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Divorce Phase Two: Other Pre-Hearing Conferences (Kiddo Issues)

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This is Part Two on the subject of Pre-Hearing Conferences. There are few different pre-hearing conference types, which we will be detailing in the second half below. To check out Part One, click here.
Temporary Orders Hearing,
You want a temporary order for a specific reason such as your spouse is withholding the kids from you and you want to see them. Be prepared to offer evidence, testimony and exhibits. Often, following a Resolution Management Conference (RMC) or Return Hearing, the judge takes matters under advisement, then issues a ruling. The process can take 60-90 days. If you have a temporary orders hearing, you might get an order that day, which gives you immediate time with your kids, as opposed to waiting possibly months for a ruling.
Parenting Conference
Scheduled after your RMC. A parenting conference is where each person pays $300[1] to see a parenting conference provider. Evidence and witnesses are admissible. The parenting conference provider reviews the evidence, speaks to witnesses and the kids — depending on their age and if the court allows. The parenting conference provider writes a non-confidential report with recommendations that are used to make resolutions, determine the parties’ positions, and wheether a psychological evaluation needs to be court-ordered and who will pay for it.

Limited or Comprehensive Family Assessment
Court-ordered whole family assessment. A psychologist or psychiatrist with specific training or experience conducts a significant investigation on what’s going on at home, the mental state of both parties and grandparents if they are involved. It is an expensive and long process for which the court does not want to spend trial time; they rely on the expert’s recommendations.
Reunification Therapy
Often court-ordered when there is a complete breakdown between the child/children and one of the parents. Hopefully, reunification therapy reunifies parent and child, and rebuilds that relationship.
Court-Appointed Visitor
Similar to a parenting conference provider, but broader in scope. A court-appointed visitor investigates issues and makes recommendations to the court.
A Limited Family Assessment
Usually this is very specific to a child. For example, if you have a child with a mental health
problem or who is really struggling with behavioral issues and the parents disagree on treatment. Perhaps that child is having issues at both houses even though both parents are fit parents. The judge may order a limited family assessment. This is where an expert comes in and looks at the child and both parents and comes up with a specific recommendation on a specific issue which is presented to the court.
Vocational Assessment
A vocational assessment is where a court-appointed professional, deemed an expert in the labor market, determines people’s earning capacity. The expert creates a report with a range of earning capacity for each party. That number will be used to determine child support and spousal maintenance.
Therapeutic Intervention or Reunification
An option when there is parental alienation going on. This can happen if one parent moves away or is deployed. No parent interfered, nevertheless there is a breakdown in the relationship for which reunification therapy can help. This is not often court-ordered, so if you can work it out privately, it tends to be faster, cheaper, and more effective.
Application for Court Order for Sole Parenting, Legal Decision Making
This type of order if very difficult to get. If, for example, you have an absent parent, one who is a convict, has domestic violence against a child, these facts could lead a judge to grant sole parenting time and legal decision making. It is a high bar. The desire of our court system is to rehabilitate parents who don’t have parenting time or the skills to be a good parent and to get them those skills instead of cutting the parent out of the child’s life.
Petition to Terminate Parent’s Rights
There is a statute that allows one parent to petition the court to terminate the other parents’ rights; they are no longer the legal father or mother of that child. One of the most common grounds is proven abandonment, including no attempted contact, for either six months or a year.
Motion of Temporary Orders to be Granted Exclusive Use of the House
A judge may or may not order that one of you can have exclusive use of the house. Since both parties own it and the kids live there, you both want to live there, too. So, how does the judge choose? If one parent moves out, life get more expensive and complicated, i.e., a parenting plan is now needed. As uncomfortable as it is, living together while you are divorcing is often easier. It’s status quo for the kids. Eventually a judge will decide.

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