DAVID PISARRA

Posts Tagged ‘child’

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.

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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.

Short Version – NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE UNLESS YOU HAVE TO.

child custody battle over visitation

Child being torn between mother and father.

“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.

Child Support Help for Unemployed Dads Accused of Sexually Molesting

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Strategy Issues, Uncategorized on July 29, 2009 at 6:15 am

Parenting has become war for some people. It’s a shame that some people use their children as a means to help make ends meet. I know the custodial parent will say that raising a child costs more than they will ever receive in child support and they are right. But that doesn’t stop some custodial parents from trying to increase their support any way they can.

For others it’s a matter of control. They hate the father. There’s a variety of reasons, from “it was just a one night affair – why wont he go away” to “he’s a low-life scum and I KNOW he’s molesting my baby.”

When a father is accused of sexually molesting a  child, it triggers a whole host of problems. Depending on who did the reporting, when it gets investigated by Child Protective Services, the case will either be closed for lack of grounds (this frequently happens when the reporter is the Mom and she is doing it only to cause problems or lay the foundation for Parental Alienation) or investigated further. If a mandatory reporter (doctor, therapist, psychologist, school counselor etc ) does the reporting there is a much greater chance of a full blown investigation because usually the child has said something that has triggered the investigation.

An unemployed dad, who is accused of sexually molesting his child, and who has to pay child support, needs help, badly. The first thing any father who is unemployed should do, is file a Motion to Reduce the Child Support he owes. In California it is called an Order To Show Cause, basically it’s an application for the order, and a declaration under penalty of perjury that your income has dropped and the child support needs to be recalculated.

This is important to do as soon as possible, so that you can get a court date and reserve what is called Retroactivity. That means the court can modify the amount of child support you owe going back to the date you filed – that’s called Retroactive Child Support Modification. This is important because you may not be in front of a judge for 3 months.

You need to do this, because if you are unemployed and facing sexual molestation charges, you need an attorney who specializes in that area, and they will need to be paid up front. This is a VERY very VERY serious matter. I call it the Nuclear Option and more and more moms are using against dads.

FATHERHOOD DENIED – The REAL Cause of a Father’s Pain

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Strategy Issues, Uncategorized on April 29, 2009 at 9:54 am

      I was walking my dog in the park last week, when I struck up a conversation with one of the city workers. He’s a young man who was so happy and proud that he just landed a full time position with the Parks and Recreation department. Now he could support his children better. He’s a young man with a couple of kids that he raises with his ex-girlfriend. Together they have worked out a system for childcare and sharing the responsibilities of parenting. It was a pleasant change from what I normally see.
      I was reminded of a day when I had two separate appointments with men, who were trying to work our co-parenting problems with their exes, and were coming to me after the fact to learn the effects of what they had done.
      One man was an older gentleman who’d raised his first son by himself. In this latest marriage the child was conceived by in vitro fertilization, in the first months, after his wife had left him once and returned, because she wanted a baby, and he thought that would fix their problems. As soon as she was definitely pregnant, she left him for good. It was eleven months into the marriage.
      The second man was a youngster, who was in his early 30s and had just been informed by his non-live-in girlfriend that she was pregnant. She told him that she didn’t really want him to be an active father. She did expect him to pay child support, but didn’t think he should have much to do with the pregnancy or the child afterwards. Though she was fine with him paying for her pregnancy classes.
      Neither of these men were stupid, teenagers or generally impulsive. Both seemed like genuinely decent guys who were just caught up in a relationship dynamic that caused them pain. Neither of them thought they had made a mistake, and both men genuinely wanted to be fathers. The younger one, was actually quite excited to be a father, as it would be his first child.
      I think I understand what drove these women to pick these men. Both were intelligent and good looking. One had a good history as a father and was a strong earner. The other was a good genetic catch in his physicality and emotional makeup.
      Each of these men will eventually get to see their children every other weekend, and once or twice a week for dinners. They might get to share holidays and every other birthday.
      If they pay their child support on time, they can avoid being on the latest Lifetime reality show, “Deadbeat Dads.” A show that is under fire from many quarters for its depiction of dads as uncaring and selfish.
      From where I sit, these guys are getting the short end of the stick. They were used as sperm donors and are now being used as ATM’s. But they don’t see it that way. They see that they are being denied the opportunity to be an active participant in their children’s lives; that they are being denied the rights of fathers for millennia to raise their children. They are cut out of their role as father, and then blamed for not being there.
      Which is a crying shame, because both of them would make great dads given half a chance for more interaction with their children.
      It’s ironic that men like these are the ones who are called selfish and uncaring, because it strikes me that the mothers who deny these men the pleasures of fatherhood, also deny their children the benefits of having a devoted and loving father in their lives. It is those women who so desperately want a child that they will deceive a man into impregnating them, without thinking that he might actually want to be a father, that are the most selfish.
      Which is not to say that there aren’t men who want nothing to do with their children, there are. But for those men who actually want to be a father, and there are a lot of them, when they are used as sperm donors, it’s really painful, and selfish. And the crime of it all, is that the child is the one who loses the most in that situation.

David Pisarra is a Divorce Attorney who specializes in Father’s Rights and Men’s Issues with the firm of Pisarra & Grist in Santa Monica. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969.

Flat Fee Child Support Modification Quote

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support on December 9, 2008 at 7:57 am

I’m quoted in this article on DIVORCE360.COM on the needs of families as they suffer the financial crash, yet need or want to get a divorce.

In our program on the Flat Fee Child Support Modification, if you meet certain criteria, we can do Child Support Modification from filing to court appearance.

