“If Kentucky confirmed that abuse occurred some years ago, even if it did not, this will work against you, however there are certain things we could do to neutralize that, such as polygraph, current testimony or deposition of your son, etc.”–Fathers’ Rights Guy
The second part of our story follows Part One, which ran in two versions: Fireside Chat With Fathers’ Rights (exploring Fathers’ Rights origins in greater depth) and The Devil’s Advocate (cutting right to the conversation between “Chris”—an alias embattled mother Robin Karr adopted–and a Texas FR organization).
Disclaimer: Texas Penal Code OK’s recording by any electronic means as long as it is not for criminal purposes: “Anyone who is a party to the communication, or who has the consent of a party [consent is not necessary] can lawfully record the communication and disclose its contents.” We’re not filing a lawsuit here (would it do any good anyway?). We are presenting information so the reader can reach his or her own conclusion.
(Editor’s Note: I’ve flagged some comments for readers’ benefit and the bolding is my own. I’ve removed some verbiage where nothing conveys information of interest to the reader, but I’ve been careful not to alter any context.)
In which Fathers’ Rights Guy (FRG) is hot to recruit “Chris” (RG), and has still not shown one iota of interest as to whether CR is an abuser or not. So far, it seems immaterial. FRG is eager to get CR on board, coach “him” on the FR program, and preferably hook him up with the lawyers of FRG’s choice. FRG calls out a red flag here and there but presses on, apparently choosing to ignore them in favor of “the cause”.
This disclaimer has suddenly appeared at the end of FRG’s emails: “Information in this e-mail is general information and is not based upon a thorough assessment of your situation. Please be aware I am not an attorney, and I do not provide legal advice. Nothing in this e-mail should be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should check with a lawyer or legal professional. Often a fathers’ rights organization in your area can recommend one. I am a social worker, personal, marriage and family therapist, and also a sex offender therapist (No, I am not a sex offender! I evaluate and treat actual and accused sex offenders. Some are accused falsely, and others are accused correctly.) I am also a custody evaluator, which means I conduct social studies, and I also prepare fathers (and mothers too) for court ordered social studies. Finally, unless we have made a previous professional-client arrangement, you are not my client or patient, and I am not your counselor or therapist.”
CR: I clicked on media contacts on the father’s web site and there is nothing there. I was thinking about trying to contact the media in XX at some point. I heard that Channel 8 in XX did a series of stories about the family courts in XX and even XX. I also heard that Channel 8 did a story on a custody case in XX when the lady judge was in office. I was told that the father in that case got custody. Do you know if Channel 8 supports fathers in any way? I was thinking that they must support fathers if they did a story on a custody case where the father got custody. (But then I don’t know if they made the father look good or bad.) I would like to read about the stories they did. Did you see any of them? I looked on Channel 8’s web site, but could not see any stories about the courts or child custody. I’m not sure when they aired though. I don’t know if it is a good idea to contact the media or not. I just know that it can help in some cases. What do you think?
FRG: Yes, the reporter interviewed me when she did her series. XXX with Channel 8. You can contact her. I think there was a local connection, but I believe it related to exposing a psychologist who did some shoddy work out there. Also, the reporter exposed some unethical behavior on the part of a XX judge.
I think it is good to bring in the media at times, but I am not sure what issue you will be bringing forward. False allegations are quite common. My suggestion is that you work closely with the Fathers For Equal Rights, Inc. organization.
FRG, LMSW-ACP, LMFT “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank
CR: I have an older son in KY who is sixteen. He is from my first marriage. His mother managed to take him from me when he was only four. I have only seen him a few times over the years(only when she would allow it.) His mother tried to say that I had abused him… He is willing to testify for me if needed. I would not want to put him through that unless I have to. I have made bad choices in the women I have married. I really paid for that with my first child. I don’t want that to happen with my other two children. I will consider moving to the XX area if it turns out that I need to. I just hate to leave my son here now that we are getting to know each other. I’ll take one step at a time. Thanks for the encouragement. Sometimes I don’t think I can take another divorce and custody battle. At least, I will have the father’s group behind me this time. There was nowhere to turn for help ten years ago.
