Dealing with False and Real Abuse Accusations in Co-Parenting (Ep. 25)

Are you facing challenges with co-parenting amidst divorce? Do you fear for your child’s safety due to the other parent’s behavior or have you been falsely accused of abuse?

Listen in as attorney Justin Sisemore and entrepreneur Andrea Jones delve into the legal steps parents can take to ensure their child’s well-being when dealing with threats or allegations of abuse. From identifying different forms of abuse to understanding the evidentiary requirements for emergency relief, Justin and Andrea provide expert insights and practical advice on how to address threats to children’s well-being and respond to false abuse accusations effectively.

Justin and Andrea discuss:

  • What steps can parents legally take to keep their children safe from a threatening co-parent
  • How can parents address false accusations of child abuse or endangerment
  • The importance of gathering evidence before filing for extraordinary relief
  • How to navigate challenges in proving threats made indirectly through phone calls or messages
  • And more!

Connect with Justin Sisemore

Connect with Andrea Jones:

Read the Show Transcript

Announcer 1 – [00:00:00] Nobody wants to end up in family court, but if you do, you want an honest, experienced family law attorney by your side to help minimize the stress, mental anguish, and legal costs that divorce and custody matters. Bring Welcome to In Your Best Interest. Texas divorce attorney and entrepreneur, Justin Sisemore of the Sisemore Law Firm, entrepreneur, Andrea Jones, freelance writer Mary Maloney, and guests.[00:00:27] Share insight on what to expect and how to handle family law matters, the changing landscape of family law and living the entrepreneur’s life. Now onto the show, 

Announcer 2 – One of the most important roles parents play. Keeping their kids out of harm’s way. Now, some parents who share custody may even fear the other parent, poses a danger to their kids, whether it be through family violence or substance abuse.[00:00:52] So what can parents do legally to keep their kids safe? And what can a parent do if they have been falsely accused of abuse? [00:01:00] The panel will answer these questions and more in today’s episode of In Your Best Interest. 

Mary – Thanks for joining us for this episode of In Your Best Interest. I’m Mary Maloney, and today, attorney Justin Sisemore, entrepreneur Andrea Jones[00:01:14] and I will discuss what parents can do if they believe their child’s other parent poses a threat to their child, or on the flip side, if they have been falsely accused of child abuse or endangerment. So Justin, before we jump into the legal steps that are involved with this, can you explain what actions would merit asking for emergency custody orders or other types of orders too?[00:01:35] Pro, uh, protect your child essentially. 

Justin – One of the issues as far as abuse, um, it takes many different forms and it’s important to identify those forms. So, um, it’s, it’s always interesting when we have a podcast and I’m literally in court two or three days before the podcast on these very issues, and that was a case about psychological abuse.[00:01:56] Um, it was a, it was an alienation case. [00:02:00] Very, very hard case to prove. We’ve talked about that before on our podcast and the dad actually came in with supervised access, uh, from the preliminary hearing, and I told the client, Hey, listen, one of the challenges you run into with respect to abuse cases, whether it be physical, psychological, alcohol, drug abuse, whatever the situation may be, uh, is it feels like you get these very strict orders and then you start losing, or the, the rope starts loosening that’s tied very tightly around their neck in the beginning of a case.[00:02:34] The reason that’s important to analyze and with respect to the types of abuse you, it’s an evidentiary issue. So gathering the necessary documents, you’re not always gonna have a photograph of bruises, you know, and especially with psychological abuse, you know, you’re not gonna have necessarily a counselor that, that [00:02:53] is going to be willing to testify, number one. And number two, you know, even if you subpoena them, they don’t always say [00:03:00] the same thing they tell you on the phone. And so gathering the evidence before you get into that process, before you get to the point to where, uh, you’re gonna file for extraordinary relief before you pony up the big retainer for these kind of cases, because they are very expensive, obviously there’s other routes, there’s the DA and[00:03:20] if there’s, if there’s tangible evidence with police officers and and whatnot, there’s, there’s other routes that, that parties without financial resources can take for the protection and welfare of a child. But because these hearings are so complex and there’s so much evidence and because of the nature of how [00:03:38] fast they need to occur because you’ve gotta get in there and show that it’s exigent, um, circumstance. So it’s an emergency, if you will, before you can fire off all that. You have to get the evidence together. You have to get the money together, get to the attorney, get all of that assimilated to go get the TRO with court, with the court. [00:03:56] And so, um, like I said, it’s, it’s really important to [00:04:00] identify. Types of abuse and then identify the type of evidence that you need or what you can show. So it’s not a he said, she said because the affidavit piece, um, which is what you, is what gets you in the door in the first place. The affidavit to file in conjunction with the extraordinary relief, uh, will have with that what’s called emergency temporary restraining order, sometimes a protective order. [00:04:23] And in those situations that lasts for. Anywhere between 14 and 21 days. So the protective order is 21 for the ex parte portion, which is, um, what the court signs with based, based on the knowledge of the affidavit you file. If there’s the prima facie evidence necessary for the court to see that there needs to be protection in the actual affidavit itself, assuming all facts are true, which is what the court is tasked to do, then they will sign that temporary extraordinary relief, and that is good for 14 days for the temporary restraining order, or 21 for, uh, the protective order. [00:04:56] That just starts the beginning, preliminary data gathering. [00:05:00] And that’s, that’s where you’ve got a very limited window. And especially when you’re, when you’re flipping custody or you’re taking a child from the other parent, uh, if they had a right to possession or there’s another valid court order already in place, you certainly have to get on that much quicker because the courts will often expedite the setting of that procedure, uh, whether it be the protective order or the restraining order. [00:05:20] 

