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Man Pushed Out Window, Dies, in Alleged Spousal Abuse Case

ABC News reports : "Josh Hilberling, a 6-foot, 5-inch, 220-pound former football player, died after he plunged 17 stories from his Oklahoma apartment building, an alleged victim of spousal abuse.

Tulsa police say Hilberling, 23, was pushed out of his 25th floor apartment window at the University Club Tower on Tuesday by his wife, Amber Michelle Hilberling, 19, who is being charged with first-degree murder.

"We taught him to never hit a woman, but what we didn't think to teach him was to get away," his mother, Jeanne Hilberling, told ABC's affiliate KTUL. "We just will never forget him. He's one of a kind."

"Anybody that knows Josh is going to miss that smile, but no one more than his proud military parents who wanted the world for son," she said.

The couple had been married only a year, according to his parents, but just last month their son went to Domestic Violence Intervention Services looking for help. It had been hard, they said, for him to admit he was a victim." Read the rest of the ABC News article here.

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LA Dodgers Bankruptcy

LA WEEKLY reports: "Just when you think Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has hit rock bottom, he always seems to find a way to dig deeper and darker.

First, the divorce with Jamie, and her threats to take the Dodgers right down with her balding ex. Then, the beating of a Giants fan outside Dodger Stadium -- largely blamed on McCourt's lack of security on the premises. Then, his threat to hold the stadium's parking lots hostage if Major League Baseball tried to seize the Dodgers from his gooby grasp. (We're definitely forgetting one somewhere in here.)

And this morning, again, a new low. McCourt, unable to provide his ballplayers their paychecks (Manny Ramirez alone has a $21 million IOU), has taken the Dodgers to bankruptcy court."  Read the rest of the article here.

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The Economist's Guide to Parenting

"An entire roundtable of economists to talk about a great many elements of child-rearing, with one essential question in mind: how much do parents really matter, and in what dimensions? So you’ll hear about parents’ effect on everything from education and culture cramming to smoking and drinking."  Listen here.

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Court Says Ex-Wife May Retain Money From Ponzi Scheme

The New York State Court of Appeals has ruled that a woman can keep over $7.6 million in proceeds from her divorce settlement, even though they were ill-gotten gains of a Ponzi scheme perpetrated by her ex-husband.  In February 2009, federal authorities arrested Stephen Walsh, a former executive at WG Trading, a commodities firm, for defrauding investors of more than $550 million.  Janet Schaberg divorced Mr. Walsh in 2007 after 25 years of marriage.  The federal government has not accused Ms. Schaberg of having any knowledge or participation in her former husband’s 13 year long Ponzi scheme.  Nevertheless, the Securities Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission attempted to seize Ms. Schaberg’s millions of dollars of stolen money in order to return it to the victims of the Ponzi scheme.  The federal appeals court asked New York State’s highest court for guidance on the divorce issues.  Judge Victoria A. Graffeo, writing for the New York Court of Appeals, ruled for Ms. Schaberg.  Judge Graffeo based her ruling on upholding the finality of business transactions and maintaining the reasonable expectation that ex-spouses are free to move on with their lives after divorce settlements have been reached.  Read the New York Times article here.

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IS THE SLUMP IN HOUSE PRICES RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RECENT DECLINE IN DIVORCE RATES?

Do housing prices make it more likely that a couple will divorce?  Maybe. According to an interesting new study published in the American Economic Review, it depends on whether you own your home.  The study found that when house prices decline, people who own their homes are less likely to get divorced, whereas people who rent are more likely to get divorced. The researchers used educational status as a proxy for homeowners and renters because college graduates are more likely to be homeowners than high school drop outs. The study predicted that a 10% drop in house prices would lead to a 20% increase in divorce rates amongst renters, but a 29% reduction amongst homeowners. The likely explanation is that declining house prices tend to trap an unhappy couple in their homes. On the other hand, couples who are renters are more likely to find two affordable apartments if they divorce. This study corroborates similar findings in the United Kingdom. If the findings in this study are true, it may have interesting consequences for public policy. Policies to speed up the foreclosure process and restore liquidity in the housing market may actually increase the divorce rates. 

