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Brooklyn Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Are you and your child victims of 'parental gatekeeping?'

The terms "parental gatekeeping" and "parental alienation" are often used interchangeably. However, parental alienation -- where one parent tries to turn a child against the other parent -- is an extreme form of parental gatekeeping.

Parental gatekeeping involves a parent restricting a child's contact with their other parent and/or trying to minimize the other parent's involvement in the child's life and development. The gatekeeper may or may not harbor resentment and anger toward their co-parent. They may simply believe that they know how to care for their child and their co-parent doesn't.

Can you seek to end your co-parent's visitation rights?

You were awarded sole custody of your child in your divorce, but your ex has visitation rights. You want to abide by the court order, and you know that it's important for your child to maintain a relationship with your co-parent. However, you're concerned about the safety and well-being of your child during those visits.

Perhaps your child is extremely anxious prior to the visits or tells you they don't want to go, but can't (or won't) explain why. Maybe you've seen or heard things that concern you. Your child may have told you that they see their other parent and their friends drinking during the visits. Maybe your child's clothes smell like cigarettes when they return home.

Have you done your estate planning yet?

Those who work in the field of estate planning frequently encounter folks who believe that once they have drawn up their will, their estate plan is complete. The reality is that could hardly be farther from the truth.

While your will is always a good estate planning jumping-off point, you shouldn't neglect the rest of the plans you will need at some future point.

Discrimination can cost NY realtors, brokers their license

Recently we discussed ways that real estate professionals can avoid housing discrimination lawsuits. Now, in the state of New York, the stakes are even higher for real estate agents and brokers who violate laws against housing discrimination.

Early this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that allows the state to revoke real estate licenses. The new law follows a report late last year in Newsday. The report was based on a three-year investigation using "undercover testers" to pose as home buyers. It discovered "evidence of widespread separate and unequal treatment of minority potential homebuyers and minority communities on Long Island."

How to avoid a housing discrimination suit

Anyone involved in any phase of a residential real estate transaction – especially any professional – should be familiar with the Fair Housing Act. This is the federal law that prohibits discrimination against potential buyers on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, disability or other legally protected class. In New York, age is also a protected class.

Whether you're a mortgage lender, a property manager or a real estate agent or broker, it's easier than you might think to be accused of housing discrimination. The head of a Long Island fair housing advocacy group says, "People get into trouble for discriminatory advertising all the time. Any time you are putting something into writing or saying something to someone who knocks on your door, what you say can be a problem. My advice is to stick to simpler descriptions—about how many bedrooms, square footage and amenities."

Can you stay in the U.S. as a victim of domestic abuse?

If you came to the United States to be with your spouse, one of the most damaging things to experience would be domestic violence. You may feel that you have no way out of the situation or that you can't turn away from your spouse without having to go back to your country. This might not be an option for you, either, especially if your country isn't safe or if you have children who are U.S. citizens.

As the battered spouse of a U.S. citizen, you should know that you can petition for a green card to stay in the United States. This is available through the Immigration and Nationality Act, or INA, as well as the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA. You do not need permission from the alleged abuser to file for this green card, which helps you do so safely and privately.

Yes, immigrants should consider pre-immigration estate planning

You're immigrating to the United States, and with that comes a whole new set of laws and cultural norms to discover and learn. One of the things you realize is that coming to a new country has its risks. You don't want to leave your children without the information and support they need if anything were to happen to you.

That's why estate planning can be a boon for immigrants to the United States. Estate planning is a good idea before receiving permanent resident status, because there are techniques you can use to protect your assets held in another country. You may be able to move your assets in such a way that they are not subject to the gift taxes or estate taxes that you might otherwise face.

What should you expect from co-parenting counseling?

Divorced parents are typically expected to put aside the differences that led to their break-up and the additional animosity created during their divorce and work together amicably to raise their children. However, in some cases, parents just aren't able to do that. This is where co-parenting counseling can be helpful.

In some cases, parents reach a joint consent agreement to seek professional help from a therapist with experience in family counseling. In other cases, counseling may be ordered by the court.

Can divorce cause PTSD?

The end of a marriage is considered to be one of the most stressful life events a person can experience. In fact, one stress scale puts divorce second only to a spouse's death when it comes to inducing stress.

Some mental health professionals assert that divorce can in some cases lead to trauma or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Others say that PTSD can really only result from either "something life-threatening or a threat to bodily integrity," as one clinical psychologist put it.

Budget shortfall to cripple immigration agency

If you are an immigrant living here in New York City who is seeking a green card, citizenship or asylum, you may soon face a setback in your quest. Due to a lack of funding, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued over 13,000 of its employees furlough notices.

Important sections of the country's immigration system will see a dramatic reduction in their capabilities unless Congress acts to provide emergency funding to the agency's budget prior to Aug. 3. The furloughs could last for as long as 90 days if the budget doesn't get a boost during this crisis period. USCIS receives most of its funding via applications for immigration benefits.

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