72-Hour Holds Misused?

December 2, 2009

By Jennifer Moore, Family Law Attorney.

The Police Authority to Detain Individuals

In Minnesota, police have the authority to detain an individual for 72 hours if they are believed to be a threat to themselves or others. Hospitals comply with these administrative holds, because they bring in significant revenue.

Children, Teenagers, and the Handicapped

These holds are often used in cases of domestic violence involving unstable adults or teenagers, but can also be imposed upon disabled children and adults. As the step-mother of a child with disabilities, it has sometimes been difficult to orchestrate the placement of services in a way that protect caregivers as well as my step-son’s freedoms.

As a Family Law Attorney…

As a family law attorney, I have seen 72-hour holds used in cases of domestic violence. The consequences of such a hold is fairly dramatic. Jobs can be lost, relationships with children interrupted, and the “patient” put on a path of treatment and therapy that may preclude the family from a timely resolution of their separation and/or divorce. Sometimes, the danger to the family is obvious; sometimes not. It would be nice to think that authorities would not abuse this process.

Read more in the Star Tribune article, Paramedic: Cops abuse law to detain people.

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By Thomas Moore, Family Law Office Manager

The Hennepin County Bar Association here in Minnesota is, obviously, an organization of, by, and for lawyers. I’m no lawyer, I just work for one (or two, or… But that’s a different story!).

Some lessons from a depression era attorney

Anyway, I was recently reading the October 2009 issue of Inside Hennepin Lawyer, the magazine of the Hennepin County Bar Association, and I found an entry entitled: “Of Bugs, Brontosauruses, and Daniel Boone.”   Quite a title, but what really caught my eye is that the two articles here are reprints from 1933. They were written in the depth of the great depression by Mr. Ben Palmer

Old fashioned thinking and the law

The first article is “Daniel Boone on Broadway,” In it Mr. Palmer points out that “Daniel Boon on Broadway is no more of an anachronism than the individual who carries the psychology of the frontier into the cooperative life of today.” We sometimes see this phenomenon in our family law and probate law practices, where someone seems blind to the reality that a divorce involves not just the plaintiff and the respondent but also, any and all children from their union. Their case also involves not just property but also the standard of living of the two sides – and that of the children. I think a law firm should strive to be the most reasonable party in the room – it should defend you, the client, but it should also bear in mind that others – especially the children – also have rights and that the adults have obligations. I think Mr. Palmer is making an important point for all of us

Rugged individualism is not an asset in a lawsuit

In the second article, “The Bug on the Brontosaurus,” Mr. Palmer refers to a nation of “streams of force – economical, social, political, religious – converging on certain focal points… The most romantic libertarian… can only act effectively through those organizations whose general goal coincides with his own heart’s desire. There is no such thing as splendid isolation.” Again, excellent point! In a divorce, child support dispute, child custody lawsuit, as well as in an alimony or probate case, these organizations that can be used for the outcome you seek include the law, the courts, your own attorney, and the opposing party’s lawyer. Otherwise, your case and the outcome you seek, will pass away to become as extinct as the once-mighty brontosaurus.

Read the article! I think you’ll find this wisdom, and much more, in it.

Mr. Palmer concludes that “There is no such thing as splendid isolation… It is adaptability, and not merely strength, that counts.” Again, read the article! Mr. Palmer makes his point with much more grace, and brings to bear much more experience, than can I.

By Thomas Moore, Office Manager

This week I was reading The Hennepin Lawyer, the magazine of the Minnesota Hennepin County Bar Association.

One article in particular caught my eye: Much ADAAA About Nothing: Recent Amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act”.

The article was written by Michael Iwan and Chris Amundsen, two attorneys in Minnesota.  It is aimed at attorneys, so for laymen such as myself, it can be difficult reading.  So, I called upon one of my friends, Cynthia, from the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health (MACMH).

An Advocate for Disabled Children comments on the amendments to Americans with Disabilities ACT (ADAAA)

Here is my slightly edited version of what Cynthia said about the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act, based on the article.

