If your child has an inheritance and you are worried your soon-to-be ex-spouse will touch it, there are ways to protect it. Same goes with if your adult child is getting a divorce and you are worried that their soon-to-be ex will take it, there are measures you and your child can take to make sure that does not happen. Read the article below for more information on this topic.

Inheritances are not treated the same way as normal marital property in a divorce. Generally, so long as there has not been any commingling with marital property, an inheritance can remain separate property, just like premarital assets. Commingling occurs when separate property, usually money, is mixed with marital property. For instance, depositing an inheritance check into a joint bank account is likely to convert it from separate property to marital property.

From time to time, a parent will need to take precaution to make sure their children’s inheritances are safe from their own spouse, or their adult child’s spouse. This issue is particularly pronounced for non-marital children, or when parents believe an adult child is at risk of divorce.

Non-marital Children

Although non-marital children will have inheritance rights if you die without a will, it will require going through the probate court and potential disagreements. Parents often want to ensure that children born prior to, or outside of marriage will be able to inherit without that difficulty.

Generally, upon death, each spouse can bequeath their own separate property as well as their share of the marital property how they see fit. This means that a parent who wants to make sure their child born outside of their current marriage will inherit should specify that in their will.

Adult Children at Risk of Divorce

When a parent is concerned that their adult child’s spouse may attempt to take part of an inheritance in a divorce, legal steps can be taken to protect the inheritance. For an inheritance to be regarded as separate property, the property cannot be bequeathed to both your child and their spouse. A will should specify that the inheritance is only for your child. However, even if you leave property to just your own child, if they do not treat the property as separate property and mix it with marital property, the mixing can lead to confusion during your child’s divorce.

A popular way to protect a child’s inheritance is by creating a trust solely in the name of your child in your will. By using a trust, a parent can ensure that their child’s disgruntled, soon-to-be ex-spouse, won’t be able to lay claim to an inheritance.

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Divorce and Electronic/Online Information

If you are getting divorced or are already in the middle of a divorce, it might have crossed your mind to use your computers and/or phones to track information on your former spouse or to store your own information. Your former spouse could be doing the same thing, however. If you share accounts online you might want to protect yourself. Use the tips in the article below to do so.

In our modern times of cellular telephones, energy drinks, and the World Wide Web, divorce is both easier and more complex all at the same time. Modern conveniences make contacting lawyers and gathering evidence and information quite a bit simpler. But divorce is adversarial, and gathering evidence is now equally convenient for your ex.

When it comes to divorce proceedings, matters often become contentious due to the strained relationship that is legally being dissolved. If child custody is part of a divorce, it can get even more tense.

Here are three tips on how to safeguard and handle your electronic data and information during divorce.

1. Lock It Down

After separating, you should change all your online account passwords, including shared accounts. While a soon-to-be-former spouse is entitled to receive information about your financial assets and holdings as part of a contested divorce’s dissolution proceedings, you do not need to allow anyone to see your personal online accounts, including social media or non-financial accounts, unless there is good reason.

However, it is worth noting that when child custody is in issue, courts can order rather invasive personal discovery, including the divulging account information and passwords for social media accounts and even dating website accounts.

2. Watch What You Say Online

Although some people use the internet and social media as a sounding board for the worst ideas ever thunk, if you are going through a divorce, or a child custody dispute, you should think twice before you post anything regrettable, or something that makes you look like a bad parent or irresponsible person. What you post can be used against you.

If you like to “check in” on social media sites everywhere you go, you may want to consider not checking in at every bar or every restaurant that serves alcohol. Avoid checking in at places that might harm your reputation.

3. Delete With Caution

While it may be easy to just go ahead and delete everything you post that makes your lawyer look down and shake their head, sometimes deleting something will do the opposite of help. As an initial matter, once something is posted online, it can be preserved by viewers by taking screenshots or saving files. Additionally, if what you posted was publicly available, there is a good chance that a search engine, like Google, will have saved a “cached” version of the webpage where you tried to delete a post. Also, a third party subpoena to a website may be able to recover deleted posts as well.

It’s important to remember that if you delete something with the intention of destroying evidence, you may have just committed a crime.

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Wrongful Deportation

Unfortunately, we are going through a tough time in the United States with many political disagreements and shifts of power. Since we have elected a new president, one of the biggest topics has been immigration and citizenship. As immigration lawyers, we want to provide resources to answer any questions you may have on this topic. The article below discusses wrongful deportation and how you can fight it.

Unfortunately, on occasion, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) just gets it wrong. Sometimes they deport US citizens and others that shouldn’t be deported. This tends to occur as a result of overburdened immigration court judges and court staff, in combination with ICE’s documentation failures, and the lack of attorney representation for defendants.

