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Main Forums => Father's Issues => Topic started by: devotedFather on Feb 21, 2006, 11:36:09 PM

Title: Father seeking advice & direction on custody - I’m lost
Post by: devotedFather on Feb 21, 2006, 11:36:09 PM
All,
My wife asked for a divorce this past weekend.  I’m lost for words.  Despite all our efforts, our relationship has been going down hill for years now.  For the past few years my new years resolution has been the same – bring back our loving relationship.  Unfortunately, I’m realizing that both parties have to have that vision.  

Even though I try, She hasn’t spoke to me in a while.  I just can’t believe this is happening and I’m looking for advice.  If this is really going to happen, what can I do to keep my day-to-day life with my kids?  I love them more than words can express and I can’t imagine not being a part of their daily lives, laughter, and growth.    

Since I hear that men are at disadvantage in gaining custody, I’m looking for information on child custody for men.  Specifically on  
    *  Easing the experience on my children
    *  Recommended Lawyers (I’m in the Atlanta, GA area)
    *  Evaluation questions to ask lawyers
    *  Books or other learning material I should read
    *  Forums like this where I learn more
    *  Most importantly any personal advice community members may have

Thank you for your time, insight, helpfulness and may our words help each other,
Ben
 
Title: To Quote Brent:
Post by: 4honor on Feb 22, 2006, 08:12:45 AM
One of the first things you'll hear is "Document, document, document!". Having good records is crucial, and these pages will help get you started:

Protecting Yourself During Divorce
http://www.deltabravo.net/custody/protect.htm

Tips For Getting Started
http://www.deltabravo.net/news/10-19-2000.htm

How To Hire An Attorney
http://www.deltabravo.net/custody/hiring.htm

Hiring An Effective Attorney
http://www.deltabravo.net/custody/effective.htm

Success Factors In Obtaining Custody
http://www.deltabravo.net/custody/tips.htm

Some of these pages will apply more than others, but they all have valuable information. Also, get yourself either the Parenting Time Tracker (PTT) or the OPTIMAL Custody Tracking service at: http://www.parentingtime.net. The PTT is good, but the OPTIMAL service is better.

As someone else mentioned, you've GOT to get an attorney, and a father-friendly one that's familiar with Family Law. You may find one near you here:

http://deltabravo.net/custody/attysearch.php

Please know that whatever you fail to achieve now will cost you twenty times as much to change later.

God Bless!


Title: RE: To Quote Brent:
Post by: reellis527 on Feb 22, 2006, 09:42:20 AM
Persona advice that I would like to offer you, and remember I live in Maryland so states vary.

My fiance has his daughter every other week and was able to do so because he was able to prove it would be more beneficial to the child (the child is in daycare not school).  So I think your mest bet would to state how much you love your children and to state and express how negatively it could effect them if your participation was dwindled down to every other weekend.  Also fight for joint legal custody, therefore you have to agree and be made aware of all decisions, stay active in the school like, plan activites for the kids, enroll the girls in dance lessons, put the boys in basketball camp.  Do things that show your interests are soley and particularly in their best interests and that you could honestly care less about the mother.  Your best bet is to not attack her as a mother (unless she is abusive or something) and portray yourself as the loving father you are, don't make it bitter or make yourself to be better, you are both equal and you deserve the same amount of time she would get right?

Hope that helped
Title: RE: To Quote Brent:
Post by: reagantrooper on Feb 23, 2006, 05:20:37 AM
Put ALL of your feeling that you may have for her aside! ITS OVER! Regardless of the "ideal co-parenting case" she is now your enemy and must be defeated. Dont let her know that this is how you see her, be civil with her.

Document anything and EVERYTHING.

Love you Kids and make damn sure they know you do.

NEVER EVER miss you Parenting time, I mean NEVER!

Never speak ill of there Mom to them. They dont need to hear it.

Watch for signs of PAS and squash them by ALL means ASAP! PAS is real!

Stay involved in you case dont just turn it over to the atorney, you are his/her boss. Take his advise with a grain of salt and you make the decisions. Document EVERTIME and ANYTIME you deal with him/her. Get a monthly itemized invoice. Time and therfore money will add up FAST!

Educate yourself with these matters.

