As if tragedy isn’t enough…. Today I read a post on Facebook from a Mom whose son lives with his Dad in Oklahoma. She can’t contact either of them after the tornado and is frantic. I know nothing more about these folks than what I read on Facebook. I’m not friends with her, but merely read a post that was shared through a friend of a friend. But, my heart breaks for her. We put provisions in custody orders that “require” notice to the other parent within certain short amounts of time. We give parents the right to be named as emergency contacts. But nothing that we draft can help the panic of a parent wanting to make sure a child is safe and healthy in a time of tragedy.

This mom commented later in the thread that she couldn’t contact the Dad even through Facebook because he had her blocked. She seemed frantic, as any parent would be. The good outcome is that through Facebook and the magic of social media, the comments thread shows that someone knew the Dad and confirmed that they are ok.

A decent ending, all things considered.

To me, the message to parents in split custody situations should be, whether you like the other parent or not, whether you can stand to talk to them or not, whether they somehow violate boundaries on Facebook or not, every parent should reach out during a tragedy and let the other parent know the child is safe and sound. Think of how you might feel in the same situation. Court orders can require parents to do the right thing, but those documents are an empty consolation when it is actually time to put the right action in to place.
 

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.