Friday, 11 July 2014 18:58 Written by Robert K. Pikula
About the Author: Robert K. Pikula is the author, editor, and publisher of the book, “Our Children Come First”. The book is a personal memoir of his life’s experiences in and out of divorce court. He has been a single parent for more than 22 years. He has raised his daughter since she was 5 months old with full, sole, legal custody. He has been in and out of the court system 10 times to keep his daughter safe. He also took the responsibility to guide the mother’s second ex-husband to receive custody of his child. (Same mother for both children) The last 3 times in court was for that other child.
Rob has gone through classes and served as a court appointed special advocate, helping other children have peace of mind. Aiding the courts of who is best qualified and safest to having the children. He has created the web site www.ourchildrencomefirst.com and continues to write blogs for the site. He has done extensive research with other divorce and self-help groups. With his compassion he has guided
friends and strangers going through the battle in divorce court how to navigate their cases.
The Necessary Separation Between Fact and Emotion in Divorce Court
During your stressful, emotional and chaotic times in court, trying to make sure you have everything together and say all of the facts correctly, have you ever felt like you’re just about to lose it and simply want to scream?!
It’s been months and you’ve been trying to get in court against your soon-to-be ex-spouse. So many things have happened and you are extremely worried, scared and nervous as hell. It sickens you to think about what’s happening right now, and you’re terrified that it will just keep going on forever. In the past several months, your ex had purposely and successfully raised your phone bill to over $500 dollars and refused to send in the car payments. They have now taken your car, and you’re not sure if it will be returned. You came home one day to find several of your possessions’ missing – including over half of your dishes, the couch, TV and that beautiful plant you loved so much. As if that’s not enough, the back window is shattered all over the floor. You go through the steps of calling the police again and again. You’ve come to believe that nobody cares about you or what you are trying to do. Actually, they probably think you’re crazy.
Your ex comes to pick up your child (concurring to the judges wishes) and all you two do is scream at each other with a lot of anger and resentment. Your ex keeps screaming all the way to the car as he/she slams the car into gear. Of course, all the neighbors can hear.
You call your friend and talk for hours about every single thing your ex is doing to you. You’re filled with such intense anxiety and anger, but you try to release all of these emotions to your friend, since tomorrow you’re finally going to court. It is incredibly hard to separate fact from emotion when such things are continually happening. It’s easy to get caught up in never-ending waves of emotional chaos. You can’t stop thinking about how you feel – and how angry you are to be in this situation. Every minute of every day, your mind is filled with what your life has become.
But, if you do nothing else, take this to heart: YOU CAN NOT COME TO COURT IN FRONT OF A JUDGE and think he or she will listen to you and your ex screaming at each other. You have to put aside all of the emotions, compose yourself, and train yourself to approach the situation differently.
Let’s look at emotion in a descriptive matter from the dictionary:
1. A mental state that arises spontaneously rather than through conscious effort and is often accompanied by physiological changes; a feeling: the emotions of joy, sorrow, reverence, hate, and love.
2. A state of mental agitation or disturbance: spoke unsteadily in a voice that betrayed his emotion. See Synonyms at feeling.
3. The part of the consciousness that involves feeling; sensibility: "The very essence of literature the war between emotion and intellect" (Isaac Bashevis Singer). [Source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/emotion]
Some examples of emotions are:
Happy, Sad, Angry, Mad, Grumpy, Joyful, Tearful, Devastated, Horrified, Disgruntled, Hurt, Annoyed, Aggravated, Loving, Hating, Liking, Lusting, Despise, Sweet, Sour, Depressed, Sick, Fear, Guilt, Pride, Jealousy, Self-pity, Anxiety, Frustration, Envy, Longing, Shame, Appreciative, Selfish, Hope, Faith, Thrilled, Overcome, Overjoyed, Respectful, Supportive, Serene, Overwhelmed.
In an effort to understand how to win my own emotional warfare, I’ve done some in-depth research about our thinking patterns. The research of Dr. Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay has been particularly helpful.
Here’s a sample from Dr. Wayne Dyer’s article “Stress Begone!”
The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs. You can’t package stress, touch it, or see it. There are only people engaged in stressful thinking. That pesky ego is at work when you’re experiencing stress or anxiety. We speak of stress as if it were present in the world as something that attacks us. But the stress in your body is rarely the result of external forces or entities attacking you; it’s the result of the weakened connection to Source caused by the belief that ego is who you are. You are peace and joy, but you’ve allowed your ego to dominate your life. Here’s a short list of stress-inducing thoughts that originate in your ego self: It’s more important to be right than to be happy; Winning is the only thing so when you lose, you should be stressed; Your reputation is more important that your relationship with your Source; Success is measured in dollars rather than in feeling happy and content; Being superior to others is more important than being kind to others.
You aren’t your work, your accomplishments, your possessions, your home, and your family...your anything. You’re a creation of your Source, dressed in a physical human body intended to experience and enjoy life on Earth. This is the intention that you want to bring to the presence of stress—your personal intention to be tranquil. Stress and anxiety are choices that we make, ways that we choose to process events. Each day
we have hundreds of opportunities to shift our thoughts and align with the Source that intended us for lives of joy and peace.
Everyone – including you - can learn to control emotions if they really take the time to be aware of how their thinking about specific issues. There are many ways to quiet the mind. Meditation is a great way to learn how to relax your body, recognize your thoughts, and gently (but firmly) turn your thoughts to more productive paths. With a little understanding, you can meditate for just 5 minutes at a time, and be deeply effective in calming yourself down. The wonderful thing about meditation is that you can do it just about anywhere – especially as you sit in your car right before going into the court room.
