Stricker Law Firm By Larry Simonds, Jr.
Thanks to Gaston Alive! magazine for the opportunity and the wonderful job you do in advertising businesses for Gaston County. In our last GA! article back in January of 2014, Marguerite Stricker, our law firm’s managing partner, mentioned that our firm had “a strong sense of helping others in a family crisis.” I would now like to take this opportunity to further illustrate this concept.
Almost one month ago, our website was visited by an attorney in Maine. We will call him Jack. His brother was dying in Hospice at the age of 53 in Graham County, North Carolina. The dying man’s 11-year-old son – we will call him JC – was living with his paternal grandmother in NC. The crux of the issue was that JC’s mom was coming to pick the boy up and take him back to live with her in Philadelphia, PA. JC had spent his entire life in NC and did not want to live in Philadelphia. Also, the mother had a history of a lifestyle less than suitable in which to raise a child.
Jack googled the words “guardianship attorney, Cherokee, NC.” Andrew Brandt, another partner in our firm, who was previously described by Marguerite Stricker in the January issue of GA! as a pragmatic, matter-of-fact planner, designed our website. Normally, the website is the first thing people see, and Andrew had our website at the top of the list in Cherokee County for guardianships.
We were the second attorney’s office that popped up. The first did not answer their phones, but ours answered on the second ring. Jack later commented, “Your firm has a good website and when I called, a professional staff answered, and you called me back within five minutes. I tell you so that you know these things count.”
I remember the return call, hearing all of the facts that Jack gave, and then his question: “What can we do?” I remember scanning the files of my mind and working with Jack. I laid out six different ideas I had and told him I needed 12 hours to contemplate all of these options and find the best one suitable for JC.
I first spoke with Andrew about the facts, walking through my plans of attack. Andrew is great to consult with on a fact pattern. He thinks of the questions to ask that force you to fill in the gaps of a story and the possible pitfalls in the logic. I went about clearing my schedule for the next 24 hours in order to help JC.
Marguerite and I discussed the court docket in Graham County and my six options for JC. There was a judicial conference in District 30A, and all District Court Judges were busy, save two. We agreed on the best of my six options. Marguerite is tremendous at focusing on the best option, and I have always consulted with her on considering which path to take. She has a mighty compass for deciphering between right and wrong.
After getting the ex-parte petition and order for guardianship drafted, I left at 4:00 AM to traverse the state. Since the only two available Judges were in Waynesville, NC, I drove from Gaston County up to Graham County and got the paperwork filed with the court, then traveled back down to Waynesville to argue my petition and have the Judge sign the order. I delivered a copy of the signed order to the sheriff’s department in Graham County, left one with the client, and filed the signed order with the clerk’s office in Graham County.
JC’s father died at 9:00 that evening, and when JC’s mother came to abscond with JC back to Philadelphia, JC’s grandmother called the police. Within minutes a sheriff was there and prevented JC from leaving his home in North Carolina.
One of the things Stricker Law Firm, PLLC does well is helping others in a family crisis. However, we also offer many other legal services. The situation with JC could have been much easier if there were a will or trust in place dictating who was to become JC’s caregiver. A separation agreement or divorce granting custody of JC to one of the parties would have also been beneficial. Our firm does all of those documents and they are far less expensive than an emergency ex-parte order in 24 hours.
Please call and schedule an appointment to plan ahead for all of life’s challenging circumstances. However, if you fail to plan and life gives you a challenge, please call and we will help you find the solution to best fit your goals.
Larry Simonds, Jr. is the litigation coordinator for Stricker Law Firm, PLLC. The facts listed above are true and accurate, and were given only after the clients gave their informed written consent. However, names and locations were changed in order to preserve the clients’ anonymity.