One parent of defendant minor unable to be present

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Latest post 04-11-2012 11:24 PM by Taxagent. 22 replies.
  • 04-10-2012 9:06 PM

    • furelite
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    One parent of defendant minor unable to be present

    My minor daughter is being sued, through my husband and myself as her parents, for $125 in small claims court.  The suit is for alleged damage that occurred to a car as a result of a teenage prank. My daughter did not participate in the prank, but was present with the other girls the night the alleged damage occurred (the other girls have confirmed she had no part).  In any case, neither my husband nor myself were present at said activity, however we are named in the suit as legal guardians of the minor child.  My question is that my husband lives in another county and is unable to attend a court hearing.  Since he is not material witness (he wasn't in the county on the night of the alleged event) is there a way I can get him "excused" from attending the court session without jeapordizing our chances to win this case?  I would think that one parent would be sufficient for representing the child, but unsure how to go about doing this.  I am in Texas.  Thanks

  • 04-10-2012 9:49 PM In reply to

    • DPH
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    Re: One parent of defendant minor unable to be present

    furelite:
    however we are named in the suit as legal guardians of the minor child

    I'm not an attorney, but since he is specifically named it would probably be wise for him to show up.  That said, why not consult with a local attorney familiar with the SC rules to get the real "skinny"? 

    furelite:
    my husband lives in another county and is unable to attend a court hearing

    He may not have a choice, but it likely depends on the rules of SC court.  Unless he is incarcerated or incapacitated in some way, not sure why he couldn't attend.

     

    "Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."  -  Mark Twain

     

  • 04-11-2012 11:46 AM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: One parent of defendant minor unable to be present

    The ability to go after the parent for the negligence of the child first requires  proving that child was involved in the act in the first place--at least to a civil level which is a lower standard of proof than a criminal proof....Me, I'd be more converned about  securing the presence of one of the others who I am sure will testify as to this persons non involvement--but be SURE of what your witness will say before you put anybody on the stand! Otherwsie  the fact that everybody said your daughter was not involved may be mere "hearsay" and not available for her to use .

    In some states if you as parent seek to assist child in court with cross examination or whatever you may need to file advance notice of same  (I once blew that detail in helping one of my kids and was reduced to sitting quiety by while 16 year old tried to cross examine the bad apples. )



  • 04-11-2012 11:57 AM In reply to

    Re: One parent of defendant minor unable to be present

    You might call the court  to find out if it's necessary for him to be there if the other parent will be.

    But I would err on the side of caution if I were dad...a county away is not like a state or two away.  He SHOULD be there if his child is being sued for malicious mischief.

  • 04-11-2012 12:06 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: One parent of defendant minor unable to be present

    The plaintiff must also prove the specifi parent as negligent as to parental duty---and if parents are separated for whatever reason  and Dad lives in another county and not with Mom  and child  how does that make Dad  even in the equation to be negligent as to any duty to supervise this child.



  • 04-11-2012 12:15 PM In reply to

    Re: One parent of defendant minor unable to be present

    Drew:
    Dad lives in another county and not with Mom  and child  how does that make Dad  even in the equation to be negligent as to any duty to supervise this child.

     

    Perhaps....but it may be due to his negligence.  If he can't be bothered to attend court when his child has commited a crime, though this is not a criminal court,  it doesn't reflect well on his parenting.

    Also, if found guilty, it may make a difference regarding who is found responsible for payment, mom or dad?  Both? As I recall, the parents are often responsible for a child's malicious mischief.   IF dad doesn't show up, he'll probably make noises about not being responsible as he wasn't there and doesn't know what went on, etc, etc.

  • 04-11-2012 12:48 PM In reply to

    Re: One parent of defendant minor unable to be present

    If he is a named defendant and doesn't show up to court, he could lose by default.  YOU cannot represent him and the court could find him liable even if it finds you not liable.  That you weren't witnesses to the event is irrelevant to whether you are liable.  You need to have the other kids who were responsible in court to testify.   Consult local counsel. 

  • 04-11-2012 12:55 PM In reply to

    • furelite
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    Re: One parent of defendant minor unable to be present

    We live in Texas, so actually a county or two away is like being a state or two away in other geographies.  He is living four hours away at a new job where they won't look kindly upon taking time off for this petty matter. I am hoping I can get him excused somehow.

  • 04-11-2012 1:05 PM In reply to

    Re: One parent of defendant minor unable to be present

    furelite:
      He is living four hours away at a new job where they won't look kindly upon taking time off for this petty matter.

     

    I think that is the problem; dasughter acting out to such an extent is hardy a "petty" matter.  That attitude will ensure more "matters" come up, over and over.

