Puppy: Property or Family Pooch?

Seven years ago, I adopted my dog Lola, the cutest Pomeranian in the world. I was still in college and living in the dorms, where no dogs were allowed. My best friend agreed that we would share her: he would let her live with him, but I paid for Lola and all her paperwork was in my name. He housed her, and I came over every day between classes to take care of her. Needless to say, I pretty much lived with my friend and Lola and did not spend much time at the dorm. Lola came to live with me when I graduated, but she had lived with my friend for 18 months. Dogs are, in many states, considered property, and, now being in law school, I know leaving my “property” at my friend’s house for over a year could have jeopardized my claim to Lola. (Remember: possession is 9/10ths of the law!)

But is a dog property or a part of the family?… <Read More>

Parental Rights Termination

On November 22, the Maryland Court of Appeals declared that the “child’s interests” test prevailed in terminating custody in a legal or biological parent, over the previously used “unfit parent” standard. The court held that parental unfitness or exceptional circumstances were not a prerequisite finding in terminating the custodial rights of a parent.

But, when it comes to custody of a legal/biological parent over a non-parent, is best interests enough?

Should a wealthier non-parent with interests in the child’s life and upbringing be able to terminate the parent’s rights to the child based on best interests without needing to show unfitness or a higher standard to overcome?

The result of this standard may endanger parental rights to care for and enjoy custody of their child- the commonly recognized right of a parent to raise his or her child without state interference.

But on the other hand, consistent with the opinion of the court of appeals, the child’s best interests are always the paramount consideration regarding disputes that arise in such situations. This is true with regard to visitation of non-parents, as well as child support standards and modifications.

 For more on this case click HERE

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