When Your Modification To Protect Your Kids Goes Sideways

Carrie Sue Doxsee, J.D.
4 min readFeb 9, 2022


I am doing this for my kids…what could go wrong?

When your Modification turns into a nightmare

The other day I was talking to a woman who called to hire my law firm… only it was too late to help her. She was going to lose her kids. The system was going to fail this family — big time.

When you work with high conflict families, one thing you never get over is how sometimes the Court COMPLETELY gets it wrong.

Why is it when a High Conflict Person is so out of control nobody sees it… nobody gets it?

In this instance, the legal technical stuff did the woman in. When you get Discovery (formally have to answer written questions and provide documents) it is overwhelming — especially if you don’t have an attorney. The time limits are very real and if you don’t do it, your “Pleadings Are Stricken From The Record” which basically means the other person gets what they want and you have NO SAY in it.

Often we have a child who is under extreme emotional distress to the point of making threats against their own life. Counseling is started. Yet somehow, instead of the Co-Parent facing the fact that there are issues between themselves and their children, or at least get involved in the counseling, they blame the other parent as somehow trying to sabotage their relationship.

But the court, instead of being focused on what is best for the children and listening to the counselors, is not in favor of diminishing a Parent’s contact with their child. And when you screw up on not following the rules and get your Discovery Answers completed, you basically tie one hand behind the Judge’s back so they can’t hear from YOU. Getting your “Pleadings Stricken” means you can’t present evidence. Maybe you can defend against an untruth, but it is pretty impossible for the Court to hear from you.

So why do the Courts get is wrong?

Truth is, sometimes it goes the other way. There are High Conflict Co-Parents who do alienate the kids from their parents.

Sometimes it is hard to walk the line between supporting your child and not dissing the other parent. This truly does take some counseling for your child. Let the counselor help your child with the issues with the Co-Parent. You then rely on the counselor to say what you are thinking. Just don’t say it out loud to your child. The problem is, most people cannot afford counseling for their child (if they can even get the child in with a counselor).

Let’s face it, Judges get jaded… they want to stay in their own lane. They can’t fix many of the High Conflict relationships. Often they don’t intervene until way down the line. I had a case where the man was on his 5th Modification case (which the presumption is that he is the problem because he keeps filing cases), but the Mom kept moving and then not telling Dad where she was. In fact, she had moved out of the state 2 times without telling him where she was going. Fortunately for him, the last time when I helped him, the Court was ready to give his daughter to him. There was only one problem — his daughter had a sister (not his child) and the girls were super close. The Judge even said,

“I am ready to change custody to you after all the Respondent has put you through. Why don’t you want me to do it?”

He chose to put his child first and let her stay with her Mom but just opted for more time.

Here is the one thing that Judges know that you don’t…

You can’t make a High Conflict Person admit they have a problem or are doing something wrong.

So what do you do? Nothing seems to work.

You have to start working on you. I know, that sounds unfair. But it is true.

Here is a great resource for you to check out from our High Conflict Guru, Bill Eddy — “5 Types of People That Can Ruin Your Life”

I am not saying that you can’t win against a High Conflict Personality. But learning the play the game is a necessity which can mean the difference between Peaceful Parenting and a nightmare for you and your kids.

Now is the time to put in the work. Use the amazing tools that are out there. You have to work 10Xs harder to win because what you face is an uphill battle (even if the facts are on your side). You can change the dynamic… but not until you become an expert in High Conflict yourself.

Do the work to protect yourself and your children. They deserve it.