Corrupt judges running Unopposed!

Corrupt judges running Unopposed!

Clark County Nevada

January 15, 2020

 

Attention Nevada Attorneys!

Have you had enough of Family Court Judges who…

  • Fail to follow the rule of evidence?
  • Show favoritism and preference to certain counsel?
  • Openly violate our US Constitution?
  • Frequently don’t show up to work?
  • Refuse to follow state laws?
  • Fail to follow Judicial Cannons?

If your answer to any of the above questions is “yes”, then your time is now! Many judges fitting the above description are running unopposed. We are asking why?

We understand that campaigns are costly, but we are here to help you. This is your moment to make a difference! Do not leave corrupt judges to run unopposed continuing to destroy families and enriching certain entrenched and corrupt family law attorneys.

Three years ago the Veterans In Politics International took on the issue of rampant corruption in the Clark County Family Courts and we caused so much sunlight to be focused on this issue, that a couple of the corrupt judges and attorneys we targeted went so far as to collude to frame us at a sham hearing for the very things they do every day. Still, we press on un-phased. Why? Because we have met the victims and we believe in a better judiciary.

Below we have provided information that you can use and other information we are willing to share privately.

Nevada can’t afford to wait another six years of families being destroyed at the hands of corrupt incumbent judges and corrupt attorneys who are now running for judge.

You can make a difference!

The Nevada Bar has made it clear that it will do nothing about corrupt and unethical attorneys, however, we have until Friday, January 17th at 5 pm to let corrupt judges know that the bench is a humble honor, not an assumption.

 

 

 

Mathew Harter

Corrupt judges running Unopposed! 1

RE: Mathew Harter Clark County Family Court Judge Department N

veteransinpolitics.org/2014/07/re-mathew-harter-clark-county-family-court-judge-department-n/

Clark County Family Court Judge Mathew “Half Day” Harter would like a promotion to the Nevada Supreme Court

veteransinpolitics.org/2018/02/clark-county-family-court-judge-mathew-half-day-harter-like-promotion-nevada-supreme-court/

Too many cooks in the kitchen? “Judge Harter should run his own Courtroom without outside help”

veteransinpolitics.org/2014/10/too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen-judge-harter-should-run-his-own-courtroom-without-outside-help/

Evidence supports that Family Court Judge worked 140 days in 2018

veteransinpolitics.org/2019/06/evidence-supports-that-family-court-judge-worked-140-days-for-2018/

Courtroom Cover-ups and betrayal; business as usual!

veteransinpolitics.org/2018/11/courtroom-cover-ups-and-betrayal-business-as-usual/

Clark County Judges Defy and Deny the Authority of the Nevada State Supreme Court. (Court Facilitated “Kidnapping”)!

veteransinpolitics.org/2018/10/clark-county-judges-defy-and-deny-the-authority-of-the-nevada-state-supreme-court-court-facilitated-kidnapping/

Steve Sanson President of Veterans In Politics Blast Clark County Family Court Judges part 2-2

veteransinpolitics.org/2018/07/steve-sanson-president-of-veterans-in-politics-blast-clark-county-family-court-judges-part-2-2/

 

 

Vincent Ochoa

Corrupt judges running Unopposed! 2

Vincent Ochoa Family Court Judge Admitted to Violating Nevada Custody Laws

veteransinpolitics.org/2014/07/vincent-ochoa-family-court-judge-admitted-to-violating-nevada-custody-laws/

Judge Ochoa’s son arrested for Heroin use and cover-up by an Assistant Sheriff at Metro

veteransinpolitics.org/2014/10/judge-ochoas-son-arrested-for-heroin-use-and-cover-up-by-an-assistant-sheriff-at-metro/

Do you want Judge Ochoa to “like” your children? FaceBook Issues Round #2

veteransinpolitics.org/2014/09/do-you-want-judge-ochoa-to-like-your-children-facebook-issues-round-2/

Judge Ochoa and a FaceBook friends “with benefits?”

veteransinpolitics.org/2014/09/judge-ochoa-and-a-facebook-friends-with-benefits/

Two Clark County Family Court Judges lose Police Endorsement – “Ochoa and Harter”!

veteransinpolitics.org/2014/09/two-clark-county-family-court-judges-lose-police-endorsement-ochoa-and-harter/

Judge becomes debt collector and signs bench warrant to help his attorney friend get paid!

veteransinpolitics.org/2019/09/judge-becomes-debt-collector-and-signs-bench-warrant-to-help-his-attorney-friend-get-paid/

 

 

Charles Hoskin

Corrupt judges running Unopposed! 3

Two Clark County Family Court Judges should be REMOVED from the bench NOT promoted!!

veteransinpolitics.org/2018/12/two-clark-county-family-court-judges-should-be-removed-from-the-bench/

Take a look at the following Clark County Family Court Judges

veteransinpolitics.org/2018/07/take-a-look-at-the-following-clark-county-family-court-judges/

“Letter sent to investigate the problematic Clark County Family Court System”

veteransinpolitics.org/2017/07/letter-sent-investigate-problematic-clark-county-family-court-system/

 

Bryce Duckworth

Corrupt judges running Unopposed! 4

THE POWER OF SPEAKING UP!

veteransinpolitics.org/2017/10/the-power-of-speaking-up/

 

ELECTIONS DEPARTMENT SEE WHO HAS FILED

Corrupt judges running Unopposed! 5

Election Department: Candidate Filing in Clark County

www.clarkcountynv.gov/election/Pages/CandidateFiling.aspx

The post Corrupt judges running Unopposed! appeared first on Veterans In Politics International.

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distracting things to do on valentine

10 Distracting Things To Do On Valentine’s Day If You’re Unattached

distracting things to do on valentine's day

 

For some people, the transition between divorce and single life appears daunting — a bridge too far — especially during holidays that emphasize love and closeness. While the Yuletide season has now passed (one of the worst times for newly divorced individuals), Valentine’s Day is quick on the heels of that stressful and often sad time of year.

According to David J. Glass, Certified Family Law Specialist and former therapist (he holds a Ph.D. in Psychology as well as a J.D.) and author of the book, Moving On: Redesigning Your Emotional, Financial and Social Life After Divorce, there is no need to dread the upcoming Valentine’s Day event. Glass says there are positive ways to feel loved and comforted when navigating feelings and despair on Valentine’s Day.

With that in mind, Glass has put together the following 10 tips for activities for those without a special someone on that romantic day that are fun, distracting and inspiring.

10 Distracting Things To Do On Valentine’s Day

1. WHEN YOU FIRST WAKE UP, MEDITATE: 

Meditation, especially in the morning, is a great way to set yourself up for a calmer and kinder day.  For example, the first thing you could say to yourself: “Today is going to be a great day; a special day for me. I’m going to do things all day long that make me feel loved and nurtured.”

2. PLAN AHEAD TO GIVE OF YOURSELF:

In advance, arrange to spend just an hour or two at a local senior care center (read, chat, play board games…). Often, those folks are truly lonely and sequestered. You also can consider visiting an animal shelter. Take a dog or cat into the visiting arena for a bit. You will feel the love from that pet, and its appreciation of you. Who knows, you might even consider taking a pet home—adopting it.

3. GO ONLINE OR TO A MALL:

Buy yourself something special—an item that you’ve been wanting, like a cozy sweater, an Alexa type device; new flat screen, pair of kick-butt shoes. Whatever it is, tell yourself you deserve it and say thanks to you for being such a considerate gift-giving “Valentine.”