Mary – So do you wanna talk a little bit about what might, what goes into that affidavit? ’cause we want people to understand what actual types of actions that would allow them to even get a restraining order, a temporary restraining order in the first place. 

Justin – So the affidavits themselves, um, you know, even if you’re doing a modification of possession and access where you’re seeking primary custody, the, the laws changed about four or five years ago where you have to have an affidavit stating the facts of as to why to get a temporary hearing set. [00:05:51] So in a modification, for example, you have basically. Prima fascia evidence showing by clear and convincing evidence [00:06:00] in a courtroom that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances of significant impairment, so that that modification can almost be a similar type of affidavit that you’re gonna see in an abuse case. [00:06:14] But what the difference is, is you are asking for extraordinary relief and that that, that, that gets thrown around a little too softly. Extraordinary relief is extraordinary. It’s not things like, well, he, he didn’t feed the child properly, or, you know, there were, there were issues that can be dealt with at a later time. [00:06:35] It is something that is very exigent. It is, IM, it is imminently likely to occur, and so you’ve gotta really have that power packed affidavit that has the who, what, when, where, and why. And it needs to be very close in proximity to you know, to the filing and to the actual event. If it’s, if it’s a year ago and you know you’re concerned about something and then all of a sudden he’s showing back [00:07:00] up. [00:07:00] I get that question a lot. Well, he hasn’t been around and the last time he was, this happened and now he wants to come back around. Well, the, the time to strike on these things is is when the event occurs for the evidence, uh, for the evidentiary piece of that, right? Witnesses disappear. They don’t wanna talk anymore. [00:07:19] The relationships change, and also for the court to say, Hey, we need to put these, this extraordinary relief in place now so that the child is protected immediately. And so the affidavit, the contents of the affidavit really need to have every sentence stand on its own. I, I love to tell my paralegals and team that, um, the reason for that is because you, you can’t assume the court knows any of the events, but you can’t make it too long where they read it. [00:07:47] Or they won’t read it. So if you’ve got a 20 page affidavit, you’re also disclosing a lot of things that may be subject to cross-examination. So in criminal law, for example, uh, criminal lawyers will tell you to shut down. Don’t say [00:08:00] anything. Don’t talk to anybody. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a courtroom. [00:08:04] Same thing with this affidavit here. If you put too much information about your whole life in this affidavit. A, the judge doesn’t necessarily have enough time to go through all the minutiae of those details and probably won’t get to the Power pact, uh, pieces that are, you’re really trying to get them to, to review, to accomplish the extraordinary relief. [00:08:25] So, so I, I, I tell people, you know. Take, take about three to four pages and then give me about two. If you can’t walk into a courtroom and in 30 seconds explain exactly why you’re there for extraordinary relief, you ain’t gonna get it. So, um, that’s why I think being concise and really explaining the who, what, when, where, and why in every single sentence. [00:08:49] It’s, it’s massively critical. I see these run-ons that go on for days, and the judge, when I’m reading them and I’m, I’m about to prosecute the other side or defend these things, I’m like, I don’t even know what you’re [00:09:00] saying. Right. Well if, if I’m reading it as a lawyer and I can’t figure out what somebody’s saying, I imagine being a judge and [00:09:08] 25 people are coming into your courtroom with 30 different issues and you’ve got 50 interruptions, and you’re being asked to basically either go against what the court order already is or remove or prevent somebody from seeing their child in the process. So you better have it down tight or you’re not gonna get it.

