Posts Tagged ‘being reasonable’

Bitching on Social Media: KNOCK IT OFF

This is gonna be a little, short post, but it’s gotta be said.  STOP airing all your grievances on social media!  Keep your snarky little comments OFF Twitter!  Keep your personal, thinly-veiled jabs at the other party off Facebook!  You’re. Not. Helping.  Being pissed off about the ex boyfriend or ex husband or ex wife or ex girlfriend in a public forum is ugly, dumb, and completely immature.  ESPECIALLY if you have kids who have access to your vitriol about their dad/mom.

If your child support isn’t being paid, I’m sorry.  Stuff happens in people’s lives, and sometimes they CAN’T pay you AND keep the lights on.  And even if they’re just being hateful and refusing to pay?  Public shaming doesn’t make them any less hateful.  For real.  You’re not solving your problem.  You’re simply ramping up the conflict, creating drama, and adding more tension to BOTH of your lives.

If you and your ex are engaged in some sort of court case, DON’T GO SPEWING ALL OVER YOUR FB PAGE.  You look like a vicious b*tch–and that term applies to men who do it as well.  And then you provide evidence to the other person that they can simply blow up 16″x 24″ on a poster in court to show how horrible you are.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve advised a client to SHUT UP on Facebook or Twitter.  You’re only hurting yourself with that kind of behavior.  You think your page is totally private?  Maybe it is, and maybe someone is seeing stuff and passing it on to the ex.  You will sink yourself, and you’ll have no one but yourself to blame. Because in the words of my Uncle Terry, and the Great John Wayne,





More Myths from Divorceland: The DisneyLand Dad

We’ve all heard the term–Disneyland Dad.  This is the father who doesn’t have to be involved with the kids on a day to day basis, who “gets” to just be the one who the kids have fun with, the one with “no responsibility,” because he doesn’t have to do blah, blah blah Hard Stuff…  Generally we hear about Disneyland Dads from custodial moms who are more than a little bitter.  But there are some problems with this categorization, which land it into Myth status.

Problem #1:  The assumption here is that it’s dad’s CHOICE to only spend time with the kids every other weekend, a few hours on a weekday (if that), and some time during the summer and at holidays.  Mom makes it sound like Dad is skipping out on the day to day parenting, the homework, the colds, the trips to the doctor, all of that Parent Stuff.  And why would that be?

It’s that way because Dad is the non-custodial parent.  That’s all he’s been allowed to be by a court order…And a lot of the time that court order put him in that position because that’s what Mom insisted on, sometimes just so she can be in control and force Dad to pay child support.  And why wouldn’t Dad want to take what little time he has to be with his kids and have fun with them?  That only makes sense.  I’m not saying it’s always this way, but it definitely IS this way some of the time.

Problem #2:  If Mom is really interested in Dad carrying more of the substantive responsibility, guess what?  She can involve him more.  If the parents live in close proximity to each other, there’s no reason Mom can’t do this. She can actually co-parent with Dad, as opposed to cutting him out of any part of the kids’ lives that she isn’t court ordered to allow.  I mean, if both mom and dad work, why SHOULDN’T dad take a day off work to stay home with a sick kid, or take them to the doctor every now and again?  Why should mom be the one to always take on that responsibility?  It doesn’t have to be that way.  And if it is, it’s more than likely because she is insisting on it, because “kids need their Moms,” and she needs a little more fuel to justify her assertion that her ex is a Disneyland Dad.

Problem #3:  Sometimes Dad’s are too far away to even get that every other weekend, and being there for doctor visits, etc., is a practical impossibility.  Why do you suppose that is? Sometimes it’s because Mom decided to relocate.  There are legitimate reasons for her to relocate, for sure, but if you’ve got a Mom who’s all about moaning about her “absentee” father of an ex, or goes on and on about how he’s just a Disneyland Dad, or a deadbeat who doesn’t have to do the “hard stuff in parenting,” chances are she lives far away from Dad specifically to keep the kids away from him.  Again, when he DOES have a chance to be with his kids, it only makes sense that he’d want to do fun things with them, and make those memories that Mom has prevented him from making on a day to day basis.

