PLEASE NOTE: This blog is a bigotry free zone open to all persons, regardless of age, race, religion, color, national origin, sex, political affiliations, marital status, physical or mental disability, age, or sexual orientation. Further, this blog is open to the broad variety of opinions out there and will not delete any comments based upon point of view. However, comments will be deleted if they are worded in an abusive manner and show disrespect for the intellectual process.
Showing posts with label AUTOMATIC ORDERS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AUTOMATIC ORDERS. Show all posts

Monday, October 16, 2017

O'BRIEN V. O'BRIEN: YES, GUYS, THE AUTOMATIC ORDER THAT PROHIBITS PARTIES FROM DISPOSING OF MARITAL ASSETS APPLIES TO YOU!

I feel somewhat out of my depth when it comes to discussing divorcing couples who deal in millions when it comes to their Court matter, but I will try in my modest way to draw some parallels between my case and that of the O'Briens.  I can't imagine having so much money to play around with and fight over!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

OLDIE BUT GOODIE: PARENTING EDUCATION CLASSES!

Friday, August 27, 2010

PARENTING EDUCATION CLASSES

Here comes another one of those more amusing posts. According to the automatic orders--yes, darlings, we are still talking about THEM!--Item # 6 requires that the parents of any minor children attend a Parenting Education Class within sixty days of the return date.

Usually, you can get a brochure at the courthouse which gives you the many locations where you can sign up for the class. It is supposed to be an all day adventure, but usually folks participating find a way to cut the class short a little bit earlier.

I think one enterprising fellow went to court and tried to challenge this requirement, but the judge reaffirmed that such a class is necessary. So, no such luck guys, you have to take it.

I can't say the information in these classes is going to harm you, but most of it is pretty common sense, and it all adds up to please, please, please, do not put your children in a position where they are used as weapons in the fight between you two. Don't ask them to take sides, don't use them as bargaining chips, don't tell them stories to make them hate the other party. It is just going to hurt the children, sometimes in permanently, terribly damaging ways. You don't want to be a part of that.

Of course, we all need to hear those principles, and we need to abide by them religiously. On the other hand, what I found highly amusing when I participated in my class was that there was a roomful of women and one token man! What?!? Guys are excused from the class?!?! Guess they are. Must be they already know this stuff--NOT!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS: THE PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY PLAN

If there is one thing I've learned through this process, it is that where chaos reigns abuse flourishes.  In fact, if there seems to be chaos in a case, there is very likely to be abuse somewhere--sort of like where there is smoke, there is fire. 
 
So how do you prevent chaos from breaking out in your case? 
 
I would say the first line of defense against chaos is to make sure you and your ex obey the automatic orders, a copy of which is included in your initial divorce papers.  Talking about establishing good fences, those automatic orders make some damn good fences, and with good fences you have less chaos and less opportunities for abuse. 
 
Again, to repeat, good fences, good boundaries are fundamental to a good outcome in a family court case. 
 
In fact, if I were an attorney, right at the beginning of the divorce, I would sit the parties down, each with their attorneys and go over the automatic orders and explain what each item in the orders means providing good examples and case law showing the bad outcomes when the automatic orders end up being violated. 
 
I say this because when I filed for divorce, I received a copy of the automatic orders but I was so upset that I barely saw them and it was only four or five months after I filed for divorce that my attorney pointed them out.  As a result, I had no idea that I had the kinds of protections that were in those orders and so I didn't know that I had grounds to complain when they were violated as they so often were!
 
The most important part of the automatic orders, the particular order that makes for a damn good fence is Item #11 which states, "If the parents of minor children live apart during this dissolution proceeding, they shall assist their children in having contact with both parties, which is consistent with the habits of the family, personally, by telephone, and in writing unless there is a prior court order." 
 
Since abuse occurs primarily through the manipulation of the custody issue, making sure that both parties obey Item #11 is essential. 
 
How do you go about doing this?  You write down an agreement for how you are going to handle the contacts between parent and child and stick to it.  Otherwise, if it isn't written down, you will have endless trouble. 
 
When I was going through my divorce, I benefited from Item #11, but given the fact that I continued to have ongoing problems in that area with my ex playing games and switching his plans around, clearly the language of Item #11 wasn't strong enough. 
 
Here my attorney was seriously negligent, and I would suspect for a reason, because he was happy to have my ex and I fighting so that he could make more money. 
 
What my attorney didn't tell me was that there is a Connecticut Statute, C.G.S. 46b-56 d,e,f which has provisions for a Parental Responsibility Plan during the pendente lite period (the period from when you filed for divorce until the marriage is dissolved).  This Parental Responsibility Plan should be put into place pretty much right away within the first month or two after the filing for a divorce. 
 