4. HIT THE GYM, DO SOME YOGA OR TAKE A RUN:

Whatever makes you feel fit and healthy; eating right, taking a nap, deep breathing exercises. Do what it is that makes you feel good about the way you take care of yourself.

5. SPLURGE ON LUNCH OR DINNER:

It doesn’t have to be a fancy restaurant; an expensive meal. You can indulge in a Big Mac or an exotic salad at any nutrition-conscious eatery, just make sure your meal is substantial, filling and tasty. Make it one you don’t usually have. It will satisfy your guilty pleasure and make you feel loved. Top it off with some chocolate or some coffee.

6. HEAD FOR THE SPA:

If you’re a regular, try something different. If you typically get a mani-pedi, get an hour-long facial. If you get a full-body massage, ask for a reflexology treatment. It doesn’t matter your gender when going to a salon or spa. Everyone feels good when they are gently touched and thoughtfully pampered.

7. MAKE A LIST:

In three columns write down ways you can move on emotionally, financially and socially. Get creative. If you’ve always called your mother when you’re feeling down, jot down another source to perk you up. If you earn and spend your money according to a static routine, change it up and for Valentine’s Day. Don’t let your concern for financial security influence your choices. Rearrange your budget to accommodate guilty pleasures.

Same with the items you now list on changing up your social life. Write down activities you can do that include others in the same situation. Yes, very often, misery does love and need company. Establishing new habits (like spending, social outings, and get-togethers) are wonderful ways to make you feel loved because you’re getting fired up to create a whole new lifestyle.

8. SPEND A FEW HOURS WITH THOSE WHO YOU KNOW LOVE YOU:

Rather than hide out or withdraw, reach out to your family and friends, including your children (stage a valentine card competition) and there’s no question you will feel love “emphasized” which you truly deserve.

9. SNEAK A HUG FROM A STRANGER:

It might sound crazy, but maybe today is the day you ask for a hug from the mail carrier, the person who hands you your dry cleaning items, the security guard at your place of work or your children’s school, or the guy who is replenishing the produce section in the grocery store. You can easily say, “Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day. Mind if steal a quick hug.” Most loving individuals will feel honored you asked. They need one, too.  Although hugs are momentary, the residue can last the entire day!

10. BINGE-WATCH SOMETHING:

Sitting on or in your bed all Valentine’s Day watching one of the web series you missed, is another way to say, “I love you” to yourself. It’s one more special gift that illustrates that you do, in fact, love “thyself.”

The post 10 Distracting Things To Do On Valentine’s Day If You’re Unattached appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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‘Bull’ Case Highlights Importance of Witness Prep

‘Bull’ Case Highlights Importance of Witness Prep

Originally published by Kacy Miller.

Testifying is stressful, regardless of topic. But when it’s about something personal, the witness requires even more intensive coaching to stay composed.

Michael Weatherly in an episode of CBS drama Bull that highlights the importance of witness prep.

Courtesy of CBS

Nothing says Happy New Year like a “Bull” episode with a predictably ridiculous happy ending. This week’s episode, “Look Back in Anger,” involves a civil trial alleging sexual abuse of a minor during camp for at-risk boys. The challenge, however, is the abuse occurred about 25 years ago. Even though New York temporarily lifted the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse for one year, suing over abuse from a quarter century ago is challenging, at best.

The plaintiff, Stephen Raposa, had originally hired Bull’s team to sue on behalf of his younger brother, Ryan, who claimed he had been molested at 13 by the camp’s founder, a wealthy businessman named Peter Maybrook. Ryan’s life had since been plagued with drugs, alcohol, theft and, generally, failing to cope in the adult world. One afternoon, Stephen finds Ryan bleeding out in his bathtub: He OD’d and slit his wrists to make sure the deed was done.

The team informs Stephen that despite New York’s new laws, he cannot sue on behalf of his deceased brother. Moments later, Stephen tearfully admits that he too was molested at the camp by Maybrook, and a claim is born.

The episode, as usual, confuses civil procedure with criminal procedure, and most of the time ignores procedure altogether. Apparently in the world of “Bull,” this thing called “discovery” does not exist, which makes for interesting television, but laughable moments. Instead of writing about the litany of far-fetched procedural snafus, I want to focus on a subtle, but critically important, interaction between Bull and his client.

After deciding to take on the case, Bull met with Stephen privately to talk through the details of what happened. (Note: Typically, this sort of meeting would occur before deciding to file a lawsuit, but again, procedural muckety-muck.)

Stephen has not told his story of childhood molestation to anyone before and he is clearly uncomfortable. Bull’s advice to him was spot-on:

[Your discomfort is] completely understandable, but you’ll have to tell the story in front of a jury, and the best way to prepare for that is here. 

Seldom do I wholeheartedly agree with Bull’s musings or tactics, but I can get on board with this one. Witness preparation is one of the most important, but often ignored, elements of trial prep. The law and the facts are the foundation of any successful case, but since human beings are the ones carrying the water for those facts, the people who tell your story must be ready to do so in a concise and compelling way. Unfortunately, the trial (and deposition) setting is so anxiety-producing that I’ve seen even the most composed professionals turn into sweating stammerers who would confess to the Lindbergh kidnapping just to get out of the hot seat.

Witness prep both helps them hone their message and also find ways to manage their (perfectly natural) anxiety. Here’s a rundown of my most crucial witness prep tips:

Acknowledge the Witness’ Discomfort

Whether your witness admits to it or not, he or she is feeling stress and anxiety about the prospect of testifying. And if your witness is testifying about personal issues, as opposed to accounting numbers or business policy, it’s even more difficult. This is especially true with victims in criminal matters; in family law cases, where dirty laundry and mudslinging accusations are almost a given; and in wrongful death or personal injury cases where a witness is testifying about a heart-wrenching loss, be it life or limb.

Empathize with your witness and acknowledge what they’re feeling. Let your witness feel all the feels; it’s OK. It’s not your job to make the feelings go away altogether. Instead, provide feedback that acknowledges what the witness is feeling and offer some support. Lawyering also involves a bit of shrinking (as does jury consulting).

The feelings that emerge when a witness recalls his story should never be overlooked, and I’m here to say, they often are. So, props to Bull for at least acknowledging the witness’ discomfort.

Practice Telling the Story

I’ve worked with witnesses who simply could not share their story without bursting into tears, expressing inappropriate anger or shutting down completely. And I am a friendly face and advocate. Can you imagine how these witnesses would fare in a deposition or on the stand without having told their story multiple times?

The more often a witness talks through her story, the more comfortable she’ll become with telling it. I’m not promising that your witness will turn into a rock star, but with preparation, she will certainly testify more effectively than they would otherwise. And know this: Telling the story does not always involve a formal mock question-and-answer session. Sometimes, you just need to have a casual conversation with your witness and allow her to process the experience, tap into the memory bank and figure out what her story actually is.

Use repetition to your advantage during the prep sessions. The story does not need to be perfect. It does not need to be trial-ready right out of the gate. It just needs to be accurate. Over time, the act of repetition teaches your witness that she can, in fact, tell her story. And tell it well.

Do Not Cram

The opportunities to talk through the story should occur long before the scheduled deposition or actual trial testimony. Do not, I repeat, do not, cram the night before. And do not wait until the witness bombs in a deposition to refine the message.

Ask any of my clients what I nag them about, and they’ll tell you this: Preparing your witness for testimony begins during discovery. It’s an ongoing process, not an eight-hour marathon meeting.

