When Angela went through a high stakes divorce and finally got full sole decision making rights to her children, it wasn't an easy process. She lost her first case - badly, she says - when she didn't present herself right, and didn't put her case information forward in a way that would help her protect her children.
In today's Modern Divorce Podcast, host Billie Tarascio talks with Angela Van, founder of Family Court Corner, about the situations Angela fought through, and the method she used that got her the win she needed. Today, she shares that method through her website and talks about how it works with Billie.
She also helps others get the Divorce Mindset that helped her survive an emotional rollercoaster and what is for many the worst process of their lives. To find out more about what Angela does, find her at her website here.
Today's Modern Divorce Podcast is brought to you by our sponsor, Soberlink, the monitoring solution to divorced parents looking for verifiable safe parenting when one is struggling with alcohol addiction.
[00:00:00] Billie Tarascio: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Modern Divorce podcast. I am your host, Billie Tarascio, Arizona family law attorney and owner of Modern Law. Today I am talking to a TikTok influencer, a TikTok friend of mine who I just got to meet via video. Her name is Angela Van and she is the owner of Family Court Corner. You've got over a hundred thousand followers on TikTok, and I'm so excited that you're here today to share your story. Welcome to the show.
[00:00:31] Angela Van: Thank you for having me. Thank you. It's a point here. It's, it's very exciting to be here.
[00:00:37] Billie Tarascio: Fantastic. Well I appreciate you agreeing to be here. So you are very active on TikTok, and you have shared that you went through a very high conflict 10 year custody battle and now you've created a solution for other parents. Is that correct?
[00:00:53] Angela Van: Yeah, absolutely. Going through what I went through, I learned so much along the way, and when my [00:01:00] battle ended, I thought, I just wanna put this to bed.
I don't wanna ever talk about family court again. I don't wanna live in that world ever again. And I, you know, it was at the time when TikTok was really taking off during Covid and I saw a lot of people talking about their case and making some mistakes that I had made along the way. Posting about you.
Very private details about their case online. And I thought, I think I can really help some of these people who are struggling and making these sort of rookie mistakes that I made myself right along the way. So it, it turned into something that really is surreal and I feel very blessed to be here with this many people who think what I have to say can help.
[00:01:49] Billie Tarascio: Yeah, that's awesome. And it's true the family court process is not intuitive and it's very easy to [00:02:00] screw things up. But if you know the rules of engagement, you can figure out a strategy that will work. So give us a brief overview of what. What that custody battle looked like.
[00:02:15] Angela Van: What my custody battle looked like.
[00:02:16] Billie Tarascio: Mm-hmm. ? Yes.
[00:02:19] Angela Van: Well, it's hard to talk about without talking about my mindset first, right? Because I think when you're separating you're in a very primal state of emotion. And you know, looking for me, I had little kids. I had very little kids. I had two kids under two.
Oh, they were both in diapers, nonverbal at that point. Mm-hmm. and I knew who my husband was. and I had concerns, right? So my concerns sort of drove me in my litigation in the early days because I was worried I was a worried mother [00:03:00] and for good reason, obviously because in the end, you know, I ended up having to protect my children through the court system.
But what it looked like was initially, you know, settlement discussions, trying to settle, trying to come to a resolution. Neither of us were happy with either's position and so it went to litigation. and the, the very, I had, I had a male lawyer at the time. Not that it matters whether he was male or female, but I had a, just to differentiate the two, I had a male lawyer to begin with.
And he he led me through the first court hearing. I ended up losing that one big time and I lost, and the. Made it very clear to me that she was not sure if I actually had concerns for my children's safety or if I was just an overprotective, worried mother. And so [00:04:00] I obviously was devastated. We ended up settling.
We ended up reaching a separation agreement after that hearing. And You know, shortly after, I think when you're dealing with somebody who's high conflict, many people have the experience where you settle and you think everything's gonna be great. You know, you've, you've reached an amicable agreement and everybody's gonna follow it.
