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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to divorce attorney Tresha Sealy about red flags, intimate partner violence, navigating custody issues in a pandemic, doing the work before you get married, the strangest thing she's ever seen during a divorce proceeding and knowing when it's time to leave.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Today we're talking to Tresha Sealy, pronouns she and her. Tresha is a family law attorney practicing in the Houston area. She graduated from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at TSU in 2011 and has been practicing law since 2012. She began her career with a small firm, then moved to a domestic violence nonprofit. Now she manages her own firm, the Sealy Law Group. She's passionate about helping people navigate the legal process as painlessly as possible during what can be a very difficult time. She prides herself on being compassionate and empowering her clients to make the best choice for their families.
Erica: Okay. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Tresha Sealy: Of course. I'm happy to be here.
Erica: Yay! Very happy to be here. Tresha, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Tresha Sealy: I am not a girl who knew I wanted to be a lawyer. I think my mom probably knew I would be a lawyer as a little girl before I ever did. I think-
Kenrya: You was the arguing-ass kid.
Tresha Sealy: Yeah, and I was good with making a point. Like, "I need this and here's why, let me give you the reason." I was doing that probably at seven. I love to read and make arguments. So I think my mom thought that. But I wanted to be ... I feel like starting from high school, I wanted to be a sports agent. And even when I went to undergrad, I majored in business and thought I was going to do that. And probably until I took a break after undergrad and went to law school and then I realized very quickly in law school, that, that wasn't what I wanted to do. So-
Tresha Sealy: I guess I didn't learn until later.
Kenrya: Well, and that's going to be my next question. How did you get from there to here?
Tresha Sealy: I took a break after undergrad and I actually was trying to get a job in my field. I was working in property management at the time, but I was trying to get a job that I thought went with a business marketing degree, right? I was trying to get into pharmaceutical sales and some other things that I feel like I knew would be lucrative, and it didn't work out that way. So I continued to work in property management and work my way up that way. Then I had the bright idea, you know what? I will go back to law school, and I'll just continue to work as our legal counsel for the property management company I worked for, I'll just move to legal. And so I went to law school and that was always my intention. Then I think my first summer I interned for the attorney general's office, handling like child support. I hated it, but I feel like I knew that I wanted to do family law. So this next summer I ended up interning in another family law internship, and that's just what I've been doing ever since.
Erica: I'm sorry. My phone won't ... Anyway. So what's your favorite thing about what you do?
Tresha Sealy: The happy stuff and really the only happy thing I get to do is adoptions. So I'd say that's my favorite part, because adoption day is always a good day. We get through this long, lengthy process of all the paperwork and all the hoops we have to jump through, and at the end of it, the child gets to go with their forever family. So I would say that that's probably the only happy thing I get to do. So that's my favorite.
Erica: Oh, that's nice.
Tresha Sealy: Yeah, everything else is like just helping people make it through.
Kenrya: But from my experience that day when it was over was a damn happy day.
Tresha Sealy: Yeah. Yeah. I have had lots of tears on divorce day and lots of people very happy or sometimes people are very sad. It kinda just depends on the person and how they handle it. But yeah, for a lot of people, that's a good day.
Kenrya: People will always say, "Oh," when they found out, which was way after the fact, because I used to not put my business all over the place, "What do you mean?"
Kenrya: And folks would go like, "oh, I'm so sorry." And I'd be like, "Girl, don't be sorry. Say congratulations."
Tresha Sealy: Right.
Kenrya: Exactly. But that was me.
Erica: I said that to the one guy, I was like, he was like, "I just finished going through a divorce." I was like, "Congratulations boo." And he was like, "She left me." And I was like, "Oh!"
Kenrya: You're like, "Oh yeah, we have different experiences."
Erica: It wasn't like, "Oh, let me find her and tell her congratulations."
Tresha Sealy: And y'all would be surprised, sometimes I literally am at divorce day, and I've had my client and her husband standing there together holding hands and we're divorcing them.
Erica: Oh, okay.
Tresha Sealy: They're there and clearly they're hugging and the judge is like, "Are you guys sure this is what you want to do?" But they're both crying and hugging and holding hands. So it's just a difficult thing to process sometimes and everybody processes it differently.
Erica: All right.
Kenrya: Oh, okay. So I'm wondering how your work impacts your personal life, if at all?
Tresha Sealy: I think it does. I have to make a conscious decision to not be jaded when it comes to relationships, because seeing them break down every day definitely starts to affect your psyche and you start to think that, okay, this is how every relationship is going to end. So I really, at the end of the day have to have a talk with myself, like, "Okay, this is not everybody's relationship." A lot of people, I will say once they've gotten to me, not everybody, but a lot of times there just has not been a lot of work done before they got married with making sure that this person was their forever partner. Right? So not asking ... some people come to me, they don't even know what their partner's social is. Right? Like, what we are all talking about is my question. You don't know where he works, you don't know what he's doing. And so sometimes that happens and when that does happen, you're like, okay, you guys didn't do a lot of the work that you had to do ahead of time.
