Even though it was years ago, I can still remember the feeling when I left the courtroom that day.  The air had been taken completely out of me.  I couldn’t believe what had just happened.  Was that really a court of law I had just been in?  It was supposed to be but what had just happened was more like a robbery.  My client?  Well, she was devastated.  This was an early hearing in the process so we still had plenty of time to fight.  But the tone had clearly been set.

We had just finished in DHS/CPS court, and you know what I am talking about if you have been there.  This was about my fifth DHS/CPS case and to be honest I was about to be finished with these cases altogether.  I had noticed an obvious pattern - frustration for the client and me was the norm.  And DHS/CPS got whatever they wanted.  Discovery rules didn’t seem to apply.  Everything, and I mean everything, was stacked in the favor of DHS/CPS.  The judge believed everything the State had to say and nothing my client had to say.  Worse, the judge cut us off anytime we tried to introduce helpful evidence.  In a word, we felt railroaded.  This is not to mention how bad it was for the poor souls who were there pro se (without an attorney and representing themselves).

DHS/CPS court is relentless.  It drags on for months sometimes years.  There are staffings that you have to attend; hearings that you have to attend; home inspections that you have to attend; drug tests you have to take – and then take again; classes you have to attend; counseling you have to attend.  The list is exhausting.  If your children are in DHS/CPS custody they may not even be living in the same city as you.  You might have to travel across the state just to get visitation.  How in the world is a hard-working parent supposed to keep a steady job and get all of this stuff completed?

I decided that day after court that if I was going to keep taking these cases then we had to figure out how to win them.  These cases are a different breed and most attorneys don’t want anything to do with them.  We were going to have to have a completely different approach and be just as relentless as the system if we were going to stand a chance.

That decision that day has made all the difference.  We still have our challenges in DHS/CPS court, but now we know how to handle them – and win them.  And we can do the same for you.  So if you’re tired of trying to fight your case on your own, or you’re just getting started, give us a call.  We know the struggle…and we’re ready to help you put your family back together.

Cross Examination

CPS & DHS Stories

How to Recognize a Narcissistic Parent...

When you think of narcissism, you might think of the exaggerated yet typical version of a narcissist — a person who openly focuses on themselves, downplays other people, and shows little or no signs of empathy towards others. Sometimes narcissism is more subtle: On the surface, the person may appear to be a caring person, but underneath is a whole different story. But what do you do if you suspect your child’s parent is a narcissist?  What is Parental Narcissism?  Narcissism is a mental health disorder in which a person has a heightened sense of self-importance with a deep need for attention while also lacking empathy or consideration toward others.  Parental narcissism occurs when, as you might guess, a narcissist becomes a parent. While becoming a parent often makes a person more compassionate and caring, sometimes that doesn’t happen. Narcissism is, after all, a mental health condition that doesn’t just go away.   Think of famous narcissistic parents from movies and TV, like Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada, Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development, or Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest.  (It’s important to understand that, more often than not, it’s not the narcissist’s choice to think the way they do. But, with that said, it is possible for a narcissist to overcome their own shortcomings, although it requires a lot of internal work.) Signs of a Narcissistic Parent If you suspect your child’s parent is a narcissist, then there are many ways that this could affect them as they grow up. But first, you need to be able to recognize the signs. Here are the tell-tale signs of a narcissistic parent (NP), according to clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula:  The NP sees their child as a source of validation, but only when the child does something worth bragging about, like getting good grades, winning a game, or getting into a good school. Otherwise, the parent seems disinterested in the child’s hobbies, thoughts, and overall presence.   The NP is emotional and sensitive, but they are critical and unsympathetic when their child displays the same emotions. For example, the parent may explode at the smallest things but tell their child to “get over it” if they’re upset about something.  The NP puts their needs first. While parents sometimes need to prioritize themselves, NPs do it to an unhealthy extent by choice or a lack of natural self-awareness.  The NP has bad boundaries. Whether a young child or a grown adult, NPs have poor boundaries regarding their children. They might be overly intrusive and opinionated in their child’s life or remove themselves when it’s convenient.  The NP plays favorites. If an NP has more than one child, it’s not uncommon for them to “play favorites” and have a Golden Child that they constantly praise but don’t do the same for the other child.  The NP always blames the children. Classic shift-blaming lines include, “I couldn’t do XYZ because of you” and “I’m so tired because I need to take care of you all the time.”  The NP expects to be cared for. NPs expect to be cared for emotionally, mentally, and sometimes even physically. In some cases, NPs will guilt trip their children in a way that says, “I took care of you – now you should help do the same for me.”  How Hickey & Hull Can Help Your Family While narcissism is not an uncommon personality disorder, knowing how it affects your children is not enough to protect them.  Hickey & Hull Law Partners is experienced in family law and can mediate, create a parenting plan, or even help fight for custody if you suspect instability or abuse.  Contact us today by filling out our online form or calling us anytime. Our River Valley office number is 479.434.2414, and our Northwest Arkansas number is 479.802.6560.

