Why Children Resist Visitation After Divorce (Ep.10)

It can be easy to give in when a child starts crying. You want to protect your child from the hurt you assume they are experiencing at the other parent’s home. What if that isn’t the case? What if giving in isn’t the best option for the child’s well-being? 

In this episode, Justin Sisemore and Andrea Jones focus on children after divorce, the emotional spectrum they go through as they age and the assumptions parents make about the wants and needs, especially with the first child. They share their experiences with children of different age groups and how parents can protect themselves from losing visitation.

Justin and Andrea discuss:

  • Why young children cry when leaving the primary parent and why parents should avoid giving in to the emotions  
  • The importance of reinforcing the court rules of visitation on the children while showing the children they are loved
  • The legal troubles of avoiding visitation and enforcing different rules
  • How to differentiate the needs of the child from the wants of the parents
  • And more!

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Read the Show Transcript

[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.

Parents can face a variety of challenges when trying to co-parent after separation or divorce. In today’s episode of In Your Best Interest, we’ll discuss what parents should do when children of different ages resist going with the other parent for visitation, why parents need to be careful about withholding visitation or alienating a child from the other [00:01:00] parent, and what steps parents can take to protect themselves, both legally and emotionally. [00:01:07] Thanks for joining us for this episode of In Your Best Interest. I’m Mary Maloney, and today attorney Justin Sisemore, entrepreneur Andrea Jones and I will discuss some of the common co-parenting challenges parents face.

Justin, sharing custody can be challenging for many parents, especially when kids don’t want to spend time with the other parent, which happens a lot.[00:01:27] Can you touch on some comment scenarios as to why kids don’t want to go to the other parent’s house? Maybe they have a good reason. Maybe they don’t.

I think that we really need to analyze that from a perspective of the age of the children. I, we see a lot of differences when it comes to young children and I don’t, I mean, obviously until they’re three, or so, they don’t really have the choice[00:01:53] but even two year olds and three year olds, you know, they, they cry and scream. My kids do that all day long. You know, it is something as [00:02:00] simple as taking them to school. This morning I experienced that, you know, well, I want mommy to take me. And so what we want to do, uh, in family law scenarios is really not put kids in a box because of their age, but we need to think about, uh, the different emotional aspects and tolls that it takes on children, uh, when they’re younger.

[00:02:17] I like to break them down into category. So, let’s, let’s start from like the two to six category and then the six to eleven category, and then the eleven to fifteen and then after that we’ll just go with, uh, those in the 15 to 18 category. With young children, one of the challenges is, you know, when you represent the primary parent who has been doing the heavy lifting, taking to and from the doctor, um, making the meals, and you have the other parent working, what is a very natural [00:02:48] progression for a child is to want to gravitate at a very young age towards the primary parent. And so, the parent, especially when you have a division of a household, uh, naturally wants [00:03:00] to protect their little cub. And what happens in that scenario is the child cries, screams, I don’t want to go, and then that makes the parent go into protection.

[00:03:09] So it’s a very natural feeling, but what you experience when your parents together in a household and you have the kids cry and they don’t want to go with the other parent, is once they get into the car and they start listening to music and relaxing a little bit, that that goes away. Right. And the challenge is when you’re not in the same household, you don’t see that side of it.

[00:03:31] And so it’s very natural to feel like the, the child going to the other parent is causing emotional distress on the child. Or the child is sad or is not going to be able to adapt, or the other parent’s not gonna care for the child in the same manner, uh, to calm the nerves of that child. So, I just want to give some reassurance, uh, to parents out there.

[00:03:50] We all know that the primary parents are going to remain the primary parents’ not taking something away, and your child is not going to be harmed. In fact, you know, my kids, for example, they [00:04:00] have multiple babysitters. They’ve been, uh, in school since they were infants. Um, caretakers across the board.

[00:04:07] We have a whole village raising them, and I can assure you that over time as they get used to it. Not only is it i something that becomes more natural for the kids where they actually, adapt well, they really become very well rounded because they learn to adapt to situations, they learn to adapt to different parents, different styles, different humans, different interactions.

