Think divorce solves problems ? Think again..
“… Asia is changing. Although attitudes to sex and marriage are different from those in the West, the pressures of wealth and modernisation upon family life have been just as relentless. They have simply manifested themselves in different ways. In the West the upshot has been divorce and illegitimacy. In Asia the results include later marriage, less marriage and (to some extent) more divorce. The changes in the West may be more dramatic. But both East and West are seeing big changes in the role of women and traditional family life.
In today’s China, some 4,500 couples split up every day. More than 2.46 million couples divorced in the country last year — nearly twice the number in 2001.
Judge’s Social 1 November October 27, 2012
LET’S WELCOME JUDGE JOHN DESANTO, DULUTH, TO THIS EVENT. HE WAS THE PROSECUTOR IN THE CONGDON FAMILY MURDERS AND A PHENOMENAL SPEAKER.
The Family Innocence Project, a non-profit dedicated to keeping families
Out of court
Cordially Invites You To A
Thursday, November, 1, 2012
The Van Dusen Mansion
1900 LaSalle Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota
THE HONORABLE JUDGE JOHN E. DESANTO
Reception at 5:30 pm
Hors D’oeuvers, Cash Bar, and Live Music
With Jeff James Management, Joshua Hare, Elliott Johnston
Program at 6:00 pm
RSVP by October 25 to 651-783-5878
Or email Anita@FamilyInnocence.org
The article below appeared in Minnesota Lawyer last week. Perhaps it will be of interest to you and the rest of the Family Innocence Project.
Hon. Stephen C. Aldrich
Here are nine ideas for improving the system
Since reading “When OFP says ‘no contact,’ it means no contact,” Minnesota Lawyer, Sept. 24, I have been pondering the case of State v. Phipps, in which the Court of Appeals decision affirmed the conviction of the father. Apparently, he had consensual contact with their children’s mother after issuance of an OFP and was charged with violating a “no contact” order.
Many things come to the mind of a retired 10-year family court judge and lawyer volunteer for Chrysalis and Cornerstone before that.
The Phipps judges are enforcing the law as written in the interests of public safety. The parents and their children are caught in a web of law and practice, often unthinkingly and/or unknowingly. Hennepin County alone has 2,500-to-3,000 new OFP filings a year. The whole state had nearly 11,000 in 2011.
Many of those are now handled as a matter of routine, without a hearing. The same is true of the thousands of harassment orders issued each year, many of which involve conflicts involving children. There are thousands more post decree motions in OFP and custody cases which seek amendment to OFPs after consensual contacts. And there are more than 10,000 domestic abuse criminal cases in the state each year.
To the extent that both OFP parents want to continue to raise their children cooperatively, our courts are more congested with what should be unnecessary cases. What to do? We must act both for safety and the best interests of children. Without any change in the law, here are some options :
1. The forms available for pursuing OFP’s, from Petition to Temporary Order to Final Order could clearly state what, if any, provisions for child contact are desired/permitted.
2. Harassment (“HA”) cases involving children could be heard in the family courts where they exist. In smaller counties, it would be best if HA cases involving children were heard by the same judges who hear the rest of a family’s custody and OFP matters.
3. The court staffs and domestic abuse agencies who advise victims could fully explore the child contact issues with parents who seek an OFP, erring at the Temporary Order stage on the side of safety.
4. All courts could follow the Hennepin County model of always having a hearing where there are children involved.
5. If a full Temporary no contact Order is issued, the courts who hear the cases can inquire about child contact and make specific provision for it where the victim desires contact between the Respondent and the children, and/or such contact is found to be in the best interests of the children after adequate inquiry by the court.
6. All orders issued could contain a bold face, large print notice of the rights of the parties, with court approval, to agree to an amended order to permit contact, or changes in contacts related to the shared children. The notice could also be clear that “no contact” should be had until the order is amended.
7. In proper cases, we can guard against abusers using child contact as a way to get to the victim by limits that include (a) exchanges at safety centers, police stations, and other third party locations; and (b) limiting communications with the victim to e-mail, text message, other written means, or through third parties, including such programs as the OurFamilyWizard website.
8. Domestic abuse agencies could be made available to OFP Victims and Respondents as a means for indirect communication about orders needing to be amended in the best interests of the children. The forms made available by the state and private agencies could contain such language.
9. Other people in the justice system will have additional and better ideas.
One definition of mental illness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. And Emerson told us that “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.” Our domestic violence reforms over the last 40 years were and remain necessary to continue the reduction of family violence.
We can better implement those programs with more sophistication and fewer hobgoblins when we try. It is settled that ROP fathers (who signed a Recognition of Parentage with the mother) have visitation rights as determined by a court, Beardsley v. Garcia, 753 N.W.2d 735 (Minn.2008). Any of the domestic violence teams and agencies throughout the state could address solutions for the repetitive problem of cooperative parenting in an OFP context. Prosecutor, police, public defenders, private attorneys, and courts will have less work and save money in this time of state budget conflicts and economic trials.
With more forethought and early analysis of each case’s facts, we can do a better job of protecting both the right of victims to safety and the children’s right to appropriate contact with their parents.
Stephen Aldrich retired in 2010 as a District Court Judge in Hennepin County.