DAVID PISARRA

Archive for the ‘Parental Alienation’ Category

LEGALZOOM DIVORCE – MOSTLY CORRECT IS ALL WRONG.

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Gay, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Prenuptial Agreements, Property Issues, Restraining Orders, Spousal Support, Strategy Issues on October 6, 2010 at 7:43 pm

The document company to the stars, well maybe not, but it bills itself as the service that puts the “law on your side.” Well, they don’t really do that. The law is the law, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to make a mistake.

Just had a  client in my Santa Monica office, whose soon-to-be-ex wife filed papers on him. They were mostly filled out, which is a problem. Because “mostly” doesn’t cut it with a court. They want all the answers, in the correct places, in order for a case to move forward.

There are some things that LegalZoom is great at, basic things like a dba, or an incorporation, are really basic, name, address, filing fee. But for something that is so important and complex as a divorce, where the state has created many legal obligations and duties, you need to know what you are doing. Most people don’t know that once they file for a divorce there are Automatic Restraining Orders that are put in place, and that violating them can subject you penalties.

This is why an experienced family law attorney is important. They explain all the facts about going through a divorce. LEGALZOOM doesn’t do that. They don’t do the counselling of a scared client who doesn’t know the process. LEGALZOOM doesn’t help an angry client who’s being betrayed by a cheating spouse. LEGALZOOM doesn’t provide the type of legal knowledge and present alternatives, that an experienced lawyer does.

Getting married is easy, getting divorced is complicated. There are many hoops to jump through, and there is a lot of paperwork which needs to be completed correctly or the court will reject it. Knowing what a court needs, and being able to help a client through the maze of it all, this is why an experienced attorney is useful.

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A MAN’S GUIDE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Gay, Parental Alienation, Perjury, Property Issues, Restraining Orders, Spousal Support, Strategy Issues on October 5, 2010 at 7:11 am

OCTOBER IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH

I come from a loud Italian-Irish-German family. My parents fought. A lot.

Sometimes it would be a “civilized” and mostly verbal, with the occasional tossing of a frying pan or breaking a glass. Other times it was really ugly with knives pulled and bones broken.

Usually there was alcohol involved in some way. But there didn’t have to be, my parents were experts at digging each other and finding that weak spot and drilling it.

So to say that I grew up in a home full of domestic violence is no lie. From the merely uncomfortable moments that always happen when two or more live in the same household, to the titanic battles that erupted – there was always lots of anxiety for me as a kid to breathe in and try to cope with.

This was 40 years ago, and the concept of domestic violence wasn’t fully formed. Women were still heavily prejudiced in the courts, society as a whole didn’t know how to handle it when spouses fought. The long term effects of domestic  violence on the children was not considered, because they weren’t hurt – or so it was thought.

Most of the time, unless actual physical harm was done it wasn’t considered a crime. An actual battery, a physical touching, had to occur in order for the police to take notice, and even then, it was mainly ignored.

Times change. Farrah Fawcett makes a movie, The Burning Bed, awareness grows, support networks develop, and shelters are built to protect the victims from their aggressors.

Domestic Violence has been expanded as a concept, which is why I’ve written a book, “A Man’s Guide To Domestic Violence.” Society and the courts have expanded what we consider violent, and abusive. It no longer requires physical hurts. Emotional abuse is not tolerated.

A MAN'S GUIDE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

A MAN'S GUIDE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

We recognize that an environment that is psychologically tormenting is not healthy, and therefore not acceptable. With this new expanded definition, more people than ever fit the profile of an abuser.

The traditional view of a man in a tank top ( the shirt commonly called “a wife beater”) is no longer the standard. Anyone can be an abuser, and it doesn’t take much. A smart mouth, and some emotional hurts, and an abusive household is made.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. It’s a difficult topic to discuss because no one wants to believe they are a victim. Men in particular have a  hard time acknowledging when they are being abused.

Even men that can acknowledge that they are being abused, have a very difficult time taking action to stop it, which may be one reason why it escalates. If more men acknowledged sooner that they are in an abusive relationship, when it is at a verbal abuse stage, perhaps the situation wouldn’t escalate to physical abuse.

So how do you know if you’re in abusive situation? The following comes from the Domestic Awareness Hotline for Men and Women, (www.DVAHMW.org) which is run by my friend Jan Brown. She was the first woman to start a shelter that accepted both men and women.

“ARE YOU BEING ABUSED?

