Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fighting over a checkbox

I have been having difficulties finding a psychologist to do a court-ordered evaluation. One problem is that my ex-wife is uncooperative. Another is that the court order is a boilerplate form with checkboxes, and it is confusing.

We agreed on a psychologist about 40 miles away who claims to be very experienced. But he could not make sense out of the order, and refused to do it unless two extra checkboxes were checked. The biggest problem is that the order has checked checkboxes for child custody recommendations, but does not check the checkbox for a child custody evaluation. He says that he needs to do an evaluation in order to make recommendations.

My ex-wife just sent this letter to the court.
To the Court:

I am writing this letter in response to George AngryDad's letter to the Court dated September 11, 2009. As well concealed as possible in his letter is an inappropriate ex parte attempt by Mr. AngryDad to modify the scope of the January 11, 2008 Court order. The January 11, 2008 order [FOAH filed May 1, 2008], the relevant section of the transcript accompanying the January 11, 2008 order (page 2006, line 10 through page 2011, line 24), and the "child custody/visitation assessment or evaluation" order itself is attached (which explains the "authority/purpose and scope" of the order).

These attached documents clearly delineate only a "psychological evaluation" be performed. Mr. AngryDad submitted a document to the Court, purporting to be what the Court ordered and intended to order; Mr. AngryDad significantly changes the Court order by checking another box, that of "full custody or visitation evaluation". Through a carefully worded smokescreen of a letter, Mr. AngryDad is trying to trick the Court into modifying its order. He is again attempting to "retry" his case. Furthermore, Mr. AngryDad has only emailed to me the first of the two page changed "appointment" order that he submitted to the Court for approval. I do not know if Mr. AngryDad also changed the contents of the second page.

I respectfully assert that an attempt to change the scope of the order requires a motion to the Court, not an ex parte letter to the Court. Mr. AngryDad has already brought his issues concerning the content of the "authority/purpose and scope" of the order to the Appellate Court (Appellate Case Number 032525) and to the California Supreme Court (Supreme Court Case Number S 168440). The Appellate Court upheld this Court's decision and its accompanying orders. The California Supreme Court denied Mr. AngryDad's petition for review.

I respectfully request that Mr. AngryDad's letter to the court referred to herein be discarded as, at best, an inappropriate ex parte attempt to significantly modify a current Court order.
I am not trying to change the scope of the order. The psychologist would be doing the same thing whether the checkbox is checked or not. I am just trying to comply with the demands of the psychologist that my ex-wife likes. I tried to talk the guy into accepting the order as written, but he refused. I previously sent this to the family court:
To the court:

My ex-wife [AngryMom] and I are parties to ... a divorce case. Cmr. Joseph issued an order for an evaluation. On July 30, he explained that the court would issue the order as soon as we filled in the name of the psychologist.

Therefore, this is a request for the court to issue the enclosed order. AngryMom and I have agreed to have [this psychologist] do the evaluation. He is a [location] psychologist who claims to have done about 650 evaluations for the court. The content of the order is from Cmr. Joseph.

I have taken the liberty of making these changes:
1. I have entered “[the psychologist's name]” on the blank line.
2. I have checked the box to the left of his name, to make it clear that he is being appointed, and not Family Court Services.
3. I have checked the box for “a full custody or visitation evaluation”, as the form asks him to make custody and visitation recommendations.

[This psychologist] has insisted on checking these checkboxes, and he has said that he refuses to do the evaluation unless these checkboxes are checked.

[My ex-wife the AngryMom] has not agreed to this letter. She said, “I will only agree to what is ordered by the Court, and certainly not to something that you have Mickey Moused.”

I enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope for the signed order.
The main point here is that I am just complying with the wishes of the psychologist who wants to eliminate an obvious inconsistency in the order. My ex-wife does not dispute any of this. She is just being obstructionist. I have no idea what the court will do.

Update: A reader complains that "obstructionist" is a noun and not an adjective, but it turns out that Webster's
says that it can be used as an adjective. It is used as an adjective in this current NY Times story:
Patient advocates have called Dr. Pazdur, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s cancer drug office, a murderer, conservative pundits have vilified him as an obstructionist bureaucrat, and guards are now posted at the agency’s public cancer advisory meetings to protect him and other committee members.
So it is grammatically correct to vilify obstructionist bureaucrats.

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