What to Do if you are Served with a Divorce Petition, Citation, or Notice to Appear

A divorce proceeding is a difficult time for all parties involved. It is scary to be “served” with a petition for divorce. Fear, anxiety, and confusion are just some of the emotions that go through one’s mind when reading and absorbing an official Court document stating that a spouse wishes to end the relationship. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are served.

First, it is not the total end of the world. Do not give into immediate impulses and passions or fall prey to threatening or aggressive messages. Remember anything you say or do, especially in messages, texts or emails, may be used against you at Court. Do not give your spouse free arguments for the divorce.

Second, DO NOT use social media to vent frustration or talk about the divorce. Anything you write to third parties on social media may and will be used against you in Court. It may be hard but for your own benefit do not engage in frustrated tirades regarding your spouse on Facebook.

Third, find an experienced attorney, especially if children are involved. Be smart. It is not always prudent to hire a lawyer based on what appears to be the best financial deal possible when your children and possessions are at stake. The old axiom “you get what you pay for” is true when it comes to legal representation.

Fourth, be wary of Pro Se representation. Pro Se means that you have chosen to represent yourself in the divorce case. This may end very badly for you. Many people believe that if they research enough and familiarize themselves with the Texas Family Law Code they just might be able to receive a good outcome and drive up the attorney cost for the other spouse. Attorneys go to school for many years for a reason. The outcomes for Pro Se clients are not usually good and do not be tricked into taking on an inexperienced attorney to save money.

Fifth, save all hateful and scandalous remarks made by your spouse that have been emailed, texted, posted on social media or any other proof that can be saved against your spouse. Delete Nothing! Allow your spouse to dig his/her own hole. All of both spouse’s comments may be used in Court.

Finally, do not listen to your Spouse about any type of perceived legal outcomes. “I talked to a divorce lawyer and he said you better sign this or I will get everything…”. This is common in family law. Do not fall for the trap, seek experienced representation and let the divorce lawyer deal with your spouse or your spouse’s attorney. Do not be tricked into settling or giving up your children or possessions without competent assistance and advice from legal counsel.

Follow this advice and it will greatly help your probabilities with obtaining a favorable and fair outcome in your divorce case.

Nacol Law Firm P.C.
Dallas Divorce Attorneys
(972) 690-3333

Children That Suffer from Covert Narcissism

Living with a covert narcissist can present unique and challenging issues, especially when children are involved. Unfortunately, Covert narcissism is a primary mover in all litigious custody and divorce cases in Texas. A Covert narcissist, unlike their more overt counterparts, tend to display narcissism through subtler means. They may appear sensitive or withdrawn and use passive-aggressive behaviors to manipulate and control their husband and children. Here are some issues that often arise in the family dynamic prior to a Divorce or Modification being filed:

1. Emotional Neglect and Invalidation
Children may experience emotional neglect or invalidation of their feelings and needs. Covert narcissists can be so focused on their own internal struggles and need for admiration that they overlook or dismiss their children’s emotional needs. This is a primary reason for continuous or vexatious litigation. A Covert Narcissist does not care how Divorce or Custody litigation emotionally drains their children, the Narcissist only cares about their validation and admiration regardless of the emotional toll it takes from the family.

2. Manipulative Behavior
Covert narcissists may manipulate situations and people to maintain their sense of superiority and control. Children, in particular, may be manipulated through guilt, obligations, or subtle threats, affecting their ability to form healthy relationships. These tactics are common in litigation, furthermore a Covert narcissist will not restrain from playing a child in the middle of any litigation via conference with the Judge, relaying derogatoriness messages to the other parent, being forced or coached to say negative things to the play therapist or custody evaluator during litigation.

3. Emotional Volatility
Despite their more reserved facade, covert narcissists can have significant emotional volatility. Children living in such environments may experience anxiety and fear, never quite sure of the parent’s mood or reaction to situations. This also includes love bombing and gaslighting to obtain testimony from children that may otherwise not want to be involved. 

4. Role Reversal
Children may find themselves in situations of role reversal, where they feel responsible for the emotional well-being of the narcissistic parent. This inappropriate burden can hinder their emotional development and lead to codependent tendencies. This tendency is seen and also considered a form of parental alienation. The narcissist acts the victim and requests the children to protect them against the other parent for validation. Not only is this sick but the long-term effects of this poisons the children’s relationships and future marriages. 

