Tag: domestic relations

Special masters, parent coordinators, and the infantilization of parents

Special masters and parent coordinators (and co-parenting therapists, co-parent coaches/consultants, and their ilk) were invented for the purpose of unburdening courts from some of the conflict associated with domestic relations litigation. They fail to fulfill their purpose. They do not provide value for the money they charge. The parent(s) end up wasting money on a special master, parent coordinator, etc. while the disputes either persist or get worse (and sometimes it’s the involvement of the special master and parent coordinators who are to blame, either in full or in part). Besides, for most litigants a special master, parent coordinator, etc. is an expense they cannot (or should not) financially bear.

The idea that divorced parents need more than the laws currently on the books, the (lawful) orders in their divorce and child custody decrees, and the sensible use of law enforcement officers when warranted is to infantilize divorced and separated parents.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, anyone trying to sell you on a special master, parent coordinators, co-parenting therapist, co-parent coach, consultants, blah, blah, blah is either someone who offers such “services” and who is trying to sell them to you or a is a court trying to take the dispute out its lap and place it in someone else’s.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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What is MyCase and why should I care?

MyCase is an online system developed by the Utah State Courts system that you can sign up for free of charge and use in your family law case and certain other kinds of cases, but because this is a divorce and family law blog/video, we’ll focus on its features in a divorce and family law context. You can use MyCase to:  

  • view your case history (a record of what has happened in your case)  
  • see the date and time of your next scheduled court appearance 
  • view the documents that the opposing party and the court have also filed in your case 
  • pay fees  

Can a pro se party (meaning a party who is not represented by an attorney) file a divorce complaint or petition using MyCase? No, not currently. As of now there is no case filing available through MyCase. 

Can a pro se party file documents with the court through their MyCase account? No, not currently. As of now divorce is not a case type that is active for accepting electronically filed (also known as “e-filed”) documents through MyCase. 

Only those who are parties to a case can use MyCase. MyCase cannot be used to look up information about other cases. Even if you are represented by an attorney in your divorce or separation case, you look up information about your case on MyCase, if you have a MyCase account. To learn more about other features of MyCase and to create your own MyCase account, go to:  


Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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Do letters vouching for one’s character really matter?

My lawyer asked me to get letters of my character from my friends for family court to introduce as evidence, but do they really matter and is 12 enough?

Do letters vouching for one’s character really matter? 

If so, are 12 character reference letters enough? 

I will answer these questions: 

  • in the context of a divorce and child custody case (because my guess is that is the kind of case for which your lawyer told you to get character reference letters); and 
  • based upon the laws of the State of Utah, where I practice divorce and family law. 

Do letters vouching for one’s character really matter? Another way one might ask this question is: “Do character reference letters have a major helpful impact on my case?” It’s impossible to say whether this is true in all cases. Some judges may give greater credence and weight to character references than do other judges. I think the key question is instead: “Is there any good reason not to submit positive character reference letters to the court in support of my case?” My answers to that question are: 

  • I don’t see such letters posing a serious risk of harm to your case. If so, 
  • Are 12 character reference letters enough? Probably more than enough, depending upon their respective length and content. 12 five-page, single-spaced, rambling letters without any paragraphing and bad punctuation and spelling are either not going to be read or remembered or, if they are remembered, will not be remembered favorably. Form letters that are all the same but for the signature at the bottom are a bad idea. Letters that attempt to build you up by tearing your spouse down aren’t terribly persuasive. 
  • 4 or 5 letters of one page or less, from credible (i.e., not just from from Mom and Dad, your minister and your best friend, but from neighbors and teachers, and others who don’t have a stake in the outcome of the case, for example) plain-spoken people who know you well and who make a cogent argument for your good character are probably about right in number and length. The only exception I can think of is if your spouse submits 10,000 character letters, then you may need to respond in kind, if the court determines character by volume. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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I have a debit card in my name. Can my parents take it?

I’m assuming that this question comes from someone who is a minor child (i.e., someone who is under the age of 18 and not a legally recognized adult or legally emancipated). 

This is a tough question that depends on the laws of the jurisdiction where each particular minor child is. You’ll need to check the laws in your particular jurisdiction to be sure (even then, there may be no conclusive consensus). 

Generally speaking: 

  • minor children have individual right to own property separately from their parents. 
    • Some parents think that any property a child acquires by purchase or gift is the property of the parent until the child becomes an adult. Some parents think that they own their minor children’s property until the child becomes an adult. This is not true. 
  • It appears to me that most jurisdictions take the position that unless a particular statute or court order provides otherwise, a parent can control his/her minor child’s property. 
    • While parents generally have a right to control and even spend a minor child’s income, parents do not have the right to use a child’s own property (such as a car that the minor child purchased with his/her own money) without that child’s permission.
  • So a parent cannot sell or destroy or drive a minor child’s own car, if the child does not grant the parent permission to sell or destroy or drive the child’s car. The parent can, however, control the child’s use of the child’s own car (for example, the parent could prohibit the child from driving the child’s own car, even if the car was fully licensed and registered and insured).

Unless there are specific laws in your jurisdiction that address this matter, then it appears to me that the general legal principle is: yes, your parent(s) can take your debit card away from you. If your parent(s) take your debit card away from you, they must ensure that they do not lose it, damage it, allow it to be damaged, or destroy it or allow it to be destroyed. 

So if you make your parents aware of the fact that you have a bank account in your own name (not jointly with your parents) into which you deposit your income, and your parents are aware that you have a debit card that you used to access these funds, your parents can take your debit card away from you, if they so choose. 

Of course, as a practical matter, that doesn’t prevent you from getting another debit card (unless your financial institution requires your parent to approve issuance of a a debit card to a minor) that you keep secret from your parents, but if they find out you’ve done that, be prepared for trouble. 

If your parents opened an account in their names (or in the name of one parent or the other) and they arranged to have a debit card issued to you to access those funds, then the account and the debit card are not yours, they belong to your parent(s). In that situation, they can take away the debit card. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  


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How do I expose a narcissist in family court?

Pretty much impossible. Why? Two big reasons, generally:

  1. Narcissists are masters of deception.
  2. Being a narcissist generally not terribly relevant, if relevant at all, to most issues in a divorce or other kind of domestic relations case. Bad behavior (abuse, neglect) is relevant, but having an unpleasant or difficult personality (even and exceedingly unpleasant or difficult personality) usually isn’t.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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