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MY WAY, THE HIGHWAY OR A COURT ORDER

July 31, 2020 – By Suzette Hyde –Tags: divorce, child custody, Paternity, parenting-plans modifications, Contempt

For the sake of this article, I’m going to assume both parents love their children; both parents have good intentions for their children; both parents want to see their children succeed in life.  While that’s not every case, it’s not a far-fetched idea.

But…

This is family court we are talking about here, so we know that there is a pending problem. There is a disagreement among the parents, a fundamental disagreement. Not just a disagreement about whether the child should be allowed to wear pajama bottoms to class. (Although I can think of few parents where that idea may cause WWIII).

Well-meaning, involved parents can disagree about which school the child should attend, whether the child should be vaccinated, will the child be allowed to play rough contact sports, whether the child needs therapy, even how to care for a special needs child.

A well-drafted parenting plan considers the possibility of parents disagreeing over issues on education, health, social and religious activity.  Even people in the friendliest of divorces must anticipate what could happen if things going wrong.

Parents who do their own paperwork, or who hire non-lawyers to draft paperwork and give non-legal advice tend to gloss over these issues.

“Blah, blah”

“Yeah, yeah”

“We know what we are doing, we don’t need to write it down.”

Until… someone says,  “It’s my child and I’m doing it MY WAY!”

The communication may sound like a sweet Frank Sinatra song or the other party may be using the hammer and dynamite method; WWIII  may be imminent.

If one parent says, “It’s my child, my way” your sparse, barely filled in and ill-contemplated parenting plan is of no help.

Then, of course, there are those parties who do have a court order and for some reason, no one is following the order.  Both parties are on the freeway, riding top down, singing – “Control” (cue Janet Jackson). Until… someone decides to take a detour. It’s always been one way, and now the parties have veered off the highway.  Perhaps one party now says, “We have court order, remember!”

When well-meaning parents are demanding their own way, it can cause the other parent to shrink back, to be less involved, to be a less responsible parent.   And while not having an argument among the parents is a good goal, communicating to the other parent that their decisions and opinions are not valid or important can have serious repercussions, not only for the parents but the child too.

Telling the other parent, they can “take it or leave it”, don’t be surprised if they hit the highway, or…bring this matter back to court.

I’ve seen the court hand out consequences such as appointing a Guardian to monitor the parents and the child, awarding a change in majority time sharing and even ordering that the party who won’t follow the court order pay the attorney fees for the other parent.

That Frank Sinatra song may have you paying the costs in more ways than one.

My advice:  Take the time to prepare a good-parenting plan, one that considers the ages and stages of the child. If there are disagreements don’t isolate the other parent, listen, communicate, mediate – come to a rational agreement.  If you insist on demanding your way make sure it’s backed by a court order.

IS CHILD SUPPORT JUST ABOUT THE MONEY💰?

July 16, 2020 – By Suzette Hyde – Tags: Child Support, Divorce, Paternity, Contempt, Modification

When someone says the words “child support” we automatically think about the arm of the law forcing a parent (more times the Father) to pay money to the other parent for the child(ren) they have in common.  Pay up or else!

Pay or else… lose your license.

Pay or else… you cannot get passport, a job, a loan.

Pay or else… go to jail.

 

This view of child support causes people to cringe.

Yet, financial support for children is absolutely necessary.  It costs money to raise kids. The public policy is that children deserve the financial support from both parents. Facts – child support is more often determined by formula; if you look at any child support worksheet, you will see that there is a number that both parents are expected to spend to care for the children.

.

Caring for/supporting the children is more than just spending money on them.  We’ve heard about those rich, but neglected, celebrity children who fall off because the parents are not substantially involved.  Money alone is NOT enough.

 

But let’s look at the everyday people.  It is my observation that there are some non-money motivating factors that cause ordinary, well-meaning folk to seek the government’s help in obtaining and enforcing child support.

In my 20 years of lawyering, I have seen not just “dead beat”, financially unreliable dads get taken to court for child support. Responsible fathers get dragged through the system too.

[Funny thing is – I’ve seen lots of fathers reluctant to collect child support from the mothers, and I’m not sure why -that’s for another blog]

Child support is NOT just about the money when:

  1. You only pursue child support to get revenge.

Child support becomes a factor only when the other parent is having another child or involved another relationship.

