June 16, 2009
JON AND KATE DIVORCE?
There’s been a lot of news about Jon and Kate Gosselin, the parents of sextuplets and twins who have documented their life on TLC’s Jon & Kate Plus Eight (http://tlc.discovery.com/tv/jon-and-kate/jon-and-kate.html). It’s juicy gossip. Jon is accused of infidelity. Kate is accused of having a volatile temper. It appears they are headed for divorce. Lime Life reports they spent their 10th Anniversary apart. http://www.limelife.com/blog-entry/Jon-and-Kate-Gosselins-10-Year-Anniversary-Apart/6438.html. The National Register claims that Jon wants to quit the show. http://www.nationalledger.com/artman/publish/article_272626504.shtml
Would Jon Get Child Custody?
It’s all great gossip. What makes the potential for divorce particularly enticing for the gossip mill is that there is a good chance that Jon, a stay-at-home father, would assume primary custody of the children. Kate has been spending a lot of time away from home on business related to her books and publicity for the show, while Jon has stayed home to care for the children. Kate is also rumored to be a less than ideal parent–although I have a hard time judging anyone’s parenting skills, much less a mother of eight young children.
What About Jon and Kate’s Marital Property?
In all likelihood, Jon’s infidelity is less important to a court than Kate’s parenting skills. But, how do you value the Gosselin estate? How do you split it up?
As we obtain more information, I will attempt to interpret it here.
Buckle Up, Minnesota, Buckle Up!
(With a tip of our cap to “Buckle Down Winsocki, Buckle Down” lyrics: http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/bestfootforward/buckledownwinsocki.htm )
Beginning June 9, 2009, you can be stopped by a police officer if you do not have your seatbelt on. This is a change, because in the past, police could only stop you if you committed some other violation in addition to a seatbelt violation. http://www.startribune.com/local/47145682.html?elr=KArksUUUU
And, Avoiding Problems in a Divorce Child Custody Dispute
While I do not think it is a major crime not to wear a seatbelt, I have seen significant family law litigation over the failure to use seatbelts or car seats for children. Often, the newly single parent does not have the means to purchase a car seat, or their cars are in poor repair. Here is a guide to Hennepin County resources to assist parents in obtaining the proper safety restraints: http://www.buckleupkids.state.mn.us/Hennepin%20County%20Guide%202005.pdf. It is worth a little hassle to avoid custody litigation.
Child Custody and the People You Will Meet
When you are facing a tough custody battle, either as part of a divorce or not, there are many professionals who may be assigned, appointed, or hired to help you and the other parent figure out what is in the best interest for your children. The following is a brief overview of some of the professionals who may be involved. Every case is distinct, and there are many factors that go into whether a particular professional may or even can be involved in your case.
Guardian ad Litem
If the court is concerned about the children based on some allegations of abuse or some other serious factor, it may order a Guardian ad Litem be appointed. A Guardian ad Litem is someone who works for the county government and is trained to interview, observe, communicate, and make recommendations about the best interest of the children in a case. They are the ones who speak for the children, and have a lot of influence in how the case will be viewed by the court.
There are many professionals that may be hired as a custody evaluator to help the parties and the court determine the best custody arrangement for the children. These are often private practice attorneys or psychologists with an expertise in this field. However, Hennepin County Family Court offers an Early Neutral Evaluation program that is a free service ordered early on in a case to help the parties attempt to work out their differences in a setting similar to a full evaluation. If parties do not come to an agreement at the end of this process, however, the next step may be to hire a private Custody Evaluator.
Parenting Time Expeditor
The court may order a parenting time expeditor be appointed to help the parties with their parenting time plan or unforeseen circumstances not addressed by earlier agreement. An expeditor is empowered by the court to make decisions on behalf of the court. The cost of the expeditor is paid for by the parties.
Parenting Time Consultant
The parties themselves outside of the court may make an agreement to hire a parenting time consultant (although this agreement can be memorialized in a settlement agreement put on the record with the court). A consultant does not have the legal authority of an expeditor, but is generally given more free rein to deal with the broader scope of situations that may arise in parenting and custody disputes.
Emily M. Matson, Esq.
Moore Family Law, P.A.
3350 Annapolis Lane North, Suite C