FRG: Chris, here in XX fathers do pretty well in family court. As you move to the suburbs such as XX County, dads still have an uphill battle, more so than in XX, but it is much better now than even 10 years ago. In the very rural areas, well beyond XX, it is much harder for dads. I have noticed a big difference over the years. I have been doing this with the Fathers’ group for around 13 years. Thanks to the Fathers’ group, we now have presumptive joint managing conservatorship in Texas written into the Texas Family Code. I have no reason to believe that judge XX would be biased, except for the family connection you mentioned which you should discuss with your attorney. I look forward to working with you. Keep me posted.
CR: My ex or soon-to-be ex called last night and told me that she has been talking to my first ex-wife about how she got custody of my sixteen year old son. She made all kinds of threats about how she was going to take our two children just like Debbie (my first ex) did. I wish that I could have taped the things she said. I was thinking about taping her next time she calls. I checked in KY and it is legal to tape a conversation as long as one person in the conversation is aware it is being taped. Do you know if it is legal in TX? And do you know if a taped conversation would even be admissible in court? There would be no point in taping a conversation if I can’t use it in court.
FRG: It is my understanding that it is legal to tape in Tx as in Ky. Admissability [sic] depends on the rules of court, the judge, etc. I strongly recommend that you tape each and every conversation with her or her family, as well as with your children. Do not talk with her unless it is being taped. This can help you a lot. Radio Shack has a $25.00 device that you can attach to the phone and to a tape recorder. It very effectively records every call that comes into your home as soon as you pick up the receiver, even if it is attached to another phone. Even if a judge does not allow a tape, it can often be used in a social study or psychological evaluation to show intent, motivation, psychological blackmail, use of the children as tools, etc.
BTW, you are not the first to have a spouse hook up with another ex spouse.
CR: I finally found the stories on the WFAA web site. Since you told me the reporter’s name, I was able to look them up. The attorney who represented the father in the XX case was XXX. That is one of the names someone gave me in XX. The story did not say who represented the mother, so I contacted channel 8 and talked to someone by the name of XXX. (She helped XXX to do the story.) She told me that XXX represented the mother in that case. I don’t think I want to contact XXX now. I can’t imagine why he represented a mother from another state. That would seem to me that he must really be pro-mother. I will try some of the other names you gave me and/or contact XXX. I learned something else very disturbing in reading the story. You were right about the story focusing on a psychologist. XXX is the psychologist that was appointed in that case. That is the psychologist that I mentioned to you. My ex has been taking our children to see her for therapy. She has an office in XX (wherever that is.) Apparently, she does a lot of work with children. Do you think Judge XXX would allow her to testify after the story Channel 8 did? I am not going to tell my ex about XXX. Hopefully, that will not work in her favor.
By the way, the company I work for has an office in XX. I am told that is close to XX. There is a chance I could transfer to that office. I just worry about my son here. He is at a difficult age.
FRG: Chris, thanks for reminding me about XXX who was involved in that case. Regarding XXX, I would not hold it against him that he represented a mom. Most lawyers do, including those who are affiliated with the Fathers For Equal Rights, Inc. organization. [Ed. Note: This lawyer was indicted by a grand jury soon after. He not only did not represent Robin properly, he arranged to have her children removed from her care.] Also, that expose took place during Judge Pirtle’s tenure. [Note: Judge Pirtle was a despicable rat, but notice how easily FRG shrugs off all blame on her, not her circle, including the attorneys who worked with her.]
If Dr. XXX is already seeing the kids, the judge would most likely appoint another psychologist to do an objective “court ordered” evaluation if he felt that a psychological eval of the children was needed. [Ed. Note: Who provides the court-ordered psychologists?] Dr. XXX might weigh in as an expert witness testifying for the mom, but could not be appointed to do a court ordered eval due to her previously being retained by the mom. If she does testify as a “hired gun”, her testimony might be discredited by the past expose. You may need to get your own experts to provide a “2nd opinion.” [Ed. Note: Why would CR’s “own experts” be admissible then? Are you as confused as I am about why or why not “expert testimony” is allowed or not?]
