Is Parental Alienation Affecting Your Relationship with Your Kids?

Is Parental Alienation Affecting Your Relationship with Your Kids?

Parental Alienation

If your spouse has made it difficult for you to see your children since your divorce, speaks negatively about you behind your back, or seems to be telling them what to say to a judge, it is possible that your child is suffering from parental alienation, a phenomenon described by child psychologists as having toxic effects on certain children of divorce or parental separation. Read on to learn more about parental alienation, and how to identify that it is occurring.

Parental Alienation Defined

Parental Alienation occurs when one parent wages a campaign against the child’s other parent in order to turn the child against the absent parent. Often, a child will be convinced by the alienating parent to reject the other parent, and to develop an unjustified, dehumanizing hatred toward that alienated parent. The child will frequently develop this hostility toward the disparaged parent as a way to avoid conflict with the alienating parent; by concluding that the other parent is a “monster,” not worthy of affection or a functional relationship, the child avoids feelings of “betraying” the alienating parent by being close to or affectionate toward the maligned parent. The alienated parent will find that their child is cold toward or uncomfortable around them, even cruel and disrespectful. The child may ardently defend the alienating parent, but justify their hatred toward the alienated parent with weak or nonsensical reasons.

Signs of Parental Alienation

Parental alienation isn’t just painful for the targeted parent; it can also result in life-long problems for the child, such as anxiety around relationships, depression, and poor self-esteem, on top of the harm of losing a loving relationship with the alienated parent. There are ways to identify when parental alienation is occurring, and good reason to bring it to the court’s attention if you believe it’s occurring. Be on the lookout for the following signs:

*Your child suddenly appears uncomfortable or hostile around you in new and unprovoked ways

*Your child no longer wishes to attend scheduled visitations with you

*When asked to testify before a judge or child protective services representative, the child appears to be speaking beyond their years, as though they are parroting back something that their other parent told them to say

Ensure that your relationship with your child survives a divorce or extended custody dispute by insisting that your parental rights are upheld. In central Virginia, contact the Bedford offices of the Pack Law Group to speak with an experienced family law attorney about your case, at 540-586-7225.

Tips on Social Media’s Potential Effect on Your Divorce

Tips on Social Media’s Potential Effect on Your Divorce

different social media platforms

You may not realize it, but photos and posts from sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be introduced as evidence in court during your child custody dispute or divorce trial. Things that you may have posted hastily without thinking can end up having a big impact on your alimony payments, divorce settlement, or custodial arrangement. Read on to learn about how best to handle social media during a family court case.

Perception is everything, which can affect how much you pay in alimony or a settlement. It’s normal to feel the urge to brag about your fun new life now that you’re single, to prove to the world how well you’re doing. However, these sorts of posts can cause you a great deal of difficulty. Posting photos from a night out, surrounded by attractive strangers and bottles of liquor, on a weekend where you had the kids? This could cast serious doubt on your maturity as a parent, and how highly you prioritize your time with your children. Sharing photos from a weekend getaway with a new woman? If you’re simultaneously trying to negotiate a lower alimony payment and claiming poverty, these photos could seriously weaken your argument. Even if the truth behind these photos is different from the first impression they give off, you’ll have the burden of showing why the photos aren’t an accurate representation of your assets and lifestyle, and you may not be able to do so to the satisfaction of the court.

If you wouldn’t want the judge to see it, don’t post it. It may seem as though you’re just speaking with friends on your social media accounts, which can lull you into a false sense of privacy. Don’t forget that you’re posting information that hundreds or even thousands of people can see, and if your accounts aren’t set to “private,” then the whole world can see what you’re up to. You may also assume that if your profile is set to private, you can speak as openly as you’d like about your life, and that any old posts are safe from view by your ex. However, this isn’t the case. Many times, we add people as friends or followers on social media sites once, then never interact with them again, and forget that those people have access to our posts. These people may end up taking your ex’s side in a split, and they can screen-capture posts for your ex to submit as evidence. Additionally, many investigators are willing to assume a fake identity and send you a friend request in order to access your private posts. To protect yourself from this tactic, never add people as friends whom you don’t know. However, also keep in mind that you don’t have perfect control over who sees your posts, so instead, focus on only posting things you would feel comfortable with the judge or your ex’s attorney seeing.

