co-parenting during COVID-19

Coronavirus and child custody: Co-parenting during the pandemic

co-parenting during COVID-19

As a parent, you want to spend as much time with your children as humanly possible. You want to watch them learn and grow, as the years pass. Even after a divorce, you still are able to enjoy precious moments with them during your parenting time.

However, with the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic that has swept the country, your parenting time may become part of the uncertainty.

While you want to maintain the World Health Organization recommendations regarding social distancing, hygiene, and sanitation, you still should be able to observe regular parenting time during this difficult time. However, your co-parent may be making that more difficult.

From a safety standpoint, it is understandable that your
co-parent is concerned over the prospect that your shared children may catch
the virus, or that you may while they are in your care. Additionally, many
areas of the country have shelter-in-place orders that prevent unnecessary
travel.

However, that does not extend to child custody drop-offs or
pick-ups.

Issues with shelter-in-place
and custody travel

According to Cordell & Cordell family law attorney Charles Hatley, residents are required to stay indoors except to perform certain necessary activities. These activities include buying food, seeking medical treatment, banking, and laundromat services. This also includes any travel necessary to enforce a court order and for purposes of caring for a child or family member.

Therefore, the shelter-in-place orders, or stay-at-home
orders, do not impact your right to parenting time, whether there is actually a
custody and parenting time order. However, that does not mean the other parent
will not misconstrue or try to abuse these orders in an attempt to block your
access to your child.

You may be like many parents during this coronavirus crisis who
are being forced to miss scheduled parenting time because of a co-parent who
feels honoring the court order is unsafe.

Facing parenting
time denial

During a recent webinar, Cordell & Cordell CEO, Executive/Managing Partner Scott Trout and Partner Dan Cuneo discussed how the coronavirus has been impacting regularly scheduled parenting time, and they spoke about the challenges that fathers have been facing as they deal with the ramifications of existing and legally-binding custody schedules no longer being upheld.

“If you are being denied time, there still may be remedies
available to you,” Mr. Cuneo said. “We want you to reach out and contact an
attorney and discuss what are your options, what do we need to do. It could
depend upon the jurisdiction that you’re in. There are essential remedies
available to you, and we want to make sure that you’re not being taken
advantage of and that you’re not sitting back and missing out on time.”

Additionally, this webinar detailed how this type of situation is being handled in several areas of the country. For example, in California, where the shelter-in-place order has been in effect since March 19, family courts are emphasizing the use of common sense, according to Cordell & Cordell Lead Litigator Jason Hopper.

“The standing order from almost all of our courts are that
the existing orders are to be followed,” Mr. Hopper said. “Parenting time and
is deemed essential travel. It’s not within the confines of the shelter in
place rules.”

Filing with family
court still possible

While there may be logistical issues involved in the family
court process during this shutdown associated with the coronavirus pandemic, you
and your family law attorney still are able to file in your state.

“In-person court is banned, so if you have a case, where you are supposed to be seeing your children and your ex-wife has cut you off, we can’t run full throttle into court to file anything and get in front of a judge immediately,” said Cordell & Cordell Litigation Partner Kristin Zurek. “But our courts are still open for filings, so it’s important to know that if something is going on and you want to bring it to the judge’s attention, go talk to your lawyer. You have the ability to upload pleadings to the court.”

While the court may be receiving filings, you may need more,
in order to incite action from the family courts under these circumstances. You
may need to illustrate that this is an emergency situation.

“The judge’s determination needs to be whether or not this
is an emergency that requires a phone conference or a video conference to deal
with it or if it’s something that’s going to have to wait until court reopens,”
Ms. Zurek said.

While the courts may find that the situation is not deemed
to be an emergency, it still is worthwhile to file, offering the court
documented evidence of how much you care about your children.

“It’s still important to get that on file as soon as possible, because you don’t want strategically, the court saying when court is back in session ‘Well, you must have not thought it was that important, because you didn’t file anything,’” said Cordell & Cordell Litigation Partner Kelly Burris. “It’s important to get things on file and see what options you have.”

Child support
challenges

Additionally, issues surrounding child support may arise
during the coronavirus pandemic that may require legal attention. Much of the
population is experiencing financial hardship, and many are expected to lose
their employment. If you do lose your job or find yourself with some sort of
wage reduction, how will you support your children and pay the court-ordered
child support during this challenging time?

“If you are facing a job loss or a wage reduction, one of
the first, most practical things you can do without involving an attorney is to
approach your employer and ask if they will be providing any qualified disaster
relief payments,” Mr. Hopper said. “Typically, when an employer provides any
type of compensation or benefit to an employee, that’s going to be a taxable
event. However, there are provisions within federal code and Internal Revenue
code, as well as in many states’ revenue codes that allow for employers to
provide to employees when there is a disaster declaration, like there is
currently nationwide, qualified disaster relief payments.”

While this may partially assist your financial situation,
you still must deal with the child support order itself. Given the
circumstance, seeking legal assistance may be the only way of navigating these
complex waters and avoiding the piling up of payments that you can no longer
afford.

“Consult with an attorney,” Mr. Hopper said. “You likely
have modification rights available to you.”

If you do not pursue modification, the child support
payments do not go away, just because you no longer have a job or because of
the coronavirus pandemic. You still can find yourself facing hefty child
support payments that if ignored, can become overwhelming, especially with your
children caught in the crossfires.

“You have to file your modification immediately,” said Cordell & Cordell Litigation Partner Rick Julius. “If things change and you don’t find it to be financially beneficial to you once the courts get open, you at least, have that decision down the road. Pennsylvania courts [Mr. Julius’ licensed state] are only going to go back as that modification filing date, in order to do that. It may end up that when it gets heard, that the financial situation has corrected itself and you may be entitled to retroactive modification of that time period.”