Break your prep sessions into multiple, shorter sessions. Yes, it’s a beatdown scheduling-wise, but it’s actually a win-win. The witness is provided more opportunities to tell her story and you are provided with multiple chances to identify inconsistencies, areas that require some information-gathering, and determining potential strengths and weaknesses from a fact standpoint.

Back to Bull

And now I realize I haven’t told you what happened in “Bull.” The quick version is this: Despite skepticism about Stephen Raposa’s claim that he too was abused by Maybrook (especially after the defense proves that Maybrook was out of the country during the critical date in Stephen’s testimony), Bull and team miraculously find photographic evidence of Maybrook’s affinity for young boys, resulting in a $35 million verdict against him.

The civil trial gave rise to criminal charges that most likely will put Maybrook in prison for a very, very long time.

OK, so I said it was a “happy” ending, and there isn’t such a thing when dealing with matters of sexual abuse. But, at the very least, there was a measure of justice for Raposa, which is something.

This article was originally published by Texas Lawyer on January 8, 2020. Reprinted with permission. © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

 

Photo: Michael Weatherly as Dr. Jason Bull and Aaron Dean Eisenberg as Stephen Raposa in “Bull” season 4 episode 11: “Look Back in Anger.” Photo: CBS Broadcasting Inc.

The post ‘Bull’ Case Highlights Importance of Witness Prep appeared first on CourtroomLogic.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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2020 – Goals for the New Year

AFCC: Class Action Exposure?

The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC),is the professional organization for forensic psychologists and family law attorneys.  The AFCC specifically instructs child custody evaluators NOT to diagnose pathology.

The AFCC has published an instruction guide for child custody evaluations, the Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations.

With this document, the AFCC has put their seal of approval, their imprimatur, on the practice of child custody evaluations.  I believe that is significant, because I wonder what sort of legal liability that establishes for the AFCC regarding the assessment procedure of child custody evaluation.

I’m not a lawyer, but as a psychologist I’d be worried if I were on the Board of Directors for the AFCC about the potential legal liability exposure this “Model Standards of Practice” creates for our organization.  If we’re telling people how to do it, and providing our professional credibility, name and status to the activity, then to what extent do we also incur legal liability responsibility for endorsing and recommending the practice?

If I’m on the Board of Directors as a clinical psychologist, I’m going to want our attorneys to offer an opinion on that, and I’ll want our attorneys to review our “Model Standards of Practice” with an eye toward legal liability exposure before we publish them and provide our organization imprimatur of support for the practice.

And, on the other hand, if I’m considering a class action lawsuit against the practice of child custody evaluations for essentially being a fraudulent financial racket (I’m not a lawyer, but if I were, I’d seriously look at a Rico violation with the AFCC as the organizing syndicate and the child custody evaluators as the capos), I’d be looking at linking the AFCC to the lawsuit specifically on this document, their Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations.

Seems to me… they took ownership of the practice of child custody evaluations with that document.

Principle D Justice

The first problem the AFCC faces is that the practice of child custody evaluations is a foundational violation of Principle D Justice of the American Psychological Association ethics code.  Child custody evaluations, as a practice, are in violation of a foundational Principle of ethical practice, Justice, on two separate and independent counts.

Principle D: Justice
Psychologists recognize that fairness and justice entitle all persons to access to and benefit from the contributions of psychology and to equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services being conducted by psychologists.  Psychologists exercise reasonable judgment and take precautions to ensure that their potential biases, the boundaries of their competence, and the limitations of their expertise do not lead to or condone unjust practices.

Let’s begin to apply this Principle of professional ethics to the practice of child custody evaluations…

“fairness and justice entitle all persons to access to and benefit from …”

A typical child custody procedure costs between $20,000 to $40,000 for each evaluation. That financial cost places the practice of child custody evaluation beyond the affordability of all but the most affluent of families.  Since lower-income families are offered no alternative, they must turn substandard assessments conducted by less qualified, and often unqualified, professionals because the more qualified professionals and assessments are cost-prohibitive.

The most expensive clinical psychology assessment for the most complicated child pathology (e.g., trauma with autism-spectrum and ADHD features, learning disabilities, involving prenatal exposure to drugs, foster care placement, and current behavioral problems) would cost around $5,000 and take between four to six weeks to complete, with a report, for a high-end comprehensive assessment.  A typical clinical psychology assessment for most pathologies costs about $2,500.

That forensic psychology cannot develop an assessment protocol for their “high-conflict divorce” pathology for less than $20,000 to $40,000 strains credulity, and raises prominent professional concerns about their exploitation of a vulnerable population, the class of parents in family court litigation surrounding child custody and visitation schedules.

Forensic psychology claims this population as their exclusive property, prohibiting any recommendation for child custody visitation schedules being offered by clinical psychologists based on any criteria OTHER than the conduct of their $20,000 to $40,000 child custody evaluation procedure.

As a treating clinical psychologist with full, direct, and ongoing knowledge of the pathology in in the family, I can form a professional opinion on the relative benefits of different custody visitation schedules… I just can’t tell the court my opinion.  I am prohibited from telling the court my opinion unless I’ve conducted one of their $20,000 to $40,000 child custody evaluations.  Then I can tell the court my opinion.

Parents who cannot afford the excessive and obscene cost of a child custody evaluation are denied “access to and benefit from” quality professional input into their family litigation and the court’s decision-making.  That is a fundamental violation of Principle D… “fairness and justice entitle all persons to access to and benefit from …”, less affluent families are being denied “access to and benefit from ” the input of professional psychology.

The practice of child custody evaluations, endorsed with guidelines from the AFCC, is foundationally in violation of Principle D Justice of the APA ethics code for denying “access to and benefit from” quality professional input into their court-involved family conflict because the excessive and prohibitive financial cost of their immensely bloated and ill-conceived assessment procedures.

“fairness and justice entitle all persons to… equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services being conducted by psychologists.”

There is no inter-rater reliability to child custody evaluations.  This means that child cusody evaluations are not a valid assessment of anything, they are just the opinion of one person, the evaluator, based on no supported foundations.

The absence of inter-rater reliability means that different evaluators can reach entirely different conclusions and recommendations based on exactly the same family information and data.  Families are therefore denied “equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services” by the absence of inter-rater reliability to the procedure.

Two of the prominent experts in forensic psychology, Stahl and Simon, who literally wrote the book on child custody evaluations, published by the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association, acknowledge the high degree of variability in the quality of “services” delivered by child custody evaluators.

From Stahl & Simons: “The American Board of Forensic Psychology is a subspecialty board of the ABPP. In the fall of 2011, there were approximately 250-300 ABPP board certified forensic psychologists in the United States and an unknown number of psychologists who specialize in forensic work but are not board certified.  On top of that, there are many psychologists who dabble in forensic practice, occasionally performing child custody or other types of forensic evaluations, and who find themselves called to testify in court on occasion.  While we recognize that there is a range of quality in their work, it is clear that forensic psychology is a growing area of specialization.” (Stahl & Simons, 2013, p. 9)

Stahl, P.M. and Simon, R.A. (2013). Forensic Psychology Consultation in Child Custody Litigation: A Handbook for Work Product Review, Case Preparation, and Expert Testimony, Chicago, IL: Section of Family Law of the American Bar Association

The procedure of child custody evaluations violates Principle D Justice of the APA ethics code by failing to provide “equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services being conducted by psychologists.”  This is an openly acknowledge fact (“we recognize that there is a range of quality in their work”; Stahl & Simon, 2013).