What the trial court asks you to do is have your Parental Responsibility Plan ready before the case management conference which takes place at the beginning of your case (see the small print under instructions at the top of the Court Form JD-FM-199 which is used for this purpose).
 
I want to tell you want a big difference such a Parental Responsibility Plan would have made had my ex and I had such a document at the beginning of our divorce.  With agreements come, if not understanding, then a reasonable measure of peace between most parties. 
 
I mean, some abusive exes are going to abuse no matter what there is out there, but for those who are only able to abuse by exploiting gray areas in relationships, that means the end of creating conflict, or a quick way to shut it down.  The police come and you just pull out the plan and say this is what we agreed to.  End of story.
 
I have to say after I switched attorneys, half a year into my divorce, when I walked into my next attorney's office he just laughed when he heard there was no Parental Responsibility Plan.  It was that ridiculous to him that I did not have one.
 
Take it from me, a person who had the divorce from hell, if your attorney doesn't put a Parental Responsibility Plan on the table right away at the start of your divorce, you know he is negligent. 
 
The contents of a parental responsibility plan are mandated by C.G.S. 46b-56d and include: 
 
1) the schedule of the physical residence of the child  or children during the year;
 
2)  provisions allocating decision-making authority to one or both parents regarding the child's health, education and religious upbringing;
 
3) provisions for the resolution of future disputes between the parents, including, where appropriate, the involvement of a mental health professional or other parties to assist the parents in reaching a developmentally appropriate resolution to such disputes;
 
4) provisions for dealing with the parents' failure to honor their responsibilities under the plan;
 
5) provisions for dealing with the child's changing needs as the child grows and matures; and
 
6) provisions for minimizing the child's exposure to harmful parental conflict, encouraging the parents in appropriate circumstances to meet their responsibilities through agreements, and protecting the best interests of the child.
 
All of these elements are included on the "Proposed Parental Responsibility Plan" Form JD-FM-199 I mentioned earlier which is located at the following link:
 
 
 
There is one very crucial exception, however, when it comes to the way in which Form JD-FM-199 translates Item #6 of the Connecticut Statute.  
 
Each of the Items in the Connecticut Statute requires that the parties specifically state what they intend to do to meet each provision of the law, and the court form asks the parties to do just that in Items #1 through #5. 
 
However, when it comes to Item #6, probably the most important in the whole list when it comes to protecting the wellbeing of the children, the court form does not require the parties to state specifically what they intend to do to meet those goals. 
 
Instead, the court form puts the word "other" down, and then translates the Connecticut General Statute in the following manner: 
 
The statement from the Statute as follows: "Provisions for minimizing the child's exposure to harmful parental conflict" in the court form becomes "The child(ren)'s exposure to harmful parental conflict will be minimized."  
 
Well, how will that be done? 
 
What specific provisions will be put into place to achieve those goals?  
 
The Connecticut Statute as written asks for what specific steps the parents are going to take to get the job done.  But, interestingly enough, the Court Form itself does not ask for specific steps. Why not?
 
Let's try the rest of this section of the law.  Item #6 in the Connecticut Statute states, "Provisions for...encouraging the parents in appropriate circumstances to meet their responsibilities through agreements." is translated in the court Form  into "the parents will, in appropriate circumstances, meet their responsibilities through agreements"
 
Yes, so what the law actually wants to know is not that the parents will do that, but HOW will they do that? 
 
And finally, the Connecticut Statute states, "Provisions for...protecting the best interests of the child." which the court forms translate into "both parents will protect the best interests of the child." 
 
Again, saying parents will do something, is not the same as stating HOW they intend to do something, and getting parents to answer the question of HOW is the the actual intention of the law underlying this form. 
 
I'll bet there is an very interesting story behind the way in which the Connecticut Statute was translated onto the form JD-FM-199 in such a way as to get the Statute off track in such a significant manner.  The way this has been done undercuts the core values behind the Statute which is to protect and safeguard the best interests of the children and to reduce harm to the children wherever possible. 
 
Why wouldn't those who are creating these court forms for that specific purpose use languaging and formating that adheres to that of the original statute and would maximize the possibility of obtaining those results?  Because clearly this is not what they have done.  Instead, they have created a great big loophole for abusers to slip through in order to avoid accountability. 
 
Of course, this is something I would only say of the unknowing.  You who have read this article, who have come to familiarize yourselves with the Connecticut Statute in this blog, can now approach your attorney and insist that everyone respond to the spirit of this legislation and put specific provisions under Item #6 "Other" on the Court Form. 
 
Make sure that YOU insist upon stating specifically what each party will do concretely in order to achieve the goals in that section. 
 