Parent, co-parent,
and monitor the situation

With all of the health and economic uncertainty caused by
the coronavirus pandemic, it is necessary for you to learn as much as possible
regarding your state’s family court system and how they handle emergency
situations. That way, if you find yourself facing unemployment with a large
monthly child support payment, or a co-parent who refuses to adhere to the
parenting time issued by the court, you know how to react.

It also is important to understand the perspective of your
children during this pandemic. They may be confused or scared, and as a parent,
it is necessary for you to take time for them, explaining to them the situation
in terms that they understand and monitor their wellness as much as possible.

If it is possible to remain amicable with your co-parent
during this time, do so. Communication and cooperation are necessary components
to co-parenting during normal situations, but with the coronavirus pandemic, it
becomes even more crucial that you put the needs of your children first, before
any animosity.

While this may be an instance of uncertainty, it is necessary for you to monitor the situation from a legal perspective and contact your family law attorney if you feel that changes need to be made.

Related coronavirus coverage:

Free Webinar: Can the Coronavirus Affect Custodial Rights? How Divorces and Parenting Time May Be Impacted

Can I make up lost parenting time due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Does a Shelter-in-Place Order Limit my Right to Parenting Time?

The post Coronavirus and child custody: Co-parenting during the pandemic appeared first on Dads Divorce.

Read More –>

3 Important Things to Know About Divorce Law in New Jersey

3 Important Things to Know About Divorce Law in New Jersey

One of the most misunderstood aspects of family law is how alimony is calculated.  In some states, there is simply a formula that is utilized.  However, in New Jersey, it is much more fact-specific.

The post 3 Important Things to Know About Divorce Law in New Jersey appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

Read More –>

“Zoom”ing into a new era

Originally published by Sally Pretorius.

If there was ever a time to be thankful for technology, it is now. During the novel coronavirus  pandemic, a majority of attorneys are finding themselves practicing social distancing, which means working remotely. Given our professions, many times court appearances, emergency motions, client meetings, and emergencies cannot wait. To be honest, I was skeptical of using technology for court appearances and hearings because I have been taught the value of in-person relationships and the power of in-person advocacy. However, after a call with Elizabeth Lippy from Trial Advocacy & Consulting, my mind was quickly changed. Our clients trust us to make sure we are capable of assisting them with their legal problems, and given our current circumstances, attorneys need to make sure we are able to rise to that occasion.

That being said, many courts (Collin County being one of the leading counties on this front) have begun to conduct their hearings via a platform called Zoom. To ensure we are fully capable of representing our clients in whatever platform is necessary, I dug into Zoom to make sure I was prepared to use it as an advocacy platform should the need arise. Here are some tips that should help you get started.

Zoom Basics

Creating an account

Aside from Zoom being user friendly and intuitive, the great thing about Zoom is that it’s free—for three people for up to 40 minutes. If you need more people on a call or need more than 40 minutes, you will need to pay for a plan. Even if you do need to pay for a plan, the cost is minimal: $14.99, which gets you up to 100 participants and 24-hour time limit per call (which I hope you don’t need for a hearing). To sign up for an account, you simply enter your email address and then Zoom sends you a link to verify and you are in. Once you have an account, you log in to Zoom and you are usually immediately logged in to your profile. This is where you can see the details of your account, including your personal meeting ID. You can now go in and change your profile picture and manage your account to do more advanced things (once you are proficient and ready to advance).

Pro Tip: Pin the Zoom icon/app onto your desktop for easy access.

Scheduling

So now you are logged in and ready to go. If you are scheduling the meeting, at the top of the Zoom screen, there is a link to “Schedule a Meeting.” Click on that link and begin to enter the details for your meeting. As mentioned, Zoom is pretty intuitive, so filling in the details of your Zoom meeting is similar to creating a calendar invite. The nice thing about Zoom is you can make it audio only or you can make it video as well. If you want video, make sure you turn on video for the host and participant. For the audio selection, I recommend keeping both clicked on so people using their computer can have the sound capability from their computers as well.

Pro Tip: If you want to mute participants upon entry so you don’t have endless chatter and lots of distractions, click that option. You can also record the meeting on your computer if you want to make sure you have a record of the call. While Texas is a one-party state, I would make sure to let the participants know that you are recording them as a courtesy. If you are setting up a meeting with a judge, I would absolutely ask permission before recording the conference as many judges have local rules and policies on recording their proceedings outside a court reporter. If you want a court reporter, you can also invite your court reporter so he or she can make an official record of the hearing/meeting/conference.

Next, click “Save” to create the meeting. The meeting is now saved and ready to share. To invite other people, copy and paste the “Join URL” and send it to other participants. I would suggest including this information in a calendar invite so people aren’t searching for the meeting information.

Participating in a Meeting

If someone is scheduling a meeting and inviting you, he or she will send you a link to join the call or send you a meeting ID. At the top of the Zoom screen, click on the “Join a Meeting” link, enter the meeting ID, and click “Join.” You should then be directed into the meeting space.

Starting the Meeting

To access meetings that you have created, click on the link called “Meetings” on the left-hand side of the screen and you will see all of the meetings you have scheduled. You can use this link to edit your meeting, add the meeting to your calendar, and to share the meeting with other people (remember the three-person limit for a free account).

When it is time for the meeting, click “Start this Meeting.” Follow the prompts to run from a browser or download and run Zoom. You will be asked if you want to join audio—click that selection to hear others and participate.

