Stop Press - Fathers - Advice for divorcing fathers
Your goal therefore, demands a strong offense.
This requires dedication, support, "pro-active"
planning, and lots of research. In other words, PREPARATION
The following list is neither conclusive nor
is it exhaustive. For that matter, not all of it will apply
to you. Nevertheless, its intent is to get you to think, ask
hard questions, and above all, to be prepared. Copy it. Print
Everything must be documented in a WELL-WORDED
journal. What you write must be factual and correct. At trial,
your journal will be a valuable source of events, dates, and
patterns of behavior. Your journal should also contain surprises
to keep the other side off balance. Most importantly, your
journal will discredit fabricated testimony and lies you can
expect from the other side.
Along with your journal, gather supporting evidence
with photos and videos. Put a trace program on the computer
and a recorder on the phone. Don't be afraid to record phone
calls. Make it your business to know where your STBX goes
in cyber-space. Above all get witnesses, especially professionals
involved with your STBX & kids. You may want to hire a
PI. A visit to your local spy shop will be
very worth while. Think of it as an investment.
Your journal, together with supporting evidence,
will help you. More correctly, they will help your attorney.
Remember, your attorney is only as effective as the information
you give him. If he gets little from you, you can expect little
Type and/or otherwise arrange journal notes
well in advance of trial. Reserve plenty of time to review
your journal with your attorney. You must bond with your attorney,
and he must bond with you. Both of you must be "reading
from the same page" between now and trial. Be sure save
your original journal draft. You may need it.
YOUR JOURNAL IS THE TEMPLATE OF YOUR CASE!!
Guard it carefully. It contains secrets the other side would
love to have. Above all, BEWARE of so-called "neutral
third parties," like the GAL or Custody Evaluator. These
thugs are anything but neutral. They will specifically target
their report and/or testimony to discredit everything you've
written. To guard against subpoena, address each
page to your attorney. Remember, the primary purpose of your
journal is to rebut and/or otherwise discredit the lies and
fabricated testimony that'll come from the other side. THIS
IS OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE!!
Never sign anything the custody evaluator asks
you to sign - even if it's a scrap of paper that states you
agree to XYZ conditions. This is a trap. Anything you sign
becomes a bona-fide legal document that will be used against
you in court.
It's very important to have supporting evidence
to back up your documentation. Photos and witnesses are ideal.
However, you can't always count on people, nor can you count
on having a camera when you need one. Therefore, you must
build your case with what you have.
If done properly and consistantly, your journal
becomes the heart and soul of your case. It is filled with
important data. This data shows your STBX's pattern of behavior
over time. In other words, you can scientifically predict
how your STBX will behave based upon the data you've collected.
Remember, when plotting scientific data of any nature, you
can expect surprises. Remember, surprises are what keeps the
other side off balance.
Data from your journal can be plotted on a graph,
a pie chart, or bar chart. For comparison, it's a good idea
to use all of the above. You'll need Excel software.
Plotted data are much easier to intrepret, both
for the judge and your attorney. Plotted data show large blocks
of evidence at a glance; ie, parenting history/behavior. This
helps rebut the built- in bias of the system, and scientifically
supports your bid for custody.
Keep in mind, a single "judgement error"
will NEVER get the judge's attention. However, a "PATTERN"
of well-documented judgement errors, supported by evidence,
will make a difference.
Remember, neither the judge nor your attorney
want to sift through endless streams of relatively "meaningless"
journal data. Consider your audience. It's up to you to make
things as easy as possible for them both.
SET YOURSELF UP TO WIN!! Pay attention to detail.
Follow through on leads. Don't get side-tracked!! Use only
what works for you.
BECOME A "CHILD ADVOCATE."
1) Get involved with a network of parent educators.
2) Make time for play dates and/or parties.
Invite parent- chaperones who will observe you as a Superdad
in fine form. Make sure mothers are invited. Ideally, they
should be solidly married, above reproach, and will not be
disparaged for having an affair with you.
These are great sources for collateral witnesses.
2) Enroll yourself and/or your kids in classes/counseling/treatment
as necessary: Parenting classes; Co-parenting classes; Anger
managment; Couseling for kids caught-in-the-middle; enroll
in a Children's First program; Alcohol/drug treatment. Read
contemporary books and literature on the above subject matter.
Take the initiative. Become informed. Do whatever it takes.
Don't wait 'til
it's too late.
3) The most important witnesses are court-appointed
professionals, so-called "neutral third parties."
They include; the home study evaluator, the forensic evaluator,
the custody evaluator, the psychologist, the play therapist,
and the GAL. Tread lightly with these people. They are anything
but neutral. These thugs are "GOD" in determining
custody decisions. Keep in mind, the judge is gonna
rule whatever they recommend. They live by one fundamental
principle, "Dads be damned."
Whatever you do, NEVER agree to any form of
binding mediation. You'll be giving up all your rights to
further litigation. You'd just as well sell your soul to the
From the beginning, you must "attempt"
get these witnesses on your side. They are the "tie-breaker."
