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By delktomli48103527, Apr 21 2017 07:04PM

A deposition is one of the tools many lawyers use to gather facts about a case. Depositions are where testimony is taken under oath instead of, or in addition to, written discovery requests. Normally, written discovery requests are sufficient to get the information necessary to try family law matters. It is usually cheaper and easier on the client to serve written discovery requests. However, depending on the complexity and specific facts of your case, depositions can be a very useful tool in preparing for litigation.

Depositions are usually held in an attorney’s office. Sometimes you will be required to bring specific documents with you to the deposition. You will be notified if you are required to bring documents. Generally, they are the same documents previously requested in written discovery. A court reporter is present, as well as the attorney taking the deposition, the opposing party, if he or she so chooses, your attorney, and you. The court reporter will place you under oath meaning that you must tell the truth, the same as if you were testifying before a judge. The attorney conducting the deposition will ask questions. You are required to answer all of them honestly.

Your attorney can object to certain questions. However, you must still answer unless your attorney tells you otherwise. This is confusing to many clients. In court, if an attorney objects the judge makes a ruling as to whether the client must answer or not. In contrast, in depositions, your attorney can object, but you must still answer. The reason that your attorney objects is to preserve the objection for trial. This is a technical part of lawyering that most clients have trouble with. Many wonder, “if they can’t use it in court, why do I have to answer?” It is the same as questions asked in written discovery. The parties must answer all written discovery questions truthfully, under oath, whether or not the information provided is going to be admissible in court. In the written responses we turn over to opposing counsel, we include a very broad objection clause in the preamble to your responses that operates the same way your attorney’s objection in a deposition does. There are limited circumstances where you can refuse to answer, including your Fifth (5th) Amendment right against self-incrimination. Because adultery is still a crime in Alabama, you may plead the 5th Amendment if answering would open you up to criminal liability.

Depositions can be tough to get through because the opposing party is sitting in the room with you while you are answering these questions, making it an uncomfortable experience. You must mentally prepare yourself to give short, concise, truthful answers, no matter how uncomfortable you may be. This is good preparation for trial, as the opposing party will also be in the courtroom. Just as you should in a trial setting, you must try to be as calm, cool, and collected as you can be throughout a deposition.

The attorney conducting the deposition may attempt to push your buttons and make you angry in the hopes of getting more information from you. Do not allow yourself to be bullied into reacting poorly in a deposition. If you need a break, ask for one. Your attorney may also request one if they see that you are having trouble. You can ask your attorney questions, but your attorney cannot give your answers for you. Your attorney is there for support and to preserve the right to object at trial. We understand how difficult depositions can be on clients and strive to prepare them to the best of our ability prior to the deposition.

Hopefully this post has removed some of the mystery from the deposition process. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below or contact our office at (334) 819-4810.

By delktomli48103527, Apr 14 2017 08:43PM

Quite often counseling is brought into divorce and child custody proceedings through the courts. The most common types of counseling that we see ordered by the courts are co-parenting counseling, counseling for the children, and counseling with the children and one or both parents. These types of family counseling can be very beneficial. If counseling is not ordered by the court, it is often brought up in settlement negotiations. We encourage clients to consider these types of family counseling during and after litigation.

Personal counseling for yourself during a divorce or child custody dispute, while not required, is something that you should consider. Many of our clients here at Delk & Tomlinson are men and we understand that many men have an automatic aversion to seeking professional counseling. However, in many cases it would greatly benefit our clients. There are several counselors that we can recommend to help you through the emotion, stress, and anger that comes with a divorce or custody dispute.

We try to be there for our clients in every way possible and sometimes wind up being placed in the role of a counselor. However, we are lawyers, not counselors, and can only help so much. We do not have the education, experience, or training to assist you in working through the issues that can come with a divorce or custody case. Seeking counseling for yourself may benefit you in many ways. It can improve your relationship with your children and influence the way you handle interactions with the other party, ultimately allowing you to be the best parent you can be during this transition.