Tips for Conducting a Hearing on Zoom

Join early

Enter the conference early and make sure that everything is working properly and the features are set up to your preference—just as you would arrive early at a new courtroom to check on things and make sure you are good to go.

Witnesses

If you are going to have witnesses, including your client, present, you need the pro version of Zoom to invite them to participate in the hearing because there is a limit on the number of people allowed on a Zoom session under the free version. Invite witnesses and clients to the session just like any other participant (as detailed above).

Share documents

The easiest way to share documents with the group is through the chat feature. There are more advanced ways, but on a basic level, the best way is to use the chat feature. I would recommend having all of your exhibits ready to go in a folder saved to your desktop. If you have your exhibit stickers added on, that would make it best for everyone present to identify the documents and keep a clear record. I would also recommend emailing your exhibits to the court beforehand, so the court is able to maintain a clear record. Once you have your documents ready to go, click on the chat icon on the bottom middle right of the Zoom screen and a chat feature will be populated on the right side. On the bottom right of that chat feature is a file icon where you can upload a document and everyone on the chat can then see the document. You can proceed as though you are tendering to the court.

Pro Tip: There is an option at the bottom of your home Zoom page to screen share when on a conference call to facilitate the exchange of information and documents. As an attorney, I don’t recommend using the screen share feature because I often have chats and emails coming through on my desktop.

Mute Everyone

It is frustrating to be on a call/conference/chat with background noise because someone did not hit mute. Zoom allows you to mute everyone. To mute everyone on a call, go to the three-dot icon on the bottom right that says “More.” Then click on “Manage Participants” and click “Mute All.” You will then be prompted to either allow or not allow participants to unmute themselves.

Turn Off Video

If you don’t want to be seen on a conference call, simply click the “Start Video/Stop Video” icon on the bottom left-hand corner.

Ensuring Uniform Views

When everyone first logs on, ask them to go to their video settings (the up arrow to the right of the video camera icon) and click the box that says “Hide Non-Video Participants.” If everyone does this and your hearing requires the questioning of witnesses, this ensures that everyone does not have to see all of the Zoom participants on their screen. Similarly, if you click “Speaker View” in the top right corner, the person speaking will be the larger screen in the middle.

Pretty Filter

It is nice to have a softening effect to your video. Under “Settings,” go to “Video” and click the box for “Touch Up My Appearance,” which adds a nice “Pretty Filter” to help out with those blemishes.

Pick a Professional Background

When logged in to Zoom, you will see on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen an icon that looks like a video camera and next to the icon a little carrot arrow pointing up. Click on the carrot arrow and select “Choose Virtual Background.” You can then visit a free background website like unsplash.com and download a free background. This way, it looks like you are in a professional background when you are really in your dining room or home office.

Speaking with your client offline

Once you get proficient at Zoom, there is a capability to use breakout rooms; however, on a very basic level, I would recommend setting up a different call with a client or session with your client to have offline conversations.

Practice makes perfect

Practice! It is going to take some time getting used to speaking into a computer monitor and looking at the right spot for the camera. Try it out with a colleague or by yourself in a practice session. We can do this. Attorneys are trained to think on our feet and adapt.

Sally Pretorius is a shareholder at KoonsFuller Family Law in Dallas. Her practice focuses on divorce, complex property division, child custody litigation, and child support matters. She is certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has received many notable accolades.

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



Read More –>

Shared Custody In The Midst Of Coronavirus

When It Comes To Joint Custody In The Midst Of Coronavirus Be ‘Flexible’

Shared Custody In The Midst Of Coronavirus

 

Tensions have never run higher when it comes to contentious relations between divorced parents with joint custody because many are now arguing about where the children would be most safe in order to ensure their safety.

While the “physical custody” parent may insist the child(ren) should remain with him/her while the country waits out the dangers of Covid-19, that may prove to be narrow thinking because it is possible that the residence where the child(ren) lives most often could be the home that leaves the child(ren) most susceptible to contracting or transmitting the disease.

Couple that with the reality that most courts are temporarily shutting down, squabbles and all-out divorce wars, are escalating with little or no intervention from the court system, unless the argument rises to the level of domestic violence.

With that in mind, my plea (and others in my field of family law) is to be flexible with your ex.

Shared Custody In The Midst Of Coronavirus

The following are some tips to help divorced parents weather this uncertain crisis:

  1. If you and your ex can’t agree on a new temporary arrangement, ask for intervention from your attorney, therapist, clergy or trusted advisor. The courts may not be available for seeking a remedy for a significant amount of time. Only in highly critical situations will the courts get involved.
  2. As you formulate your side of the argument with your ex, take a pause and remember that what is best for your child(ren) at this time must be your number one priority.
  3. Start any conversations with a new mindset: the intention of being flexible about changing the routine from that which you have been used to.
  4. Be practical in your decision making. For instance, if you have physical custody, and your ex lives alone where he/she can easily isolate your child(ren) from exposure to others, might it be prudent to agree to leave the (child)ren in the care of that parent for this period of time?
  5. When creating any new schedule, make certain the kid(s) aren’t subject to “subtle parental alienation.” Make sure you facilitate both verbal and visual communication. Fortunately, today, we have social media platforms; we have Facebook, Zoom, Join.me, Skype, group texts, and smartphone communication like Facetime. Instagram provides near real-time sharing of photos. This is yet another way for the “self-distancing” parent to keep in touch with their child(ren) throughout the day and evening. There are apps for many face-to-face communication opportunities. Download them now. That way you can connect your child(ren) 24/7, being careful not to disturb the other parent at inappropriate times.
  6. Address the trauma your child(ren) are experiencing. Does he/she/they need immediate therapy as they try to face their fear and uncertainty? If so, reach out. Get help.
  7. Both parents need to work together to keep the child(ren’s) schedule(s) as regular as possible based on what they have been used to.
  8. Lastly, engender a peaceful vibe in front of your child(ren), especially in the presence of your ex. The current situation is stressful enough without adding more tension to the situation. Circling back to my core message in this article: Be flexible!