To the extent that the AFCC issues Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations they are providing recommended “Standards of Practice” for an unethical procedure.

Avoiding Diagnosis

Diagnosis is considered professional standard of practice in all cases.  Diagnosis guides treatment.  The treatment for cancer is different than the treatment for diabetes.  In order to develop a treatment plan and recommendations (any recommendations), we must first know what the pathology is, what’s the diagnosis?

The treatment for cancer is different than the treatment for diabetes.  Diagnosis guides treatment.

How can we possibly know what to do about a problem, until we first identify what that problem is.  The term “identify” is the common-language word for the professional term “diagnosis.”  We must first identify what the problem is in order to know how to fix it; we must first diagnose what the problem is in order to know how to treat it.

identify = diagnosis

fix = treatment

It is professional standard of practice to first diagnose (identify) the pathology before offering any recommendations about what to do.  If we don’t know what the problem is, if we haven’t identified (diagnosed) what the problem is, how can we possibly know what to do about it?

Failure to first diagnose (identify) what the pathology is prior to making recommendations about how to fix it (treatment or remedy) would be a violation of Standard 9.01a of the APA ethics code requiring that;

Standard 9.01a 9.01 Bases for Assessments
(a) Psychologists base the opinions contained in their recommendations, reports, and diagnostic or evaluative statements, including forensic testimony, on information and techniques sufficient to substantiate their findings. (See also Standard 2.04, Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments.)

If the assessing evaluator has NOT even identified what the problem is (diagnosis), then the recommendations contained in their “reports, and diagnostic or evaluative statements, including forensic testimony” are not based on information “sufficient to substantiate their findings” because they don’t even know what the pathology is – they have not yet even identified – diagnosed – what the problem is.

In addition, the Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations from the AFCC specifically instruct child custody evaluators to AVOID making a diagnosis.

4.6 Presentation of Findings and Opinions
(c) Evaluators recognize that the use of diagnostic labels can divert attention from the focus of the evaluation (namely, the functional abilities of the litigants whose disputes are before the court) and that such labels are often more prejudicial than probative.

While not directly prohibiting child custody evaluators from identifying what the pathology is (the “diagnostic label”) prior to offering recommendations to the court, the clear indication from the AFCC is that identifying pathology (the “diagnostic label”) is “often more prejudicial than probative” and should be avoided, because it “diverts attention” from the true focus of the assessment, with must be something other than identifying what the problem is and offering recommendations on how to solve it.

Diagnosis guides treatment.  We do not know what to do about a problem until we first identify (diagnose) what that problem is.  The treatment for cancer is different than the treatment for diabetes.

In addition to the deeply troubling prominent encouragement from the AFCC to avoid diagnosing pathology before making recommendations to the court, is the further troubling assertion from the AFCC that child custody evaluators should strive to influence the court’s decision-making by withholding from the court information about pathology that the custody evaluator thinks might be “prejudicial” to the case of the pathological parent.

The AFCC is recommending that the child custody evaluator preempts  the court’s authority to assess the relative value of a “diagnostic label” (identifying what the problem is), and that the child custody evaluator should instead independently weigh the relative “prejudicial” and “probative” value of disclosing to the court the identifying name for the pathology in a family, apparently to influence the court’s decision in favor of the pathological parent by withholding diagnostic information from the court’s consideration.

It is a deeply troubling role for a child custody evaluator to be making preemptive decisions on the relative prejudicial and probative value of diagnostic information in order to then withhold information from the court’s consideration that will influence the court’s decision in favor of a pathological parent, based solely on a decision made by the custody evaluator regarding the relative prejudicial and probative value of the information.

Not only is this diagnostic information withheld from the court’s consideration, it is also not disclosed to the parties.  This violates the rights of the non-pathological parent to present evidence to the court because the relevant evidence is being arbitrarily withheld from disclosure to the parent by the child custody evaluator, based on instructions made to the evaluator from the AFCC in their Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations, Standard 4.6(c).

In issuing Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations, to what degree has the AFCC assumed legal liability for the practice of child custody evaluations?

“Psychologists… take precautions to ensure that their potential biases, the boundaries of their competence, and the limitations of their expertise do not lead to or condone unjust practices.”

How?

How have child custody evaluators taken “precautions” to limit their “potential biases“?  what precautions in the child custody interview process has that specific child custody evaluator taken to limit their “potential biases”?

The mother in the case reminds the evaluator of his ex-wife, the tone of her voice, what she says.  She’s really irritating.  The custody evaluator doesn’t agree with the cultural parenting practices and values of one of the parents, he just doesn’t think that’s the right way to parent.

What precautions did that child custody evaluator take in that evaluation to limit the potential biases – many of them unconscious biases (the evaluator may have mommy-issues or daddy-issues, may have been sexually abused as a child and harbor unconscious anger toward “abusive men”).

What type of “precautions” are taken?  None.

Child custody evaluations take NO precautions to limit “potential bias.”

How has the child taken “precautions” to ensure boundaries of competence?

This is an attachment pathology, a child rejecting a parent.  Where on the custody evaluator’s vitae does it demonstrate background training and experience in assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment pathology?

This is a family conflict pathology.  Where on the custody evaluator’s vitae does it demonstrate background training and experience in family systems therapy.  Or do they assert that family systems therapy, one of the four primary schools of therapy and the only one dealing with families… is not relevant to boundaries of competence.

Do they believe that knowing about families and how families function is not required knowledge for assessing, diagnosing, and treating family conflict pathology?

How has the custody evaluator taken “precautions” to ensure their boundaries of competence?  What precuations?

“…do not lead to or condone unjust practices.”

Do you mean like denying people “equal access to and benefit from the contributions of psychology and to equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services being conducted by psychologists”? 

That type of “unjust practice”?

In issuing Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations, and placing their professional endorsement and imprimatur of credibility onto the practice of child custody evaluations, to what degree has the AFCC incurred legal liability relative to the practice of child custody evaluations in forensic psychology?

I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

 

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Top 10 from Texas Bar Today: A Thinning Tightrope, a Lump of Coal, and a Worry-Free Year

Top 10 from Texas Bar Today: A Thinning Tightrope, a Lump of Coal, and a Worry-Free Year

Originally published by Joanna Herzik.

Top 10 from Texas Bar Today: A Thinning Tightrope, a Lump of Coal, and a Worry-Free Year 6To highlight some of the posts that stand out from the crowd, the editors of Texas Bar Today have created a list from the week’s blog posts of the top ten based on subject matter, writing style, headline, and imagery. We hope you enjoy this installment.