So next time you hear some Poor Single Mommy whining about her ex being a Disneyland Dad, who never has to do the Hard Parenting, consider that it’s highly likely that what she really is is a Martyr Mommy–and is doing her damndest to make her ex looks like a jerk not only to the rest of the world, but to her kids.  Which constitutes child abuse.

Maybe consider that before making a judgment about that Dad you know nothing about.

**Side note:  I was gonna post some quippy memes on here, but DAMN, PEOPLE!  There is some super cruel stuff out there!  Depressed me just looking for a pic.  Maybe if we could all just grow the hell up and act like decent parents blog posts like this wouldn’t be necessary!

Something Utah got WAAAY Right: A Family Law Help

So I’ve mentioned before that while I think family law is a disaster in Utah, the Utah state statutes for child custody and parent time are fan-frigging-tastic.  I have recommended the use of them to many other people who are in other jurisdictions, just because they’re so orderly, specific, and DETAILED.  And the holiday division makes life SOOOO much nicer for everybody involved during all of the holidays.  However, there are those who are getting static because the other party is saying something like “we’re not in Utah, and I don’t have to follow Utah law, so suck it!”

With that in mind, I provide for you here, for your copying and pasting pleasure, the basic, general rundown of parent time in Utah for kids ages 5 and up, without all the statute formatting that you’d get otherwise.  That way it really DOES just look like a great parent time plan.  And if this isn’t exactly perfect for you in your situation, no worries…At least you’ve got someplace to start from.  I have even just used the holiday division in my cases where the parents have joint physical custody, because it just makes planning so much simpler.

S0 best of luck… and may your co-parenting be peaceful.

Parent time/Over 5 years:

One weekday evening, non-custodial parent chooses, from 5:30-8:30p.m., or from the time school is out until 8:30 p.m.  If the non-custodial parent does NOT choose a day, default day is Wednesday.  If the non-custodial parent chooses a different day, then THAT day is THE day—no switching around without okaying it with the custodial parent. (When school is NOT in session, if the non-custodial parent is available, that mid-week visit can go from 9 a.m. until 8:30 p.m.)

Every other weekend, beginning Friday at 6p.m. until Sunday at 7p.m.  OR if the non-custodial parent is available, from the time school gets out on Friday until Sunday at 7.  When school is NOT in session, the non-custodial parent can have the child for the weekend beginning at 9a.m. on Friday, if he is available to be with the child personally.

A step-parent, grandparent, or other responsible adult designated by the non-custodial parent may pick up the child for visitation, so long as the non-custodial parent will be with the child no later than 7p.m. (assuming a 5:30p.m. pickup time).  The non-custodial parent MUST inform the custodial of who will be coming to pick up the child if not the parent.

Holidays:  The non-custodial parent will have the child for holidays as described below.  The custodial parent will have the child on the opposite schedule.

Child’s birthday on day BEFORE or AFTER, 3pm to 9pm Child’s birthday ON THE DAY OF the birthday, 3pm to 9pm
MLK Day weekend, from Friday 6pm-Monday 7pm President’s Day weekend, from Friday 6pm-Monday 7pm
Spring Break 6pm the day school lets out to 7pm the day before school resumes Memorial Day weekend, from Friday 6pm-Monday 7pm
July 4 beginning 6pm the day BEFORE the holiday until 6pm on the day AFTER the holiday Pioneer Day beginning 6pm the day BEFORE the holiday to 6 pm the day AFTER the holiday
Labor Day weekend from 6pm Friday to 7pm Monday Columbus Day from 6pm the day BEFORE the holiday until 7pm ON the holiday
Fall School break (if applicable) from day school is out at 6pm until day before school starts again at 7pm Halloween on the day it’s celebrated (if not on the 31st) from after school until 9pm, or if NOT a school day, from 4pm until 9pm
Veteran’s Day from 6pm day BEFORE the holiday until 7pm ON the holiday Thanksgiving holiday from Wednesday at 7pm until Sunday at 7pm
The first half of the Christmas school holiday from the 6pm the day school gets out until 1pm on the day halfway through the holiday period if there are an EVEN number of days in the vacation, or until 7pm if there are an ODD number of days The second half of the Christmas school holiday from time indicated in ODD years description until 6pm on the day before school resumes—the point being to equally divide the holiday between both parents

