Family Court Battles: Koal

Family Court Battles: Koal

"I don't want to see my grandmother. She's just a bad person," says 13-year-old Koal. "My grandmother is taking us to court f

or the right to see me. I've told her over the phone that I don't want to have a relationship with her, and she just ignores that."


Koal has had two visits with his grandmother. "The first time, I asked to leave early, and she wouldn't let me leave. She kept on saying that I need to hear her side of the

story," he recalls. "She doesn't like my real dad, neither does she like my stepdad. She said bad stuff about my parents. I brought up the subject when her husband socked my dad in the face, and she said she wasn't there to stop it, and then, like, a little bit longer into the conversation, she said she tried to stop him, but before she said she wasn't there."


The teen says his grandmother lies a lot. "I've heard my parents talk about court and stuff. She said when she was sitting out in front of our house I

chased her car down, when that's not true," he says.


Koal is upset with the situation. "I'm mad because it's my grandmother's fault that my parents are having to go through all this, and I'm sad because my mom's always stressed, and my dad's stressed," he says. "I'd like Rita just to leave my family alone."



Dr. Phil asks Rita how she feels after hearing what her grandson has to say.

"I think that Koal's confused," she says. She points out that Koal mentioned that he hears his mother becoming stressed out when she returns from court. "He's not supposed to hear anything that goes on in court."

"You said that you never say a word to him about any of this, that you don't talk to him about it, that you protect him from it," Dr. Phil says to Rita.

"The last conversation I had with Koal, he had a lot of questions, and I told him, ‘When you become 18 years old, this will all become public record to you,'" she says.

Dr. Phil reads what Koal said on video. "Is he lying?"

"I think he's confused," she says.

"He didn't sound confused when he said it," Dr. Phil points out. "He said, ‘She kept on saying that I needed to hear her side of the story.'"

"Then Koal's lying," Rita says. "It was probably because of his mother telling him."

"How does he know you don't like his father and his stepfather?" he asks.

"I've never told him that," Rita says. 

Dr. Phil reads Koal's comments about Rita's husband socking Brian in the face.

"He's wrong about that," Rita says. "I said, ‘If Poopah and B[rian] got into a fight, how would that be my fault? I'm not the one who hit him. How could I be blamed for this?' And he said, ‘My mother told me it was your fault.'"

"He didn't say that, because I was standing there when he was talking on the phone," Lisa says to her mother. "You're a liar."

Dr. Phil addresses Rita. "Given the intensity of your involvement here and the litigious nature of y'all's r
elationships, and the struggle to stay in his life and on his radar, is it really credible to think that you've never said a word to him about any of this?" he asks.

"I've never said that to Koal," she says. "Koal shouldn't hear these things."

"So you didn't say to Koal, ‘You need to hear my side of the story'?" Dr. Phil probes.

"No, I did not," Rita maintains.

Dr. Phil wonders aloud why Koal would make that comment.

"Because of his mother," Rita says.

Dr. Phil repeats a comment Koal made that bothered him. "The last thing he said on that ta

pe, ‘I'm sad. I'm sad, because my mother is always stressed, and my dad is stressed. I'd like Rita to just leave my family alone,'" he says. "What he said was, ‘I'm sad.'"

"It makes me sad," Lisa says, fighting back tears. She admits that when she returns from court, she is stressed.

"You can't hide it," Brian adds.

"Of course, I'm sad. I've got to look at her. I've
got to hear her lies," Lisa continues. "I'm a good mom, and [Keith's] a wonderful dad, and [Brian's] a wonderful stepdad, and we have no say in court … She's a con. She's an awesome liar."


Turning to Rita, Dr. Phil asks, "Is it worth it to see the pain in your daughter's face, to hear your grandson saying what he's saying? Is it worth it? Is it a payoff for you?"

"It's not a payoff. Koal could be a key to a lot of things," she says.

"Koal doesn't have a job. Koal shouldn't have to be the key to anything,"

Dr. Phil tells her. "Koal should be a kid."

"Koal is a kid, but through Koal, a lot of other things, with a relationship with me, it could create a better " " Rita begins, but stops short. 

"But Koal shouldn't have the job of creating better relationships in your life. You don't give a kid a job!" Dr. Phil says.

Rita and Lisa yell at each other.

"Because of her annihilation and her constantly interfering in my relationship with my mother, with my other daughter, with my other grandchildren, it's come to this, and I am not going to stand for it anymore," Rita tells Dr. Phil as Lisa defends herself.


Dr. Phil addresses Rita. "You seem to be telling me that there are all of these relationships that are ruined and that you've made Koal a battleground," he says. "Is this not really about Koal? Is it about all of these other relationships that you say have been damaged?"

"No. I don't feel I'm making it a battleground," she says. "He is my grandson. I have the right to see Koal."

"Rights come with responsibilities," Dr. Phil tells her. "What are you getting out of this, and is the cost to Koal too high?"

"I don't think it will be too high," she says. "Koal had a good relationship with my husband, and [my son], and myself, and he spent a lot of time with us."

"Never alone," Lisa interjects.

"You were not there," Rita says to her daughter.

The family argues.

Dr. Phil introduces attorney Gloria Allred, and asks her, "How can a judge not see that this kid is in the middle of a tug-of-war?"

"The legal standard is what is in the best interest of the child," she says. "A court will decide that the parent can decide what is in the best interest, can make the important decisions, but if the court finds that there has been a bond with the grandparent, then the presumption that the parent is doing the right thing can be rebutted by the strength and the length of that bond with the grandparent." She adds that the court is considering the child first and foremost. "None of these parties should be making derogatory statement
s about the other in the presence of the child," she says. "This child should feel safe. This child should not be subjected to these bullets flying and sometimes hitting the child … It's a no-win for this child, and that's not fair."

Dr. Phil tells Rita and Lisa, "The very fact of the intensity of the litigation going back and forth tells me that you're all out of whack on this deal." He asks Rita if she agrees.

"I see that," she says, but points out that whenever Lisa needs money, she calls her.

"She's so full of it," Lisa says.

"Did any of the three of you hear anything I said?" Dr. Phil asks. "This relationship needs a hero and you need to take a step back," he says to both women. 

Dr. Phil leaves the women with a final piece of advice. He suggests they stop battling. He tells them the two rules he never violates
with children: don't hold them responsible for things they don't control, and don't engage them with adult issues. "Children have a unique ability to figure out how everything that goes wrong is their fault," he says. "Don't make him pay for your problems."