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Tips for Dealing with Parental Alienation At ...

Being the targeted parent of parental alienation is difficult — especially because it’s brought on without you having any say in the matter. But it’s even more challenging to address and deal with during the school year when you and your child have limited time together and want to make every moment worthwhile. Whether you have designated parent-time or shared custody, there are ways to continue connecting with your child during this busy time of the year, despite parental alienation.  #1: Don’t Badmouth the Other Parent No matter their age, school is stressful enough for children, and the last thing they need is both of their parents talking badly about one another. It’s not easy, but being the bigger person and avoiding speaking negatively about the other parent has a more significant effect on your child than you might realize.  That’s because parental alienation — when one parent intentionally tries to display the other parent in a negative light through tactics like fear, brainwashing, and manipulation — is considered emotional abuse.  Speaking badly about your child’s parent causes them to feel less close to you and can also lead to delinquency, antisocial behavior, and other problems. That’s why, as the targeted parent, it’s crucial that you don’t do the same thing that your ex is doing to you.   #2: Stay Involved  One of the most important things any parent can do is stay involved, updated, and interested in their children’s lives. When a new school year begins, there’s a lot of opportunity for positive involvement, such as asking questions like:  How do you like your new teachers?  Which classes do you like the most?  Are any of your friends in your classes?  Is there a club or activity you might want to join?  You may also encourage positive involvement by helping with homework, picking them up from school, attending school activities, and encouraging overcoming difficult tasks, like projects or problems with friends.  And while it’s essential to be interested and inquire about topics like this, you should also stay involved and follow up with open-ended questions. Your child will notice when you are aware of what’s happening in their daily life, which is a positive effect that can help undo any negative talk from their other parent.  #3: Utilize Your Time Together Your child’s schedule is much busier during the school year, and their energy levels will naturally be stretched. This means that when it’s time for you to pick them up from school, your child may be tired, have other obligations, or need to do homework — even when all you want is to connect and utilize your time together.  There’s good news, though: Studies show that kids who spend time with their parents after divorce are less susceptible to anxiety and depression. But simply being physically present isn’t enough for a child who may be dealing with alienation.  Children crave love and attention from their parents, so be sure you are proactive with your time: Play games, have discussions, attend events, work on homework, and stay engaged the entire time you’re together.  If You Suffer from Parental Alienation, You’re Not Alone  A particular type of grief comes from being alienated as a parent that isn’t understood by most.  If you’re dealing with alienation during the school year and are unsure of what else you can do, there are options: Contact Hickey & Hull Law Partners to schedule a consultation on your case. Our River Valley office number is 479.434.2414, and our Northwest Arkansas number is 479.802.6560.  With legal help, you could avoid alienation — and even help re-establish your relationship with your child.

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In the River Valley:
502 Garrison Avenue
Fort Smith, AR 72901
Phone: (479) ‍434-2414
Fax: (479) ‍434-2415

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In Little Rock:
124 W. Capitol Avenue Suite 870
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: (479) ‍434-2414
Fax: (479) ‍434-2415

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In Russellville: 

127 East 3rd Street
Russellville, Arkansas 72801

Phone: (479) ‍434-‍2414
Fax: (479) ‍434-‍2415



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In Northwest Arkansas:
409 W. Poplar Street
Rogers, AR 72756
Phone: (479) ‍802-6560
Fax: (479) ‍802-6561

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