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Venn Crawford

The Seven Nights of Santa traveled to Lithuania for the first time this July, thanks to our friend Andrew Mastecas’s excellent work in translating the book.

The Seven Nights of Santa
My husband Dwight Ensley and I first published The Seven Nights of Santa in 2013. In my work as a family law attorney, I see a lot of divorces involving children. Holidays such as Christmas are often difficult for such families – there are disagreements over how to celebrate or which house the kids open gifts in. Additionally, media images of “traditional” families don’t represent the experiences of children of divorce. These experiences are what inspired The Seven Nights of Santa, which shows how Christmas can be magical for families of all shapes and sizes.

We give away copies of the book to clients going through a divorce, but their children aren’t the only ones who need this message. That’s why we teamed up with Andrew Mastecas, a 9th grader from New York City, who translated the book into Lithuanian and donated the copies to orphanages in the country.

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Carolyn Woodruff

Dear Readers, today we have another Lolita story, and unfortunately, this kind of story is more common than you might think. The second question concerns an aging parent, who is perhaps incompetent.

Dear Carolyn,

I am in a book club with a group of women. One of the women in the book club has a 13-year-old daughter, and she asked me to write to you about this situation with her daughter. The daughter and mother do not live in Guilford County. The 13-year-old daughter has an uncle, the brother of the father of the 13-year-old. Unbeknownst to the mother, this uncle was apparently grooming the 13-year-old for a sexual relationship. There apparently were a couple of encounters of oral sex and breast fondling, as disgusting as that is.

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Carolyn Woodruff

Dear Carolyn,

I read an article about a man who took marijuana to the courtroom in Greensboro. My ex-spouse smokes marijuana, and we are getting ready for a custody trial over our three-year-old. After my ex moved out, I found some drug paraphernalia the ex left behind in my home. I found a ceramic pipe, and I know what my ex used this for. I have never used drugs, and this is one of the reasons we broke up. I want to use this as evidence in my custody trial, but now I am afraid to take the evidence to court to show the judge. What should I do? The judge needs to see the evidence I have. I do not have an attorney, at least not yet. I don’t want to end up like Mr. Hussain, in jail.

Concerned

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Carolyn Woodruff

Dear Carolyn,

I am a grandmother with an adorable sixteen-month-old grandson. He has recently started a preschool while his parents work. He is learning sign language, which I think is like deaf people learn and use. I don’t remember learning about this when my children were babies. What do you think about this?

– Interested in Sign Language

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Carolyn Woodruff

Dear Readers, two of you submitted very exciting questions in frequently misunderstood areas in the nuances of family law. Question one deals with custody as part of a Chapter 50B domestic violence protective order. The second question deals with cohabitation when you are the recipient of alimony under an order or agreement.

Dear Carolyn,

My 50B expired one year ago. It included custody of my then 2-year-old. After a period of time does that custody order become permanent if not contested by her father?

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Carolyn Woodruff

Today’s Ask Carolyn addresses the marriage of minor children in the United States and a domestic violence situation involving parents who won’t allow their 20-year-old to move out.

Dear Carolyn,

I am concerned about an article I recently read concerning underage girls as young as 12 and 13 years old marrying older males in South Carolina. To me, this is sexual abuse. The article said that nearly 7,000 underage girls – some as young as 12 and 13 – have married in South Carolina in the past 20 years.

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What better way to beat the heat this July than with patriotic popsicles? If you want to really knock the socks off your neighbors though, you can’t settle for store bought. But of course, that’s why you’re here.

Don’t let the title mislead you – today I’m bringing you not one, but twelve popsicle recipes. Because today’s blog isn’t just about making a Fourth of July popsicle, it’s about making the ultimate Fourth of July popsicle. I’m talking a popsicle that bleeds melts red, white, and blue.

Ready to pick some flavors? Let’s start off with white.

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Carolyn Woodruff

The fourteenth amendment of the United States Constitution creates the Parental Rights Doctrine. It is fundamental to our society that parents have the right to raise their children and the average American, I believe, has a longstanding commitment to parental rights. Except in extreme circumstances, parents have the fundamental right to parent a child and decide what is in the best interests of their own child (this article doesn’t address custody disputes between two good parents each of whom has a fundamental right to parent). This article does address the fundamental rights of parents over CPS.

In further advancement of the Parental Rights Doctrine, the United States Supreme Court has had moments of brilliance on this issue. For example, in Troxel v. Granville, 530 US 57 (2000), the United States Supreme Court aptly stated: “The liberty interest at issue in this case—the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children—is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court.”

So where has the societal shift happened that has placed CPS so squarely in the middle of this fundamental right to parent? I believe the shift happened with the passage of the Adoptions and Safe Families Act of 1997 during the Clinton administration. In my opinion, that Act needs to be abolished and we need to return to the Social Worker Model for CPS, as contrasted to the current Law Enforcement Model. The Social Worker Model is “working with others to accomplish a goal.” Perhaps the CPS worker would suggest a needed service, such as counseling through Family Service of the Piedmont, a great organization.

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Carolyn Woodruff
Dear Readers,

Today’s second Ask Carolyn addresses separation as a potential tipping point for suicide and discusses the recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, both of whom were separated from their spouses.

Dear Carolyn,
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Carolyn Woodruff

Dear Carolyn,

I am a concerned mother of a 19-year-old boy, who has a drug issue and is prone to suicidal threats. He did try to kill himself once when he was age sixteen, and he was placed in the behavioral health section of a local hospital for treatment. He has recently moved out of my home and into the home of some of his friends. What kind of legal options do I have?

– Need to Know