Thursday, December 12, 2013

Collaborative Law in the Civil Arena: A New Age of Conflict Resolution

                Parnell & McKay has long championed the role of collaborative law in the divorce setting, and we offer one of the best and most experienced collaborative law divorce attorneys in the State of New Hampshire in Catherine McKay. However, the gains made in collaborative law in the family arena are being noticed by other attorneys who practice in the civil areas. Employment disputes, business disputes, probate disputes, and other areas of civil practice seem like potential great areas for collaborative law to continue to develop.

                Parnell & McKay supports the Collaborative Law Alliance of New Hampshire (CLANH), and through that great organization we have been introduced to potential new areas of law where collaborative practice can be utilized. In fact, the New Hampshire Bar Association just did a spotlight article on collaborative law being developed in the civil practice. I encourage anyone that is interested in learning about collaborative law to click here and read about CLANH’s role in bringing the collaborative practice to civil law in New Hampshire.

                At Parnell & McKay we have always focused on cost efficient resolutions for our clients. While not all cases will fit with collaborative law, it is important to understand that many do fit perfectly within its boundaries. Collaborative Law can prevent the angst and stress of litigation, help avoid the costs of litigation, and allows the parties to craft their own settlement agreements based on their individual needs. This takes the decisions out of the Court’s hands, and puts it back in the parties to resolve their own conflicts.

                If you are interested in learning more about collaborative law, please check out the CLANH website here. If you need assistance with a potential collaborative law case, please contact our office and put our resources and experience in collaborative law to use. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Bode Miller Dispute Raises Serious Questions About Rights of Pregnant Women

            Bode Miller is well known as an Olympic skier, but like any normal person, he sought companionship. He found a woman online in California. Sara McKenna was the woman he met, and they dated for a brief while. During this time period, Sara became pregnant, but unfortunately the relationship with Bode failed. While she was pregnant, Sara, a veteran, was accepted to Columbia University in New York. There was a problem, however, as Bode wanted Sara to stay in California where he lived since she was pregnant. She left for New York anyways, and Bode filed an action in the New York courts alleging that Sara had absconded with the unborn child to seek a sympathetic court.

            The lower New York agreed, which allowed a California court to grant Bode custody over the parties’ unborn child. This allowed a California court to exercise jurisdiction over the case and grant custody to Bode. Sara appealed the order, and a five panel appeals court agreed, finding that the putative father (Bode) cannot restrict the liberty of a pregnant woman in such a manner. The case has been given back to the New York Family Court for further action, but the California Court has yet to cede jurisdiction to New York. While this case will continue to wind their way through both Court systems, the case raises significant questions about women’s liberty rights when they are pregnant.
            There are a number of cases that attempt to rule when a fetus becomes “viable” under the law, and such cases are most commonly in the abortion field and we will not go into them in this post. However, the viability of the fetus has taken an unexpected turn as highlighted by the Bode Miller case, in that Mr. Miller was able to get a Court to rule that the mother of his unborn child could not leave California for New York. This type of law can have a chilling effect on the ability of a pregnant woman to pursue her own liberty interests separate from the father’s. The Appeals Court’s decision to reverse the original ruling recognizes this potential effect, and eliminated it before it became law. The concern is that if such a ruling was upheld, it would effectively restrict the mother from leaving the father when she is pregnant. This has upset many women’s rights activists and they have provided assistance to Sara as she fights for her rights in New York. It is our hope that both parties can come to a mutual resolution for the sake of their child, but from a legal perspective this case could have a lot of potential ramifications for pregnant mothers.

            As this case continues to wind its way through both Courts, many family practitioners like Parnell & McKay will be keeping a keen eye on how the Court’s seek to rule on the Miller case. If you need help in the family law field, please contact Parnell & McKay today to put our experience and expertise to use.