...

Safety, Substance Abuse and Mental Health: Helping yourself through a Texas family law case

Picture this: You may not be a billionaire like a high-flying multinational corporation, but your life is about to take center stage in a Texas family law case. Forget the suits and skyscrapers; here, it’s all about your family, your kids, your personal quirks, and yes, even those cringe-worthy moments with your soon-to-be-ex in a courtroom showdown.

Ever wondered how to navigate this thrilling, yet roller-coaster ride of family law? Worried about your child’s safety, grappling with the specter of substance abuse, or tiptoeing around the maze of mental health issues? Hold on to your ten-gallon hats, because we’re diving headfirst into the captivating world of “Safety, Substance Abuse, and Mental Health: Helping yourself through a Texas family law case.”

Safety, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Helping yourself through a Texas family law case

Short Answer: It’s about conquering the Texas family law frontier, one twist and turn at a time!

Why should you keep reading? Because we’re about to lasso the most critical aspects of family law, from child custody evaluations to co-parenting strategies, with a sprinkle of real-life drama and practical tips to make this adventure an informative and engaging ride! So, saddle up, partner, and let’s ride into the Lone Star State’s legal showdown!

Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Welcome to the Wild West of Family Law in the heart of Texas!

Family law cases are among the most difficult of all areas of the law because of how intimate the subject nature is. True, you may not be worth millions of dollars like a multinational corporation but your family case deals with subjects that are more important than money. Your marriage, your children, your personal behaviors and that of your spouse are all relevant in a family case. While an investment banker’s work habits may require some embarrassing information to be disclosed in a trial, nothing compares to having to discuss your marriage to a room of strangers in a divorce trial.

Sometimes the material that is relevant in a family law case is more than just intimate or embarrassing. On occasion there is subject matter that relates to family violence, the safety of your children and even mental health disorders that become a huge part of family law cases. In these situations, you need to be able to know what to expect to encounter when dealing with problems associated with matters that are best kept private but are nonetheless relevant to your current family law case. Whether you are concerned for the well-being of your kids, yourself or even your soon-to-be ex-spouse I want to share some tips on how to handle these sorts of circumstances in your own family case.

What to do when you are worried about the safety of your children

If you find yourself worried about the safety of your children there is no time to waste in attempting to do something to remove those concerns from your life and theirs. Imagine being in a position where you had suspicions or thoughts about a hazard in your child’s life but did nothing to remedy that hazard. The next thing you know, something bad happens to your child and you end up blaming yourself for having identified a problem but having done thing to stop that problem from impacting your child.

This happens all too regularly with family law cases, I am afraid to say. For some reason our instincts as parents are inhibited by all of the hoopla associated with a family law case. This is ironic because at the core of what you are doing, no matter if it is a divorce or child custody case, is a desire to improve the lives of your children. The best advice that I can give to you is that you can improve your child’s life by addressing any concerns regarding safety immediately after you learn about them.

What to do when you are worried about the safety of your children

First and foremost, concerns about your child’s safety should be addressed by police and Child Protective Services (CPS). It is probable that the police will contact CPS anyways, but you should see to it that the police are aware of any concerns that you have for your child’s well being. If your child comes home from their mother’s house and tells you that her friend is acting inappropriately, your first step should be to talk to your child about any incidents that have occurred. Next, contact the police if that voice in your head tells you to. Better to be safe than sorry.

You need to know that if your spouse has a history with CPS, that will be an especially relevant bit of information that will need to be discussed with the judge. Family violence is a serious subject as judges want to, above all else, keep your children safe. Any words that you or your spouse use towards one another that could be construed as violent or threatening can and will likely be brought up again.

What does this mean to you on a practical level? Well, for starters, you need to get into the mindset that anything and everything that you say can be recorded and documented. This means those words can be taken out of context, potentially, and used against you and to the advantage of your spouse. Meaning: choose your words carefully. Especially choose how you text and email your spouse. Take a moment before responding to a particularly mean or nasty email to consider how your response can be utilized against you by your spouse.

Next, certainly never put your hands on your spouse for any reason. Even if you are justified in touching your spouse do not do it. Remove yourself from any situation that may rise to violence, animosity or anger. It is not worth it to you to be involved in any discussion that is heated. Use your attorney to convey difficult messages if you don’t believe that your spouse can be respectful of you and your opinions. Even if you are merely defending yourself, it can be a disaster to your case if you were to injure your spouse (especially if you are a man).

