Female family lawyers meeting

Confessions of a Family Law Reform Activist

When I graduated from law school in 1987, the Parenting Act had just been passed by the Washington State Legislature. I began practicing family law shortly thereafter, under the new law. The Parenting Act introduced a comprehensive new way to address disputes between divorcing parents over their children. It replaced the terms “custody” and “visitation” with a detailed “parenting plan” addressing residential time, decision-making and dispute resolution. The Parenting Act was supposed to be the end of custody battles between parents. They were supposed to work things out, for the best interests of their children.

Well, apparently, a whole lot of divorcing parents didn’t get the memo. Within a few years of beginning practice, I had been involved in numerous custody battles. Not just disagreements between spouses, but knock-down, drag-out custody wars with all the trappings: allegations of child abuse, neglect, drug abuse, alcoholism, mental problems, and that 800-pound gorilla of them all: domestic violence.

Virtually every time I represented a father in a parenting case, he was accused of abuse. I began to anticipate the dreaded “crimes list,” that litany of alleged wrongs committed by my client against the wife and children, beginning with “he kicked me in the stomach while I was pregnant” (15 years ago) culminating with “his abuse is escalating,” “I’m fearful for my safety,” and of course, “he’s inappropriately touching the children.” It’s as though these allegations were produced by the same scriptwriter, since so many of the buzzwords were repeated over and over.

As I would learn later, they often were produced by the same writers, the “battered women’s advocates,” who appeared to be taking a few extreme cases of domestic violence and applying them across the board. Men who physically battered their wives started by verbally battering them, so in their twisted logic, every man who verbally “abused” his spouse necessarily must be physically battering her too. Women who wanted an easy way of out a marriage, and to assure custody of the children, eagerly signed up for “victim’s benefits.” All the woman had to do was say she was abused, and the domestic violence advocates eagerly welcomed a new customer. Never mind that the wife was playing fast and loose with the real facts: she was routinely abusing the husband and children, had mental or substance abuse issues, and/or was having affairs with everyone from the milkman to the soccer coach.

It became clear to me that the Parenting Act had been hijacked by the domestic violence industry. The good intentions of the Act’s progenitors had been overcome by single-issue extremists. Every factor determining the children’s residential time with each parent could be trumped by one nearly irrefutable claim: domestic violence. And even if domestic violence were not determinative, fathers were still losing. The Parenting Act, although written in gender-neutral terms, was usually being interpreted to favor mothers receiving primary residential care, even when both parents were substantially equally involved in parenting.

After several years of custody battles and beat-dead dads as clients, I decided I had to do something. In 1998, I co-founded a reform group called TABS: Taking Action against Bias in the System. TABS’ goals were to eliminate gender bias in the family law and domestic violence system, promote shared parenting rights and responsibilities, and reduce the incidence of ugly divorce and custody battles.

Over the past few years, we have supported shared parenting and friendly parenting bills in the state legislature. Shared parenting provided that each parent was presumptively entitled to at least one-third of the residential time with the children. In the eyes of the reformists, this would avoid many of the battles over residential time by ensuring a substantial amount of time was afforded to the “non-primary residential” parent.

Friendly parent would add a factor in determining residential placement of the children. So long as limiting factors (such as child abuse, neglect, mental illness, substance abuse or domestic violence) were not determinative of the schedule, the court was required to also consider “which parent is more likely to allow and encourage the child frequent and continuing contact with the other parent.”

Essentially, the concept is that all other factors being equal, placing the children with the parent most likely to foster the children’s relationship with the other parent ensures that the children benefit from healthy post-divorce relationships with both parents. The 1999 Washington State Parenting Act Study, by Dr. Diane Lye, concluded that no particular post-divorce residential schedule was best for children, but that high parental conflict was the number one detriment. Friendly parent was promoted to encourage parental cooperation and cut down on the custody wars so often fought by divorcing parents, replete with false allegations of abuse, game-playing and dirty tricks.

Several friendly parent bills have been introduced, and different versions have passed almost unanimously by both the House and Senate. But despite being a reasonable bipartisan reform, politics has prevented it from passing both houses in the same legislative session. Some opponents of the bill portrayed it as the coming of the apocalypse. They claimed it was a stealth weapon to be used against, you guessed it, domestic violence victims, who would be forced to share parenting time with their abusers. Thanks to a few brave legislators who stood up against the domestic violence perpetrator lobby, the Parenting Act was saved from defilement.

Other opponents claimed friendly parent would actually increase conflict between divorcing parents, resulting in parental one-upmanship, to see who could be the “friendliest” parent. With as much conflict as the system has already, why it would be bad for parents to compete over who could be the nicest, I could never figure out. One famous anecdote used against friendly parent was a mother who was judged to be “unfriendly” because she would not let her child go see the father immediately after the child had heart surgery. If the mother had a statement from the child’s doctor recommending he not go anywhere, I can’t understand how she could have been faulted.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Parenting Act

Over the last six years, I have spent hundreds of hours working on family law reform issues, meeting with legislators, testifying at committee hearings, writing letters and articles, organizing events, talking to and assisting people, many on a pro bono basis. Both on a system and individual level, we have had some successes.

But, looking back at our efforts over the past few years, I now realize that I was naive, misdirected, and even manipulated, by the so-called family law reform movement that I so eagerly embraced.

“Family Law Reform” is just a thinly-disguised front for the Father’s Rights Movement. I was duped into supporting this radical agenda by greedy, controlling fathers who just wanted out of child support payments, and to further abuse their victims.

I now see the error of my ways. I now see the fraud that is friendly parent. It’s not about the best interests of the children, it’s about selfishness and greed. If passed into law, it will require thousands of mothers of children with heart defects to be forced to send their deathly ill children to visit their insensitive fathers. Not to mention their no-good, child-abusing, domestic violence-perpetrating, non-support paying deadbeat sorry-excuse for a parent.

“Shared parenting” is really just a code-word for no child support. Fathers demand more time with the children only to get residential time credits, plummeting their child support payments from $800.00 per month to $49.95. Then they palm off the children, and all the costs, on the mother. Fathers complain that the child support table does not credit them for any direct financial contribution towards the children even when they have 25 per cent of the time. However, this argument lacks any factual basis in most cases. Since when does it cost anything to live in a van down by the river?

Numerous studies, interviewing both men and women, have concluded that men still don’t equally share household and childcare duties. Toilet-plunging, gutter-cleaning, and spider-killing and carcass disposal, while essential household tasks, are not listed parenting functions under the Parenting Act. Oh, men may do a few things here and there, but generally they’re just useful idiots, waiting for step-by-step instructions from their wives on how to do the most basic things. They’re barely able to follow their wife’s grocery list. Dads may take the kids to daycare, but it is the mom who researches, chooses and monitors the provider. If it weren’t for mom’s meticulous attention to every detail, dad would have the kids babysat by the registered sex offender down the street.

Ask a dad who the kids’ doctor or dentist is, and most likely he won’t know. He might be able to point in the vague direction of the children’s school. But ask dad for the win/loss ratio of every team in the NFL, and he’ll be able to recite it flawlessly.

Moms plan and prepare nutritious, balanced meals. Dads zap hot dogs in the microwave and pop open a can of cola. They don’t know fabric softener from cough syrup. If you don’t believe me, check out most TV commercials for household products, showing the husbands as big dummies when it comes to even the simplest task. The true nature of men: they wouldn’t be able to punch themselves out of a Ziploc bag to save their lives.