10. 20 Questions to Answer to Start 2020Cordell Parvin @cordellparvin of Cordell Parvin LLC in Dallas

9. Texas Supreme Court on arbitrability of class claimsChristopher Stevenson of Adair Myers Graves Stevenson @AdairMyers in Houston

8. Establishing coverageDavid Coale @600camp of Lynn Pinker Cox & Hurst, LLP in Dallas

7. Happy New Year!! A Great Time to Review Your Insurance Policies for a Worry-Free YearChip Merlin of the Merlin Law Group @MerlinLawGroup

6. Safety, Substance Abuse and Mental Health: Helping yourself through a Texas family law caseBryan Fagan @bryanjfagan of Law Office of Bryan Fagan in Houston

5. Oil Field Services Gets Lump of Coal from SantaCharles Sartain and Ethan Wood of Gray Reed & McGraw, P.C. @GrayReedLaw in Dallas

4. Court Rejects Reasonable Cause Argument in FBAR Penalty CaseLaw Office of Kunal Patel, PLLC in Houston

3. Your Estate Plan May Need To Be Tweaked: The SECURE Act Has PassedRania Combs of Rania Combs Law @raniacombs in Houston

2. Court Holds That Will Contestant Was Not Estopped From Challenging the Will Due to Accepting AssetsDavid Fowler Johnson @TXFiduciaryLit of Winstead PC in Fort Worth

1. The Thinning Tightrope for Harassment InvestigationsRobert G. Chadwick, Jr. @chadwicklawusa of Seltzer Chadwick Soefje & Ladik, PLLC in Frisco

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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Want to resolve your Texas family law case outside of court? Remember these rules of engagement

Filing an Answer and proceeding with a family lawsuit in Texas

Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.

If you have been served with a petition for divorce or a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship, then you may have questions about how to proceed. It’s probably pretty clear to you that your spouse or the other parent to your child has filed a lawsuit against you, but after that, you are unclear on exactly what you should be doing. Do you need to file something yourself? Should you hire a lawyer?  If you were served with the papers at a park or in a parking lot is that legitimate?

My first piece of advice on this subject is to at all times remain calm. A process server or constable has been hired by your opposing party’s attorney to go to the courthouse, pick up the documents from the court and give them to you. This has the effect of providing you with legal notice of the lawsuit having been filed. If you are approached by a person with paperwork that looks important you should receive the papers. There is no benefit to running away, throwing them on the ground or refusing to comply. Your opposing party will get “credit” for serving you notice of the lawsuit no matter what you do at that point.

Another point that I would like to make is that your spouse will get credit for having served you no matter where you are served. Many people are served at their home. Some are served at work. Others are served at doctor’s appointments, family member’s homes or other places that they regularly visit. Your opposing party will coordinate this with their attorney and the process server. Do not be surprised to be served if your spouse has spoken to you about filing for divorce or for a child custody case.

Do not make assumptions about what the paperwork you are served with says

One thing that I have noticed that people tend to do after they are served with a Petition for Divorce is that they will immediately read and become frustrated with what they are reading. The legal terms that are used in a Petition are often utilized in different ways than we would use those same words in everyday conversation. So, while you may think a phrase or request means one thing- it likely means something completely different.

With that said, you can read through what has been handed to you- it is your case after all. But, until you speak to an attorney do not make any hard and fast assumptions or determinations about what has been written in those documents. Requests for attorney’s fees to be paid by you is a common request in a Petition. When you file your Answer to that petition your attorney will likely make the same request of your spouse. It is not something to get immediately upset about.

What happens with the timeline of your case once you are served with a Petition?

The timeline or “clock” begins to tick as soon as you are served. The process server will report back to the courthouse with a document certifying that you were served with the Petition on that day at the specific time you were provided notice of the lawsuit. From there, a couple of different things happen.

First, you now have twenty days to file an Answer. Technically you have until the first Tuesday at 10:00 after the expiration of twenty days to file your Answer. An Answer is your legal response to the allegations and requests made by your opposing party in their Petition. It is not a complex legal document, but rather alerts the court that you are intending to participate in the lawsuit and have responses ready to the allegations made in the Petition. Most importantly, by filing an Answer you keep the opposing party in your case from getting a default judgment.

As simply as I can put it, a default judgment is a legal judgment that your spouse can get from a judge if it is shown that you were provided notice of the lawsuit, were served properly and then never filed an Answer. In order to keep your having not filed an Answer from delaying the end of the case, your spouse can then proceed to court after 60 days to have the judge sign into effect final orders that were created by her. You are bound by those orders even though you never laid eyes on them. Therefore, filing an Answer is a very important step in your legal case.

What should your reaction be after getting served?

We have already talked about how you should react at the moment that you are served. Well, you should continue to act calmly and rationally after the fact, as well. Speaking to an attorney as soon as you can is a good idea. I always advise potential clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to speak to a handful of attorneys in order to get a good idea of what the issues are, to learn as much about the process as possible and to get a feel for the attorney herself. Once you have interviewed enough attorneys to feel comfortable you can make arrangements to hire one.

The lawyer will take care of filing an Answer for you. However, he or she will certainly ask you for information about your family in order to not only file an Answer but to prepare for the next stages of your case. The attorney should inform you that your case is a marathon and not a sprint. You may want to take action immediately to address inconsistencies or “lies” in the Petition. You will get that opportunity, but it likely will not come in front of a judge- more on that later.

For now, you should enter the mindset that you are not going to contact your spouse unless you absolutely have to. Communication regarding your child is fine as long as you can be civil. You do not need to speak to your spouse if he or she is being uncivil or nasty to you. By the same token, you should not act that way towards him or her.

Consider not logging onto Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media until your case is over with. Family law attorneys are good at getting dirt on the opposing party and social media is a great place to look. For example, if you log into a social media account and say nasty things about your spouse and make this out to be World War III then that is information that certainly would be interesting to your spouse and their attorney. Do not give your spouse any ammunition to be used against you later. Work with your attorney, work to see your kids and play nice in the sandbox.

An alternative to filing an Answer: signing a Waiver of Service 

There is one other way to respond to your spouse’s Petition for Divorce that we have not yet discussed in today’s blog post. That would be signing and filing a Waiver of Service. If you and your spouse are on speaking terms, agree on whatever issues exist in your case, and want to work together from the start to finish your divorce as quickly as possible then you can sign a Waiver of Service.

A few items to consider before signing a Wavier of Service. First, you need to read the Waiver carefully. Usually, if you have already hired an attorney, he or she will advise against you signing the document no matter what it says. However, if you do not believe that hiring an attorney is necessary then a Waiver can be signed. This happens with some frequency in situations where you and your spouse have talked through the divorce in a detailed fashion and have agreements in place on all issues related to your case.

Most waivers tell a court that you have received the Petition for Divorce (thereby proving that you have notice of the filing of a lawsuit) but waiver your right to be personally served with the lawsuit. From there, you will provide your contact information to the court so that they can have it on record if official mailing from the judge has to be sent out for any reason.

Temporary Orders: What they are and what they mean to your family law case

Filing for divorce, being served and then having an Answer filed can be looked at as the first step in the divorce process. Step number two involves something called Temporary Orders. This is a step where the marching orders for you and your opposing party will be established during the duration of your case. It is important that you be able to either negotiate for or have a judge award a fair array of temporary orders because the final orders in your case tend to mirror the temporary orders to a great extent.

If your case involves children then the temporary orders will deal primarily with them. Visitation, child support, conservatorship, etc. will all be dealt with. These orders will be signed by you, your opposing party and the judge. In a divorce, issues related to bills, property, temporary spousal support and other circumstances specific to your case will be hammered out. Issues regarding the sale of your home or other property, as well as the allocation of debts,  will be determined later in your case.

Most of the time, family law cases in the temporary orders phase will be settled in mediation. Mediation is a process where you and your attorney, your spouse and their attorney and an independent attorney will come together to attempt to settle and negotiate your case. You will typically go to the mediator’s office and that attorney will put you in one room and your spouse in another (with your lawyers). The mediator will then bounce back and forth in between your rooms in hopes of reaching a settlement.