We just have this sort of blind hope and it didn't work out that way. You know, very quickly things were being breached on the other side, and the agreement just wasn't working. Decision making was not, it. Wasn. It wasn't working in the joint situation that we had set up for us in the separation agreement.
There were arguments about parenting time. There were arguments about almost everything finances. So I think the thing that pushed me to sort of reconsider going back into litigation mm-hmm. , was when my children started showing symptoms of being pulled into the [00:05:00] conflict. Oh. Okay. Yeah.
[00:05:03] Billie Tarascio: And what, what were some of those symptoms?
Like what if somebody is, is wondering, what can I look at as a symptom of conflict that's negatively affecting my children? What would that be?
[00:05:16] Angela Van: It could be many things. I've seen many, many different versions of it. For me personally, it was things my children were telling me. Yeah. Cuz you know, I had a two around that time, I think my oldest was about two and a half.
Mm-hmm. So she was really coming up with words. Two and a half or three, she was really able to verbalize some of the things that she was hearing. Over at the other parent's house and you know, things that a child should never, never know, that it things that aren't in their vocabulary at that age.
Things like, you know daddy's lawyer is gonna wipe the floor with yours.
[00:05:54] Billie Tarascio: Ugh.
[00:05:56] Angela Van: right? Why do you take all of daddy's money?
[00:05:58] Billie Tarascio: Sure. That's a [00:06:00] classic one.
[00:06:00] Angela Van: It's a classic one, right? ? Yeah. We don't see him enough. You know, you don't let him, he's, he's sad because you won't let us do whatever it is. So there was a lot of that happening.
So, you know, the one, the one. The one statement about the lawyer I realized at that point I needed to lawyer up again. I realized that this wasn't gonna work for me, for my kids for the situation. It was only a matter of time before I was gonna get served, right? So I decided to find a new lawyer and she was, and still to this day, I credit her with saving my children's lives.
Her and our custody evaluator who. into the sort of journey later on, but you know, she right off the bat. Got it. So when we talk about like, how do I find a good lawyer? Mm-hmm. , you know, how do I know? I knew pretty much right in that first initial consultation [00:07:00] where I showed her one email and she said, oh, this is why, and here's what we're gonna do, and this is what you need.
And gave me a whole plan and then looked me in the eye and. I know exactly why you lost that first hearing. Yeah. You know, and that was a difficult conversation for me to hear, to have with her. And she was very tough because there was a trust building process between us, right. Where she was like, don't ever lie to me.
Don't ever, you know, if you, if you ever lie to me or if you're not clear or you, you know, you don't do what I say, we're gonna have a real problem here and. , you know, that was very like, okay, you know, I had to get my shit together. Sorry, I don't know if I'm allowed to swear here you are. You know, I had to get, I had to get myself together and really look at what I could do better and she said, get, get yourself into therapy.
And I already was. So I said, well I already am, so that's great. She's like, good, you're gonna need it cuz it's gonna get tough. So, yeah. From there, you know, the litigation really ramped [00:08:00] up from there because I was then asking for sole custody, sole decision making. Mm. And supervised parenting time.
[00:08:06] Billie Tarascio: Mm-hmm. based on those comments, that would be very, very hard to get here in Arizona. It would be very hard to take those comments even if we proved. to get a judge to, to then make the leap to, and this person shouldn't have unsupervised parenting time. How did you do that?
[00:08:24] Angela Van: There were other issues as well, physically with the kids, which contributed to the supervised request.
My, my, my younger child now, my middle child, she has she's lactose intolerant. Hmm. And so there was a concern that she was being fed something she shouldn't have been fed. So that was a whole other, you know, it wasn't physical abuse in terms. Beating the child or anything like that. But there was concerns with the ability to follow the direction of professionals, follow the, the medical direction, and also follow the court orders that came later [00:09:00] with regards to, to the dairy feeding.