Don't be satisfied by some canned, aspirational statement which is easy for your ex to ignore.  Once you do that, once you have a fully developed Parental Responsibility Plan, you are half the way there to making sure your divorce remains civilized.  And I can assure you that is well worth the effort, not only for your own sanity, but for the good of your children.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

KIDS, KIDS, KIDS!!!

And still we are going on and on about these automatic orders. We aren't done with them yet! There are a few more I just want you to take note of, and I'm being serious now. They are about your children.

Yes, I know you hate your ex, and I know all of the terrible things that person may have done to and is about to do to you. You are talking to me. I had the divorce from hell. Believe me when I say you have every reason to feel the way you do. However, again, do not convey these thoughts and feelings to your children.

Yes, they are smart and aware enough to have pretty much the idea that you are angry at your ex, but do not articulate those ideas. Just keep them to yourself. Imagine your ex is a necessary, but annoying colleague from work and treat him or her accordingly.

This means that you obey the automatic orders when you move out of the house and let your ex know where you can be contacted within 48 hours so that the kids can be in touch with you and your ex can make arrangements for them to see you (Item #10).

Furthermore, you obey the automatic orders (Item #11) which state that when your ex moves out of the house, you do what you can to maintain the children's contact with your ex on the phone, personally or in writing.

Luckily, we live in the days of modern technology so that if you ex irritates the heck out of you instead of communicating by phone to make arrangements for visitation, you can use email.

And when it comes to exchanging the children, you can do it in a public location where he or she can't make an uproar or even have a best friend or your mother do it so there aren't any confrontations. Just be flexible when you have to be, and above all, put the children first!

Friday, August 27, 2010

PARENTING EDUCATION CLASSES

Here comes another one of those more amusing posts. According to the automatic orders--yes, darlings, we are still talking about THEM!--Item # 6 requires that the parents of any minor children attend a Parenting Education Class within sixty days of the return date.

Usually, you can get a brochure at the courthouse which gives you the many locations where you can sign up for the class. It is supposed to be an all day adventure, but usually folks participating find a way to cut the class short a little bit earlier.

I think one enterprising fellow went to court and tried to challenge this requirement, but the judge reaffirmed that such a class is necessary. So, no such luck guys, you have to take it.

I can't say the information in these classes is going to harm you, but most of it is pretty common sense, and it all adds up to please, please, please, do not put your children in a position where they are used as weapons in the fight between you two. Don't ask them to take sides, don't use them as bargaining chips, don't tell them stories to make them hate the other party. It is just going to hurt the children, sometimes in permanently, terribly damaging ways. You don't want to be a part of that.

Of course, we all need to hear those principles, and we need to abide by them religiously. On the other hand, what I found highly amusing when I participated in my class was that there was a roomful of women and one token man! What?!? Guys are excused from the class?!?! Guess they are. Must be they already know this stuff--NOT!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

AND EVEN MORE MONEY!

The next thing the Automatic Orders Item #3 (the one that tells you to put together financial affidavits) asks for is that you allocate income and expenses and enter into an agreement regarding child support which will be entered as an order by the court.

This means that once you have filed for divorce and made your motion for exclusive use of the house if that is what you need to do, the next motion you file is a motion for child support. The amount of that child support is not debateable, though it can be debated (since most things in a divorce case can be debated and negotiated endlessly and often are) as the amount is ordinarily based upon child support guidelines provided by the State of Connecticut which are based upon your stated income which you have provided under oath on your financial affidavits.

The most important thing to know about child support is that it is not taxable, so if your ex would be willing to add more to what he or she is giving you and call it child support, that would be really, really nice. However, whatever amount you decide, make sure that it is made an order of the court, because if you don't make it an order of the court, you will get screwed because if your ex doesn't feel like paying one week or another he or she won't pay you and then there is nothing that you can do about it without a court order.

If he or she says "I'll give you more! Just don't make it a court order." forget it. Trust me, just forget it. You must have a court order in order to protect yourself. Now is also the time you can make a Motion For Alimony, Pendente Lite. Any amount of alimony your receive will be taxable, but getting it puts into place the concept of alimony, which is a good one.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

AND MORE MONEY!

Item #3 of the automatic orders requires that within thirty days of the return date each of the parties in a divorce fill out a financial affidavit which lists income, expenses, assets and liabilities.

You and your spouse are well advised to actually follow through on this requirement because it provides both of you with a good clear snapshot of where you stand financially at that particular point in the divorce.

Many of the divorces in Connecticut take at least a year to litigate and during the course of the final negotiations before dissolution both parties usually provide another updated financial affidavit.

In my divorce where there were some depositions involved, my ex produced another updated financial affidavit for each deposition, so in the end I had several copies each of which helped me track what was going on.