The post When It Comes To Joint Custody In The Midst Of Coronavirus Be ‘Flexible’ appeared first on Divorced Moms.

Read More –>

Central Texas Family Court Corruption

Central Texas Family Court Corruption

Topic: Host Mike Lee and guests discuss the unfair and oftentimes damaging outcomes handed down in family court cases that involve minor children.

If you have issues that you feel are unjustified or corrupt please email txfamilycourtcorruption@gmail.com

Texas Board of Legal Specialization inducts newest group of certified attorneys and paralegals

Texas Board of Legal Specialization inducts newest group of certified attorneys and paralegals

Originally published by Eric Quitugua.

The Texas Board of Legal Specialization certified 239 attorneys and 29 paralegals during its annual induction ceremony on March 6 at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in Austin.

“In 1975, TBLS swore in the first Texas board-certified attorneys in history. I am proud that 45 years later the program has grown to be one of the biggest legal certification groups in the country,” TBLS Executive Director Leo Figueroa said. “As the number of applicants, board-certified attorneys and paralegals, and specialty areas have increased since then, so has the value of this special certification, and I am proud that TBLS’ newest specialists will be carrying on the legacy of this elite legal status well into the future.”

More than 400 Texas attorneys, paralegals, and family members, as well as Texas Supreme Court justices, attended the ceremony. The newest inductees were sworn in by keynote speaker Justice Jane Bland, who is certified in civil appellate law and civil trial law by TBLS.

During the ceremony, Brian L. Webb, an attorney who was certified in family law since 1980, was posthumously honored with the John F. Sheehy Jr. Distinguished Attorney Award. The award recognizes Webb’s work in the profession, which includes membership on the TBLS Board and TBLS Family Law Exam Commission, the State Bar of Texas Family Law Section, Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists, Texas Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and Texas Family Law Foundation. Natalie and Brant Webb, partners in the Webb Family Law Firm, accepted the award on their father’s behalf.

Troy McKinney received the Tom Garner Award, which is given to a volunteer who has made extraordinary contributions to the TBLS certification program. McKinney, who has been certified in criminal law since 2007 and criminal appellate law since 2011, and has been a member of the TBLS Criminal Law Advisory Commission since 2013.

Of the more than 100,000 attorneys licensed to practice in Texas, only about 7,400 are board certified, according to TBLS. To be a certified attorney, one must be licensed for at least five years, devote a required percentage of practice to a specialty area for a minimum of three years, attend continuing education seminars, be evaluated by lawyers and judges, and pass a six-hour written exam.

Attorneys apply for recertification every five years to maintain certification.

Like with attorneys, board certification for paralegals is voluntary. TBLS-certified paralegals must satisfy experience requirements, attend continuing education seminars, and pass a four-hour written exam. Paralegals apply for recertification every five years to maintain certification.

For more information about the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, go to tbls.org.

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



Read More –>

SANSON ‘SLAPPS’ ABRAMS! Nevada Supreme Court Upholds Free Speech!

SANSON ‘SLAPPS’ ABRAMS! Nevada Supreme Court Upholds Free Speech!

 

LAS VEGAS, NEV. (March 5, 2020) – Today, the Nevada Supreme Court handed down it’s ruling in the hotly contested matter of Abrams vs. Sanson, [Case No. 73838].  Sanson is victorious!  At the time of this writing, Jenny Abrams could not be reached for comment.

“Naturally, I am quite pleased,” stated Steve Sanson, President of Veteran’s in Politics International — in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada!  Our Truth Hits! I-Team spoke with Sanson via telephone.  “Today is a huge victory for free speech!  Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statute basically did what it was designed to do — which is to knockout frivolous lawsuits — in the first round — to protect the little guy from unnecessary and costly legal battles — where the guy suing you has no leg to stand on in court — and they’re just trying to burn you up financially.”

CLICK HERE to READ the LANDMARK RULING – Abrams vs. Sanson (March 5, 2020)

It happens all too often.  An everyday citizen in good faith speaks-out on issues of public concern.  But then some big-shot gets his or her nose out of joint.  Rather than address the citizen in the marketplace of ideas, the big-shot decides to throw-down at the local county courthouse.  After all, the big-shot has money, power, and lawyers on retainer!–while the everyday citizen generally has no means to fight-off the big-shots lawyers.

In such cases, the big-shots have no illusion that their lawsuits are meritorious.  The big-shots are just being total slobs — seeking only to economically bludgeon the citizen — as punishment for speaking out.  The slobs figure that, even if the citizen successfully defends the lawsuit, it won’t even matter because the citizen will be economically devastated by the cost of the litigation.  Even if the citizen wins, there’s no Ed McMahon “prize” for winning.  The citizen is simply left with a pile of legal bills, constricted blood vessels, and a worthless defense verdict to frame and hang on the wall.

This is what happened in the matter of Jennifer Abrams vs. Steven Sanson and Louis C. Schneider, (a tough-as-nails Las Vegas attorney who does family law and criminal law).

Jenny Abrams is the big shot who brought a totally bogus defamation lawsuit against Sanson and Schneider.  As today’s High Court ruling shows, Jenny Abrams’ defamation lawsuit is frivolous.  It appears to have been calculated only to inflict attorney’s fees and costs upon a good faith citizen — Steven Sanson — as punishment for Sanson having spoken-out on issues of public concern.