It allows for protections even when the condition is in remission, improved by treatment, etc. so that a client would be protected during a future episode/crisis/etc.

It broadens and defines life activities which are impacted by a disability and which therefore fall under provisions of the Act.

It covers far many more people who can reveal possible problems without fear of reaction — I.E., if I have diabetes and ask my employer to let me take time off work to go to treatment if I have a low blood sugar attack, he can’t fire be because I have diabetes. And so on.

If you have other questions, contact ADA Minnesota.

By Thomas Moore, Office Manager

First of all, my thanks to attorney Steven H Silton, whose article, Counseling Clients in Financial Distress, in the August 2009 issue of Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the inspiration for this blog. Bench & Bar of Minnesota is published by the  Minnesota State Bar Association.

Here’s my personal reaction to what Mr. Silton says in his article. 

The financial crisis, and your personal crisis, is really about what you can do.

The global financial crisis is real and can be a rude awakening to someone who does not pay attention to the economy, or who does and who has, until now, enjoyed prosperity.  In fact, today’s circumstances can be particularly hard on you if you’re used to hard work, success, and success based upon your hard work.  Sometimes it seems that what you’ve done has been for naught.  But, understanding your limits, rethinking your life, and taking a holistic approach to life and work, can help — though nothing can guarantee that your investments, or your marriage, or your social position, or anything else for that matter, will keep on an upward curve.  We are all subject to market forces, nature, and social forces beyond our control.  We have to learn how to learn from failure; and we must learn how to best deal with the psychological and personal aspects of the situation we are in.  

You need experts, carefully selected, to work your way through this.

You should work with professionals, experts, to deal with what you cannot handle on your own.  There is no shame in this.  This could involve an attorney, a financial advisor, a life coach, a realtor, or a therapist.  You have to do your life work and engage others in this work as appropriate.  Getting depressed can be part of this but we have to learn to work through all the aspects of our situation.  To quote Mr. Silton, “Accepting responsibility is one thing, but there is no room for despair in a sinking ship…”  We must focus on how to get through the present crisis and how to build a better future.  Victories in these necessary struggles, instead of avoiding the struggle, are what build confidence and reduce anxiety. 

Stress and strain require you to be careful, ethical, and honorable.

If you are stressed, if those with whom you deal are stressed, you and they are inevitably being pushed in the direction of making distressed, even desperate, decisions.  Someone sinking into apparently hopeless debt and bankruptcy will not always make rational decisions about their finances or about anything else, for that matter.  Many examples could be cited of a party in a divorce who spends what he does not have on his bar tab, his ‘toys,’ and in other ways to avoid thinking about and dealing with what is inevitable.  Be careful in your dealings, guard yourself from those who are not and work at living your life as ethically and as honorably as you can.

By Jennifer Moore, Attorney

Some things never change in family law – including the costs of divorce!

Divorce, alimony, child support, child custody have always been a strain – even for some who really are well off.   Read the “Special to The New York Times” for Sunday, August 9, 1903, regarding the unfortunate Mr. Frederick L. Champlin, “the once wealthy clubman” of Chicago, Illinois.

Even a Family Attorney Needs a Break!

Take the Kids Camping!

 

This is the last unofficial weekend of summer, and the last chance to take a long weekend camping at any of the many Minnesota State Parks      .    I recommend going to some of the ones further outside the Twin Cities than usual.  I spent a long weekend at the beginning of August at  Bear Head Lake     State Park outside Ely, MN,     the wanna-be-hosts of the    2016 Olympics  .)   

This weekend I’m venturing to  

Upper Sioux Agency State Park, where I plan to hike some trails and kayak some waters.  Favorites in the past have included Gooseberry Falls State Park outside of Duluth, and Sibley State Park, outside Wilmar.

