DP Family Divorce and Custody: attorney

Divorce and Custody Plan

Alex meets with her attorney, Lisa March, to discuss their plan for divorce and custody.


"We're going to file for a divorce. We'll serve your husband, and then he will have to file a response," Lisa tells her. "I should mention, our state does not discriminate against mothers and fathers. Now, obviously, years ago mothers always got custody, so they're going to look at you and your husband on equal ground."


Lisa joins the show via phone, and Dr. Phil asks her, "What's the worst-case scenario here that you see in this situation?"


"The worst-case scenario is obviously that the father would get the majority of the time-sharing with the minor child, Leilah, and that's, of course, not what Alex wants, so we want to make sure that she has the majority of the time-sharing with Leilah, as she's been the primary caretaker of her," Lisa says. "But once again, I think it's admirable that Alex has complied with a court order which prevents her from having Nathan in her actual day-to-day care when she's living with an unmarried male. So, if we can change that, or whomever is helping her with Nathan's case can change that, modify that document, then she may not have that issue anymore."


[AD]"Let me play devil's advocate here and cross-examine this situation for a minute," Dr. Phil says. "The obvious alternative is don't live with the unmarried male, and then you have your child."


"That is correct," Lisa says. "I have to represent my client and obviously, what they want is my job to represent. As a family law attorney, I try to reason with them as to what I think might be best for them and/or their child or children, but the clients have the choice to pick the lifestyle they want to live."

"It seems to me that this situation is way, way, way better if it's settled before you get to a court determination. Do you concur with that or do you disagree?" Dr. Phil asks Lisa. 

"I concur wholeheartedly, Dr. Phil, and I always try to get my clients to enter into a settlement agreement if they can do that with their child's other parent," Lisa says.

"Once you get into court, you lose control. Once you enter that arena, you and the father have lost all say over what happens with that child," Dr. Phil tells Alex."Whereas if you guys work it out before you turn it over to the judge, then you can negotiate something both of you can live with. But you turn it over to a judge, then it's a crapshoot. They could give all custody to you, they could give all custody to him, they could say, 'I don't think either one of you are fit for this child.'"


[AD]Alex agrees that she and Chris should try to work out an agreement before going to court.


"I have actually talked with Chris's attorney, and we've opened the door to beginning negotiations," Lisa says. "I also told Alex if we're unable to agree, then the next step is mediation, which is another opportunity for us to negotiate and enter into a settlement with regard to Leilah."


Dr. Phil tells Erin and Alex that once a court makes a decision, it's difficult to have it changed.

Alex does not speak with Chris, and he has not seen Leilah since he was freed from jail. She says she's willing to let him see her if they're in a public place with other people around.


Dr. Phil tells Alex that he's going to bring Chris out so he can talk with him, and he understands she doesn't want to be in the studio. "You don't want to see him emotionally, mentally, where you are lifestyle-wise right now, but your relationship with him is not over and will never be over. You're going to stop being husband and wife, but you're forever going to be co-allies of this child," Dr. Phil says.


"Excuse me for not wanting to see somebody who used to beat the [expletive] out of me," she retorts.

[AD]"If you don't want to see him, I totally get that, and that's OK," Dr. Phil says. "I'm saying at some point, even if it's with complete supervision for you, not just for the child, you're going to have to have some kind of dialogue with him, in order to raise this child because you're going to share the child in some way, right?"


Alex nods.


When Alex leaves the stage, Dr. Phil tells Lisa that he is willing to help Alex in any way that he can, whether it be psychological counseling, a treatment program or whatever she needs.


"My job is to represent Alex, so I will do whatever I can to make it better for her, and if it requires any of those things that you're offering, I will wholeheartedly recommend that she do that," Lisa says.