Andrea – [00:09:27] Can you give an example Justin? I think that would help people to understand when you say there’s a lot, ’cause as a mother I will have a lot of things that I think potentially endanger my child or as a dad, doesn’t matter either way. Can you give an example of something that would, that is important to say or that you should be one of the first things you say compared to something that is also, of course not okay, but might not make the cut.

Justin – [00:09:48] Sure. So, and, and that’s a great question because in, in this, in the situation, like, lemme give you the example from this last Tuesday when I was in trial in Denton. So, and not to put anyone’s business on the street, but you won’t know who this [00:10:00] person is. And the reality is that was a question of  the parental alienation and a psychological abuse case, we did not have CPS. [00:10:09] You know, in the beginning of the case, dad had sent some horrible text messages. I mean, really, really bad stuff to the, to the oldest child and the younger child was starting to follow suit, uh, to mimic the behavior of the oldest. It is a case that is ongoing now and will continue to be a problem, and in that, in that situation, with respect to the. [00:10:29] Underlying affidavit, um, that you would want to see if you’re asking for extraordinary relief would be something like, Hey, you know, this is what he, so you lead out with the power pack test text messages. This is exactly what he said. You can include some hearsay in those texts, especially if it’s a party saying it, um, or doing it. [00:10:47] He told me he’s gonna kill me. He’s, I mean, you just lead right into that. So a lot of people in storytelling or book writing wanna paint the picture. Of the scene, right? The problem is, is you, you gotta kind of [00:11:00] go, oh my gosh, this guy, literally hit, hit the child on this date. And then you lead into the stuff that leads up to it. [00:11:07] That, that, in my opinion, immediately grabs the, the court’s attention. Um, so if there is physical evidence or physical violence, if you have pictures and whatnot, some people will include those, um, and attach them to the affidavit. But as far as the content of writing, and I’ll get to that including evidence in a second, but as far as the content of the writing, it is very important to lead out with the most recent and the specific instance that causes the child danger in the very first one or two paragraphs. [00:11:39] And so an example, obviously a family violence, if there has been, um, I’ve seen terrible cases where kids don’t get to eat. They are kidnapped, there are threats made against the person, uh, either the mother, the child, uh, other family members, and you, you just put those direct threats in there. If you have text messages and [00:12:00] whatnot, I see people attach them. [00:12:01] Uh, for shock value, you can attach the pictures, but keep in mind, this is not evidence, this is like an opening statement, but this is prima fascia evidence. They call it prima fascia because it’s. Kind of before the evidence. It’s the first, it’s the first glance, if you will, at an ex parte, um, motion. And so when you’re dealing with prima facie evidence, you’re assuming it to be true. [00:12:23] So if a court sees a picture of a black eye or, or, or something like that, you know, it’s, it’s, you’re not technically supposed to put that into evidence. Um, as far as an attachment, because it hasn’t been properly authenticated yet, but we see it done all the time. Same with text messages and whatnot. Most judges, um, when they’re reviewing that, they, they might glance over something, but they’re really reading for content. [00:12:48] They might take a look at the, the picture by accident or happenstance as does happen. So I think that, you know, if you’ve got really bad bruising and, and whatnot, and pictures. Um, you know, it, you’re not [00:13:00] technically supposed to put all this stuff in there, but if you’re trying to paint a picture and you’ve taken the picture and you know, you can authenticate it, sometimes those, those things get slipped in and, you know, sometimes they’re necessary.

Mary – [00:13:10] So, so Justin, so kind, how does the process work from there? So you get into the court with your affidavit, your judge signs off on the TRO, uh, kind of what happens from there? I mean, uh, when does the next hearing happen? How does it get to the point where perhaps you can flip custody or deny access to your child from that parent? [00:13:32] How does that kind of all fall come together? 