So, so it wasn't solely the emotional stuff and, and the coaching of the children or involving them in adult conflict. There was also that piece too. So how did I do it? One of the biggest. Biggest pieces in our case was the custody evaluation. We ended up doing a custody evaluation. The evaluator came in and did a full, you know, workup on the family.
Met with me, met with him, met with the children in both homes, interviewed them various times in both homes. And Talked to all of the collaterals. At that point, we were probably five years into the battle. There was a lot of delays and litigation delays and games that were being played that took us that long to get there.
But you know, the, the evaluator came in and really, really saw what was happening. And I think a lot of people have a fear about that. From what I hear from clients and online. You know, I'm afraid that they're not gonna see because my. So smart and so, you know, [00:10:00] charming and a narcissist and can woo anybody, right?
Mm-hmm. . And to that, I say I don't, I think you're not giving these professionals enough credit. You know, if you prepare well enough and you are standing in truth and you know, th this professional is gonna be able to see. That's my hope. So our ours did and he came back again two years later to do a follow up right before trial.
[00:10:23] Billie Tarascio: Wow. Okay. So then you had your full-blown evidentiary hearing. You proved what you needed to prove, and you got that sole custody. Yeah. And then how did you then become, well, what do you call yourself? Do you call yourself a Divorce coach?
[00:10:40] Angela Van: Yeah, I, I'm a certified Divorce coach. Got it. So. That was, that was a big step for me.
You know, really sort of trying to figure out how I was gonna be of service to people, how I was gonna help people who I wanted to help. Mm-hmm. how I, was I strong enough to figure out who , who was gonna be the [00:11:00] ideal client and, and sort of manage that from a business perspective as well as a humanitarian sort of perspective.
Yeah, I, I became a, a certified Divorce coach and my focus really is on. Helping clients understand the system that they're in. Mm-hmm. understanding it's not gonna be a quick fix. You know, there is a, there is a sort of element of radical acceptance. Mm-hmm. , this is where you're at and it's okay.
There are stages. You know that you're gonna go through and phases that you're gonna go through. So sort of being that support for them along the way, because a lot of them are relying on their lawyers for that. And you guys don't have time. You're too busy with the, the lawyering, , the legal stuff, right.
Some lawyers are great and they will, they will do that sort of coaching bit and. They love doing that piece too. But what I'm finding is more and more it's, it's, [00:12:00] you know, it's a big strain on, on the lawyer to sort of manage that piece, the mindset work and stuff like that. So I work on mindset with clients.
I work on the communication that they're having with. Their ex, you know, to sort of clean up their side of the street to teach them proper ways to communicate to teach them how to deescalate conflict. Mm-hmm. . And, and then the other side of it is documentation. Making sure that they're organized so that when they go to you as the lawyer, they're as organized as possible to save on their legal fees
and also present, present their case in a way that hopefully a new lawyer, for example, would get it a lot quicker.
[00:12:41] Billie Tarascio: Right, right. You bring up a great point. I, I think in order to be a good family law attorney, you have to be willing to spend time with your clients regarding their emotional state, their mindset, their process.
Is it the best use of a lawyer's time? [00:13:00] No. When there are clients that come to us that don't need that, they spend a lot less because we're just lawyering. We're not also counseling, which we weren't trained to do, but we need to figure out in order to be effective. So I think it's fantastic. Do you communicate with the lawyers or just the clients?
[00:13:20] Angela Van: Just the clients. Mm-hmm. , just the clients. I do have, you know, lists of lawyers in different areas that I may send clients to. Mm-hmm. and say, Hey, check out, you know, these three lawyers in your area. I if they're looking for a new lawyer, but I don't typically work directly with the lawyer. Mm-hmm. I'm exploring that option with one of my lawyer contacts who has suggested as a, as an option for those kinds of clients who.