[00:04:29] And so I would just really encourage, especially parents of young children, when you separate, don’t be super nervous and feel like that that’s going to disrupt your child’s life, livelihood. Uh, you know, all of us have been the first-time parent with a, with an infant and, and you know that child is, oh my gosh [00:04:49] if anything happens, um, that the child starts crying, uh, or is upset, I’m the only person that can solve that problem. And that’s a very natural feeling. When, when it’s your first [00:05:00] child, and I think parents of two and three and four and five kids, they start to go, okay. I can breathe now I know that I’ve been through this before.

[00:05:08] And, and so one of the things we try to do is just talk through these scenarios with the parents, uh, and let them know that just from our own experiences, most of our attorneys have children. Uh, here, most of the paralegals have children. We’re very cognizant of the concerns. Um, but it’s really important to show the children that united front that we always talk about, and it’s, and, and part of that starts with a stable schedule.

[00:05:33] I see a lot of times where parents get frustrated, uh, because one parent is not very consistent with the schedule, and so that really, uh, compounds the problem of the child’s, uh, emotional, uh, distress or fear or concern, and then that makes the other parent really nervous. So, I think it’s really important for any, in a co-parenting environment in a separate household to really try to stick to a schedule and let that [00:06:00] child feel [00:06:02] positive energy when you’re going over there, that really eases that, that transitional moment. Um, and then the consistency of the schedule. The child knows that when they get over there, after they do it 4, 5, 6, 10 times, it really becomes more natural. It’s usually those first few moments or it’s a scenario where there’s inconsistency.

[00:06:20] So my encouragement always, and our firm’s encouragement always is to really try to stay on script with respect to the orders and the schedule. Um, and really just make that a positive experience, uh, for your child. You know, you got to do it. Because you’re going to have enforcements potential custody, uh, issues if you don’t.

[00:06:39] And it’s way better, in my opinion, to know that you’ve done everything on your end during the exchange to really give that child that positive light and that feeling that you’re on board with that exchange, and that can be hard when you have, you know, different emotions between the parents, obviously, but, but you just got to remember that child’s going anyway, so you’ve got [00:07:00] control of it for a limited period of time in that exchange and really try to make that a positive outlook.

[00:07:05] Say, Justin, I’d like to hop into talking about teens in just a second, but Andrea, I’d also like to ask you, because, because you’ve raised kids, um, in a shared custody situation and you have, um, gone through little kids to teens, can you talk a little bit about how you were able to navigate the, the situation when your kids were younger?

[00:07:26] Yeah, so Justin talked about the two- to six-year-old. I think I had kids at that, in that age group, and at that age, it is very hard, and I think exactly what Justin said, because I was the one taking care of the kids and the other parent was not. Now to hand over the kids to somebody who, who was not the main caregiver, was a little scary.

[00:07:46] But again, you do it anyway and the kids like, he just, like you said, they’re relaxed. I was more nervous than they were and, and when after they went a couple of times then it was all good. It’s just crying and I don’t want to stay with mommy and I don’t want to go. I experienced all of [00:08:00] those things, which as a mama, that breaks your heart, but you just have to do it.

[00:08:03] And then once they’re gone and then they come back and they tell, tell you how great it was, then it’s all good. It’s just, it’s just the first couple of times where you really freak out. Unless it’s a bad situation. We’ll talk about that later but otherwise, I think that age group, it becomes more challenging.

[00:08:16] And maybe Justin, you can talk about that when they get older because two to six, they don’t really have that opinion yet. They’re just scared to leave. Mummies, mummies always around and daddy was not damaged or vice versa. It’s very different nowadays. Um, whoever, whoever is home, um, or the other. But what happens with the six to 11 year old or older?

[00:08:35] Because at some point they tell you, I do not want to go. And then again, as a mother, what do you do in that situation? Little guys go, you tell them there’s the daughter’s daddy, or there’s mommy, or there’s whatever they leave. But then at an older age they tell you, I do not want to go. What do you do as a parent?

[00:08:51] Yeah, and I think we can touch on that now, I think it’s an appropriate time to kind of touch on that 6 to 11 category because that’s when obviously children become [00:09:00] more vocal. They start to really understand what’s going on as far as the division of household, and they really, um, I think at some point start to really choose what feels comfortable and more natural.