Dads may buy the kids clothing occasionally, but they’ll let a 9-year old girl wear fishnet stockings and lipstick to Sunday school. Moms never make inappropriate wardrobe or grooming decisions, if you don’t count nose, eyebrow, tongue, or body-piercing. Besides, Dads who don’t let their kids jump on the bandwagon of every new fad are abusive, controlling and punitive.

The family law reform movement, i.e. father’s rights, has tried to make the Parenting Act more “fair” and less “biased.” But the only ones ever complaining were men, who because of the gender-neutral language of the Parenting Act, thought they had an equal shot at getting custody of their children. But the Parenting Act, with all its good intentions, can’t change the basic nature of men and women. The Parenting Act recognized parenting functions as important and even anticipated that men might be able to do them once in a while. It’s clear to me now, fathers just aren’t qualified to parent their children without intense supervision by the mothers, or some fundamental change in the nature of men that would qualify them to be custodial parents.

So, rather than continue a losing battle to reform the Parenting Act to make it more (father) friendly, I’ve decided that the only way to make any progress is to change the way fathers function, both before and during divorce. Everything they need to get custody of their children is right there in the Parenting Act. It’s been there all along, and women have used it to the hilt for years. It’s time for men to stop whining about reform, step up to the plate and show that they are just as capable of being the best parent. There’s no bias in the system, just laziness and incompetence.

Fathers, how can you use the existing Parenting Act to get custody of your children? Make the Parenting Act work for you. Millions of women have been happy to accept the benefits of the culture of victimization. It’s almost intoxicating, being exalted, praised, and getting all the attention, but none of the blame. Men can get these same benefits too. First, find your inner victim. Start seeing a counselor who can help you recover memories of being abused. Dig deep down into your psyche. You were abused by your parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, coaches, family dog, cat, ferret, and now, by your spouse. Wallow in your life-long suffering. Courts love to give custody to damaged people.

Discover the efficacy of pre-divorce tactics. Call 911 whenever you feel “afraid” of your spouse. Cry rape whenever she demands sex. Call your friends and family constantly and report her unrelenting abuse. You’ll need their declarations in court later. Get in her face and provoke her into punching you (or just say she did; remember no evidence is required when you’re the victim). Have her arrested and removed from the family home, then go get a domestic violence protection order to keep her away.

Before you and your spouse separate, quit your job and go on unemployment for as long as possible. Cite job stress, nebulous medical problems, or the need to “find yourself.” Then you can claim you are the “primary caretaker,” assuring you can win custody over your two-job-holding wife.

Get in touch with your feminine side. Stay home all day and watch Oprah and Martha Stewart. Start talking about potpourri and decoupage. For that extra touch, start cross-dressing. Just don’t take your wife’s clothes. Go buy your own. No one will criticize your alternative lifestyle. Have your children start calling you “mommy.” No matter what ideas your wife comes up with, or how well she does things, constantly criticize and demean her for her incompetence. Complain about how she doesn’t make enough money. By the time the divorce starts, she’ll be too depressed and dejected to go for custody.

Overdraw the checking account by thousands of dollars, then claim your wife is abusive and controlling when she never lets you touch the checkbook again. If you’re having an affair and get caught, immediately accuse your wife of domestic violence. Get her arrested and tossed out of the house. Then move your girlfriend in. Be sure your girlfriend uses your wife’s treasured personal things and redecorates immediately. Encourage your children to start calling your live-in “mom.” Go to their school and take their mother off the contact card. Tell them she is an abuser and not to let her near the children.

Go to court and get child support from your wife, based on when she was working two jobs to get the family out of the mountain of debt you helped run up. Continue to avoid employment at all costs, and spend the child support check on booze, gambling and internet auctions of collectible cabbage-patch dolls.

If your true nature does come out during this process (i.e. your intrinsic domestic violence tendencies), all is not lost. If you slap, scratch, bite, or knee your wife in the groin, use one of these sure-fire excuses to evade any consequences:

“I was only defending myself from HER abuse; I’M the real victim here”
“She taunted me into hitting her”
“It didn’t hurt her anyway”
“Lee Press-On Nails are not weapons”

Once you have obtained a protection/no-contact order against your wife, call her constantly, then report her to the police for violating the order. When you can’t get red wine stains from your alcoholic binges out of the upholstery, call your wife and sweetly ask her to come over and help. After she has successfully gotten the spots out, get into an argument loud enough for the neighbors to hear, so they’ll call 911 and get her arrested. When she protests that you invited her over, insist that she constantly pressures you to let her come back. Remember, you are the victim of domestic violence and can do no wrong.

And don’t worry about that pesky Rule 11 or signing declarations under penalty of perjury. Blatant lying is rampant in the family courts, and never punished. Why else is it referred to as Liar’s Court or the Perjury Calendar?

If, after you have successfully thrown your wife out of the family home, gotten her on trumped-up domestic violence charges, and messed with her mind, she still might try to go for shared parenting. Not to worry. Ensure that shared parenting will never be allowed by sabotaging cooperation and constantly creating conflict. Oh, and be sure to blame her for it. Even though you’ve spent most of the years of your marriage saying “Yes Dear” to your wife, now your stock response is No, No, No. No matter what she does, says, or wants, it’s wrong. She wants more time with the children? NO. She wants to participate in their school and extracurricular activities? NO. She wants to talk to them on the telephone? NO!

Be assured that accountability of the custodial parent is not part of this process. When the children end up on drugs, pregnant or in jail by the age of 15, you still get to blame the non-custodial parent. Just repeat the mantra that if it weren’t for her years of child abuse and domestic violence, the children wouldn’t have turned out that way. If things get really bad, agree to sign custody over to her, but on condition that you don’t have to pay child support.

So, there you have it. There’s absolutely nothing whatsoever wrong with the Parenting Act as it exists today. You can get anything you want. You just have to know how to use it to your advantage. Reform anyone?

Man contemplating do don't

Cooperative Parenting: The Number One Parenting Skill

Here is a list of many of the do’s and don’t’s of cooperative parenting.

DO encourage your child to spend time with the other parent.

DON’T deny access to the other parent for no good reason.

DO come up with a co-parenting agreement that allows the child to have a close relationship with both their mother and their father.

DO let the other parent spend time with the child when you are not available.

DON’T purposely schedule the child to be elsewhere when you are not available and you know the other parent is.

DO be flexible in making changes in the schedule. Children grow and change on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. Be responsive to their changing needs.

DON’T tell the other parent that the child cannot come to the telephone when you know he or she can.

DO encourage your child to telephone the other parent when he or she is with you. The other parent will return the favor when the child is with him or her.

DO talk to the other parent and work together to facilitate both parents’ time with the child. Be especially cooperative during holidays and special times such as birthdays. Remember you are creating lasting memories for your child; help ensure they are good memories.

DON’T fight over scheduling in front of the child.

DO speak positively about the other parent in front of the child; you can always find a positive aspect of the other parent.

DON’T bad-mouth the other parent in front of the child; no matter what personal animosity you have about the other parent. Children have an annoying habit of loving BOTH of their parents! Your efforts to alienate the child from the other parent may backfire on you when the child realizes what has been done to his or her relationship with one of the two most important people in his or her life. When you denigrate a child’s parent, you are denigrating the child, who is a product of both parents.

DO tell your child you love and cherish him or her, and reassure him or her that this has not changed due to the divorce.

DO praise your child when he or she does well or behaves well. Do so in front of the child and the other parent.

DON’T allow your child to denigrate the other parent. Encourage him or her to speak positively about the other parent. If he or she is having a problem with the other parent, help your child solve the problem.

