Posts Tagged ‘child custody’

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.

Father’s Day Special: On Fatherhood and Raising Men

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Uncategorized on June 17, 2010 at 9:22 am

I never really knew my father. Well, let me be clearer. I know who he was, he lived with me until I was 12, and then I lived with him on summer vacations and such. I have memories of going fishing once or twice with him. I recall fighting with him as a teenager, and the weekend before he died we had a great conversation, but I was 19 and in Boston for the summer.

My father was a World War 2 vet, but the way he told it, he was on an island in the pacific resupplying ships and it was a blast. He went to college on the GI bill and was salesman. He sold printing presses, then life insurance, and then funeral plans.

He was the 13th child born and the 11th child to live in his family. He was the baby who was raised by his sisters. Which partly explains his life skills, or lack thereof. Alcoholism took a hold of him fiercely, and it effected my family dramatically.

I am the baby in my family. I was the third son born, my parents were in their mid 40’s and by the time I came along, alcoholism was in full bloom and its effects were being felt throughout the family. My parents fought bitterly and viciously. My brothers, who were 16 and 14 years older than me, had more fully seen the terrors that I felt the repercussions of as a child.

So when my parents finally divorced, it brought peace to the household, but there was a cost. My father became sober soon afterwards, but I was a pre-teen, and parenting a pre-teen from afar is nigh on impossible. The job fell to my older brother Chris.

He was an island of calm, mostly, in a household of alcoholism and anxiety. For even though my parents had divorced, the long term negative effects of their marriage remained. My mother was struggling to make it financially, and battling with the bottle herself. My brother Chris took up the responsibility for being a father figure in my life and though he did a great job, and I love and respect him for it, he was only 28, and he had my father as his father. He was denied a good father just as much as I was, probably more.

When I look at my father’s life, I see the pattern of my life. I see how he was raised by his siblings, I see the lack of strong male figures to teach the hard lessons in life.

It is perhaps one of the reasons why I am attracted to the work I do.

As much as a mother can nurture a child, she cannot teach a boy how to be a man. Young boys need their mothers, but the more I think about it, and the more I learn about the way men develop, I believe it is the men who teach boys how to be men.

In the ancient Grecian state of Sparta, boys were raised by their mothers until they were 7 when there were sent to be raised by men. The understanding of boys and men, the ways in which we think and act, versus the manner in which we should act, these are lessons that need to be taught by men because we speak a common language.

Only another man intuitively understands my impulses towards anger, aggression, and sex. Only older, wiser men have been able to show me a better way of dealing with those topics.

Fathers, and father figures, are vitally important to the upbringing of boys. It is a crime in our country that so many men are sidelined by the courts, and their exs, when it comes to the raising of the children. It is the future men who are being denied vital life lessons, and it is our society that will pay the price.

The conventional wisdom that the mother is the better parent in all things is as absurd as hiring a plumber to fix a soufflé. Mothers are vitally important at certain times, just as fathers are vitally important at others, to idolize one, and ignore the other is philosophically imbalanced and illogical.

This Father’s Day I’d like to see an awareness of the important role that men play in raising boys, who in turn become fathers. Father’s Day is a day honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society, but to do that, we first have to really understand what they do. It’s about more than just paying child support and every other weekend.

At least, it should be.

“I spent a hundred grand, now I’m broke, and still not divorced!”

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Property Issues, Spousal Support, Strategy Issues on June 3, 2010 at 9:17 pm

If I had a buck for every time I’ve heard this same sad line, I’d have a TON of money.

When people are going through a divorce they are in a hightened emotional state and there are many, many MANY lawyers out there who know it, and take gross advantage of their clients. These are the “Sharks” the “powerhouse law firms”, the people who advertise themselves as ‘The Firm to Beat!” I call BULLSHIT.

In eleven years of practicing, I have seen exactly ONE case I can point to where a client REALLY NEEDED TO SPEND six figures. She came to me and said her husband had hidden 12 million dollars in the Bahamas, and the truth was he had.

Most of the cases where people are spending such large amounts of money it has NOTHING TO DO with the case, but with the amount of money the lawyers can talk the clients in to spending. I’ve gone up against the biggest law firms in town and frankly, at the end of the day, the results are the same, only my clients still have the bulk of their money in tact.

A client needs to have clear, simple, direct advice from their lawyers. I can generally tell you in the first 15 minutes of an interview what the most likely result of a case is going to be, and what is the most practical course of action. If you don’t get a simple, direct answer from your lawyer, odds are, you’re going to get a really large bill, and when you’re out of money, and they’ve dropped you.

When that happens, you’ll end up in my office saying something like, “I spent a hundred grand, now I’m broke, and still not divorced! can you get this over with?” Yes, yes, we can.


In child custody, Child Support, Perjury, Spousal Support, Strategy Issues on May 28, 2010 at 11:41 am

The biggest frustration most people have in court, is the lying. In theory, no one is lying, because testimony is taken under oath. In reality, every case is riddled with lies, half truths, shades of fact and the greatest of all, the omission of a critical fact that totally changes the situation.

In the court’s eyes, as a lawyer I’m supposed to be the champion for my client, and I’m expected to have vetted their testimony to make sure that it’s true. Most of the time I’ve spent a great deal of effort to explain to the client that judges hate liars and I coach them to be as truthful as possible.

Inevitably when I get in to a child custody hearing or a divorce trial, it gets heated and the cries of “She lied!” “She’s committing perjury!!” “That’s a lie!” start.

In every courtroom, those phrases are said, every day. And frequently it’s true. Some days it’s her, and some days it’s him, but no matter what, someone, somewhere is shading, spinning, omitting or outright lying.