[00:09:13] And so the 6 to 11 category, you know, as they get through that progression becomes a scenario where now kids are saying, well, daddy’s mean, or we don’t do things over there, or Mommy’s not, you know, there, or whatever the situation may be. So, you’re starting to actually hear the vocal, um, the vocalization of the issues.

[00:09:32] And when you have that coupled with your own fears and your own emotions and the, the problems that you faced in the past with your, uh, ex, you know, that can, that can be very challenging because that becomes the first time you really hear these things from your children. And natural inclination of a parent is to protect a child.

[00:09:50] And so, what I would encourage you to remember is that when they get to that next step, that 12 to 15 category, right at [00:10:00] that point, it’s, they’re starting to learn how to protect themselves a little bit more, right? And so, what you want to remember is that so that you can have consistency with discipline, so that you can have consistency with their education doing their homework and things that kids just don’t naturally want to do.

[00:10:16] If, if you’re starting the habits at 6 to 11 of listening to the kids and just jumping, when they say jump, you’re putting them in the driver’s seat. So, the courts are very specific on making sure that the primary parent has the ability to separate their own emotion and drive the boat and not to let the children do that.

[00:10:35] And what happens is if you start the habit at 6 to 11, where you’re really giving them a lot of input, as to that data and a lot of responsiveness, verbal and nonverbal what you’re creating is a scenario that 11, uh, to 14 and 15, now they’re starting to figure out what they want to do. They don’t want to do their homework, they don’t want to go to bed on time [00:10:56] they want their cell phones you know, and all these things. And, and [00:11:00] so what, what ends up transpiring is you’re reinforcing behaviors that you don’t want at your own house and so establishing, hey, these, your daddy loves you your mommy loves you, this is great time, and, and we’re going to have, you’re going to have a great time over there.

[00:11:13] We’ve talked about this before in the podcast, and I know this sounds very elementary to some of our listeners, but you have to remember that this progression in a custody case, I have clients that hire us two and three times, four, five times throughout the, the course of their children’s lives. Um, and, and I don’t like those repeat business because what it means is that, again, we’re not, we’re not really reinforcing the positive behaviors in certain situations, or it means that one parent is just completely not following a court order or not doing what they need to, to support the child’s livelihood and, and upbringing and, and any of those scenarios, the more you see us and the more you have to come back [00:11:52] the more anxiety, uh, you see in children, the more frustration, the lower their self-esteem. I had a, I was in trial yesterday [00:12:00] and we were in a scenario where, the, the children were stay at home, um, or the mom was a stay at home mom. Uh, she, and she was our client. She, uh, homeschooled the children in a very, very, uh, good environment across the board, but very, very isolated, right?

[00:12:16] And, and so now what happens is the parties are getting divorced, mom’s going to have to go to work. So, there’s going to be some changes that are going to, that are going to occur. And if you don’t start practicing some of those things and start releasing some of that fear there’s not really a, a light at the end of the tunnel because the courts are going to allow for mutual visitation.

[00:12:36] They’re going to enforce those rules and, you know, you just got to kind of get used to it. Um, so the easiest way to do that is have positive communication. Keep consistency, uh, with the exchanges and not make it a war. Every time there’s an exchange, don’t create that discomfort because it’s going to happen.

[00:12:55] And at the end of the day, you’d rather have some communication and be able to [00:13:00] call your children when you’re there and not make this some war between parents so that that communication gets completely shut down. So, so we have to remember kids are very, and, uh, so they will pick the path of least resistance, meaning one household might have rules, then you might have to do chores.

[00:13:16] The rules might be stricter than at the other house, and that might also cause kids not, not to want to go with the other parents. So, I, I totally agree we need to be careful there and in the different environments. I think that’s, that’s one of the biggest challenges my kids had. The environment was so very different at the other house and what was done at the other house, and that caused them [00:13:37] discomfort or stress or whatever. But again, kids need to adapt and need to learn to be in a different environment and they’re, again, they’re very smart they figure out, and then what that helps them later on in life, like Justin said earlier, to adapt to different environments, different situations, and learn from that.