DON’T discuss financial issues with or in front of the children. Do not allow them to see court documents or overhear you discussing the legal case.

DON’T leave messages for the other parent on his or her answering machine that might upset the child. Children often overhear messages, or may have access to voice mail.

DO make an effort to stay geographically close to the child’s other parent, existing schools, neighborhoods and extended family.

DO keep a set of clothing, school books and supplies, and your child’s favorite things at each home. Facilitate the child’s transfer of items between homes when necessary.

DON’T be petty or possessive about things you have purchased for the child. If you have given an item to your child, let him or her take it to the other parent’s home.

DON’T keep score on every little thing you pay for. Not every financial contribution needs to be reimbursed or matched by the other parent.

DO exchange school records and information with the other parent. If possible, ask the school to send duplicate information to each parent.

DO attend school conferences together, if possible. Teachers are usually very pleased to see divorced parents attend the same conference. Make an effort to attend as many conferences as possible. Talk to the teachers about your child’s progress, and frequently discuss this with the other parent.

DO coordinate the child’s school work and projects with the other parent.

DO remain in close contact with the child’s teachers, counselors and medical providers, and keep the other parent informed of any information. Try to coordinate appointments so at least one parent can accompany the child.

DO make an effort to meet your child’s friends and their parents. It is important to keep up on your child’s activities, especially when the child lives in two different homes. Let other parents know you are an active and involved parent.

DO talk to the other parent about problems the child may be experiencing or difficulties between you and the child. Children can be very adept at taking advantage of conflict and lack of communication between parents.

DO be accessible to the other parent. Give him or her your work and home numbers, pagers, voice mail, etc. If you don’t like to talk to the other parent, use letters, faxes or e-mails. Provide a list of emergency contacts for the other parent and the child.

DON’T engage in game-playing in contacting or responding to the other parent. Respond promptly when necessary. Be open and up front about issues that need to be discussed.

DO encourage the child’s relationship with extended family, on both parents’ sides. Be pleasant and cordial to the other parent’s extended family.

DO involve each parent’s spouse or significant other in issues relating to the children. Step-parents are important members of your child’s family: they serve as an authority figure, role model, and friend for your child. And don’t get hung up on labels. If your child begins to call a step-parent “mom” or “dad,” don’t be offended. Be pleased that your child can form emotional attachments to other people and that there are more people in the world who love and care for him or her.

DO coordinate with the other parent on discipline issues. Decide in advance on acceptable methods of discipline, and which methods both parents will use. Be consistent in both households. Present a united front.

DON’T undermine the other parent’s authority with the child. If the other parent has imposed reasonable restrictions or discipline on the child, continue those measures at your residence. Let the child know he or she cannot escape consequences of his or her actions by seeking shelter at the other parent’s home.

DO decide in advance on what extra-curricular activities the child will be allowed to participate in. Both parents should support mutually agreed activities. Both parents should attend the child’s events and show mutual support for the child.

DO decide in advance on how you and the other parent will deal with alcohol, drugs, curfews, dating, driving, clothing choices, allowances, home safety and security (latch-keys) and the child’s independence and privacy. Don’t argue over these issues in front of the child; agree on the boundaries in advance and stick to them. Agree to revisit them periodically, in special meetings with both parents and step-parents. Older adolescents should be involved in setting and re-setting limits.

DON’T discuss residual issues relating to the divorce, or dwell on anger or disappointments either parent suffered. Focus on the common ground of raising a healthy, well-adjusted child to adulthood.

DO discuss issues civilly and reasonably. Be cordial. Treat the other parent with kindness and respect. If the other parent is not ready to do this, reach out to him or her. Be the first to offer an olive branch. Children learn by example. Be aware of what messages you are sending to your child about dealing with other people.

DON’T make exchanges of the child a negative event. Don’t simply drop the child off at the curb in front of the other parent’s house and speed away. Make an effort to go to the door, exchange friendly words with the other parent, and wish your child a warm goodbye. Don’t telegraph real or imagined agony over leaving the child with the other parent. Your child should never be made to feel guilty about spending time there.

DO listen to yourself. Examine what you are saying and how this could affect the other parent.

DO listen to the other parent. Try to understand where he or she is coming from.

DO perform unsolicited good deeds for the other parent. You will receive return dividends 10-fold. Occasionally exchange gifts, even if token, at Christmas or other special times. The good will you create could last a lifetime.

DO practice the Golden Rule: If you have majority time, don’t abuse the position. Treat the other parent the way you would want to be treated if you were the non-majority parent. You may experience that role before your child reaches age 18. Think carefully how you would want to be treated by the other parent, and how it would affect your relationship with your child.

Man drawing a blank

Tutorial for Fathers on Winning Your Child Custody Case

When we actually find something you can do to win, we’ll let you know.

In the meantime, watch for these upcoming REAL seminars for divorcing guys:

Living in Your Car and Liking It

Disaster Preparedness for Men: Knowing When Hurricane [Insert Name of Your Wife Here] is Going to Hit and Getting Out Fast

How to Find a Bail Bondsman at 4:00 a.m.

Giving in to Your Wife’s Custody Demands: They Won’t Know Their Father Growing Up, But At Least They’ll Get to Go to College

Sneaky woman

Real Custody Tactics: Tutorial for Mothers on Winning Your Child Custody Case

If you are facing an upcoming divorce and custody battle, this tutorial is for you. Gals, in this day and age, it’s not enough to just say, “I’m the mother, therefore I get custody of the children.” Fathers have come a long way since Ward Cleaver’s time, when dad disappeared for hours on end then came home and spent the evening reading the paper and complaining about the wife’s meatloaf.

Some modern fathers have the annoying habit of actually being involved in their children’s lives. While this frees you up to spend more time shopping at the mall and gabbing with your friends on the cell phone, it also creates a threatening track record of paternal caregiving. And we can’t have that.

Fear not, there’s a lot you can do. Short of contriving a case of domestic violence against him (see Domestic Violence Tutorial), you can still jam a wrench into his parental machinery. Here are some surefire tactics that are bound to put you in the driver’s seat in your custody war.

Prevent Him Being an Involved Father

Intercept all communications from school personnel and health care providers. Hide school announcements such as parent-teacher conferences, school open-houses, and sports events (especially tournaments where there are lots of witnesses to his absence). 

Write fake dates on the calendar in pencil (a few days after the actual event), then when he misses it, re-write it on the real date and erase the fake one.  After a few times he’ll be so befuddled he won’t even try to get to another event.

If your husband does somehow find out about the event and comes home early to get ready, flee immediately, slamming the door on his foot, thus rendering him incapable of attending the event. 

Schedule medical and dental appointments for the children during days and times he can’t possibly get away from work. Be sure to have the doctor write in the chart that only you were there, and bemoan the fact that the children’s father is so uninvolved.

Change the school information card to ensure that only you are listed on the emergency contact section. Instead of their father, list your boyfriend, your hairdresser, or your second cousin twice-removed.

Confuse and Besmirch

Intercept mail from your husband’s company, bills in his name, and any legal notices. Shred them immediately. By the time he finds out what he missed, he will be spending so much time trying to fix the problems that he won’t have any time to spend on parenting.

Visit internet porn sites on his computer, then send the links to his boss.  Buy hardcore porn and plant it on his desk (this is especially effective just before a visit from the parenting evaluator).

Tactics After You Separate

These tactics generally work only when you are still living with your spouse. Once you have separated, you have to get even more clever. Here are some additional techniques you can use to increase your chances of total victory.

Quit your job, citing vague health problems (but not too severe to interfere with your parenting), then file for spousal support from your husband.  This ensures you can stay home all day and be there when the children come home from school.