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Study Blames 15% of Divorces on Online Gaming

NEW YORK, June 2, 2011 (NYDN) – According to a Divorce Online study, the number of couples filing for divorce increased from last year by 10 percent.  Managing director of Divorce Online Mark Keenan explains that to obtain a successful divorce petition, a couple must provide at least three reasons for the split.

The firm’s press release offers insight into how online gaming addiction impacts the deterioration of a marriage saying, “The increase could be a consequence of people staying indoors more because of the recession.”  As a result of unemployment and/or restraints on budgets, spouses choose video games as a pastime.

The press release also offers another explanation as to why 5 percent of their clients blame online gaming as a reason for their divorce.  “As a means of escape from an already unhappy relationship,” people may turn to online video games instead of spending time with their spouse.  Read the rest of the article here.

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Briton Who Won $1 Billion Dollar Divorce Case Files For Bankruptcy

The TELEGRAPH reports:

Patricia Kluge, a 62-year-old socialite, winemaker and one-time adult film actress, reported debts with her third husband of about £30 million, despite selling her 300-acre estate in Virginia.

She admitted defeat after a £10 million fire-sale last year of paintings, Roman statues, Qing dynasty antiques, a Chippendale commode, a four-poster bed from Hedingham Castle and a George III crystal chandelier.

Liquidating jewellery including 64 carats worth of diamonds, platinum and diamond earrings, and a sapphire-and-diamond Cartier watch, also failed to keep her afloat.

Asked last night where all her money had gone, Miss Kluge would only say: "That's a very long story". Her husband, Bill Moses, has said: "We spent too much, too fast."  Read the rest of the article here.

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McCOURT DIVORCE SETTLEMENT

To retain ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers, owner Frank McCourt must overcome two formidable obstacles laid out in a binding settlement he and his ex-wife Jamie reached Friday in their contentious divorce. Frank McCourt must first receive Major League Baseball's approval of a 17-year television contract with Fox reported to be worth up to $3 billion. Under the settlement, McCourt would receive $385 million upfront, most of which would be used for Dodger-related expenses. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has given no indication if he would approve the deal, but McCourt said MLB officials have asked him to meet select criteria. "Baseball has been very clear," McCourt said outside court. "They wanted to see this divorce settled, and all this white noise gone, or they wanted Jamie's consent for the Fox transaction or they wanted a judge to give them an order to move forward. Today we have achieved all three." MLB spokesman Pat Courtney declined comment. Dennis Wasser, an attorney for Jamie McCourt, hopes the TV deal will be finalized early next week. If MLB doesn't approve the TV transaction, the settlement is null and void. "I am just hoping for resolution, and I hope this is a step in that resolution," Jamie McCourt said. Some observers said the settlement gives Frank McCourt the legal firepower he needs to get MLB to sign off on the TV transaction. "There are now no impediments and if the TV deal isn't approved, it's for other reasons than what (MLB) has stated before," said Los Angeles family law attorney Lisa Helfend Meyer, who is not involved in the McCourts' case. The decision to reject the deal would then be "personal" on MLB's behalf and serves as a springboard for Frank McCourt to sue the league, she added. In addition to the TV deal, the settlement called for a one-day "characterization" trial Aug. 4 to determine if title to the Dodgers is in Frank McCourt's name or if the team should be considered community property and sold. If Jamie McCourt prevails at trial, the team, stadium and surrounding property — worth hundreds of millions of dollars — would be split between the former couple and "be sold by the parties in an orderly manner under the court's supervision," according to the settlement. If the Dodger assets are deemed to belong to Frank McCourt, he would give his ex-wife $100 million and she would retain six luxurious homes. He also will continue to pay monthly spousal support up to $650,000, the agreement said. Frank McCourt said all other issues in the divorce were settled, and a hearing set for Wednesday where Jamie McCourt was expected to ask Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon to order the sale of the team was canceled. In April, Major League Baseball took the extraordinary step of assuming control of the troubled franchise. Former Texas Rangers President Tom Schieffer was appointed to monitor the team on behalf of Selig, who said he took the action because he was concerned about the team's finances and how the Dodgers are being run. Frank McCourt also has had to contend with meeting team payroll. He's managed several times since the beginning of the season to pay the team's bills — he took a $30 million loan from Fox earlier this year — but has to account for deferred compensation for some former players by the end of June. Among them is retired slugger Manny Ramirez, who is owed nearly $7 million on June 30 as part of a two-year, $45 million contract he signed with the Dodgers. The former couple's lavish lifestyle was exposed in court documents where it was revealed that they took out more than $100 million in loans from Dodgers-related businesses. Their spending habits were likened to using the money from the team as though it was their personal ATM or credit card. When pressed by a reporter about whether he has enough money to cover team expenses without MLB's approval of the TV deal, McCourt sounded confident. "We're going to proceed and do and meet all of our obligations as we always have, yes," he said. In December, Gordon deemed invalid a postnuptial marital agreement that gave Frank McCourt sole ownership of the Dodgers. That cleared the way for Jamie McCourt, who served as the team's CEO and was fired by her ex-husband two years ago, to seek half the team under California's community property law. The McCourts' lawyers had spent several sessions in front Gordon to reach an agreement and they worked throughout the night before striking a deal shortly before Friday's hearing began. Despite Frank McCourt's earlier pledge that none of the upfront TV money would be used toward his divorce, the settlement terms show otherwise. About $50 million would be placed in an account subject to Gordon's orders, while another $10 million would be used for attorneys' fees, the agreement said. About $80 million would go toward paying off debt and each of the McCourts would receive $5 million for their own personal use. The remainder of the money — about $235 million — would be used for the Dodgers, including repayment to McCourt for money the agreement says he advanced to the team this year that is not to exceed $23.5 million.

