Month: August 2016

Contempt of Court

What is Contempt?

Any willful disobedience to, or disregard of, a court order or any misconduct in the presence of a court; action that interferes with a judge’s ability to administer justice or that insults the dignity of the court; punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. There are both civil and criminal contempts; the distinction is often unclear.

A judge who feels someone is improperly challenging or ignoring the court’s authority has the power to declare the defiant person (called the contemnor) in contempt of court. There are two types of contempt, criminal and civil. Criminal contempt occurs when the contemnor actually interferes with the ability of the court to function properly – for example, by yelling at the judge. This is also called direct contempt because it occurs directly in front of the judge. A criminal contemnor may be fined, jailed or both as punishment for his act.

Civil contempt occurs when the contemnor willfully disobeys a court order. This is also called indirect contempt because it occurs outside the judge’s immediate realm and evidence must be presented to the judge to prove the contempt. A civil contemnor, too, may be fined, jailed or both. The fine or jailing is meant to coerce the contemnor into obeying the court, not to punish him, and the contemnor will be released from jail just as soon as he complies with the court order. In family law, civil contempt is one way a court enforces alimony, child support, custody and visitation orders which have been violated.

If someone has violated a Court Order such as failing to pay child support or refusing parenting time under a Parenting Plan, then a Petition for Contempt is filed with the Court and served upon the party violating the Order.

Things You Cannot Do In A Divorce…

Article originally posted on The Huffington Post

Written by:  Christina Pesoli Family Law Attorney (Coldwell Bowes, L.L.P.); Author (Break Free From the Divortex: Power Through Your Divorce and Launch Your New Life)

Getting a divorce requires a lot of adulting. (And yes, “adulting” is now a verb.) The timing on that couldn’t be worse, because when you’re getting a divorce, adulting is extremely challenging.

To make it easier, I’ve developed some divorce attorney-approved guidelines for adulting during your divorce:

Don’t try to play the “young and dumb” card. Let me hit you with some hard truth here: You can’t play the “young and dumb” card if you’re neither young nor dumb. If you’re at the point in life where you’re getting a divorce, you should be old and wise enough to know what constitutes dumb behavior, and you should have developed the impulse control to resist it.

For example, racking up big credit card bills and fees for no-nos like shopping sprees and late payments might be a dumb mistake that a college kid with her first credit card could be forgiven for, but the same latitude does not extend to you. You’re going to need room on those credit cards for divorce-related expenses like security deposits, moving expenses and legal fees.

Plus, your credit card statements are going to be scrutinized by your ex and his lawyer. It’s hard to claim that you’re a mature mom with good judgment when you’ve maxed out your credit cards with spending benders at Boston Proper, Forever 21, and Dick’s Last Resort. Bottom line: No retail therapy for you. Go get some real therapy and leave your credit cards alone.

Don’t engage in public displays of…well…anything. Drunkenness. Nudity. Profanity. Anger. Crying. On second thought, I take back crying. An occasional bout of public crying might be unavoidable (and therefore understandable) when you’re going through a divorce. And I’m not just saying that because I myself was guilty of crying in public on at least one occasion that I can remember during my divorce. (Sorry for that super awkward lunch at Hyde Park Bar and Grill 8 ½ years ago, Connie.)

All of those other behaviors are examples of conduct you might expect of kids — depending on their age, of course. Public displays of nudity, anger and crying are staples of any self-respecting toddler’s daily repertoire. And drunkenness and profanity are on full display in any college town every Thursday through Sunday night.

But none of those is acceptable from a person who is adulting properly — whether you’re going through a divorce or not. So, if you get a charged with public intoxication and/or public urination at the lake this summer, don’t try to explain it away to your lawyer by saying that your kids were with their dad and you were having a little “me time.” Getting a massage or playing golf is an acceptable “me time” activity. Being drunk and disorderly is not.

Make new mistakes. When your lawyer takes your case, she’s agreeing to take you where she finds you — previously committed immature mistakes and all. Whether you’re the one who had the affair, or you’re the one who keyed his car when you found it parked at the No-tell Motel, whatever transgressions you confessed during your initial consultation come with the territory.

But you don’t get unlimited forgiveness. If you later key your ex’s new girlfriend’s car after spotting it in his driveway over the weekend, don’t expect the same level of acceptance from your lawyer. Unless you’re a tweenager, you should know that insincere apologies are more of an insult than anything else. An apology doesn’t count if everyone knows you’re just going to do the same thing again, anyway.

Your lawyer doesn’t appreciate it when you disregard her advice, make your case more difficult and jeopardize the potential for a good outcome. She can’t be the only grownup working to get you out of this mess — she needs you on the job, too.

If you make a mistake, there are three simple steps to follow. 1. Own up to it — to your lawyer, I mean; not in some rambling text to your ex at 2:00 a.m. Definitely do not do that. 2. Learn from it. 3. Move forward. There’s no better evidence that you’re not learning from your mistakes than repeating them. And not learning from your mistakes means you clearly are not adulting well. Or at all, really.

Remember, going through a divorce isn’t some sort of hall pass for stupid mistakes; it’s a mandate to avoid making them. So put on your big girl or boy pants, throw it into adult gear, and keep it there.

How the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage has affected other areas of law

The word patchwork may be the best way to describe the layers of laws that governed the relationships of same-sex couples before June 26, 2015, the day the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right to marriage for gay couples in Obergefell v. Hodges (PDF).

Robert Stanley, a partner at the family law firm of Jaffe and Clemens in Beverly Hills, California, has personally navigated that patchwork. When he moved to California about 10 years ago from Georgia, he went from a state with no legal status for same-sex couples to one with domestic partnership status. Shortly after the California Supreme Court’s ruling that recognized same-sex marriage went into effect—in mid-June 2008—Stanley and his partner got married.

Then the state’s voters approved Proposition 8, the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. That left Stanley’s marriage legal but prevented additional same-sex couples from marrying. Challenges to Prop 8 sprouted, and same-sex marriages again became permissible under state law in 2013.

California was hardly the only state flopping around like a beached fish when it came to the legal status of same-sex couples. Obergefell brought a conclusive end to that thrashing, and in the first four months after the decision, 96,000 same-sex couples married, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law. Those unions added an estimated $813 million to state and local economies and $52 million in state and local sales tax revenue.

However, Obergefell didn’t foreclose debate on the multitude of legal issues that arise from marriage.

“I felt that once there was some U.S. Supreme Court case or national recognition of marriage that didn’t have any loopholes, everything would be fixed,” Stanley recalls. “But Obergefell didn’t change the fact that existing relationships have been through a roller coaster of legal possibilities, and all those things are playing into cases at dissolution time.”

It’s not just during breakups that these issues are emerging. They’re surfacing when babies are born or adopted, when spouses pass away, and when all the other life events that affect families take place.

“Marriage isn’t for everybody, and getting married creates a whole new set of rights and also responsibilities,” says Allen Tullar, chair of the matrimonial and family law group at Gross McGinley in Allentown, Pennsylvania. “The things you have to think about are whether you need a prenuptial agreement, what marital property is, and issues like spousal support and alimony. That’s all uncharted territory.”

In the year since Obergefell, courts have begun resolving these issues, though some answers are as yet elusive. For instance, how to divide property accrued during a long-term relationship of a same-sex couple divorcing after only a year of marriage? And what happens when a party asserts rights under federal or state religious freedom laws to decline to engage in activities for or related to parties in same-sex marriages?

Excerpt from ABA Journal of Law Article written by G.M. Filisko.  Read full article at