Father’s Day always with Dad, Mother’s Day always with Mom, from 9a.m. to 7pm of the holiday for each parent.

Summer extended parent time—4 weeks total for non-custodial parent, 2 weeks of which is uninterrupted parent time.  (During the “interrupted” time, the custodial parent gets a mid-week visit as described above.)

Custodial parent also has 2 weeks uninterrupted parent time, when non-custodial does not have weekends or midweek visits.

**For children under 5:  The only difference is in the extended parent time in the summer. 

18mos-3 years: 2 one-week periods, separated by 4 weeks, at the option of the non-custodial parent, one of which is uninterrupted. (custodial parent has 1 week uninterrupted as well)

3yrs-5yrs:  2 two-week periods, separated by at least 4 weeks, at the option of the non-custodial parent.  1 two week period is uninterrupted. (custodial parent has 1 week uninterrupted as well.)


Gotta start somewhere…

From the FB Archives–November 1, 2012

*Another one from the archives…More about how a Nice Girl Like Me Ended up Being a Lawyer, and what happened next…

1 November 2012 ·

What I do for a living…

I’m exhausted today.  I practice family law, and to me that means that I am meeting people who are in one of the worst times of their lives, and doing what I can to comfort, advocate for, and provide a dose of reality to, my clients.  I see myself almost as a Mother to these grown people, who are not related to me.  Probably not good for my mental health.  The Dalai Lama has a book about loving others, and he advises thinking of yourself as the Other’s mother in terms of how you feel toward them.  While I don’t think he meant that I should make myself crazy by “mothering” my clients, there is wisdom in having that attitude about those we come in contact with daily.

I had been thinking about this Mothering thing I do, and how I really need to NOT do that, today especially, because I am so very tired.  I have problem solved, comforted, hand held, buoyed up, and advocated today, and it’s wearing the hell out of me.  At 3p.m. I was thinking it was time to curl up on the floor and let all of the Others’ problems sort themselves out.  I shouldn’t do this.  I shouldn’t take all this on myself.  I shouldn’t.  And what if I didn’t?

Edgar A. Guest wrote a lot of poems that are viewed by many to be trite, or cliche, but there is this one….It’s called Myself:


by Edgar A. Guest

I have to live with myself and so

I want to be fit for myself to know,

I want to be able as days go by,

To look at myself straight in the eye.

I don’t want to stand with the setting sun

And hate myself for the things I’ve done.


I don’t want to hide on a closet shelf

A lot of secrets about myself,

And fool myself as I come and go

Into thinking that nobody else will know

What kind of man I really am;

I don’t want to dress myself in sham.


I want to go with my head erect,

I want to deserve all men’s respect

And in this struggle for fame and pelf

I want to be able to like myself.

I don’t want to look at myself and know

That I am a bluster and empty show.


I cannot hide myself from me;

I can see what others can never see;

I know what others can never know,

I cannot fool myself, and so

Whatever happens, I want to be

Self-respecting and conscience free.


I had a client, at the end of a very long and stressful mediation, who snapped at opposing counsel, “How do you sleep at night??”  The attorney looked at her and without a break said, “The same way your attorney sleeps at night.”  She looked at me, and I looked at her, and I said, “Sleeping pills.”  The brain won’t shut down and leave these clients alone at night, when they are not paying me to worry about them….