Once he’s slapped with maintenance payments plus child support, he’ll have to get two jobs just to stay afloat. This will virtually guarantee he won’t have any time to spend with the children. Even if you and he shared parenting before the separation, your status as “primary parent” will be unassailable. 

Before you separate, be sure to capture your husband’s e-mail passwords and remote telephone codes (too many dufuses leave these things on sticky-notes pasted to the computer).  This will ensure that you can check up on all his activities even after you’re living apart.

Once you can access his e-mail or messages, you can erase important ones, or gather crucial intelligence on what he’s doing to further his case.

Continue waging war without looking like it. Engage in psy-ops procedures whenever possible.

Just when he thinks things have settled down, sabotage cooperation at every opportunity.  If he wants to have the children Christmas Eve, demand that you get them, because your family has traditionally had Christmas Eve for years (even if you never have; remember, this is war, and you can’t let a pesky little thing like the truth get in the way of winning). 

If he proposes splitting the winter vacation in half, declare that’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard of, and tell him you’ll alternate by year.  Argue with him over every conceivable issue relating to the children.  Eventually you’ll beat him down psychologically to the point that he will give in to your every demand.

Parental Alienation

And don’t forget that a little parental alienation can go a long way. Whenever the children mention their dad, feign distress and scold them for bringing up someone who is so detestable to you. 

When they return from seeing him on a weekend and want to tell you about how much fun they had, cut them off immediately and remind them about how hard it is for you to be a “single parent.” And be sure to meet them at the door, hug them dramatically, and cry “Thank God you’re safe!” 

Eventually, they’ll stop saying anything positive about their dad in front of you. Because you’ve thoroughly ingrained it into them, this will also be their attitude when they talk to the parenting evaluator or guardian ad litem.

After Winning Custody

Now, after you get custody of the children, you actually want to maximize the children’s time with their father (up to a point, you can’t let them live with him or anything). 

Once you have the child support nailed, the more time they spend with him, the more he has to pay for them out of his own pocket, on food, entertainment, school supplies, clothes, shoes, coats, etc.  This ensures that you get to spend the child support money on what’s important to you: you.

Domestic violence accuser

REAL Domestic Violence Tactics: Tutorial for Women on Effective Use of DV Allegations

In order to maximize the outcome of your case, whether that be custody of the children, possession of the house, getting a better deal on maintenance / child support, or just plain getting revenge, this tutorial will help you achieve the best results.

WARNING: SATIRE ALERT. DO NOT ACTUALLY DO THESE THINGS. SEE DISCLAIMER BELOW.

The first thing you have to remember is that all women are assumed to be victims of domestic violence. Years of lobbying by the “domestic violence industry” for harsh laws and state and federal funding have paid off.

Most states have draconian domestic violence laws that are there to protect women from abusive men. Mandatory arrest, primary aggressor laws, no-drop policies, monolithic protection/no-contact orders, and harsh penalties for DV crimes are there to punish men, whether guilty of DV or not.

Once the system gets him in its tentacles, he will be so messed up you will have a veritable cake-walk to your ultimate goal: total victory.

Here are some time-honored techniques on how to work the system.

Get a Plan Ready at the First Sign of Impending Divorce

As soon as you sense trouble in the marriage, you must take action. This is especially true if you have been at fault (having an affair, mismanaging money, drug/alcohol abuse, etc). Even if there is the slightest possibility of your husband resisting your demands for everything, you need to play the DV card.

Call the domestic violence hotline for advice. They will give you step-by-step instructions on how to get help with leaving, getting a protection order, filing for divorce.

They have free counselors, will give you referrals to free or low-cost legal help, and will put you up in a nice hotel for at least a few days, if not more. (Don’t worry if YOU are the domestic violence abuser. This is about helping women, period. Even if you are a CONVICTED DV ABUSER, the DV advocates will help you, not him).

Throw the Bum Out

First step is to contrive a DV incident where your husband gets arrested. Provoke a fight, and hope he responds physically. You can even try asking him, directly or indirectly. “I bet you’d really like to slap me right now.” Some men will oblige, although stupidly for sure.

Anyway, you don’t need to have been hit, pushed, slapped or punched to get him arrested. Call him into the bedroom to talk, and when he comes in the doorway, scream “stop harassing me and let me leave.” When he says, “huh?” dart past him out the door, then call 911.

Be sure to tell the dispatcher every detail of what happened, his past abuse, threats, and how afraid you are of him. They’ll send two or three squad cars out to your house pronto.

If you attack him first, lose your balance, fall back and bump your head, even better. Now you have “evidence” of his assault.

When the officers arrive, tremble and cry, and say he lunged at you while threatening to kill you. No proof of this is available, of course, but that doesn’t matter, only your word is needed.

After they remove him in handcuffs, start packing up his things and leave them on the front porch. The court will let him come by with a police officer to get his personal property, and it will go much faster if you’ve already put his stuff in big garbage bags.

Next day, go to your local district court and file for a domestic violence protection order. Be sure to ask for the works: no contact with you, the children, no coming back to the house, no going to the children’s school, daycare, sports events, etc. If you’re not sure what to say, just ask for a DV advocate and they’ll help you with the script.

Acting Tips for DV Victims

When you get to the court hearing on the full order for protection, be sure to follow these tips to maximize your effectiveness as a victim.

When you see him come into the courtroom, dramatically flinch and shrink back.

Cry, tremble and shake while you’re giving your testimony (this is especially effective when you have papers in your hands that rattle loudly).

Be sure to ask that an armed deputy come inside the courtroom during your hearing. Have him stand between you and the beast, along with a DV advocate or two.

Maximizing Aggravation of Your Protection Order

When you apply for a DVPO, be sure to ask for outrageous restraints against him, such as prohibiting him from being “5000 yards” from your residence, workplace and the children’s school. Go online and use a mapping program to draw a large circle around anywhere you’ll be, and make sure he has to drive miles out of his way to avoid being in violation of the order.

If he has established a separate residence not far from the children’s school, so he can easily go to and from, you can even make sure he can’t be at his own home without risking arrest.

Increasing the Chances of Getting Him Arrested for Violation of the Order

First, make sure the order is written badly, and has confusing and contradictory provisions that even a lawyer can’t decipher.

Next, call him incessantly, and when he answers and says even a word or two to you, report him for violating the order.

Contrive an emergency so he will have to come back to the house. Tell him that your car won’t start, and ask him sweetly if he could please come over and help? Promise not to turn him in for violating the order. (Remember, YOU are not prohibited from contacting him, so if he gets arrested and complains that you invited him over, he is still screwed and there are no adverse consequences to you).

Playing with Fire and Not Getting Burned

The occasional falsely accused man will become violent solely due to the injustice perpetrated against him. Use your judgment about how far you want to push him. (Check with the NRA on firearms self-defense training).

Having your husband arrested, charged, convicted and jailed can affect your standard of living. If he is the sole financial support of the family, be sure to have an alternate means of supporting yourself and the children during his incarceration. He will certainly have lost his job by the time he gets out.

The stigma of being a convicted DV abuser will prevent him from obtaining a comparable position. Child support and maintenance arrearages will quickly rack up while he’s in custody, but don’t count on collecting them anytime soon.

