Archive for July, 2011

Attorney Representation vs. Pro Se Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Kansas

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

There is no law that says you must hire an attorney to represent you in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy case, but there are a number of good reasons to do so. Although the expense of legal representation might tempt you to handle your case pro se – that is, by representing yourself – consider the reasons for having an experienced attorney on your side.

The courts are sticklers for detail. Especially since the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, the process of preparing for and filing a bankruptcy petition is tedious, complex – and utterly important. New decisions are constantly handed down by the courts, which in turn change laws affecting bankruptcy. Your attorney makes it his business to stay informed of those rulings. Based on that expertise, he is highly qualified to help you structure a plan that has a better chance of being approved.

There are only 24 hours in a day. Preparing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy takes time. In addition to the tasks you’ll need to perform if you hire an attorney – such as compiling lists of your assets, expenses, creditors and debts – a great deal of time-consuming responsibility will fall on your shoulders without one. And you will undertake these responsibilities while continuing to maintain your normal responsibilities at your job, in your home, and for your family. An attorney can handle the legal burden on your behalf, freeing you to move forward with your life.

It pays to know the right people. Your attorney does. Most likely, you don’t. Your attorney spends a great deal of time working with the individuals who will make decisions about your case. His insight will help him structure a plan that will meet with the trustee’s approval, which is a critical step in the process. Once the trustee approves, the judge most likely will, too.

You deserve a break today. The circumstances that led to this decision were years in the making. You’ve lived with constant struggle and worry, and the chronic stress undoubtedly has taken a toll on your health as well as your quality of life. A qualified attorney can handle the stressful details of your bankruptcy case, while you work toward regaining your health and emotional well-being.

Before making this very important decision, make an appointment with our Wichita bankruptcy attorney. Our law firm offers an initial consultation at no charge. It will give you an opportunity to learn more so you can make an informed decision about your future.

Kansas Child Custody Orders: The Role of Parental Alienation

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Divorce rates are at record levels in the United States, and more than 36% of U.S. children are affected by the divorce of their biological parents.   In the a majority of Kansas divorces, the divorcing parents will come to a reasonable decision concerning child custody and child visitation.  These parenting agreements need little or no intervention from the court.  Unfortunately in some cases, some parents will engage in bitter conflict and full blown litigation.  In many cases the unfortunate consequence of highly emotional divorce and child custody matters will result in highly confrontational situations including the psychological condition referred to as “parental alienation.”

Parental alienation is often a real threat when it comes to highly contested child custody cases. One or both parents will often attempt or succeed in turing one of the minor children against the other parent.  Many psychologists view this parental behavior as a form of brainwashing while some mental health professionals classify parental alienation as a type of emotional abuse.  The parental alienation will have profound effects on a child’s mental state and psyche.  Some mental health professionals see long-term implications that result in severe emotional distress on the minor child.

Parental alienation can take various forms and degrees of seriousness.  Oftentimes, parental alienation occurs when a parent aggressively communicates their negative thoughts and actions regarding the other parent onto a vulnerable child to the point where the child begins to view the other parent in a negative light.  In more extreme cases, the child then starts acting out as he or she begins to see the other parent as the enemy.  The child may even refuse to talk to the other parent or begin to get angry and upset with the parent for no justified reason.

There are three levels of parental alienation including a mild, moderate and severe form. A mild form of parental alienation may be less obvious and can occur more frequently without parents even knowing it.  This typically involves passively expressing hostility about the other parent’s relationship with the child and placing little value on the child’s contact with the parent including phone calls and visitation.  This form of alienation also often involves a parent making snide, negative remarks about the other parent.

A second more serious form of child alienation involves a parent more actively placing a strain on the child’s relationship with the other parent, including the denial of contact and access to other parent.  This more severe form of alienation also involves making deliberate negative statements about the other parent, especially in the presence of the child.

The third and most severe form of parental alienation causes actual damage between the child and the parent and can have long lasting impacts on the child.  At this point, the child already believes all the negative things they have heard about the other parent so the child’s negative emotions are no longer in question.  The child shows no guilt or remorse about their negative feelings towards the parent and often will avoid any contact with the parent.

Parental alienation is a major issue in many contested divorces that include highly contested custody disputes.  The importance of this issues to family judges cannot be overstated.  Although each state including Kansas have their own child custody statute, they are all based on the best interest of the minor child.  A universal factor shared by all child custody statutes is the importance of one parent encouraging “frequent and continuing contact” with the other parent.  While even the most well-crafted court order cannot prevent a stubborn parent from saying negative things about the other parent, such damaging behavior can cause permit harm to one’s child and be a critical factor in a court’s child custody orders.

The bottom line is somewhat paradoxical: One of the best ways to successfully prevail in a child custody dispute is too try “not to win.”  There are always exceptions, such as where a parent has a drug, abuse or alcohol problem, but generally the more a parent displays an amicable and open attitude toward their child’s ongoing relationship with the other parent, the more likely a parent is to be viewed favorably when the court makes custody and visitation orders.

Call Wichita divorce attorney David Nelson to discuss your case. We can and will help.