When it comes down to it, emotions are feelings that are recognized in court as hearsay or, even worse, NOT IMPORTANT. This means that you simply cannot go up on the stand and ramble on about how your ex saddened or trouble you. Well, you can – it just won’t help your case at all, and may end up hurting your chances to have your side of the story heard, understood and believed.
A factual account is a detailed, descriptive document which is well written and usually signed by more than one person. In court, a signed document from some type of professional or authority figure known by the court is usually welcomed in court as evidence.
Understandably, most things said in court between husband and wife are normally considered hearsay. This is mainly because such exchanges are based on a “he said/she said” approach with no documents backing up the possible evidence.
My recommendation - and what worked for me for two decades as I fought to keep my daughter safe from my unstable ex- is to basically “recruit” many of the authority and professional people around your case. I don’t mean you have to actually hire them, but you do need to approach every single person with professional expertise who could help you in court.
For example, if there are any police records that involved you and your ex, you most definitely need to spend the time and energy to prove (and obtain documentation of) what actually happened at the incident. You never know when your ex may try to lie about it on the stand. If you don’t do your homework, you can be caught off guard in court, which can needlessly damage your case. Going a step farther, if you fear that something might happen, you can speak with the police ahead of time. Explain your history, and tell them why you feel that your ex could cause problems in a given situation. Even if nothing happens, the police will remember that you were proactive, and they may be of help later on down the road when you do need help.
You should also talk with your child’s teachers regularly. Explain your situation, and (again) spend the time and energy to get as much information from them as possible about how your child is acting both before and after visitations with your ex. Also, speak with the school counselor. Before I went to court, I always printed all of the emails from my kid’s teachers from the times when my ex showed up at school and interrupted the class for her own selfish needs. I also had emails from teachers explaining an incident another student witnessed.
If possible, try to gather any other police records that might be on judgment against your ex – even if they are totally unrelated to you or your child. The idea is the build as much professional, official, documented evidence as possible to demonstrate to the court that your word – and not your ex’s – should be believed.
Unfortunately, there may come a time when you think your child is being abused in some way (remember – emotional abuse is just as damaging as physical abuse). If this is the case, then you need to make an appointment with a child psychologist immediately. Everything the psychologist writes down in their assessment of your child could be extremely useful in court. Take this action – and prepare your files - before the judge even orders it. Taking the initiative will show the judge how much your child’s well-being means to you. Remember, you do have rights to obtain those records. Some may try to say you cannot have copies of your own records, please firmly but nicely request your own records.
Finally, create a “witness form” (even a hand-written one will do) to have on hand at all times. As often as possible, ask for a trusted friend, family member or other loved one to accompany you when dropping off and picking up your child. Have him/her sign the form each time – which will give the time, date and a brief description of the interaction. All too often, this signed piece of paper is all that you have if something goes wrong in these interactions. I found out the hard way that a lot of people said they would go to court for me - only to not show up and leave me stranded. My lawyer has seen this so often in his career that he didn’t
want to count on anyone as a witness. (He also wanted to interview the witnesses first to make sure that if they did show up that they didn’t start saying things that could be used against me. You can’t be too careful.)
Make sure all of these documents are with you everywhere you go. If an incident between you and your ex occurred and the police are involved or your neighbors, you can show them the truth before your ex turns everything around against you with continuous lies.
When it comes trying to get help on your case, I cannot emphasizes this enough: do not get child services involved. Perhaps without even meaning to (and too often by actively trying to), they could completely ruin your case and take control of your child’s life in a way that could be horrific. Too many CPS workers are (1) overworked, which leads to poor attention to detail; (2) exorbitantly invested in their own powers, which leads to poor decision-making; or (3) involved in corrupt, behind-the-scenes networks that are currently being exposed in the national media.
It’s true that there are hard-working, ethical people in CPS, but do you really want to take the gamble on who’ll be in charge of your child’s future?
You can search on my free resource page for many groups and organizations:
Also, you can search many legal terms by visiting this link. It will explain the different facts and documents which can be used in court:
In closing: The best thing you can do for your child is to learn to control your emotions so that you can be more intuitive in court while providing case-helping facts to the judge. From my time in court, I learned that while you are sitting on the stand and answering questions from both lawyers, keeping a very calm face and refraining from showing any emotion keeps everyone from judging you. It’s also very important to not show emotion when sitting next to your lawyer while your ex is being questioned. I noticed that if there is only hearsay, the lawyers and judge intuitively both watch your expressions purposely to try to figure out what you’re thinking or what kind of person you are, which they are good at. If you’re calm and purposeful, you’ll help your case exponentially more than if you’re anxious or angry.
P.S. - While writing this article, I had the strong intuition to share the following: Dr. Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay speak repeatedly of how our bodies – and society as a whole – is composed of energy. This is a message that’s accepted by many in the scientific world, as well as by all major religions and mostly with new age thoughts (which is really ancient thoughts). It only goes to follow that the more we have of the low, negative, angry, anxious (and downright evil) vibrational energy floating in and around our own bodies, lives (and court cases!), the more we attract it to us and risk becoming it ourselves. Too many judges I’ve come across are scornful and irritable, acting out before allowing themselves to assess each situation critically. Keep this in mind when preparing to enter the courtroom. Calm yourself, center your thoughts, release
your stress and anger, and focus on the safe, loving environment you’ve created for your child in your own heart. Your body, face and voice will communicate this strength and stability to the judge, helping him/her to see your ex’s chaotic energy as ridiculous and repulsive in comparison.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Matt Allen graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism. He is the current editor of – DadsDivorce.com, MensRights.com, CordellCordell.com. Matt is a frequent contributor to HuffingtonPost.com, AskMen.com, Lawyers.com, SingleDad.com. He is the former online editor and legal industry reporter at the St. Louis Business Journal and a former online editor at Missouri Lawyers Media.