Tresha Sealy: And so I try to remember that, right? Sometimes these things don't work because maybe that was the case or sometimes people just ... things don't work out. And that's okay. We may get clients that have been married for 40 years and at the end of the day, it just doesn't work anymore. And that's okay. Once you come to the realization that that's the case, we just have to get you out of it gently and as seamlessly as possible. But it definitely starts to make you have a distrust in long-term relationships.
Kenrya: Yeah. Because you see them at their worst point.
Tresha Sealy: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, you do. And it's hard. Especially when I worked at the domestic violence agency, I think I worked there for four years, and that is really tough. Because those are all not just, okay, we're just deciding to go our separate ways. These people are coming and they've been abused, most of the time, physically, sometimes it wouldn't be physical, but most of the time it was physically. And it may be a minor, “We had one physical dispute,” or it may be, "He broke my neck," right? And sometimes it's even more difficult because those people aren't ready to leave.
Tresha Sealy: I've got plenty of women that came to me and they're like, "Oh, I'm going to stay with him." And so that becomes a very different conversation about, okay, well ... and sometimes it's the tough one, like, "Okay, well, he's going to kill you, so that's probably not the best idea, but ultimately you have to make your own decisions. And this is what you can do to try to keep yourself safe. This is what you can try to do to keep your kids safe." But yeah, it's very hard to view people in relationships at that point.
Kenrya: Yeah. As someone who has dealt with intimate partner violence, I know that tough part of that. Like, when do you leave? And unfortunately, it's not always easy to do that, that I didn't leave the first time.
Tresha Sealy: Right. It's not. And a lot of times, our focus would be safety planning, right? So let's figure out a safety plan for you because let's figure out how we can get you out safely when you are ready. And a lot of times the decision is not just about them, so they don't want their kids to be affected or they're scared he's going to harm everybody when they try to leave. Because that is one of the most dangerous times, of course, when a woman is trying to leave that situation. So I completely understand it. However, in some situations, you really do know the next time he's going to kill you. And I make that very clear to them because ultimately your life is at stake. Because sometimes people in that situation tend to minimize it, right? I think it's a defense mechanism, right? You don't want your family and friends to worry about you. You don't want them to be so concerned and think that it's going to be something that's going to seriously harm you. So they minimize it, and it's like, "Oh no, it's okay." Like, "I know that last time he literally broke a vertebrae in my neck, but it's okay. I'm fine." So sometimes you have to have those tough conversations.
Erica: Yeah. On the flip side, do people act funny when they find out that you are a divorce attorney?
Tresha Sealy: People I'm dating or just people I meet in law?
Tresha Sealy: Yeah, people ... I feel like with men, the assumption is automatically that you represent women, right? And so when they hear you're a divorce attorney, the assumption is that you help women get child support or you help women. I have plenty of male clients, so that's not the case.
Erica: And there's nothing wrong with helping women.
Tresha Sealy: Right. Right.
Erica: Following their child's life, like-
Tresha Sealy: Right. I think they automatically take offense to that though. Any female attorney that handles family law cases, you automatically are trying to stick it to the man. And that really isn't the case at all. Ultimately whether I represent the man or the woman, my goal is to try to help you, of course get where you're entitled to and to dissolve the marriage. So some, I do get little comments like that from men.
Tresha Sealy: People just out in the world, I don't think they act funny, but anytime somebody hears you're any kind of lawyer, you start getting all the questions.
Tresha Sealy: Like we're doing a consultation on the spot at the bar. "Okay. We're not going to do this guys." But people always want to ask all the questions once they find out you're an attorney, and about anything. And I like to tell people like, "Okay, I don't know about criminal law." And it's like, "Well, you're a lawyer, don't you know?" And I'm like, "Okay, do you go ask your pediatrician to do your heart surgery? I wouldn't." Every lawyer doesn't practice every kind of law, but people have a hard time with it.
Kenrya: Because niggas like free shit.
Erica: Exactly. You know what? It's funny, when we first talked to our attorney, it was very clear, I think one of the reasons that I liked her was because she was referred to us by someone who ended up not being a fit. And the reason I liked her was that she was like, "Nah, this isn't-"
Kenrya: This is not what I do.
Erica: "... I can't do this. So let me refer you to someone." And she was like, "Yeah, I'm glad y'all understand that. And no, I don't do divorces." Like-
Tresha Sealy: Yeah.