 

 


Children of Divorce Struggle More With Math and Social Skills

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A new study confirms the well known fact that divorce can be hard on kids in many ways: socially, academically, and emotionally.

According to new research published Thursday in theAmerican Sociological Review. children whose parents divorce perform worse in math and have poorer social skills, and they struggle more with anxiety, loneliness, sadness, and poor self-esteem than their peers whose parents are not divorced. They are also more likely to have trouble making friends and maintaining those friendships, expressing emotions positively, and getting along with other kids who are different from them.

The study examined data from a study of children who entered kindergarten in 1998 through the time those students were in fifth grade, and focused specifically on 142 children in homes where the parents had separated during the time the children were between the first and third grades.

In mathematics performance, children from divorced homes were 12% less advanced than children from intact homes. Interestingly, the same result was not found for reading scores.

Hyun Sik Kim, the study's author and a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said one of the conclusions that can be drawn from the study is that it is important to intervene early on for a child whose parents are going through a divorce.

The study also suggested that the primary factor that determines how a child will be affected by a divorce is the level of conflict in the home. Some children whose parents were going through an amicable divorce did not show extraordinary signs of struggle, but some children in homes with parents who were unhappily married performed at the same level as those from divorced homes.

It seems indisputable that divorce can be difficult on children. Ideally, all children would grow up in stable homes with loving parents who remain together. But even where divorce is inevitable, much can be done to make that transition easier on the children.

 Source: TIME, "Children of Divorce Struggle More With Math and Social Skills," Bonnie Rochman, 2 Jun 2011.

 


Keeping Kids safe

I went to a great presentation from Pattie from Safely Ever After about how to keep our kids safe from predators. Dispelled the myth of the stranger danger and explained that most kids are at the most risk from people we know. See her 10 rules for keeping kids safe. Harrowing story about a real life incident with the local ice cream man. But then I've never trusted the ice cream man. Ice cream men, school PE teachers and shopping mall santas. Then it got me gthinking about megan's law so I decided to check it out myself and see who is living in the neighborhood Megans site. Wow! Fortunately none very close but it was still a shocker. Los Angeles Family Law


Seven Big Post-Divorce Financial Mistakes

Fox Business has an article about seven common money mistakes made after divorce:

Breaking up is not only hard to do, it can be brutal on your finances.

Legal fees and creating two households from one are just the initial costs of separation. And while some expenditures are necessary, others can be emotionally charged and careless and can lead to serious debt.

See the list of seven mistakes here.

 


MIchael Caine-Off

I was listening to Fresh Air on the radio review a new film "The Trip" about Steve Coogan and Rob Hayden's trip around the North of England. Exactly. That's what she said. But wait..there was an awesome scene in which the 2 comics compare their Michael Cain impersonations. Its the British equivilent of the Christoper Walken in the U.S My money is with Coogan's emotional Caine. "She's only bloody 16.." Here is the link to the clip.  Now compare this to the real Micheal Caine and let me know (no don't) what you think. The Real Michael Caine.