Fortunately, when an individual is wrongfully deported, they can eventually be readmitted, though it usually takes some work, even for citizens, to prove the deportation was wrongful. Additionally, a person who has been wrongfully deported may have a civil rights claim against the government as a result of the deportation.

Yes, US Citizens Actually Get Deported

A recent report explained that thousands of US citizens get deported annually as a result of the poor administration of justice. Because the government is not required to provide an attorney to deportation defendants, those who cannot afford a lawyer just don’t get legal representationWithout a lawyer to advocate on a defendant’s behalf, an individual is unlikely to be able to properly challenge a deportation, nor utilize all the available avenues for legal relief.

What’s worse is that once an individual is deported, if they cannot afford to hire an attorney, they may not be able to challenge the deportation at all, due to not being able to access the courts while deported.

Suing for Wrongful Deportation

Individuals actually can bring a civil action for damages against the federal government for wrongful deportation. There have been many successful cases. After a 1971 case, named Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, a new claim became recognized against federal agents and officers, appropriately called a Bivens Claim.

Generally, the federal government has immunity from being sued, but individual officers or agents may not enjoy immunity if they violate an individual’s clearly established constitutional rights. In wrongful deportation cases, the clearly established rights usually include the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable seizure, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection.

In addition to a Bivens claim, if a person is injured, or suffers monetary damages as a result of a wrongful deportation, they may have a Federal Tort Claims Act case. In order to file a proper FTCA claim, an individual must complete a form and return that form to the federal agency within two years from the date of the incident. However, typically, the courts will not allow recovery under both Bivens and FTCA unless the injuries suffered are wholly separate.

Suing the federal government is no easy task. Seeking out a consultation with an experienced civil rights lawyer is generally a good idea before bringing a claim or filing a lawsuit.

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If a Pedestrian is Hit by a Car…

As the weather gets nicer in Arizona and across the country there will be more and more pedestrians sharing the road with cars and bicycles. In and around Phoenix, especially, there are a lot of tourists that are exploring on foot and crossing busy streets. That is why it is extremely important to be aware of your surroundings as a driver or pedestrian. In the unfortunate event of a pedestrian involved accident, there are steps that need to be followed. The article below from explains them all.

When a pedestrian or cyclist gets hit by a car, it is a frightening experience. Cars are large, heavy objects that, even at low speeds, can cause severe injuries to individuals.

After a car accident with a pedestrian, it is important for the pedestrian to take a few steps to ensure that they will be able to hold the at-fault driver accountable, similarly to a regular car accident. While it may be impossible for an injured pedestrian to do anything after getting hit by a car, if they are able to do the following, it may greatly improve their legal prospects.

Call 911 for Ambulance and Police

If an injured pedestrian, or bystander, can call 911 and request both an ambulance and the police, this should be done. The police are particularly important in order to take statements for a police report, and investigate any underlying causes for the accident, such as a DUI or other related crime.

An ambulance will be able to provide limited medical care, and can aid in the decision of whether further emergency medical care is necessary.

Make Sure You Get the Driver’s Info

Although the police will likely collect the other driver’s information, if they arrive at the scene; if police do not show up before you must leave in an ambulance, it may be a good idea to try to get the other driver’s information somehow. Getting the driver’s full name, address, phone number and insurance information, minimally, should be done.

Also, if there are witnesses, attempt to get their names, addresses and phone numbers. If you don’t get this info at the scene, you may never be able to unless the police are present, or you personally know the witnesses or other driver.

Take Pictures at the Scene

While taking pictures of the scene of the accident may not be at the forefront of an injury victim’s mind, it frequently can provide the basis to prove the severity of an accident, as well as the cause of an injury. Additionally, while somewhat unsettling, for severe injuries, detailed pictures from the scene can sometimes result in larger jury awards.

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Considerations When Filing Taxes With a Settlement

It is the start of a new year which means it is also tax season. If you received a settlement, and more specifically a personal injury settlement, in 2016 then you need to incorporate that into your taxes. There are many components to a personal injury case when you consider what was missed financially when injured. For tips on how to disclose that all in your taxes read the article below.

Physical Injury and Sickness Compensation

Settlement amounts allocated for personal physical injuries or physical sickness should not be included as income, and therefore the full amount is non-taxable. However, if any of that amount was for medical expenses that you paid and deducted from your taxes in prior years, you must report that amount if the deduction amounted to a tax benefit.