Among free speech aficionados, Steve Sanson is a something of hero!–a social justice warrior who weathered the storm of a frivolous defamation lawsuit!–who stands-up for the truth, justice, and the American way!–a proud United States Marine who shapes the course of Nevada free speech laws!  “OO-rah!”

And the good news is this –> Nevada’s anti-SLAPP laws allow Sanson to recover attorney’s fees and costs as a result of Abrams’ frivolous lawsuit.  Yes, Jenny Abrams could wind-up having to pay a tidy sum of money to Sanson and his lawyers.  In addition, Jenny may get stuck having to pay penalties of up to $10,000 — to teach her a lesson for filing frivolous lawsuits.

And this is the beauty of the anti-SLAPP laws, i.e., it’s a way of “teaching a lesson” to the big-shots who try to step on the little guys’ throats — by hitting the big-shots where it counts — in the pocketbook!  And this spells epic revenge for the little guys, and further serves, in no small measure, to deter other big-shots who may entertain the foolish idea of attempting to punish others for their “good faith communications in furtherance of the right to free speech regarding a matter of public concern,” as NRS 41.660 contemplates.

VIPI President, Steve Sanson with Dee Smart Butler candidate for Clark County District Court Judge Family Division Department “J.”

Many folks ask: “What is Anti-SLAPP?”  First of all, “SLAPP” stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.  Jenny Abrams’ lawsuit is fairly characterized as a lawsuit that was strategically designed to target Sanson for his public participation — which apparently came in retaliation for Sanson’s opinions on Abrams — i.e., her perceived lack of “openness and transparency” and perceived “obstructions to the judicial process.”

In responding to Abrams’ “SLAPP” lawsuit, Sanson’s hired power-hitter attorney Maggie McLetchie, Esq., (McLetchie Shell LLC).  Ms. McLetchie, who comes from a family of stalwart free-speech advocates, filed an “Anti-SLAPP” motion to dismiss Abrams’ “SLAPP” lawsuit — on the basis that the lawsuit was frivolous.  Ms. McLetchie, who was brilliant in oral arguments before the High Court, carefully explained why Sanson’s statements implicate matters of “public concern” and should thus be afforded anti-SLAPP protections.

When it comes to free speech, Ms. McLetchie totally “gets it!”  And the Nevada Supreme Court agrees.  Once again, Ms. McLetchie’s legal arguments carry the day!  Bravo!

In 2018, the Las Vegas Review-Journal dubbed Ms. McLetchie the “First Amendment Champion.”  Truer words were never spoken!  And today, with yet another landmark victory to her credit, nobody can deny that Ms. McLetchie is the undisputed Champion of the First Amendment and friend to freethinkers everywhere!


It all started when Sanson published a series of articles on VIPI’s website concerning Abrams’ courtroom conduct and practice.  Sanson was critical of Abrams.  Sanson called her a “lawyer behaving badly.”  So, Abrams hired her boyfriend, controversial attorney, Marshall Willick, who sued Sanson for defamation, emotional distress, conspiracy, and so-on.  Sanson’s attorneys filed the anti-SLAPP motion asking the court to declare the lawsuit “frivolous” and to dismiss it immediately.

The District Court found that Sanson’s statements did involve issues of public concern.  Sanson’s statements related to an attorney’s courtroom performance and the public’s interests injustice.  The District Court also found that Sanson’s statements were “opinions” and thus incapable of being false.  Abrams had shown no probability of prevailing on her claims, so the District Court granted Sanson’s motion to dismiss.

Dissatisfied with the District Court ruling, Abrams and her attorney, Willick, appealed to Carson City.

In ruling for Sanson, the Nevada Supreme Court analyzed Sanson’s statements.  Were his statements of “public concern?”  If so, they would be afforded protection.  Well, the High Court found that Sanson’s statements criticizing Abrams’s courtroom behavior were indeed matters of “public concern” because the public has an interest in an attorney’s courtroom conduct.

Writing for the majority, J. Stiglich explains: “The public has an interest in an attorney’s courtroom conduct that is not mere curiosity, as it serves as a warning to both potential and current clients looking to hire or retain the lawyer.”

Abrams tried to argue that her courtroom antics were not of “public concern,” but the Supreme Court disagreed.  An attorney’s courtroom behavior is “matter of utmost public concern.”  The Court held that Sanson’s statements about Abrams came “indirect connection” with issues of public interest for purposes of anti-SLAPP analysis.

Sanson also criticized Abrams’ practice of “sealing cases” from public view.  Sanson expressed his perception that Abrams style of practicing law is antithetical to openness and transparency.   Again, the Court found that Sanson’s statements came in “direct connection with an issue of public interest.”

Notably, however, the Court did reverse a portion of the District Court’s ruling on Sanson’s statements that came in a private telephone conversation.  The Court ruled that telephonic statements are not protected because such statements were made in a private telephone conversation, which is not a “public forum.”

These unprotected telephonic statements potentially expose Sanson to a claim for defamation.  But here’s why it’s interesting:  Sanson’s telephonic statements were made to a guy named Dave Schoen — an Abrams employee — who also moonlights as one of the chief agitators at Nevada Court Watchers, a Facebook shill group devoted to heckling Sanson and anyone who supports him.

And while Sanson’s telephone statements are not protected by the anti-SLAPP statutes, Abrams still has an uphill battle in her defamation case.  On remand to the lower court, to prove defamation, Abrams must show that Sanson’s statements to Schoen were made to a “third party” – which may prove a dicey prospect because Schoen is an employee of the Abrams law firm, i.e., not really a “third party.”  The Court also noted that Schoen initiated the call to Sanson, which tends to show lack of intent, a requisite element on defamation claims.