What was Dr. XXX actually accused of in that expose? [FRG doesn’t know? Obviously even FRG can’t even keep track of the psychologists, who seem to circle the courts like wooden figures on a cuckoo clock]
Here is something important: If your children are currently being seen by Dr. XXX, you have a right to their mental health records in accordance with chapter 611 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. You can look this up under Texas Statutes. I helped one of my clients in Missouri file a grievance against a psychologist here in XX because she refused or failed to release his son’s mental heath record. There could also possibly be a lawsuit for monetary damages against a psychologist who refuses to comply. Do you know how long they have been seeing her? Before you request the records, lets discuss strategy here.
XX is in XX County which does not border on XX County, but may border on XX County. Professionals from XX are frequently used in XX County cases. I was involved in one case where the social study evaluator was from XX. Don’t forget, try to get XXX appointed to do a social study. [Ed’s Note: Obviously, FR guys have to be expert geography experts and maybe even cartographers.]
FRG: Chris, No, I don’t know what Sue Pirtle is doing. She may be in private practice, and you might look her up. I don’t know why she was defeated by Judge Hall. It may not have anything to do with the case involving Dr. XXX. Someone who is a former judge is likely to be expensive. [Ed.’s Note: OMG CR, did you have the wit to actually propose hiring Judge Pirtle to FRG? You are awesome, man! I mean, girl.]
Judge XXX is a retired family judge who is in private practice in XX. I have referred one or two folks to him on cases in XX county. He is expensive, around 300 – 350 per hour I believe. Also, XXX is in practice in XX and is a former XX family court judge. Be sure to read the section on our website on how to find a father friendly attorney (I wrote it. [Ed.’s note: This website has many interesting articles. One explains how “Texas courts also routinely issue parenting plans (often called “possession schedules“), which serve to ensure that fathers have the opportunity to develop or maintain a close relationship with his child. This is presumed to be in the child’s best interests.” Another details traits of a mentally incompetent person that presumably hold up in a court of law: “The divorce process will be a very conflictual [Ed’s note: is this a word?] process due to the party with the personality disorder or mental illness engaging in the following types of behavior: They ‘dig in’ and maintain rigid attitudes and perceptions throughout the family law process. [I.e., why an abusive spouse should not have custody of the abused children?] They are not likely to change in the short term-if ever. If your client is suffering from a personality disorder or mental illness, you are likely to see the traits and behaviors for the duration of your professional relationship. [Right, perhaps because the abusive spouse/parent does not change and the stakes become increasingly higher.] Viewing their world as generally adversarial, so they often see all people as either allies or enemies in it. [Right, because everyone she’s faced in the court system has been against her so far; certainly the angels are just waiting in the wings.] Their thinking is often dominated by cognitive distortions, such as: all-or-nothing thinking, emotional reasoning, personalization of benign events, minimization of the positive and maximization of the negative. [Right, because she can’t forget her spouse’s abusive actions in the past, and the bruises both physical and emotional remain? She really doesn’t mean to take this personally. It’s true her ex did give her a pretty ring one time. She really doesn’t mean to minimize that, it just seems kind of unimportant right now.]
XX is a suburb of XX. I am sure this would be difficult on your son, but at his age he would be in a better position to travel to see you in XX than the reverse with younger children. What kind of work do you do?
CR: I went to Radio Shack and got the taping equipment. They knew exactly what I was talking about. Thanks. Hopefully, I will be able to get evidence on tape that will help my case. Maybe I can use taped evidence for the social study or psychological evaluation as you suggested. The more we talk, the more I realize that I don’t have a clue about how to prepare myself for a custody battle. Appreciate the help.
