Investing in a skilled Family Law Attorney can make all the difference in your life, so choosing a Law Firm and Lawyer with a great reputation and sterling credentials is paramount to your future family life. Whether you are filing for a divorce, or fighting for child custody, assets, or a business, your case will have a higher chance to result in your favor, if you learn how to work with your Legal Team so they can use their time and skills to best serve your needs. Here are some tips to help you have a positive experience with your Family Law Attorney.
Invest in Your Lawyer’s Time Wisely
Keep in mind you are paying for your Lawyer’s time. Whether they are filling out documents, researching, or putting together an argument, you don’t want to distract them or take their focus off the overall strategy and fine points of your case. For example, many people try to use their Lawyer as a therapist, especially in family law cases. If you feel that you need to talk to someone about your anger or any other feelings, your Lawyer is not that person. Give your Legal Counsel space to perform the tasks directly related to your case so that they can assure that you are in the best possible position to achieve your goals.
Think and Plan Ahead
We often see that clients want to get high quality services quickly and at a cheap price. The reality is that this is virtually impossible. If you put a rush on things, you will most likely end up paying more money in the long run. For example, imagine you call on a Monday morning and ask for a contract by the following evening. Chances are, in cases like this, a Senior Attorney will be the one to draft up the contract simply because of the limitations in time allotted for the task. If more time was given, the work could have been delegated to an Associate Attorney who can perform these tasks at a lower billing rate.
Give Immediate Updates and Developments
If something changes or new information becomes available that is or may be related to your case, let your Legal Team know immediately. If something crucial is developing, your Attorney can identify the relevance and urgency, and designate actions as necessary. Giving timely notice of updates and developments will give your Lawyer the needed time to gather with their team and plan a course of action, if required.
Follow Through on Your End
In many cases your legal counsel will give you assignments pertinent that will help them fight and build your case. This could be anything from collecting a digital recording of text messages or phone calls between you and the other party, obtaining credit card purchase histories, authorizing the release of information from a doctor, etc. The sooner you can complete tasks and back to your Counsel with what they need to proceed, the better and more efficient the case can be run and the chances for you to get everything you expect and deserve will increase.Read More
Nathaniel Rudd didn’t know that he was going to be a father until the woman he had dated exactly nine months prior called to notify him from the hospital.
The very next day, Nathaniel, 31 drove to the hospital to hold his baby son, Peter, for the first time. He soon after learned from a social worker that Peter’s mother wouldn’t be able to take him home. Nathaniel immediately began petitioning for custody.
Before taking a mandatory drug test, Nathaniel explained that he uses cannabis, with a doctor’s recommendation, to treat pain from a car accident that he had been in years prior. The drug test came back inconclusive, since he had not medicated in several days.
When Nathaniel went to court a few days later, he learned that the damage had already been done.
“They told me I was cognitively unable to care for my child because of medical marijuana use,” Rudd said.
Peter was placed in foster care in September of 2015 and Nathaniel has been fighting to bring him home ever since.
Nathaniel Rudd and his new fiancée are among hundreds of families who are estimated to be facing custody issues in California over medical marijuana use. These families all got a glimmer of hope on Nov. 8, when California voters approved Proposition 64. Under the new law, California courts can no longer rescind or restrict a parent’s custodial rights solely because they have recommendations for medical marijuana unless there’s a clear threat or evidence of harm as a result of marijuana use.
In Nathaniel’s case, he says that there was never an opportunity for him to demonstrate his care for his son Peter, or for authorities to observe any signs of substance abuse. There was only his own acknowledgement that he was a medical marijuana patient.
Nathaniel pointed out that he had been medicating with marijuana heavy in CBD (the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, primarily used to manage pain and treat cancer patients) This type of cannabis has almost no THC (the main compound that makes consumers high).
Nathaniel insists that he wasn’t ever impaired by his treatment and that he didn’t ever plan to use cannabis around his son. He volunteered to quit using medical marijuana entirely and submit to regular drug testing. Still, to date, he has been unable to gain custody of his son, Peter.
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We often have grandparents come through our double doors asking us this very question. The answer, as it usually is in law, it depends.
To best understand why “it depends”, you need to look at your case the same way the Court will. The Court, in coming to its conclusion looks directly to Family Code Section 3104. What this Section does is nothing more than simply tell the court what to follow. The court uses Family Code Section 3104 to compare your case against it and ultimately, tell the court if the grandparent has any visitation rights. Therefore, we need to analyze Section 3104 and compare and contrast it with your case.
Since we cannot compare and contrast your individual case with this Section over a blog for you, we will do the next best thing, which is break down the law.
Here, we will simplify the process for you by breaking down the important parts of this Section. In the end, hopefully you will be able determine on your own or with the help of our firm, Sullivan, Krieger, Truong, Spagnola & Klausner if you have visitation rights as a grandparent.
Family Code Section 3104 begins by describing that the Court cannot grant grandparent visitation unless two conditions are met at the outset. The court must find 1) that there is a preexisting relationship between the grandparent and child that is best interest of the child and 2) the court must balance the interest of the child having visitation with the grandparent against the right of the parents to exercise their authority. Essentially, if the court can find that there is a good preexisting relationship with the grandparents and the visitation is not hindering the ability of the parent to parent then the court can move forward.
Next, the Section states, that a petition by the grandparent cannot be filed while the parents are married unless any of the following six fact intensive scenarios arise: 1) The parents are currently living separately and apart on a permanent or indefinite basis, 2) one of the parents has been absent for more than one month without the other spouse knowing the whereabouts of the absent spouse, 3) one of the parents joins the petition with the grandparents, 4) the child is not residing with either parent, 5) the child has been adopted by a stepparent, and 6) which was recently amended in January 2015, one of the parents is incarcerated or involuntarily institutionalized.
Here, we can finally take a deep breath and determine the answer to the initial question posed above, which is yes. As it turns out, grandparents do have visitation rights, but very limited ones. If the grandparent’s case does not fall into one of the six instances above, they likely do not have any visitation rights. The reasons is, the California Legislature tends to view, and rightfully so, that the parent is in control of the child’s life.
If the stubborn grandparent refuses to believe the California Legislature thinks the parents are in charge, the rest of the Section will clearly convey them that they are.
Section 3401 continues to read, even if the grandparent has been granted visitation by the court, at any time, if there is a change in circumstances and none of the six scenarios exist, the parents may terminate the grandparental visitation and the court will approve it. Also, there is a rebuttable presumption that the visitation of a grandparent is not in the best interest of a minor child if the parents agree that the grandparent should not be given visitation rights. Even further, parents can object to visitation, visitation cannot conflict with custody or visitation with a birth parent and it cannot change the basis for the change in the residence of the child.
As a result, it is abundantly clear that under Family Code Section 3401 the California Legislature wants the parents to have priority over their child’s life, with the exception of six circumstances. Therefore, grandparents, if you want visitation rights as applied to this Section, you must be able to analogize those six scenarios to your case and meet the aforementioned requirements before it.
So grandparents, do you have a right to visitation with your grandchild? It depends, doesn’t it? Where do your facts take you?
If you have any questions regarding this or any other Family Law topics, do not hesitate to contact our offices at 1-877-877-1-LAW or reach us at www.sullivankrieger.com. We would be glad to help you.Read More