[00:13:53] Mary, I think, I think that’s a good segue to the, the, the older kids right there because, the [00:14:00] 6 to 11 scenario, now all of a sudden you’re adding children’s sports and activities that, you know, when they’re 6 to 11, they, they’re definitely in sports and doing all those things, but, but it becomes, um, you know, much more challenging and demanding on schedules.

[00:14:17] Um, and then all of a sudden you’ve got the rules that we’ve talked about. You’ve got the kids now having their own input and, and when they get to the 11 to to 15 age, that’s where the habits have already been created. I mean, you know, it’s, it’s like a kid that starts a golf swing at four or whatever the case may be [00:14:36] they, they, they get better. They progress through it and, and so, um, in my opinion, I think if you get to a scenario where you get to the 11 year old range and now you’ve, you’ve really shared in the communication and you, you’ve tried to, you know, think about where you’re going to and, and, and the proximity, uh, to the school and the activities and all those things when you’re making decisions about [00:15:00] bringing new people, uh, into the equation, step families and all that.

[00:15:04] Uh, I just think it’s important to really open those, those lines of communication. And I don’t care how much you fought before. I don’t care how bad of a person that you may think that person is, you’ve got to get it to try to get it right, because all the courts want to do is to get y’all out. People think courts want to listen to their stories, and we’ve talked about it a million times[00:15:25] they have so much going on. Uh, and their pipeline is so full with covid, uh, happening, the courts filled up. Uh, and, and people are just more on edge nowadays. They, they definitely have a lot more outlets to get different opinions, um, that, that they create emotional problems as a result of, and, and they just stopped communicating.

[00:15:48] And, and you’ve got to keep that open because at the end of the day, at 11, 12, 13, now all of a sudden, Andrea brought it up. How do you force a child or should you have to force a [00:16:00] child to go when they’re saying they don’t want to go, and part of the reason that kids don’t want to go, sometimes it’s, it’s the other parent, but sometimes it’s the fact that they’re not being,[00:16:10] they’re not having the reinforcement of this is a rule, this is a, a loving situation. This is what the court demands. And kids, look, you may not want to go today because you want to sit here and play games or play with your friends, but at the end of the day, your dad loves you. And that’s really important for both parents to reassure the child to know so that when they do go over there they, it’s not a matter of mom’s punishing me by going to dad’s or dad’s punishing me by going to mom’s.

[00:16:36] It’s a matter of, look, your parents love you. We’re both very different. We’re going to, we’re going to teach you different things and it’s not always going to be the same. And that’s great. That’s going to make you more well rounded, uh, that’s going to make you see the world. And, and we also have to have responsibility and follow rules.

[00:16:52] And if you can’t enforce those rules because your child, your 11 year old is running the roost, I can assure you that minute that you don’t have your [00:17:00] child available. I just talked to a guy yesterday three times. I told him, I said, Hey, you go and be at the pickup and drop-off 3 times. Mom said, I’m not going to go.

[00:17:09] The kids don’t want to go. She, she’s, she’s bounced around with that. I said, go three times. You take your phone. Record the incident where you’re there, you send her a text message saying, I’ll be there at the time and place and the designation. And he wrote a $5,000 check to me. I’m going to go take her to court.

[00:17:25] I’m going to file an enforcement. Uh, she’s going to have to pay all the attorney’s fees. Most likely she’ll probably end up in jail if she’s not careful, because her responses are very, very, uh, the kind that you don’t want to see. Well, I, I don’t care what the court says. The child doesn’t want to go.

[00:17:43] Those kind of things. Uh, you know, and both parents want to see their kids. That’s pretty natural. If, if, if two parents want to be involved, don’t fight that. It’s so important for their, for their wellbeing. And so, when they get older, they’re going to fight it even more. [00:18:00] Um, and you’re set in the habits at an early age.

[00:18:03] So, so a lot to impact, you know, um, you know, when kids don’t want to TRO (temporary restraining order) go, a lot of times that’s, because the other parent, um, the parent that’s not wanting to let them go, essentially, um, they’re doing or saying things to that child that kind of puts plant seeds in their head. About them not wanting to go.

