LEGAL RESEARCH & WRITING I
OFFICE MEMORANDUM FACT SITUATION
Johnny and Jennifer Smith have decided to obtain a dissolution of marriage (divorce) after thirteen years of marriage. They have been living apart for approximately five months. Jennifer is living in the marital home, and Johnny is now living in a 3 bedroom condo in Lexington, Kentucky. Johnny, age 40, is a Lexington bank manager who has an annual income of $120,000. Jennifer, age 38, is a homemaker who has not worked outside the home in 13 years. Before giving birth to Julie (their oldest daughter), Jennifer attended nursing school at EKU and worked full-time as a Certified Nursing Aide (CNA). A full time CNA can expect to earn $30,000 annually in Richmond, Kentucky. She is one semester/12 hours (4 classes) shy of earning a Bachelor’s of Science Nursing (BSN) degree. A Kentucky Registered Nurse can expect to start out earning $50,000 annually in Richmond, Kentucky.
Johnny has come to the law offices of Bluegrass Family Law, PLLC, where you work as a paralegal, for help. Jonny has just informed your supervising attorney, Harvey Litt, that this will not be a “friendly” divorce. He and Jessica have already had several arguments concerning custody and child support arrangements for their three children Julie, age 16, Jessica, age 12, and Joel, age 13 months.
Julie and Jessica are both “Daddy’s girls” and want to live with Johnny. They blame Jennifer for the divorce. The girls both play volleyball, and they want to transfer from Madison Central High School to Tates Creek High School (in the school district where Johnny now resides). Tates Creek is the 3-time defending Kentucky Volleyball State Champions, and the school has had 13 students earn volleyball scholarships the past 5 years. Julie is already being recruited by several Colleges, and her dream is to attend the University of Kentucky on a Volleyball scholarship. Jennifer is still breast-feeding Joel. Joel is a special needs toddler, so Jennifer’s medical background is crucial for his needs. Johnny has no medical knowledge and has challenges meeting Joel’s medical needs. Johnny is currently dating Dr. Sandy Sizemore, his Cardiologist in Lexington, Kentucky. However, Joel’s Pediatrician, Dr. Alex Miller, would be willing to testify that Jennifer is better suited to meet the toddler’s needs.
Johhny has asked Mr. Litt about the following issues regarding the impending divorce:
1. Both parents want sole custody of the children. However, Johnny would concede to joint custody, which he believes would mean the parents would share equal time with the children, and he wants to be the primary custodian of the children (they live with him). Johnny would like to know what joint custody means and if it truly means equal time. Mr. Litt has told you the law on this question recently changed.
2. In addition, Johnny thinks that because he and Jennifer are so bitter and antagonistic toward each other, that a joint custody arrangement would never work. Therefore, Johnny wants to know if a Court could, and would be likely to, award joint custody in this situation. What is the standard for custody? Does the Court care what the children want to do? Does the Court have a way to represent the children’s interests?
3. Johnny knows that Jennifer also wants to receive child support payments from him if she is granted sole custody, or she is the primary custodian. Johnny expects the same if he is granted sole custody, or he is the primary custodian. However, Johnny thinks that if the court awards joint custody – where they would share equal time with the children – neither will not have to pay the other any child support. Johnny wants to know whether this is true. Johnny also wants to know how a Court goes about determining who pays child support.
4. Finally, Johnny knows that Jennifer also expects to receive alimony (maintenance) from him. She’s told him that she “wants payments for at least 13 years” (equal to the number of years they were married). Johnny has told Jennifer that he “can’t pay her alimony (maintenance) and child support and still have enough disposable income to make ends meet.” Johnny has offered to let Jennifer keep the “mortgage free” marital home. What are factors the Court will consider. Is Jessica likely to receive alimony (maintenance)?
Mr. Litt wants you to research the above issues and prepare an office (internal) memorandum on these issues. He has asked that you research these issues and first prepare a detailed outline with relevant authorities included for review before giving him the final product. You will then submit a rough draft of your office memorandum. The final product will be an office memorandum for the lawyer to review before he meets with Johnny again. You must cite at least five (5) recent (i.e., 1990s or later) cases, all relevant statutes, and at least (3) secondary sources (e.g., law review, law journal, legal treatise article, etc.) on KENTUCKY domestic relations law (family law).
You cannot use cases that have been overruled (red flags) unless for background or to discuss points not related to the red flag. That type of case that has been overruled or superseded would supplement the five cases minimum you are required to include in the final memo. You cannot use unpublished opinions unless to supplement the five required cases. The unpublished opinion or red flagged case will not count as one of the four cases. Cases should be supplied on more than one of the numbered points above.
There are heading examples on p. 489. There is a form on page 487 of the textbook for basic office legal memorandum format. Please leave off “statement of assignment” as a category because the issues should state what you have been asked to research and therefore that category is duplicative here. Make sure your brief answer does not get so long it is merely a copy of the research and analysis portion of the memo. The analysis and research must be contained within each issue. Remember you are not researching for the sake of giving your opinion, but to provide what the statutes, case law, and other authorities say about these issues.
The final memo must be typed in 12 point font with 1½” left margins and 1” remaining margins, and have numbered pages, and be double-spaced. The memo must be at least five (5) full pages long.
All citations in the memo must be in proper Bluebook form and include pinpoint citations where appropriate.
Finally, be sure to KeyCite all cases and statutes cited in your memo, and indicate on your list of cited authority any cases or materials that have “yellow” or “red” flags.
You must attach to the final memo only a list of all cited authority used in your memo, using proper Bluebook citations.
The memo assignment is worth 170 points, of which 20 are assigned to the case briefs and 10 to the list of authorities.
The outline is worth 20 points, and your memo rough draft is worth 50 points. Both will also be used for me to give feedback in case you are on the wrong track, which often happens, so both should be complete and be done only after you have researched and done readings in the secondary Kentucky sources.