Kenrya: Already done.
Erica: ... thank you, we did. Been there, done that.
Tresha Sealy: Yeah. There are some attorneys that take on every kind of case, and no shade to them, but I like to know what I'm doing, and so [crosstalk 00:11:37]
Kenrya: That's a lot of shade.
Tresha Sealy: I'm just not going to ... And sometimes people do study several areas, but there's just a lot to learn and a lot to know and be experienced in. So I don't like to figure it out while I'm handling someone's case, that's just how I operate.
Tresha Sealy: So I know family law, I've been doing it for a very long time, so I can confidently advise somebody on what would be the best course of action.
Kenrya: That's real. Don't be figuring it out on me.
Tresha Sealy: Right.
Erica: Same case with the doctor. Like, "I know you see hearts and you probably did this in med school, but let's not try it on me."
Kenrya: Mm-mm (negative).
Tresha Sealy: Yeah, I don't want to be your Guinea pig.
Erica: Exactly. Exactly. We already touched on that. Both Kenrya and I have been there done that with divorce. What percentage of your clients are Black, and do they tend to be women, or do men want a woman representing them more? Give us a little idea of your breakdown?
Tresha Sealy: Sure. Right now, yes, most of my clients are Black. I would probably say it's probably 75% Black, 25% Hispanic, currently. And I will say that-
Erica: And you're in Texas, right?
Tresha Sealy: Yes.
Tresha Sealy: I'm here in Houston, so I'm licensed in Texas. I would say that probably half and half though, all men and women, right now. So people reach out men or women, whether it be a divorce, whether it be a custody dispute. I think there's less of a stigma that a woman automatically gets custody rights, so I do find that more men call and want to actually try to get custody of their kids. So right now my male-female breakdown is probably 50-50.
Kenrya: That custody piece is interesting to me. I was raised primarily by my dad, when my parents got divorced, my dad got custody and I was always the weird one, like, "What do you mean your daddy?" And I'm like, "Yeah, my dad was the one, he initiated divorce, he fought for custody-"
Erica: He was the responsible one.
Kenrya: "... he is the responsible party."
Tresha Sealy: I think-
Kenrya: But it was very rare back then.
Tresha Sealy: Yeah. And honestly, I think men still think that because a lot of times I'll get calls from men and they'll say, "I know I probably could never get custody." So we all are conditioned at this point to think that, because when we were younger, it really wasn't very common. But I do think we see more and more now that it's just best interest of the child. So if dad is all around the more stable parent or the better parent, then the courts will reward custody to dad, it doesn't automatically go to mom these days.
Erica: Yeah. Word. Have you seen an uptick or I guess even a downward trend in business during COVID?
Tresha Sealy: No, I haven't seen a downward trend at all. I will say that in the beginning of COVID, so maybe March, April, I was getting a lot of people calling saying they wanted to pursue a divorce or custody or whatever it was, but they weren't necessarily ready to hire. But probably once we got in May, June, into this summer, oh, people are hitting the ground running like, "Yeah, I'm ready. I want to file today, what can we do?"
Kenrya: “We've been in this house all this time.”
Erica: Uh-huh (affirmative).
Tresha Sealy: I think it's that. I think it's being locked in together. I think people really have to evaluate, okay, do I even like this person? And then also we've kind of had, in my experience, I've had an increase in people calling about custody disputes because it's been COVID. So mom may say I'm not sending the kid because of COVID. And that's just really not a thing. Our Supreme Court in Texas has issued several orders saying COVID does not stop your custody order, right? So you need to send your child. But a lot of people were just refusing.
Kenrya: Yeah, that was me, for a bit.
Tresha Sealy: It happens. And when people would call me about it, ultimately I'm not going to advise anyone not to follow a court order. But what I tell my clients is, "You have to do what you have to do, but these are your possible consequences." Right? But at the end of the day, you are empowered to make whatever decision you make and you understand what the consequences are and then you do what you have to do.
Kenrya: Yeah. I had to communicate expectations very, very clearly before I was willing to let my child out of my house.
Tresha Sealy: Yeah.
Erica: Yeah. Yeah. I had the same. I had to have the, okay, so this is what the CDC is saying conversation.
Tresha Sealy: Right. Right. Because just when raising kids in general, you may believe in one thing and they believe in child-rearing in a completely different way, [crosstalk 00:16:10]
Erica: Might have a baby by a hotep.
Kenrya: You loud.
Tresha Sealy: So when that happens, when these kinds of issues come up, like a pandemic, you don't know if the other person is going to take it seriously. You don't know if he wants your kid to take medicine or if he believes that your kids should wear a mask because he thinks it's fake. You know how hoteps get down.
