Shared Parenting: 10 Tips for Happy Holidays

Shared Parenting Tips for Holidays-2-Andersen_Law_PC_Beth_Andersen

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”

Learn About Littleton Family Law Practice Andersen Law PC (Video)

I’m so excited to share with all of you this new video about my family law practice in Littleton, Colorado. I was fortunate to team up with Denver Film & Digital to create a brief video that encompasses what Andersen Law PC is all about.

I work hard to stand out among other Colorado family law attorneys and believe that my own experiences of working in big, New York City law firms and then going through my own divorce have helped make me the family law and divorce attorney that I am today.  Continue reading “Learn About Littleton Family Law Practice Andersen Law PC (Video)”

A Parent’s Guide to Children and Divorce (Infographic)

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.

Divorce and Children
Source: BestMastersInCounseling.com

Michigan Judge Takes Surprising Action When Kids Refuse Order to See Their Father

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.

 

Before you draft your own will, read this

WillImage_Andersen_Law_PC

I believe in people drafting their own legal documents but NOT their own wills using online programs and forms. As much as I want to empower people to take ownership and participate in their legal issues, I find this option to be a horrible disaster. And I have good reason for saying this: I have seen the absurd and unfortunate results of poorly drafted wills that are often unenforceable or lead to results that are the opposite of what the drafter intended.

Here are some of the unfortunate results I have seen when people tried to probate wills they drafted themselves:

– A will intended to leave real estate to the children and grandchildren but actually required that the real estate be sold.

– A will that gave all property to the party’s ex-spouse’s children when the intention was to exclude them.

– A will that mixed up the husband and wife’s names.

– A will that might be unenforceable in the event of simultaneous deaths due to both parties allegedly predeceasing each other.

– Many wills that were unenforceable due to improper witnessing.

Our estate planning package is highly affordable: $500 for a testamentary will with a springing trust for any children or grandchildren, medical durable power of attorney, financial power of attorney and living will. The same package is only $750 for a couple. This includes an initial meeting, supervised signing of the estate planning documents with objective third party witnesses provided by our arrangement, and a follow up re-signing in the event you want to make small changes. This is a price point many people can afford and helps ensure your estate planning accomplishes what you REALLY hope to achieve.

How and why to keep the kids out of your divorce

happygirl_Andersen_Law_PCI 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.

The Future of Family Law: Pairing Mediation & Unbundled Services

andersen law pc courtroom

Your divorce, support and parental responsibilities cases involve the most critical issues in your life: your family, your finances and your future. And yet 75 percent of parties in the first judicial district do not have an attorney in their domestic relations case. This is akin to wandering into a hospital to perform surgery by yourself with no assistance.

What will you do when you cannot get a piece of evidence admitted? When you do not how to read and distinguish case law? When the opposing party’s attorney or the judge or mediator asks you a legal question and you have no idea what they are talking about? Terrible results can happen, including an unenforceable parenting agreement or a financial mistake that costs thousands.

Mediation alone will not solve this, but if you have an unbundled lawyer “on call,” you may be able to respond quickly and knowledgeably. My retainer is $500 for unbundled services. I can attend mediation with you or stand by on the telephone, giving advice as needed. Call me to discuss this affordable, creative option.

 

What to Consider When Writing a Will

Thinking about death and leaving loved ones behind is never easy and is unfortunately, something that many people put off because it’s just not a pleasant thought. But it is important and something people have been facing through the writing of wills since the earliest days of written history, according to the American Bar Association. Writing a will is imperative to easing the stress on your family as much as possible if something should happen to you, and it can give everyone (yourself included) peace of mind knowing there is a plan in place.

Done correctly, wills go far in ensuring that your assets are directed where you want them to be and that any possible disputes between surviving family members are minimized because all matters of your estate are clearly addressed.

When you’ve decided that it’s time to prepare a will, here are a few things to consider:

  • What type of funeral do you want?
  • Who will manage your money, debts and health care decisions?
  • What will happen to your home?
  • Who will care for your children and what are those caregivers’ names and addresses?
  • What are your main assets?
  • Are there gifts of personal property you want to leave to specific people?

Estate planning, including not only wills, but trusts and living wills are a specialty of mine, and I offer these packages at an affordable rate of $500 per person or $750 per couple. I encourage you to please contact me if you’d like to learn more.

What Makes a Great Attorney?

Gavel and Law Book

Being a lawyer is not just a job to me — it’s my calling. I do not take the responsibility lightly. As a client, you are coming to me for help with personal and critical events like divorce, parenting time and estate planning. These go to the heart of life: your FAMILY, FINANCES, FUTURE. That’s why it’s not enough to be a good lawyer; I strive to be a GREAT lawyer.

GUIDANCE: A good lawyer uses knowledge of the law to help make a good argument for the client. But a GREAT lawyer uses knowledge of the law and wisdom of experience to help the client realize broader goals than the case, to behave appropriately outside the courtroom and going forward. A GREAT lawyer knows legal fees, the stress of litigation and the toll on the long-term relationships are just as important as winning motions and trials.

RESPECT: A good lawyer takes the reins and says “don’t worry about it.” So you don’t until you get the bill or a shocking result.  A GREAT lawyer works collaboratively with you as a two-person team; respects your point of view; and is mindful of your financial and time restrictions.

EXCELLENCE: A good lawyer handles every case similarly based on a time-tested model. A GREAT lawyer realizes that each case is unique and may require additional research, attention or creativity above and beyond the norm. A GREAT lawyer will go the extra mile even if she can’t bill it to the client. She NEVER churns a case just to get a higher fee. She constantly studies, networks and trains to keep pace with the latest legal developments.

ATTITUDE: Many good lawyers see themselves as well educated professionals whose time is precious and who need to be feared and obeyed. A GREAT lawyer has the same education and experience, but realizes that interactions with clients need to be positive, patient and personable. A GREAT lawyer is not afraid to get creative and try things like “unbundled legal services” because they serve clients better and more affordably.

TECHNOLOGY: The legal field moves at a glacial pace when it comes to technology and other basic business developments.  Many good lawyers act as if “snail mail” and checking in with the client once a month are state of the art. GREAT lawyers use online communication, affordable research models and independent contractors to avoid excessive overhead. GREAT lawyers participate in video conferencing and regular online billing to keep you on top of your fees and case progress. GREAT lawyers text, read email, answer their cell phones after hours and act as if we live in the 21st century. You deserve it!