CR: XXX was accused of filing a false mental evaluation against the mother. XXX said the mother was borderline retarded, when she had graduated from college with honors according to Channel 8.
If you think XXX is ok, I may try and talk with him on Monday. It is hard trying to hire an attorney when you are over 1500 miles away. Whoever I end up retaining, I will ask them to try and get XXX [FRG’s suggestion] for the social study.
By the way, I have heard that CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) has a chapter in XX. Do you know if the family court judges ever appoint someone from CASA to represent the children or do an evaluation?
You mentioned in one of your e-mails that TX has presumptive joint custody. I don’t want to sound
stupid, but what does that mean? Is that a good thing?
[Ed’s Note: Robin as herself says: “It was a CASA worker who ran the judge’s supervising center ‘Time Together’ where I was ordered to visit my children. CASA workers were also the ones the judge sent to the newspaper to tell them I was a drug dealer. Judge Pirtle brought CASA to XX and I suspect this was for a reason. I wrote to the national CASA office and told them about what was going on in XX. They wrote me back and said they would be investigating because the things I described were not appropriate for CASA workers. I wrote a lot of letters back then just trying to figure out what was going on and also as a way of documenting things.” Nothing ever came of it.]
FRG: Chris, CASA is active here in the area. Occasionally they are appointed to do a social study in XX County, a suburb of XX. I don’t think they are really trained or prepared to do quality custody evaluations. Mostly they help children who are in the CPS (Child Protective Service) system. Has a child abuse complaint been filed with CPS by the way?
Presumptive joint custody means that the court will presume from the start that the parents are to be joint managing conservators unless one parent or the other proves that the other parent would be dangerous to the child. It is a rebuttable presumption, which means that the accusing parent can rebutt the presumption by presenting his or her evidence that joint managing conservatorship would be harmful. [Ed’s Note: From all of the above, you can see how hard it is for the parent who seeks to establish the burden of proof necessary to rebut.] The Fathers’ group lobbied for this for many years, and it was implemented into the Texas Family Code around 5 or 6 years ago. As a result, most parents do get joint conservatorship which makes them equal in legal rights. One parent is still usually given the right to establish the children’s’ domicile or home (sometimes informally referred to as the “primary parent”), and child support can still be ordered. Sometimes, if the parents agree on 50 – 50 time with the children, or if the court orders 50 -50 time, no child support is ordered.
How old are your children?
CR: My children are four and five. As far as I know, there has not been a complaint filed with CPS. I have not heard from CPS. Would I hear from them if a complaint had been filed? In KY, CPS is called Social Services. Social Services visits the home when a complaint has been filed. I know this from my first custody battle. I wish I would have had resources available to me at that time as I do now. Maybe, I would not have been estranged from my son all these years. You can never get back those years. That is why I will do anything (and I mean anything) to keep that from happening this time around.
My first custody case got major media attention. (I guess that’s why I thought about going to the media, especially if I can get evidence that she has set my up and that the judge is a friend of the family.) … With presumptive joint custody, both parents get custody unless one parent can prove that the children are being harmed in some way. Is that right? If so, that must be why my ex is throwing out abuse allegations. I think she is trying to get documents from my first custody case. At least that is what she told me. That must be why she and my first ex are talking. They never talked when we were married. Do you think the judge in TX would allow KY documents from a prior custody case to be used against me?
FRG: Hard to say. If KY confirmed that abuse occurred some years ago, even if it did not, this will work against you, however there are certain things we could do to neutralize that, such as polygraph, current testimony or deposition of your son, etc. I would need to get a complete picture of the situation in order to be most helpful to you and to your lawyer.
Have you considered filing, getting a temporary hearing, and establishing access to the children? When will we be able to get together?
Next Time: In which FRG begins to suspect Chris is not who he/she claims to be but still doesn’t suspect Chris is a female. Enter an unknown person called The Advocate who crashes the conversation and inscrutably says to Chris: “Looks like I burned your bridge with your pedophile advocate in Texas, you sick, pathetic moron.”