Are just not able to communicate their issues and concerns very clearly. For me to sit with the client, organize that for them, and then communicate it to the lawyer. So there's talk about that. I'm, I'm not sure how quickly that's going [00:14:00] to, you know, move forward, but it is, it's something that we're looking at to sort of help the client and the lawyer.
[00:14:06] Billie Tarascio: Mm-hmm. . Yeah, it's an interesting idea. I know some law firms who have brought Divorce coaches in or tried relationships with Divorce coaches, and in the ones that I know, they haven't been able to figure it out yet, but I think that's where it's at, where it's just, it hasn't been figured out yet because based on, you know, what you and I both know, Divorce coaching and mental health treatment and advice throughout your Divorce is critical.
It's just critical. Yes. And you're going to go through grief, all those stages, all of them over and over and over again. So having somebody be able to truly assist you in a, in a really, you know, a better way than a lawyer is a great thing.
[00:14:51] Angela Van: Yeah, and I think you know, I, I think it's great if the lawyer can, can be that for the client as well as their lawyer.
I know that [00:15:00] mine was, I was very lucky she answered that phone every single time I called. It could be eight o'clock at night, it could be, you know, early, early in the morning. She, I always knew she was there for me and there were times where I would bring her a problem and, and she would just go, okay.
And she wouldn't have any advice from me. I'd be like, aren't you gonna sit here and walk me through this? And she'd. It's nothing to do here, you know, and then I knew it, it's time to go to the, to, to my therapist with that. Yeah. Right. So it, it's really important work. I think it can really shorten a litigation is the more the clients are emotionally.
In, in tune with themselves and in check and understanding how to manage these high conflict situations in particular because they can quickly escalate and lead to more and more litigation if there isn't always somebody sort of knowing when to step out of it. Right.
[00:15:53] Billie Tarascio: And dysregulation, yes, dysregulation of you, of your children.
I often recommend [00:16:00] my clients get trauma therapy using. Bilateral eye movement or E M D R as a way to help process the trauma so you're not as triggered because we are all triggered by our exos. Getting out of a marriage is a big dang deal, and you can't do it without trauma. .
[00:16:21] Angela Van: Exactly. And you also have to learn how to now navigate a new dynamic with your co-parent.
You have to figure out how to step out of that toxic relationship dynamic you had going on, which led to the separation. Mm-hmm. and realize, okay, now I'm in co-parenting relationship and I'm expected to behave in a different way here. What is that expectation and how do I emotionally handle. Right. And you can't, you know, if you've never done it before, you have no idea.
Mm-hmm. . So having somebody there who can walk through that with you and help you through those high [00:17:00] conflict moments that are triggering can make all of the difference, not just for yourself and your emotional state, but also for your case. Because it makes your lawyer's job a lot easier if you're not creating problems for them to fix well ...
[00:17:15] Billie Tarascio: and the way you show up. So if we go back to you in hearing one, when the judge couldn't tell if your concerns were valid or not, I'm guessing it's because of the words you were using your, your face and demeanor, how you are showing up. And it's so impossible to ask a worried mother to show up as a kind of cold distanced, you know, professional, but that's what the courts wanna see.
[00:17:42] Angela Van: Well, you know, I think for me, I never actually ever showed up as a cold, distant mom. Mm-hmm. . What I did was I learned what to focus on and what to let go of. Mm-hmm. . And so when I walked into court the next time I was refocused, I was focused on the important stuff. I wasn't focused on [00:18:00] nap times and feedings and diaper changes anymore.
I was focused. Like serious medical concerns and emotional harm that was happening and behavioral issues in the children, and this high conflict communication that was happening, which was, you know, detrimental to our co-parenting relationship and decisions that needed to be made for the children. I, I mean, I've cried in courtrooms.
I've sat in courtrooms with tears streaming down my face. But it's a matter of can you pull it back? Mm-hmm. , and you show the court, can you show that judge that you have the ability to manage your emotions Right. When they do come up? Because I think, you know, at, at least every judge I met understand, understood that this was an emotional time for everybody.