Truth be known, it's their job to insure the race isn't even
close, much less a "tie." Nevertheless, do your
best. Be sure to document everything.
a) It's their job to not like you.
b) It's their job to fabricate lies about you.
c) It's their job to soften you up and trick you into giving
custody before trial.
Remember "rebuttable presumption?"
Some state's statutes declare both fathers and mothers have
an equal right to parent their children. In this phase, that
right is summarily taken from you. In other words, the game
is rigged. It should come as no surprise, gender discrimination
is rife within the Judicial Branch of Government.
With that in mind, you might consider hiring
a private custody evaluator. The idea is to bring conflicting
opinion/testimony with you to court. This is one sure way
to minimize a GAL's highly biased testimony/report.
Additionally, make sure to get documentation/history
of any violence, both physical and/or verbal/psychological.
Is your STBX any threat to herself, to you, to your kids,
or to anyone else? Evidence of this nature is critical to
rebut an already biased GAL report/testimony.
Thus: a detailed journal + a good attorney
+ strategy = Victory
MOVING ON: Your WITNESS LIST must be exhaustive.
Other than court- appointed professionals, people that see
you with your children and/or otherwise know you personally
are going to be your best witnesses. Remember, not everyone
will support you, nor will they be available when you need
Potential witnesses include: Extended family;
neighbors; day care, school professionals; parent volunteers;
medical professionals; adult activity leaders.
"Cardinal Rule" No 1....... KEEP YOUR
MOUTH SHUT!! LOOSE LIPS SINK
This is war. You must approach this as a top-secret
1) Thou shalt not raise any suspicions. DO NOT TELEGRAPH YOUR
a) Thou shalt not tell anyone what you're up
b) Thou shalt not share information with anyone about anything.
c) Thou shalt take care of business like nothing's going on.
2) Thou shalt not get side-tracked. This is
"crunch time." Manage your time wisely.
3) Thou shalt maintain thy Poker Face. Get prepared
for the long hall.
"Cardinal Rule" No 2....... NEVER
LET YOUR GUARD DOWN!! WATCH YOUR
Have minimal contact with your STBX. NEVER be
in a position where she can allege domestic violence of any
kind. It's best not to be alone with her. Always have a witness
1) Be very careful when you are alone with your
a) She can file false domestic violence charges "at will,"
and have you thrown in jail.
b) She can get a restraining order "at will," and
have you kicked out of your house.
2) "Thou shalt ALWAYS bite the bullet."
At the same, "Thou shalt ALWAYS be bulding thy case."
a) Thou shalt not argue. Thou shalt not fight. Thou shalt
not provoke thy STBX.
b) Thou shalt go the extra mile to be civil. Thou shalt be
Mr Nice Guy.
3) Never engage in any form of business with
your ex, no matter how much the deal "appears" to
be in your favor. It will be a trap you'll regret 'til your
dying day. Remember, there ain't no free lunch. You can always
expect a pay-back down the road.
"Cardinal Rule" No 3....... BE THE
BEST DAD YOU CAN BE!! DO WHATEVER IT TAKES!!
1) Get involved with your kids as much as possible.
a) Assume the role of primary caretaker well in advance.
b) This'll set you up for primary, if not 50/50 shared primary
custody. This is your goal. Never lose sight of that!!
2) Make everything you do in the best interest
of your kids. Always go the extra mile.
Give your STBX a day off every week. "That's
OK, Honey. I'll take care of this. Why don't you go shopping?"
Take advantage to document parenting time, and snoop around
when she's not home.
"Cardinal Rule" No 4....... GET CONNECTED!!
1) Familiarize yourself with Family Laws, Administrative
Rules, and court procedures.
a) You must understand the court process and how the family
law system works.
b) It is your responsibility to know anything and everything
that applies to you.
c) Mastery of your state's Family Code will confer advantage
to you in the courtroom.
As a father, you have rights. However, the goal
of the judicial junta is to deny, and/or otherwise undermine
those rights; ie, "rebuttable presumption." You've
gotta be prepared.
2) Read books on winning custody. Read only
those that work for you.
3) Get connected with a dads support group.
This helps you stay focused. It's the most important thing
you can do.
a) With networking, your proactive effort becomes leveraged
b) Whether you gather or share, information is the a prequisite
to constructive action.
c) Hang out with winners. When things heat up, you'll need
d) AVOID losers and "nay-sayers." They'll drag you
4) BEWARE of your limitations. Find out what
works for you and what doesn't.
You'll never survive if you do this alone. As
discussed above, court- appointed professionals are not what
they seem. They are wolves in sheep's clothing. They have
"Cardinal Rule" No 5....... HIRE THE
BEST FATHER FRIENDLY ATTORNEY YOU CAN FIND.
BEWARE OF WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING. BEWARE
of attorneys who "claim" to know everything. They
talk the talk, but don't walk the walk. Remember, you want
results, not a compromise. Take your time. Shop around. Ask
hard questions. Make your choice carefully.