  • Does she threaten that if you leave you will never see the children again? Destroy or threaten to destroy your property?
  • Have you been shoved, slapped, punched, bitten or kicked? Even once?
  • Does your partner block an exit to keep you from leaving during an argument? Keep you from seeing friends or family? Use name-calling?
  • Does your partner denigrate you in the presence of others? Say no one else would want you? Threaten suicide if you were to leave?
  • Do you feel like you’re “walking on eggshells” around your partner? Does she act like two different people? (e.g. Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde)
  • Does your partner anger easily, especially when drinking or on drugs?

If any number of these factors are true in your relationship, there is a problem. Victims of intimate partner violence come from all walks of life, all cultures, incomes, professions, ages and religions. Intimate partner abuse is not always defined by who is the stronger and/or bigger person in the relationship.  It is about one person having and maintaining power and control over another person through physical, psychological, and/or verbally abusive means.”

In my book, “A Man’s Guide To Domestic Violence” I address the issue from a man’s perspective of what is abuse today, how to peacefully combat it, and how to handle false allegations of domestic abuse. The book is available by emailing me at dpisarra@pisarra.com or through the website, www.amansguidetodomesticviolence.com.

Children of Sperm Donors Have Rights Too

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Gay, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Strategy Issues on October 1, 2010 at 7:38 am

It’s been said many times that politics makes strange bedfellows, and on the topic of sperm donation, I just found the strangest bedfellow a Los Angeles Family Law Attorney could imagine: Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage. She has written an article on the Gay v. Lesbian case I worked on, and she bought the lies about my client without speaking to me or him.  But what’s interesting is that in 2008 she wrote an article on the how the children of a one night stand have rights that cannot be bargained away in court, yet the parents who go the donation route can bargain away all the child’s right, pre-conception.

She is against that, and thinks there should be a law requiring a database which allows the child to know who the donors are, she used sperm donors, and I’m assuming she would want it to work for egg donors equally.

But why pick exclusively on birth mothers? If children have a right to know their own biological parents — a claim recognized in international human rights law and one to which I am deeply sympathetic — there is no good reason to limit this claim to the small number of women who accept the agonizing burden of giving life to children they cannot raise.

Far more children these days are deprived of knowledge of their origins by a totally difference process: artificial insemination. How can we possibly countenance placing burdens exclusively on women who give life and excuse totally the men whose sole contribution to their child was to “donate” into a little cup, usually for money?

And our laws are almost totally to blame for keeping children created by reproductive technologies in the dark about their origins. The common law remains the rule for children created by sexual acts: I cannot bargain away at the bar my child’s right to the support and care of both his mother and father. The child retains the right to the support of both parents, no matter to what those parents have agreed. But if I go to a doctor or clinic for sperm, adult bargains are suddenly allowed by law to trump the child’s natural right to know both his biological parents, wherever possible.

‘…’

If we are going to revise all our laws to facilitate adult desires at children’s expenses, the least we can do is require facilities that make money by making babies to keep records on whom the biological father is, and make those records available to children who turn 18.

I don’t see this happening any time soon, or ever frankly. The judicial system views pre-conception rights as separate from those of post-conception, and this not likely to change. But as we see more and more people avail themselves of surrogacy, using lawyers like Stephanie Caballero, we can be sure that there will be more conflicts, unless people use highly skilled attorneys to prepare their agreements.

What Type Of Lawyer Do I Need?

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Gay, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Prenuptial Agreements, Property Issues, Restraining Orders, Spousal Support, Strategy Issues on September 24, 2010 at 3:42 am

“I need a shark” I hear that often from clients who think that the way to win in a child custody case or a divorce is to hire the nastiest, meanest, most abrasive, and aggressive lawyer they can find. They want to make the other person’s life a nightmare. There are times when being a shark is appropriate.

“I just want out” is a frequent comment from the men that I represent. By the time a man comes into the office of a lawyer he’s usually already made up his mind to get a divorce and is willing to give her anything she wants, just to be free. Big mistake. Huge. He’s looking to give up way too much for his peace of mind.

“I’ve moved out, and now I’ll settle for 50/50 custody of the kids.” Yeah, not so much. Unless your ex is a travelling saleswoman, you’re not going to get a court to give you 50% custody when you leave the house. The other statement I hear a lot is, “She’s not a fit parent, and I want full custody.” If she really is dangerous, you should not have left, but rather turned her in to the child protection agency, or sought a restraining order protecting you and the children.