Once it’s in writing, it can go before the court. It’s easy to get caught up in a heated email or text message exchange with your ex, and say terrible things that you might not even mean out of frustration. It is highly important to keep your cool when a conversation is in writing. Once it’s in writing, you should assume it will last forever. Don’t make promises or concessions that your spouse could later say she relied on, and never make threats.

Experienced and Aggressive Divorce Lawyers Serving Lynchburg, Roanoke and All of Central Virginia

If you are seeking determined, knowledgeable legal support for your divorce, contact the family law attorneys at Pack Law Group for a consultation on your case, at 540-586-7225.

After An Arrest, What Should I Do?

After An Arrest, What Should I Do?

Arrest in Virginia

In the moments surrounding an arrest, there are many ways that the long-term outcome of your case can be affected by what you do and say. Remember these guidelines if you find yourself being put under arrest in Virginia.

You may not be certain whether or not you’ve been arrested, and it’s important to clarify. While an officer can ask you questions about your identity, address, and what you’re doing in a particular location if they have reason to suspect that you have or will commit a crime, you do not have to answer additional questions. It’s intimidating to speak with a police officer, and you might be inclined to make the officer happy by answering any questions in detail, or feel that angering the officer by refusing to answer will only result in arrest. However, it’s much better to be arrested without having offered up any incriminating information than to unwittingly hand over incriminating facts to police prior to arrest, only to be arrested later on. If you become concerned by the questions being asked by the officer, simply ask, “Am I free to leave?” or, “Am I being arrested?” This may compel the officer to admit that there is not a sufficient amount of evidence to arrest you for the suspected crime, and allow you a chance to consult with an attorney before an arrest eventually occurs.

Once you’re placed under arrest, keep calm. Whether or not you think the arrest is for legitimate reasons, you will never benefit from trying to escape the police, using force against them, or even using abusive language. While the underlying reason for the arrest might not result in a conviction, you’ll almost certainly be found guilty of assaulting an officer or resisting your arrest, should you let your temper get the best of you. Instead, comply with all instructions and remain quiet. If officers nevertheless use excessive force when taking you into custody, take note of their names and what happens, so that you can explore possibly filing a claim against the abusive officers in the future.

Take your Miranda warning to heart. You’ve heard it countless times on TV: “You have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you.” If you are not read this warning, or something substantially similar, after your arrest, then anything you tell the police from the point of your arrest on cannot be used in court. Regardless, there is little to be gained from answering the police’s questions after you’re in jail. The officers will use whatever tricks they can to elicit a confession—lying about a co-conspirator’s confession, lying about the existence of photographs of you at the scene of the crime, trying to convince you that they’re on your side and this will all blow over if you just confess. Instead, a great answer to any question you’re asked is the following: “I want my lawyer.” Providing any additional information will often make matters worse.

If you’ve been arrested for a crime in the Bedford or Lynchburg region of Virginia, contact the compassionate and experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Pack Law Group for a consultation, at 540-586-7225.

Divorce Dilemma: Why Going “Pro Se” is a Costly Mistake

By “Dad X”

After watching two attorneys cost me thousands of dollars in fees and thousands more in what I considered allowing the judge to use a shovel between my bank account and my ex’s new Prada purse, I decided to appear pro se at my self-filed support modification. That was a big mistake! Sure, pro se is an option for some couples. If both parties can peacefully split everything they own down the middle with a few discussions or if they don’t own much, it can be a way to dodge attorney fees. The courts can make it easy for a pro se divorce. For the court, it means it’s all done in one session and will not return ever again. But if you have kids, then pro se should be “no way!”

Lots of books for pro se – forget them!