 

State Parks are a great destination for families, small and large.  At Bear Head, our neighbors included a large family reunion with people from all over the five state area.  I enjoyed watching uncles teach nieces to fish, and grandpa argue with son over who snored louder.  State Parks have nice sized campsites, some with electricity for RVs, shower facilities, and well-informed staff that can help you make the most of your time out in the wild.

Your Divorce and Your Handicapped Child

 

 

 

When a child or adolescent needs special help managing behavior and / or coping with the symptoms of mental health disorders, families usually have to maneuver painstakingly through a maze of county, state, and federal regulations, agencies, and the individuals who represent them; in order to learn how to best advocate for their handicapped or special needs child. Combine these with a divorce, child custody battle; or with a death in the family and a probate court case; and the difficulty of everything, especially for your child, is multiplied. 

 

Divorce Law and Disability Law

If you are the parent of a handicapped child and are undergoing divorce you will have to learn about not only family law but also the fundamental principles and procedures involved in disability law, special education, civil rights legislation including human rights legislation, IDEA legislation, The Minnesota Children’s Mental Health Act, county services, and quite possibly juvenile justice proceedings and other laws.

 

You will need to understand the structure of the courts and the various bodies involved in your child’s well being.  You’ll need to decide the best way to proceed when you and / or your child are called before an administrator, when you have to fill out what can seem an endless sea of paper forms, and you’ll need to decide what to do when you must appear in court.  The more the courts are involved, the more likely it is you will need to retain a family law attorney or a disability lawyer.

 

You will have to understand the differences between these laws and be able to decide what is most appropriate to used for meeting your child’s needs.

 

Appeals Court and Administrative Appeals

You may not get what you need for your child at the outset.  You may need to learn the procedures and forms and contacts needed to file an appeal or a complaint regarding an administrative decision or court ruling.  While in many cases, especially regarding your disagreement with a rule or an administrative decision, you may not need an attorney; you may be served best by at least hiring a knowledgeable lawyer to review the paperwork involved in caring for your child.  This costs less than retaining a lawyer to become your advocate, and if possible it will provide you some basic legal advice.

 

You Will Learn to be Your Child’s Most Powerful Advocate

Finally, you will have to become expert in advocating for your special needs child; and learn also how to avoid and resolve disputes regarding your children.

 

It sounds like a lot and it is.  We don’t know of any attorney or advocate who can do all this for you, even when you can afford to hire such an expert.  Unfortunately, in extreme cases you may need to retain one attorney for your divorce, and another for your handicapped child. 

 

Advocating for your child in Minnesota

There are several organizations that can help.    

 

The Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health is a statewide education and advocacy organization and a primary resource for children’s mental health. MACMH produces more than nine children’s mental health publications and organizes the annual Child and Adolescent Mental Health Conference in Duluth, MN.

 

MACMH  can be reached at The Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health

 

Another resource for parents of handicapped or special needs children is The Arc of Minnesota. The Arc of Minnesota is a private, non-profit, statewide voluntary organization. The mission of The Arc of Minnesota is to support and advocate for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities and their families as they choose how they live, learn, work and play. The Arc of Minnesota fight for persons with developmental disabilities so they can reach for a brighter, more inclusive future. 

 

The ARC of Minnesota can be reached at The ARC  of Minnesota  

 

Thanks to the Minnesota Association of Children’s Mental Health for supplying the information used in this blog. 

 

Thomas Moore

Office Manager

Moore Family Law, P.A.

Plymouth, MN 

www.MooreFamilyLawMN.com

Thomas.Moore@MooreFamilyLawMN.com

Social Networking During Divorce

Divorce and Communication 

When parents divorce, they often have to find new ways to communicate with each other about their children.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to pass a notebook along with the children when they go for parenting time.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to set up an account at   Our Family Wizard    to to keep track of important dates on a shared schedule.  

Divorce, Child Custody, Alimony, Child Support and Social Networking

One thing that is NOT a good idea, however, is to use online social networking services, such as    Facebook      or    MySpace  as a soap box to talk about your former spouse in a negative way.  