[00:18:43] Billie Tarascio: Right. Right. You're allowed to be emotional. . So what you're saying is, is spot on. It's knowing what to focus on and having the composure to manage your emotions in court so they don't get away from you. Because if a judge can't [00:19:00] ask you a question and get a clear answer, you're immediately losing credibility, which isn't necessarily fair, but it's true.
[00:19:08] Angela Van: Yeah, it, it calls into question, you know, whether that incident that happened three months ago that your ex is trying to use against you was actually your fault or not. Did you actually escalate to the point they said you did? Did you react the way you did? Because I'm watching you in a courtroom right now, not able to pull yourself back from that emotion.
So it's really important work. Mm-hmm. , you have to show up as your best self in every courtroom you're in, but not only the courtrooms, the doctor's offices, the children. Parent teacher interviews. Mm-hmm. , you know, every exchange that you have with your co-parent, all of it, you have to show up authentically you and as regulated as possible.
Even in high conflict situations.
[00:19:52] Billie Tarascio: Well, that's gold. You're 1000% right. And it's probably easier said than done . I do wanna. [00:20:00] About your, your documentation system. Tell me about that.
[00:20:05] Angela Van: Yeah, so this was a long obviously I was in, in this battle for 10 years, and along the way I developed my own way of documenting to stay organized and to easily get everything to my lawyer.
I was doing that on Excel spreadsheets, so I had a running log. I also had separate spreadsheets to track certain things that needed to be tracked, and I would just send it to her whenever she was preparing for court. And I would say, here you go. It was documented you know, date type of incident, what it pertained to, because sometimes you're in court for financials.
Sometimes you're in court for child custody. Sometimes you're in court for. Parenting time issues. So it was all categorized and I I also gave it a severity scale. Was it a high impact, you know, issue where the police called, was the child hurt? Or was it just like a communication argument about Father's Day or Mother's Day [00:21:00] or something?
Right. How high was it? Was it high severity, medium or low? And she could just, you know, figure it. And figure out what she wanted to pull out of that information to then put into my affidavits to get the story across. I think it was her law clerk at one point that said you can build a spreadsheet like nobody I've seen before,
I just laughed. I was like, I don't know what else to do with my control issues. You know? I need to be in control of something. Yeah. And it can't be the Divorce or the court battle or anything, so it's gonna be my documentation. So, as I, as I started Family Court Corner and I was working with clients on an Excel spreadsheet, helping them get organized the way I did.
Mm-hmm. , I realized that not everybody is work. Not everybody is proficient in Excel. Right. And so it was becoming a challenge for them. They were not looking forward to documenting, and I thought, oh my, this, this defeats the whole purpose. They need to be excited about it. They need, it needs to be easy and.
So I thought, what, what are, what are we looking at [00:22:00] in this world right now? We're looking at a lot of people online doing everything remote, you know, online systems and all of that kind of stuff. So I developed a web-based program. I essentially took my spreadsheets and I dumped them into a web-based program that, you know, is efficient, easy to use, and it.
Clients you know, when something is happening or just after it's happened, they're able to go online and just document the incident, upload any proof they have, and everything stays organized in one place by pattern of behavior type of incident, right? So if it's a medical issue or a co-parenting issue, and then the lawyer can have access to their account and pull that information out directly, which will save on all those emails you need to send your lawyer when it's time to prepare for court and that sort of thing.
So people seem to be really liking it and I'm just working on sort of taking feedback and looking at how we're going to keep adding, you know, efficiency to it and adding extra features [00:23:00] that people are looking for.
[00:23:01] Billie Tarascio: That's fantastic. That's so fantastic. I so how much does the system cost?.
[00:23:07] Angela Van: you have a choice. So first off, it's 14 days free trial. Mm-hmm. . And after the 14 days, you can choose between a monthly subscription, which is 8 99 US dollars per month. Mm-hmm. or the annual subscription will save you a bit of money and it's 98 89 for the year.