The Role of Therapists in Family Law Litigation: PART 6

Non-Testifying Consultants

 

Generally accepted non-testifying consultant tasks include reviewing a work product and writing direct and cross examination questions, presenting research to the retaining attorney or client for educational purposes, identifying the psychological elements involved in legal strategy, and assisting in case preparation and presentation.[1]

 

Sometimes, the FMHP can become involved in child custody cases as therapists for one of the parties or the children.[2]  Some have written about the need to differentiate between the therapeutic role and expert role of the FMHP.[3]  A child custody’s evaluator role is researching a family’s functioning while a treating therapist’s role is intervention.[4]

 

If a testifying FMHP later comes to Court in assistance of one of the attorneys, this can compromise the FMHP’s credibility with the judge.[5]  If they have presented themselves as educators to the Court and then are seen providing litigation support, the judge will probably conclude that their previous testimony was biased.[6]  A non-testifying FMHP communicating with a client in front of a judge can also alter perceptions and should be avoided.[7]  Also, there are serious ethical considerations to be taken into account when an FMHP in attempting to explain the evaluation process crosses a line into coaching a client to give false evaluation responses and perpetrating fraud on the Court.[8] 

 

In advising and preparing witnesses, the American Society of Trial Consultants (ASTC) guidelines makes distinctions “between providing information, feedback and guidance, versus unethical approaches such as scripting, shaping, and instructing witnesses.”[9]  According to those guidelines, a consultant crosses a line when he or she becomes too directive or instructive about what content should be in the client’s testimony.[10]  Clear breaches of ethics include assisting a parent to fill out a custody evaluation or previewing to clients parts of psychological tests such as the MMPI-2 or the Rorschach.[11]  When meetings occur prior to trial, the consulting expert can conform to ethical standards by advocating that the parent tell the truth, avoiding the manipulation of the parent’s participation in any custody evaluation or trial proceeding, operating within the bounds of the consultant’s expertise, and understanding the limits of confidentiality.[12] 

 

Hon. Gould-Saltman artfully describes the proper role of a non-testifying FMHP:

 

“Mental health professionals who prepare attorneys by helping them understand psycho-legal issues – and help craft questions that will make testimony clearer for the judge- also do a service for the court (as well as for the attorneys and parent-litigants).  Those who “polish” the parent-litigant by reducing the parent-litigant’s anxiety about the process and help the parent-litigant present his or her best self, may also be assisting the process.  Those who “sandpaper” the parent-litigant by trying to reshape the parent-litigant into something he or she is not often do more harm than good to that parent-litigant.  After all, when you use sandpaper to reshape something, inevitably you end up exposing what is underneath, for good or bad.”[13]

 

© 2011 Warren R. Shiell.  Warren R Shiell is a Los Angeles Divorce and Family Law attorney. All rights reserved. The information contained in this website is an "Advertisement." It is for informational purposes only and shall not constitute legal advice. Nothing in this Website shall be deemed to create an Attorney-Client relationship. An Attorney-Client relationship shall only be created when this office agrees to represent a Client and a Client signs a written retainer agreement.

 

For more information visit www.la-familylaw.com



[1] Id.

[2] Id.

[3] Gould, Jonathan , Martindale, David , Tippins, Timothy and Wittmann, Jeff ‘Testifying Experts and Non-Testifying Trial Consultants: Appreciating the Differences’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 32 - 46.

[4] Id.

[5] Gould-Saltman, Dianna ‘A View from the Cross-Road: Considerations for Mental Health Professionals Consulting with Attorneys (by a Judge, and Former Lawyer…with a Degree in Psychology)’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 135 – 141.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Kaufman, Robert L. ‘Forensic Mental Health Consulting in Family Law: Where Have We Come From?  Where are We Going?’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1. 5 – 31.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id. 

[13] Gould-Saltman, Dianna ‘A View from the Cross-Road: Considerations for Mental Health Professionals Consulting with Attorneys (by a Judge, and Former Lawyer…with a Degree in Psychology)’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 135 – 141.