Those are three scenarios that I frequently come across and they illustrate the different roles that I play as a lawyer.

THE SHARK

Sometimes I am a shark and have to be extremely aggressive and relentless. I had that in a case where I knew that the ex-wife had remarried, but denied it so that she could continue to collect alimony. We hired a private investigator and kept digging until we found the proof we needed to stop paying her alimony. We spent many thousands of dollars but saved over a hundred thousand.

THE PROTECTOR

Other times I have to be a protector of my client, against his own wishes. I have to fight with him to make sure he doesn’t give up too much to achieve peace. Men don’t value money and possessions, they are usually of the mindset that they will just go earn more money and buy new stuff. But there’s no reason why they should give up more than half in a divorce, and it is frequently my job to make sure that they don’t.

THE VOICE OF REALITY

Fathers want to be an active participant in their children’s lives. But what they don’t realize is that they must fight hard and strategize long before a breakup to make sure that their rights will be respected and honored, not by the mother, but by the court. Men need to know what their options are, and their legal rights and obligations, before they make any drastic changes in a family law situation. The biggest mistake most men make, is to act first, seek counsel second. When they do that, I have to be the voice of reality that explains to them why they have already lost the war and they didn’t even know they were fighting.

A Pointillist View of Parental Alienation – One Father’s Experience

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Restraining Orders, Spousal Support, Strategy Issues on September 22, 2010 at 4:46 am

Michael Jeffries’ memoir, A Family’s Heartbreak – A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, describes his transition from beloved father, to exiled provider. It is a painful, yet engrossing read. The book is part ‘Dear Diary’, part window into the therapist/patient relationship, and part academic treatise on the various neuroses and personality disorders that led to the living hell that Jeffries experienced, and in some ways is still living.

Parental Alienation Book Cover

A Family's Heartbreak - A Parent's Introduction to Parental Alienation

Like a pointillist painting, where the further back you stand, the clearer the picture becomes, Parental Alienation is a series of seemingly innocent miscommunications, or concerns for the wellbeing of a child; and it is only when the dots are connected that you see the complete picture.

Jeffries went from the American Dream of wife, and two loving boys, to the nightmare of Parental Alienation, which is a situation where one parent, usually the mother, actively works to destroy the relationship between the other parent and a child. The at one time loving son, was turned against him by an ex-wife whose own fears of abandonment and insecurities destroyed the relationship between father and son.

When Jeffries decided it was time to move on from his marriage, he unknowingly tripped a trigger wire for his ex-wife’s emotional imbalance which led  her to enrolling their youngest son into her psychosis. It started with her having the 11 year old boy sleep in her bed, and continued to the point that the father/son bond was strained to the point of breaking.

In distressing detail, Jeffries lays out the progression of his son’s conversion from loving juvenile to emotionally exhausted teen who simply cannot tolerate the ongoing pain of contact with his father. In remarkably clear language, Jeffries explains the transformation of his son, and the tactics used by his ex-wife to create the transformation.

By detailing out the seemingly innocuous actions of a concerned parent, Jeffries is able to connect the dots of how one mother turned her son against his father. He paints a picture of the impotency of the court system to help him, based on the inherent bias of the courts in mother’s favor, and the difficulty in attacking what appears to be nothing more than a mother’s concern for the welfare of her children. No one wants to believe a mother could be so devious, deceitful and dangerous, but she can be.

This book is an excellent exploration into the “Wonderland” twistedness that is Parental Alienation. The lies, the deceits, and the volcanic eruptions of anger for seemingly minor transgressions, these are the battles in a war with no winners.

For every man who is enduring this hell, for every lawyer who fights this form of child abuse and for all the therapists who have to treat the collaterally damaged children, this book should be a first resource in their armament.

In clear, concise language, Dr. Joel Davies and Michael Jeffries explain both the real-world effects and the underlying sub-conscious motivations for this form of abuse.

These are hard cases to try, because on the surface everything looks essentially normal. It is only when you connect the dots, that you can see the whole picture. As stories like Jeffrie’s are made public, awareness will grow, and hopefully, fathers and their children can be reunited, or better yet, never separated.

The book is available at http://afamilysheartbreak.com/

WHO IS THE SEVERE PARENTAL ALIENATION TYPE?

