Video Transcribed: What should you do if your ex does something that you think is dangerous with your child, but you’re not sure it’s appropriate to take the child away? My name is Brian L. Jackson. I’m a Tulsa father’s rights attorney with dad.law.
I want to talk to you today about the idea of least restrictive means when you’re dealing with an emergency involving a child. I think you guys know this, if you’re being honest with yourself, there are certain things that can go on that certainly are not good and could be dangerous to your child, but don’t necessarily justify upending an entire custody arrangement, especially if it’s a one-off incident.
So how do you handle that and handle it expeditiously, so that it doesn’t turn into a problem? Well, as always, and I know I repeat myself telling you guys this, call DHS.
Anytime you see a situation like that, call DHS. Your first duty is going to be to report that. And don’t wait to be told to do so by a lawyer, do it. You are statutorily required to, so do it. Then you can talk to a lawyer. And some options that are available other than trying to take custody away, might include some specific order dealing with a particular situation.
For example, don’t leave the child home alone. Don’t consume alcohol in the presence of the child. Don’t smoke pot around the child, things like that, that would directly get at the heart of the problem.
Now I can hear you guys saying, “Well, okay. But she should know not to do that anyway. So why are we ordering her to do it?” Well, the judge is not always going to upend a custody arrangement just because somebody does something stupid. They can, but they don’t always do that.
And an order like that does pretty much say you can’t do this behavior while preserving the existing custodial arrangement, which that may be in the child’s best interest. Or the simple reason that if you spend the custodial arrangement, whatever the schedule is, it is disruptive for the child. It’s frightening to the child. Children need stability.
And when things suddenly change very quickly, that can be upsetting. So judges don’t like to do that absent a compelling reason. And sometimes there are those borderline situations where yes, something needs to be done, but mucking with the custody arrangement is maybe trying to swat a housefly with a sledgehammer. Yeah, you’ll kill the fly, and you’ll put a hole in the wall doing it.
So there are other lesser restrictive methods that can be used. And sometimes you, as the concerned father, might want to look at going that route as opposed to, “By God, I’m going to take the kids away from her.”
Especially since if you’re doing this in the context of, say, a divorce or an initial paternity proceeding where the court has to make a call later on visitation and custody, you definitely don’t want to look unreasonable because one of the things the court will consider in this is which parent is going to be more amenable to including the other one. And if you immediately come down with a heavy-handed move, try and take the kids away from mom, even if she legitimately screwed up, the judge will file that away under things to know about parents.
And that could potentially hurt your case later if you’re coming back later asking for a favorable custody arrangement if the judge thinks that you are more interested in trying to cut mom out of the picture. So you don’t ever want to give them that impression, you want to look reasonable.
And as the father, you really need to look more reasonable than her because she’s going to get the benefit of the doubt where you will not. So that’s not fair, but that’s the environment we’re operating in.
So understand that and operate accordingly. And this is a situation like many in family court, where you do need a good lawyer. And one place you can find a good lawyer is dads.law, where fathers are not disposable and guys will help you out.