If there are any significant changes in the numbers from the first affidavit that is submitted and later affidavits, your lawyer or if you are self represented, you, can point them out to the judge or ask for an accounting.

The financial affidavit is signed by the client and the attorney under oath, so if you lie, you are supposed to be in a lot of trouble. In reality, it is generally well known that people lie in the financial affidavits all the time. However, if you are caught in a lie and the opposing side is particularly eloquent and/or has a good lawyer, you are TOAST and you will be sued for fraud.

As the Court stated in a decisive case about fraud Billington vs. Billington (1991) "the principle of full and frank disclosure...is essential to our strong policy that the private settlement of the financial affairs of estranged marital partners is a goal that courts should support rather than undermine...That goal requires, in turn, that reasonable settlements have been knowingly agreed upon." No settlement can be "knowingly agreed" upon if one or both of the parties lies.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!!!!

As soon as you file for divorce, the Automatic Orders go into effect.

According to Items #1 and #2 of these orders, this means that neither party is supposed to sell off any stock or spend money that he or she owns individually or jointly except to pay reasonable expenses such as attorney's fees. Naturally!

It also means that neither party is supposed to take on an unreasonable debt load. The punishment for the violation of the automatic orders is--wait a minute--I copied this down in my notes--Ok, what it says at the bottom of the page of the automatic orders is "Failure to obey these orders maybe punishable by contempt of court."

Let me stop for a good giggle. Ok. Deep breath. I'm done with that.

Here is the story as it goes for most people. Yes, I realize there are exceptions. The fact is that when the guys are the primary wage earners in a marriage, the pendente lite period between the filing of the divorce and when the dissolution of the marriage is granted, is that period of time when guys disappear every darned bit of money they can locate, plus they are expanding their lines of credit like mad.

Women, who are often in the unenviable position of trying to support themselves and their children with inadequate temporary child support and allimony and often do not have access to the marital assets frequently run up debt as well, perhaps for more justifiable reasons.

Are there any consequences for that for the men who do it, let alone the women? Well, that's where all my giggling comes in. I've been around quite a bit now, and I've seen a good deal. There are no consequences in Connecticut to violating Items #1 and #2 of the automatic orders, at least as far as I know. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Monday, August 23, 2010

CAN YOU JUST TOSS YOUR PESKY EX OUT? THE INS AND OUTS OF THE EXCLUSIVE USE OF THE HOUSE!

One thing that I assumed would happen when I filed for divorce was that my ex would finally leave the house. I figured he would pack his bags and leave and then I would change the locks to the house and have the place to myself. After all, I was staying with the kids, and they needed their home, so it seemed to make sense that he would leave.

Fiction books on the subject and movies seemed to agree with me. There is always the scene where the soon to be ex is packing and the couple would be discussing the breakdown as he stuffed his socks, ties, and underpants into the suitcase.  I can't tell you how many people told me I needed to change the locks on my house after I filed for divorce and began to tell them all about the problems I was having with my ex.  Well, sorry folks, it isn't actually as simple as all that!

Yes, if you are lucky, and your ex is a gentleman (i.e. not a jerk) or a lady (again not a jerk), he or she will leave and you can breath a sigh of relief. This to me is the most sensible thing to do and what is best for the children who should not be witness to ongoing tensions between parents. However, in real life, according to Item #8 of the automatic orders which come into effect in the State of Connecticut as soon as you file for divorce, you do not have the right to demand that your ex leave the house during the pendente lite period (the timeframe from when you filed the divorce until the marriage is dissolved). See the following:


What this means in real terms is that, if your ex insists on staying in the house, he can stay. He can follow you around and harass you, he can empty your house of your belongings (I mean, if you call the police as he takes the rocking chair out of the house, your ex will say you gave him permission and who can prove you didn't!), he can invade your bedroom, get on your computer, listen in on your phone calls, shuffle through your private papers and files and generally make your life miserable.  He can stand outside your bedroom door the night of your trial and play the trombone all night long if it makes him happy.

Your only recourse is to consult with a lawyer who may suggest you file a motion--Motion For Exclusive Use of the House--to get the ex out, but that may not always succeed if there is no provable domestic violence, particularly at a time like now when fathers have considerably more power than mothers do. You may want to leave the house to avoid harassment and save your mental health, but to do so you may have to bring your kids with you, which might not be practical.  In my case, the custody evaluator insisted that my ex continued to be allowed access to the house pretty much 24/7, stating he didn't want any changes in the children's lives while he made his decision.  Of course, that was pretty stupid since my ex had already left and moved to another state and only used his access to cause trouble.  But who said an evaluator was going to be fair anyway!

Ultimately, you may have to grit your teeth and bear the situation. But don't forget to photograph every item you have in your house to prove its existence and find a location outside the house to store your personal papers and conduct business.