Home > family law general, paternity/child custody > You Learn Something New Every Day. . .

You Learn Something New Every Day. . .

I have a case right now that frustrates the hell out of me.  My frustration doesn’t come from my client–I think she’s great.  It doesn’t even really come from the circumstances, so much.  And while a lot of my frustration does come from opposing party, whom I believe to be a controlling …, my biggest frustration comes from the attorney.

The New Thing I learned today came from an email exchange with that attorney.  The big problem with resolving this case is this:  it involves custody and visitation of a 16 year old girl, who is quite capable of making her own choices, and has some pretty firm opinions.  One of her opinions involves thinking she has a right to decide whether or not she spends time with her father (not my client, by the way).

Sure, he may get you what you want, but it really isn't his job to enforce your parent time order unless the judge says it is.

Her father thinks otherwise, and a few weekends ago, brought along the police to enforce his right to see the daughter.  The police threatened my client with jail (the mom), if the child did not go with her father.  Needless to say, this was pretty traumatic for the daughter, and she was hysterical but went along with her father out of fear for her mother.

I emailed the attorney regarding this instance, among other things, and informed him that the police could not enforce the civil order (NOTE:  This is almost always the case, unless there is some specific statement in the Order–see below).  His response was this:  “The Utah Legislature has revised the statue so that denial of parent time can be custodial interference.  I am just giving this to you for your information and to correct your e-mail.”

This was news to me.  And being the inquisitive (stubborn) soul that I am, I decided to see if he was right.  I went to the statute that discusses child custody and visitation, located at U.C.A. § 30-3-5, and lo and behold I found this, at subpart (5)(b):  “Upon a specific finding by the court of the need for peace officer enforcement, the court may include in an order establishing a parent-time or visitation schedule a provision, among other things, authorizing any peace officer to enforce a court-ordered parent-time or visitation schedule entered under this chapter.”  Huh.

The beautiful thing about being able to read and understand words in a legal context is that while I was able to find opposing counsel to be partly right, in our situation he was wrong.  The only time a parent can have the police enforce a parent-time order is if the court makes a specific finding that there is a need, and then includes in the order a provision authorizing a peace officer to enforce it.  That’s what the statute says.

I emailed opposing counsel back about the new thing I’d learned, and pointed out the problem with his argument in our situation.  And then, because I am a gracious learner ;), I thanked him for pointing this out to me and for giving me this opportunity to learn something new today.

He hasn’t responded yet. 🙂


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