For me, I thought doing the modification on my own would be as easy as the “Do Your Own Divorce” promised. I was able to file the motion and with the help of some clerks in the court clerk’s office, everything went smoothly right up to the day of the hearing. In past modifications, it seemed to be all about the math of who earned what. You would determine whether or not there were extraordinary expenses for the kids and examine what the final Form 14 tallies came to. The attorneys would always end up going into some chat with the judge and come out with a “take-it-or-leave-it” offer. Why couldn’t I do the same and help make sure nothing was left out? It went well at the hearing. My ex’s attorney claimed the numbers wouldn’t change. I pointed out that the kids were no longer attending private school or going through after-school care expenses and the judge looked over his glasses at the attorney and said, “Yes, they will change.” It was fairly simple after that. The judge asked the attorney to fill out the Form 14 with the numbers my ex and I had provided on income and the usual deductions and such. The attorney did so and handed it back to the judge who went over each line.

It’s the judge’s world… and laws

“Hmmmm,” the judge would say when about to make a point. “This will only be $70 a month. This will only be $210 a month.” The judge was adding on certain classes and expenses that would not be needed for more than a year or two. It would be another three years until I could modify again (if allowed by the judge, which he has not for several attempts, including a CSS administrative review). I brought it up but he was ignoring me and filling in the Form 14. When he was done, he told me to “Take it or leave it!” Naturally, I signed. I had gotten my child support cut by one-third. Some attorneys have told me that’s a definite win in court and my ex fired her attorney for losing her money. The problem was, while the judge and attorney were going over the Form 14, which is Missouri’s child support guideline worksheet used to estimate the child support obligation that a court may order, I was left out of the process. I couldn’t question or fight an entry. I was not an attorney and the judge just didn’t want to extend me the same courtesies he would give to a bar-member attorney. The downside was that while I had gotten a reduction, the judge decided that I was not to be given the standard deduction for my custody periods, or any other deduction. I should have had a two-thirds reduction. Chances are an attorney representing me would have been given the chance to argue certain points and awards. It may not have worked, as this judge is apparently known for not allowing support figures under a certain amount, but it probably would have been a little better as an attorney would be able to argue the law and precedence. I’ve represented myself several times since then. All of them, I must truly admit, have been disasters! I was in the right and my motions were all right in line, legally. But I wasn’t an attorney in a system that demands perfection in filings, knowing all court procedures and, if we want to be honest, wants only trained, licensed attorneys to play. Can you blame the system?

Hire a professional!

I don’t like digging out a couple of thousand dollars I really don’t have, but how much have I lost due to not hiring an attorney? Were my attempts to modify support pro se just spinning my wheels and supplying a growing hate by my assigned judge? Is it too late to ever fle under this judge again? Here’s a few points on why pro se is NOT a good idea:

  1. The legal system is like any other. Doing your own plumbing, if you aren’t licensed in your state, will lead to disaster. Why would family court be any different? Let a professional handle the Latin phrases and other gobbilty-gook that is meant to speak to practitioners of the law and confuse everyone else.
  2. Your judge and the opposing counsel will not take you seriously no matter how much you’ve studied. If you didn’t pass the BAR, then you are a charlatan.
  3. You can be a master debater, think quickly on your feet and be able to counter any false claim your ex may make via his/her attorney, but the judge really only wants to listen to attorneys.
  4. An attorney practices law every day. They know the law, the court, the paperwork, the players involved. And you don’t.
  5. You should still be involved and the more you can give your attorney, the more he/she can do to help you.

In the end, legal representation saves you money. What happens in court will affect you for years, sometimes even decades. Even if you just end up saving a few hundred dollars each month, thanks to your attorney, it adds up over time. Otherwise, you might pay for cub scouts and summer camp until your child is 23! There are many great pieces of literature for the layperson about divorce laws. Some are available from your state family court website. You can also find numerous resources here at Check back on the first of every month for the next column, outlining the mistakes I’ve made and how to best work with your attorney for success and, most of all, a better life for you and your children.