Erica: Yeah. You know how hoteps get down. So it's interesting that you brought up that because I do think you get to see relationships really intimately and from an uncommon vantage point, like when it's falling apart. So are there any like recurring red flags that you've noticed over the years? Like when they're telling the story, you're like, girl...
Tresha Sealy: I will say that with the ... like I said, working at a domestic violence agency, that was a little different. So I would say that, I don't know if it was a recurring red flag, however, there was only one person I talked to in the whole four years I was there that he hit her for the first time after they got married, right? We got married, and then the next day, the first day he put his hands on me. That normally is happening before we actually marry them. So that is, obviously a humongous, more than a red flag. Right? A bomb.
Erica: Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tresha Sealy: And that's just not something that somebody is normally going to work on their own. Right? So that's just something to keep in mind if somebody shows you who they are, especially when it's something like that-
Erica: Physical. Believe them.
Tresha Sealy: ... that's not likely going to change with time.
Tresha Sealy: It doesn't normally happen to where somebody's just switch flips after y'all signed the marriage license and then he starts beating you up. So normally, they're being aggressive or gaslighting or actually being physical with them well before the marriage happens.
Tresha Sealy: What else? Like I said, sometimes people that are just really secretive. Sometimes I talk to clients, the ones who don't know anything about their spouse, they have always been that way. They're telling me that, "He never told me this." "We never shared bank accounts." "I never knew where he banked." To me, those are probably red flags, right? Because if I'm going to marry you, I'll probably need to know things about you other than what your favorite color is. So, if somebody is being that secretive with their personal details of their life, that may not be something that will work in a marriage.
Kenrya: Kind of related to that, I know that the law varies from state to state obviously, but are there things that people should consider when they're figuring out if they should file for a divorce?
Tresha Sealy: Yes, there are. In Texas, community property is anything purchased or acquired during the marriage, and we don't have a legal separation. So it's definitely something to be considered, when you're going to file, because some people say, "Oh, you know what? We'll just break up." Right? "We'll separate. We'll go get a child support order for our kid, and we'll just handle the divorce later." And so then they don't get divorced for 10 years, right? Because everybody's moving on about their life and they don't do it, but anything you've purchased in that period is still community property. Right? So technically your spouse is still entitled to it. So if you have a retirement, if you have assets, it's definitely something to think about when you're just going to decide to live separately with somebody, but we're not going to do the divorce yet. We'll just do it later when we get to it. Because if your 401k grows $50,000 while y'all have been separated, that's still community property that we have to do deal within the divorce.
Erica: Girl, my whole face is.
Kenrya: I don't like it, right? I don't like this.
Tresha Sealy: If you know that you're not going to be with that person anymore, then you probably need to go ahead and choose to dissolve that marriage sooner than later, at least in Texas. Because nobody's going to say, "Oh,” y'all separated in 2012, but it's been eight years, but you're just now getting divorced in 2020, nobody's going to say, "Oh, okay." So you're entitled to all of that. It's still community and we still have to address it.
Erica: Wow. So before things even go wrong, what do you wish Black people knew about the law before getting married?
Tresha Sealy: I wish Black people knew that this system just really is not built for us. Right? And a lot of times Black people come ... and I will say, it's better. We have a lot more Black judges in Harris County. So these are people who can relate to you a little more, right? In relate to issues we have culturally and things like that. But before these Black judges got on the bench within the last couple of years, I have clients contacting me because they're having issues with the father of their child and they're arguing over like, "I braided her hair and I sent her over there and he's taking the braids down." I can't go into court and make those arguments because this white judge doesn't understand that. Right? That's not going to be something that he's going to pay attention to.
Erica: Right. He don't understand the time and the money, and the frustration that went into that.
Tresha Sealy: Absolutely. Absolutely. And it's not really something that they're going to even entertain, right? Even with our Black judges, a lot of them sometimes are going to be like, "Okay, that's petty, y'all figure it out." So I wish people would understand that the more you can learn to co-parent and figure out how to be adults on your own without court intervention, I think that always works best. Even when we're in litigation, if we can go to mediation and reach an agreement, you have much more control over it than going to a trial and letting this judge make these decisions. Because sometimes they don't understand things in our community, right? Like, one person may have an apartment ... and I know, I grew up sharing a room with my siblings, right? My whole life. We had bunk beds.
Tresha Sealy: We shared a room, it was fine. But the other partner may have a house with five bedrooms, and that's what they're arguing, the kids can all have their own rooms. And culturally, we're like, "What's the big deal." Right? We all share rooms with our siblings, but you never know who you're in front of.
Erica: That's the fun part.
Tresha Sealy: Yeah.
