Covid-19 Custody Update!

The Kentucky Supreme Court issued Custody and Parenting Time Orders on March 24, 2020. Click link above for court text. In summary, the order provides:

To avoid confusion and provide guidance and assistance to parties to a custody or parenting time order, the Supreme Court, under Section 116 of the Kentucky Constitution and Supreme Court Rule 1.010, hereby ORDERS as follows:
For purposes of determining a person’s right to possession of and access to a child under a court-ordered custody or parenting time schedule, the existing court order shall control. However, reasonable accommodations shall be made to account for extenuating circumstances related to the COVID-19 emergency and to give full effect to Executive Order 2020-215 and any other Executive Order intended to protect the overall public health and welfare.
Specifically, the existing court order shall be considered temporarily modified to suspend parenting time for a period of 14 days for any person who:

  1. Tests positive for COVID-19 or shares a household with someone who tests positive for COVID-19;
  2. Has been advised that he or she, or someone with whom he or she shares a household, has possibly been exposed to COVID-19; or
  3. Has, within the last 14 days, traveled to any area with a CDC Level 2 or 3 Travel Health Notice.

Any person experiencing the above-listed circumstances shall, upon discovery, immediately notify the other party(ies).
Any person whose parenting time is suspended pursuant to this order shall be granted liberal communication with the child(ren) subject to any restrictions specifically stated in the existing order(s).
Nothing in this Order prevents parties from altering a custody or parenting time schedule by agreement if allowed by their court order(s), or courts from modifying their orders on an emergency basis or otherwise.
The Supreme Court acknowledges that this is a rapidly evolving situation and respectfully asks all parties with a custody or parenting time order for patience and cooperation as we work to balance court access with public health.

if you have ongoing questions, first call your attorney. If you are in need of an attorney, please contact Michael Bouldin for consultation and representation. Contact email mwbouldin2@gmail.com or call 859-581-6453.

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Modification of Alimony

In many divorces one spouse may be obligated to pay alimony, maintenance or spousal support to the other. Alimony is usually awarded in cases when the couple has been married for a number of years and there is a disparity between the incomes of the two spouses.

Alimony may be awarded as a lump sum or a series of payments over a specified period of time.  The award may be temporary or permanent, depending on the specific circumstances in the case. For example, sometimes, temporary maintenance is needed to give the recipient spouse time to obtain the schooling and/or training needed to re-enter the workforce. Other times, ongoing spousal support is necessary in order for the recipient spouse to maintain a similar standard of living that the parties enjoyed during the marriage.

Following a divorce, time and circumstances may change that could greatly impact the financial situation of either party. When this happens, one of the ex-spouses may want to revisit the original divorce decree or settlement and seek a modification or termination of spousal support.

When does Alimony Terminate?

There are some instances when spousal support automatically comes to an end. The death of either spouse is one such event, as well as the remarriage of the recipient spouse. It is important to note that although cohabitation (on the part of the recipient spouse) may provide grounds to modify or eliminate alimony, this does not happen automatically. It must be determined by the court based on how long the couple has been cohabitating, as well as any provisions written into the divorce settlement that address this issue.

It is also important to note that lump-sum alimony cannot be terminated. A payor spouse cannot be reimbursed for alimony that he or she has already paid in the past, they can only adjust or eliminate the support payments going forward. The only possible exception to this rule would be fraud.

When can Alimony be Modified?

It is possible to modify spousal support in Kentucky, but it may not be easy. To seek a modification, there must be a “material change in circumstance” that is ongoing and has made the original alimony award unwarranted or unreasonable. The official language is that it makes the original award unconscionable under KRS 403.250. This is a difficult standard to meet, although not impossible.

There are many as life changes that may qualify under this standard, but you must also be prepared to present a strong case to the family court and effectively articulate the reasons why alimony should be modified. Some of the circumstances in which a court may approve a modification of spousal support include:

  • Loss of Job: If the payor spouse loses his or her job, this of course would make it very difficult to maintain alimony payments to the recipient spouse. If, on the other hand, the recipient spouse loses his or her job, they may ask for an increase in support. Generally this is only for loss of job through no fault. It does not include loss of job if fired for cause or if you quit.
  • Illness or Disability: If the payor spouse becomes seriously ill or disabled, this can result in a permanent inability to work, as well as high medical bills. With this type of situation, it can be strongly argued that this spouse can no longer afford to pay the same level of alimony, or in some cases, any alimony at all. And if the recipient spouse becomes seriously ill or disabled, they could argue for an increase in support. Parties should note whether disability insurance or other income is available.
  • New Obligations: New obligations could affect the ability of the payor spouse to maintain the current level of support. One common example is if this spouse has a new child with another partner who needs to be supported. Note: this is generally disfavored since the original obligation arose before the new obligation.
  • Retirement: Retirement might cause a significant and permanent change in financial circumstances. However, courts do not always see this as a qualifying modification event. As with most other situations, the success of a modification petition due to retirement depends on the specific circumstances and the strength of the arguments presented to the court. This does not fly if there is a separation agreement since this could have/should have been contemplated at the time of agreement.

Need Legal Help with Alimony Modification in Kentucky? Contact your attorney. If you need advice or representation, contact Michael Bouldin at Bouldin Law Firm by using the contact information, calling 859-581-6453 or email mike@bouldinlawfimr.com.

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Divorce, DVO and Court Filings During Coronavirus Update

As an attorney in this field for 25 years, I wanted to update the public and advise that you can still file for divorce and obtain an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) by filing a Domestic Violence (DV) Petition even during the Covid-19 scare with the courts technically closed.

The courts are remaining open for emergency issues. Those include Protective and other Emergency motions in addition to those arrested and sitting in jail. Most other court dates are being continued to later dates. You can file for an EPO by contacting the county attorney or calling the local District Court Clerk in the county you reside.

Currently, the courts are also processing those filings made online. Online filing does include filing Petition for Divorce/Dissolution in Kentucky. Most domestic attorneys have converted to electronic filing over the past 2 years and can file for divorce/dissolution during these times.

These trying times are exacerbated by financial concerns, loss of employment, unpaid bills and close proximity that quarantines mandate. Add into the mix that many staying at home increase alcohol consumption, and now we have the perfect recipe for domestic violence.

Additionally, the judges are also working during this time. They do have the ability to review all emergency motions and to make rulings. Courts have made various rulings, including restricting visitation, prohibiting travel outside of the US, and suspension of of air travel for children during this period.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, know your rights. Speak to an attorney or victim’s advocate, file for protection and/or file for divorce. The Women’s Crisis Center hotline (800-928-3335) and shelters have remained open. For more information or consultation, contact Mike@bouldinlawfirm.com or call 859-581-6453. If we’re not in, we will get your message and return your call.

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How to Handle Child Exchange During Quarantine

With an ever-changing code of conduct and various quarantines during the Covid-19 crisis have led to a number of questions to most family law attorneys.

Generally, parties should continue to follow all court Orders regarding custody, visitation and parenting time. This includes exchanges and update of information. There is currently nothing preventing parents from continuing their current custody, despite the relative lockdown of many businesses.

I, like most of my colleagues, are advising clients to continue unless there is a specific concern. For example, if someone has been exposed and the child has a history of respiratory problems, caution should be used to not expose the child. Additionally, parties should try to work together to avoid unnecessary exposure that may risk elderly or other persons living in either household. Additionally, i should not have to say this but parents do terrible things to each other and ultimately to the children: If you or your child is exposed, share the information. If your child is sick, whether with Covid-19 or any other illness, DO share that information with the other parent. The parents should jointly make the decision on whether exchange is prudent or if one household is already sick, to potentially remain in self quarantine.

While courts may be more lenient with allegations of contempt following a nationwide crisis, my belief is that Judges will not be compassionate with those parents that use this crisis as a way to alienate or prevent the other parent from exercising their parenting time.

If you have questions, you should first contact your attorney. If you do not have an attorney, you may comment below or contact Mike@bouldinlawfirm.com. You may also call 859-581-6453 (581-MIKE) to schedule consultation or discuss your specific concerns.

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Collaborative Divorce Never Closes

Collaborative divorce offers parties the ability to self direct the direction, timing and terms of their divorce without court intervention or any judge’s directives or Orders.

You can proceed at your pace, whether faster or slower than courts would direct and regardless of whether court houses are open. The only orders from the judge come after an agreement is reached and orders are to comply with your agreement.

To find out more about collaborative law in Northern Kentucky visit www.nkydivorce.com or search at www.bouldinlawfirm.com. Contact mike@bouldinlawfirm.com or call 859-581-6453 (581-MIKE) for representation or to schedule a consultation.

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How to Expunge EPO or IPO in Kentucky

As criminal defense attorney I am often asked, “Can I expunge an EPO or DVO?” If certain criteria are met, you can expunge an EPO or IPO in Kentucky. You will need to pay the initial fee of $40.50 for a background check. Once that is certified by the state, your attorney can file to have the records expunged.

Fortunately, Kentucky law does allow people to expunge the records of the EPO filing and proceedings if the proceeding did not result in the issuance of a DVO or IPO.  To be eligible for expungement, the following requirements must be met:

1. The proceeding did not result in the issuance of a DVO or IPO;

2. At least 6 months have elapsed since the dismissal of the case; and

3. During the 6 months prior to the expungement, the person cannot have been bound by a DVO or IPO relating to any other person.

The cost for attorney fees is typically $500, but may vary if you have felony or other issues to expunge from your record. If you have had an EVO or IPO against you dismissed, you are likely eligible to have all the records of the proceedings expunged. 

Contact the Michael Bouldin today by using the link, email mike@bouldinlawfirm.com or call 859-581-6453 (581-6453) to find out what we can do for you. 

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AI Facial Recognition in Criminal Investigations, Warrants, Charges and Trials

After listening to a recent podcast for facial recognition, Stuff You Should Know, it gave me the thought of a separate article concentrating on crimes and investigations in which Facial Recognition is used to “solve” the crime or identify a suspect. Is every adult now part of a virtual lineup every day?

The 4th Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees persons from unreasonable searches and seizures. Case law around this issue is that it passes constitutional muster so long as they are minimally invasive to the party and the public good outweighs the infringement of rights. The US Supreme Court has found that a copy of voice or handwriting, a lifted fingerprint or found DNA is not a “search and seizure of a person.” There is a requirement to obtain a warrant if requesting a person’s DNA or submission to a fingerprint analysis. As such, it is very unlikely that a court would find that a photo of your face would be a search or seizure subject to constitutional protection.

The second argument against is one of privacy. In general, one cannot have a reasonable expectation of privacy for things put into a public space and there is no expectation of privacy of a person’s physical characteristics, such as voice and handwriting. It would be a stretch to rule that a person as a right to privacy regarding their facial features; especially if they are in public and upload pictures to social media sites.

The use of AI facial recognition has grown considerably in recent year(s) and is growing at a rapid pace. The slope is dangerous and slippery. While most people do not object to using this to catch child predators or to find abducted children, the next few steps would undoubtedly follow. Police in may cities already use Facial Recognition to identify criminal suspects. Recent investigations say that just searching criminal databases has lowered from 30 days for a human to 3 minutes for a computer. Obviously this is a better use of time, but to what extent? Can we use it to identify traffic offenders, speeding, jaywalking or any other typically innocuous crime.

The bigger question is what is the tolerance for mistaken identity? Due to the databases used, it is proven that minorities, particularly African Americans, are more often mistaken than white people. Black women are disproportionately mistaken in Facial Recognition. So if the computer gets it wrong 1% of the time, is that a good result. We get 99 criminals off the street and 1 innocent person gets wrongly accused or convicted. What percent is acceptable? Moreover, is is fair for a person to have to defend themselves from baseless accusations because a computer picked them out of a lineup that they didn’t know they were in?

If used, virtually every person is a potential suspect in every crime and they are part of an ongoing virtual lineup in every case. You may be investigated, questioned, asked for an alibi, or even charged without ever knowing about a case because your face is in any database – mug shot, DMV, Instagram, LinkedIn, FaceBook, etc.

This area is rapidly expanding and there is little hope of putting the cat back into the box. This should be a legislative debate, but unfortunately it will likely first be led by criminal defense attorneys seeking justice for their clients.

If you have been charged with a crime, you need to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. For consultation, contact Michael Bouldin by clicking this LINK , email mike@bouldinlawfirm.com or call 859-581-6453 (581-MIKE).

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Help! My Attorney is on Vacation.

As a busy attorney for many years, I realize the necessity of going on vacation and getting away from the grind. I firmly believe that this time away allows me to rejuvenate and recommit to the practice and makes me a better attorney.

Unfortunately, this is little solace to those clients that need answers NOW. Having practiced for over 25 years, I have taken many steps to assure that the clients’ needs are being met and that the wheels of justice continue to turn.

Planning for a vacation, here are steps I’ve taken:

  1. Advise clients. I do not keep it a secret that I’m going out of town. This allows most clients, judges and opposing counsel to set realistic expectations.
  2. Have office staff available. My paralegal, Emily, does most of my scheduling anyway and has a general knowledge of most of my cases. As such, she is more often available during my trips.
  3. Have other attorneys available for emergencies. I have spoken to my partner, Kris Nevels, as well as a few other local attorneys who can cover in case of emergencies. For example, no one plans to get arrested for DUI and have court in 2 days. If that happens, plead NOT GUILTY and wait for return. Alternatively, call the office and we will do our best to have someone present for your arraignment.
  4. Plan down time both before and after vacation. This allows for clients in crisis or with emergencies to schedule in a timely manner.
  5. Allow minimal communication. Even when leaving the country, I schedule 15-30 minutes 2-3x/week to communicate with the office. While this is not ideal, it is similar to times when I am in the middle of trial. It allows my paralegal to prioritize and get answers to crises.