One thing that I have seen in recent years is people fighting over cell phones. Grabbing for a phone to see if someone has contacted your spouse or for any other reason can be dangerous. Mostly because those sort of actions can quickly escalate and lead to further use of violence or at the very least coarse language. Nothing contained in that phone is worth potentially losing time with your kids over- or even going to jail for. Be aware of your surroundings and do what you can to de-escalate any situation that you believe could lead to heated tempers.

Is protective order relevant to your situation?

A lot of clients ask about protective orders at the beginning of a child custody or divorce case. The thought being that one could potentially serve the purpose of de-escalating potentially dangerous situations. A protective order can serve a purpose when family violence has occurred in the home recently and that the violence is likely to continue but for the obtaining of a protective order.

If you get a protective order against your spouse that can be severely detrimental to his case in a divorce or child custody matter. You would need to decide whether or not to pursue a protective order that protects you and your kids or just you. While in today’s world we do not ordinarily consider these situations all that often, the fact is that men can be abused, as well as women. Think about all the information we are told about how women are reticent to come forward with details about abuse that they have suffered. The same can be said for men. Men are typically even less willing than women to come forward with details about abuse that they have suffered.

Is protective order relevant to your situation?

Handling issues regarding mental health in conjunction with a family law case

These are two subjects that come up all the time in family law cases. In some cases they are the primary reasons why there are child custody issues or circumstances that have led to discussions about divorce. Whether your spouse has been diagnosed with having a mental impairment or other mental health difficulty, or you suspect him or her of having a condition like this, mental health problems shine through brightly in many family cases.

Do you suspect your spouse of being bi-polar, having anxiety or being depressed? Some clients of mine in the past have commented that their spouse must be bi-polar considering how hot and cold he/she is. One minute they could be having a conversation together, and the next minute that same spouse could have grabbed a knife to attack our client. Behavior like this that is inconsistent and aggressive can be downright dangerous.

Another problem that clients frequently run into are issues related to a parent’s inability to take their medications as prescribed. The result is comments that relate to how good a parent your spouse might be when he or she is taking their medication, but if that medication is not taken as prescribed your spouse may be the most disagreeable person on earth. It is understandable to not want to take medication when those medicines cause you to feel out of sorts, but that concern needs to be balanced against the desire to keep your safe.

Finally, you need to speak to your attorney about your own history involving drugs and alcohol. The reality for many parents is that if there is a history of drug or alcohol abuse, you probably do not want to share those details with anyone. However, the worst thing that you can do is to keep that history a secret until a mediation or hearing date. Having your lawyer blind-sided by an opposing attorney who disclosed a history of drug and alcohol abuse is not a good plan to

Handling issues regarding mental health in conjunction with a family law case

Beware of back and forth bickering

Sometimes it is inevitable that you and your spouse will get into an argument. That happens even in the best functioning of marriages. Those arguments usually go nowhere and just leave everyone involved stressed to the max and angry that the discussion was ever started in the first place. Many times, we can see these discussions/arguments happening ahead of time and it takes a little bit of self-control to simply avoid them altogether.

There is nothing more awkward and potentially detrimental to your case to get into an elaborate game of bomb throwing in a courtroom. It typically will happen like this: both you and your spouse have allegations that the other acted inappropriately, was emotionally abusive or generally did something that was harmful to the kids. You then use your time on the witness stand to defend yourself and then hurl a few bombs her way.

What this ends up being is a back and forth game of unsubstantiated allegations. Instead of using your time productively to testify credibly for yourself and against your spouse, you are going to alienate your judge and distance yourself so far from the facts of your case that you may have trouble getting back on track. I have seen this happen many times in other cases and even in my own cases. Emotionally it may be satisfying to fire back at your spouse when he or she makes allegations against you, but in the long run that sort of behavior rarely if ever turns out to work to your advantage.

The people in your life that you trust are there to be your support system

We all have moments in our lives that require the support of others. Whether it is during a difficult family law case, a death in the family or the loss of a job, we cannot always be at our best. It is during those times that we rely on others to prop us up and support us. With that said, keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with doing so. At some point in the future it is likely that you can repay that person by being there for him or her when they need you.

Remember, also, that your mental and physical well-being matters. Staying in a marriage for the sake of your kids is noble, but ultimately self-defeating. Your kids deserve a parent who is at their best. You cannot be at your best when you are involved in a marriage that is emotionally

unfulfilling or worse yet- violent. We will discuss this topic when we pick up where we left off today in tomorrow’s blog post.

