Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Moderate Parental Alienation and the Big Picture of Child Custody

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Domestic Violence, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Strategy Issues on August 31, 2010 at 7:49 am

I’m currently reading, A Family’s Heartbreak – A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, for an upcoming book review, so I don’t want to go into much detail here, but so far this book is an excellent primer on what causes PA. Written in a clear and easy to understand style, the book details one man’s journey into the nightmare of Parental Alienation.

kids in web

Children on a web.

As a psychological study, A Family’s Heartbreak, does an excellent job of exploring the dynamics of PA, which comes in three main levels. The “moderate” level is described at www.KeepingFamiliesConnected.org like this:

Moderate Parental Alienation: These parents are similar to the first parent in that for the most part they mean well. They also understand that their child needs to have a healthy and loving relationship with the other parent in order to develop in a healthy way. Where they differ is, they believe that the relationship with the other parent should never cost them anything, interfere with or inconvenience their life. These parents operate in the emotional, selfish realm, and are very defensive. They have a hard time controlling their emotions and take everything personally.

During periods of emotional turmoil or disagreement they mount an explosive and possibly even a violent attack on the other parent. The gloves are off and they will do anything to win. They continue to attack as long as they perceive there is a threat to their image, their selfish actions or the control they have over others. These parents are very willing to use the family court system during a child custody battle to achieve their goals of control and retribution over the “targeted” (rejected) parent whenever necessary to “win” a battle or prove a point. When the threat disappears, the alienating tactics subside. While they may not encourage the child to have a relationship with the other parent, they aren’t actively sabotaging the relationship either. That is, until the next perceived threat and then the cycle repeats itself.

As family law attorneys, we see this type of behavior often. It’s the parent who wants to change times to her convenience, or never wants to share the transportation of the children. This type of parent is harder to deal with because her needs always “seem reasonable” until you look at the big picture. It’s that big picture that the book, A Family’s Heartbreak confronts and explains. It’s the “BIG PICTURE” that lets you see you’re dealing with a damaged personality in the mother. Unfortunately, you can only see the big picture over time, and when you step back.

“She’s cutting me out of their lives!” – PARENTAL ALIENATION IS CHILD ABUSE

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Domestic Violence, Gay, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Strategy Issues, Uncategorized on August 19, 2010 at 7:46 am

I frequently hear from dads, that mom is “cutting me out of their lives” and to varying degrees this is called Parental Alienation (“PA”). There is much debate about whether it’s a psychological syndrome or not. But to men who are fighting it, they don’t care. They just know it hurts and it’s a very difficult battle to wage.

Dad Defending Himself
What you need in a Parental Alienation Battle

Fathers have a difficult time staying involved in their children’s lives. The courts usually keep the kids with mom when dad moves out. Mom expects dad to continue working as much as he did, for two reasons, so that he has as much money as before, and to keep him so busy he doesn’t have time for the kids, which she then uses against him.

There are three main categories of PA, Mild, Moderate and Severe. All of them are abusive, to the father, but more so to the child. Harming or destroying one parent’s relationship with their child is, and should be treated as, CHILD ABUSE.


According to www.Keep


Mild Parental Alienation: Parents who lose control, make negative comments or exhibit negative behavior towards the other parent in front of the child, but feel bad about it later. Most parents going through a divorce engage in this level of Parental Alienation at some point. But they recognize they are wrong, worry about the effects on the child (or children), and take steps to stop inappropriate actions directed at the other parent. They understand that their child needs to have a healthy and loving relationship with both of their parents, to have the best chance of developing into a healthy adult someday. These parents rarely use the family court system to control or attack the other parent, and are rarely involved in starting a child custody battle.

My law firm has fought these battles for years, they are nasty and difficult. Many times it looks like Mom is just being a protective parent, and if you’re in this fight, you need to know that it’s a long war, not just a one day event.


In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Domestic Violence, Parental Alienation, Perjury, Restraining Orders, Spousal Support, Strategy Issues on August 16, 2010 at 11:20 pm

This is from my column in the Santa Monica Daily Press this week where I discuss divorce and child custody strategy:

I walk my dog many days a week down by the Santa Monica Pier, and I always love cutting through the Chess Park. The players are usually very engrossed in their games, as they try to outthink their opponent a play or two ahead. I’m not a very good chess player. I’ve played maybe a half dozen times in my life. But when it comes to thinking through problems, I’m excellent.

It’s one of the traits that makes me a good divorce lawyer, I can sit for hours and think through the various ways the other side is going to manipulate a situation. A huge part of strategy and negotiation is knowing what the other side wants. If you can figure out what the other side wants, it makes it easier to either give it to them and move past the conflict, or withhold it, so that you can get what you want.