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Gay, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Restraining Orders, Strategy Issues on September 21, 2010 at 5:19 am

Like Dante’s Hell, there are levels to the hell of Child Custody battles, the darkest, worst level, is Severe Parental Alienation. In Los Angeles we see many cases where one parent, usually the mother, is on a campaign of terror to erase the father from the child’s life. I had a case in Orange County, and we had to go through the full child custody evaluation process, just to keep the little visitation time that my client had. Mom had a history of being sexually molested ( by a family member) and was hypervigilant about her young two year old daughter. The court in Orange County made dad jump through  major hoops, driving from his home in Sherman Oaks to Orange county two and three times a week to see his daughter, but eventually the court ruled in our favor.

Thankfully most people don’t experience the severe parental alienation hell. This level is reserved for those who are dealing with the severely mentally ill. They are the Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) people. These are people who have a long history of sexual and emotional abuse from when they were children. Severe Parental Alienation happens because people  have major abandonment issues themselves, are that is what causes them to become  Severe Parental Alienators.

Keepingfamiliesconnected.org defines Severe Parental Alienation as:

Severe Parental Alienation: These parents have one mission, to aggressively and viciously attack and destroy the previously healthy and loving relationship that their children have with the other parent. During a separation and the ensuing divorce, the targeted (rejected) parent almost always becomes a bitter enemy in the mind of the alienating parent. They must “win” at all costs. They are determined to be the only parent in their child’s life. They resent and get violent (verbally and many times physically) with anyone that sets healthy boundaries with them in their quest for dominance and control over the other parent. All of which can lead to a long and bitter child custody battle which is never ending.

In many cases, there is a history of severe psychological problems and agitations before the alienation tactics are ever employed. Many times these individuals suffer from some type of mental illness. The alienator perceives and portrays themselves as the victim. They are obsessed, consumed and driven, by the goal of destroying the “target” (rejected) parent in the eyes of the child (or children). They enroll family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, schools, churches, police, and the courts in their quest to remove the target parent from their child’s life. They constantly create opportunities, to reinforce their agenda to manipulate the children into believing their false realities. Anyone that might support a realistic and positive view of the “targeted” (rejected) parent is cut off from the child’s life. They also remove any evidence of positive interaction with the child and the other parent, in an effort to complete the brainwashing process, such as pictures, cards, presents etc. If they ever feel guilty, they dismiss that guilt with statements like “I know what’s best for my child” or “I’m just protecting them from abuse or negligence”.

The child is both a weapon to be used against the other parent and a tool to make them feel emotionally complete. They are so consumed with themselves, their hatred, and the need to control, that they are only interested in their own needs. They refuse to see the pain and destruction they are causing in the life of their child. Even after the alienation is complete, a severe alienator will often continue to use the child and the courts to further their revenge on the targeted parent with excessive litigation, unnecessary bills and continued accusations of both physical and sexual abuse. Often they are not satisfied until they see the complete destruction of the other parent both emotionally and financially. They need the rejected parent branded as an “abuser” in order to feel good about themselves and their actions. These people are damaged and in desperate need of professional psychological help and extensive therapy. They often have clinically diagnosable issues such as BPD (borderline personality disorder) .  Most will never get the help they need unless it is court ordered, which is rare indeed.

PROVING CUSTODY AND VISITATION TIME IS USED – DAD’S DIARY

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Strategy Issues on September 16, 2010 at 3:03 am

One of the most common claims of mothers, is that dad “never uses his current custody and visitation” and then she wants to take what little time he DOES have, away from him. So that she can get more Child Support. It’s a common complaint, and it’s usually driven by greed. As the lawyers who are defending the fathers, it is REALLLY difficult if he has no proof to offer to a court. That’s why we always, always, ALWAYS tell our client to make a Dad’s Diary.

This video helps explain how a dad can improve his chances when he goes into court.

CHILD SUPPORT ARREARS – INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Strategy Issues on September 14, 2010 at 3:58 am

If you’ve fallen behind in your Child Support payments, you know how hard it can be to get caught up. Arrears, being behind in your payments, can be a devastating event in your life. Especially if the state has taken away your Driver’s License, or your professional license ( which can happen with Realtors, Attorneys, anyone who is licensed by the state!!!)

In this video I talk with RJ Jaramillo from www.SingleDad.com about arrears and how important it is to modify your support if you have a change in your income.

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.

MILD PARENTAL ALIENATION

According to www.Keep

ingFamiliesConnected.org,

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.