The people in your life that you trust are there to be your support system

Navigating a Texas Family Law Case: Safety, Substance Abuse, and Mental Health

In the complex world of family law cases, where emotions run high and lives are intimately entwined, there’s more at stake than mere financial wealth. It’s about your marriage, your children, your personal behaviors, and those of your spouse. Welcome to the intricate web of family law in Texas, where the most personal aspects of your life are thrust into the spotlight.

Addressing Concerns About Child Safety

When your child’s safety is a concern, swift action is paramount. Imagine living with the knowledge that your child might be in danger, but failing to act. The consequences of inaction can be devastating. Sadly, such scenarios are not uncommon in family law cases.

Your instinct as a parent is to protect your child, but the complexities of a family law case can sometimes inhibit that instinct. However, it’s crucial to remember that the heart of your legal journey, whether it’s a divorce or a child custody battle, is the well-being of your children.

Involving Authorities: Police and Child Protective Services (CPS)

If you suspect your child’s safety is compromised, there’s no time to waste. Your first course of action should be involving the police and Child Protective Services (CPS). While the police may contact CPS in such cases, you should ensure the police are aware of your concerns.

For example, if your child returns from their other parent’s house and shares distressing stories about inappropriate behavior by someone in their household, it’s your responsibility to act. Engage your child in conversation about the incidents and, if necessary, contact the police promptly. It’s always better to err on the side of caution.

Dealing with a Spouse’s History with CPS

If your spouse has a history with CPS, this is a significant piece of information that should be disclosed to the judge. Family violence is a grave concern in family law cases, and judges prioritize the safety of children above all else. Words and actions that could be construed as violent or threatening will not be taken lightly.

What does this mean for you? It means every word you utter can be recorded and documented. Your texts and emails to your spouse can be scrutinized, so choose your words carefully. Never resort to physical violence, even in self-defense, as it can have disastrous consequences for your case.

Protective Orders: A Shield or a Sword?

In the early stages of a child custody or divorce case, protective orders are often a topic of discussion. These orders can serve as a means to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations, particularly when there’s been recent family violence and a likelihood of its continuation.

However, it’s important to consider the impact of obtaining a protective order against your spouse. While it can provide protection for you and your children, it may also have significant repercussions in your divorce or custody proceedings.

Protective Orders A Shield or a Sword

Mental Health Matters in Family Law Cases

Mental health and family law are intertwined in numerous cases. Mental health issues can be the root cause of child custody disputes or divorce proceedings. Whether your spouse has a diagnosed mental health condition or you suspect one, these issues often take center stage.

Recognizing Mental Health Challenges

Do you suspect your spouse is dealing with bipolar disorder, anxiety, or depression? Erratic and aggressive behavior can be indicators of underlying mental health issues. Inconsistent conduct, like switching from a calm conversation to a sudden outburst, can be concerning and potentially dangerous.

Another common challenge arises when a parent fails to adhere to prescribed medication regimens. While some medications may lead to discomfort, it’s crucial to weigh the side effects against the safety of your children.

Your Own History with Substance Abuse

It’s not uncommon for parents to have a history of drug or alcohol abuse. Revealing such a history can be daunting, but keeping it a secret is not advisable. It’s essential to discuss your history with your attorney openly. Hiding this information until a mediation or hearing can backfire and catch your lawyer off guard when it’s disclosed by the opposing counsel.

Your Own History with Substance Abuse

The Pitfalls of Bickering

In any marriage, even the most functional ones, disagreements are bound to happen. However, engaging in lengthy arguments often leads nowhere and leaves everyone involved stressed and frustrated.

Building a Support System

In life’s most challenging moments, we rely on our support network. Whether you’re facing a difficult family law case, coping with a family tragedy, or dealing with job loss, seeking support is not a sign of weakness.

Remember, your mental and physical well-being are crucial. Staying in a marriage for the sake of your children may seem noble, but it can ultimately be self-defeating. Your children deserve a parent who is at their best. You cannot be at your best in an emotionally unfulfilling or violent marriage.

In our next post, we’ll delve deeper into the emotional and psychological impact of family law cases on children and strategies for mitigating these effects. Additionally, we’ll explore the troubling phenomenon of parental alienation and its implications in custody disputes.

Stay tuned for more insights on navigating the challenging terrain of Texas family law cases, where safety, substance abuse, and mental health intersect.