[00:18:21] And that of course is a topic of parental alienation, which we can talk about ad nauseum, but I think we should touch on that and why that’s very dangerous, not only for the child, but also for the parent. There are consequences. Yeah, I mean the, the enforcement, one of the frustrations with family law is, the courts are very busy and they do hear some very extreme circumstances, and so, you know, we’ve talked about lenses and the lenses of the judges and what they hear and what seems important to a parent may not resonate as, as seriously with the judge because they hear.

[00:18:54] Some pretty extreme events, but one thing I will tell you is that judges generally are [00:19:00] very proud to be judges. They earned the right to be judges. Uh, they, they went to law school. They practiced, uh, in family law. And if you think as a parent, you know better than a judge, Or that the judges don’t value their court orders or enforce them.

[00:19:16] Some, some judges enforce the orders more strictly than others. I definitely agree with that. But over time, uh, if you have good attorneys on the case A, the, the, the process of litigation, the expense of litigation, the discovery, uh, the temporary hearings, the time away from your schedule, the time away from your kids.

[00:19:36] The stress that, that causes, that outside of what the court can do to you in and of itself, is ridiculous for parties to go through. I mean, you’re spinning your kids’ college fund because your 10 year old says, I don’t want to go. And you, you just kind of go, look, this is a court. This judge is going to enforce this court order.

[00:19:56] They may not put mom or dad in jail on day one, [00:20:00] but I have, I have sent people to jail on the weekends. I have sent people, I’ve made people pay tens of thousands of dollars in bonds to even see their kids before they get to take the child back. Uh, I’ve restricted access to parents altogether. I’ve taken alienation or alienating parents, their kids away from them and moved them to a boarding school to get the alienation away together where they had to pay the entire expense of the boarding school, all of the counseling, treatment, treatment.

[00:20:31] So these courts will get outside the box. And if you think nothing else, remember if, if you’re sitting on that bench and you’ve earned the right to make a court order and you’re proud about that, and you don’t want somebody coming in there just driving the boat yourself. And that’s the kind of the mindset of most judges, you know, don’t, don’t try to buck that system and, and don’t just think that well, my child doesn’t want to go, so I’m not going to make that happen.

[00:20:56] Think about the modification of the orders [00:21:00] first, but don’t exercise self-help. I get clients all the time that call me and say, well, my lawyer told me, uh, the child doesn’t have to go today because she doesn’t want to go. And I said, well, that’s great, but I, I would never tell a client to violate a court order unless there’s an immediate emergency.

[00:21:15] And then, and only then, And, and I’m talking, we file within 48 to 72 hours where we’re going, filing an emergency tro that kind of extreme event. Not, well, the child wasn’t feeling like going today or the child has an activity, uh, and dad wasn’t going to take them. So I, I, I’m going to keep the child here, or the child has the flu today.

[00:21:36] Um, you know, and the child’s sick. So, uh, you know, and, and keep in. I do want parents to exercise reasonable common sense. Like, you know, when I say stay on script, there are moments where if you have a good relationship with the other parent, you’re cooperating and the child is, uh, you know, is sick or has an event, try to head that off, try to trade trade schedules, look at that, [00:22:00] uh, way in advance.

[00:22:01] But what happens is when you get off, With that order. And then a party tries to get back on script. Now they’re the enemy. And the reality is the script of the order itself is the roadmap for how people are to operate in a separated household. So I always encourage people to say, look. I don’t want to fight with you.

[00:22:20] I don’t want to make this some kind of arbitrary schedule where maybe it’s convenient for you, but it, it’s not convenient for me and we’re going to get into arguments about that. So let’s just go back to the script and that’s just a very neutral way to, to get back on script if you’ve gotten off. But with respect to the orders themselves, Um, just remember that that consistency and that stability is, is great for your children and, and they’re going to be enforced.

[00:22:43] And, and believe me, I have some clients that will spend a crazy amount of money to enforce them, and those courts will get after people after you when you have the resources to do it. Uh, and you see some really bad actors. They will, they will do some very uncomfortable things that, that clients think they may have [00:23:00] the, uh, wherewithal to deal with.