    Bet he could get the time off if it was for HIS pleasure; people take vacation days, sick days, etc.    Just don't believe he couldn't get time off for this very important incident.  Frankly, he isn't coming across as much of a parent and a court will see it that way.

  • 04-11-2012 1:21 PM In reply to

    • furelite
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    Re: One parent of defendant minor unable to be present

    Kath, I really wasn't looking for judgment from someone, like yourself, who has no idea what the case is about. I am simply trying to figure out a way not to lose by default on a frivolous small claim made against my daughter and 3 other girls for the amount of $250 total.  For your information, my daughter wasn't even involved....witnesses can testify that she wasn't....and there isn't even any damage to this guys car.  He is claiming that a smudge on the roof of his sons 8 year old car was caused by one of my daughters friends placing an egg on the TRUNK of the the car (where this is NO damage). I have seen the car, seen the smudge and had to look hard to see it.  The other girls admit to placing an egg on the TRUNK but not the ROOF (in retaliation for the boy having done the same to their cars the week prior.....they had a back and forth car "tagging" game they played) and state that my daughter was not even involved. She has never been involved in any of these activities, she just happened to be spending the night at the girls house that night so they have named everyone present.  So before you pass judgment on my "criminal" daughter, you might consider that you don't have all the facts.  So perhaps you can see why I don't really want to have to drag my husband four hours from a new job to make an appearance in a small claims court regarding a nonexistant claim on my17 year old honors daughter??

  • 04-11-2012 1:32 PM In reply to

    Re: One parent of defendant minor unable to be present

    furelite:
    Kath, I really wasn't looking for judgment from someone, like yourself,

    Furelite, it is not my judgment, but the way courts react when parents don't show up, though they are named as a defendant ; read Gemini's response (seemed to have missed that?), as she has been a prosecutor. 

    furelite:
    who has no idea what the case is about

     

    No one can know if you don't say.

    furelite:
    So perhaps you can see why I don't really want to have to drag my husband four hours from a new job to make an appearance in a small claims court regarding a nonexistant claim on my17 year old honors daughter??

     

    I'm sorry, but he SHOULD be there, whether you think it petty or not.  Not showing an interest on the part of the parent is ALWAYS a red flag to a court.  And don't be surprised if many stories change once you get into court.  No one can guess what will happen there.

    I can tell you most fathers would be there no matter what.  That's a conscientious parent.  Good luck.

  • 04-11-2012 2:02 PM In reply to

    • DPH
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    Re: One parent of defendant minor unable to be present

    furelite:
    So perhaps you can see why I don't really want to have to drag my husband four hours from a new job to make an appearance in a small claims court regarding a nonexistant claim on my17 year old honors daughter??

    OK, so your choice is a possible default judgement worth $125 or having your husband drive four hours to appear in court as a named particpant?  If you think you can prevail, then go for it.  If your total liability is $125, then do nothing and pay the $125. 

    Four hours drive time is about the distance from Houston to Dallas, so you also need to figure in gasoline, wear and tear on the vehicle, possible lost wages, etc.  Do the math and decide which is more important.

     

    "Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."  -  Mark Twain

     

  • 04-11-2012 2:09 PM In reply to

    • furelite
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    Re: One parent of defendant minor unable to be present

    Kath wrote:  "Bet he could get the time off if it was for HIS pleasure; people take vacation days, sick days, etc."  So Kath, you are telling me that isn't judgment?  Can you please tell me what it is.  I love when people spout off, get called on it then deny their actions even when in writing.   If you can't be helpful to the question at hand, please refrain from passing judgements and saying things you don't have any clue about.  It is responses like yours that make people like me not want to come to any forums seeking advice.  And  FYI, no, he can't take off vacation or anything for at least 6 months.

    Back to the matter at hand, a lawyer suggested that I write a letter to request formal absence of my husband, seeing has how one parent should be able to represent the child in court, especially since he doesn't live here and doesn't know any more than what I have shared with him.  I think I will try that.  Because as suggested above, $125 is not much money to worry over.  However, I would love to face the people in court and win, as they have "lawyered up" on a claim such as this. 

  • 04-11-2012 2:14 PM In reply to

    Re: One parent of defendant minor unable to be present

    As said, it is the court who will think he is remiss; few employers refuse to let employees off for court regarding their child.

    furelite:
    Because as suggested above, $125 is not much money to worry over. 

     

    So divide it by the number of the kids there and offer him, say,  $25 to avoid court.

    furelite:
     However, I would love to face the people in court and win, as they have "lawyered up" on a claim such as this. 

    So it's personal.   And if you don't "win"?

  • 04-11-2012 2:16 PM In reply to

    Re: One parent of defendant minor unable to be present

    I am privy to judges' personal feelings on these issues, it's not just my own opinion.  Uncle is a judge.

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