Social networking sites allow you to share content with family, friends, colleagues, strangers, anyone with access to the internet.  There is great potential to help you keep in touch with people, but it also has great potential to help you alienate people and look like the worst possible parent.  

 From Where I stand as a Family Lawyer

I urge you to resist the temptation to find out where your former spouse is posting online, and even more, I urge you to resist the temptation to respond to anything he or she posts.  Do not start a passive aggressive flamewar by posting on YOUR site in reaction to something posted on his or her site. 

 

There is no good that can come of this.  If you need to vent, do so over the telephone or a cup of coffee to a friend or trusted family member.  Do not post it publicly and permanently on a website where people will see and judge you for it.  People do not know your whole history, and posting a one-word essay on the unfitness of your former spouse is not likely to make anyone agree with you – they are more likely to turn against you.

 Take the High Road

Social networking gives you the opportunity to practice taking the high road, and to make choices that are concerned with the best interest of your children.  That includes refraining from fighting or vilifying the other parent in a way that will only vilify yourself. 

 

Emily Matson

Emily.Matson@MooreFamilyLawMN.com

Moore Family Law, P.A.

When You Can’t Afford to Hire Attorneys

 

When You Can’t Afford to Hire Lawyers

Typically family attorneys do their fair share of pro bono work, as do lawyers in other areas of practice.  However, from what we can see, some attorneys can only accept a very small number of pro bono legal cases, which meet their specific income and subject matter requirements.  Chances are, you will have better luck going through one of the other pro bono services for your divorce, child custody case, or other family law matter.   

 Free Legal Advice from a Divorce Lawyer

Every family law litigant should have the right to compensated, competent legal representation in court, regardless of income.  However, in these days of reduced court funding, this may not be an attainable goal.  The Star Tribune in Minneapolis, Minnesota   published an article this week on where to go if your circumstances require you to go into court without an attorney.   Click Here for the link  The article is not exclusively about family law but it does apply to someone seeking divorce attorneys or child custody lawyers as well as other areas of the law in Minnesota

 Hire an Attorney for an Hour or Two

Even if you can’t afford an attorney to represent you in Court, get some legal advice to make sure you are on the right track, even if it means paying for an hour of an attorney’s time to look at your documents.  We hope you find these links useful.

 

Jennifer Moore

Jennifer.Moore@MooreFamilyLawMN.com

Plymouth, Minnesota 

Moore Family Law

Child Custody, Divorce, and Mediation

 First of all, my thanks to Carol Vander Kooi for the ideas in this blog.

The Right of First Refusal and the First Option to Care

 I was in a mediation recently with a mediator, and we were discussing what is traditionally called (by us lawyers) the “right of first refusal”, that is commonly put into custody agreements to allow parents to be the primary daycare resource.  She noted that the language we use for this parenting option does not support a stated goal that both parents be equally vested in the lives of their children.  She suggested that we should call it the “First Option to Care”.  

In Family Law, Mean What You Saw and Say What You Mean

I like this idea.  I would recommend that when looking for a family law attorney for your divorce or child custody place, you find a lawyer who insists on plain speaking and who insists that you understand what’s going on with your case.  It’s important that our language reflect our intentions. 

Here’s a link to some useful information regarding  mediation in Minnesota. 

Family Law, Mediation, Divorce, and Child Custody

Topics covered include:

Mediation a cost-effective strategy in a divorce or child custody matter. 

Mediation is less stressful for children in a divorce

Especially  when compared to a court battle in the course of a divorce.

 Mediation is confidential,

 Unlike most family court matters.

What  happens in a divorce or child custody mediation cannot be used in family court.                  

Mediation promotes communication during a family law matter. 

 Mediation focuses on the future to guide and inform your divorce action. 

No matter what happens to the marriage, parents can still stay partners, in a new family arrangement, for the children. 

Mediation is also available to resolve problems after the divorce is final.

  Jennifer Moore

Moore Family Law, P.A.

Plymouth,  MN

jennifer.moore@moorefamilylawMN.com