[00:23:01] But I can assure you they don’t, because you don’t know what it looks like and it is not a fun game. So I think we also have to remember, you have to take yourself out of the equation. And again, I said as many times I made mistakes. When you look at the reason you say that my kid does not want to go, or my kid cannot go really look at is there, is this really a reason?

[00:23:22] Is it really a reason or am either kid doesn’t want to go and like Justin said with my ex, but even. Then it, it goes a long way to say the child has the flu, the child is sick. Do you want still to still want to pick the kid up? Or do we want to trade weekends and leave the kid at my house this weekend? And so those things go a long way.

[00:23:42] And by just saying, my, the kid is sick. The the kid is not coming to your house. Today is the wrong way to go about this. And, and I think, again, take yourself out of it. Is it really a reason? Cause I’ve seen this stuff with the enforcement. It is not funny when they actually enforce. And you look dumb in court if you, if you really have [00:24:00] No, no, no solid reason.

[00:24:03] Yeah. And I think, you know, one of the, the big questions too, that people ask and, and you get a lot of calls at the law firm about this, is, you know, pe parents are concerned that their child is really in danger, that the other parent is going to harm that child, or at least that’s what they think in their head.

[00:24:19] It may be true or it. Maybe not necessarily, but I think we should touch on that, about what parents need to do if they’re really worried about the safety of their child. And I can maybe give an example Justin to, for you to get into, when my kids were little, they were like two or three, the youngest ones, my ex-husband showed up drunk at the door drunk.

[00:24:40] And so what do you do in a situation like that when the other parent shows up? How do I prove to anybody that he had alcohol smells like. And, and then driving off with the kids. How do I as a parent in a situation like that, make sure my kids are safe? Do I just hand them over to somebody that clearly just drank alcohol and let them drive off?

[00:24:59] Or [00:25:00] what do I do in a situation like that? And you probably have other examples of dangerous situations. Yeah, I mean obviously if your, if your child is in a situation like that, that Andrea just mentioned, I mean, with respect to common sense and calling the police and if, if someone shows up to your doorstep and, and smells like alcohol or appears inebriated or is being violent or those things, you, you.

[00:25:27] The police first. You also have your cell phone, right? And so you, you need to establish that evidence. Um, I would take out the video recorder and just say, Hey, listen, you know, I don’t feel comfortable right now. It, let’s not talk about this in front of the child, but can we step away for just a second so that the child’s not here?

[00:25:45] Um, and, and, and really try to remain calm. When you’re gathering that evidence. Um, but you know, in scenarios where, uh, you’re afraid of a danger. Right. I had a, yesterday, [00:26:00] this was a great segue into this, the, there was some family violence in the case, um, way back when. And the client has gone so far to hire an expert to go and do a, a, a psychiatric evaluation of the other party and the expert who was obviously paid by the client.

[00:26:22] Is very much of the opinion that there’s just going to be a scenario where the child, uh, you know, because of dad’s previous anger, uh, is going to be at risk of some potential violence. And so how do you as an attorney tell a client, Hey, you’ve got a court order that you’ve agreed. Um, and or you had had a hearing and, and the court has made a certain ruling.

[00:26:48] How do you tell a client when a, when an expert says that there’s a potential risk for that to reoccur, you’ve got to follow the order. It’s, it literally is one of the hardest things [00:27:00] I do in my job to say to a parent, you have to follow a court order until something happens to your child. You, you need to be consistent with that order and you need.

[00:27:11] Establish and act like you are in a united front while keeping your eyes wide open and making sure that you’re protecting your child. I mean, those things are just kind of counterintuitive, but what, but what’s really important there? Is the client in that case? Since last December, even though we had very strict orders as far as visitation and access, no overnights, um, and all that, the client since last December was trying to really operate under that co-parenting guys, uh, and started giving the weekends and did it since last.

[00:27:45] And then all of a sudden the expert reports comes back six months later and now the client goes, oh my gosh, I don’t want my child to be in danger. Right. And I said, well, have you seen anything that’s happened that causes you any concern, any kind of corporal punishment, any kind of issues? [00:28:00] Uh, well, no. My child just, you know, she, she cries when she goes over there.