Fathers Should Get An Automatic 50% Child Custody

In Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Parental Alienation, Strategy Issues on September 24, 2008 at 9:21 am

Here’s an extract from my weekly column,  “What’s the Point?” which appears on Tuesdays in the Santa Monica Daily Press. Original column here.

 When a man is first told he is going to be a father, naturally the expectations of what the future will look like pop into his head. He may think of fishing trips and baseball games, ballet recitals and happy holiday memories being created. 

At first he and mom, are getting along great, they both agree on what needs to be done to properly raise a child. Mom’s in charge a lot, at first, because of the necessity to breastfeed, attend to the endless needs of a newborn and her own maternal instincts. This works at first, but it also sets a pattern for dad’s relationship with the child. Mom’s in charge and dad does what mom says to provide for the growth and well-being of the newborn. 

That pattern continues, and hopefully in healthy relationships the parties begin to equalize as the baby becomes a toddler and mom can back off and dad can take on a stronger role.

But not always. Sometimes, the relationship stays imbalanced, those are the ones I think I was seeing this weekend – the detached fathers who have stepped back from an active role in their family, and that’s a shame. They should be contributing and directing the growth and setting the boundaries for their children as much as Mom, if not more.

Sometimes a divorce happens. Then the parties have to come up with a written agreement on how to parent their child. Most parents don’t have too much conflict over this. Thanks to a common heritage, or at least a common set of desires, the Parenting Plan can fairly easily be agreed to. Mom gets Mother’s Day, Dad gets Father’s day, they alternate the big holidays, etc. 

Sometimes though, there is the Grand Battle Royale. Where one parent doesn’t want to share the child. Usually it is mom, who is too attached to her child, and she feels that Dad is a bad influence, lacks parenting skills, is too indulgent, or too strict, “he never shows up on time, he never returns the child on time”, and the most common complaint is that “he has a new girlfriend who is inappropriate.”

This is where the Parenting Plan becomes the roadmap of your relationship, not only with your child, but with your ex. The Parenting Plan will determine when you as a father have time with your child. If you have a cooperative ex, this can be a very flexible agreement, as simple as, “we’ll share the kids”, other times you need to have an excruciatingly specific plan.  This plan will determine how much, how long and how often you have to interact with your ex and your child. If she’s still angry and bitter, the more specific the plan, the easier it will be to have a court, or the police enforce it, and that means the fewer headaches dad will have.

Married dads don’t get to spend a lot of time with their kids, divorced dads get even less. There are few years in which a father has the opportunity to have any long lasting positive effect on his children, he should spend what few hours he has, really making a difference. That’s why I think that more fathers should step up to the plate and take a stronger role in their children’s life. It should be mandatory that if you divorce and have kids, you automatically have the kids 50% of the time.

That wont be popular among many divorced moms, partly because they are still angry, and for some, because they don’t want to see a reduction in their child support. But the reality is that, as a society, we need to have more men, acting like men, and teaching their children what it means to be a man, and that includes their daughters. So that they know what to expect of their future spouses.

CHILD SUPPORT ADVICE

In Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Strategy Issues on September 10, 2008 at 2:06 pm

When it comes to Child Support, it’s a hot issue for men. They have to pay, but have no control over how it is spent, that is a constant source of complaint for men. Mom uses “my kids money” for her nails, her hair, or her yoga. Well, sorry bout that, but there’s nothing you can do. So with that in mind, here are three things you CAN do: 

1) PAY BY CHECK – Checks are important because they give you a permanent record of what has been paid. Cash, and Money Orders are easily forgotten about, lost, and don’t have a paper trail. Keep your old, cancelled checks until you have signed release from the mom that you have paid all your child support, and I mean ALL.

2) BE CLEAR IN YOUR AGREEMENT WHAT YOU PAY FOR –  The court will make you pay support, because it goes for things like food, utilities, clothes, but you need to be clear on what you must pay for “In Addition” to the child support.

3) ACCEPT THAT YOU MUST PAY IT – You don’t have a choice over how it is spent, it’s is Mom’s to do with as she needs. You’re better off just making sure you pay it on time, keep a record and forget about it. If your kid needs something, and mom’s not buying it, man up and do it yourself without complaint.

THE MOST IMPORTANT CHOICE FOR MEN

In Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Strategy Issues on September 8, 2008 at 8:40 pm

My mother used to say that “rich people have property, poor people have children.” Many a pundit on the right will speak of the “richness of love” that children bring, particularly in the heat of an argument about the abortion rights. This line of argument tends to bring more heat than light, and serves merely to ramp the rancor to such a degree that both sides end up heavily fortified in their respective positions completely disclaiming anything that the other side has to offer of value.

No matter where you stand on the abortion rights spectrum, and it is certainly a spectrum, not matter how much both sides try to portray it as a simple, either or proposition, the issues that are being dealt with, are life changing for all involved. Which is why I am so disappointed at the intellectual dishonesty that occurs on both sides of the debate.

On the Pro-Choice side, I believe it is intellectually dishonest to say that the only life that is effected by an abortion is that of the mother. Patently that is false. It takes at least two to make a baby, and certainly the father has some rights in this debate, since he clearly will have responsibilities should the pregnancy go full term. Since we will require of him 18 years worth of child support, it seems to me, that he has an interest in this pregnancy.

On the Pro-Life side, it is equally as dishonest to say that every life counts, but we shouldn’t be teaching how that life comes to be, or providing the means to prevent it from accidentally occurring. If one truly believes that every life should be saved, then we should be making sure that every life is a wanted life, coming into this world with a set of parents that are at least desirous of the child, if not prepared.

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