If a settlement is reached, the mediator will draft a document known as a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA). That MSA will be the basis from which the temporary orders in your case will be drafted. One of your attorneys will be charged with the responsibility to draft the temporary orders based on the language contained in the MSA. Both attorneys will typically look over the final draft and decide whether or not it fairly reflects the MSA. Once both sides are satisfied it will be signed and sent to the judge for their signature.

If no settlement, then a temporary orders hearing occurs

Tomorrow’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will center around Temporary Orders. This is a full-fledged hearing that allows you and your opposing party to submit evidence to a judge if a settlement cannot be reached in mediation. It is called a hearing but in reality, it is a mini-trial. A person who walks into the courtroom could not distinguish your hearing from a trial, anyway. If you are interested in what your temporary orders hearing could look like, then please head back here tomorrow.

Questions about family law cases in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are honored to be able to serve the community that we work and live in. For us, learning about you and your needs is the basis for developing a strong attorney-client relationship. We hope that you have learned something from our blog post today and always encourage questions and suggestions about the topics we discuss here.

If you have any questions or need clarification on anything you read today please do not hesitate to contact our office. We offer free of charge consultations here in our office six days a week. These consultations are a great opportunity for you to learn more about your case and to have your questions answered in a comfortable environment. We look forward to meeting with you and serving your needs along with those of your family.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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Want to resolve your Texas family law case outside of court? Remember these rules of engagement

Safety, Substance Abuse and Mental Health: Helping yourself through a Texas family law case

Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.

Family law cases are among the most difficult of all areas of the law because of how intimate the subject nature is. True, you may not be worth millions of dollars like a multinational corporation but your family case deals with subjects that are more important than money. Your marriage, your children, your personal behaviors and that of your spouse are all relevant in a family case. While an investment banker’s work habits may require some embarrassing information to be disclosed in a trial, nothing compares to having to discuss your marriage to a room of strangers in a divorce trial.

Sometimes the material that is relevant in a family law case is more than just intimate or embarrassing. On occasion there is subject matter that relates to family violence, the safety of your children and even mental health disorders that become a huge part of family law cases. In these situations, you need to be able to know what to expect to encounter when dealing with problems associated with matters that are best kept private but are nonetheless relevant to your current family law case. Whether you are concerned for the well-being of your kids, yourself or even your soon-to-be ex-spouse I want to share some tips on how to handle these sorts of circumstances in your own family case.

What to do when you are worried about the safety of your children

If you find yourself worried about the safety of your children there is no time to waste in attempting to do something to remove those concerns from your life and theirs. Imagine being in a position where you had suspicions or thoughts about a hazard in your child’s life but did nothing to remedy that hazard. The next thing you know, something bad happens to your child and you end up blaming yourself for having identified a problem but having done thing to stop that problem from impacting your child.

This happens all too regularly with family law cases, I am afraid to say. For some reason our instincts as parents are inhibited by all of the hoopla associated with a family law case. This is ironic because at the core of what you are doing, no matter if it is a divorce or child custody case, is a desire to improve the lives of your children. The best advice that I can give to you is that you can improve your child’s life by addressing any concerns regarding safety immediately after you learn about them.

First and foremost, concerns about your child’s safety should be addressed by police and Child Protective Services (CPS). It is probable that the police will contact CPS anyways, but you should see to it that the police are aware of any concerns that you have for your child’s well being. If your child comes home from their mother’s house and tells you that her friend is acting inappropriately, your first step should be to talk to your child about any incidents that have occurred. Next, contact the police if that voice in your head tells you to. Better to be safe than sorry.

You need to know that if your spouse has a history with CPS, that will be an especially relevant bit of information that will need to be discussed with the judge. Family violence is a serious subject as judges want to, above all else, keep your children safe. Any words that you or your spouse use towards one another that could be construed as violent or threatening can and will likely be brought up again.

What does this mean to you on a practical level? Well, for starters, you need to get into the mindset that anything and everything that you say can be recorded and documented. This means those words can be taken out of context, potentially, and used against you and to the advantage of your spouse. Meaning: choose your words carefully. Especially choose how you text and email your spouse. Take a moment before responding to a particularly mean or nasty email to consider how your response can be utilized against you by your spouse.

Next, certainly never put your hands on your spouse for any reason. Even if you are justified in touching your spouse do not do it. Remove yourself from any situation that may rise to violence, animosity or anger. It is not worth it to you to be involved in any discussion that is heated. Use your attorney to convey difficult messages if you don’t believe that your spouse can be respectful of you and your opinions. Even if you are merely defending yourself, it can be a disaster to your case if you were to injure your spouse (especially if you are a man).

One thing that I have seen in recent years is people fighting over cell phones. Grabbing for a phone to see if someone has contacted your spouse or for any other reason can be dangerous. Mostly because those sort of actions can quickly escalate and lead to further use of violence or at the very least coarse language. Nothing contained in that phone is worth potentially losing time with your kids over- or even going to jail for. Be aware of your surroundings and do what you can to de-escalate any situation that you believe could lead to heated tempers.

Is protective order relevant to your situation?

A lot of clients ask about protective orders at the beginning of a child custody or divorce case. The thought being that one could potentially serve the purpose of de-escalating potentially dangerous situations. A protective order can serve a purpose when family violence has occurred in the home recently and that the violence is likely to continue but for the obtaining of a protective order.

If you get a protective order against your spouse that can be severely detrimental to his case in a divorce or child custody matter. You would need to decide whether or not to pursue a protective order that protects you and your kids or just you. While in today’s world we do not ordinarily consider these situations all that often, the fact is that men can be abused, as well as women. Think about all the information we are told about how women are reticent to come forward with details about abuse that they have suffered. The same can be said for men. Men are typically even less willing than women to come forward with details about abuse that they have suffered.

Handling issues regarding mental health in conjunction with a family law case

These are two subjects that come up all the time in family law cases. In some cases they are the primary reasons why there are child custody issues or circumstances that have led to discussions about divorce. Whether your spouse has been diagnosed with having a mental impairment or other mental health difficulty, or you suspect him or her of having a condition like this, mental health problems shine through brightly in many family cases.

Do you suspect your spouse of being bi-polar, having anxiety or being depressed? Some clients of mine in the past have commented that their spouse must be bi-polar considering how hot and cold he/she is. One minute they could be having a conversation together, and the next minute that same spouse could have grabbed a knife to attack our client. Behavior like this that is inconsistent and aggressive can be downright dangerous.

Another problem that clients frequently run into are issues related to a parent’s inability to take their medications as prescribed. The result is comments that relate to how good a parent your spouse might be when he or she is taking their medication, but if that medication is not taken as prescribed your spouse may be the most disagreeable person on earth. It is understandable to not want to take medication when those medicines cause you to feel out of sorts, but that concern needs to be balanced against the desire to keep your safe.

Finally, you need to speak to your attorney about your own history involving drugs and alcohol. The reality for many parents is that if there is a history of drug or alcohol abuse, you probably do not want to share those details with anyone. However, the worst thing that you can do is to keep that history a secret until a mediation or hearing date. Having your lawyer blind-sided by an opposing attorney who disclosed a history of drug and alcohol abuse is not a good plan to have.

Beware of back and forth bickering

Sometimes it is inevitable that you and your spouse will get into an argument. That happens even in the best functioning of marriages. Those arguments usually go nowhere and just leave everyone involved stressed to the max and angry that the discussion was ever started in the first place. Many times, we can see these discussions/arguments happening ahead of time and it takes a little bit of self-control to simply avoid them altogether.

