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Archive for Saturday, January 5, 2013

Former Douglas County woman’s fight for custody of daughter resolved

January 5, 2013

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Karen Williams, a former Douglas County resident, was awarded full custody of her 11-year-old daughter last month after a years-long battle that helped change Kansas law.

"When it's something you've prayed for...it was pretty emotional," Williams said of Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny's decision Dec. 6 granting Williams sole custody of her daughter.

Williams' legal battle, which went to the Kansas Court of Appeals, involved the role of case managers — appointed by the courts — in custody hearings.

In March 2011, WiIliams, who had previously shared custody of her daugther with her former husband Jeffrey Hutchison, lost custody of her daughter after a case manager recommended to Pokorny that custody be awarded to the husband.

But the issue was never heard in court by Pokorny, and Williams took the decision to the Kansas Court of Appeals.

'You think this can't really happen in America," Williams said of losing custody without a court hearing.

The Court of Appeals sent the case back to Douglas County for a hearing after determining that parents are entitled to due process when the custody of a child is involved.

At the December hearing in Douglas County, the father didn't show up in court, and Williams — represented by Lawrence attorney James Rumsey — was awarded full custody.

Hutchison, who has hired an attorney, said it's possible they'll pursue filing motions in the case, but declined further comment.

The legal battle has thrown Williams — who now lives in Marion — into the role of parental rights advocate. Earlier this year, Williams advocated for a Kansas law — later passed — that placed licensing requirements on case managers.

And Williams hopes that her fight, which centered on the unchecked power of case managers, encourages the courts to give parents full hearings in custody disputes.

But it hasn't been easy, Williams said.

"A lot of deaf ears," said Williams, who contacted legislators and other advocates "trying to get someone to help me."

Williams said she now gets calls from advocates and parents across Kansas seeking advice in custody cases.

"Be patient," said Williams, who was able to spend the holidays with her daughter this year. "Parents just can't give up. It's worth it in the end."

Comments

weeslicket 1 year, 11 months ago

  1. In March 2011, WiIliams, who had previously shared custody of her daugther with her former husband Jeffrey Hutchison, lost custody of her daughter after a case manager recommended to Pokorny that custody be awarded to the husband.

  2. due process ...

  3. Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny's decision Dec. 6 granting Williams sole custody of her daughter.

anyone notice anything peculiar about this?

Nessie 1 year, 11 months ago

How many child custody cases were decided in Douglas County based on one person's convoluted assumptions without any facts? Do our case managers have a "God" complex?

I'd hope our judges take custody cases more seriously from now on.....the prior court's credibility needs to be scrutinized and questioned. People's lives are at stake.

Nessie 1 year, 11 months ago

The news of this case is a month old. According to Fox4 News, http://fox4kc.com/2012/12/06/womans-fight-for-daughter-is-over-fight-to-change-law-continues/ that reported on this , the ex-husband showed up to court drunk.

It also fails to mention the name of the case manager, Cheryl Powers, the case manager on Williams' case. From the JW ...."she said she believes the backlash against case managers is coming from a group of disgruntled lawyers."

"There are certain attorneys that are less than happy with the fact that some of us have quasi-judicial powers without a license," she said. "They're attorneys and don't have that much power. They are not happy with that."

The case manager's credibility should be thrown into question for any case she was allowed to be judge and jury on.

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