WHAT TO DO BEFORE THE RESTRAINING ORDER COMES
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, because 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
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
The first thing for men to understand and
GENDER BIAS IS A REALITY IN THIS SYSTEM
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
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
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
& 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.
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
Pre-Divorce: (while you are still living
During Divorce: (after separation, prior to the
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.
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.
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,
but 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,
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
DO'S AND DON'T'S TO HELP YOU AVOID TROUBLE
OK, I lied, there aren't any DO's, they are all
DON'T EVER, EVER, GET INTO ANY PHYSICAL
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
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
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
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
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
If after you have separated you still have a key
to her car, give it back to her and get a
DON'T ADMIT TO BAD BEHAVIOR OR IMPLY YOU'VE DONE
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
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
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
If you have a problem with either, get it under
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
DON'T SNOOP OR SPY, BUT IF YOU DO, DON'T GET
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
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
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
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
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
Copyright © 2006-2011 Lisa Scott. All Rights Reserved.