Your attorney's specialty should be representing
fathers in family court. HE MUST KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT. He should't
expect a large retainer. He should tell you his win/loss record
as well as your chances of winning. He should tell you his
billing policy. He should be well-connected. He should know
judges and court-appointed professionals; GAL's, custody evaluators,
It's no secret. Attorneys are 99% of the problem.
1) Be prepared, well in advance, BEFORE you
choose an attorney. Know what to expect.
a) Above all, watch for "RED FLAGS."
2) Your attorney works for you. You must know
ahead of time what you want and stick to it.
a) Never allow your attorney to dissuade you
from your ultimate goal.
b) Never display "eager-to-deal."
c) Never allow your attorney to drag the process out unnecessarily.
For starters, get a trial date set ASAP. Don't haggle over
"little things." Stay focused. Keep the pressure
Be prepared to tell your attorney everything,
especially the truth. Be prepared to follow his advice.
3) NEVER "assume" that your attorney
will know everything.
a) Most of your knowledge will come from your support network;
ie, experienced fathers who have tenacity and know the ropes.
4) Never expect your attorney to do "everything."
a) Manage your case actively and personally.
5) If your attorney advises you to take the
"high road," find another one ASAP.
a) THIS IS WAR!! If you're gonna lose, go down fighting dirty.
6) Find a para-legal who's father friendly,
one who's experienced with family law.
a) As you know, some nurses know more than doctors. The same
hold true for para-legals and attorneys.
b) Find one you can count on. This is an important Plan B
7) Speaking of Plan B, ALWAYS have a back-up
for everything. You never know when you'll need it.
a) If you have doubts, NEVER think twice about getting a second
b) For that matter, never think twice about getting a different
8) As things progress, assess your chances of
winning; best case versus worst case scenario. BE REALISTIC!!
a) If you you have a "reasonable" chance of winning,
then go for it, and go early.
b) If you have "serious" doubts about winning, then
settle early. Cut the best deal you can.
9) NEVER expect fairness from your STBX, much
less fairness from the Family Court system.
a) Realistically, your chances of winning are 3 in 100.
b) If your ex is a junkie, a whore, a 3-time convicted felon,
or any combination of the above, she'll win custody 97% of
the time. These numbers are realistic.
This gives you some idea of what you're up against.
Remember, you are at the mercy of Family Court thugs. The
system is designed to degrade you and to bankrupt you. They'll
force you spend your money any way they can. Like the "dog"
that you are, they have tactics that bring you to "heel."
THEY DON'T LIKE YOU!!
Is your STBX is using marriage as a means of
embezzlement or early retirement? Are you her next target?
STBX's school & job info:
1) Level of education/continuing education.
2) Current level and duration of employment
/ unemployment / underemployment / non-employment status.
a) Salary history and benefits package.
b) Career path.
c) Job skills.
d) Anticipated raises and/or promotions.
e) Anticipated career/job change.
3) Document willingness, or lack thereof, to
become employed, better employed, or otherwise permanently
a) You want to minimize potential alimony and child support
as much as possible.
STAY FOCUSED FROM THE BEGINNING.
1) DIG IN AND FIGHT DIRTY. THIS IS WAR!! THERE
ARE NO RULES!!
a) If you take the "high road," you will lose.
b) If you compromise, you will lose.
2) Once you file, keep the heat on. NEVER let
up on your STBX.
a) It's up to you to maintain momentum and keep pressure on
STBX "CONTINUALLY." Your attorney can't possibly
do this for you. This is your fight, and yours alone.
Get your financial house in order. Clean out/close out everything,
especially joint accounts. Take "convenience" out
of purchasing. This includes credit cards, on-line purchasing,
and other "lines-of- credit" you've established
over time. This vicious cycle must be broken.
Except for essentials, don't buy anything. If
you must buy, pay with cash. Pay all bills the old-fashioned
way. Write a check and drop it in the mail. Keep a record
of bills that get paid.
"IN YOUR NAME ONLY" - Route all mail
to a new PO Box. Get a new cell phone. Keep it secure. Use
it for "IMPORTANT" business only. Open savings and
checking accounts at a different bank. Get a new safe deposit
box to store cash, valuables, and documents. Open new Visa
& Mastercard accounts. Use them only for "EMERGENCIES."
Get a line of credit as large as you can. Rent a storage locker
to stash large items of value. Remember your inventory? Manage
it closely. Get new passwords for everything, including credit
cards, PC, & ATM.
STASH YOUR CASH in your new safe deposit box. Another option
is to open a "secured" Visa/Mastercard account.
The bank takes $XXXX.00 from one account deposits it in an
interest-drawing "trust." Meanwhile, use the credit
card as usual up to the secured dollar amount. You can deposit
additional funds as they become available. This/these transaction(s)
don't "appear" on bank or credit card
statements. There's just less cash in your account.
MOVING ON - Convert what you can to cash. Think,
Sell everything. Pay bills and reduce debt as much as possible.
Save all receipts and bills of sale. You may need to account
for everything later.
Keep plenty of cash on hand so there's
no paper trail. You'll need this for "emergencies."