Successes We Share
Here are some of our most significant cases to date:
I represented a mother of two young children in a dissolution matter. The children were a boy, age 6, and a girl, age 9. The father requested joint custody of the two children and that request was granted. The father had physical custody of the children 50 percent of the time. For two years we were back and forth in court at hearings, with my client claiming that the father was extremely negligent and verbally abusive. He would call the mother horrible names in front of the children constantly. He would ridicule the children. During his custody time he would get extremely intoxicated. The theory of the father’s case was that mother was attempting to alienate the children from him. That theory was successful for a very long time and at great expense to the children.
Finally, after two years of mother’s tenacious desire to protect the children, a court mediator spoke with the children and with the parents, and recommended supervised visits for the father until he completed parenting courses and enrolled in therapy. He could then request to resume regular visitation when he filed a motion to make that request. He never filed for visitation. It is a sad story on one hand, but a great story about not giving up to keep your children safe.
I represented a thirteen-year old boy who was arrested for taking money from another child on a playground. He was put in juvenile hall and detained there until his hearing. A Commissioner heard his case and decided he should be detained in juvenile hall for a year, based on his taking the money and the fact that he was failing in school. She did not consider that he had just moved to California from the Midwest after his parents were divorced, that his mother and grandmother were at the hearing stating he had not been in trouble before and to release him to their care, and he had just started a new school and was adjusting. I appealed his detention to the presiding judge at the time. We were successful in getting him to go home with his mother and grandmother and serve a short probation. The judge decided it was better to have him back in school and prove to himself and his mother that he could behave. The Judge gave him a great lecture about hurting his mother and grandmother who love him so much and that he never wanted to see him in court again. About three months later this same boy was arrested again for bringing a gun to school. He was again detained for the gun and for violation of his parole. It turned out it was a toy gun that another boy brought to school and gave it to my client. When we had our hearing it was with the same presiding Judge. I requested that the boy be allowed to serve whatever terms of probation the Judge was inclined to order in his home state, where he could be under his father’s supervision and back with his old school friends. His mother and grandmother supported that decision. He had not been in trouble before he moved and had always had good grades. The parole officer was in agreement with the plan. We were successful and he was able to return to his father and served probation without a problem. Years later I got a call from his mother, asking if I remembered her and her son. She told me he had just finished his first year at a major university. That is a feel-good case.
I represented a young mother of a 7-year old daughter. The child and the biological father were never married. Mother had married a young man about two years prior to the move-away trial, at which she was requesting to move out of state and take the child. The father was opposing the move. The bond that existed with the child and her father that was mostly that of the child taking care of the father. He would say he was going to come and pick her up for visitation and not show up. He would do the same for school and other activities. Though she always wanted him to come, too often he would let her down. At the trial the new husband testified that the reason for the move was his job. He had a dream of being a fire fighter ever since he was young and he had been trying to get hired for 5 years after finishing paramedic training. There were always hundreds of applicants for one or two openings. Finally he got a job offer out of state. At trial he testified that he loved the child like his own. The most compelling part of his testimony was when the Court asked him what he would do if she ruled that the child had to stay in California and he said he would not take the fire fighter job. Mother was able to move out of state.
Finding old case law can be fun. I was at a trial on a probate case and the practice was that if the spouse of the decedent was living in the separate property home of the decedent, she or he was responsible to pay for the related expenses until distribution. This trial was held in the year 2000. I found an old case from the 1800’s that had never been overruled that held the wife of the deceased could live in the house without paying expenses until the first Inventory and Appraisal was filed. For years it was assumed otherwise as a practice. The wife, therefore, did not have to pay the requested expenses by the executor.
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Law Offices of Catherine Haley
1633 San Pablo Avenue
Oakland, CA 94612