Beth Andersen and contract attorney Julie Nichols attended the Colorado Bar Association Fall Update on Oct. 25. Beth also attended the Child Out of Court Statements presentation on Oct. 18.
There is a common observance among lawyers: In family law, the parents fight over the children; in elder law, the children fight over the parents.
Sadly, this is often true and can lead to costly litigation. What starts out as a dispute among siblings as to whether a parent should reside with one of them can end up being a court case. When that happens, our firm is there to represent a party who wants to make sure his or her interests are protected. Continue reading “Probation Litigation: Guardians, Conservators and Estate Issues”
When a party wants the court to order the other party (or both parties) to do something, she must first make a motion with the court, explaining why she wants what she wants, what the facts are, what law applies, and how she wants it enforced.
There are a few ways to do this. The judicial website has several forms in its library that apply to various situations. The court likes parties to use these JDF forms when petitioning the court to take an action. The forms include a motion (asking the court to do something) and a proposed order (which the judge would sign if he agrees with the motion). If the judge signs the proposed order, it becomes enforceable by the court. Continue reading “How Do I Get the Court to Write an Order?”
However, I personally think that several firms called themselves “fathers’ rights” as a marketing device because the father is usually the higher breadwinner.
Not every client is satisfied by the big firm who advertises on sports radio proclaiming fathers’ rights. I handle MANY cases that came from the so-called fathers’ rights firms who charged outrageously high fees, and then the clients were tapped out and weren’t even divorced yet. The label did them no good. Continue reading “Mothers’ Rights, Fathers’ Rights — What’s Right?”
Sometimes in the course of divorce or child custody proceedings, the court will award one party to pay certain fees, such as attorney’s fees, for the other party. If that party does not pay those fees, the recipient party can make a motion for a money judgment showing that the money was owed and was not paid. However, the court cannot collect the money for you; you have to go through certain steps to get the money from the person who owes you. Continue reading “How to Collect a Court Judgement”
When a parent won’t allow another parent to see their child in accordance with a parenting plan or custody arrangement, often the injured party doesn’t know what to do. Fortunately, there are some ways to challenge another parent not allowing you to see your child or children.
The Court’s Process
Whether the other parent is not following the parenting plan or he or she is withholding contact with your child completely, you should file a motion with the court that states that the other parent is not complying with a parenting plan, and include with it possible sanctions the court can impose. The court then has 35 days to:
- Deny the motion if the complaint doesn’t arise to a real claim to act on;
- Schedule a hearing as quick as possible to hear from both parties; or
- Require the parties to seek mediation and report back to the court on the results within 63 days. The court may approve any agreement reached by the parents or will schedule a hearing.
Over the river and through the woods takes on a new meaning when a judge must decide whether to grandmother’s house you go.
Judges may cringe as the holidays approach, knowing parents will be rushing into court with “emergencies” involving out of state travel, pre-purchased plane tickets and disagreements over the interpretation of parenting plans. It is not unheard of for a judge to hold a phone conference or issue an order regarding whether a trip is allowed and where the children will spend their holiday time. But it is also common for judges to determine that this is not an appropriate “emergency” requiring a forthwith-emergency order. Married parents do not get to call in an officer of the court every time they cannot agree whether the children should visit dad’s parents or mom’s parents. It stands to reason that divorced parents, or those who formed a parenting plan after an allocation of parental responsibilities, should not be able to rush to court either.
The bottom line is that no one should want a judge to determine their holiday plans. I would like to say no one “wants this” rather than “no one SHOULD want this” but I have practiced long enough to know there are a few parents out there who relish in the drama of court proceedings and cannot wait for the next “emergency” battle. For those of us who do NOT think an emergency trip to court or mediation makes a good holiday tradition, the following are some tips to squash some of the drama before it happens. Continue reading “Shared Parenting: 10 Tips for Happy Holidays”
As a family and divorce attorney in Littleton, Colorado, I see a wide variety of cases and a range of ways divorce is handled between not only the couple, but between parents and their kids. There is also a lot of confusion and misinformation out there about divorce stats, and parents don’t always understand how their behavior during and after the divorce affects their children.
