Carol and Jeff have been married for 12 years, with 2 darling children, ages 3 and 5. But, this month Jeff filed for divorce (much to Carol’s surprise), and he has moved out of the house, and into a two bedroom apartment about a half mile from the house (Carol wishes he had moved farther away, but that’s another story!).
They both have child custody attorneys and they have gone to the first court appearance…the Temporary Order hearing. They have learned that it isn’t much of a hearing, though. The court will set this again a few weeks down the road, or on their own while they are all in court, they can reach a temporary agreement on some of the immediate concerns, that being: Temporary custody and/or companionship; temporary child support; temporary spousal support; a temporary order related to who will pay which of the bills; and temporary order as to whether Jeff will pay some of Carol’s legal bills (because Jeff makes a lot of money…and Carol works part time at a florist making minimum wage …but she loves doing it).
Carol and Jeff go back and forth trying to negotiate this temporary deal, which will be temporary until the court changes it by the divorce decree, or when Carol and Jeff mutually choose to alter it. But after a good faith effort for two hours, Carol and Jeff just can’t come to an agreement on all of these issues.
So, their custody attorneys go into the Magistrate’s office and inform him that no agreement has been struck, and the Magistrate sets a new date for the “hearing”, but it will be on Affidavit only. That means, that the Magistrate does NOT want to have a full mini-trial on all of these temporary issues, but instead wants the attorneys to prepare affidavit evidence as to all of these issues, and he will look at it on the next date (in this matter he wanted these affidavits in 10 days), and then he will review what the attorneys prepare and make a decision in writing.
Carol and Jeff, now having done their homework and given their respective attorneys the needed information for the affidavits, now await the court’s decision, which will come by e-mail (the courts are now out of the dark ages and issue much information electronically).
And, the Magistrate’s decision comes. Carol gets the call before Jeff from her attorney, and it starts out like this:
“Carol, Jeff is not going to be happy. He has to pay more in child support than what we originally tried to agree. Other than that, it’s pretty much what we had expected. I will be forwarding it to you right away. You should anticipate a fairly snarky phone call from Jeff. Don’t engage in this behavior. Try to remain civil.”
Carol gets the Magistrate’s decision and prints it out. It includes a standard local rule companionship order, which is many pages long, and in small print, and she doesn’t read it very closely.
Jeff gets the Magistrate’s decision about 2 hours after Carol. He is quite angry, as he realizes that had he come to an agreement in court …which would have been a temporary agreement…he would be paying LESS in child support. While in a rightful state of irritation, he also doesn’t read very closely the local rule companionship schedule.
Now, this decision has arrived on the Wednesday before the Easter weekend. Jeff is supposed to get every other weekend, one night a week and alternating holidays and half of the summer (he wants shared parenting, equal time, but he knows this is temporary and he can argue against this!).
Jeff assumes that the upcoming weekend, which includes Easter, will be his weekend. Carol assumes the SAME thing. (Do you see the problem arising??!!).
Both attorney’s offices are closed as of 5:00 p.m. on Friday. And no, they don’t work on Sunday.
What SHOULD the attorneys have done? At least one of them should have carefully reviewed the local rule, told his/her client who gets the upcoming weekend, explained holidays, AND told their client to carefully map out on a calendar the days of companionship for the other spouse! Then, that attorney should have emailed opposing counsel and informed him/her who will be getting the upcoming weekend and Easter Sunday! A few minutes of good preparation and lawyering can halt what is almost guaranteed to be a disastrous holiday weekend.
So, the good lawyer will make sure the Easter Bunny can find the children and fill their baskets with joy and goodies!
The attorneys at Joseph & Joseph & Hanna, Co. LPA look forward to working with you. (and, Happy Easter!!) . Contact Us
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