There is nothing more awkward and potentially detrimental to your case to get into an elaborate game of bomb throwing in a courtroom. It typically will happen like this: both you and your spouse have allegations that the other acted inappropriately, was emotionally abusive or generally did something that was harmful to the kids. You then use your time on the witness stand to defend yourself and then hurl a few bombs her way.

What this ends up being is a back and forth game of unsubstantiated allegations. Instead of using your time productively to testify credibly for yourself and against your spouse, you are going to alienate your judge and distance yourself so far from the facts of your case that you may have trouble getting back on track. I have seen this happen many times in other cases and even in my own cases. Emotionally it may be satisfying to fire back at your spouse when he or she makes allegations against you, but in the long run that sort of behavior rarely if ever turns out to work to your advantage.

The people in your life that you trust are there to be your support system

We all have moments in our lives that require the support of others. Whether it is during a difficult family law case, a death in the family or the loss of a job, we cannot always be at our best. It is during those times that we rely on others to prop us up and support us. With that said, keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with doing so. At some point in the future it is likely that you can repay that person by being there for him or her when they need you.

Remember, also, that your mental and physical well-being matters. Staying in a marriage for the sake of your kids is noble, but ultimately self-defeating. Your kids deserve a parent who is at their best. You cannot be at your best when you are involved in a marriage that is emotionally

unfulfilling or worse yet- violent. We will discuss this topic when we pick up where we left off today in tomorrow’s blog post.

Questions about family law cases in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan would like to express their sincere appreciation for your interest in today’s blog post. We post articles like this every single day in order to share some of the knowledge that we can have gained through serving people in our community just like you.

In order to speak to one of our licensed family law attorneys about your case, please do not hesitate to contact us today. A consultation at our office is absolutely free of charge and can go a long way towards helping you better understand your circumstances and how to help your family and yourself.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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What Happens If a Parent Violates a Visitation Order?

Originally published by The Law Office of V. Wayne Ward.

Typically, child custody and visitation agreements are solidified by both parents, then ordered by the court. The result is a legal, enforceable agreement between both parties. When one parent violates that agreement, there can be serious legal consequences.

What’s Considered a Visitation Violation?

A visitation violation occurs when one parent doesn’t comply with the terms set forth in the visitation agreement. There are many ways a parent can violate this agreement, including:

  • Keeping a child for a longer length of time
  • Failing to drop a child off at the stated time or place
  • Contacting or visiting the child at times not specified in the agreement
  • Taking the child on a vacation or extended trip without approval
  • Purposely keeping the child from the other spouse

If you find that your ex is violating your visitation agreement and you feel that your child is in danger, we recommend calling the proper authorities. You should also reach out to an attorney who can help you navigate what to do next.

What Are the Consequences of Violating an Order?

It’s important to remember that agreements between you and your ex that don’t involve the court won’t be upheld in court. Court-ordered visitation agreement violations are enforceable, however, and carry serious legal consequences.

For example, the court may reward extra parenting time to the other parent. For serious violations or repeated violations, the court may choose to change the visitation plan, perhaps stripping the parent’s rights completely. Other consequences include possible jail time, as well as civil penalties and fines.

If you and your ex feel that a current child custody agreement isn’t working, you must inform the court and seek a modification, instead of attempting to create a new arrangement on your own. Trying to do so may cause you both to violate the agreement, leaving you both at risk for legal consequences.

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817-789-4436 – If a parent violates a court-ordered visitation agreement, are there consequences? To learn more about visitation violations, visit us today.

Struggling With Your Child Custody Agreement? Call an Attorney.

Has your ex violated your visitation agreement? Are you concerned about the safety of your child? Our team can help. To learn more about our legal services or for answers to your questions, send us a message.

The post What Happens If a Parent Violates a Visitation Order? appeared first on Fort Worth Family Law Attorney.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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Want to resolve your Texas family law case outside of court? Remember these rules of engagement

Finding a roadmap to family court success in Texas: Money and kids

Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.

Being able to maintain strong relationships with your children during a divorce or child custody case, as well as determining what sort of financial commitment your Texas family case will cost are two of the most frequently asked questions that I receive. This is with good reason. A family court case involves children and money, almost exclusively. There are very few issues that are relevant in your case other than these two. Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will seek to provide you with some guidance on these subjects.

Money concerns in relation to family law cases

Almost every person wants to know the same things associated with a family law case: how much is the case going to cost? How much child support will I be responsible for paying? The flip side to this question relates to how much child support will you be receiving. Other considerations center around health insurance, spousal support and contractual alimony. The bottom line is that people in your position are frequently concerned that their family law case (usually a divorce) will end up ruining him or her from a financial perspective.

Let’s talk first about how much it costs to hire a family law attorney to represent you in your case. The overall cost of your case depends in large part on you and your opposing party. If you and your spouse are not communicating at all and have no desire to do so, it means that your case will likely take longer to complete. The more time that is needed to be devoted to a family law case means that more money will need to be spent, as well.

The specific subject matter that you are in disagreement with your spouse about matters as well. If your big disagreements center around who gets the silverware, then your case can likely be resolved quickly. If your big disagreements center around your children, then you likely have a longer case on your hands. If you and your spouse are willing to compromise and meet one another halfway on any issues that need to be sorted out then your case is not going to be a marathon length nightmare that your friends have warned you about.

Finally, issues like medical support and spousal support may be relevant in your case. These are factors that many people do not consider in the lead up to their case. Keep in mind that the better prepared your attorney is to help you, the better shape you will be in. You can work to tell your attorney about relevant information at the beginning of your relationship with him or her. You can also save money by organizing materials that your attorney asks you for. If you leave that responsibility to your attorney or their staff then you will end up paying for services that you could have done yourself.

What happens to your credit as a result of a divorce?

When it comes to divorce cases specifically, it is easy to imagine a scenario where your credit score takes a hit. You may have started out your divorce with having no credit score to speak of. Taking out loans or spending on credit may have been something that you never had to explore. Once you find yourself involved in a family law case your income is going to be stretched to an extent and you can find yourself needing to rely on credit cards and loans to pay your bills and even pay your attorney.

Decision making in a family case carries with it a potential financial impact

For each decision that you make in conjunction with your family law case, there is a certain amount of financial impact that is inherent in doing so. One of the first questions you will need to ask yourself when it comes to a child custody or divorce case is whether or not you will want to hire an attorney to represent you.

Think about what is at stake in your case and the circumstances you find yourself in. If you believe that you will not gain enough of an advantage or enough benefit from hiring an attorney, it is likely that you will not do so. People hire attorneys because they are not legal experts and believe that the benefit that they derive from hiring an attorney will outweigh the financial costs associated with doing so.

It is essential that you understand what is at stake in your family case and how you can go about achieving your goals. Going to court or negotiating with an opposing attorney is not as simple as you may think. Certainly, the field of work that you are engaged in has subtleties that take time to learn. The same can be said of the legal world. Leaving these sorts of things to chance by not hiring a lawyer may save you money in the short term but will almost certainly cost you much money in the long term.

In the event that you do decide to hire an attorney, you need to put forth a great deal of effort into that relationship in order to get your money’s worth. Look for an attorney who you believes reflects your values and offers you the best opportunity to reach a timely and fair resolution with your opposing party. It may be necessary for your case to go all the way to a trial. However, keep in mind that the vast majority of cases settle in informal settlement negotiations or in mediation. Hiring an attorney who understands how important negotiation is essential to your escaping from your family law case.

