Tag Archives: abuse

When to Call the Police!

Family law cases can be very difficult, some even dangerous.  There is a saying that Criminal Law cases, after the arrest, involve bad people who are acting their best, and Family Law cases involve good people who are acting their worst.  So when does acting their worst warrant calling the Police/911?

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  • Any Physical Abuse.  This is a crime. Get yourself and the kids, get out of there and call 911.  You will not lose the house just because you “left.” It’s not kidnapping to take the kids to safety. Do NOT tolerate Domestic Violence!
  • Believed Threats.  If your life is threatened, or serious bodily harm is threatened and you believe it, leave and call the police.  Now, sometimes people say stupid things and if he says something, but you don’t believe it or it’s sarcastic or a failed attempt at humor don’t try to make it more than it is.
  • Trespassing and Refusal to Leave.  If you have an Order that gives you exclusive use of the house and he comes over and refuses to leave the police will make him or he can be arrested for trespass.  If it is someone else’s property and she is asked to leave, whether there is an Order or not, and refuses that is trespass.  Make sure you have a copy of the Order if you intend to seek that it be enforced.
  • Criminal Activity.  Drunk driving, illegal drug use, activity that is dangerous to others.
  • Serious Injury/Emergencies.  In the event of serious injury, whether intentional, accident or otherwise,do NOT hesitate because of “how it would look.” Call 911.

Law enforcement, generally, does not like getting involved in civil, domestic situations.  They much prefer the lawyers and judges to sort these things out. And, when there is no Order, or no clear violation, they have to tread very carefully when they do get involved.  Because of this, they look to who is the instigator, who is causing the trouble, and try to get that person to leave, to calm down, to end the dispute.  It is also somewhat common for law enforcement to threaten the arrest of both parties when it’s a domestic call with no clear instigator.

One thing to be careful of is false calling, this can backfire.  Calling when there is not a legitimate reason to does not “build” a strong case for divorce.  However, if there is any abuse, or a genuine threat, ALWAYS err on the side of caution and call the Police/911.  In a true emergency do NOT call your lawyer first, call 911.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney in Mississippi and if you find yourself in an Emergency call 911.

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@BowTieLawyer.ms

Emergency! The 411 on 911 in Court

I get the call, at least, weekly.  It is an EMERGENCY!  I have to get into Court yesterday to solve some critical issue.  However, once I start asking questions the emergency is more like an inconvenience.

For Court purposes, think of an emergency as being a true emergency; danger of life or limb, or the immediate threat of imminent and irreparable harm.

The Court judges emergencies on a case by case basis to make sure they have merit.  Some examples  of emergencies include;

  • when the custodial parent refuses life saving medical treatment, against medical advice
  • when one parent absconds with a child, it’s not “their” time and refuses all contact
  • when a parent is using illegal drugs in the presence of the child and/or exposing the child to that lifestyle
  • is abusing the child
  • is neglecting the child

Some examples of non-emergencies, at least for Court purposes;

  • is 15 minutes late for a pick-up or a drop-off, even multiple times
  • stops paying the house mortgage
  • forgot to give the recommended dose of antibiotics
  • returns the child in the same clothes that he was dropped off in
  • returns the child with a scratch or bruise caused by kids being kids

Emergencies are quite often judgment calls and the Judges treat these seriously when they are serious and are nonplussed when a lawyer files an Emergency Petition over a non-urgent circumstance.  The Judges are also somewhat on guard against persons using ERs for tactical advantage and this can and does backfire on the petitioner if it is not a true emergency.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney in Mississippi and is careful on the draw about declaring emergencies.

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer 

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@BowTieLawyer.ms

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Guardian Ad Litems – Representing Children in Court

The Judge’s job in a custody/divorce case is  to determine the best interests of the children when mom and dad are fighting. The Judge considers mom’s testimony and evidence as well as dad’s and even the children’s testimony (clickable).  But there is also another implement in the tool box of information available to the Court, the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL).

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A GAL is a person, usually a lawyer, appointed by the Court to take on one of two roles.

1) The first of these is to be an Attorney for the Children.  To represent the child in the same capacity any attorney would represent a client, with the same duties, obligations and confidences that every attorney owes to each client.  This role is fairly uncommon in custody/divorce actions.

2) The much more common role is that of Investigator for the Court.  Judge’s routinely appoint an attorney to serve as the Court’s eyes and ears on the ground.  Judge’s are limited to what they can hear.

They are limited by time constraints, objections, admissibility issues, and lawyer’s abilities.  A GAL appointed by the Court as an Investigator has much more readily available access to information.  

  • GALs interview mom, dad and the children.
  • They can interview teachers, doctors, counselors, friends, and coaches.  
  • They can practically speak to anyone they think they need to.  
  • A GAL can inspect the home where the children stay and can do so unannounced.  
  • GALs can pay surprise visits.  
  • GALs can access school records, medical records, counseling records.  
  • GALs can request medical evaluations and even psychological evaluations.  
  • GALs, by and large, can do what is necessary to get to the bottom of the issues in a case.

So why does every case NOT have a GAL? 

1) They are only required in abuse/neglect cases, otherwise it is discretionary. The Court may not allow for a GAL.

2) It adds another layer of expense, another attorney to pay.  The Court usually makes both parties pay.

3) It can create delay.  The GAL may ask for more time to conduct the investigation and scheduling trial depends on another lawyer’s calendar.

4) The GAL may not believe you.  They are human and may believe the other parent over you, plus you may be lying to them.  It adds risk.

5) They may not do a good job.

GALs typically prepare a report that is provided to the Court and both lawyers. It recounts their efforts, interviews, documents reviewed and conclusions drawn.  The GAL report also includes recommendations, usually.  The Court is not required to follow the GAL recommendation.

Guardian Ad Litems can be a critically important tool available to the Court or parties in a contested custody battle, but the involvement of a GAL also has risks and expenses associated too.  Talk to your lawyer if you have concerns about abuse/neglect and whether a GAL may help in your case.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney that has served as a GAL and has handled numerous cases involving GALs.  He has seen the good, the bad and the ugly.  He also conducts GAL training sessions at Continuing Legal Education Seminars for  lawyers that want o become certified GALs;  topics include conducting GAL Custody Evaluations, GAL Investigations, GAL Reports and Testifying.

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer    Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms.