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Friday, March 4, 2011

Letters to Minor's Counsel - 5

Attorney at Law
JUNE ADLER                                                                                
CERTIFIED SPECIALIST - FAMILY LAW                                                                                                
CALIFORNIA BOARD OF LEGAL SPECIALIZATION                                                                                                     (
OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA                                                                                                                                     

December 22, 2004

Bruce Abramson
Lenske, Lenske and Abramson
Attorneys at Law

Re:          Marriage of Karaiskos

Dear Mr. Abramson:

It has become very uncomfortable for me having to reply to the multitude of letters which are being sent to you regarding the parenting skills and/or alleged problems with the two parents.  Nevertheless, it was somewhat of a relief to have Mr. Sobel address the last episode which he considers the problem, to‑wit, Mr. Karaiskos’ emails to Ms. Karaiskos.  Even though I would rather not, I feel it is only proper for me to respond to try to get across the frustration and helplessness which Mr. Karaiskos is feeling because of the irresponsible way the children are being treated by their mother.

I think we all have to sit back and consider just what Mr. Karaiskos has been through in these proceedings, having equal custody suddenly wrested from him despite a three year equal-custody precedent, being forced out of his home despite it not being in foreclosure and moving close to the children's school only to discover that closer proximity does not make custody more available to him, the children's own wishes notwithstanding.  He has had to stand up against emotional abuse of his daughter at the hands of her teacher, and because of his efforts he had to endure verbal abuse and threats of expulsion of his children from the children's school.  Still, he was able to take charge of his son's education and work productively with teachers at the very same school to ensure that his brilliant child doesn't fail high school.  And yet, having endured all this without anger, something has made him so angry that he criticizes Ms. Karaiskos’ judgment in emails which he very well knows that Mr. Sobel will take every opportunity possible to present to the court.  Mr. Karaiskos believes that some of the actions which Ms. Karaiskos has taken toward the children border on child endangerment and as he detailed in the emails intended for Ms. Karaiskos, many incidents have occurred in the past that display Ms. Karaiskos' poor judgment and irresponsibility toward their children.  Let us consider some of the following facts starting with the most recent and most critical:

1.          As you know, we have recently experienced a period of extremely cold weather.  During that period of time, Ms. Karaiskos repeatedly sent the children to school underdressed.  Their son, {Son}, was sent to school regularly wearing shorts during a period of time when it was near freezing in the morning.  A telephone call to {Son}'s teacher will verify this.  Mr. Karaiskos asked his son why he was wearing short pants only to be told that he did not have long ones.  After this had gone on for several weeks and despite several requests to Ms. Karaiskos and the fact that Ms. Karaiskos has received all child support payments up to date, including a very large lump sum, she has not seen fit to buy {Son} the clothing that he needs and Mr. Karaiskos was forced to provide long pants for {Son}.  {Son} is not the only one about whom Mr. Karaiskos was concerned.  None of the children have proper winter jackets.  He has seen {Daughter} sent to school in short dresses in the bitter cold.  He has received the children underdressed for several weekends in a row and Mr. Karaiskos had to send {Son} to school on a Monday morning wearing his own jackets on two occasions so that he would not be cold.  Now, of course, the jackets have ended up at Ms. Karaiskos’ home and have never been returned. 

When Mr. Karaiskos tries to address these legitimate concerns, Ms. Karaiskos and her attorney characterize his concerns as “psychobabble.”  I am certain that you can realize just how frustrating it is for Mr. Karaiskos who is under an outlandish order for paying child support, seeing it paid current, and then, out of sheer frustration and concern for the health of his children, ending up purchasing {Son} long pants.  In fact, the children need lots of clothing and Ms. Karaiskos had purchased almost NO clothing for them in several months.  Mr. Karaiskos still purchases all their shoes for them.  The children need winter clothing and the weather has been cold.  Just how long should Mr. Karaiskos allow Ms. Karaiskos’ poor parenting to endanger their children without bringing it to her attention and failing to get a reasonable response from her, to the attention of the court?

2.          It is not only clothes of which Ms. Karaiskos deprives her children.  The children frequently complain to their father of not having food in their mother's home and always complain about not having milk.  On a typical weekend at Mr. Karaiskos' home, the children drink between four and five gallons of milk.  Ms. Karaiskos denies the children other products they need.  On one weekend alone, Mr. Karaiskos found it necessary to spend over $50.00 on  personal and hygienic products that {Daughter} needed, most of which she ended up taking back to Ms. Karaiskos’ home and which probably will never be seen again by Mr. Karaiskos.  Given the financial situation in this case, I am certain you can understand just how upsetting it is for Mr. Karaiskos to supplement the children's needs only to watch Ms. Karaiskos spend the child support money she receives on herself and on expensive trips while she denies them milk and food.

3.          All of the children want to exchange Christmas presents with their friends.  Mr. Karaiskos supports this because he knows that their friends will buy them presents and it would be embarrassing for the children not to reciprocate.  They should not be put into position where they could not purchase gifts for their friends.  Ms. Karaiskos has made no effort to purchase any such presents except that she made and subsequently broke a promise to {Daughter} to LOAN her $100 for Christmas gifts - a promise that Mr. Karaiskos fulfilled for his daughter.  Ms. Karaiskos relies on the children using the money which Mr. Karaiskos gives to them, forcing them to use that money to purchase presents - and in fact expected {Daughter} to repay the "loan" in this way.  While Ms. Karaiskos refuses to contribute to the welfare of the children financially, Mr. Karaiskos in contrast is trying to build character by having them do small jobs around the house for which they are paid handsomely.  As an example, {Daughter} swept the porch and Mr. Karaiskos gave her $10.00, she got $20.00 for cleaning her room and $20.00 for decorating the Christmas tree.  

4.          Mr. Karaiskos attempted to discuss the issue of Christmas presents with Ms. Karaiskos by email.  He was first ignored, then informed that instead of Christmas presents, she was taking the children on a trip to Colorado to visit her sister - a trip that {Son} has expressed he would prefer not to go on.  This was a decision made by Ms. Karaiskos which was very difficult for Mr. Karaiskos to accept.  He knows how important it is for the children to give and receive Christmas presents as it is a representation of the Christmas spirit.  What Ms. Karaiskos has done is put Mr. Karaiskos in a position of having to buy the children extra presents because she has made her choice that they should not have presents, other than a trip to Colorado. 

5.          The children are going to Colorado which has created another frustrating episode for Mr. Karaiskos and another dangerous situation for the children.  As the children have been underdressed for school all year, his concern is, and the children confirm, that the mother will not buy them jackets before they go to Denver.  Has she read the weather reports from Denver lately?  A look at the National Weather Bureau web site will confirm that the HIGH temperature on December 23, 2004 will be 7 degrees. Does she realize that when the children get off the plane that they are likely to be met with sub-freezing weather and possibly snow flurries and that they need jackets at the very least.  It is quite likely they will be wearing canvas tennis shoes in the show.  It would seem reasonable to expect that Ms. Karaiskos should at least buy the children jackets in advance of the trip to protect their health instead of exposing them to physical harm from the cold which they are about to experience.  Because of Ms. Karaiskos' history of irresponsible behavior, Mr. Karaiskos would like evidence that this requirement has been met before the trip.  The children inform their father that their mother is intending to buy their jackets in Boulder which is an hour trip from the Denver airport. Exposing the children to freezing weather without proper cold-weather clothing for that period of time is unconscionable and downright neglectful.  This is a situation that requires your intervention for the protection of your clients.

6.          It is most frustrating to Mr. Karaiskos that Ms. Karaiskos does not answer his emails.  Perhaps if she would explain things to him and her way of thinking, this could alleviate the tension between these parties.  Is Mr. Karaiskos angry?  At this point, yes he is.  He is continually frustrated by Ms. Karaiskos’ continued inattentiveness to the needs of their children.  As an example, her lack of attention to {Son}’ grades, to {Daughter}’s personal hygiene and social needs, and to {Son}’s clothing needs, all of which have been documented.  This situation goes back for two years or more.  If you look into some of the evidence which has been submitted, you will find pictures of {Son}’s shoes with holes in them, with the pictures taken mid‑March during the rain.  Is it Ms. Karaiskos’ way of conveying to the court and to the children that she does not get enough child support? How can she justify her actions when she is leaving the State of California on a vacation before Christmas and then flying the children to Colorado after Christmas, apparently with adequate funds to do so?  Unfortunately for Ms. Karaiskos, the father is a very caring father who suffers greatly when he knows that his children are being harmed.  Seeing to the children’s clothes is something that all good parents do.  It does not seem an unreasonable demand to make on the mother, particularly when she receives child support and is in a much better financial position to accommodate the children than the father. 

7.          I am certain that you cannot imagine just how frustrating is becomes for Mr. Karaiskos when the children come to him consistently for their needs, obviously frightened or at the very least reluctant to make the demands on their mother.  Mr. Karaiskos is still supplying the children with their needs, which is aggravated by the fact that he is paying over guideline child support.  When the parties first separated custody was equally shared and child support was not involved, Mr. Karaiskos simply bought the children whatever they needed without complaint, and, knowing Ms. Karaiskos, without expectation that she would contribute - and she did not contribute.  He did this for three years prior to the dissolution proceedings.  Since then, the child custody has been unfairly divided, and the funds that are being paid are not getting to the children at all.  The children need long pants and jackets in winter, not expensive trips out of state that they would rather avoid.  Mr. Karaiskos has found that communicating with Ms. Karaiskos in a nice way does not work.  She does not answer him regardless of the nature of the email.  The only time he gets a response is when she feels that exposure of her behavior to the court would be a real threat.  Then she gets her attorney involved and attempts to throw blame at Mr. Karaiskos. 

8.          In addition, her lack of consideration for Mr. Karaiskos and his life is unbelievable.  Ms. Karaiskos scheduled a vacation out of state without the children during her custodial time.  She simply assumed that Mr. Karaiskos would want to take the children (always a safe assumption for this particular parent) but did not make any arrangements or even inform him of her decision until only a couple of days beforehand.  Mr. Karaiskos has had to reschedule an out of town business trip which he had planned for Friday and Saturday in order to accommodate the children during her custodial time.  Not only has this been inconvenient, but it makes him look bad to his clients.  Can’t there be any simple communication on the part of Ms. Karaiskos - especially when she is infringing on Mr. Karaiskos' time?                                        

Mr. Sobel has brought up the fact that Mr. Karaiskos is paying {Son} to do work for him while at the same time he has issued complaints regarding the amount of child support.  Mr. Sobel likes to accuse me of merely signing my name to Mr. Karaiskos’ letters.  I want you to know at this point that I am using Mr. Karaiskos’ words because he has written an articulate explanation as to why it is financially beneficial for him to hire {Son} while at the same time instilling responsibility and a sense of accomplishment in their son {Son}. I do not understand Mr. Karaiskos’ business and needed his input.   

{Son} has been working with his Dad for a short time and Pete is allowed to pick up {Son} from school at 4:00 and must return him to his mother’s home at 7:30.  Ms. Karaiskos is unwilling to do any of the driving.  Pete feeds {Son} dinner while he is there so he has plenty of time to do his homework at his mother’s home after 7:30.  If it could be arranged, Pete would like to have {Son} overnight on those nights so that he could help him with the homework and be sure that it is done.  In regard to paying {Son}, Pete has been offering him an hourly wage of about $20.00 an hour, dependent on the type of work he does – word processing for example is paid at a lower rate than CAD drafting.  This is far more than he could earn elsewhere and it has only been a couple of nights that they have tried this.  Mr. Karaiskos believes that what Mr. Sobel is suggesting is that if he is able to afford to pay {Son}, then he should give the “extra” money directly to his client for her needs.  Mr. Sobel has no information regarding Mr. Karaiskos’ business and consequently that will need to be clarified.

{Son} is able to do some of the tasks his father does and charges for.  It takes him longer so Pete pays him less than he would bill a client for his own time.  Recently, {Son} researched and put together an outline for a technical manual for a client.  Pete could have done the work in an hour.  {Son} did the work in three.  The work {Son} did was equivalent to the work Pete could have done and Pete billed the client for an hour of his time, thus allowing him to pay {Son} for three hours of work.  Please be alerted that Pete is claiming this as an hour of his income for Mr. Sobel’s calculation of his child support obligation.  Pete feels that it is important enough for {Son} to receive this experience and he is willing to make sacrifices, including driving time and an occasional hour of work, so that he gets it. 

As with any independent contracting business, there are some jobs that just do not have enough money in them or they come at a time when other jobs are already scheduled.  Last year, for example, Pete was contacted by someone who wanted him to draw a plat plan for his property.  While Pete would normally charge more, the client only offered $75.00.  At the time, Pete had another job that was more pressing but rather than turn down the job, he asked {Son} if he wanted to do it.  {Son} agreed and received the $75.00 for about three or four hours work.  Pete feels this is excellent experience for {Son} and, especially since he is not driving yet, it provides him with a way to work, to earn income and to receive technical training, skills and a reference for his resume that he would not be able to acquire in any other way.

Mr. Karaiskos would also like to touch on another issue that needs to be addressed and he believes that you have a direct interest in resolving this issue.  While therapy for the children is still available through Kaiser, Pete would like to exhaust that option before moving to a more expensive therapist.  After all, the children are insured and the therapy is available.  The children know and like the therapist and progress has been made.  It makes sense to Pete that they continue there while this option exists.  Pete would appreciate your opinion on this. 

Both Mr. Karaiskos and I are very sorry that you have had to be dragged in on this.  It all seems so simple.  Children need warm clothing in winter.  One parent should not have to ask the other parent to provide this when funds for exactly that purpose have been made available.  And then when it is questioned, the characterization of that request as “psychobabble” is inflammatory and indicative of the instability of the parent who denies addressing the request.  And still, the children need warm clothing.  It is unfortunate that the parenting skills of these parents are so diverse.  Common sense dictates that money is in place for the children to have what they need, if only the money was prioritized for use by the children.  Please be advised that Mr. Karaiskos will not sit back and let his children’s emotional stability, health and education be placed at risk because of a neglectful parent who is more interested in her personal needs and carrying on a vendetta than she is in her children's well-being.


June Adler

cc:          Lawrence Sobel