Justin – So there’s a couple of pieces that are important there. One is are, are you taking what’s called an attachment of the child? Are you attaching the body of the child to have the child delivered to the court or to the other parent? Right? So. When you’re dealing with extraordinary relief in A TRO. [00:13:52] Or a temporary restraining order. What a TRO does is it prohibits conte conduct. So you can’t get what we call affirmative relief. You can’t make [00:14:00] somebody go do something, right? So if you’re doing the writ piece or the attachment piece, or having the child delivered to the court, or have a constable pick up the child because of emergency, that’s a, that’s an extra prong that goes in there. [00:14:14] And oftentimes the courts, like I said, will expedite that portion of the hearing. You know, we’ve got one this week that. They literally, the judge is doing it at noon during a lunch break, uh, so that nobody sees it. It, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s really, it’s really unique when you see how much care and effort these judges put into, um, trying to preserve the, the nature of the, you know, confidentiality. [00:14:38] Um, trying to keep parents from, you know, going off the rails on these things. And they really try to expedite it. I mean, these, these judges have full plates and I’m not just blowing smoke and kissing backsides here, they, they literally are, are swamped and inundated. Post covid for sure. They don’t have a whole lot of judges, and the associate judge is tasked with these things [00:14:58] oftentimes now you’ll, you’ll see [00:15:00] many times you take the affidavit into the district court, they will then sign off on it. Um, and then, you know, the judge will ask for somebody sometimes to appear. They will ask for an expedited hearing, but usually it’s inside of about. 10 to 14 days, and especially if there’s a rent or something like that, they’ll get that done in two or three days. [00:15:19] If you look at CPS or Department of Family Protective Services, they actually have legal requirements to get to court in 24 to 48 hours. And then in order to, if they’re doing a removal of a child, in order to extend that, they’ve gotta get in front of the judge and tell ’em why. And so, you know, but what, what you’ll see if DFPS is involved is they will go to a house, for example. [00:15:41] They will tell somebody, Hey, we’ve heard this complaint. We need to inspect the child. We need to talk to the child. And then they will basically, at that point, if they determine that there’s an issue, they will ask the party or the parent or whoever’s in charge of the child to sign a voluntary consent form. [00:15:56] When you do that, you’ve, you’ve automatically said, Hey. You’ve [00:16:00] got the right to keep a child, and I’m not gonna take the child back until we get to court. So you gotta, you gotta be careful about, you know, if you’ve, if you’re defending these things, having a third party come in, um, and especially somebody with CPS and there’s an officer and all this stuff, you kind of feel like, I gotta sign this. [00:16:15] It’s like the breathalyzer, um, or, you know, the blood draw. Um, now they have a right, like a blood draw in a, in a, in a DWI case they have a right to do it. So, uh, you know, you gotta, you gotta remember, you may have some defenses and you may be able to say no to certain things, but ultimately, if a child is in danger, you’re, there’s the door’s getting kicked in basically, and that child is getting protected. [00:16:39] Um, if it, if it is that severe. So. Um, I know that’s a long or roundabout way of answering how long it takes, but it really depends on the nature of what, what you’re filing and what your relief is. So if it’s extraordinary relief to keep somebody from a weekend possession and access on the first, third and fifth weekends, oftentimes the judge will [00:17:00] coordinate with you. [00:17:00] When you take that into court and you say, judge, he’s got this weekend. But these are our concerns. If we can get in by next week or week after, he’s only gonna miss one weekend. And, and we can do makeup if, if you don’t find these things to be true. Uh, and they’re not backed up, uh, from what’s in the affidavit. [00:17:16] So you will see some of that timeline navigation or negotiation with the judge before they sign the extraordinary relief. And then when it comes to. Kind of the standard boilerplate TRO, that’s good for 14 days, right? So when I say that’s good, what I mean by that is the temporary restraining order, because it’s ex parte signed by the judge, and you have only been the person to present the evidence that is only valid for 14 days. [00:17:45] You can get an extension of that if you can’t find the party or they haven’t been served and whatnot, you can get an extension. But oftentimes what you’ll see is party gets served with that, then the other party says, well, we’re not ready. We don’t have all our evidence or our pieces ready. And the judge is like, [00:18:00] wait a minute. [00:18:00] You’ve had me sign extraordinary relief saying that there’s a danger to the child and you don’t have your evidence ready in 14 days. See you later. Okay. And when they do that, the challenge is you may have some loose evidence or you know, some stuff that’s not really moving the needle, uh, to the finish line. [00:18:19] And so when you have that looser evidence, it may take some time. For example, psychologists, phone records, these things that you sometimes have to subpoena and you’re supposed to get this inside of seven to 14 days. Well, that’s really hard, right? And so what happens is they, they don’t sign the extraordinary relief TRO, and it takes a long time to get back into court, and you’ve got valid reasons. [00:18:43] Just you have to separate extraordinary relief and what it takes to get there from a modification or from restricted possession and access or something like that. Extraordinary relief means something really bad had happened basically yesterday, and if we don’t get this child protected [00:19:00] immediately, this child is gonna be in danger until we get to the hearing and maybe for the next couple months until we get to the bottom of it. [00:19:07] So it’s just a different and heightened burden. 

Mary – So that, that’s kind of a good place to pivot too, because there are parents obviously on the other side who are on the receiving end of A TRO, and a lot of times there are false accusations that are involved with those. So not always, obviously, but you know, so if you are falsely accused, what can you do to refute those accusations and get the TRO vacated if you have been falsely accused?