 


Wheel of Fortune Winnings Split 50-50 in Divorce

The Seattle Times has an article about a Wheel of Fortune jackpot won after divorce papers were filed, but while the couple was considering reconciliation:

Scott Dole might have won $51,600 on "Wheel of Fortune," but the number dwindled to $25,800 on Wednesday, a judge decided.

Dole and his wife, Carrie, were embroiled in a contentious divorce battle over, in part, Dole's winnings on the hit game show. The issue was whether the money was community property, and, therefore, should be subject to the state's community-property law mandating equal separation of assets, or whether it was just Scott Dole's property.

The husband and wife went to trial Wednesday before Clark County Superior Court Judge James Rulli. Testimony took most of the day.

Rulli decided that even though Carrie Dole had filed for divorce well before the show, the couple were reconciled at the time of filming, so the winnings were property.  Read the rest of the article.

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The Role of Therapists in Family Law Litigation: PART 5


 

 

(4) Work-Product Reviewer

 

The work-product reviewer’s role is distinctly different from the evaluator’s role.[1]  The reviewer is retained by one party to review or critique the work product of the court-appointed neutral evaluator.[2]  The work-product reviewer testifies about the methodology of the underlying evaluation and, other than cross-examination, may be the only safeguard against improper evaluations.[3]  This is an important function because various independent practitioners have reported that there are concerns about the quality of child custody evaluations: “the available research indicated there are reasons to be concerned about the general quality of custody evaluations, not surprisingly, given the wide variance in the training and experience of evaluators to conduct what may be the most complex and difficult of all forensic mental health evaluations.”[4]

 

When looking at data, newer judges do not always know if conclusions are too broad or multiple hypotheses have not been explored.[5]  Bench officers do not have the time to keep up with all of the current literature of mental health professionals in family law.[6]  In some cases, the evaluator does not completely understand the family’s culture or makes factual errors.[7]  Work-product reviewers can identify when data is too limited, is not sound, should not be relied upon, or when it could have led to a different recommendation.[8]  Reviewers help the Court see flaws in the evaluator’s methodology and when the evaluator’s recommendations go beyond their expertise.[9]  Some independent practitioners argue that the overriding goal of the reviewer, although an expert witness for one of the parties, should be helping the Court (much like the goal of the court appointed neutral evaluator).[10]  This entails presenting balanced testimony and objective analysis to the Court.

 

There is some discussion over whether a work-product reviewer should review new data from events that occurred after the completion of the initial custody evaluation or data that was not seen by the evaluator.[11]  One view suggests that a reviewer should only review the evaluator’s methodology and steer clear of any material that is not in the evaluator’s case file; the alternative viewpoint is that review of new data should be allowed.[12]  This issue can extend to new data gleaned as retained experts listen and observe evidence presented in trial.[13]

 

There is a contradictory opinion on the role of the work-product reviewer in Court.  Hon. Mark Juhas reveals that solely challenging the methodology of the report has little practical value to a judge’s decision making process and can take time away from more important testimony in the case.[14]  Each family situation is unique and may not conform to the same methodology; unless there is a blatant disregard for professional guidelines, judges may simply discount this type of testimony.[15] 

 

On the other hand, work-product reviewers can be helpful to an attorney.[16]  They can explain the strengths and weaknesses of an evaluation to both the attorney and client.[17]  It is important to keep in mind that work product-reviewers start as non-testifying consultants.[18]  The purpose of their work is to conduct an objective assessment of the overall forensic quality of the work without any preconception that the purpose is to find only the weaknesses and deficiencies in the evaluation report.[19]  If the underlying evaluation is sound, then they can help explain the report, implement its recommendations, and incorporate the findings into the settlement process.[20]  It is only when the underlying evaluation report is sufficiently flawed that the work-product reviewer becomes more than an advisor.[21]  In those cases, the expert would then actually testify about the weaknesses of the evaluation report.[22]

 

To maintain objectivity and avoid undue influence, an article by private practitioners and an attorney suggests that a work-product reviewer use two separate contracts.[23]  The first contract is simply for the work product review and its methodology.[24]  At the end of the work product review, FMHPs can communicate the findings orally to the retaining party.[25]  The oral communication is necessary because any work product generated by the expert during this time will not be protected by the attorney-client privilege if the FMHP later becomes a testifying expert.  Only if the findings are supportive of the retaining party’s legal positions will they enter into a second contract to offer litigation support or expert testimony; otherwise they will usually part ways and the use of the expert will most likely be undisclosed.[26]

 

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[1] Id.