Another key to getting away is getting another professional do handle all of the planning and preparations. Julie@islandgirlvacations is exceptional at travel planning and finding the best deals. Full disclosure: she’s also my wife.

If you have questions or concerns or need legal assistance, contact Michael Bouldin by filling out the contact information, call 859-581-6456 (581-MIKE) or email mike@bouldinlawfirm.com. Of course, you can also contact Emily@bouldinlawfirm.com for scheduling.

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What To Do If You Cannot Get Ahold of Your Attorney

Attorneys are notoriously difficult to get in touch with and the successful and busy ones even more so. So here is a list of dos and don’ts if you are having difficulty.

Do:

1. Be patient. This sounds simple but calling 3-5 times does not make the return call any quicker. From the attorney point of view, if everyone called 5 times, it would take five times as long to return everyone’s call.

2. Schedule. It may be difficult to get a hold of the attorney, but generally you can speak with a secretary, receptionist or paralegal. Tell that person that you are having difficulty and need to schedule a meeting or phone consultation. Once you are on the book, your chances are probably near 100% that the conversation can occur.

3. Ask the Paralegal. Similar to #2, the paralegal for the attorney often has great insight into your case and can answer most questions. Sure, some are better saved for the attorney, but others can be answered, handled and even resolved by the paralegal and often at a greatly reduced fee.

4. Discuss with the attorney their caseload and how they prioritize. If I explain that I’ll get to your post decree issue later, that a client is facing 20 years in prison this week, most clients can and do understand.

Don’ts:

A. Do not call repeatedly and leave multiple messages. This ties up the time available to return calls.

B. Do not call another attorney seeking free advice. The attorney handling your case knows about your case. If you seek free advice, you often get what you pay for.

C. Do not immediately change attorneys and give up. You chose this attorney because of their skill, experience among other things. If you want a new attorney who will text you back and immediately take all calls, then hire that attorney from the onset. If you want an attorney with a track record and busy clientele, you may have to occasionally wait.

If problems persist, discuss your concerns and set out expectations of both the attorney and the client. Most often, a compromise can be reached where the client knows that their problems are being addressed and concerns are handled in a timely and efficient manner.

If you are a client, call Emily at 859-581-6453 to schedule. If you need legal advice and do not have an attorney, contact Mike@bouldinlawfirm.com.

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What Does a DUI Cost?

I am often asked, What is the cost of a DUI? The answer is not simple. According to national surveys, the cost of a DUI typically exceed $10,000. The question remains as to what does that cost involve.

A defendant should expect to pay $2,500-$5,000 for an experienced DUI/criminal defense attorney to represent on a first offense DUI charge. The cost may vary depending on the complexity of the case, whether it is a negotiated plea, suppression hearing, bench trial or a jury trial. The cost often also increases if it is a second, third or greater offense.

Other costs which should be considered in Kentucky. A typical assessment for DUI includes a drug & alcohol assessment and is $60. Once assessed, a standard 20 hour class will meet 10 times and costs $25/session.

If convicted, you will lose your license for 30-120 days and face mandatory costs, fees and court costs. The fine for a DUI, 1st offense, will range from $200-500. There is a mandatory DUI service fee in addition to court costs. The total for a minimum ($200) fine will be about $750. If you wish to obtain an ignition interlock device to continue full driving privileges, you will spend an additional $600.

The above examples are for Northern Kentucky. Each state has different mandatory fines as well as court costs. Kentucky charges $40 for reinstatement, while many states vary from $100-1500 for license reinstatement. None of this includes the increase in automobile insurance which is sure to follow a conviction.

If you have been charged with DUI, you should hire an experienced DUI attorney that regularly practices in your county of arrest. The attorney can guide you through the process and give you advice on how to best proceed. This may include a plea, but should include why a plea deal may be better and the consequences of a suppression hearing or trial of the matter.

For consultation in Northern Kentucky or Cincinnati, contact Michael Bouldin at 859-581-6453 or email info@bouldinlawfirm.com.

Selected by SuperLawyers for criminal defense in state of Kentucky.
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