This infographic from BestMastersInCounseling.com was recently brought to my attention, and it does a great job of breaking down divorce statistics in the United States as well as what parents need to know about getting a divorce with children. Take a look and share it with those who you think could benefit.
Recently, a judge in Oakland County Michigan made national headlines for sending three children, ages 9, 10, and 15, to a juvenile facility after finding them in contempt of court for refusing to see their father.
In an ongoing custody battle, the children refused to see their father, despite Judge Lisa Gorcyca ordering them to do so, according to news reports.
Gorcyca said the children had been brainwashed and that the mother’s behavior was “unlike anything I have seen in 46,000 cases.”
The children were each appointed lawyers by the judge and were sent to Oakland County Children’s Village where they were ordered not to have communication with their mother or each other. They were not staying in the facility with criminal defenders, but in short-term housing on the campus, Gorcyca said.
On July 10, the judge lifted her contempt ruling and allowed the kids to go to a two-week summer camp, the Detroit Free Press reported. It’s unclear what will happen after that.
This case is shocking to many (including me) because of the judge’s actions. I certainly do NOT want to see children sent to jail for refusing parenting time, but I DO sympathize with the judge’s frustrations. Parents who would NEVER think of letting a child “refuse to go” to school because they “don’t want to” have no problem letting their children throw court orders out the window and “refuse to go” to court-ordered reintegration therapy or even when it is court ordered “because they don’t want to.”
There are many reasons why parenting time may not be a good idea or at least needs to be supervised (for example, in cases of abuse.) The lawful remedy is to hire an attorney and GET A SOLID COURT ORDER restricting or modifying parenting time. It is NOT okay to encourage your child to throw court orders out the window. This can get everyone in trouble and sends children the wrong message.
And if you are the parent unlawfully shut out of your children’s lives, I can help you with that too. Again, the court has a remedy for inappropriate alienation.
I have several cases on both sides of this issue — those concerned about the harm of inappropriate parenting time and those shut out of their children’s lives. In all situations, I help my clients do things the RIGHT way and, by doing so, get a healthy, lawful result.
I want to address the issue of putting the kids in the middle of a divorce tug of war. Don’t do it! It’s natural that when the other parent slings mud at you, puts you down to the children or tries to pull them over to their side, you want to defend yourself and “pull back.” But unfortunately, in the situation of divorce, that only hurts the children by putting them in the middle. Research shows that children who deal with parental conflict often see their sleep habits affected and have ongoing emotional issues. Instead, the better course is to:
– Get curious about the child’s feelings and point of view.
– Ask questions about the child’s perspective (NOT probing questions about the other parent).
– Teach the child to use critical thinking skills and draw their own conclusions.
– Reassure the child that the adults will take care of adult business and they do not have to worry about those issues or fix them. (By the way, “grown-up business” includes money issues, payment or nonpayment of support and fees, court proceedings, dating relationships, fault or “wrongdoing” in divorce — knowing about these issues often gives children all the worry and angst adults have but without any ability to fix things or make a difference. Involving children in adult issues “parentifies” them and that is damaging.)
ABOVE ALL, focus on making YOUR OWN TIME with your children as positive and valuable as possible. This does not mean being a Disney parent without rules or being a best friend. You still have to be a grown-up parent and do the hard things, but just parent as best you can when you can and remember to have fun too. That will plant a seed that blossoms into a better relationship than a landfill of trash talking could ever hope to accomplish.
Strangely enough, this IS legal advice. Colorado law requires you to act in your child’s best interests and also to foster a loving relationship between the child and the other parent. Judges are not afraid to get involved or even limit parenting time when one parent “doesn’t get it” or keeps dragging the children into a divorce tug of war.
Andersen Law PC: when I help you write a good parenting plan and act in your child’s best interest, I protect your family, your finances and your future.