Archive for the ‘Restraining Orders’ Category


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.


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


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.



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.


  • 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.

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.


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.


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.


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/


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.


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 !

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.

Abuse of Restraining Orders? Protection Order didn’t go far enough?

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Domestic Violence, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Restraining Orders, Spousal Support, Strategy Issues on June 27, 2010 at 10:18 pm

I was forwarded this  REALLY SAD article from a friend in Santa Fe about a father who kills his kids and then himself. Ex-wife and mother gets an Order of Protection on what appears to be thin statements,  but then ex-husband and father, murders his children and commits suicide. It demonstrates the difficulty of family law, because there’s no way of knowing if the Order of Protection (A Domestic Violence Restraining Order in other states) caused him to do this horrible deed, or if it just didn’t go far enough.

Even after years of both seeking them and fighting them, in the family law courts in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside Counties, I still don’t know if they are helpful or hurtful in a divorce or a child custody fight.