[00:23:24] Billie Tarascio: Okay, got it. And, and you have access for a year after that.
What do you need to do in order. Maintain organization, let's, do you need to continue to pay for it in order to have access to it, or is there a way to get the information out? .
[00:23:39] Angela Van: Yep. You can, if you're, if you're still needing the system, obviously your subscription will just renew at the end of its term.
And if at any point you need to cancel your subscription, you can pull a report out. It's, it comes out in an Excel spreadsheet. Mm-hmm. and download all your files. So any attachments that you had, you can do that very easily in the report section. The [00:24:00] system, once you cancel your subscription, it will hold all your information for 90.
So if you decide in that 90 day period, ah, I think I'm gonna need it again. You can just resubscribe and everything, just pick up where you left off. But if you decide you don't need it and the year goes by, you've pulled out all your information and you need it again, you can come back in and just upload that spreadsheet, dump it back in, and then you just have to upload your files after that.
[00:24:25] Billie Tarascio: cool.
[00:24:25] Angela Van: Yeah, it's a batch load if you wanna ever come.
[00:24:28] Billie Tarascio: That's fantastic. That's exciting. And I'm assuming that they don't have to be Divorce coaching clients in order to get access to the system.
[00:24:36] Angela Van: No, it's, it's available to anybody who needs it.
[00:24:40] Billie Tarascio: That's fantastic. And even though it is not state specific, the types of things that you and I are talking about apply in every single jurisdiction regardless of the difference of procedures or the difference of laws which I think is is super important to mention.[00:25:00]
[00:25:00] Angela Van: Yeah, it's, it's behavior, right? It's, it's what is happening on the ground on a daily basis that's going to negatively affect your children or is negatively affecting your children. And, you know, it's not my job to see how that fits into the law. I'm not a lawyer and I don't give legal advice. What, what the system will do for you when you're organizing in this way is give your lawyer, you know, the patterns of behavior that they can then correlate with the law and go, okay, how does this fit into that statute or whatever.
And how can I prove this case based on. These issues that are happening in the co-parenting relationship or these issues that are happening in during parenting time or with the child support or whatever it may be. So it really is not jurisdic jurisdiction specific. And I think that's really important to note because I know on my TikTok page and you know, I get a lot of comments of where you located.
You know, can you help me? I'm in Florida, I'm in Arizona, I. Wherever. [00:26:00] And to that, I say it's, this is not jurisdiction specific advice. This is life advice. This is not only just Divorce advice, this is for you to be your best self before, during, and after Divorce.
[00:26:11] Billie Tarascio: Well, Angela, thank you so much for coming on the show.
I really, really appreciate it. I think we should do a TikTok live sometime. But I've just really enjoyed getting to know you. I've enjoyed this episode. If you all have enjoyed this episode, make sure you like it. Leave a review, download it, share it with your friends, and we will also link to Angela's website and materials so that you can get access to this fantastic resources that she has available.
Angela, thank you so much for coming on
[00:26:39] Angela Van: the. Thank you so much for having me.
[00:26:41] Billie Tarascio: Have a great day. You too. [00:27:00] [00:28:00] [00:29:00] [00:30:00] [00:31:00] [00:32:00] [00:33:00] [00:34:00] [00:35:00] [00:36:00] [00:37:00] [00:38:00] [00:39:00] [00:40:00] [00:41:00] [00:42:00] [00:43:00] [00:44:00] [00:45:00] [00:46:00] [00:47:00] [00:48:00] [00:49:00] [00:50:00] [00:51:00] [00:52:00] [00:53:00] [00:54:00] [00:55:00] [00:56:00] [00:57:00] [00:58:00] [00:59:00] [01:00:00] [01:01:00] [01:02:00] [01:03:00] [01:04:00] [01:05:00] [01:06:00] [01:07:00]