We have provided several links to give you some guidance when deciding whether counseling is something you, your children, and/or the other party may benefit from. If you have any questions, please call us at (334) 819-4810.

Children and Divorce:

https://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/consumer_updates/children_and_divorce.aspx

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kate-scharff/divorced-children_b_3187252.html

Divorce and Divorce Adjustment:

http://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/divorce

What is Divorce Counseling?:

http://www.allpsychologycareers.com/topics/divorce-counseling.html

Divorce Counseling: Pre-Divorce vs Post-Divorce Therapy:

https://www.therapytribe.com/therapy/divorce-counseling-advice-support/

Co-Parenting Counseling:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/co-parenting-after-divorce/201211/family-therapy-and-parenting-coordination-reduce-conflict

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/two-takes-depression/201203/the-dos-and-donts-co-parenting-well

By delktomli48103527, Apr 7 2017 09:36PM

Since 2003, every custody determination must include with the order of custody the language of the Alabama Parent-Child Relationship Protection Act, otherwise known as the “relocation act.” The Act was implemented to promote the “general philosophy in this state that children need both parents, even after divorce.” It requires relocating parents to take certain procedural steps prior to any change in their principal address, to ensure that children have access to both parents. The most important thing to remember about the Act is to carefully follow the instructions laid out in the Act.

The Act requires any party, whether they have primary physical custody or visitation rights, to notify the other party prior to moving more than sixty (60) miles or more from the residence of the non-relocating party. Notice must also be given where the move is less than sixty (60) miles from the non-relocating parent, but will result in the child living in another state. This notice must be sent by certified mail forty-five (45) days prior to the intended move. If for some reason, you do not know of the relocation in sufficient time to provide a forty-five (45) day notice, you must give notice by certified mail no later than the 10th day after you know you’re moving.

The notice must contain very specific information, such as: (1) the intended new residence, including the specific address if known; (2) the mailing address, if not the same as the street address; (3) the telephone number or numbers at such residence, if known; (4) if applicable, the name, address, and telephone number of the school to be attended by the child, if known; (5) the date of the intended change of principal residence of a child; (6) a statement of specific reasons for the proposed change of principal residence of a child, if applicable; (7) a proposal for a revised schedule of custody of or visitation with a child, if any, and; (8) a warning to the non-relocating person that an objection to the relocation must be made within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice or the relocation will be permitted. There are certain exceptions if you are under Military orders.

Failure to notify the non-relocating party of an intended change in principal residence may be considered in a subsequent case. On the other hand, if the non-relocating party receives the notice required by the Act and doesn’t file an objection within thirty (30) days, the change of principal residence is authorized.

If the non-relocating party does object, a hearing will be held to determine whether the relocation is in the best interests of the child. In cases where the court approves the change in residence, it will require “contact between the child and the non-relocating party and telephone access sufficient to assure that the child has frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact with the non-relocating party.” Issues of transportation cost of the child for visitation will also be decided based upon the facts of the case. The court may determine that a deviation from the child support guidelines should be considered in light of all factors, including the costs of transporting the child for visitation.

It is very important for both parties/parents to abide by this Act. Failing to give notice or to object to the Act could result in you losing custodial time with your child. The courts have discretion when determining whether you violated the Act and tend to frown on situations where you willfully defy the Act. It is best for all parties involved, including your minor children, if you abide by the Act and give notice.

If you have any questions concerning the Alabama Parent-Child Relationship Act, please call our office at (334) 819-4810.

By delktomli48103527, Mar 10 2017 09:53PM

Often mediation is a tool used to settle divorce and child custody cases. Some parties willingly submit to mediation, while others are ordered by the court to mediate the case prior to having a final hearing. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that allows each party to have some control in reaching an agreement, rather than leaving the decision to the Judge. These are negotiations, which means that at a successful mediation, neither party leaves feeling like they won.