[2] Id. 

[3] Gould-Saltman, Dianna ‘A View from the Cross-Road: Considerations for Mental Health Professionals Consulting with Attorneys (by a Judge, and Former Lawyer…with a Degree in Psychology)’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 135 – 141.

[4] Kirkpatrick, H.D., Austin, William G. and Flens, James R. ‘Psychological and Legal Considerations in Reviewing the Work Product of a Colleague in Child Custody Evaluations’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1. 103 - 123.  See also Bow, J.N. and Quinnell, F.A. (2002) A critical review of child custody evaluation reports. Family Court Review 42, pp.164-176.

[5] Gould-Saltman, Dianna ‘A View from the Cross-Road: Considerations for Mental Health Professionals Consulting with Attorneys (by a Judge, and Former Lawyer…with a Degree in Psychology)’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 135 – 141.

[6] Juhas, Mark ‘Commentary on Forensic Mental Health Consulting: Is More Better?’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 124 – 134.

[7] Id.

[8] Gould-Saltman, Dianna ‘A View from the Cross-Road: Considerations for Mental Health Professionals Consulting with Attorneys (by a Judge, and Former Lawyer…with a Degree in Psychology)’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 135 – 141.

[9] Id.

[10] Kirkpatrick, H.D., Austin, William G. and Flens, James R. ‘Psychological and Legal Considerations in Reviewing the Work Product of a Colleague in Child Custody Evaluations’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1. 103 - 123.

[11] Austin, William G. , Dale, Milfred D. , Kirkpatrick, H. D. and Flens, James R. ‘Forensic Expert Roles and Services in Child Custody Litigation: Work Product Review and Case Consultation’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1 , 47- 83.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Juhas, Mark ‘Commentary on Forensic Mental Health Consulting: Is More Better?’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 124 – 134.

[15] Id. 

[16] Gould-Saltman, Dianna ‘A View from the Cross-Road: Considerations for Mental Health Professionals Consulting with Attorneys (by a Judge, and Former Lawyer…with a Degree in Psychology)’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 135 – 141.

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

[19] Kirkpatrick, H.D., Austin, William G. and Flens, James R. ‘Psychological and Legal Considerations in Reviewing the Work Product of a Colleague in Child Custody Evaluations’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1. 103 - 123.

[20] Gould-Saltman, Dianna ‘A View from the Cross-Road: Considerations for Mental Health Professionals Consulting with Attorneys (by a Judge, and Former Lawyer…with a Degree in Psychology)’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 135 – 141.

[21] Id.

[22] Id.

[23] Gould, Jonathan , Martindale, David , Tippins, Timothy and Wittmann, Jeff ‘Testifying Experts and Non-Testifying Trial Consultants: Appreciating the Differences’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 32 - 46.

[24] Id.

[25] Id.

[26] Id.

 


The Role of Therapists in Family Law Litigation: PART 4


(3) One-Sided Evaluator

 

A testifying evaluator is rarely hired by one side to conduct an evaluation.[1]  This is due to the fact that a one-sided evaluator does not have the same standing as the court-appointed expert.[2]  A one-sided evaluator’s testimony is not given much weight because such evaluations are conducted simultaneously with or after the court-appointed evaluation.[3]  In contrast to the court-appointed evaluator, the one-sided evaluator starts with an incomplete set of data – it is based solely on how much information the single participant is willing to disclose.[4]  The one-sided evaluator does not have access to all of the original data.[5]  Access to only one of the parents is unlikely to render enough information to form opinions about any parenting arrangements.[6]  Furthermore, the one-sided evaluator is hired by one side, and until declared as a testifying expert witness, their role is cloaked by the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine.[7]  In particular cases, a one-sided evaluator can be useful if hired to focus on limited issues that would not need a full set of information.[8]

 

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[1] Gould-Saltman, Dianna ‘A View from the Cross-Road: Considerations for Mental Health Professionals Consulting with Attorneys (by a Judge, and Former Lawyer…with a Degree in Psychology)’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 135 – 141.