So until I find out a way to separate myself from my clients and STILL respect myself, I will continue, on what may be a self-destructive path, for the sake of liking myself.


If you don’t like who you see, might be a good time to change it…

May 8, 2013–from the FB archives

*Another from the archives…

It really is the little things

I got this email today, from a woman I’ve never met….Subject line said “Thank you”

“Found your blog this evening, as I was searching for the garnishment limits for ORS.  Really appreciate the article on what has ORS done for you lately.  In February, got a judgment signed for almost $6000 in back child support, child care and medical expenses, am researching why ORS only increased the ex’s garnishment by $100/month (over and above child support of $455), when he makes around $4000+/month.  Guessing he somehow has them not considering his commission pay, which is the bulk of the income, since it is a commission job with the security of a small base.

Anyway, I am enjoying the other articles on your blog as well.  Thank you for getting it, for completely getting it!!  Thank you for the reminders of different ways to approach things with the ex.  Your writing style is wonderful!
Just thank you, needed this little bit of support just now,


It’s been a really tough month.  I have honestly and seriously looked at NOT doing this thing I do.  And then I get little bits like this out of the blue, and I have to sit back, take a deep breath, and remember that I CAN do good, that I DO make a difference to people, and I AM worthwhile and useful.

And I do hope that it doesn’t always hurt so much to be Useful.


…even for lawyers 😉

Of Wine Glasses and Tweens

My husband works a two on, two off schedule–two weeks, that is.  Tonight he came home from his most recent shift.  He brought his two youngest children with him.  It’s summer, so they spend time with us when he is not out of town working.  They always get silly when they get home after being gone for awhile.  My stepdaughter was doing the arms flailing, giggling thing in the kitchen.  In her flailing, she knocked a wine glass off the counter, onto the rather unforgiving tile floor; I watched it shatter into a million tiny glass-sharded pieces.  One of my favorites. 😦
She looked at me, eyes wide, mouth open.  And I sighed and said, “Well, go get the broom and let’s clean this up.”  But I didn’t clean it up.  I went down the hall to my room and sent my dear hubby out to clean it up with her, while I worked on not freaking out about it.
And then I had a flash of remembrance.  I remember my grandma helping me clean up a broken glass in her kitchen.  I might’ve been 3 or 4. I had broken this glass…I felt awful. It was my favorite, the one with the Snow White decal on it.  I knew that she was always very careful with her things because stuff costs money and they couldn’t necessarily replace it. And I had smashed it being a little kid. I was so afraid she would be mad at me.
What I remember: Light shining into her kitchen thru the crystals hanging in her windows, rainbows dancing on the floor and the walls…And her hugging me and saying it was just a glass and we would just clean it up.
And we did.
She died when I was 5. I don’t remember a lot about her, but I do remember she was kind. Always kind. And I knew she loved me, and cared more about me than a glass.
I still have a long way to go before I am that good.  My dear, beautiful bonus daughter, I’m sorry I didn’t do it right tonight.  But I am learning, and I do know this:  It is easier to clean up a broken wine glass than it is to fix the broken heart of a child.  I will not forget again.
Me and my Grandma Tanner, probably 1978, at Bear Lake.  She died the next year.

Me and my Grandma Tanner, probably 1977, at Bear Lake, Idaho.

Civil Procedure in Divorce/Child Custody Part 2–the Summons

* Note:  This is another Utah specific article, however, ALL court actions require that parties’ be served with process no matter what state you’re in.  The rules may be different, though, so make sure and check your own states Rules of Civil Procedure.

A Summons is how you really get the ball rolling in your court action.  Because while you might technically “start” your case by filing a complaint or petition, nothing is going to happen until the opposing party has been served with process.  A person’s right to due process under the law is a constitutional one–you can find it as the 5th amendment, within the Bill of Rights.  Amendment 14 goes on to also discuss one’s right to equal protection under the law and apply it to the states (so it’s not just a right in federal actions), which includes the right to receive notice of a court action filed against him/her.