DISCLAIMER: It has come to my attention that some people believe that this article (and some others on this site) is serious and that I am actually advising people to engage in these tactics. I am absolutely, positively, NOT trying to help people get away with phony claims. If there is any doubt about this please read the rest of this site. This article is what is called “satire” and it uses humor and absurdity to make a point. The point here is to warn people about the dirty tricks some people use against the other party in a case and to watch out if the other party tries them on you. The point of this article is not to teach people how to use dirty tricks (although the word “tutorial” does mean teach, that too is satire). I am illustrating how easy it is to create a case out of thin air and how eager the system is to believe it. To repeat: Don’t do these things. And don’t let anyone do these things to you. Thank you.

Divorcing couple

Lisa Scott’s Top 10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Divorce Wars

  1. Parents don’t read statutes to learn how to be parents.
  2. When threatened with losing their children, people get very vicious. Think Marlon Perkins’ wildlife films of animals protecting their young. 
  3. A man who yells at his wife is not automatically a domestic violence abuser. A woman who has an affair is not necessarily an unfit mother.
  4. Parents are rarely as bad as they can be portrayed on paper by their spouse’s attorney.
  5. If parents knew they would spend $50,000+ each in a custody battle they might just cooperate on a parenting plan, and they MIGHT reconsider divorce.
  6. Children almost always want to see their parents get back together. The next best thing is to see them being nice to each other.
  7. Blood is thicker than water. Families almost always back their own in custody battles. The ensuing family-wide bitterness never fully goes away.
  8. Divorce lowers your standard of living. No one gets a financial free-ride from his/her spouse.
  9. Children love and need both parents. A Child Support Check is not a substitute for a parent. Ask any child.
  10. When the legal case is over, the attorneys, the judges, the guardians and the mediators go away. All that’s left are a father, a mother, and their children, who must live with what has been done to them.
Crime scene

Male-Only Crimes List

You are all undoubtedly familiar with various abbreviations used by law enforcement and courts to designate certain crimes. Commonly seen terms are:

  • DUI – Driving under the influence
  • MIP – Minor in possession of alcohol
  • VNCO – Violation of No-contact order

Some terms have also been coined by certain groups to designate non-crimes where police often seem to target minorities, such as:

  • DWB – Driving While Black

Well, TABS has uncovered a series of heretofore unknown crimes and their abbreviations, which police use only against men in domestic situations.

Unbeknownst to most men, they are committing “crimes” every day in their dealings with their wives or significant others. All the wife has to do is call 911, report the misbehavior, and the man will be summarily tossed out the door.

So, as a public service, to help better prepare you for what may happen to you at any time, we offer the following formerly classified offenses, for which you may get in trouble at home.

  • MWM – MARRIED WHILE MALE
  • PWM – PARENTING WHILE MALE
  • FTYW – FAILURE TO YIELD TO WIFE
  • WOLL – WEIGHT OVER LEGAL LIMIT
  • WOLL – BB WEIGHT OVER LEGAL LIMIT WITH BEER-BELLY ENHANCEMENT
  • HTR – HOGGING THE REMOTE
  • DWW – DISAGREEING WITH WIFE
  • MIPM – MALE IN POSSESSION OF A MIND
  • OIJ – OBSTRUCTION OF INJUSTICE
  • RFA – RESISTING FALSE ACCUSATIONS
  • RDVII – RESISTING DV INDUSTRY INDOCTRINATION (When sent to DV Perp Treatment Re-education)
  • MID – MALE IN DENIAL (OF BEING AN ABUSER)
  • ESR – ELUDING SOLE RESPONSIBILITY (FOR MARITAL PROBLEMS)
  • AFS – ASKING FOR SEX
  • SNS – SAYING NO TO SEX
  • PWHSWMM – PROTESTING WIFE HAVING SEX WITH MAIL MAN
  • VNCWPO – VIOLATION OF NO-CONTACT WITHOUT PERMISSION ORDER
  • WTMH – WORKING TOO MANY HOURS
  • NMEM – NOT MAKING ENOUGH MONEY
  • ATSWFSRMOLT – ATTEMPTING TO STOP WIFE FROM SPENDING RENT MONEY ON LOTTO TICKETS
VAWA protesters

Biased VAWA Pushes Gender Supremacy

The federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is up for reauthorization in 2005. VAWA funds billions of taxpayer dollars to combat violence against women, principally domestic violence (DV).

The definition of DV touted by victim advocates runs the gamut from jokes and insults to murder, with “power and control” being the overriding characteristic of the man’s behavior towards the woman. Real violence is rarely at issue.

When women commit violence against men, VAWA and the DV industry go AWOL. Despite the federal government’s own statistics showing nearly 40 per cent of domestic violence victims are men, VAWA persists in its monolithic response. 

In the same way that some minority groups argue they cannot be racist because they aren’t in power in society, gender feminists contend women cannot commit DV because they can’t assert power and control over men. Any violence committed by women is, by definition, either de minimus (it could not possibly have hurt him), or self-defense (SHE is the victim of HIS abuse).

All interactions between partners are subject to this twisted logic. When the relationship sours, the woman has an easy out: “I am a victim of domestic violence and can do no wrong.” VAWA supports and maintains female supremacy. It should be re-titled Victory Assured for Women Act. 

VAWA’s gender bias permeates law enforcement response to domestic conflict. All it takes is a woman calling 911 to summon three squad cars, teeming with police officers eager to carry out today’s “tough” domestic violence laws.

The centerpiece of the system is “mandatory arrest.” Every domestic disturbance call must result in arrest, usually the man. Domestic violence is whatever the man does that the woman doesn’t like.

  • Declaring he is going to file for custody of the children is a “threat.” 
  • Finding out she is having an affair and demanding she stop is “abuse.”

Unknown to most men, such interchanges often precipitate false charges of DV. In my 17 years as a family law attorney, I have seen this pattern occur over and over. 

Even when the facts clearly show the man is not an abuser (and perhaps the woman is), prosecutors refuse to drop charges.  No-drop” policies are a great publicity tool, and a way to ensure more funding. Charges that would never see the light of day if they happened between strangers on the street (accidentally bumping against someone when walking by), are routinely charged as DV “assault.” (But only if the man does it to the woman; a man can be bleeding from a head wound and he won’t be considered a victim). Indiscriminate charging clogs the system with minor transgressions, yet ensures a steady stream of cases justifying more taxpayer money at budget time. 

Both spouses are usually at fault when a marriage ends. Many women have discovered a surefire antidote against taking any responsibility: playing the domestic violence victim. While the husband is reading the newspaper and relaxing after work, the wife is contacting the domestic violence hotline, getting step-by-step instructions on what to say:  “His abuse is escalating,” “I’m fearful for my safety.”

VAWA funds battered women’s shelters and their misandrist staff, always ready to welcome another customer for their anti-male, anti-father and anti-family agenda.

Ask a victim advocate what causes domestic violence, and she will immediately blame our “patriarchal society,” ensuring that only men get the blame. One might ask what causes women to abuse children. Presumably, the patriarchy by proxy.

VAWA gives short shrift to child abuse, which is most often committed by women. Indeed, VAWA earmarks a paltry $7000 per year to develop home visitation projects to look for signs of child abuse or neglect. 

To assure victory in the divorce/custody case, the woman claims the man is an abuser, no matter how good a husband and father he is. Whatever wrongs he has committed, from leaving the toilet seat up to not making enough money, failure of the marriage is his fault.

“No-fault” divorce laws really mean “no fault unless it’s the man’s fault.” In other words, the Oprahization of family law.

What we really have is MAWA: Men Annoying Women Act. The man is either a relentless abuser or a hopeless wimp. Any modern man not terrified of being in a relationship with a woman has not been paying attention. 