Justin – [00:19:35] So the starting point for that to me is explaining you cannot prove a negative, right? So what I see a lot of. I don’t really wanna say bad family lawyers, but lawyers that don’t really think outside the box, I guess, is they start basically trying to prove they didn’t do something or their, their client didn’t do something. [00:19:54] Now, if it’s a clear cut, I had an alibi, I wasn’t there. Right. That’s a different ball [00:20:00] game. But you know, they, they. It. You get into kind of this he said, she said, and let me show you why this person’s bad. Not that I didn’t do the act, but let me show you why this other person’s bad. Right? And so, you know, when it comes to defending these claims, and, and I will tell you there are plenty. [00:20:21] Plenty of very, very, very valid claims. And it is very important that every lawyer, when you’re analyzing these, I’ll tell you an example where I screwed up when I was, you know, two or three years into my legal practice. I, I just heard so many complaints over and over there. I. This and that. We didn’t have narcissism as thrown around as much back then, but it was kind of the same stuff over and over, and I was going like this piece of paper, it’s a protective order. [00:20:45] You know, if, if somebody’s gonna shoot you or do something very damaging to you, what is this P piece of paper really gonna do? There’s already a law that says they can’t do that. So how is this really gonna stop conduct? Well in that situation. Luckily, [00:21:00] luckily someone else came along and found it to be more serious and that guy actually got picked up from stalking around the house and he had a car full of guns. [00:21:10] And I’ll never forget that case because that was, that was me getting in my own head and not thinking about the clients severe issues. On the other side of that coin though, you, the lawyer really has to do a deep dive, right? Because especially when you have custody as a leverage piece, right? Which it never should be. [00:21:27] But be let’s be real, people use custody all the time as leverage for property. They use custody all the time as a threat to control somebody. And when you are in a custody case, it is, a child goes here, or a child goes there. And I know that sounds elementary, but at the end of the day, that causes people to say very dumb things sometimes, right? [00:21:49] And make things up or exaggerate. That’s why I really start with the evidence and you know, if someone’s kinda got a loosey goosey affidavit and you know, they’re not, they’re not [00:22:00] pointing to pictures and things like that in the affidavit, they’re not pointing to medical records. Somebody wasn’t arrested. [00:22:06] Um, you know, it starts, my intent is going up, okay, well maybe this person didn’t do these things. They’re saying they didn’t, obviously, they, they never come in and say, I did all this, but I wanna show you didn’t, or they’d be out my door. So. When it comes to false accusations, what I do from the beginning is I start with the timeline and gather all evidence. [00:22:24] The who, what, when, where, why, again, about where the parties were, what their interactions were. I gather the text messages, I gather the pictures, everything you can get that surrounds the context of the communications between the parties. Um, we’ve seen in pretty recent days some of these text messages and things that don’t get into a courtroom. [00:22:44] You know, in, in family courts, most all of that stuff would come in. So if somebody is, you know, blowing you up on text messages or saying crazy things, that stuff comes into a courtroom. ’cause you’re dealing with best interest of a child and maybe not a tort claim, right? Or a [00:23:00] civil wrong. So, you know, it’s, it’s really important to establish kind of their personality types, their communications. [00:23:06] For example, if you say, Hey, you know, you hit me yesterday and you know, you, I’m, you’ve been violent with me, and then I’ve got text messages from you saying, I love you. I miss you. Last night was great. That’s pretty good evidence. Right now we don’t, we don’t generally get that kind of softball, but I had a case a year and a half ago where my client was filing for protective order. [00:23:27] She then filed a cross protective order or a counter protective order, and they both basically fought dirty and they thought the civil courts were the place to do that, and they literally drove to court with each other. Right When I found that out, right when I got to court, I was like, Hey, we’re dismissing our protective order. [00:23:46] And the other side was like, what? And I was like, yeah, these parties don’t need to go forward. I didn’t say another word because I knew that I’ve, I’ve seen the communications and it is blatant allegations. After allegations, after allegations. That case, we actually had to [00:24:00] file a, what’s called a vexatious litigant, uh, situation where there’s been so many modifications, so many enforcements, so many of, uh, these extraordinary reliefs filed, uh, we file as a vexatious litigant. [00:24:11] And courts are hesitant to do that because you’re always having to protect the child. In this situation though, we get in there and the first two questions are, you’re scared, you’re terrified. Yes. Yes, yes. And how’d you get to court today? Well, he drove me and the judge literally drops the gavel is like, get outta here. [00:24:27] I. Right. So when you have, when you have that smoking gun, and the reason I did that for theatrics, by the way, ordinarily would just say, Hey, parties drove to court, was because the lawyer on the other side was very abrasive and drank the Kool-Aid. Every single time the client would wanna file something and or was getting paid. [00:24:46] And so I wanted to make, make it known. And we got attorney’s fees by the way, but we, we had to pull down our protective order. And our protective order. I, I told the client, I said, you don’t ever, ever, ever ask me to file [00:25:00] something this extraordinary again. Come and tell the court and a judge that you have extraordinary relief. [00:25:06] You need protection from this individual ’cause you fear for your safety. You guys are intimate four days later and you freaking ride to court together. Right. So when I talk about exaggeration, when people love each other and they fight dirty and it’s not working, they fight dirtier. We’ve talked about that before. [00:25:25] Well, in a court setting, when people start suing each other, sometimes they just keep going. They ask for more, they ask for too much. They ask for extraordinary relief, protective orders, and once you start that snowball rolling downhill. It’s very difficult to unwind it right or stop it. I see a lot of people, they, I wanna cancel this, I that protective order. [00:25:45] You got great job, but now we’re back together. Guess what? That judge ain’t gonna just do that. And there’s statutory requirements to, in addition to what the judge is not gonna do, and the judge can come back and be very, very hard on those kind of people. 

