Transferring assets

Two teens are shuttled back and forth across the country as their mother and father (belatedly) fight over who gets to keep them

Theresa, she says, should never have made the rash decision to suddenly relocate to Malibu. "I think she intended to deceive Jim because she knew he would try to stop her. I don't think she's been a uniformly bad parent, but I certainly think she creates a majority of her own problems."

As for Jim, there were less intrusive methods than seizing the children, the attorney says. "Would I have sent the sheriff swooping down on Malibu High to send those kids kicking and screaming back to Texas?" Jenkins asks. "No. I believe Dad over-reacted. I think he was furious with her for ignoring the court order and having the audacity to pick up and move."

Jenkins says she argued for Jared's return to his mother for several reasons. "If you have a boy who is 17-and-a-half, who is bright, honest, sweet, kind, caring -- I just think that child is too old to be made to do something that is going to make him miserable, especially when you factor in problems with stepmom and those sorts of issues."

Krystal and Jared during happier times in Colorado.
Krystal and Jared during happier times in Colorado.
Krystal and Jared during happier times in Colorado.
David Hollenbach
Krystal and Jared during happier times in Colorado.

So who is to blame? A father who focused on business until it was too late? Or a mother prone to impulsive action?

"You find out after you've been in family law for years that there usually is not a case of black and white," Jenkins says. "Where there's one nut, there's usually two. That's been my philosophy all along."

Counseling for all the Cranes will be part of the settlement. Psychologist Harrison said it may take years for the family to reach a full détente. Krystal's careful handwritten letter explained that, to her, love was not the issue. Custody and credibility were.

"I cannot trust you," she wrote her father. "From everything to cheating on mom, paying people off, not being there when I needed you and, worst of all, manipulating anyone and everyone."

Theresa, the daughter continued, "has cared for me for my every breathŠ If you take me away from that I will never be able to look at you without hate or disgust in my eyes." Their mother made decisions based on what was best for the children and "she has molded her life to fit around me, unlike you.

"Jared and I are her life," Krystal stated, "and your money is your life."

E-mail George Flynn at george.flynn@houstonpress.com.

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