  1. You are holding the kids hostage for child support.

“You can only see your daughter if you start to pay me child support.”

  1. You use child support to gain leverage.

A parent communicates: “Take care of the child how I want you to, or do what I want you to do, else pay me child support.”

Feelings of frustration, anger and revenge often accompany the pursuit of child support.    😩   😠   😣  😠

Becoming aware of these other non-money motivating factors benefits the parent who owes child support, as well the parent who seeks child support.

Many times, child support is characterized as either black or white; its identified as either necessity or greed. But check again. Oftentimes it is so much more than that.

Parents are required to consider the whole collective support of the child. Child support is rarely just about 1 issue.

The state defines child support as just a financial thing, however. When the state’s child support unit and their attorneys get involved, their entire bottom line is money.  From what I have seen, many of their attorneys are without children and/or disinterested in children.  Don’t expect these state workers or lawyers to have any sympathy or understanding for situations, motivations or even for your children.

If you are involved in a difficult child support case including modification of child support or contempt hearing, consider what other factors could be driving the train, and always get competent legal representation.

The Law Doesn't Give A &>%@! What You Think.

July 02, 2020 – by Suzette Hyde

Now, don’t get me wrong, your feelings and thoughts are valid. Afterall, they are what make you unique.  You have a right to think and feel the way you do.

 

 

 

What I’m addressing is how far that will get you in court. Because the law, and hence the court, is less concerned with those rights. Don’t be surprised if the court gives no weight to your opinions.

The Court doesn’t tell people what to think, just how to behave.

 

Truth is, the court knows there is no shortage of differing opinions, feeling, and thoughts.  Without these opposing thoughts, I’d dare to say there would be no need for courts, no need for lawyers.

 

Differing thoughts are the fodder for all debates and they may very well be the root of the problem that brought you to court.

 

It often happens, you arrive at the court as a party or witness thinking that the court is asking you to come there to share your thoughts, right?

 

Wrong! Don’t make that mistake.

 

Experts get called to court to give an opinion and some get paid quite a bit of money to do it. You are probably not getting paid you may be losing money, losing time from work.

 

In the area of family law particularly, everybody and their grandmother have a thought or an opinion.  In a typical divorce, emotions run high and people who used to be on the same wavelength can’t understand a word the other person is saying [or why they are even breathing for that matter.] In some cases, the parties never shared a common goal or thought because they never had a chance to know each other.

 

I recall a paternity case I had a few years back where the 17-year-old and his Father were meeting for the first time, and the Mother said to the court, “I don’t know if the Father is a good person or not, I never knew him, I was a child, a teenager when I got pregnant for the first time.”   [Btw, this also one of the rare times I saw a mom concede that she could not render an opinion on man’s ability to Father].

 

Let me break it to you gently – most of the time the court is NOT asking you to share your thoughts. The court is asking for you for EVIDENCE.  The Court might even get angry that you gave your opinion instead of presenting the hard cold evidence.

 

Here is the good news… testimony is considered evidence.

 

So, when people take the stand to give testimony what should they be talking about if not their opinions?

 

When you give testimony, remember that the court is not asking for thoughts or presumptions or guesses. Instead, focus on the following:

 

What did you see and hear?

What did you observe?

What happened next?

Who said what?

 

[if you know anything about hearsay, even testifying about what was said out of court is not allowed unless there are exceptions].

 

When I hear traffic cases, you’d be surprised how many people come into court and say, I think the light was yellow, or I think I was going the speed limit.

 

Do you see how that is very different testimony from what they actually saw and heard.  And can you see how it’s irrelevant what they “thought” ?

 

Too often in family law cases, I hear clients say, “Well, I want things to go my way because I think the other party is doing X, or I think s/he can do Y.”

 

You may be right…but, guess what?

 

The court doesn’t give a &>%! What you think!

 

A good attorney preparing his/her client or a witness for court will say,

“Let’s get to the bottom of what is causing you to have an opinion,”

Is it just a hunch, a deep strong feeling?

Is it based on evidence and what is that evidence?

Is it based admissible evidence?

Is it based on Clear and convincing evidence?

Is it based on competent substantial evidence?

 

If you have a court case, concentrate on the evidence that is to be presented in court, your thoughts really don’t matter.