Andrea – So it’s very well minutes for the kids, right? I [00:26:00] mean, they don’t really care. [00:26:01] You if you, if I say I’m afraid for my life and want a protective order, you just said how he dismissed that. But when kids are involved and I say the other party is danger is a danger to my kids, and now I’m back with him, that’s when the judges don’t take it that easy. Correct.

Justin –  A hundred percent 

Andrea – When the kids Okay.

Justin – [00:26:17] Yeah. Yeah. I mean it’s just, you just don’t play with this fire. This is not a game and, and I, I don’t see a whole lot of lawyers just firing off these petitions. Um, just willy-nilly. That doesn’t happen a whole lot, but it does, um, happen. Some where I see it a whole lot is, is people that are not represented. [00:26:35] You know, the, in today’s day and age, everybody can go online and Google Petition for divorce and they think all we do is sit around and, you know, I guess go to happy hours with each other. We don’t do anything. And our value as attorneys, you know, this is not everyone, but this is some people that, that believe this. [00:26:50] I can do this myself. I can assure you, nine times outta 10. People will mess up something in a massive way if they try to do do it themselves, and we [00:27:00] are massively busy. This is not a sales pitch. YII will tell you how many cases we turned down in the last month or so. Simply because of bandwidth and capacity. [00:27:09] So do not try to do this yourselves. I mean, especially with protective orders, especially with con with extraordinary relief. You’ve gotta know so many intricate details to how to proceed and then how to get these things set, what to do. Orders, get ’em served. There’s, there’s too much involved in my opinion. [00:27:27] Um, so if you can’t afford an attorney and there is extraordinary relief, you need to go to the attorney General or the District attorney’s office and see if they will help you. You need to look, uh, online for, uh, pro bono protection, uh, groups out there. And the sad part is there’s so much drama in these cases that a lot of the people that did this pro bono, they, they stopped doing it. [00:27:50] And part of it is because people, you know, a lot of people took advantage of this. They would go and fire off these petitions to get back at the other party. Right. And the other [00:28:00] part of it is people that are in this super high conflict custody case, it’s very draining on the attorney and their staff. It just is. [00:28:07] And well, you know, the consumer goes, I don’t have any sympathy. You’re getting paid. Yes. But there you’re getting paid for a lot of different types of law and this is the, this is the very dirty stuff. And also from a mental health standpoint, you know, I’ve, I’ve had some very bad things happen to my clients or the other side that, that and or their, their family members that my staff has to see. [00:28:31] And project and that that’s, I mean, that’s, it’s not easy when you’re seeing pictures of people you know, really, really harmed and so. Keep that in mind that that’s the kind of stuff the courts are seeing, unfortunately, on a daily basis. So if you don’t have something extreme, it’s not that you don’t have a good case, you just don’t have extraordinary relief. [00:28:51] Don’t ask an attorney to go fire off these motions. A, it’s gonna cost you another 10 or 20 grand, uh, that you probably don’t have if you’re dealing with a lot of these issues, [00:29:00] uh, because you’ve been dealing with them for a long time. And so just be very cognizant of that. I, that, that’s my one caution and don’t ever, ever, ever. [00:29:07] Think that you can pull the wool over an attorney’s eyes or the judge’s eyes to convince your narrative. If you don’t have the facts and you don’t have evidence, don’t bring it. 

