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  • Writer's pictureStephen Williams

Dealing with DHR: a Child Custody Thought Experiment

Updated: Aug 5, 2022

Ever listen to a true crime podcast? watch a true crime documentary or police procedural on Netflix? I thought so. How many times have you seen interrogations by investigators and thought, “why on Earth is this person speaking with the police without a lawyer?” And yet, with nothing less than their children on the line, parents are talking to trained DHR investigators today, as you’re reading this, all over the state of Alabama, without a court order or the assistance of counsel.

“But they said they just…” I know. I know what DHR said. They’ve said it to us and our clients thousands of times. That’s why we’re writing this today….

~ click here to book your Child Custody consultation at

“Thought Experiments” have been around for a while but seem to have come back in vogue. Essentially, you take as 100% true one or more assumptions. Then, examine the hypothetical reality you’ve created to gain insight and perspective on the real world. For example, ever heard that “if you put enough monkeys in a room full of typewriters you eventually get Shakespeare?” That’s a thought experiment. The assumptions are an infinite amount of monkeys banging away at typewriters, an infinite amount of time, and thinking about whether the random keys they hit, at some absurd point, will exactly match King Lear. Okay…

So here’s our DHR Child Custody Thought Experiment:

  1. Consider the statement of a DHR investigator.

  2. Assume the exact opposite of what the DHR investigator said is the truth.

  3. Ask yourself whether the DHR investigator would still have the incentive to say the exact same thing even though the exact opposite is true.

Let’s take our classic DHR Child Custody example:

  1. “We’re just trying to close our investigation regarding your child but we need to visit your home and speak to your child first.”

  2. Assume the opposite is true -> “DHR has no intention whatsoever of closing their investigation.”

  3. Would DHR still have an incentive to say the exact same thing as Step 1 regardless of the assumption of Step 2?

Disclaimer: the point of this exercise is NOT to say that a particular DHR investigator on a particular investigation is or is not lying. The point is merely to consider whether the DHR investigator would have an incentive to do so.

  • Would it be helpful to DHR’s investigation for you to believe they were trying to close their investigation?

  • Would you be more open and forthright if you thought DHR really was trying to close their investigation? . . . and maybe . . . just maybe . . .

  • Would you be less likely to retain a Child Custody Lawyer if you thought you had nothing to fear regarding the government’s investigation into you and your children? (sounds absurd when you, as Colin Cowherd puts it, “say it out loud,” doesn’t it).

Get the picture? It is helpful to consider this step by step, but in meetings and consultations, when we have clients and potential clients tell us what DHR told them, we summarize this point with the following response:

“What the hell are they gonna say?”

Are they gonna lay it out like “we’re digging up dirt on you and we need your help to do it. . . showing probable cause and getting a court order to come in your home would be such a headache . . .we’ve got to meet the second highest burden of proof* known to Alabama law and we can’t make our case unless you just hand us as much free evidence as possible”? (* “clear and convincing evidence”)

As refreshing as that might be, we just don’t think that would work too well for DHR, and, yes, we have tried enough cases, (and listened to enough true crime podcasts), to know better.

~ click here to book your Child Custody consultation at


This article contains general information and should not be construed as legal advice for you and or your unique situation. If you would like to speak more about how you, as a Committed Parent or Caring Relative, can be more effective in your Child Custody case, please visit to schedule your initial consultation at one of our offices. ~SW, Foxtrot

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