5. Isolation
Covert narcissists may isolate themselves and their family members from wider social circles, either by directly discouraging social interactions or by making those around them feel that no one else will understand or accept them. This can limit children’s social skills and external support networks. The narcissist does not like to be held accountable nor have third parties that question their tactics to obtain validation, thus many family members or close friends that do not conform to the narcissist behavior will be shut out directly or indirectly.

6. Difficulty in Recognizing Abuse
The subtlety of covert narcissism can make it difficult for children (and even adults) to recognize the abuse. Emotional or psychological abuse can be insidious, leaving children confused about their feelings and the legitimacy of their experiences. It is common for this type of covert abuse to continue for years until the relationship is untenable. When one individual finally stops such abuse, a de-programing must happen because the abuse has become normalized into an individual’s life. For children this is detrimental because their minds have been trained that this abuse is normal.

Addressing the Issues

Recognizing the presence of a covert narcissist in the family is the first step towards addressing these issues. Seeking professional help is crucial but usually met with failure. A true covert narcissist does not want therapy. 

Therapy is needed, however, and usually only accomplished with a Court Order, i.e. appointment of a reunification counselor or a psychological evaluation.

In cases involving custody or divorce, documenting instances of narcissistic behavior and its impact on the children can be important. Legal and psychological professionals with experience in high-conflict family dynamics can offer guidance and support.

Litigation involving covert narcissism are usually the costliest. A true covert narcissist cares not about money, credit card debt, or burning the marital estate or retirement to the ground, they only care about validation and admiration. The Judge, Jury, or close friends and family need to see how they are in the right and the other has destroyed their life. A true narcissist will burn the marital estate and family relationships to the ground if not handled properly. 

Julian Nacol
Fathers Rights Attorney
Dallas, TX Fathers Rights Law Firm
(972) 690-3333

Parental Alienation And False & Malicious Domestic Violence Allegations

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a generally recognized platform that may result in child abuse. This occurs when a custodial parent of a child from a separated family uses deception to deliberately alienate children from their non custodial parent.

Misplaced Domestic Violence Restraining and Protective Orders are an excellent tool to advance the Alienating Parent’s malice! Misguided Protective Orders of a Court based on such false representations may remove the Accused Abuser Parent from the home, bar the Accused Abuser from seeing his/her children and give the Alienating Parent total physical custody of the children. The Accused Abuser Parent is now effectively “Guilty Until Proven Innocent”.

Once the Alienator obtains a Restraining Order through false domestic violence allegations, the Accused Abuser Parent may find it difficult to defend himself or herself against the false allegations.  This sends the implied message to the children that “Daddy/Mommy” is bad or dangerous, stamped by the court.

The Accused Abuser Parent may only see his/her children in a cold and uninviting supervised visitation setting. Supervised Visitation Centers are facilities where a child is taken to meet with the Accused Abuser Parent in a third party monitored location.  A third party observes the Accused Abuser Parent during their visit with their children so that the child is “protected” at all times.

Often the supervised visit is demeaning for the visiting parent in the eyes of his/her child.  The impression to the child that “Daddy or Mommy” is dangerous comes across loud and clear since most children only see lock up situations on TV and these people are seriously viewed as being bad.

Many Alienating Parents use this scary situation to encourage their child not to see the Accused Abuser Parent at all. The more time a child is out of contact with the Alienated Parent the deeper the scaring and recovery period for that child.

Dr. Richard A. Gardner coined the term “Parental Alienation Syndrome” (PAS) in 1985. Dr. Gardner found that a child subjected to continual negativity and manipulation by the Custodial Parent over an extended period of time against the other parent would eventually adapt the distorted view presented. At the end of the day, what the Alienating Parent fails to understand is that his/her selfishness makes his/her child the “victim” who pays a hefty price in lost self esteem.

Unfortunately, False Domestic Violence Allegations have become more common in Divorce / Child Custody Proceedings. Most Judges usually enter a restraining or protective order for the safety of the child and in too many cases an Accused Abuser Parent is guilty until proven innocent!