For instance, two weeks ago I spent six hours in a court trying to get a settlement in place. Mom had filed a motion with the court, saying she was “concerned about the sleeping arrangements” of her 6-year-old daughter when she was with dad. The subtext was mom was worried about dad molesting the little girl. This was her third attempt at such vile slander and the third time that either a Child Protective Services investigator sided with dad, or the pediatrician, or the psychologist and now a social worker appointed by the court.

Her attorney was of a type that I can only describe as angry, bitter, defensive, attacking, and thinks their client does no wrong — ever. We spent the better part of the day going back and forth, and in the end, we arrived at an agreement which was so weak, that it became obvious to me mom never had any doubts about dad — he’s a perfectly wonderful father. This was all about control.

We see that same dynamic played out in the Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin drama. They have allegedly just reached a custody agreement wherein he gets some limited visitation with his son, and they “share” legal custody, but if they can’t agree, then her decision wins. That doesn’t sound very equitable to me, and in fact it is the type of arrangement that can lead to increased anger and resentment because the father has no real say in the decision making process.

Why would Bristol at 20 years old be considered such a better parent than Levi, that he should have less than a 50 percent say in how his son is raised?

Why is he so limited in the amount of time that he is given in a custody battle? Again, it’s about control.

For the best current example of the way the strategy game is played we have only to look to Oksana Grigorieva and Mel Gibson. She has masterfully boxed him into a corner on the child custody issue.

He’s got his part in this drama of dysfunction, but her actions speak to me of a person who very thoroughly thought out how to get what she wanted.

Her stated reason for making the recordings was to “protect herself” if something should happen that night, because she was so scared for her safety. I’m sorry, but I’m calling her out on that one. I am in no way saying that she wasn’t in danger, or that Mr. Gibson’s behavior was acceptable in any fashion. It absolutely was unacceptable for him to be so threatening on those recordings.

Which is why I am calling her out. It was so unacceptable that anyone else would have hung up. I tell people when they are scared for their safety, they should leave for a safe location, call the police and/or arrange for an emergency protective order, but staying on the phone and recording the call is a brilliant strategy move. Having the presence of mind to record a call, and to remain so calm throughout the tirade is a winning combination for a restraining order, and a civil settlement.

I don’t know if his tirade was unprovoked or not, and frankly the law doesn’t care, his behavior was unacceptable. All the element of provocation does is humanize him, a fact that I’m not inclined to stress based on his homophobia, bigotry and general contempt for humanity.

My point though is, like a good game of chess, or a nasty custody battle, strategy matters, and going into a situation with a strong strategy prepared allows one to come out of it victorious.


In Domestic Violence, Perjury, Prenuptial Agreements, Property Issues, Restraining Orders, Spousal Support, Strategy Issues on August 16, 2010 at 7:24 am

Governor Paterson brings New York into the present with his signing of the No Fault Divorce Bill. This means that No-Fault Divorce is now the law of the land in ALL 50 States of the USA !

If you think YOUR Child Support is high, how about $400,000 A MONTH!!!???!??

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Property Issues on August 14, 2010 at 9:58 pm

That’s what the children of Billionaire Donald Bren are seeking in back child support. This article says the kids want $400,000 a month!!!

I’m betting dollars to donuts this is a losing case of shakedown.




In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues on August 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm

I take some outrageous positions at times, and at others more pragmatic, my latest one is probably both. I think that if we taught teenage boys the facts about how much a child costs to support, and how LITTLE their role would be in raising a child, we might be able to bring down the teenage unintended birth rate.

The Good Men Project has my article here.

Dad and son in the sunset

Father and son.

Levi Gets the Standard Father Package -Short end of the stick and SCREWED!

In Uncategorized on August 14, 2010 at 6:00 pm

In this article about the custody plan of Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin, Levi gets the typical short end of the stick but the WORST PART is that she gets VETO POWER !!!



I’m Not “Just a fag” anymore.

In Gay on August 10, 2010 at 9:01 am

This is  my column “What’s the Point?” as it appears in the Santa Monica Daily Press. I’ve been following and writing about Gay marriage for over 15 years now. Judge Vaugh Walker’s ruling in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case was welcome relief. Now to my column:

When I heard on Wednesday that Judge Vaughn Walker had invalidated Proposition 8 as a violation of my civil rights, he didn’t just say I could marry a man, he said I was no longer, ‘just a fag.’

As a gay man who has followed the civil rights march of the gay community for years, I am intimately familiar with the legal, spiritual and linguistic maneuvers that have been used to keep full equality from me and my people.