5th amendment due process

The Supreme Court went on to apply Fifth Amendment due process requirements to civil actions within Boddie v. Connecticut, a divorce case.


I talked in a previous blog post about certificates of service, and mentioned summonses very briefly then.  Rules regarding the Summons are found (in Utah) at Utah Rules of Civil Procedure (URCP) Rules 4 and 12.  URCP Rule 4 specifically discusses what needs to be included in the Summons document.  Rule 12 states how much time a defendant/Respondent has to respond to the complaint with an Answer.

A Summons must:

“contain the name of the court, the address of the court, the names of the parties to the action, and the county in which it is brought. It shall be directed to the defendant, state the name, address and telephone number of the plaintiff’s attorney, if any, and otherwise the plaintiff’s address and telephone number. It shall state the time within which the defendant is required to answer the complaint in writing, and shall notify the defendant that in case of failure to do so, judgment by default will be rendered against the defendant. It shall state either that the complaint is on file with the court or that the complaint will be filed with the court within ten days of service.” Utah RCP 4(c)(1)

Forms that you’ll need to serve someone with process in a court action can be found at the Utah Courts website.  Detailed instructions are also there.

You CAN draft up your own forms if you choose to.  The ones from the state’s courts website include check boxes for ALL types of process service, which you wouldn’t actually need in every case.  It doesn’t really make a difference whether you use the state’s forms or not, so long as you have all the correct language in yours.


I don’t know how they do it, but somehow process servers WILL find you…

It’s common to have the sheriff’s office serve the other party with process.  They are *usually* the cheapest option (though not always…you’ll want to look into that), and sometimes the ONLY option.  You may also have the option of hiring a private process server to handle it.  There are times when one or the other may be more appropriate.  If you’re dealing with a person on the other side who may be violent, probably go with the sheriff’s office.  That said, having the sheriff show up at one’s home or workplace DOES have a tendency to either embarrass the person or just piss them off.  Your call on that.  I always prefer to keep these things as low-key as possible for the sake of retaining everyone’s ability to be reasonable going forward.


…because the court is going to expect everyone to be reasonable, whether they are or not.

You can also have a third party, who is not an official process server, who is over the age of 18, and who is NOT one of the parties to the case serve process.  There’s a form on the courts website you can use for return of service in a case like that.  (But good luck finding a mutual friend who wants to get involved in your divorce by doing that for you…)

The final option, and the method we all hope we can use for the sake of simplicity, is having the other party accept service.  There are two types of acceptance of service:  1) Acceptance, Waiver of Service & Default–this is when the other side is fine with whatever the Petitioner ask for in the petition, and is fine with the court just entering a default against them.  The upshot is the divorce (or whatever) can go through more quickly.  The other type: 2) Acceptance of Service.  Just that.  It states that the person has received the documents, and accepts service of the documents without a process server having to serve them, and that they know they have 21 days to respond (though if the person accepting service demands it, he/she can get 45 days to respond under the Rules…See the link below).  It does NOT mean that the court will default you–just that the Petitioner doesn’t have to go through the process of having you served officially by a third party.  (There are specific rules regarding this as well, that you can find here, at subpart f.)

You have 120 days after you file a complaint/petition to have the other party served.  After that, the court will dismiss the action.  You can bring it again, but you have to start over with the filing fee and all–as though you’d never done it before.  (You can also have someone served with process BEFORE you file your complaint, but in that case you have to have it filed within 10 days of serving the other party.)

So there you have it…Summonses in a nutshell, and a bit about service of process.  Don’t forget what your goal is in this whole thing–As amicable a case as possible.  And that starts with reasonable service of process.  Scorched Earth method not required.

Burning down the house

Not exactly the best way to get the other party to be reasonable…

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