I have seen many family law cases where the parties have worked out an agreement between themselves wind up in court because the other attorney did not believe the agreement to be fair or equitable. I will admit that many times those informal agreements do need to have some specifics worked out. However, if you and your spouse settle your case informally it is not a good sign if your attorney attempts to void that agreement over issues that are not important to you. This is your case, after all. You are the final decision maker as to what is and what is not important.

Maintaining the relationship that you have with your kids during a family law case

Probably the most frustrating circumstance associated with a family case is that which involves the other parent withholding your children from being able to visit with you. Being in a position where you would do anything to be able to see your children but having an unwilling parent on the other side is enough to drive a person to file a family law case.

Other circumstances that can lead to the filing of a family case is if you are the primary caretaker for your kids and you are not receiving any financial assistance from their other parent. No matter if you live with your child, you owe him or her a duty of financial care and support. If you and your significant other split up and he or she is not helping to support your child then you have the right to initiate a child support case in order to remedy that situation.

Still, other situations that involve your relationship with your child are related to your desire to simply spend more time with him or her. Maybe you are operating under a prior court order where you were only given weekend visitation with your kids. Now you find yourself in a position where you are working in a job where you have more flexibility with your schedule. Or, your children may have voiced a desire to live with your primarily instead of your ex-spouse.

It is crucial that your children have access to both you and their other parent. The whole system of family law in Texas is based upon the premise that children are more likely to thrive when exposed to both parents. Your kids seek attention and love from both of their parents. Your ability to return that love and affection is as important to their upbringing as any other factor in their lives. Coming to a resolution with your spouse on how to divide up time with your children can be among the most important factors when it comes to saving time and money in a family law case.

Will the debt be a relevant factor in your child custody or divorce case?

Maybe the least discussed, yet most important, a topic that I can think of in conjunction with divorces is that of debt. The way it works out in Texas is that you may become responsible for the debts incurred by your spouse. Obviously, you want to minimize your exposure to the debts of your spouse- especially if those debts are completely unrelated to you.

Deciding how to divide debt up in your divorce can be just as important as deciding how to divide up property in your divorce. Debts can come in all shapes and sizes. From the smallest credit card debt to a home mortgage, you need to be aware of what debts exist in your name and your spouse’s. I recommend to clients that they pull a copy of their credit report early on in the case. This way you can know exactly what credit accounts are in your name without any surprises popping up at the end of your case.

Another issue that is very important but not often considered is what will happen to your mortgage after your divorce. For example, suppose that you agree to leave the family home and your wife agrees to take over the mortgage payments in exchange for being awarded the house in your divorce. This all sounds fine and dandy until you begin to consider what can happen in the event that your ex-spouse falls behind on the mortgage. If that mortgage bears your name you will be taking a hit to your credit- no matter what the divorce decree says.

The reason for this is that your loan with the lending company is not impacted by your divorce decree. You can agree to whatever you want with your spouse in the divorce, but that will not necessarily impact how your loan is treated by any lender. What you agreed to with them years ago when you took out your loan is what will still be controlling- not what is contained in your final orders. You will need to have a plan to remove your name from the mortgage, and if that is not a possibility (as with a refinance), you need to have a backup plan in place to handle future missed mortgage payments by your ex-spouse.

Credit cards that allow your spouse to be an authorized user and even cars titled to you but used by your soon to be ex-spouse are other concerns that relate to debt which may arise in your divorce case. Do you know how to handle these situations? Does your attorney? Ask yourself these questions before your divorce even begins so that you can wisely choose an attorney to represent you.

Issues of safety and family law cases will be discussed in tomorrow’s blog post

In tomorrow’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we will discuss topics that center around your safety and that of your children. As much as I would like this to not be the case, family law cases frequently involve issues regarding family violence, child abuse, and generally hot tempers. Learning how to keep yourself and your kids safe during a family case is of the utmost importance, as a result.

If you have any questions about the material that we covered in today’s blog post or are seeking clarification on any other subject in Texas family law please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week. These consultations are a great opportunity to have your questions answered and issues addressed by an attorney with experience working with people in situations just like yours.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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How can you tell if your spouse has been talking to an attorney about divorce?

How can you tell if your spouse has been talking to an attorney about divorce?

Originally published by Zack McKamie.

By Jeff Anderson

Sometimes, people start a divorce by going to a lawyer, paying a retainer, and signing a contract to start with the divorce proceedings. Others may speak to an attorney and then go home to gather all the necessary documents to plan for the divorce. If you suspect that your spouse might be doing some planning, here are some signs to help you figure that out.

Children

Let’s say you and your spouse have always shared all parenting responsibilities. Dad takes the children to soccer; Mom takes them to dance. Dad works on homework with them or sometimes Mom does.

Then suddenly there is a shift in responsibilities. One parent is now doing everything – taking the children everywhere, making the doctor appointments, setting up play dates, making dinner, and putting them to bed.  There suddenly is a parental superhero in the house, because even though both may still be there physically, only one is doing their share of parenting. A few months of that and suddenly you’ve got a status quo that is hard to ignore.

That goes for other areas of the children’s lives as well. Mom’s family is being pushed to the side to spend more time with Dad’s family. Dad is actively signing them up for their activities – something he never did before. He suddenly opens a savings account for them and he’s putting a lot of money in there.

Another indication could be if the children are suddenly seeing a counselor for the first time. If a spouse is planning for a divorce and thinking ahead about a trial, therapists have a unique ability on the witness stand. If he or she is qualified as an expert, then they can offer an opinion to the court about your children and then tell the judge about the basis of that opinion, which can include everything your children have said to them. If those children have been coached by the other parent on the way to their counseling sessions, they might have said some things you don’t like – things they don’t even mean.

Money

Another sign that your spouse might be preparing for a divorce can be found in your bank accounts.

If your accounts seem to have less and less money, though nobody’s job has changed and the expenses have stayed the same, it might be a sign that your spouse is holding back money and saving it in a separate account. More directly, if your husband or wife has opened a new account and has started putting funds which are out of your reach into it, they might be getting ready for a fight. A stockpile of cash like this can be important because it takes money to hire an attorney, not to mention starting a new life from scratch.

Ultimately, this can be a matter of one side making sure they have enough money, and at the same time, trying to deprive the other of as many resources as they can. Look for signs, such as the opening of a P.O. Box, new credit cards with new limits, or the closing of joint credit cards.  If it looks like your spouse is gathering the monthly bills and financial statements in a newly central and organized way, he or she might have been advised to do so.

Other Things to Look for

If your spouse just started keeping a diary or journal or if you have noticed that they are recording more (audio, video, or photographic) with their phone, they might have been coached to do so.

If you find that your spouse’s social media posts have changed, you might be seeing a sign of impending disharmony. For instance, if the tone of their posts change to a more wholesome tone, then it’s probably a good idea to go back and see if some of the older posts – the ones your husband or wife might not want a judge to look at – have been erased.

Has your spouse changed their passwords or been more secretive with their phone? Are they using new phrases like “best interest”, “community property” or “no fault”?

These could all be signs that they have been speaking to a divorce attorney. You might consider finding a board-certified family law attorney to explore your options and figure out the best course of action.

Jeff Anderson is a partner in the Family Law boutique Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP. He has devoted his legal career to family law litigation, with a focus on complex property, custody and enforcement. Jeff is Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

The post How can you tell if your spouse has been talking to an attorney about divorce? appeared first on ONDA Family Law.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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