The Nevada Supreme Court gave guidance in interpreting Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statutes.  In determining what constitutes “good faith” communications under the statutes, the High Court states that the relevant inquiry must examine the “gist of the story,” not the literal truth of each word or detail used in a statement.  Courts must look to the “gist or sting” of the communications as a whole, “rather than parsing individual words in the communications” explains J. Stiglich.

Taken as a whole, the Court soundly rejected Abrams and her bogus lawsuit.  The Court held that her additional claims — of emotional distress and conspiracy — lacked even minimal merit, which is just a polite euphemism for “frivolousness.”


To gain a real-world perspective, the Truth Hits! I-Team contacted renowned civil rights attorney, T. Matthew Phillips, Esq., who stated:  “Las Vegas is world-famous — not just for gambling, shopping, fine dining, and nightlife, but for its burgeoning family court corruption.”  Phillips decries Las Vegas Family Court.  Phillips lamented:  “It’s a den of iniquity — where civil rights go to die.”  

The Truth Hits! I-Team has come to learn that Las Vegas Family Court is internationally known — with a reputation for having broken all records for wanton, reckless and systematic corruption.  Las Vegas judges are known the world over for routinely disregarding evidence, rewarding perjury, and ignoring constitutional rights.  Apparently, the Las Vegas family court is a full-time concern to folks all around the globe — not just in Vegas!

Committed to excellence in journalism, our Truth Hits! I-Team wanted to get both sides of the story.  Our I-Team rode straight into the heart of the enemy camp.  We visited Nevada Court Watchers, a shill group on Facebook.  Our I-Team chit-chatted with many folks, all of whom portrayed Sanson as a “corrupt individual who interferes with the administration of justice!”  Boy howdy!  Them sounds like fightin’ words!  But wait … there’s more!

Nevada Court Watchers is home of Nevada Court Watchers PAC — a political action committee — which vows to “pursue targeted, highly-funded campaigning against any judicial candidate who (i) seeks a VIPI endorsement; (ii) attends a VIPI event; (iii) gives money to VIPI; or, (iv) appears on a VIPI radio program.  Hide your kids!  Hide your wife!  NCWPAC is on the warpath!

Abrams lackey, Dave Schoen, alleges that Sanson extorts money from family court litigants and that Sanson intimidates judges by calling them on their cell phones regarding pending litigations.  Schoen alleges that Sanson does this in order to exercise undue influence over vulnerable and susceptible judges.  Dave Schoen, his wife Julie, their kids, and even their dogs, all agree that “Sanson is the living embodiment of corruption.”

Our I-Team spoke with many Nevada Court Watcher devotees, many of whom reside outside the Vegas valley, including, Charlene Villanueva, (Orangevale, Calif.); Linda Parker Harbison, (Roslyn Penn.); Rob Berkman, (Burke Virginia), Carol Christiansen, (Montgomery, Texas); Jayne Bennett, (Liberty, Indiana); Elske Shipp engaged to Alex Ghibaudo, (a regular guest at the shill group, Our Nevada Judges); Beth Cooper from Sydney, Australia; Kristen King, (Chugiak, Alaska); Mindi Brown-Coursey, (Haskell, Oklahoma), Grace Iha, (Bellevue, Kentucky); Issendai Icchantika, (Boston Mass.); Majella Schmalz, (Sheboygan, Wisc.); and yes, another Aussie, Rita Hawkins, from Down Under.

It turns out that Las Vegas Family Court’s unique brand of judicial corruption is so brazen and so notorious that it draws worldwide attention!  Who knew?  Apparently, Las Vegas Family Court is so burdensome and oppressive to civil rights — that it sends seismic shock waves throughout legal communities of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Barrow, Alaska, and halfway around the world in Sydney Australia!

Curiously, the Nevada Court Watchers to whom our I-Team spoke were reluctant to speak “on the record.”  Despite the fact that they talk about Las Vegas Family Court all day long, none wished to be quoted “on the record.”  The general sentiment was that nobody in the group was willing to mention Samson, for any reason.

Sources close to the investigation revealed that, as a direct result of Sanson’s favorable ruling, nobody at Nevada Court Watchers would be discussing Sanson, as an obvious embarrassment to Willick and Abrams, who many believe is the driving force behind Nevada Court Watchers.

One member of Nevada Court Watchers, who wished to remain anonymous, told our I-Team: “Today, we’re just gonna make fun of McDonald, then we’re gonna humiliate Bahns, and then we’ll heckle Amy Luciano, with our daily routine of exposing them to hatred, shame, contempt, and ridicule.  But no Samson today.  We’re totally on lock-down with the Samson thing, so like, no comment, ya know?”

The I-Team was unable to reach Marshall Willick for comment.

TRUTH HITS! I-TEAM


 

The post SANSON ‘SLAPPS’ ABRAMS! Nevada Supreme Court Upholds Free Speech! appeared first on Veterans In Politics International.