The government seems unable to define gender bias except as “bias against women.” Title IX forces college sports programs to spend equal amounts of money on men’s and women’s sports, despite the fact that the vast majority of athletes are men.

Even though 1/3 of domestic violence murder victims are male, not one dime of VAWA’s largesse is devoted to prevention of violence against men.

Men are far more likely than women to be victims of violence overall, yet there’s no Violence Against Men Act. Men also comprise nearly all workplace injuries and deaths, but try to find a Male Workplace Injury Prevention Act. 

VAWA is not about stopping violence. It is about greedy special interests slopping at the federal trough, perpetuating gender supremacy for women. If proponents were truly concerned about helping victims, they would demand that all intervention and funding be gender neutral and gender inclusive. The existence of male victims threatens gender feminists because it knocks the underpinnings out of their theory, that the “patriarchy” causes men to abuse women.

The DV industry has succeeded in creating the “victimarchy.” With VAWA in their corner, women win no matter what: victim or abuser, they can do no wrong.

Separating or divorcing couple

What to Do Before the Restraining Order Comes

Adapted from Presentation Given by Lisa Scott at the Father’s Rights Seminar, Sponsored by FR Investigations, August 4, 2004, Auburn, Washington

Even though this talk is directed mostly at men, everything that can happen to a man in this system can happen to a woman. Women should not be complacent, or even gleeful, when these things happen to men. They could be the next to be falsely accused — suffering criminal arrest, incarceration, removal from home and denial of access to children.

Women should not make men the enemy, any more than men should make women the enemy. Women should stop and think, how would I react if I was taken away from my children and told I should be happy to get to be with them every other weekend?

Repeated studies show that children of divorce are most damaged by high conflict between their parents. If parents would just call a truce and agree to do what’s best for their children, there would be a lot less fighting.

Unfortunately, the system tends to encourage custody battles because the winner not only gets the kids, but usually the house and, of course, child support. Plus, the parent who has the children most of the time has the most control over what happens to them. As long as the winner is rewarded with the goodies, there will continue to be wars fought over the children.

The first thing for men to understand and accept is this.

Gender Bias is a Reality in this System

Man being crushed

Despite the fact that our family laws are generally written in a gender-neutral way, they are often carried out by people in a system that has been steeped in gender-biased stereotypes and outright lies about men and women.

Police, prosecutors, judges, social workers, psychologists, parenting evaluators, counselors, et al, have been indoctrinated with propaganda by certain women’s and victim advocacy groups that men commit 95 per cent of all domestic violence, are more likely to abuse their children, and that they are little more than sperm donors who care not about their children but about how they can get out of paying child support.

If you think that sounds harsh and unfair to these groups, I apologize, but it is my opinion based on 17 + years of family law practice and 7 + years of family law reform activism.

So, whenever you put your freedom, your access to your children and your property and assets in front of an authority in the system, you are vulnerable to being treated in a biased way. Not everyone is biased, but it is the norm for most players in the system.

That is why you are much better off staying out of the system — that is, resolving your disputes through negotiation — and not letting yourself be at the mercy of someone who knows nothing about you, and has a tremendous tendency to treat you as a member of a group, not as an individual.

As I often tell clients, if you have to fight for your rights in front of a judge, you’ve already lost.

Every man is vulnerable to getting run through the ringer in this system. Any time you get involved with a woman, you are subject to court and legal intervention. The only way to avoid it is to never get involved with any woman, and go live the rest of your life in a cave. I’m guessing most of you won’t take that route, so I’m here to give you some tips on how to avoid problems before they escalate.

Always Be On Your Guard

The first thing to remember is always be on your guard. Always be thinking about how things can get out of hand, and how something you do can be twisted around to make you look sinister.

There are many phases of personal relationships, and different things to do depending on which phase you are in. In general, there are three major ones:

  1. Pre-Divorce: (while you are still living together).
  2. During Divorce: (after separation, prior to the final divorce).
  3. Post-Divorce: (after the divorce, until all your children are over 18).

Some of these tips apply to all three phases, while some apply only to one or two.

In any case, always be thinking of where you are, and what you want to accomplish. Have goals and a plan on how to reach those goals.

Set Child Custody Goals

Daughter reading

The first thing you need to do is decide, what is it that I want with regard to my children? Do I want majority time with them, shared parenting, or just regular access?

Men have to want to obtain shared parenting or majority time before they have any chance to accomplish it. Gender bias is a reality in this system, but sometimes GENDER BIAS BEGINS AT HOME.

If a man is not totally committed to getting the most time he can with his children, no one else is going to fight for him. It’s not impossible; in fact it is more and more common for men to have majority care or shared care of their children.

Once you have decided what you want to achieve, don’t let yourself be talked out of that goal, or let things get out of control so you lose any realistic chance of reaching that goal.

For example, I hear many stories of men who have been involved in a domestic violence incident with their wives, where both people have engaged in an act that could get them arrested. Or it is unclear who is the aggressor.

911 is called, and the police say, well, we have to arrest someone, who will it be? And the man volunteers to be arrested!! It may seem like the chivalrous thing to do at the time, but it is devastating to your parental rights.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is stand up for your rights as a father, and not be a “good guy.” In the heat of a custody battle, when have you ever heard of the mother volunteering to be the one arrested?? Never.

Possible New Relationships

SCARED DATELESS: Now, before we go any further, let’s talk about a phase not mentioned above, but which all of you have gone through and probably will again: beginning a new relationship. Many of you are divorcing, or perhaps divorced, and will be getting involved with another woman in the future.

Be smart and use common sense in any dealings with a potential romantic interest:

1. Don’t get involved with someone too fast

It goes without saying that, the less you know about that other person, the more potentially could go wrong if you get involved too quickly. For a man in this system, a bad break-up can mean not only the loss of the children from the relationship.

Even if you don’t have children with a woman, it can mean the loss of your freedom. You can be falsely accused of domestic violence or stalking, and be arrested and charged and incarcerated. DV allegations from a new relationship are often used against you to take away children from your prior relationship.

You can also lose your right to own firearms if you are convicted of any DV offense, even a misdemeanor. Men who are police, security officers, gun collectors or hunters be especially aware. If the woman knows you are an avid gun enthusiast, or have to carry a gun in your career, a DV protection order or charges can be highly devastating.

Even a few dates with a woman can form the basis of her getting a restraining/protection order against you if she decides you did something wrong. I often say, a man is only one date away from losing his liberty (and children, career, home, etc).

2. Watch out for the professional victim

It is a major red flag if she claims she was abused by a past husband or boyfriend (or father, or mother, or grandparent, or sibling, or family pet). Maybe she was really abused, or she wasn’t, but used false allegations against the guy to get a better deal.

Either way, she likely knows the system and knows how to play the victim for her benefit. Many men find out only later that the former husband or boyfriend she claimed abused her did nothing of the sort, and that the false claims she is making against you now are the exact same things she claimed one or several former partners did to her.

Now, let’s talk about some practical things you can do when involved in divorce proceedings. Most apply to during, but some apply before and after.

Do’s and Don’t’s to Help You Avoid Trouble

Don't touch

OK, I lied, there aren’t any DO’s, they are all DON’T’s! (almost).

DON’T EVER, EVER, GET INTO ANY PHYSICAL CONFRONTATIONS.

Even if she hits, punches, slaps, scratches, kicks or bites you, do not respond. Just shield yourself with your hands and try to get away. Even the act of pushing her away, or holding her arms to stop her from hitting you, can be chargeable domestic violence.

Run, run away if she comes at you. Lock yourself in the bathroom, the garage, or get in the car and drive around the block. Do anything to de-escalate the situation. (If she loves the dog more than you, hold the dog in your arms while you have a discussion with her. This will probably avert a frontal assault).