Tresha Sealy: You never know who you're in front of that may think that, okay, this person is more stable just because the kids may have their own bedrooms. So these are just things that sometimes you never know who your judge is going to be when your case is assigned randomly, and you don't know how their judge is going to view issues in your household.
Erica: Even when you use the example of the no separation and you need to file for divorce immediately, I have an aunt that the concept, the idea of her being married to my uncle is hilarious because they are so different.
Tresha Sealy: Right.
Erica: And they were married technically for 20 something years.
Tresha Sealy: Yeah.
Erica: But I don't even remember them together.
Tresha Sealy: And they probably both had their own boyfriends and girlfriends.
Erica: Boyfriends, girlfriends, so and so living with them, and it was understood. But it's just, I would have ... Yeah, that's...
Tresha Sealy: Look, let me tell you when it gets super messy. In Texas, I can't speak for every state, but in Texas, any child born during your marriage, the husband is presumed to be the father. So let's just say y'all separated in 2012 and you had three kids, 2015, 2016, 2017, by your new dude, your husband is still presumed to be the father of these kids. So now we have to sort through all this messy stuff, because you've now had kids with another man and legally, your husband is the presumed dad until we address that in a court order. So yeah, things can get real ugly.
Erica: Because also, this ain't cheap.
Tresha Sealy: Right.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: It is so easy to get married and hard as hell to get divorced.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tresha Sealy: Yeah.
Erica: We touched on this a little bit earlier, both Kenrya and I are divorced and we had very different divorce journeys.
Erica: She did the official, like, hired an attorney, I was a little more-
Kenrya: Took me a fucking year and a half bro.
Erica: Yeah. I was a little more like ... I guess you could say it was an amicable divorce. I don't think anyone wants their marriage to end, but we were at the point where we're like, okay. So I did all the paperwork and all of that, and I was lucky. I was lucky because it worked out. But I know it's not always that way. And it takes a lot of time, you've got to show up at the court during office hours to make sure you've filed. And then you got to make sure ... It's crazy. So this shit ain't easy.
Kenrya: Mm-mm (negative).
Erica: And that thing there is just crazy.
Tresha Sealy: Yeah. And there's something a lot of people don't want to do, and I understand it. But if you think about it, your situation most of the time the spouses really can't agree and everybody just say, "Oh, we'll sign off on the paperwork." Right? And in order for you guys to enter an agreed final decree with the court, that's where you have to be. So I will say most of the time when people come to me, they're not there.
Tresha Sealy: We are not on the same page where we can agree and all sign the paperwork.
Erica: Also the paperwork ain't easy to sign. Like I have multiple degrees and access to attorneys, so I was able to, "So what do they mean by this?" It's not friendly. It's not as do it yourself friendly as getting married.
Tresha Sealy: It's not. And the courts are not going to help you. When you go to the court and you try to turn in that paperwork or ask them, what do you do? They're going to say, "We can't give you legal advice. Either you come to us with the paperwork prepared, and all we have to do is present it to the judge to sign. Or you get somebody to look over it or help you," but they can't give you any legal advice.
Kenrya: Which actually leads to our next question. What do you think people tend to misunderstand about divorce before they go through it?
Tresha Sealy: There's a lot. People tend to have a hard time understanding that just because they think something is logical, that the other person doesn't have to agree with that. I was just on a call earlier, and the potential client was just really upset and couldn't understand and was complaining about her attorney and saying that, "Oh, this person ... This should be easy. This should be easy. All I want is this, this and that." And so I'm like, "Yeah, that's what you want, but he wants the opposite." So no matter how logical you think it is that you want to get divorced and the child lives with you because you're the person who does all the work with the child, right? No matter how ridiculous the other person's argument is, they still are entitled to their day in court. So that's just something to keep in mind your version of what is an easy end to this marriage is usually the opposite of what the other person wants no matter how unreasonable it is, they still get their day and they still get to make their arguments. Even if everything they're saying is 100% untruthful, they still get to say it. And ultimately it will be up to the court to sift through that.
Tresha Sealy: Also, assets. I get a lot of times when people are calling me and they're like, "Oh, we don't have anything because everything's in my name." It depends on your state, but in Texas, it doesn't matter whose name it's in. If y'all are married, it's community property, we have to deal with it. So just little things like that. You really need to know where you live and what the laws are regarding how property is divided. Because when you buy things, especially large purchases, if you're in Texas, your spouse could possibly be entitled to a portion of the equity of it.
Erica: That gets us to the next question. You must have our questions written out ahead of time.
Tresha Sealy: I don't.
Erica: Prenups. How common are they? Do you recommend them? Bitch.