[00:28:03] She wants to come back early. I don’t think that he can handle all three of them. You know, the, the boy, uh, he seems to give some favoritism towards the boy, uh, because he wants him to play football like daddy. Uh, all those things come up. And so the other side of that coin is what does the father feel and what is the father doing and what are, what are his, uh, interactions and his perceptions of what’s going on and what can I.

[00:28:30] Right, so it, what they’re going to come in and say in that scenario is, look for six months, seven months, you’ve been giving him overnight access. Uh, that’s above and beyond the court order, and now you’re trying to remove that because you have an expert who has not met with the children, who has not met with the father and has no idea what’s going on in the household, but they diagnose and say that he has a propensity for aggression.

[00:28:57] Um, and they have not done [00:29:00] the follow up studies to really figure out how that materializes into a real risk as. And so the client has legitimate fears, legitimate concerns, but without the causal link between those legitimate fears and concerns and actual action by one party, you can’t go beyond what the court order allows for.

[00:29:20] Okay. And the, the, the courts are looking at the circumstances as they are real time. They’re looking at what has been transpiring throughout the course of the case. And many times, you know, I I, she, she got really upset with me. She was like, well, well, I should have never given him that access. And I’m sitting here going, well wait a minute.

[00:29:40] You guys have been to seven or 10 events together side by. Arm in arm. And yes, there were some pushing and things that happened and, and obviously there’s way more serious family violence out there. Right? But this was not a scenario where it, it was something that couldn’t be rehabilitated. [00:30:00] The, the father went through batter’s intervention, was not charged or arrested with any kind of family violence, and there was not any.

[00:30:06] Serious pictures or any real evidence as to the family violence. But I don’t doubt for a minute that he did some very heinous things that, you know, are just terrible and should never ever be brought into any familial relationship. But at the end of the day, they were able to get through that and overcome, uh, some of those fears.

[00:30:25] And then they were actually able to go to events together and work together, and then all of a sudden the expert comes in and makes mom afraid. And it’s like, if you’re not really scared of these events and you don’t have concrete evidence, don’t try to manufacture it. The best thing in the world that these kids have that, that we’ve seen now through the child psychologist is the kid’s anxiety actually went down.

[00:30:50] The, the dad is seeing the kids more. The kid’s anxiety went down because they saw that United front and mom was really good about [00:31:00] following the schedule. And now, now she wanted to take that away. And what I said, which was nails on a chalkboard, was, look, the court’s not gonna want you to take away visitation and access because some.

[00:31:12] 75 year old psychologist who’s not met with the child, uh, not met with the parents now has this theory that the children are going to be harmed potentially in the future. That person’s not clairvoyant. They may, they may have very good insight as far as testing, but those are not indicative of the fact that you guys have been working together for the last seven months and something harmful is going to happen to a child.

[00:31:35] And, and I think that’s a big distinction that that, that lawyers and litigants. Is that it’s not what you speculate may happen. It’s something that you have actual concrete evidence by clear and convincing evidence that you can show a court that’s not hearsay. That’s not objectionable, and, and you need to be able to modify the order with that.

[00:31:58] And when you modify the order, [00:32:00] Then and only then are you really watching out for those pitfalls. If you don’t have it to get to the modification in the first place, then what are we doing here, folks? You’re exercising self-help, and that’s where you get into a lot of trouble in a courtroom. And it’s not easy.

[00:32:14] I mean, it’s not easy, right? To take the fear that something potentially can happen to your child and you still have to let your child go. That’s why I always say like, you have to have a good lawyer that he can pick up the phone and say, I’m in this situation now what do I do? Because this, otherwise, like you said, you will do self-help because you’re afraid that something’s going to happen to your kids.

[00:32:33] And then hindsight is 2020, I should have not done it. What do you do then? So, and Mary, I mean, I, I, we’ve said in past podcast the concept. A lawyer telling a client what they don’t want to hear is the hardest thing that I do. It’s the hardest thing all my lawyers do because what we know is that a client has very legitimate concerns, very legitimate fears, and they want to protect their child [00:33:00] and at all cost.

