Category Archives: Child Custody

Don’t Put this on FaceBook…

FaceBook can be used for comparing yourself to others and investigating persons you just met. It can also be used to brag on yourself, your child’s latest, cutest thing and driving up “hits” on your blog. However, it is NOT to air your DIVORCE DRAMA!

“81 percent of divorce attorneys surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said they’d seen an increase in the number of cases using social networking evidence in the five years prior. The attorneys said Facebook was the number one source for finding online evidence, with 66 percent admitting they’d found evidence by combing the site.”

What are some of the things NOT to post on FaceBook?

  • Don’t put the sordid details of your case.
  • Don’t take cheap shots at the other’s parenting ability.
  • Don’t post inappropriate pictures of yourself or others.
  • Don’t call out the Judge or Court system on your page.
  • Don’t put out false information to garner sympathy.

Matthew Thompson is a Family Law Attorney in Mississippi and recommends you not post your business on FaceBook.

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The WISDOM of Solomon; NOT splitting the baby.

“Splitting the Baby” is a phrase that is tossed around everyday.  Its use refers to making decisions that leave both parties unhappy.

download.jpgI have even heard a Judge say that if both parties leave unhappy then they must have gotten the result right. There may be some instances where this holds true, however there was no splitting of the baby in the Biblical account of Solomon’s decision. King Solomon’s decision was between two competing mothers embroiled in a custody dispute over a child, each claiming the child to be their own. 1 Kings 3:16 KJV

In the Biblical Custody Battle, King Solomon was faced with one infant and two mothers.  Solomon did not know which woman was the child’s real mother, so he arranged a test to see if he could determine the true mother.  In Solomon’s case, the real mother was willing to let the other woman have her child in order to spare the child’s life, while the other woman (whose own baby previously died) agreed with King Solomon that the baby should be cut in half, with each woman receiving a portion.  The real mother in King Solomon’s court was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice of giving the child up, so that the child would survive.   The Holy Bible, King James Version, 1 Kings 3:16.

Splitting the baby may be a solution if it’s not an actual baby. However, the true wisdom of Solomon was that he did NOT split the baby.

Matthew Thompson is a Child Custody attorney in Mississippi and has quoted the Bible as authority in legal arguments.

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Child Testimony and You

Whether to use child testimony is a difficult issue to resolve between parents and attorneys involved in child custody cases. Children know more than you think and also may have an opinion. However, child testimony is discouraged in most instances…

“We reiterate that parents in a divorce proceedingimgres.jpg should if at all possible refrain from calling any of the children of their marriage, of tender years at least, as witnesses, and counsel should advise their clients against doing so except in the most exigent cases.”- Jethrow v. Jethrow

So, do the children testify or not? For Family Law cases the leading authority is Jethrow vs. Jethrow, 571 So.2d 270 (Miss. 1990). This case lays the groundwork that the Court should use when assessing child testimony. Different Courts and different Judges apply Jethrow in varying ways, but the basic premise is, as follows;

  • A child witnesses of tender years, 12 and under for testimony purposes, testifying is subject to the discretion of the Judge. 
  • Before allowing such testimony the Judge “should satisfy himself that the child has the ability to perceive and remember events, to understand and answer questions intelligently, and to comprehend and accept the importance of truthfulness.”

Before excluding the testimony of a child witness of tender years in a divorce proceeding, the chancellor at a minimum should follow the procedure required by Crownover v. Crownover, 33 Ill.App.3rd 327, 337 N.E.2d 56 (1975):

  • The first hurdle is whether the child is competent to testify.
  • The Judge should confer in camera (meaning in the Judge’s chambers/office) with the child and determine whether or not the child’s testimony should be heard
  • The Judge has considerable discretion in conducting proceedings of this type, meaning it’s the judge’s decision.
  • The court should not, however, reject outright proposed testimony of a child in custody proceedings, where the omission of such crucial testimony might be harmful to the child’s best interests.
  • The trial court should take great pains to have an in camera conference with the child to determine the competency of the child,
  • as well as the competency of any evidence which the child might present.
  • The court should also then determine whether the best interests of the child would be served by permitting her to testify, or
  • Whether the child should be sheltered from testifying and being subjected to a vigorous cross-examination.
  • The Judge should report the essential material matters developed at the in camera conference on the record.
  • The Court should state the reasons for allowing or disallowing the testimony of the child, and
  • The Court should note the factual information which the court developed from the conference with the child which would be considered by the court in its ultimate determinations in the case.

A child testifying should be avoided if at all possible.

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