Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

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.

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.

 

 

In Klumb v. Goan, a Tennesse case, the wife Goan, was hit with $20,000 in damages, $10,000 in damages and $10,000 in punitive damages for her egregious conduct, after she installed a spyware program called eBlaster on several of the computers that husband, Klumb used.  Klumb was also awarded fees and costs.

Goan also intercepted three emails sent to Klumb and altered the emails to make it look like “[the sender] and [Klumb] were having an affair.” Apparently a finding of infidelity altered the split of property between the parties under the prenuptial agreement in place between the parties and under an agreed order entered in the divorce case that was initiated when the marriage soured.

As far as the legal issues, the court does not have any trouble finding that Goan’s interception of Klumb’s email violates the federal Wiretap Act and its Tennessee counterpart.

The most interesting part of this story is Goan is an attorney and should have known better.  The message here is clear, don’t spy on anyone’s, including your spouses email.  It can cost you Big Bucks!

 

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Interesting case in Iowa in which Father was granted sole legal and physical custody of the parties children after Mother posted on Facebook how Father was a bad parent and sent Father a threatening email.  The case is In Re Marriage of Bates, which can be read here.

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It really cannot be said enough, if you post it on Facebook, it can and will be used against you in a custody battle.

 

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I read an article recently where a New York attorney discussed ways to minimize attorney fees in your divorce case.   I have mentioned how to reduce your costs in a previous post, but thought that it bears repeating.

1.  Read your attorney fee agreement and understand how your attorney charges you.  Most attorneys charge in increments (usually six minute increments), so if your attorney (or even his/her paralegal) pick up the phone to speak with you, you will be charged a minimum time.  Attorneys also charge for the time they are working on your case, whether it be reviewing the file for court, preparing documents on your behalf, or talking with the opposing counsel, you will be charged.

2.  Using email to communicate with your attorney and staff.  Let the attorney and his/her staff know when you retain the attorney, that you prefer email communication.  This means that you will check your email regularly and respond as quickly as possible to your attorney’s or his staff’s email.  I can’t tell you how many times a client will tell our office that they prefer email communication, and then they never check it or respond.  This then entails calling the client to let them know an email was sent and a response is required.  The client is then charged for both an email and a phone call, which defeats the purpose of email communication.  Also let the attorney know that you prefer to receive any documents filed or received in your case by email in pdf format.  This saves time, paper and postage, which means less cost for you if your attorney charges for postage and copies.

3.  Keep track of the time you spend talking to your attorney and his staff and review your bill promptly.  Let your attorney know immediately of any questions or disputes you have with your bill.   Some fee agreements require your billing questions in writing and attorneys cannot charge you for questions on your billing statement.  Don’t wait for several months and then question the bill, it becomes time consuming to go back and review the billings in question, which takes away from the time the attorney or the staff have for working on your case.

4.  If your attorney or the staff request documents from you, promptly provide them.   This saves you money by not receiving multiple calls from the attorney or his staff for the information needed in your case.  If you can, scan and email the documents to your attorney, this saves time and cost to you as well.  Some attorneys charge for each copy in your case, and you might be charged for their staff time.

5.  It is ok to check in with your attorney if you have not heard from him/her in a while.  Attorneys get busy with trials, hearings and some are even lucky enough to take a vacation.  Attorneys usually have staff members who you can contact as well to check in on the status of your case.  I would recommend copying the paralegal working on your case with any email communications to the attorney.  In the event the attorney is in trial or out of the office, the paralegal can respond to your email promptly.

6.  Yes, you can contact your spouse to discuss your case as long as there is not a restraining order preventing you or your spouse from doing this.  Unless your attorney advises you otherwise, there is no reason you cannot discuss things with your soon to be ex.  Just be sure to let your attorney know what you are discussing so that any agreements can be discussed with your attorney.  Don’t fight over the little things, like who will get the large punch bowl and who will get the set of Henkel knifes, even if your spouse is.  Take the high road and let it go.  The cost of fighting over these items is just not worth it.

7.   Pay your bill on time.  Attorneys have bills to pay just like you do.  They have staff to pay as well.  Be sure you understand that the initial retainer you paid is just that, a retainer.  No attorney can predict what the cost of your case will be.  It is determined by many factors, such as how litigious your case becomes, and how cooperative you and your spouse are in negotiations regarding your case,, etc.  The more you and your soon to be ex can agree, the less cost it is for each of you.  This does not mean that you should settle for less than what you are entitled to, just to save attorney fees.  Your attorney is there to advise you of what the law says you are entitled to.  A good attorney will let you know whether it is cost effective for you to file a motion, or even go to trial.

These are just a few ways to help keep your costs down in your family law matter.  Be sure to talk with your attorney about other ways you can reduce costs in your case.

I recently read a great article on Firstwifesworld.com, on how to handle a verbally, emotionally abusive ex-husband written by a member of First Wife’s World.  There were also some very good comments made on this article.

One of the hardest things for women (or men) who have been emotionally or verbally abusive is to move on and stop letting the ex continue to push their buttons, or bait them into continuing to respond in the same old way.

The member wrote the following on how she now deals with her ex: “He knows all your buttons to push, so learn to react in a way that is completely different from how you have always reacted.

Here is an example (based on my real experience):

  • Him: “I should call the attorney and tell him that you’re……….”
  • Me – Old response:  “That isn’t true!  You know it isn’t true!  You’re just trying to cause trouble!”
  • Me- New response:  First a long pause of silence, and then, said very calmly and quietly: “If you think that is what you should do, then you should do it.”