Tresha Sealy: I don't do a lot of prenups. I don't get a whole lot of calls for them. Again, I think it depends on where you are. So depending on the state you're in, a prenup may be necessary, it may not. Right? There already maybe things that are built into the laws where people feel a little bit more secure in the person not being able to have access to certain things. But it makes sense if you have something ahead of time, or you and your spouse have discussed something and you just want to make sure it's a clean, easy break when and if you divorced, I don't think there's anything wrong with getting a prenup, just to make those things clear and put them on paper. I think that's a smart thing to do, especially if you own things prior to getting married, I don't see a problem in, let's just outline exactly what this is going to be.
Tresha Sealy: Even though in Texas, the law says that will be the person's separate property if they purchased it ahead of time, but let's just say, I have a house ahead of time and we're living in my house and now we're paying together and this marriage toward my separate property house, right? That gets messy, because once we're divorcing, if I'm the attorney, I'm going to say, "Okay, we've been paying down the equity in your house, then the community needs a reimbursement, right? Because ultimately now you get the benefit of us paying down 10 years of your mortgage, right? A prenup for things like that help make things clear. Hey, this is going to be my house. You're not going to have any right to anything or whatever. Whatever we make during the marriage, this is how we'll divide it. It really just kind of sets a blueprint and a framework for what's going to happen in the event that you get a divorce.
Kenrya: And then what's your best advice for folks who are fighting custody battles or anticipating them even?
Tresha Sealy: I would just say, again, try to co-parent because it's never cute when you're coming into court and you've been withholding the child for six months because, well, you didn't have a court order that said you got to see them, right? Nobody takes kindly to that. Right? Ultimately, if the courts feel like you are not co-parenting or you're making decisions that are not in your children's best interests, that can work against you. So even if you don't have a court order, even if you don't necessarily like who the new girlfriend, the new boyfriend is, it's just best to try to be adult and try to co-parent because I can't explain how many times I've had to put my head down when somebody is reading text messages on a stand of you cussing out your baby daddy or your baby mama. That's never cute. Right? And also, that's another thing, things in writing can be used against you later. So these text messages-
Kenrya: That's why I always have conversations via text.
Tresha Sealy: Uh-huh (affirmative). So these text messages, these emails, if you aren't comfortable with somebody reading it in front of a judge, I probably wouldn't put it in writing. There's just a general rule of thumb.
Erica: As you said that I could totally see, just like, damn, this--
Tresha Sealy: ... is real ridiculous. And I'm putting my ... I'm writing, I'm just going to act like I'm writing because I can't even look at anybody's face right now.
Erica: She called him a bald-face, monkey, pussy-lipped bastard.
Kenrya: Everything [inaudible 00:31:38] his mama. Fought his mama like, it's on video and just like ... So these are things to keep in mind, and especially if you know there's going to be ... Most of the time you know if this person's going to try to fight you for custody later, for whatever reason. Right? You know if you would a dude who just refuses to pay child support and the whole time y'all [crosstalk 00:32:01]
Erica: With even past baby mamas.
Tresha Sealy: Uh-huh (affirmative). But with the other baby mama he refused to do it, so you helped them in their last custody case, you know what's going to happen with you. So you just got to be smart.
Erica: So what about like negotiating for child or spousal support?
Tresha Sealy: Again, that would probably depend on where you live and what the laws are. In Texas, sometimes we ask for temporary spousal support, like while the divorce is pending. And it really just depends if there's been a great disparity in income, let's just say you have been a stay-at-home mom or dad and the other person, the person's working and they make quite a bit more money than you, and they've been the person that's supporting the household, then we'd ask the court for some temporary support. Right? Hey, I don't work. We had this agreement that I wouldn't work, so I need some help getting on my feet. And in Texas you have to be married for a certain amount of time to ask for that on a permanent basis. So that just would vary state to state depending on your laws. And then there are things that if one person is at fault for a breakup in the marriage, then that opens other doors for us to ask for permanent spousal support.
Kenrya: Yeah, I know here, there's just a formula. It's like, how much do you make? How much do I make? How much do I pay into this child? How much do you pay into this child? They put all the numbers in and spit out something. But to your point about judges and whether or not they have empathy and who they can vibe with, all of that can get thrown out the window in court.
Tresha Sealy: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Usually the judges have discretion. Here, we have a lot of discretion because ultimately there's a formula for child support and it's a certain percentage of somebody's income, we call it guideline child support. When it comes to spousal support on a temporary basis, yes, we're going to give the court the financials and show them what the difference is and your bills versus your income for both parties, but ultimately the court is going to have the discretion to make a decision on what they should award.
Kenrya: Right. So we always like to bring it back to books. This could be ... I'm going to ask you what you're reading, so you can think. It could be something that's related to what you do. It could be something less related to what we do. It can be whatever is sitting there, looking at you like, "Hey, read me."