[2]Kirkpatrick, H.D., Austin, William G. and Flens, James R. ‘Psychological and Legal Considerations in Reviewing the Work Product of a Colleague in Child Custody Evaluations’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1. 103 - 123.

[3] Gould-Saltman, Dianna ‘A View from the Cross-Road: Considerations for Mental Health Professionals Consulting with Attorneys (by a Judge, and Former Lawyer…with a Degree in Psychology)’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 135 – 141.

[4] Id.

[5] Kirkpatrick, H.D., Austin, William G. and Flens, James R. ‘Psychological and Legal Considerations in Reviewing the Work Product of a Colleague in Child Custody Evaluations’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1. 103 - 123.

[6] Gould-Saltman, Dianna ‘A View from the Cross-Road: Considerations for Mental Health Professionals Consulting with Attorneys (by a Judge, and Former Lawyer…with a Degree in Psychology)’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 135 – 141.

[7] Kirkpatrick, H.D., Austin, William G. and Flens, James R. ‘Psychological and Legal Considerations in Reviewing the Work Product of a Colleague in Child Custody Evaluations’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1. 103 - 123.

[8] Id.

 


Madoff Victim Seeks Divorce Do-Over

Peter Lattman of the New York Times reports:

After 33 years of marriage, Steven Simkin and Laura Blank divorced in 2006. They agreed to split their considerable wealth equally. She got the apartment on the Upper East Side; he got the house in Scarsdale, N.Y.

Afterward, they spoke infrequently, mostly concerning their two grown sons.

More than two years later, Ms. Blank received a voicemail message that stunned her: Mr. Simkin wanted to revise their settlement. She refused, and he sued.

While divorce agreements are generally ironclad and rarely rescinded, this challenge has now reached New York’s highest court. Deeply divided appellate justices requested what is considered an unusual review of settled law involving contracts.

What made Mr. Simkin’s call for a do-over even remotely possible has its roots in Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

When the couple split their assets evenly, the largest chunk of money was invested with Mr. Madoff. Mr. Simkin kept much of his funds in the Madoff account, which was held in his name. Ms. Blank, who said she had no interest in investing with Mr. Madoff, received her settlement proceeds in cash.  Read the article.

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The Role of Therapists in Family Law Litigation: PART 3


 

(2) Case-Blind Didactic Expert

 

As a general rule, the case-blind didactic expert should be used when a case requires expertise beyond mere common knowledge.[1]  Usually these situations arise with novel or unique legal issues or when a judicial officer is new to family law.[2] For example, experts on special needs children can be useful in educating the Court about a particular disability and treatment or special education options.  In contrast, utilizing didactic experts in simpler cases is risky because it can unnecessarily over-complicate matters.[3]   The case-blind didactic expert informs and educates the Court about specialized, technical, or research-based knowledge as opposed to case-specific testimony.[4]  This could involve a summary of research on an issue, theoretical or conceptual descriptions, and forensic models that are relevant to child custody issues.[5]   Sometimes, instructional testimony is applied to the facts of the case through the use of hypothetical questions.[6]

 

Keep in mind that a good attorney will easily be able to question the credibility of a case-blind didactic expert who presents a one-sided view of psychological literature in support of their position.[7]  Furthermore, time pressures are something to also remember.  As Hon. Mark Juhas explains “[c]ourts no longer have the luxury of listening to long rambling presentations of facts or opinions that have very little bearing on the family at bar.”[8]

 

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[1] Gould-Saltman, Dianna ‘A View from the Cross-Road: Considerations for Mental Health Professionals Consulting with Attorneys (by a Judge, and Former Lawyer…with a Degree in Psychology)’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 135 – 141.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Austin, William G. , Dale, Milfred D. , Kirkpatrick, H. D. and Flens, James R. ‘Forensic Expert Roles and Services in Child Custody Litigation: Work Product Review and Case Consultation’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1 , 47- 83.

[5] Id.

[6] Id. 

[7] Gould-Saltman, Dianna ‘A View from the Cross-Road: Considerations for Mental Health Professionals Consulting with Attorneys (by a Judge, and Former Lawyer…with a Degree in Psychology)’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 135 – 141.

[8] Juhas, Mark ‘Commentary on Forensic Mental Health Consulting: Is More Better?’, Journal of Child Custody, 8:1, 124 – 134.