Andrea – So I have one question ’cause I’ve been in this situation too. What if you really as a, as a male or female, the other person makes threats to you, but intentionally doesn’t make threats or to you, threats to you and the kids? [00:29:31] ’cause we’re talking about the kids and, but you don’t have any evidence, meaning they don’t, they always do it via phone. Can I record what they say on the phone? I mean, how do I prove to you? ’cause you said earlier, hearsay is okay, you can bring hearsay, but if somebody constantly threatens me. To deport me, to put drugs in my car, to kill me, whatever. [00:29:49] How do I prove that to you, that you would take the case and really protect me?

Justin –  I mean, you know, and, and I want to give the caveat of there are, there’s, the [00:30:00] laws are currently changing as we speak and have changed as far as, um, gathering evidence and what you can, you know, as far as, as far as wiretapping, uh, what you can gather. [00:30:10] So I wanna be careful not to go too deep into what you can and can’t do about recording. ’cause that’s a whole nother podcast basically. But, but. Certainly if, if you are, if someone is threatening you directly on your phone, it absolutely, you pick up the phone and, and push record, right? If they are threatening you indirectly, usually, usually the threats come indirectly. [00:30:29] They, they, they say and plant things, social media, watch out, right? I’m coming. Those kind of things. And so you see those kind of, those kind of text message. The biggest piece though, ’cause you’re ju a lot of people are too wise. They, they know that these court recordings are gonna come into court. What they do is a lot of harassing phone calls, hundreds and hundreds. [00:30:48] Right. They’re calling from different phone numbers. They get wise to how you jack with somebody, if you will. But most of it involves stalking. And, you know, they’ll, they’ll have tracking devices, all kinds of [00:31:00] things on your car, your computer. Um, and so what you need to be cognizant of is if someone is finding out where you are and planning these kind of things, and, and they let you know about it too, right? [00:31:10] They want you to know that they’re can and control you. They’re watching you. When they start that me down that path, you can certainly have, uh, investigators. Look at your car to figure out whether any of these tracking devices are on there. Your computer’s changing passwords, but breaking contact is absolutely critical. [00:31:28] The challenge is, is if you’ve got a custody case where you know somebody’s communicating about the child and you are ordered to do that, that’s why we have Our Family Wizard. That’s why we have, you know, other means of communication or through third parties, um, and prohibiting some communication. So this doesn’t exist, but yes. [00:31:43] Andrea, you, you definitely, um, need to, if you’ve got somebody that’s making threats to you, you need to be in, I don’t, I call it not MacGyver mode, but you need to be thinking about how to gather that information 

Andrea – Because I don’t wanna come across that unless I have a smoking gun, I have no chance. I wanna make sure that, that, that people know that [00:32:00] yes, you can still be protected. [00:32:01] You just need to talk to an attorney and see, and don’t wait it out, right? 

Andrea – I mean, talk to somebody and see what you can do to protect yourself. Yeah, and I mean, if, if you’ve got witnesses, the, the part that’s really tough is when you’ve got the kids and they hear it and, and I see people, they do FaceTime and all this stuff, and it’s, it’s challenging because they do FaceTime and they’ve got the kids sitting there and if somebody’s saying terrible things, get the kids out of there first. [00:32:23] Be smart. Like, don’t try to be MacGyver and information gather, um, just to win your position. But sometimes it’s like, okay, this is happening right now. I had a client two weeks ago, and I know we’re getting cut short here, but I had a client two weeks ago. Literally, her daughter FaceTimed her while running from, from, uh, her ex. [00:32:41] And this guy was physically assaulting the child on FaceTime. The mother is, you know, she’s, you just can’t, you can’t imagine, right. And this guy had A P-T-S-D episode and went absolutely postal. And you know, she’s sitting there on FaceTime. We don’t have the [00:33:00] FaceTime. It’s not like you just push record and it just pops up. [00:33:03] So those things, like, you know, the, the, the, the conversation, the indirect evidence. You were on FaceTime. What happened? She dropped her phone. You’re painting the picture and what, what did you do? I was about to call 9 1 1, but I’m watching, I’m watching her on the phone. I’m making sure she’s okay. I’m driving over there. [00:33:18] I’m literally trying to dial, you’re, you’re setting a tone and a mood and you can see through action. So you don’t always have to have. The hardcore direct evidence, sometimes that indirect evidence can be used to show and paint the picture.

Mary –  So the last question I have for you today, Justin, is that, you know, there are parents that screw up, they lose custody a lot of times it’s due to substance abuse, abuse or other like, you know, mental health issues and things like that. [00:33:44] So what steps did they need to take to regain access to their kids? And how do the courts typically deal with those situations? 

