Archive for the ‘family law’ Category

As I was looking through my news feed on Facebook today, a video of attorney Gerald Curry popped up.  Many of you probably don’t even know who Gerald Curry was, but he became headline news about 11 years ago when he was chased down and shot by a man who was fighting a court-appointed trustee over money that he claimed the trustee was withholding from his injury settlement trust fund.  Mr. Curry represented the trustee in the litigation.   Mr. Curry survived his injuries and continued to practice until his death in 2012.  The video of this shooting follows.

Violence is not uncommon against attorneys (even their staff), from not only their own clients, but by the opposing party.  As can be gathered from the information regarding Mr. Curry’s shooting, even attorney’s who are not in Family Law can be victims of violence. It amazes me that the American Bar Association has not updated its article done in the mid-90′s, “Lawyers in Harm’s Way.”  This article revealed that 60 percent of family lawyers had been threatened by opposing parties, and 17 percent have been threatened by their own clients.  I believe that these percentages have probably increased since the mid-90′s, given the recent rise in violence in our world.

In June 2013, in California Lawyer magazine, a well written article by Wendy L. Patrick titled “The Dangerous Client,” talks about the increasing violence in our nation and an attorneys ethical duties a lawyer has to their clients and to the public.  For those of you interested, you can read this article here. As we all know, violence in the workplace has increased and it is a concern that I am sure many people have.  I know that I think about this almost everyday as I head off to work, especially working in the Family Law arena.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I am proud to have my good friend and colleague Eric G. Young, who is a retired California attorney, as my guest blogger on this personally important subject.  Eric formerly handled family law matters and is a tech/social media enthusiast.  

An Event Of Significance – Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By:  Eric G. Young, Guest Blogger

These days, every month – if not every week or even every day – has one or more events associated with it.  Although they are not holidays in the traditional sense, these events include national or state-recognized advocacy events, commemorative or historical celebrations, and annual education or fund-raising efforts. Some are recognized by special legislation; others are just quirky, highly individualized events (of every kind and type) devoted to a group’s interest.

October is “Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” so this month is no exception.  Sponsored by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence Awareness Month had its origins in 1981 as a “Day of Unity,” to organize and empower abused women and their children.  Subsequently, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed in 1987.  In 1989, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month Commemorative Legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress. The “Day of Unity” is celebrated on the first Monday in October.

Because so many annual events are recognized, one might find himself or herself anesthetized to yet another commemorative event.  Unfortunately, this may be particularly true when the event highlights something we would all rather not talk about, or from which we would rather look away.

When we consider an event focusing on eradicating violence, however, we are considering something entirely unique.  Violence against a spouse, children, parents, significant other or even companion animals are criminal acts that shatter families.  As a childhood survivor of domestic abuse, I can attest, first-hand, that such acts thrive in the shadows of secrecy, humiliation and fear.

Events like October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month seek to dispel these shadows, enlighten society and empower victims.  For that reason, it is not just another event.  Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an event of significance we can all agree is worth marking and remembering, speaking out and writing about, listening to and advocating for.  Domestic violence will continue to exist if and only if we convince ourselves not to talk about it, divert our eyes and ears, or let others bully us into submission.

Because of its potential to reach even the most remote parts of our globe – coupled with an ease of using a variety of media in its approach – social media continues to play a prominent – if not pivotal – role in combating domestic violence.  For example, CopyRanter recently ran an article that graphically – and provocatively – illustrated social media’s ability to educate and empower.

Here are a few clips from the article.  We strongly encourage readers to check out the full article here, however, as each of the entries are well worth taking a look.

In an article in the New York Times, it was reported that a bill, written under the direction of the House majority leader, Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, would cut $40 billion from the food stamp program over the next 10 years.  It would also require adults between 18 and 50 without minor children to find a job or to enroll in a work-training program in order to receive benefits.

“It’s a sad day in the people’s House when the leadership brings to the floor one of the most heartless bills I have ever seen,” said Representative James McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts. “It’s terrible policy trapped in a terrible process.”

The measure has little chance of advancing in the Senate, and Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigagan and the chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, called it “a monumental waste of time.”

Yes, the federal government has budget problems, but children didn’t cause them, and cutting anti-hunger investments is the wrong way to solve them,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children, a child advocacy group.

This to me, is a sad bill designed to hurt our nations children.  I agree that changes are needed in the food stamp program, but this is not the way to do it.  I wonder how others feel about this?

In case you were hiding under a rock this past week, or were just not listening, California became the 13th state in the nation to have equal rights for all last week.

But wait, don’t go running to get your marriage license yet!  Gov. Jerry Brown (D) issued instructions to counties to “begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the 9th Circuit confirms the stay is lifted” which was done on Friday, June 28th.  A copy of the order lifting the stay from the Supreme Court regarding California Prop 8 can be found here.

However, there are reports that it could take as long as 25 days for some counties to begin allowing marriages again.  It is suggested that you contact your local County Clerk to see when they will be performing same sex marriages again.

It was reported that two of the named Prop 8 plaintiffs, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, were married on June 28th in Los Angeles.   Their wedding was officiated by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

San Francisco resumed issuing same-sex marriage licenses during the Pride Weekend and is issuing licenses this Saturday and Sunday, from 9-5.

I am thrilled that California is back on track in equal rights for everyone!

Take the usual agony of an adoption dispute. Add in the disgraceful U.S. history of ripping Indian children from their Native American families. Mix in a dose of initial fatherly abandonment. And there you have it — a poisonous and painful legal cocktail that went before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, according to an article in KQED’s Public Media for Northern California on April 16, 2013.

The article which can be read here, tells about the adoption of a 2 year old girl whose biological father is a Native American, albeit, only 2% Native American, and his invoking the Indian Child Welfare Act upon learning that the biological mother had given the child up for an open adoption to a non Native American couple.

The biological father in this case had given up his parental rights but changed his mind after finding out that the mother was unable to raise the child and ripped the child from the adoptive parents custody at the age of 2.  He stated in his objection to the adoption that “I just figured the best interest would be … for [Christy] (the biological mother) to have the full custody of her, but for me to still be in the picture — be able to come visit and stuff.”

This is a sad story and one that I hope the Supreme Court recognizes the best interests of the child caught in the middle of this and does the right thing.  I will be watching for the ruling on this one.

 

I recently read an article posted by Stephan Futeral, a South Carolina attorney, with some great information about children and divorce and what parents can do to assist their children during this time.

Per the article, “Divorcing parents can decrease the impact on their children by following guidelines with their children, by avoiding conflict with the other parent, and by maintaining their own well-being.”  Sounds easy, but he listed several ways to deal with your children.  Some of those are listed below:

  • Don’t treat your children as adults – Some parents believe that their children must “grow up” quicker because of the divorce. Unfortunately, just because some parents treat their children like adults does not mean that their children are emotionally or intellectually equipped to deal with adult issues.  Let children be children.
  • Don’t rely on your children for your emotional support – Although it may seem natural to turn to your children for comfort during an emotional time, you are likely to cause greater instability and more pressure on the children. Some children begin to feel responsible for their parent’s emotional well-being, whereas some children suffer other emotional side-effects such as increased anger or depression. If you need emotional support, turn to another family member or a friend instead.
  • Don’t talk about the “divorce” or other grown up stuff – This issue ties in with not treating your children as adults.
  • Don’t block visitation or prevent your children from speaking to the other parent – There are many psychological studies illustrating the benefits children reap from spending time with both parents. No matter how you feel about your former spouse, don’t deprive your children of having a healthy relationship with the other parent.
  • Don’t ask your children to spy on the other parent or report back to you – Children in divorce already may be experiencing conflict in their loyalties and feelings toward both parents. Asking children to spy or to report places the children in an extremely awkward and emotionally stressful position of pleasing one parent while betraying another.
  • Don’t ask your children to keep secrets from the other parent – Dividing a child’s loyalty between parents’ places them under extreme stress. Further, the child is learning to become manipulative and may later play one parent against the other using lies and secrets.
  • Allow your children to take items such as their toys back and forth between homes as long as they can carry them – Oftentimes parents are reluctant to allow toys, books, and other items to go to the other parent’s home because these items may not be returned. Think of these items as the children’s things, not yours, and let your children have a sense of continuity by taking familiar and comforting items such as toys back and forth between homes.

These are just a few of Mr. Futeral’s suggestions and I believe they are very informative.  As a child of divorced parents, I can tell you that I wished my parents would have taken these suggestions to heart.   It would have made things much easier on us children.  When I went through my own divorce years ago, I did my best to make sure my children did not go through what my sister, brother and I went through as children.

There were also suggestions on how to deal with the other parent, which were thought provoking.  Some of them are listed below:

  • Don’t ignore the other parent or sit on the opposite side of the room during special events involving your children such as athletic matches, school plays, etc. – As emotionally difficult as it may be for you to be that close to the other parent, it is more difficult for your children to see parents distance themselves at these times. Overall, it is a small sacrifice to make for your children’s emotional wellbeing.
  • Ignore (rather than arguing back) when the other parent tries to tell you how to parent – This argument is one that no one can win.
  • Accept that there is more than one “right way” to parent and support different parenting styles- Even if you had not divorced, chances are that you and your former spouse may have or would have parented in your unique styles. If you can accept and deal with the difference in parenting styles during marriage, then you can accept these differences in divorce too.

