OREGON FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: WHY JURISDICTION MATTERS
Jurisdiction is a legal term that identifies the sorting mechanism that the state uses, to determine which court, and which rules, will decide your family’s outcome. Family law is the common route for divorce, parenting time, and child support. Juvenile law, I like to say, is a hybrid between family and criminal law without the risk of jail time. Brad Pitt recently had to learn about this hybrid because a CPS investigation triggers the risk of juvenile court jurisdiction.
The recent Jolie-Pitt divorce drama is a real life example of juvenile and family law jurisdiction interacting. Based on reports in the media, after something happened on a plane Brad was under investigation and then, before we could take a breath, Angelina had filed for divorce asking for full custody of the children. We know that there was an investigation on Brad because Brad reportedly provided a voluntary urinalysis test and sat for multiple interviews with investigators, and supposedly Brad’s time with the children was supervised. All of this made for quite a splash across the tabloids with many reports speculating what was going on. From my perspective, it is possible Angelina filed for dissolution and custody preemptively in family court in order to quash the Child Protective Services [CPS] investigation on Brad. A skilled attorney will know how to protect a client when facing a similar situation. Thankfully, for Brad and Angelina, the whole investigation situation seems to have calmed down and family court appears to be the only jurisdiction considered necessary.
One must remember, when CPS is investigating a family, it is important to speak with an attorney about the situation. If your child’s other parent is unsafe or under investigation for a crime, cooperating with CPS and obtaining a court order protecting your children from the other parent having unchecked, access to the child can prevent unnecessary invasion into your entire families lives. Having legal, court ordered custody, parenting time and child support in place will provide CPS with assurance that you are taking the appropriate steps to keep your child safe from an unsafe parent.
Take away – unfortunately, parents do not always get along and some parents become unsafe or raise suspicion. Parents need to protect themselves by creating safe, parenting plans that capture exactly what is needed when dealing with an unsafe parent. Parents need to build a plan that provides exceptional clarity for both parents and safety for the children. With a clear parenting plan that both parents can rely on you are protecting your children from unnecessary anxiety, confusion and possible juvenile court jurisdiction. Achieve predictability with flexibility and avoid years of conflict with a realistic, professional parenting plan. Protect your child’s relationship with both parents and always talk to an attorney when you are facing an investigation.
AMELIA T. OSTHOLTHOFF
Amelia Ostholthoff is a member of the Oregon and Washington bar; she practiced juvenile law before joining McKean Smith in April 2016. Identifying and communicating the unique goals of clients helps Amelia achieve results on difficult cases.