Archive for the ‘child custody’ Category

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.

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.

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.

Fathers Should Not Leave Family Home

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Domestic Violence, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues on August 2, 2010 at 10:35 pm

This week my column in the Santa Monica Daily Press deals with the issue of whether or not fathers should leave the family home. Doing so is a big mistake in child custody cases. It sets the mother up as the de facto Primary Custodian, which is why most men never get the custody that they so desperately want. Child Custody battles are largely fought and won, LONG before the court even looks at the case.

Here’s my column on the subject of Dads leaving home, as it originally was posted in my column, What’s The Point?

Sitting before me is a man, a father, a provider of love to his children. He has soothed scraped knees, taught bike riding, and changed wet bed sheets at 3 a.m. He is fighting back tears because we are not close enough yet for him to let me see the hurt. I know he needs to let the pain out, I know how to say just the right thing to make him feel comfortable, and his defenses crumble. For the first time in two months, he allows himself to feel the loss of his family.

I’m a divorce attorney. I’m one of those people that helps others through an incredibly difficult period of their life. I have to deliver bad news regularly. Some days it feels like that’s all I do. I specialize in helping men; fathers and husbands who are entering a minefield, financially and emotionally, through what is arguably one of the most difficult and treacherous periods of their life.

Frequently a man comes to my office having already left the family home and the first thing he says is, “I don’t care about the house, I just want to see my kids.” What he doesn’t know, and what I have to tell him, is that he has already lost the war for custody.

He and his wife were not getting along, they were bickering and fighting in front of the kids, she kept telling him to “get out, just leave!” He thought it was best for the kids — that if he moved out the fighting would stop.

Big mistake. Huge. Tremendously bad move.
The only time that I tell a man to leave the home is if there is physical violence, or she’s mean enough to lie about being abused to get a restraining order. Other than that, moving out is the single worst thing a man can do in a divorce, financially, emotionally, and if he moves out, he has to get an apartment, which takes money. It increases the financial strain on the couple, who are already low on money, and now he has to buy furnishings, dishes, pots and pans, etc. for his apartment, plus anything the kids need is duplicated. As the money gets tighter, they are going to fight more, and if he’s not living with the family, soon enough she’ll be after him for child support, which will only put more strain on him.

When he moves out, the little communication that was happening between him and her usually gets worse. Frequently it stops altogether, and the reasons for the breakup never get talked about, or worse, he now gets blamed for “leaving.” Which makes him feel guilty, trapped in a “Catch-22” situation and he just wants to give up and run away.

Lastly, and the worst part of this tragedy, is that moving out has created a “status quo” as far as the courts are concerned in regards to the children. Since dad left the kids with mom, the court thinks that they should be with her, and that’s what is most likely going to happen. He will see them every other weekend and a weeknight dinner. This is the bad news I have to deliver to the man who sits in front of me in tears.

He didn’t know that was going to happen. He didn’t think he’d lose seeing his kids all the time. He doesn’t care about the house, the furniture, the only thing he wants is to be a dad, and now he’s a weekend dad. All it took was for her to push him out of the house.

Simply because he left, he’s now a part-time parent. He did it to create peace, which didn’t happen. He did it to make his relationship with his kids better — that certainly wont happen. He did it because he thought he’d get a 50/50 custody deal, which is a pipe dream, while her child support is tied to how much time she has the kids versus him.

Men are hugely uneducated about what happens in a divorce or a child custody battle. We don’t talk about it with each other. We don’t share how to plot, strategize and set up the situation to our advantage, which is our own undoing.

Fathers shouldn’t leave until they have to. Fathers need to talk to each other to find out what to do. Men use coaches in sports, and mentors in business and they need to rely on each other to get through life’s challenges, and to keep what is theirs: their children.

Stay At Home Dads are a Good Thing!!!

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Strategy Issues on July 25, 2010 at 10:15 am

This article from Huffington Post, and the related video on the benefits to children of stay at home, and the abilities of fathers to be good parents identifies a cultural trend that I am happy to be part of!!!!

It says that men make excellent parents and that the cultural bias that mothers are naturally better is more a matter of they’ve had more practice, than actual parenting skills. As women have entered the workforce and more men stay home, we’re going to see this myth, like so many others, fall by the roadside.

Dad and son in the sunset

Father and son.

Fighting for Child Custody? How not to lose the battle.

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Domestic Violence, Gay, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Strategy Issues on July 23, 2010 at 9:14 am

Most of the men fighting for Child Custody I represent would do ANYTHING FOR THEIR CHILDREN. It’s one of the reasons they work so hard, which tragically, becomes the millstone around their necks that the ex-wife uses. I address the strategic issue of whether to move or not in this article posted at The Good Men Project.


child custody battle over visitation

Child being torn between mother and father.

A Father’s Best Weapon In A Child Custody Battle

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Property Issues on July 15, 2010 at 6:49 am

Here’s a video I did, talking about Child Custody and Child Support battles with RJ Jaramillo from www.SingleDad.Com, where I’m the legal expert. I tell guys the tools I need to win their child custody case and track the child support so they can prove they’ve paid it.

There are more videos on the MensFamilyLaw channel at Youtube.com.