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When Stars Collide

14-05-15 Newsletter_Header_Experts_In_Court

Madonna and her ex, Guy Ritchie, are locked in a transatlantic custody battle over their 15 year-old son Rocco. With cases filed in both the USA and the UK, even the courts were in dispute until a judge in London approved Madonna’s request to withdraw her UK filings.

Before doing so however, the British judge joined his American counterpart in suggesting the celebrity parents try to settle things outside of court stating, “It would be a very great tragedy for Rocco if any more of the precious and fast receding days of his childhood were to be taken up by this dispute. Far better for each of his parents to spend that time enjoying… the company of the… young man who is their son and who is a very great credit to them both.”

The judge continued, “I renew, one final time, my plea for the parents to seek, and to find an amicable resolution to the dispute between them.” But the conflict continues and Madonna and Ritchie are scheduled to appear in a New York court on June 1st.

In California, parents are required by statute to meet with a court appointed child custody mediator before they can ask a Judge to rule on custody issues. As a result of a program my father Ron was instrumental in implementing in Van Nuys in the late 70s, volunteer lawyers are also available to assist parties in finding mutually agreeable solutions before court. That mediation program was so successful that it was eventually implemented in most Southern California counties.

Another California twist on this case is Rocco’s age. With the enactment of Family Code Section 3042, Judges are now required to consider the custody preferences of a child over 14 years old when issuing a decision. Children under 14 can still express their preferences but the court can disregard them because the legal standard is “best interests of the child.” In California, if 15 year old Rocco said he wants to spend all his time touring with mom and hanging out with her groupies, the judge might not grant his wish. But the judge must explain in the ruling what their considerations were and how they affected the decision.

Hopefully Rocco’s parents take the judge’s recommendation to heart: a parenting plan they design is far more likely to fit with their lifestyles and values than anything a stranger in a robe can impose. Some Judges in Los Angeles won’t even make orders regarding holidays, instead warning the parents that if they cannot reach an agreement between themselves and counsel, the court will impose sanctions. At The Law Collaborative we strongly believe that parents know what is best for their children. Leaving it to a judge in a custody proceeding, or leaving it to a probate court when a parent dies is rarely “best” and always more expensive and destructive to the family. Siblings forced through probate sometimes never speak again.

Parents owe a duty to protect their children during divorce and avoid creating conflicts for them after death. Using mediation or Collaborative Law during divorce and preparing a proper estate plan can help avoid unnecessary drama, cost, and alienation. Please feel free to call me if you want to discuss anything in this article.

Ty Supancic works with his father Ron at The Law Collaborative to help families avoid crisis

Ty Supancic, Esq.
The Law Collaborative, APC
(818) 348-6700 F: (818) 348-0961

Non-Communication Can Cost You

This is a risk of “traditional” divorce that doesn’t come up often. Traditional divorce doesn’t teach you to communicate with your ex spouse, but rather to have an adversarial relationship, where non-communication becomes the norm. If you think that’s fine, think about the following situation, involving two parents, two sets of lawyers, and one wise old judge.

The custodial parent moves and enrolls their child in a new school, but fails to communicate the details with the other parent, who comes to believe that the child would be walking home along dangerous, busy streets and coming home to an empty house. That parent files a temporary restraining order to prohibit the enrollment. The truth is that the custodial parent had in fact taken all concerns into account, and the child was at no risk. The non-custodial parent based their fears on hearsay, and the restraining order had no merit – so, after reviewing the evidence and the custodial agreement, the judge threw it out.

But, and this is a big one, he didn’t grant attorney’s fees to the custodial parent. Why not? The restraining order had no merit, after all. The judge decided that court was a poor substitute for a simple conversation. In effect, he punished the custodial parent, who was acting within their rights, for not pro-actively communicating with the other parent. Mediation or collaborative divorce can help avoid expensive and wasteful litigation not just at the time of the divorce, but years down the road.