Read More –>

VETERANS GROUP WINS SUPREME COURT APPEAL IN CASE AGAINST MARSHAL WILLICK AND WILLICK LAW GROUP RELATED TO DEFAMATION SUIT REGARDING REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER EMPLOYED AT WILLICK LAW GROUP

VETERANS GROUP WINS SUPREME COURT APPEAL IN CASE AGAINST MARSHAL WILLICK AND WILLICK LAW GROUP RELATED TO DEFAMATION SUIT REGARDING REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER EMPLOYED AT WILLICK LAW GROUP

VETERANS GROUP WINS SUPREME COURT APPEAL IN CASE AGAINST MARSHAL WILLICK AND WILLICK LAW GROUP RELATED TO DEFAMATION SUIT REGARDING REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER EMPLOYED AT WILLICK LAW GROUP

 

LAS VEGAS – On Friday, February 21st, 2020, Veterans In Politics International (VIPI) won an appeal in the Nevada Supreme Court against attorney Marshal Willick and his law firm, Willick Law Group.

 

The underlying case is related to various statements that VIPI, a Nevada non-profit veterans’ advocacy organization published about Nevada family law attorney Marshal Willick, registered sex offender Richard Crane, and the Willick Law Group. Willick and Willick Law Group filed suit against VIPI and its president Steve Sanson asserting claims for, inter alia, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, false light, and business disparagement related to the statements.

 

Statements VIPI published included the fact that family law attorney Marshal Willick was employing attorney Richard Crane, a known registered sex offender, at The Willick Law Group, a Nevada family law office. In a later post, VIPI posed a question on social media asking if divorcing parents would want an attorney handling their child custody case if they “knew a sex offender works in the same office.” VIPI knew from police documents that the sex crime for which the attorney was convicted was committed in-part from an IP address “which could be positively identified as the Law office of Willick Law Group in Las Vegas.” Given the nature of the conviction, there was understandable concern that the attorney might gain access to sensitive photos of children of litigants the firm was representing.

 

Willick’s claim against Sanson for defamation is ironic considering that another of the statements published by VIPI was the fact that Mr. Willick and the aforementioned registered sex offender were “found guilty of defaming a law student in the United States District Court Western District of Virginia.” The order, in that case, granted summary judgment against the attorneys for Defamation.

 

In another social media post, VIPI pointed out that Mr. Willick was hypocritical in claiming to support veterans while advocating for a policy that preys on disabled veterans. AB 150 in the 2015 Legislative session was a bill that allowed veterans disability benefits to be included in divorce proceedings. Mr. Willick, by his support of the bill, apparently condones snatching disability benefits from wounded veterans ostensibly to entice future clients with the promise of more money in a divorce.

 

In its decision, in-part, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that each statement made by VIPI concerned an issue of public interest.

 

This decision is a win for VIPI, veterans advocates, and family court litigants in Southern Nevada. Mr. Sanson and Veterans In Politics are proud to continue the fight for veterans, the fight against the injustices of the broken Family Court system, and the fight against individuals and groups that prey on disabled veterans and family court litigants.

 

CLICK HERE to READ the Supreme Court ruling in SANSON v. WILLICK (Feb. 21, 2020)

The post VETERANS GROUP WINS SUPREME COURT APPEAL IN CASE AGAINST MARSHAL WILLICK AND WILLICK LAW GROUP RELATED TO DEFAMATION SUIT REGARDING REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER EMPLOYED AT WILLICK LAW GROUP appeared first on Veterans In Politics International.

Read More –>

Texas Court Denies New Qualified Domestic Relations Order More Than 20 Years After Divorce

Texas Court Denies New Qualified Domestic Relations Order More Than 20 Years After Divorce

Originally published by Francesca Blackard.

By

A court generally may not amend or change the property division made in a Texas divorce decree.  The court may issue an order to enforce the property division, but such an order may only clarify the prior order or assist in its implementation.  If a court improperly amends or modifies the substantive property division in the final divorce decree, it is acting beyond its power and that order is unenforceable. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 9.007.  Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO) are separate orders that set forth the distribution of retirement plan assets.  They are considered a type of enforcement or clarification order and cannot change the property division made in the divorce decree.

In a recent case, an ex-wife sought an additional QDRO years after the divorce was finalized.  The couple divorced in 1995, and the parties have been in litigation for the past several years regarding the husband’s retirement accounts.

The divorce decree awarded the ex-wife 50% “of any and all sums … related to any … retirement plan, pension plan, … or other benefit program existing by reason of [ex-husband’s] past, present, or future employment, including without limitation, [ex-husband’s] Retirement Fund, Provident Fund, and SPIF Fund with Shell Oil Company per Qualified Domestic Relations Orders …”  The trial court signed a QDRO awarding the ex-wife half the funds in the ex-husband’s Shell Provident Fund on the date of the divorce.  The court found the total community property interest in the Shell Provident Fund was the total amount of contributions, interest, and earnings made or accrued by or on behalf of the ex-husband into any of the Shell Provident Fund accounts.  The QDRO stated the ex-wife was “divested of all right, title, and interest in and to any balance remaining in any account of the Shell Provident Fund…” and that the fund would be discharged from all obligations to her when full payment was made pursuant to the QDRO.  It also said it would become an integral part of the divorce decree.

 

The ex-wife received the funds from the QDRO.  In 2015, the ex-wife petitioned for another QDRO and the court signed it, with a valuation date of July 15, 2015.  The husband said he was not given notice of the hearing and that neither the petition nor the QDRO were on file with the court before the hearing.

The ex-wife did not receive the funds from the 2015 QDRO.  She filed an amended QDRO in April 2016 with a 2015 valuation date, but the trial court did not sign it.  She filed a petition to enter an amended QDRO the following month, with the 2015 valuation date and amount.

In April 2017, the husband filed a petition for bill of review of the divorce decree.  He asked the court to clarify that the retirement benefits were to be divided as they existed on the date of the divorce.  He argued the court did not have jurisdiction to sign the 2015 QDRO because it conflicted with the divorce decree and the 1995 QDRO. The ex-wife then filed another amended petition to enter a QDRO.  After a hearing, the trial court granted the bill of review, modified the decree, and set aside the 2015 QDRO.