In most family court mediations, the parties and their attorneys are in separate rooms. The Mediator moves between the two. This is beneficial because tensions are usually high and, it is much easier to speak frankly with the Mediator outside of the opposing party’s presence. The Mediator’s job is to encourage the parties to settle and facilitate a settlement that is beneficial for all parties involved. The Mediator does not discuss anything you say with the opposing party unless you give him or her permission to discuss it with them. The Mediator listens to both sides and, relays offers and counter offers back and forth between the parties. Either a settlement is reached or the parties reach an impasse, and a good Mediator realizes settlement is impossible. This can be a long process. Be prepared, bring a book, and make sure your cell phone is charged.

If a settlement is reached, the Mediator will draft the settlement, and both parties will sign. At that point, it is a binding agreement and all parties are to act within the bounds of the agreement. Once you reach an Agreement and sign, it is very difficult to retract. If a settlement is not reached, the parties walk away and prepare for a final hearing. Nothing that occurs during the mediation can be used as evidence in a final hearing. This is to facilitate the parties’ willingness to negotiate to reach an agreement that all parties can live with.

Throughout the mediation, your attorney is there to help you negotiate to get what you ultimately need, and to ensure that any settlement reached is in your best interest.

By delktomli48103527, Dec 5 2016 10:59PM

While making a custody determination, it is normal for judges to split holiday time between the parents. This means that on some years, you may not have your children for Christmas Eve, and on others, you may not have them for all of Christmas Day. It can be hard, for children and parents alike, to adjust to doing things differently around the holidays. However, rather than letting the holidays turn into a struggle, create new Christmas traditions with your children that you can enjoy during your custodial time.

Our office has some very fond memories from Christmases past that you may find inspiration in. For Attorney Jacquelyn Tomlinson, the most memorable tradition of her childhood was a family pot luck dinner on Christmas Eve. To her, Christmas Eve was all about extended family getting together. You can implement this tradition with your side of the family. Attorney Dana Delk’s favorite Christmas tradition is eating dinner at the Huddle House on Christmas night. The tradition started when she was young, because her family went out of town the day after Christmas. The trips have stopped, but the tradition of Huddle House has remained throughout the years. Associate Attorney Katie Hoyt’s favorite tradition is sitting in front of the fireplace, no matter how hot is outside, while her father reads Christmas stories on Christmas Eve. For our Office Manager, Amy Myers, the holidays are all about taking her children, young and grown, to see the Christmas lights.

We have also compiled a list of other Christmas traditions you can begin to implement with your children this Holiday season:

Have a cookie decorating day, and let the kids decorate the cookies to eat or deliver to the neighbors or family.

Make a gingerbread house. The kits to do this are amazing now, but the mess is half of the fun!

You could make Christmas tree ornaments each year. Others who are less artistically inclined could buy a new Christmas tree decoration each year. When the children grow up, they can have a collection of their own with memories to go along with each ornament.

While your children are young, you could help them create a family history. Have them interview family members and record them in a book.

Every year, buy a new Christmas book and read it with your kids.

Pick a favorite Christmas movie, pop some popcorn and make hot chocolate for a cozy Christmas movie night.

Let the kids paint Christmas pictures on the windows with washable paint.

Have your children write a Christmas letter to all the relatives, with the kids telling what they have been up to this year.

Have a birthday celebration for Jesus, have a little cake, and sing happy birthday to Jesus Christmas morning.

Light up your walkway with handmade luminaries.

The day you put up your Christmas Tree, let the kids sleep under it.

Hopefully, our favorite traditions and the list above provide you with plenty of good ideas to help make new, happy memories with your kids. We know the holidays can be a trying time, and a new holiday tradition can take some “getting used to.” However, these new activities will soon become yearly traditions. Call us for some non-traditional holiday visitation schedules that can work for your family. We want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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