This last part is the most difficult for us victims of abuse to understand because we think we’re caving in or letting “them” win.  Quite the contrary.  They honestly don’t have a clue what to do when you don’t react in the same adversarial way they behave, because being adversarial is the only way they know how to deal with people.”

If you would like to read more on this article, please click on the link above.  This website also has many other articles that you might find interesting, such as, Home and Home, Kids and Family, and Money and Finances.  Check it out and let me know if you find it useful.

Disclaimer: I am not a member nor am I affiliated with this website in any way.

If you have a family you might want to pay attention to some of the new laws in California beginning in 2012.

California Gay Bullying Law (Seth’s Law)

Combats bullying of gay and lesbian students in public schools by requiring school districts to have a uniform process for dealing with gay bullying complaints. Mandates that school personnel intervene if they witness gay bullying.  Law effective July 1, 2012.

LGBT Equality and Equal Access in Higher Education Law   

State universities and colleges must create and enforce campus policies protecting LGBTs from harassment and appoint employee contact persons to address on-campus LGBT matters. The law includes community colleges statewide.  Law effective 2012.

Domestic Partnership Equality Law

Corrects inequalities between domestic partnerships and heterosexual marriages, including domestic partner health benefits sharing.  Law effective 2012.

Protection of Parent-Child Relationships Law

Allows courts to consider the relationship between a child and a non-biological parent when considering child rights cases involving birth parents, adoptive parents, and gay or lesbian guardians.  Law effective 2012.

LGBT Equal Benefits Law

Requires an employer with a state contract worth more than $100,000 to have non-discrimination policies in place for LGBT workers and their partners.  Law effective 2012.

Gay Divorce Law

Provides that if a gay couple got married in California but lives in a state that won’t grant them a divorce, the California court will have jurisdiction to grant them a legal divorce. The case will be filed in the county where the gay couple got married.  Law effective January 1, 2012.

California Gay History Law

Governor Jerry Brown signed the Gay History Law, which mandates that school textbooks and social studies include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender accomplishments.  Law effective January 1, 2012. 

The following law goes into effect on January 1, 2012.  Many children are not going to be happy with this one!  Get ready parents to the whining and crying of those boys and girls who finally thought they were old enough to sit in the seat of the car like everyone else!  This one will cost a bit too, $475 for each child not secured and a point on your record.  Ouch!

Children *MUST* be secured in an appropriate child passenger restraint (safety seat or booster seat) IN THE BACK SEAT OF A VEHICLE until they are at least 8 YEARS OLD or 4′ 9″ in height.

These are just a few of the new laws you should all be aware of.  Happy New Year to all of you!  May it be a happy, healthy and prosperous one for each of you.

Judge Kevin McCormick, a Sacramento judge who sits at the Gordon D. Schaber Courthouse where Civil and Criminal matters are heard, is under investigation after his wife’s former husband filed a complaint with the California Commission of Judicial Performance.  In the complaint, Jeffrey Moore claims that Judge McCormick has made his 2008 divorce from the former Lori Moore, now Mrs. McCormick, expensive and difficult.

Mr. Moore claims that Judge McCormick appeared at hearings, a settlement conference with Lori Moore, sat at the counsel table at her trial, went into the judge’s chambers with his attorney and the judge and assisted Lori Moore in closing down a Yoga studio which was listed as community property and then opening another studio in the judge’s name only, with Lori Moore as the acting manager.

The California Code of Judicial Ethics forbids a sitting judge from using the “prestige of judicial office … to advance the pecuniary or personal interests of the judge or others.”  The code also prohibits a judge from practicing law, with the exception of self-representation.   Judge’s are allowed to provide “moral support” for a family member in court, but the California Judicial Conduct Handbook says “it is improper to appear or advocate on their behalf, identify himself … as a judge, or use the judicial title or seek special treatment in such a circumstance.”

Judge McCormick issued a statement that he accompanied his future wife to proceedings at the courthouse to provide moral support only, not as her legal representative.  You can read the full article in the Sacramento Bee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As stated in Capital Weekly on August 17, 2011, the Marin-based Center for Judicial Excellence (CJE) has announced it will file a complaint with the State Bar of California demanding the disbarment of Sacramento attorney Nabil Samaan. The group says Samaan’s license should be taken away because of comments Samaan made to a reporter that, according to CJE, appear to support his brother’s decision to allegedly murder his own two-year-old daughter.

This is a sad case of a father taking his life and the life of his child in an alleged custody dispute with the mother.  The complete article is below.

Capitol Weekly: Complaint filed with State Bar against lawyer in AMBER Alert case.

I have said it many times, if you post online it can come back to bite you.  As reported on NYDailyTimes.com and shared by Llynne DeVenny,  a Staten Island belly dancer jiggled her way out of a sweet deal with her ex-husband after he found pictures of her shaking it on the Internet.

Dorothy McGurk won a settlement of $850 a month for life and the couple’s home by convincing a court three years ago that a 1997 car accident left her too injured to work.

Dorothy McGurk

Seems the lovely ex of Brian McGurk, claimed she danced “everyday for three years,”  which is at the time she convinced the court that she was too injured to work.    Brian took her back to court where the judge stripped her of her settlement and ordered her to move out of the house and ordered her to pay Brian’s attorney fees in the amount of $5,000.

People, I can’t say this enough, if you post it someone will see it and believe me, it will be used against you by the ex , or soon to be ex.  If you want to read the whole article, you can do so here.

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