EVERY SINGLE CASE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HAS MANY CHOICES LEADING UP TO IT THAT ONE OR BOTH PARTICIPANTS COULD HAVE MADE TO AVOID ESCALATION.

Don’t let yourself get out of control to the point where it involves physical actions or threats or gestures of physical force. DV assault can be as minor as blocking her egress from a room or grabbing her wrist to get her to stay and talk. DON’T DO IT!

DON’T GET BAITED INTO BAD BEHAVIOR.

No matter what she says to you, or screams, or does, do not respond in kind. Do not argue, yell, raise your voice, get mad, swear, gesture, threaten, or even glare at her.

Don’t leave nasty, angry or profane messages on her voice mail (or anyone else’s). Do not express any angry thoughts to anyone but your attorney. Even counselors can be subpoenaed to testify about what you said.

Don’t throw things, break things, hit things or even make movements as though you are about to. DO NOT smash your fist into the drywall (ouch) even if you are the only one hurt by it. This behavior can be considered domestic violence (threat of imminent harm, malicious mischief). Even if it is YOUR PROPERTY, do not do any violence to it. Even if you’re not angry, and just wanted to break something to see what happens, or find out what’s inside, DON’T. It can be used against you later to prove you are violent and out of control.

Do not ever, ever, slap your spouse even if she asks you to. Some guys have done that and learned the hard way she was hoping you would do it so she would have justification to have you charged or get a protection order.

GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR INNER WIMP.

I’m not kidding. You cannot show anger or negative emotions. Be a robot, do not respond even if she hits you (literally or figuratively) below the belt. Always be more willing to switch than fight. Your new motto is: “Yes Dear.”

If you truly have trouble controlling your anger and emotions, get help from someone, before you do something irreparable.

STOP AND THINK WHENEVER YOU SEE THINGS GETTING OUT OF HAND. DE-ESCALATE AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY.

DON’T EVER let her or anyone else provoke you into violence.

Stop and think, what would your attorney advise you to do (call and ask if you can). Since you can’t always call in every situation, I sometimes tell clients: Think WWLD: What Would Lisa Do? (apologies to you-know-who).

If you are not convinced how bad it can get, read one of those DV brochures and their lists of what they consider domestic violence. Such common relationship attributes as jokes, insults, put-downs, disagreements, etc. are listed as escalating all the way up to assault and murder.

If your spouse ever decides to go after you in DV/family court, she will have an army of helpers, DV advocates, counselors, social workers, et al, to help her with the “script” and the buzzwords to use to go after you. Don’t let her have any ammunition against you.

DON’T CALL 911 UNLESS YOU ARE BLEEDING AND SHE STILL HAS A WEAPON IN HER HAND.

Too many men who have called 911 for help have ended up being arrested for DV. Even if she has assaulted you, by the time the police arrive she can cook up a story that you are the real abuser, and she was only defending herself.

Once the police are involved, you have lost all control over the situation.

Even if the police actually do arrest her (and in some areas this is occurring more frequently), the prosecutor may decline to charge her. In which case, she is now as angry as a wounded wild animal. Her next stop is probably the DV advocate at the district courthouse, to file for a protection order against you.

DON’T OPEN YOURSELF UP TO CHILD ABUSE CHARGES.

Don’t spank or use any corporal punishment with the children (possibly for the rest of their minority). During divorce, the spouse can use it to get a DV protection order, and also after. Also the child can accuse you of abuse even if it was reasonable discipline.

Don’t sleep with them or spend more than the absolute minimum time helping them dress or bathe. Make sure the children have their own beds and bedrooms and be firm about them sleeping there. Don’t let them fall asleep with you, even on the couch watching a movie, or come sleep with you in the middle of the night. Lock your door if you have to.

And get that kiddie pornography off your computer. It will come back to haunt you when you least expect it. (Ha ha, just kidding, I hope). Get rid of “regular” pornography. Even though it is legal to buy and look at, it will be used against you in a divorce (she’ll accuse you of having an “addiction” to porn). Don’t visit seamy internet sites, even just out of curiosity. The other side will make you out to be a deviant pervert. And be especially vigilant that the children do not get access to anything inappropriate in your house or on your computer.

DON’T LET INNOCENT BEHAVIOR BE TURNED SINISTER.

Don’t play rough with the children, or with pets. Don’t let the children do so either.

Don’t play rough with your spouse, especially in bed. Don’t ever joke or talk about rape or kinky sex. It will be used against you.

Even if your wife is a veritable Paris Hilton in bed, during the divorce she’ll channel Mother Teresa, claiming you forced her into all sorts of demeaning behavior. (See Jack Ryan case; former Senate candidate who quit after abuse allegations made by former wife surfaced during campaign).

Don’t joke or even talk about violence, suicide, etc. These statements can be quoted and made to sound serious and sinister in court filings.

If you are already separated, do not go to her residence alone (even if it is the house you still co-own). Go with a witness only, or meet her at a neutral location. Do not take her up on an invitation to come over.

If you have to go there, to drop off or pick up the children, or items, go only when she is present, and only go as far as the front door, don’t go inside. Don’t drop off something at her residence when she is not there, even if she has asked you to. She might be setting you up for an allegation that you went there and broke in, rifled through her things, or were spying on her or stalking her.

It should go without saying, but DON’T VIOLATE ANY COURT ORDERS, IN ANY WAY, AT ANY TIME. If you are under court order to stay way from your spouse, take extra care to follow the restrictions, even going out of your way to avoid being near her home, workplace, or wherever she might frequent.

Draw a map if you have to, circle the sensitive areas, and stay out of the HOT ZONE! You don’t need to go to the same grocery store or coffee shop you always have. Find a new area to hang out. If you do run into her, it will be her coming into your area, not the other way around.

Also, never enter her vehicle, even to put something in it for the children. Her vehicle is an extension of herself, and she can claim you were trying to take her things or sabotage the car. Just think if she had a flat tire and you happened to be in the area, she could claim you did it.

If after you have separated you still have a key to her car, give it back to her and get a receipt.

DON’T ADMIT TO BAD BEHAVIOR OR IMPLY YOU’VE DONE WRONG.

While being in a relationship often requires the ability to say “I’m sorry,” once things break down and the war has begun, the other side may be waiting for the opportunity to get you on record confessing to various malfeasance. If you have to apologize for anything, do it verbally, and in a general way.

Do not write a note or letter confessing your sins. Many a divorcing guy has been served copies of his own heartfelt apology letter, “proving” he did everything she accuses him of doing. Many times the woman demands such a letter and the guy complies, having no idea she will use it against him. If you need to get something off your chest, write yourself a letter, then promptly shred it.

DON’T LET YOUR WIFE INTERFERE WITH YOUR BEING A PARENT.

On many initial consultations for divorce, the husband tells me he wants to be more involved with the children, but his wife won’t let him. She even hides soccer schedules, school parent-teacher notices, and doctor visits from him, so she can go by herself and “prove” that he is an uninvolved parent. If your wife engages in these tactics, don’t confront her, just get the information directly from the school, team, doctor, or wherever, and go anyway.

If you find out after the fact that she’s taken the child to the doctor or dentist for some treatment, schedule an appointment and go in and discuss things with them yourself. When you do go in, with or without the children, make sure the chart notes indicate you were there.

Check with the school that you are on the information / emergency contact card. Fill a separate one out if you have to. Ask for duplicate copies of school notices, homework information, etc. to be sent directly to you. Even if your wife has already signed a homework assignment or permission slip, sign too.