Justin – So when we talked in the beginning about the, the rope loosening right, um, around their neck, the cases that are very challenging [00:34:00] as a lawyer are the ones where you go get this extraordinary relief and then you feel like that rope is loosening the entire time the parties go back to court. [00:34:07] The other side is barely having to do anything to get this rope loosened other than just allow time to go by and take a few classes, and the party that got this extraordinary relief, that spent all this money feels like they’re losing. I’ll tell you, my client, uh, you know, from this week will feel that way. [00:34:22] I told her that in the very beginning. But the reality is if you’ve got to keep certain, you know, measures in place, i.e. supervision for a reason, it’s, you know, and you’ve got tangible like drug test failures, right? Or somebody’s not taking the classes, they’re not cooperating, uh, they’re continuing to threaten and harass you. [00:34:41] You know, you keep that stuff that, that stuff in place. But keep in mind, courts want to get parents out of court, right? They don’t want a black robe having to decide that on Tuesday at 6:00 PM you’re gonna meet at the Sonic on this street, right? That, I mean. The, the, there’s a principle [00:35:00] in the order that says specifically parties can agree at all. [00:35:03] Other times mutually agreeable. When you get this extraordinary relief though, and it starts loosening, right? My, my favorite cases are when people rehabilitate, right? Or you have the mom that you know, has been a, a, a single mom and she doesn’t have any confidence in herself, and she goes and gets a job and goes and does all this stuff, you know, or, or a wife that doesn’t, you know, hasn’t been active and involved in any kind of financial part of their, their marriage, and they go and make this change. [00:35:28] Or somebody who’s been battered and picks themself up and gets through that by going to counseling, treatment, everything, and picks themself up and helps others get through it. Right. That’s what we’re doing here on this podcast. Right? So I think the big piece there is when you’re, when you’re representing those people to get out of that scenario is make sure that you’re not trying to [00:35:50] paint the picture that they’re Jesus. They’re not, they had extraordinary relief. That relief will get loosened if they do the right thing, right? And, and so having them go above and beyond. I sent a client to [00:36:00] rehab. He’s a multi gazillionaire. I sent a client to rehab a couple months ago and this, this guy came in just absolutely off his rocker, and he came in and about 30 minutes into the conversation, I knew he wasn’t absorbing anything. [00:36:13] He’d been up all night. Drugs and alcohol. Wildly successful, younger guy I sent him off to, to rehab or asked him, I didn’t send him anywhere. I asked him to go and he did, and then he ended up staying an extra 30 days. Right. And opposing counsel tried to be like, oh, well see he had such a problem. He stayed longer. [00:36:31] The answer was so, so. Clear and I told the lawyer, I said, Hey, this, this guy is really trying to get his life together. He knows he’s screwed up. He’s really trying to do the right thing. Those parties are back together. Now. The other lawyer got fired, by the way, and this guy is a dad again. So people can change. [00:36:49] And if you, if they’re making efforts, don’t be the person that goes, I got this affidavit. Ha ha, look what happened to you. You’re screwed. You’ll never change. Don’t be those people. Like, you want your kids to [00:37:00] have a sane individual on the other side, and you want them to be protected if that person’s not taking the steps. [00:37:05] But if they are, you better, you better not be too overbearing with what you’re asking for, because those are my favorite types of cases. When somebody’s making a real change, we go in there and we loosen up that news and somebody keeps wanting that foot on the head. That’s when we get after it, and I’ll flip custody. [00:37:22] I’ve done it before. 

Mary – I love it. Those are, those are great stories. I love, love when you talk about those. So any parting thoughts today, Justin, Andrea, on this topic? It’s a great one. 

Justin – No thank you guys. Um, and just, just keep in mind like we really, we really want people to have a thorough conver conversation and consultation on these issues.[00:37:43] I promise you. We’re not trying to talk you. I talk more people out of extraordinary relief than anything. So if you have that kind of, I don’t know, or you’re unsure. Just give us a call. I’ll set up a 30 minute call with you. We can do it at the office or, or on the phone. It’s up to you. Uh, we do most of our consults now, uh, via [00:38:00] phone, so don’t feel like it’s too much to ask or there’s any dumb questions. [00:38:04] You spend a couple hundred bucks and get a bunch of answers. Uh, and it may save you tens of thousands that you’d pay somebody else that just wants a case. 

Mary – Great point. So if you’d like to contact the Sisemore Law Firm and talk to Justin, you can call 817-336-4444 or visit lawyer We also invite you to follow the podcast and share it with friends who might find it helpful.[00:38:27] I. So thanks so much for listening and have a great day. 

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