I know it. You know it. The judge knows it.

The angry and frustrated clients always say “Put her in jail!” That’s not going to happen so much. Judges can’t put away everyone who lied in court, there’d be no room for the real criminals.

So what’s the point of having people testify under penalty of perjury, if there’s no penalty ? Well, it’s about credibility. Once a judge knows, or even suspects, that someone’s lying to the court, their credibility goes out the window.

I had a case earlier this year, where the ex-wife said she was married in a Michigan court, and then said she was single in a California court. The judge looked at the other lawyer and said, “so either she lied in Michigan, or she lied in California, either way, she’s a liar!”

It was a bad day for that lawyer, because now they’re fighting up stream with a judge who’s experience with the client is that she’s not to be trusted. In Family Court, when the judges are making decisions on issues like who should be the primary custodial parent, that sort of taint can kill your case.

Which is why I always advise my clients that lying is a very bad thing. No they’re not going to go jail, but they’ll never have the same, and in some courts any, credibility again.

The question then becomes how to prove your case, if you know you’re dealing with a liar. Fighting a lie, is like shadow boxing, for so often it comes down to: he said, she said. Generally the best way to get rid of the shadow is to turn on all the lights and face them to your accuser and make them fight a battle that they don’t want.

If my client is accused of being a pot smoker, we provide the prescription, then we attack with bad parenting and lack of time to devote to the child. That’s how we fight a war, in which there are no winners.

“Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.

Shakespeare, OTHELLO,
Act III.


In child custody, Perjury on May 27, 2010 at 7:09 am

This coming weekend is Memorial Day weekend and that means there will be overly drunk parents, tired children and likely lots of fighting.

The courts are closed on Monday, so if someone attacks you and you need a Restraining Order what can you do? Easy, call the police and tell them you want an EMERGENCY PROTECTIVE ORDER, sometimes called and E.P.O. or Restraining Order.

Usually you need a judge to sign off, but on weekends and holidays there’s no judge around, so the police can issue an EPO that’s good for five days, during those days you must go to court for a regular Restraining Order.

As a man if you’ve been attacked by a drunk girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse, you need to go to get a EPO and take the kids someplace safe. Otherwise be ready to defend yourself against the EPO they’ll file against you!

“But she’s lying!” Yup, see my previous post on perjury.


In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Property Issues, Strategy Issues, Uncategorized on November 2, 2009 at 9:43 am

“I just got served with a Restraining Order. I can’t go to my house, see my kids, or get my clothes. What do I do?”
Tis the season for family fights, lover’s quarrels and the annual issuance of Domestic Violence Protective Act – Temporary Restraining Orders. Each year around this time, we begin to see more and more these situations where one party has become angry at the other, they high-tail it down to the courthouse and fill out the paperwork for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and before you can say Welcome to Santa Monica, someone has been issued a court order.
By their nature, TRO’s are short, usually lasting less than three weeks, because by law, a hearing must be held within 20 days of issuance and can be obtained by any family member, romantic partners whether or not they live together, or co-parents, by showing “abuse.”
“Abuse” has an amazingly wide definition and is so large that you could fly a 787 through it. The courts define it as “sexual assault, violence resulting in injury, or acts
or statements causing fear of imminent physical injury.” The courts are necessarily liberal in their definition because they want to protect people, and the philosophy is to keep the situation as calm as possible, which it done by keeping people apart.
The problem with this, that I see, is that it is very easy for anyone to “stretch the truth” or outright lie, to get a TRO. Because the courts will issue a temporary order on just one side’s statements, it makes it easy for a party to use a TRO as leverage in a family fight. When you consider that one party could get a “kick-out order” based merely on a statement to a judge that they “saw my roommate break a glass in anger, and I was afraid they were going to attack me” it becomes clear how easy it is to manipulate the law.
People sign declarations ‘under penalty of perjury’ that what they are telling a judge is true. This means that the judge then MUST accept as fact what is in the declaration, at least for the issuance of the TRO phase. Hard as it is to believe, people will lie under oath.
This is not a gender issue, both men and women are completely capable of lying under oath, and do so with surprising regularity. It is a sad truth that people who are angry become irrational, and when in that state, they will do anything. When humans are in fear we are capable of doing the most horrific of acts against others.
That fear can lead to abuse of another type of protection order, one that is less frequently used, it is the Emergency Protective Order. When one party is being physically abused, or faking it, they can call the police. The police are the only ones who can provide this short term protection, but it must be requested by the victim. The responding officers will then speak to a judge and if the judge then find that there is ‘reasonable grounds to believe that an immediate and present danger of domestic violence exists AND that the order is necessary to prevent the occurrence or re-occurrence of domestic violence, he can order an EPO, which is good for 5 court days or 7 calendar days, during which time the victim must apply for the DVPA TRO.
So who gets these orders? Usually women are seeking them against the men that I see in my office. Occasionally we see it the other way around, but for the most part, men do not feel comfortable asking for the assistance of the police or the courts. It has to do with the power dynamics of relationships and the role that men play in society. Most men will feel emasculated asking for this type of help. They think that they don’t need someone else to protect their rights. It’s that whole macho ethic of being able to take care of myself. Sadly his strength is frequently what attracted these couples to each other, and then when the relationship sours, his great strength is his biggest weakness.
Most of the men that come to me after they have been served with a TRO have had more than enough reason to seek their own TROs, but haven’t done so, as they feel that it is ‘unmanly’ and makes them appear weak.
I just don’t agree that getting help makes a man less masculine. The best athletes in the world need coaches, the President has his cabinet, and most superheroes have a partner.