[00:33:01] And so, One of the hardest things, and one of the most common things I hear is my lawyer’s not fighting for me because they didn’t get this stricter measure in place. And I said, well, what’s that stricter measure? Well, I don’t want him to have Thursdays. This is what my client said yesterday. I don’t want him to have the Thursday overnights.

[00:33:16] And I said, well, what’s your concern? And she said, well, I’m afraid that he’ll, he’ll have an anger outburst. And I said, okay, well the Thursday’s gonna change that. I mean, that, that’s not very logical, right? And so what, what we do as lawyers is sometimes. Make the client see the big picture, and I literally sat there with my hands folded yesterday in, in this, in the Chambers conference with the client because I couldn’t have a breakthrough.

[00:33:43] And it was very frustrating to me because I like to feel that, that we’re making a big breakthrough, we’re making change for positive co-parenting. And I also realized that I didn’t create the mess, I didn’t create the family violence, uh, that happened before. And I can’t just alleviate that in one, you know, [00:34:00] smooth, silky tongue comment, uh, that we have in a 30 minute or 40 minute prerequisite to a hearing scenario.

[00:34:06] And so I think it’s very important that therefore have trust in your attorney, uh, that you’re dealing. When they are telling you these things and they get paid to go to court, They’re in court and they like to go to court when they’re saying, don’t push the gas pedal here. You should have the trust in your attorney to know that they’re telling you the right thing.

[00:34:25] And if you don’t have that communication and you don’t have that strategy, then you need to look elsewhere. But don’t just look elsewhere because it’s not what you want to hear. You’re paying good attorneys for good advice, and you need to heed that advice. And if you don’t, you’re wasting your money.

[00:34:40] Represent yourself. Go flop around in the courtroom, see how it works. And I, I will assure you at some. And unfortunately, at some point after you’ve really hurt your own custody case, you’ll come back and ask for that guidance and we will give it to you and it will not always be the way you want to hear it.

[00:34:56] And I also will tell people when they do the right thing on our end and they do [00:35:00] everything we’re asking and the other party is, uh, really not following What, what we’ve asked them to do or what the courts asked them to do. I will bite like a rattlesnake. Okay? I, I, believe me, I know how to do that, but that’s not always best for parents.

[00:35:13] When they, when the dust settles and the order’s finalized and you’ve created this war and you’ve bitten like a rattlesnake or beating your chest like Tarzan, as some lawyers do, now the clients are left to pick up the pieces themselves and they don’t have the tools, uh, to co-parent. And that’s really what we focus on in the course of.

[00:35:32] And I think that’s, um, a good point to wrap up today. Um, we obviously, we could talk on this topic for, for hours, and if anybody out there has any questions or any different concerns about co-parenting, we’d love to know. Any final comments from either of you on this topic today? No, I just, I just think it’s really important that we continue to have these conversations that you continue to hear.

[00:35:56] And, and, and if you have questions, please, please, uh, send them [00:36:00] to us. Uh, we, I, I love consults. I love all this, uh, this podcast cause it really gets people thinking about, um, scenarios that we get calls on daily. Uh, and it’s just important that you understand we’re all talking through this. Nobody has the exact answer and no one’s going to be able to alleviate fears and concerns.

[00:36:17] We. Need to remember that, that if you bury those to the best of your ability for your kid’s sake, uh, and like Andrea says, don’t put them in the middle of this, you’re going to see them really thrive in that environment much better, much better than they would with the alternative. So if you are listening today and you live in the Dallas Fort Worth area and surrounding communities and you would like to schedule a consultation or have any questions for the Sisemore Law Firm, you can call 817-336-4444 or visit www.lawyerdfw.com.

[00:36:49] We also invite you to follow the podcast and share it with friends who might find it helpful. Thanks again for listening in and have a great day. Thank you for listening to In Your Best Interest with [00:37:00] Texas Divorce Attorney and entrepreneur Justin Sisemore. The content presented here is provided for information only and should not be construed as legal, tax, or financial advice.

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