Emotional Distress Compensation

So long as the emotional distress is related to the physical injury or sickness for which you were compensated, that amount will also be untaxed. But if you receive proceeds for emotional distress or mental anguish that did not originate from a personal physical injury or physical sickness, you must include that as income. The amount you’ll be taxed, though, can be reduced by any amount you paid for medical expenses.

Lost Wages Compensation

If you missed work due to an injury, compensation for those lost wages may not be taxable. But if you got money in a settlement in an employment-related lawsuit, like a discrimination or wrongful termination claim, proceeds for lost wages can be taxable just like any other income.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are designed to punish bad behavior, rather than compensate for an injury. Therefore, if you asked for and received punitive damages as part of your personal injury settlement or award, that amount will be considered taxable income.

For a more complete picture of how your personal injury settlement will affect your tax filing, contact an experienced injury attorney near you.

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What You Might Not Know About Personal Injury Suits

From November to the end of December, people are out and about in busy places getting ready for the holidays. So what happens if you get hurt when you are running errands or shopping on Black Friday? If your injuries are bad and/or could have been prevented you might consider a law suit for a settlement. Read more about this in the article below.

Considering our holiday shopping lists, this might be the busiest time of year for parking lots. And considering the weather, the amount of traffic, and the opportunism of criminals, this might also be when parking lots are at their most dangerous.

Here’s a look at the legal liability for parking lots and stores for slip-and-fall injuries, car accidents, and criminal activity:

Shopping Slip-and-Fall

The legal principle of premises liability means that property owners have a duty to maintain their property, and are therefore responsible for accidents and injuries that occur on their property. And this liability can extend to the parking lot outside of a store.

That means if the management knew or should have known the lot would be slippery (based on weather reports or usual conditions in the parking lot) and the store or lot owner failed to shovel, de-ice, or otherwise make the space safe, it may be responsible for medical expenses, lost work time, and maybe more if you slip and fall in the store parking lot.

Commercial Collision

If a parking lot car accident bends more than your fender, you may have a case against the other driver or the lot owner. The owner or management company should make sure the lot is in good condition and clear of any known dangers. And for the most part, car-on-car collisions in parking lots are treating like accidents out on the open road.

Make sure you stay calm and ensure that anyone who is injured, including you, receives adequate medical attention. If possible, exchange information with any other drivers or pedestrians involved, and do your best to document the accident as accurately as possible with photos, witness statements, and police reports.

Lot of Crime

In some recent cases, retailers have been found liable for crimes that occur in their parking lots. This liability generally hinges on how foreseeable the crime was; meaning those parking lot owners in high crime areas or those whose lots have been the scene of the crime previously could be on the hook for any injuries from robberies or assaults in their lots.

If you’ve been injured in a parking lot and wonder if you might have a legal claim to damages, consult an experienced personal injury attorney near you.

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Know This Info for Happy Holidays

If you are experiencing turmoil in your family around the holiday season there are things you should know so you can make the holidays enjoyable. You might be worried about custody/visitation conflicts or conflict between you and your spouse, read the tips in the article below. Enjoy this time of year and avoid going through unnecessary trouble!

1. Proposing Over the Holidays? 5 Ways to Prepare

If you’re planning on proposing, or maybe even eloping, over the holidays, you should definitely read up on the legal requirements and ramifications of your holiday nuptials. While wise men say that only fools rush in, even if you can’t help it, you can still get some solid legal advice beforehand.

2. 4 Reasons to Delay Divorce Until After the Holidays

On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re considering divorce over the holidays, you may want to reconsider, temporarily. Although in many cases, a couple may not be able to spend another day together, there are a few completely legal and compelling financial reasons to delay the inevitable.

3. Child Custody Tips: How to Share the Kids During Holidays

After a divorce, parents who share custody often struggle with sharing their children during the holiday season. While parents may want to spend every last minute of every holiday with their children, it is important to remember that the children likely want to, and will benefit from, seeing both of their parents over the holidays. Finding a way to make that happen may require some creative planning, but it is possible.

4. Legal How-To: Modifying Holiday Child-Custody Plans Out of Court

If you and your former spouse can’t get it together to informally plan sharing custody over the holidays, then a formal agreement might just be what the Juris Doctor ordered. Though getting a court to approve the agreement on short notice during the holidays is unlikely, if you and/or your former spouse are represented by attorneys, then the attorneys may be able to help you reach the same compromise that a court is likely to order.

5. Do Grandparents Get Holiday Visitation Rights?

While parents tend to have sole discretion over who can spend time with their children, in some states, grandparents may be able to seek and obtain visitation rights. Generally, each state’s rules about granting visitation to grandparents will differ, but courts will often focus on what is in the best interest of the child.

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