On October 18th, The Law Collaborative is offering Tips, Tricks & Strategies for Divorce, a seminar that will provide tools for moving a stuck case forward, how to communicate effectively with a former spouse, tricks for negotiating even when negotiation seems impossible, and more. The workshop is $25 in advance or $35 at the door. Licensed attorneys who attend will earn 1 MCLE credit. Anyone contemplating or going through a divorce is invited to attend.

Register online at www.thelawcollaborative.com or call us toll free at (888) 852-9961.

Murder Mom

Photo from http://today.msnbc.msn.com/.

There is outrage over a current custody dispute in Seattle, involving Kristine Cushing, Trisha Conlon, and  John P. Cushing Jr. 20 years ago, Kristine shot and killed her and John’s daughters, and is now permitted to live with his and Trisha’s sons as their stepmother.

Kristine, John’s first wife, was confined to a mental institution for four years after murdering their children, and was monitored for a decade. Once she was released, John divorced his second wife, Trisha, and resumed relations with Kristine. They have since remarried, and John and Kristine have won custody of the new sons. Do you think she should have access to more children?

For past articles about Kristine Cushing, click here. For new material regarding this topic, click here or here.

Save the Date…

The Second Saturday Divorce Workshop for Women is an excellent way for women who are contemplating divorce or who are in the process of divorce to take control of their lives, learn about their rights, and protect themselves in court.  Speaking at the event will be attorney Robert Borsky, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst Irene Smith and licensed marriage and family therapist Rosalinda O’Neill.

About Robert Borsky
Robert Borsky has been practicing law since 1981. He limited his practice to Family Law from 1984 through 2001, taking occasional special cases referred by Judges. During this time, he spent four years on the exclusive Gang Intervention Task Force, representing juveniles. From 2001 to 2006, Robert also practiced insurance defense and Workers’ Compensation Law while maintaining his family law practice. Robert Borsky has served as a mediator, arbitrator and Judge pro tem for the Los Angeles Superior Court since 1986. He is a member of the Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and San Fernando Valley Bar Associations. Robert served as President of the Long Beach Bar Association, Family Law Section, 1994-1995 session, and is a past Co-Chair of the California State Child Custody Committee. As an advisor to the Superior Court, he received the first ‘Judge William McFadden Award,’ for his contribution in assembling the first Master List of qualified Child Custody Evaluators, Protocols and Evaluator Retainers. Robert taught college level courses at USC Law School from 1990 to 1998, and has been a guest speaker at State Bar functions, and local County and City functions. Robert has spoken frequently on local radio stations, and has written numerous articles for the bench and bar. Click here to read more about Robert Borsky.

About Irene Smith
Irene Smith holds the designations of Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™, Certified Financial Planner® and Certified Public Accountant. Irene obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from California State University, Northridge and her MBA degree in Finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Before starting her financial planning practice in 2001, Irene had an extensive corporate career and developed expertise in the fields of taxation, finance and real estate. After experiencing the impact divorces had on the lives of her family and friends, she decided to obtain additional training as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) to help divorcing individuals make better informed financial decisions. As a CDFA, Irene analyzes the financial issues of a divorce and informs clients about the long-term effect of financial decisions made today. She can help clients avoid the common pitfalls of divorce by evaluating the tax implications of dividing property and the financial impact of various settlement options.  Click here to read more about Irene Smith.

About Rosalinda O’Neill
Rosalinda O”Neill holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Miami and a master’s in counseling psychology from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She is a California Licensed Marriage Family Therapist with expertise in addiction, conflict resolution, partner dynamics, relationship, trauma and achieving success. Rosalinda has over 30 years of high level corporate experience. Rosalinda is President and founder of CEO LifeMentor®, Inc since 1984. She is a member of the Physicians’ Diversion Evaluation Committee of the Medical Board of California. Her non-profit leadership involvement includes Rotary International and Rotary Club of Beverly Hills, City of Hope Board of Governors and the American Heart Association, Ventura Division.  Click here to read more about Rosalinda O’Neill.