Good luck!!!!!!!!
Title: RE: To Quote Brent:
Post by: futureuselesseater on Feb 23, 2006, 06:30:21 AM
I disagree, if you make someone your enemy the more it gets nasty and the less you can coparent with them.

I suggest you try and work as much as you can with your ex, at the same time spending as much time as you can with your kids.

Maybe talk to her about getting into Coparenting Counseling while you are going through this divorce so you both can keep things easy going while dealing with courts, etc...
Title: RE: To Quote Brent:
Post by: devotedFather on Feb 23, 2006, 07:36:19 AM
I wish I could slow it down and exercise co-parenting counseling but she is already on full steam and I have yet to find a local lawyer.  If anyone in my area has a suggestion please let me know.  There are hundreds of family attorneys and the task is daunting.

Thanks for the information on PAS.  I had to look it up and found a good resource at (http://www.houstonpbs.org/site/PageServer?pagename=con_children_family_court).  I believe my kids are too young for this.  Although, I’ve already experienced "alienating" behaviors or tactics that are very disturbing.  I would never stoop to that level and I’m concerned it’s a telling sign of things to come.  

Thanks to all for the documenting advice.  I’ve adopted it and have started a daily log documenting all our/my interactions.  Hopefully this will help me in the long run.  This feedback has been very helpful and any other suggestions are very welcomed.  
Title: RE: To Quote Brent:
Post by: futureuselesseater on Feb 23, 2006, 07:42:13 AM
You have any friends that have divorced?  Ask them what lawyer they used and if they were pleased with them.  It is tough to find a good lawyer, but if you want to know they are good and not some person that just wants to settle and isn't a good litigator.

I know your ex is moving things fast and it is going to get heated.  But whatever you do, don't demonize her, hate her more than you already do at this point.  It won't help.  I'm not saying don't fight and don't ask for what you want, as I would never recommend that.  I'm just saying if you can do your best to get along with her the better it is in the end for your kids and you!
Title: Time and cost expectations
Post by: devotedFather on Feb 23, 2006, 07:47:17 AM
Given recent events, I’m beginning to believe this will be a drawn out divorce.  What type of timeline should I expect?  What type of lawyer fees should I expect and maybe this is best expressed in lawyer hours? – I’m unsure.
Thanks for your time!
Title: Our Experience
Post by: 4honor on Feb 23, 2006, 11:05:51 AM
DH divorced in 1994. HE was pro se, but used some legal help services. TOtal cost $400. He got a legal reaming and an unenforceable parenting plan/custody order.

Fast forward to 2002. He goes in again pro Se, but this time with 6 years of documentation for a CS order and alot of advice from SPARC, and got a $100/mo reduction in CS and BM had to split all expenses 50/50 instead of the 83 (DH)/17 (BM) proportion she had.

Again, in 2004, BM was trying to move out of state on the sly. DH hired a lawyer to fight custody, as DH was too scared to try Pro Se on this. We spent $8K on preparation for court and ONE day in court. And another $2200 after that to finalize the TEMPORARY ORDERS we got out of it. The judge found at the hearing that there was "abusive use of conflict" on BOTH parents [if she is unreasonable and you do nothing but stand up for yourself, you may be considered guilty of the conflict too]. And the Judge stated that the order was so ambiguous as to be unenforceable and to get an enforceable one in front of him before the day was out. He ordered that SS be taken to counseling. He also ordered every other weekend beginning with __________ date. He ordered that BM had to discuss SS' medical issues with DH prior to getting any non-emergency treatment (to save life or limb) for the boy. (Because she scheduled surgery with no notification, ADHD medication over the objections of DH, etc.)

There is over 100 miles difference between us and SS. DH works evenings, and that makes a midweek visit next to impossible.

Circumstances changed in our case and the order is not enforceable under those circumstances, but because there is only 2.5 years to go, we are not going to try to change the current TEMPORARY ORDERS. The costs versus the outcome is not a worthwhile trade.

So Divorce $400, Modification $10,200.00 (incomplete). (Our Attorney was a pitt bull and worth every penny of the $200/hr. She loved the PTT and the journal with every page titled "To my Attorney")

Spend what is necessary to get a workable, enforceable order NOW. Once the first order is in place, you will need proof that BM went to jail for "soliciting the judge and trying to sell him the crack she manufactures in her kitchen in front of your child" to get it changed.