And finally, taking care of yourself is important.  Talk to friends, family, or whoever you need to, and stay busy.  You will adjust, your children will adjust and life will go on and you will enjoy the new path your life is going.  I know I did, and I love my life.  I have two great grown sons, lots of grandchildren and they are all a part of my life.  To read the full article by Mr. Futeral, you may find it here.

 

Sperm donors beware in Kansas!  According to the article below in the JD Journal recently, a sperm donor is being sued for child support by the State of Kansas because the lesbian couple that he donated his sperm to, used the state’s resources for upkeep of the child.  They are also requesting he pay for the birth of the child.  For more information on this case, see the link below.

Sperm Donor Fighting Against Petition for Child Support – JD Journal | JD Journal.

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.  I thought I would share it and say thank you to all of you who followed me in 2012.  Hope to see you in 2013!

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Did you know that the Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the first Day of Unity observed in October, 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  The intent was to connect battered women’s advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children.  In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year the first national toll-free hotline was begun. In 1989 the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month Commemorative Legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress. Such legislation has passed every year since with NCADV providing key leadership in this effort.

In October 1994 NCADV, in conjunction with Ms. Magazine, created the “Remember My Name” project, a national registry to increase public awareness of domestic violence deaths. Since then, NCADV has been collecting information on women who have been killed by an intimate partner and produces a poster each October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, listing the names of those documented in that year.

The Centers for Disease Control announced last week findings from a ground breaking study that indicates domestic and sexual violence against American women at epidemic rates that affects “on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.”  I was shocked to read these statistics.

As the grandmother of two young women, this concerns me.

In the first case brought by a survivor of domestic violence against the U.S. before an international human rights tribunal, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) found that the United States violated the human rights of Jessica Lenahan (formerly Gonzales) and her children. The decision underscores that the U.S. is failing in its legal obligation to protect women and girls from domestic violence.

In June 1999, Jessica Gonzales’ three young daughters, ages seven, nine and ten, were abducted by her estranged husband and killed after the Colorado police refused to enforce a restraining order against him.

Although Gonzales repeatedly called the police, telling them of her fears for her daughters’ safety, they failed to respond. Hours later, Gonzales’ husband drove his pick-up truck to the police department and opened fire. He was shot dead by the police. The slain bodies of the three girls were subsequently discovered in the back of his pickup truck.

Gonzales filed a lawsuit against the police, but in June 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that she had no Constitutional right to police enforcement of her restraining order. She then filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, saying that the inaction of the police and the Supreme Court’s decision violated her human rights.

In another study, nearly 4,600 U.S. children were hospitalized with broken bones, traumatic brain injury and other serious damage caused by physical abuse in 2006, according to a new report, making child abuse a bigger threat than SIDS.

For more information for California residents,  you can go to the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence website here.   You can locate a Domestic Violence shelter in your area on this website or you can call the 24 hour hotline at 1-800-799-7233.   If you know someone who needs help, you can also call the hotline.

 

Remember Judge Adams, who was given a suspension last November from the bench while being investigated for abusing his daughter when she posted a YouTube video?  The State Commission in Arkansas gave him a public warning this past week.

His daughter, who was videotaped when she was a teen being beaten by a belt by Judge Adams, says she is angry her father received only a public warning from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Adams declined to comment on Thursday’s sanction, which found the video cast doubt on his ability to be impartial. It also warned the judge against a pattern of demeaning behavior toward attorneys in his court.

Although police and prosecutors reviewed the Adams video, they did not pursue criminal charges, citing statutes of limitation. A grass-roots petition drive to unseat the judge fizzled.

The judge’s daughter, Hillary Adams, now 24, said she was angered by the decision because it won’t remove her father from the bench. She said it’s unacceptable for a family law judge to beat his daughter, but she said she didn’t want to direct her anger at the commission, and she’s glad the warning publicly acknowledged the judge’s behavior.

“They’re doing their job,” she said. “Really, I guess I should direct my anger at the law system for allowing this to continue and basically paying someone a yearlong vacation for beating his child.”

Commission Director Seana Willing said in an email that Adams now must petition the Supreme Court to have the suspension lifted. Judicial ethics expert Lillian Hardwick said that step is largely procedural and the court likely will lift the suspension.

For more on Judge Adams, you can read more in my previous article here and here.