Posted by: Vernon Ready
We mentioned in our blog last week that no matter who you are, the process of getting a divorce can be extremely messy and have very real consequences on your ability to see your children or own certain assets.
That post focused on Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. This week, we’re going to look at a divorce case a little closer to home.
Tim Leonard is a Republican member of the Colorado House of Representatives. He first entered the position in January of this year, filling the vacant seat left by Jon Keyser. He intends to run for the United States Senate, but before doing so he has to avoid spending time in jail for charges related to his divorce.
What charges? Contempt of court.
Here’s the story. Tim Leonard was married to Monica Leonard for 20 years before divorcing in 2013. One of the conditions of the divorce settlement was allowing Monica to have sole legal custody over their six children’s educational decisions.
Most people think about child custody as who gets to see and live with the children, but that’s just part of it. Equally important are related rulings related to which parent gets to make legal, financial, and educational decisions for the children.
While Leonard was married to Monica Leonard, their six children were homeschooled. After the divorce, Monica put four of the children through public schools.
Tim Leonard has not been a big fan of this decision, and has interfered on multiple occasions. This interference has gotten him in trouble not only with his ex-wife, but also with Colorado state law.
In 2014, Leonard requested that his child be allowed to opt out of a standardized test (the federal PARCC Exam). The school was aware of the court order and had the child take the standardized test anyway. For his interference, Monica Leonard filed contempt of court order and won.
Unfortunately, it appears that Tim did not learn his lesson, because he’s been charged again. His most recent contempt of court order involves the same exact type of interference, but with a different child. He tried a second time to opt a child out of standardized testing.
It didn’t stop there, though. This time, Leonard also told his child’s teacher that he refused to let them use an iPad at school. (As a side note, it is a decision that is more than a little ironic considering the fact that Leonard has vocalized his wishes to enroll his children in online courses in a homeschooling setting.)
When he was back in court for the second time, Magistrate Marianne Marshall Tims said it was “mind blowing” that Leonard thought the offense (and the judge’s original ruling) only applied to one student and one test. She also said, “I don’t know if we are going to go through all of the kids and all of the issues before they grow up and reach the age of maturity, but at this rate it sure seems like we are.”
Monica Leonard hopes that this contempt of court decision can help her ex realize that he does not have the right to make educational decisions for their children. Tim Leonard thinks his interference is not worth going to court. Regarding the iPad incident, he said, “This would be a major overreach by the magistrate to hold me in contempt and warrant jail time on an issue so many clearly determine is not necessary for a child’s education.”
Regardless, the initial trials have already finished, and Tim Leonard faces up to six months in prison. He will attend a sentencing trial on December 9th. Until then, his fate as a State Representative and his chances at running for U.S. Senate are unknown.
An issue like whether or not a parent can restrict their child’s iPad usage may hardly seem like an issue to bring up in court, but that’s the tricky thing about contempt of court charges and the types of things that can be decided when a couple divorces and children are involved.
Not following the rules of a divorce settlement, even if it seems like a duty of parenting, can result in jail time. In Leonard’s case, it may even lead to the destruction of his reputation and possibly the ability to advance in his career.
Whether you have been charged with contempt of court or are interested in learning more about how you can file a contempt of court order against an ex who you believe is overstepping their boundaries, contact a Colorado divorce attorney.
About the Author:
Vernon Ready is an award-winning Colorado lawyer with an in-depth understanding of all areas of family law, estate planning, and personal injury. His energetic and aggressive advocacy approach allow him to successfully navigate complex cases, including high asset divorce and complicated custody issues. During his time at the University of Colorado Law School, Ready won numerous awards for his trial advocacy skills. Since being admitted to practice in 2009, Ready has become well-known throughout Denver and the state for the passionate defense of his clients and his unparalleled understanding of the law.