Don’t be an invisible parent. Let the teachers know your child has two involved parents. Get e-mail addresses for the teachers and communicate with them regularly about your child. Don’t denigrate your wife or mention the parenting conflicts going on, just find out what you can do and do it.

Remember, everyone you come in contact with during this process is a potential witness, for or against you. Get and keep names and contact information for teachers, counselors, coaches, medical providers, and other parents, so you can get their statements if needed.

Document, document, document. The family court system is gender bias in action. When the mother claims she is the “primary parent,” no evidence is needed. When the father claims he is the “primary parent,” or even an equally-involved parent, the courts demand “where’s the evidence?”

It is not enough to BE an involved parent, you have to PROVE it. Always be thinking, how can I document what I am doing?

DON’T LET ALCOHOL OR DRUGS INTERFERE WITH YOUR JUDGMENT.

If you have a problem with either, get it under control.

Don’t drink, smoke, chew, or use drugs. Even a social drinker can be made to look like a drunk, so the prudent thing to do is not drink at all. After the divorce is over, you can resume your normal drinking binges (ha ha, just kidding, I hope).

DON’T SNOOP OR SPY, BUT IF YOU DO, DON’T GET CAUGHT.

If your wife is having an affair and you catch her, that is one of the NUMBER ONE triggers for false allegations of domestic violence.

Most states have no-fault divorce, EXCEPT IF IT’S THE MAN’S FAULT. In other words, everything she does is OK, but anything you do is bad. Don’t give her any ammo for claims that you are “harassing” her, “stalking” her or “invading her privacy.”

If you happen to read her e-mail, listen to her phone messages, or overhear conversations, just gather the most information you can, but don’t keep copies of anything. She may find it and use it to prove you are snooping.

Always observe good security measures for yourself. Have secure passwords for your programs, and don’t leave them on sticky-notes on the computer.

If possible, only use e-mail for personal communications at your office, not at home (if your employer allows it). Be sure your voice mail code is not something the other party has, or she could be listening to your messages. Even if she moves out of the house, she could still be calling in and checking messages on the answering machine/voice mail.

Always be sure to clearly terminate a call after you have spoken with your spouse or left a voice message. Make sure your cell phone doesn’t accidentally dial or re-dial her number while you’re talking to someone else about her (or anything for that matter), and the entire conversation is getting recorded on her voice mail. This has happened to more than a few people, and when it happens during a heated divorce/custody battle, you will greatly regret it.

Keep any and all documents related to the divorce at a secure, off-site location. Keep a back-up set of copies in case one set gets lost or destroyed. Give a set to your attorney for safekeeping.

DON’T KEEP GUNS OR OTHER WEAPONS AROUND.

Store guns or other weapons at a secure location elsewhere besides the family home. Get a receipt for all guns kept by a third party. If the guns are not there, she will have a harder time claiming you threatened her with one (I said harder, not impossible).

She may also accuse you of turning the children into gun-crazed wackos (just like you). It is best to defer firearms handling, training and target practice until well after the divorce. And for God’s sake don’t take the children out into the woods and kill small, cute, furry forest creatures.

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE HOW BAD THE SYSTEM CAN BE.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the “justice system” is about “justice.”

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that if the truth is on your side, you’ll be OK. The truth may be out there, but it rarely matters in family court.

You must start well before the case gets to divorce court to have any chance of reasonable success. Making too many mistakes in the process will be irreparable.

DON’T ARGUE WITH YOUR ATTORNEY WHEN HE/SHE TELLS YOU TO DO OR NOT DO SOMETHING.

Follow your attorney’s advice. If you don’t you’ll regret it later.

If you feel your attorney is not giving you this kind of advice, then you may need to change attorneys.

Troubled man

Gender Bias No Cure for Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Most articles and public service announcements this month focus exclusively on female victims, while at the same time stereotyping all abusers as male. Federal laws such as the Violence Against Women Act codify gender discrimination and gender profiling.

Violence Against Women Exaggerations

Women’s advocates claim that virtually all domestic violence victims are women, therefore discrimination is justified. They repeat often-cited claims such as “the number one reason women age 16 to 40 end up in the emergency room is violence,” “95 per cent of domestic violence is committed by men,” and “the chance of being victimized by an intimate partner is 10 times greater for a woman than a man.”

Yet these “statistics” cannot be verified and are repeatedly contradicted by both government and private studies. A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report found the leading causes of women’s injury-related emergency room visits are accidental falls, motor vehicle accidents, and accidental cuts. Homicide or injury purposely inflicted by others (including strangers and intimates), was the least likely cause, exceeded even by injuries due to animal bites and venomous plants. (National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 1992 Emergency Department Summary).

Male Victims are Ignored

Proof that women are not the only victims of domestic violence appears in the 1998 Justice Department report “Intimate Partner Violence.” Of 1830 domestic violence murders, 510, or almost 1/3, were men. The study also indicated that males are 13 per cent less likely to report being a victim of intimate violence than females.

Another 1998 Justice Department report, “Violence Against Women Survey,” found that while 1,309,061 women were assaulted by an intimate partner in the prior year, 834,732 men were victims of domestic violence, 39 per cent of the total.

Extensive research concludes that men and women are almost equally likely to initiate domestic violence (e.g. Strauss and Gelles, 1975 and 1985). While women may be more severely injured when domestic violence escalates, they can and do commit serious crimes of violence against men.

Women’s advocates continually downplay the existence of female violence. This obscures the fact that men are at risk of being victimized, and leaves them less prepared for the potential for violence against them.

Should an important public policy debate be about which sex is the most important victim? Should a female victim be more important than a male victim? Was Melanie Edwards (murdered by her husband in a divorce/custody battle) more important than Chuck Leonard (murdered by his wife in a divorce/custody battle)? Was Gertrudes Lamson (shot and killed by her husband) more important than Donyea Jones (doused with gasoline, set afire, and burned to death by his wife)?

Female Perpetrators Given a Free Pass

Many male victims are ignored or ridiculed by a system that seems to recognize only female victims. When women are the abusers, they are more often than not given a pass.

Recent cases I have personal experience with involve men who have been hit, punched, gouged, choked, and threatened with weapons by their spouses. Despite reports to police, none of the women were charged with crimes.

These local cases, and their numerous national counterparts, demonstrate that domestic violence is not the sole province of male perpetrators and female victims.

Yet we are constantly told that women are the only ones at risk. Had there been more education about the potential for violence by both men and women, men like Chuck Leonard and Donyea Jones may have been able to take precautions and avoid a deadly risk.

A Need to be More Realistic

Myths and distortions about male and female violence have no place in the debate about stopping domestic violence. Despite a continual barrage of reports about how epidemic domestic violence has become, the truth is that most men and women are law-abiding citizens, loving spouses and caring parents.

The 1998 Intimate Partner Violence report indicates steep declines in domestic violence against both men and women. The Justice Department numbers cited above indicate that only 1.3 per cent of women (and 0.9 per cent of men) are actually victimized each year.

Yet domestic violence advocates promote the myth that American women live in constant terror of violence from husbands or boyfriends. It is simply irresponsible to falsely demonize fully 50 per cent of the population, further fanning the flames of gender warfare.

During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, let’s not let the zeal to protect one class of victims perpetuate a bias that unfairly stereotypes an entire gender.

It is noble and well-meaning to advocate for female victims. Yet denying the existence of male victims of female violence demeans and ignores these victims, puts them at further risk, and reduces the likelihood that female abusers will be held accountable for their crimes.