The ex-wife filed a response, arguing the bill of review had been untimely.  The court then signed a “Court’s Rendition,” in which it denied the bill of review, set aside the reformed decree and QDRO, and reinstated the original decree.

The ex-wife then filed another proposed QDRO, but the trial court did not enter it due to a missing signature.  She filed a “Motion to Sign QDRO.” The docket entry indicated that the motion was not properly served, and the hearing was rescheduled.  The husband’s attorney argued the 1995 QDRO divested the ex-wife of all interest in the fund.  The trial court denied the motion, finding the 1995 QDRO awarded the wife half the funds as of the date of divorce and that she was not entitled to anything else from the fund.

The trial court denied the wife’s motion for a new trial. She appealed, arguing the divorce decree had awarded her half of the fund through the ex-husband’s last date of employment.  The ex-husband argued that the proposed QDRO was an impermissible collateral attack on the 1995 QDRO.

The appeals court noted that a QDRO is a final, appealable order.  A party who does not appeal a QDRO may not collaterally attack it through a separate proceeding.  The appeals court found that the ex-wife’s motion to enter a new proposed QDRO filed so many years after the divorce was such a collateral attack.

The court also noted that the 1995 QDRO awarded the ex-wife half of the fund as it was valued on the date of the divorce and divested her of any further interest.  The QDRO she sought to have entered would have awarded her a share of all amounts contributed on behalf of the ex-husband “in the past, present, and future.” The ex-wife received the funds she was awarded in the 1995 QDRO in 1995.  Her proposed QDRO sought to avoid the effect of the decree and the 1995 QDRO, making it a collateral attack.

The appeals court also rejected the ex-wife’s argument that she was entitled to QDROs awarding her half of the ex-husband’s other benefits and employer-based savings plans through his past, present and future employment.  The court found she was also barred from collaterally attacking the division as to these benefits as well.

The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s denial of the motion to sign the QDRO.

Although this case is procedurally complex, it illustrates the importance of addressing issues promptly through the appropriate procedures.  If you think your marriage may be ending, a skilled Texas divorce attorney can help you through the difficult process.  Schedule an appointment with McClure Law Group by calling 214.692.8200.

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



Read More –>

“The Family Law Menu” Includes Litigation

“The Family Law Menu” Includes Litigation

Originally published by Larry Hance.

20 years ago, I had the opportunity to help bring a new process to Texas to resolve divorces – Collaborative Divorce. It was a breath of fresh air for caring, conscious lawyers who had been representing folks in divorce and other family law matters for years. We proceeded to provide trainings, forms, and practice procedures to help Texas lawyers do this new process, and do it well.

Today, Texas is seen as a leader in Collaborative Divorce in the country. Most of those lawyers who were trained in the beginning continue to represent clients in the Collaborative Divorce process, and some only handle matters collaboratively. And hundreds and hundreds of other lawyers have been trained during those 20 years.

In order to help get Collaborative started in Texas, I went on the speaking circuit, talking to lawyers and the public to educate them about the benefits of Collaborative. I called many of those early talks “The Family Law Menu” because before Collaborative was introduced, we all pretty much handled all divorces the same way. It was all in the litigation process, even though most divorces settled without a final trial. 

Collaborative opened my mind to the idea that there can be multiple possible processes to help parties resolve their divorces. That’s when we started talking about a “menu” or “process options”, including “kitchen table” (where the parties primarily work out the terms), “lawyer/lawyer negotiation” (using the lawyers as a conduit of the parties’ settlement communications), “mediation” (which in Texas is really adjunct to the litigation process), “Collaborative Divorce” (where the parties and their two lawyers have a series of meetings together and have assistance from a neutral financial professional and a neutral mental health professional), and last “litigation” (using the court to resolve the issues). 

Because I was a constant speaker for a few years on these topics, and a leader in the Collaborative Divorce movement in Texas, many of my long time friends and referral sources began to assume that my firm only handled “friendly” divorces or divorces in the collaborative process. 

That has never been true, and it’s for several good reasons: 

  1. parties need strong, competent legal help regardless of the process used;
  2. most folks don’t know what type of process will be best for them until they meet with a good attorney who can help them make that decision; and
  3. we want to be able to help all individuals have a better divorce experience, regardless of how difficult the circumstances, the other party, or the other attorney may be. 

Some folks, because of fear and anxiety, believe they must have a hard-fought, contentious divorce. And if they only see attorneys who handle divorces that way, that’s what they will end up with. While some clients do need to resolve their disputes in the litigation process, many who believe it’s necessary can learn that not only is it not, but it’s a really bad idea for them to reach the goals they have. 

So, Jonathan, Bryce and I handle cases in court throughout our days, weeks and months for clients who must go there. But the difference in our approach and many others is that we work with them to see what the best process is that will help them achieve their goals. Then we pursue that process diligently, using our deep experience and knowledge of both family law, and the court system and procedures to achieve our clients’ best possible outcome. That’s what it’s all about!

 

About the Author

Larry Hance is managing partner and founder of the Dallas law firm Hance Law Group. With more than 35 years of experience in family law, Mr. Hance uses his experience with the legal system, judges and other lawyers to help clients achieve the best possible results.

To schedule an initial consultation with Larry and the Hance Law Group team, please call us at 469.374.9600 or email Kelly Bailey at kbailey@hancelaw.com.

The post “The Family Law Menu” Includes Litigation appeared first on Hance Law Group | Trusted Dallas Family Law Attorneys.

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



Read More –>