Tresha Sealy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: What are you reading right now?
Tresha Sealy: I'm currently rereading “Cane River,” which is my favorite book.
Kenrya: What's that about?
Erica: I just looked, I don't have it in here.
Kenrya: I don't have that.
Tresha Sealy: Do you have it back there, it's by Lalita Tademy.
Tresha Sealy: I love that book.
Kenrya: Really? Really? Listeners, she's getting up to get her copy of the book.
Tresha Sealy: I love that book.
Erica: Yay! It's such a good book. It's such a good book.
Tresha Sealy: Mm-hmm (affirmative). [crosstalk 00:34:44]
Kenrya: Okay. So maybe you should let me borrow it since you take all my books.
Erica: You don't like to return books, so no, you can't.
Kenrya: Excuse me. Okay. Listeners, I literally.
Erica: Okay. So I just redid in my office. And so I had all these books downstairs, I brought them up, see they're like beautifully displayed. So I had to purge some of the books. So I called Kenrya and I said, "Girl, I got all these books and I can't keep them all. I'm going to have to throw some of them away. I'm going to have to give them away. You can come see what you want before I give them away."
Kenrya: It's a whole half a bag.
Erica: Half a fucking bag was her books. You're like, "Oh, you want these back?" There are more of hers up here, I'm just not returning them.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tresha Sealy: Oh, okay.
Kenrya: So yeah. But-
Tresha Sealy: They're permanently part of your library now.
Erica: Have been for years.
Tresha Sealy: Yeah, [crosstalk 00:35:34]
Kenrya: This is what she does.
Erica: Until I decide that I need make space, then she can choose to take them or not. So ...
Erica: But yes, “Cane River.”
Tresha Sealy: Yeah. And I'm listening, well, now I'm not reading it, actually, I'm listening to it on audio book because I wanted to hear it because I've read it a couple of times, but I love it. I love that book.
Erica: Such a good book.
Kenrya: I consider listening to audio books to be the same thing, honestly. I know some folks try to act stank about it, but I usually, well, not now I'm so busy, but typically I have a book that I'm listening to and a book that I'm reading for pleasure, and then a book that I'm reading for the show, always in rotation. It's the same shit, it just lets you read at different times. So I guess since I'm not in the car so much anymore I have lost my book re-listening time. I'm like [crosstalk 00:36:21]
Tresha Sealy: I'm sorry to hear, go ahead.
Erica: No, I was going to say, I am like Twitter, TikToK, and Instagram.
Kenrya: Is taking up all your time.
Erica: Yes. Oh, my God. I have something going on on TikTok, I'm trying to look right on this gram. No, horrible.
Tresha Sealy: Yeah, that's very true. And I feel like with audio books, I have a little bit of road rage, so listening to a book in the car helps to calm me. I feel like I really listened to audio books more than an actual read these days.
Kenrya: They're lovely.
Erica: Okay. Before we wrap this up, I like to ask a few random questions. So I want you to finish the sentence.
Tresha Sealy: Okay.
Erica: I always laugh at ...
Tresha Sealy: People falling. I'm childish.
Kenrya: Oh, no.
Tresha Sealy: I will ask if they're okay, but I will laugh every time.
Erica: Okay. All right. All right.
Kenrya: Are children included in that?
Tresha Sealy: No, not little kids, but-
Erica: I was going to say those are the best ones.
Tresha Sealy: Surely you're not.
Kenrya: If they're okay.
Tresha Sealy: All right.
Erica: I am a ...
Tresha Sealy: I am a cool ass girl, man. I just am. I know everybody says that, but I just didn't ... really even tempered most of the time, I'm a good time. People love me. Because I'm a bad bitch.
Kenrya: Okay. Wait, what's your sign?
Tresha Sealy: I'm a Capricorn.
Tresha Sealy: A late December Capricorn.
Kenrya: I was not expecting that at all.
Tresha Sealy: Really?
Tresha Sealy: What did you think?
Kenrya: I just ... Capricorns do love the fuck out of themselves. As you should, my partner is a Capricorn. I adore him. But now I was expecting somewhere more of a-
Kenrya: ... a Leo and Aries, which is what I am. We real definitive on how we feel about ourselves.
Tresha Sealy: Yeah, I'm a Capricorn. I love it. You just got to know. I think that has come more with age, [crosstalk 00:38:29]
Tresha Sealy: ... within my sign. I just know. I know I'm a catch. I know I'm cool.
Tresha Sealy: But it is, right?
Kenrya: I love it.
Erica: And what? Okay. Speaking of which, my pettiest turnoff is ...
Tresha Sealy: No, I'm not going to say that because that wouldn't be nice.
Kenrya: Oh, no.