In law school I was on Law Review and wrote an article in 1995 about the state of gay marriage entitled, “Gay marriage makes it to the altar, who’s got the license?” It’s been 15 years since I wrote that article, and about 50 years since Harry Hay and the Mattachine Society began protesting in Washington for Homosexual Marriage.

This week, the license was issued by Judge Walker. He  ruled in Perry v. Schwarzenegger that there is no rational basis for discriminating against gays and lesbians in the issuance of marriage licenses, and consequently he invalidated Proposition 8, which limited marriage to a man and a woman.

But his 136 page, extremely well thought out, thorough, comprehensive ruling said so much more. He said, in the language of lawyers, that gays and lesbians deserve to be treated no differently than anyone else in our society. This ruling is the hammer that will pound the nail in the coffin of institutionalized public discrimination. On trial in this case was not just Proposition 8, but the underlying belief that homosexuals are a threat to society. For that, is what was used to win passage of Proposition 8, fear that children might learn what a gay person is, fear that a mother’s child might ‘be turned’ gay by the knowledge of our existence.

In a million subtle ways gay men and women are degraded, demeaned and belittled daily. I have an acquaintance who likes to use the phrase, “just a fag” he doesn’t see how demeaning, and objectifying, that is. I know others who say, “I have no problem with gay people, I just pray my son isn’t one” and they can’t see that they are perpetuating the hate.

The irrationality of the fears, and the ease of their promotion because of the objectification of gay men and women was what was on trial here. It is that irrational thinking that was rejected by Judge Walker.  It is the role of the courts to be objective. Courts are supposed to apply rational logic, not moralistic edicts, to the rules that govern our society. It is the only way that a Jew and a Christian, and dare I say it a Mormon, can get equal respect before the law.

The law has standards of review and they are crucial to how a case will be decided. In this case, Judge Walker gave the defense the benefit of the lowest level of review possible – Rational Basis. The phrase ‘rational basis’ is crucial in making this a landmark ruling that will withstand further review. In Constitutional law cases, there are three standards of review that are used to weigh a governmental interest against a prohibited behavior.   Rational basis is the default review standard and the higher levels of scrutiny are used to protect fundamental rights –  free speech, voting and marriage for example. In this case, the right to marry, would normally require the court to apply strict scrutiny to the law to make sure that it was the least restrictive on the right to marry, that the law was narrowly tailored and that there was a compelling government interest at stake.

The defendants in this case, having no evidence on their side, and in what can only be called a litigators ‘hail Mary effort’ advanced the theory that the appropriate level of scrutiny should be rational basis, meaning that if there is ANY rational reason for the law, it should pass constitutional muster. It is equivalent to an exasperated parent’s use of “because I said so” to shut up a questioning child.

Judge Walker gave the defendants every opportunity, and avenue to give a reason why Proposition 8 should stand, and they came up with nothing. Perhaps because the smoke and mirrors of the fear mongering has finally run its course.

The amazing lawyers David Boies and Tel Olsen did a masterful job of exposing the subtle forms of homophobia that pervaded the Yes on 8 campaign, and society throughout history. By building this case as they did, they laid the tools at the feet of Judge Walker to excavate two millennia of accumulated animus, and expose it to the light of day for what it is, baseless.

No matter what happens in the future, this case has made one thing perfectly clear, I am no longer ‘just a fag’ and for that I am profoundly grateful to Boies, Olsen, Walker and the men and women over the past 60 years who have fought for gay rights.


In Gay on August 7, 2010 at 6:04 pm

What a great father and son statement moment!

ISIAH THOMAS  and his son, DJ ZEKE THOMAS, in the NOH8 photo awareness effort.

We are Isiah and Joshua Thomas.

We posed for the NOH8 Campaign because we believe that all hate and discrimination is wrong. It is time for full equality and equal rights for everyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion, or gender.

Isiah and son Zeke Thomas in the NO ON H8 campaign.

Isiah and son Zeke Thomas in the NOH8 campaign.

Divorce and Child Custody Video – Parody? Kinda, sorta, not really.

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Domestic Violence, Gay, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Prenuptial Agreements, Property Issues, Restraining Orders, Spousal Support, Strategy Issues, Uncategorized on August 6, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Okay, so, this video deals with a man after a divorce, and whether or not he’s still a dad, and what his child custody and visitation is going to be like. I like it because it’s kinda funny, but I’m also really touched by it, because it’s also WAY  too true of what many men and fathers feel like after going through a divorce and child custody battle, especially when they are unprepared or representing themselves.

I really want you to watch it, remember, DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU !!

Call me. Write me. Let me help you.