March 2011 Archives

March 31, 2011

The Lauren, Brent and Kevin (?) Child Custody Case

Justia-photo-92 two fathers.jpgScott v Superior Court states at page 544 "There can be only two parents, not three." Accordingly the appellate court in Lauren W. v Brent A. (Court of Appeals California, Fourth District, Division Three) ended the game of musical chairs allowing Brent and Lauren to have a seat and told Kevin that he had to leave the party. You can read the case here. (This is an unpublished case and may not be cited as legal authority in a courtroom; however it is educational as to issues of child custody rights and standing to sue for custody or visitation pursuant to the laws of the State of California.) This is actually the end of the story. Here is how the appellate court got to this point.

Lauren gave birth to (child) and filed a petition under the UPA (Uniform Parentage Act) naming Brent as the Father. Brent responded, acknowledged that he was the child's Father (he had signed a declaration of paternity) and requested visitation. The parties agreed to visitation and a court order was entered finding Lauren was mom; Brent was dad and adopting the agreed upon visitation schedule. Shortly thereafter, Kevin filed a joinder motion (motion seeking to join the Lauren and Brent UPA case so that he could assert his parenting rights to the child. Kevin's joinder motion was granted so now the paternity, child custody, visitation case included one mom and two men claiming to be dad. A trial court issued an order finding Kevin to be the "legal father". The appellate court stepped in at this point.

As a San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist attorney, my office works exclusively in the law field known as Family Law. It is our goal to correctly analyze legal cases as to divorce, paternity, child custody, custody move away cases and other areas of family law. It is our goal to assist the trial court to reach a proper legal analysis of a case so that a proper order is entered at the trial level. This case is a good example of how a flawed analysis can lead to confusion and appeal. Next you will see how the appellate court resolved this matter.

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March 28, 2011

Badly Brain Damaged Mom Wins Visitation Rights

Justia-photo-91 disabled.jpegAbbie Dorn was excited; she was giving birth to triplets. She went into the hospital as a vibrant, alive, mother to be of triplets, and something horrible occurred. The reports vary in their clarity of the medical procedure and this post is not about the medical issues; however when Abbie left the hospital, she left behind her hopes and expectations of being the mom that she had wanted to be. She was so badly damaged that she could no longer walk or eat and it is debatable to what extent her cognitive functions were damaged.

In the reports that I read, there was no question that Abbie could not have custody and care of the children. She cannot care for herself. I saw one report mention "unfit" parent; however this term seems misapplied to Abbie. She cannot care for her children as she is badly disabled, not that she won't care for her children. Abbie's former Husband, Daniel Dorn, maintained that it was not in the best interest of the children to visit their so badly disabled mom. This issue of Abbie's visitation went to court and the court ruled in favor of Abbie's visitation. In person visitation and visitation by Skype - virtual visitation. The "story" is not adequately described in the news reports.

So here is the real story to this "child visitation" case. The following is what I think was really behind this case, and where the lawyer on Abbie's side outmaneuvered the Father's legal effort. This is really a story of grandparent visitation rights; not the visitation rights of a disabled parent. Abbie lives with, and is cared for, by her parents--the maternal grandparents of the minor children. As a San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist attorney, handling many child custody cases, I've learned that grandparents are the hidden victims in child custody battles. They want to have frequent and continuous visitation with the grandchild however, directly, many states like California, highly restrict grandparent rights.

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March 21, 2011

Child Custody, Support, Mansions

Justia-photo-90 palm and many other news agencies report that the former wife of Tiger Woods, Elin Nordegren, has purchased a mansion in Palm Beach for $12 million. Reportedly, the home is 17,000 square feet and built in 1932. You can see a photo of the mansion here. It is a part of the divorce settlement that Ms. Nordegren received which has been estimated to be in the range of $100 million to $200 million. The settlement is private and confidential however the estimates are fairly accurate as Mr. Wood's marital estate was fairly well known. This blog posted many articles as to the Woods' divorce; correctly assessing how much Ms. Nordegren would receive by way of child support, spousal support and/or property division.

As a San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist attorney my office in La Jolla (UTC area) handles many child custody cases and, related to the Woods' divorce, child custody move away cases. A move away, or child custody relocation case, is defined and connected to a significant amount of California law including the reported decisions of two California Supreme Court cases. The law defines whether a parent has the right to relocate to another geographic area with a child or children or the marriage. Further, the law defines whether the other parent has the rights to keep the child or children from relocating with the moving parent. This blog posted an article as to the Woods' divorce predicting that Ms. Nordegren would be successful in asserting her right to relocate with the children back to her home country Sweden.

Evidently, Mr. Woods and his attorney came to the same conclusion that I did as to the move away issue. The following is my educated guess as to how Mr. Woods resolved the case: He assertively moved forward with a generous monetary settlement. His wealth was identifiable so he openly offered a quick and substantial settlement to his wife with (likely) a provision as to his visitation. Reportedly, this settlement included the Palm Beach mansion which is geographically located near to Mr. Woods' residence.

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March 15, 2011

A Case of Divorce, Trial and Jail

Justia-photo-89 Hawaii Court.jpegDaryl Huff, a KITV 4 News Reporter recently published an article as to what has been called Hawaii's most famous divorce case. The divorce case involved actor Brenda Dickson and attorney Jan Weinberg. Dickson is a well known television star and Weinberg is an experienced personal injury lawyer. For additional background on Brenda Dickson I went to Wikipedia.

Reportedly, this historically long and dramatic divorce case has gone on for years with allegations of one spouse taking marital property and hiding the assets in another state or country. Further the case involved contempt of court orders issued by the judge. These types of orders are made in rare cases when a party violates a court order in such a way that the judge fines and/or jails the party who violated the court order. Reportedly, Dickson was jailed for more than two weeks; released, then, later, jailed again for more than three months. (Reportedly, she later won an appeal that cleared her from the contempt counts which had placed her in jail.)

Later in the case, the divorce went to trial and reportedly Mr. Weinberg was not present. Ms. Dickson had a very difficult time proving anything with Mr. Weinberg not present. If he were present, he could have been called to the stand for examination and cross examination. It is unknown what divorce issues Ms. Dickson needed to address through Mr. Weinberg's testimony. Possibly his income and the identity and location of assests. As a San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist attorney, it has been my experience that the absence of a party from a trial is usually not a stumbling block as evidence is offered to the court as to the identity, value of assets as well as the income of the missing party. The missing party then hurts his/her own case by not being present to offer testimony or help his/her attorney with the points raised in court.

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