Tresha Sealy: I don't like braggers, right? If I'm dating and you are trying to namedrop that doesn't impress me, it actually does the opposite. That will turn me off real quick.
Erica: So no Leos?
Tresha Sealy: Yeah. I've never dated a Leo.
Kenrya: You're good.
Tresha Sealy: Yeah, I don't do the humble brag. That doesn't work for me. Not into it.
Erica: "Oh my God, I just finished almost ... I'm so tired. I've ran 12 miles this morning and fed six homeless families."
Tresha Sealy: Yeah. "Back when I sold my first house for like 750,000 when I was 22."
Kenrya: I hate it. I don't mind people who can speak well of themselves, but just say it with your chest. I don't the fake modesty or the fake humility.
Tresha Sealy: Yeah.
Kenrya: All right. Just say that. Congratulations.
Tresha Sealy: But certain things you can tell they're just trying to brag because they don't even fit into the conversation. Right? You could have told me you sold a house, I don't know why I needed to know how old you were or how much you sold it for.
Erica: I like those shoes. Well, you know what? I wore shoes when I walked out of that house I sold at 22 for $750,000.
Tresha Sealy: Yeah, I don't like that. That doesn't work for me.
Kenrya: That's fine. That's always been one of the things about D.C. that bug me. I feel like D.C. is full of those people. I'm not a fan. I love living in this area, but I don't like that. I remember when I came back here after living in New York and the first time somebody asked me like what I did and I was like, "I'm a whole ass person. That's not all that I am."
Erica: We've talked about this. See, I don't mind people asking what I do because-
Kenrya: It's a difference between just being in a conversation and it being that they ask, because now they want to tell you what they do.
Erica: Oh yeah, honey. I be like girl, don't nobody care about that shit.
Tresha Sealy: Exactly.
Erica: I will say that.
Tresha Sealy: Exactly. Yes you do.
Erica: What do you do for fun?
Kenrya: Yeah, tell me that.
Tresha Sealy: If my employment doesn't come up in the conversation, literally I don't talk about what I do unless somebody specifically asks, especially in social settings. Because I just don't know why [crosstalk 00:41:10]
Erica: So I got this contract I need you to read.
Tresha Sealy: Right. Right.
Kenrya: But also, it's not the most interesting thing about you. Right?
Tresha Sealy: Yeah.
Erica: Yeah. When people ask me what I do, I'm like, "Yeah, I got a job, but let me tell you, I like to talk about pussies on the weekends."
Tresha Sealy: I work, moving on. Right?
Erica: Exactly. Exactly.
Kenrya: Well, this has been lovely.
Tresha Sealy: Yeah, you're so much fun.
Kenrya: So are you. Thanks for coming.
Tresha Sealy: Thank you.
Erica: Thank you for coming on. It's always-
Tresha Sealy: Thank you for having me.
Erica: I enjoy, I've gotten joy out of seeing just Black women that are just badass. It has become like so pleasurable. And so having you on, just seeing just a bad bitch ass Black woman, that's an attorney that knows her shit, in a state like Texas, I'm just ... this has been a high. I really love it. Black women doing their damn thing is like porn to me. So, yeah.
Tresha Sealy: I love it. And in Houston, the Black girl attorneys, they're baddies, and everybody being in court killing it and looking so good while doing it, and I love it.
Kenrya: That's awesome. Yay!
Tresha Sealy: I love it.
Kenrya: Well, so for folks who want to catch up with the Tresha, you can go to SealyLawGroup.com, or you can follow you on IG @Sealy, S-E-A-L-Y_law_group. Right? On IG?
Tresha Sealy: Yes, ma’am. Uh-huh (affirmative).
Kenrya: And on Facebook, you're the Sealy Law Group?
Tresha Sealy: Yes.
Kenrya: Okay. Now you know how to find her. And that's it for this week's episode of the Turn On. Thanks for listening and we'll see on next week.
Erica: Peace out.
Tresha Sealy: Bye.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica and edited by B'Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Now you can support the Turn On and get off, subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app, then drop us a five-star review and you'll be entered to win something that's turning us on. Just post your review and email us a screenshot at firstname.lastname@example.org to enter. Our Patreon page is also live, become a supporter today and you'll gain access to lots of goodies, including the Turn On Book Club and two for one raffle entries. And don't forget to send us your book recommendations and your sex and related questions. And follow us on Twitter, @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram, @TheTurnOnPodcast. You can find links to books, merch, transcripts, guest info, and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcast.com. Thanks so much for listening and we will see you soon. Bye.
The Turn On
The Turn On is a podcast for Black people who want to get off. To open their minds. To learn. To be part of a community. To show that we love and fuck too, and it doesn't have to be political or scandalous or dirty. Unless we want it to be.