The best word of advice DH ever got was, "Behave at all times toward your ex, as if you are standing in front of the judge." The second best was, "Carry a pocket recorder if you think your ex is likely to set you up for false allegations... the misdemeanor charge you may get from recording without permission is nothing compared to the damage allegations of rape/abuse/threats can do to you."
Title: RE: Time and cost expectations
Post by: Happyno on Feb 23, 2006, 11:08:15 AM
I don't know all of your situation but if you stay the loving father your kids may want to come and live with you someday if you don't get full custody of them now.  My ss moved in with us 2 years ago.  He talked about it when he turned 12 and changed his mind.  Now he is 16 and is here for good.  We always thought that it would happed but were surprised when it did.  
Title: RE: Father seeking advice & direction on custody - I’m lost
Post by: davisjames on Feb 24, 2006, 06:33:30 AM
My advice.....Don't move out.  Make her do it.  Keep the kids with you because that is their home.  Don't deny them the right to see their mom but do not give up your every day routine with them.  Attempt to adjust your work schedule so that you can spend as much time with them as possible.  Go in and conference with their teachers and principle and let them know about the drastic changes coming in their lives and establish a line of communication between the staff and yourself to discuss any struggles your kids may have as a result of the split.  Go immediately and file for temporary custody during the seperation based on the fact that you are staying in their home and they need the stability right now.  Think carefully before you say or do anything regarding your kids because your every move needs to be based around them right now. I know it is hard because you are going through a rough time to but these efforts will pay off.  I did not take my own advice because I wanted to divorce to be over with as quickly as possible so I agreed to a lot of things verbally that I should not have.  It took my 3 years to get back 1/2 of the time with my daughter.  Start out with everything but do not undermine the importance of a relationship with their mother.  Remember this....the court believes that it is best for your kids to have a good relationship with you and their mother.  WHen their mom goes into court and wants full everything you can put her in a legal box.  You are asking for substantial time for both of you while she is being selfish.  NOW WHO CARES ABOUT THE RIGHT THING FOR THE KIDS.  Find an attorney who has a passion for your case and go with your gut.  

James
Title: RE: Father seeking advice & direction on custody - I’m lost
Post by: davisjames on Feb 24, 2006, 06:41:16 AM
I noticed that someone else gave the tape recorder advice.......It really works.  Find one that you can hook up to your phone line and take along with you.  I purchased a tape recorder at Wal-Mart for 30 bucks and a device to hook it up to my phone line for another 30.  My x has gone so far as to admit on the phone that she filed false police reports against me.  It's really been quite useful.  Just remember that you should check your states laws regarding phone taping because I live in Michigan I can record any call to my phone but can only use the ones I am a part of in court.  IE I can tape record my x's conversations with my daughter (which I don't usually do but sometimes she talks to her mom and then her mom wants to talk to me again so the recorder is still running) but I cannot use those tapes for anything because I was not a part of the conversation.

Title: Questions for lawyers.....
Post by: msme on Feb 26, 2006, 06:48:32 AM
I know someone else said this but I will repeat it & add to it. When you HIRE a lawyer, that person WORKS for you. You are the employer & just as your employer oversees your work, so you must do the same with your case. It is your job to know what you want & make sure you communicate it to the lawyer.

This is going to be expensive but remember that a cheap attorney is like a cheap tatoo. It is painful, the results stink & it costs a bundle to repair the damage.

Interview several & ask the following questions:

Are you or any members of your firm a Board Certified Family Law & Custody Specialist? (this is most important, you need a specialist)

What percentage of your firms clients are fathers seeking custody?

What is your firms success rate in defending these types of cases?

If they are reluctant to answer those questions, along with any others you have, or you are not comfortable with their answers, RUN & find another.

Good luck & God bless.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression!
Title: RE: Father seeking advice & direction on custody - I’m lost
Post by: mishelle2 on Feb 27, 2006, 10:04:09 AM
I totally agree when they said DONT MOVE OUT OR ALLOW YOUR CHILDREN TO, TELL HE IF SHE WANTS TO GO, THEN GO BUT YOUR CHILDREN ARE NOT LEAVING, THEN I BELIEVE YOU CAN FILE FOR TEMP CUSTODY,AND AS THAT THE CHILDREN REMAIN IN THE HOME,.. POST ON SOCS BOARD HE IS A LOT OF HELP