 

The law creates standards and criteria; the court looks at the factors and elements that must proven.  Working closely with your attorney, you should be familiar with the factors and elements, the evidence the law considers as important.

 

Give the court what it’s really looking for and leave your thoughts out it.

Reclaiming your Rights as a Human Being
6-18-2020

In the wake of all the protests that are going on right now, people are sending one simple message: “See me for who I am. I am a human being deserving of your respect.”

 

 It is the true desire of every race of people.

 

Who can argue with such a simple message?

 

I am a divorce and family lawyer and I hear that message often. When someone decides that divorcing is now the only option, that is the one singular common message among people in contested divorces.

 

The problem is some people see divorcing is giving up.

 

And yes, you may be giving up at attempts to make the relationship work.  But divorce for many people is about reclaiming one’s self.

 

Divorcing should not be considered a failure.

 

It is amazing how many of us become someone new when we enter into a relationship (but nobody calls that giving up). We become someone other than ourselves just to have the other person stick around. And then before we know it becomes beaten down, trodden and used.

 

Many people are suffocating in relationships.

 

This is not a quick action. It happens slowly.

 

It may start by changing the way you wear your hair or how often you call your family or see your friends. Before you know it, you’re only eating tofu on Sundays and seeing your mother on Thanksgiving.

 

You’re unhappy and you know you can’t blame the person sleeping in the bed next to you because there is nobody there, or worse, the body is there, but it’s an empty shell.

 

It is usually the people who are still married or who believe marriage is the holy grail, the highest achievement one can attain who cannot understand that at all you want to do is just be yourself.

 

“Whatever you do, don’t get a divorce!”

 

“Don’t give up.”

 

“Hang in there. The other person will change.”

 

“Just go to therapy.”

 

“Try to be nice.”

 

“Pray a little harder.”

 

But you know you’ve done it all before and things still haven’t changed.

 

You used to be a person with their ideas, good plans, a person who smiled and could see the good in everything.

 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to reclaim your right as a human being.

You know that you’re not giving up you.

 

The fact is, you’re giving up on you and nobody noticed.

 

Don’t give up on yourself.   There’s no shame in wanting to reclaim your right as a human being.

 

The Hyde Law office supports people who desire to move forward and reclaim their fundamental rights as human beings.

Do You Have Divorce Insurance?
6-4-2020

The great TV judge, Judge Judy, said, “Divorce insurance for women is an education and a skill.” Well said, Judge Judy.

 

As a divorced mother and lawyer, I’ve often woken up grateful that I can provide for myself and my family.  Some days were close calls. I suppose by going to law school, I bought Judge Judy’s divorce insurance, but the payout was never a guarantee.

As far as I know, no one is writing divorce
insurance, and if it did exist, if we could sell it,
we don’t know the demand for this divorce
insurance product.

 

 

 

If you listen to the news, one minute the news
says divorce rates are down; people are

marrying older and smarter; marriage is for the rich. Another minute, the report is that divorce rates are up due to pandemic, quarantines, quarrels, etc.

 

I don’t know exactly what the numbers are, but divorce happens. As long as there are marriages, there will be divorces.

 

Once the divorce process starts, it’s like a train (sometimes slow-moving).
But I rarely see the divorce journey stopped, derailed or abandoned before
it comes to an end.

 

Divorce means change. And it normally means change in finances. Assets will have to be divided, liabilities divided. Maybe you’ll have to move, sell the house, change neighborhoods.

 

Divorce typically means that you have less money coming into the home.

 

Are you ready for that?

 

If you have divorced, or you know someone who has gone through the process, you know that the outcome is not guaranteed.  Leave the outcome to the judges and they exercise this power called discretion.

 

What is divorce insurance?

 

Sure, an education and skills are going to help you, whether you are a man or woman. But without a plan, without a focus as to what your life will look like after divorce, you are heading towards uncertainty.

 

So many divorcing people get wrapped up in the process of the divorce or worse, live in the past upon divorcing.

 

To paraphrase from the  34th president of the United States, Dwight D.  Eisenhower, “In preparing for battle/litigation/mediation I’ve always found that plans are useless as they are never strictly followed, but planning is indispensable.”

 

You should never go into a marriage without a plan and…

 

Never go into a divorce without a plan (or 2).

 

Advocate, Advisor, Counselor, Marital and Family lawyer – Suzette Hyde