SPARC Forums

Main Forums => Custody Issues => Topic started by: Heston on Dec 07, 2011, 12:10:00 PM

Title: Custody Issue ongoing....
Post by: Heston on Dec 07, 2011, 12:10:00 PM
I posted previously on the recent situation.  Summary: BM (ex wife) beat my son, who ran away and wanted to live with me instead of the BM. I filed an ex parte motion for an emergency custody order which, after an administration fiasco, was granted. I then filed a further motion for full custody and submitted an affidavit and some evidence to give clear reasons to back up my motion.  The judge did not read my motion or the affidavit.  He also said both motions were filed incorrectly.  The judge didn't see the reasons why I felt custody should be changed.  The ex lied.  She kept custody.  Courts are a farce, imo.
Now even though its normal practice to get joint custody, I didn't get joint custody of my son when we divorced about 13 years ago and perhaps nowadays I would have got joint custody.  My ex is mad as hell that I filed a motion recently because she is one of the many "unaccountable types".  To her mind, its OK to beat a child and heaven help anyone who says otherwise!  Although the judge refused to see the motions, the ex did see it as I was duty bound to send her a copy, hence her anger because I was trying to hold her accountable.  The judge told us we must go away and work out some house rules for the child and submit them to the court.  I had to pursue this with the ex and she finally met with me and handed me the meaningless rules she had written down.  She was very hostile.  I pointed out the rules should be better/different.  Made no difference.  The ex has always been spoiled and got her own way and is very hostile to anyone who doesn't cow tow.  So, bottom line is....I am wondering what I can do. 
First off, the clerk filed both my motions for me.  I had to pay almost $150 for each motion.  Surely if they were misfiled it would be down to the clerk?  I wonder if clerks purposely misfile motions filed by pro se litigants as I know how much lawyers hate pro se's.  It seems like everything is done to discourage anyone from filing a pro se motion.  If a clerk filed it, how can I ensure it's filed correctly?  Or are they all just lying?  I just don't know what to do on this issue.  (The court where I recently filed motions on my other child never claimed I misfiled them).
My son is temporarily swayed in favor of his mom - presumably some bribes have been going on.  Once the honeymoon period is over, the BM will treat him badly again.  He's a good kid but intimidated by the BM and her extended family.
Because of the apparent bias of the court and the hostility of the BM, I don't think I have a good chance of getting joint custody but wondered what others think?  I am currently unemployed but that will change in the fairly near future.  I have a house and I'm a good single dad.  The BM has had many husbands whom she has taken to court for domestic violence.  Does anyone know how I can get those records and whether they are available to a lay person?  I also need to get hospital records on my son but am not sure if I can subpoena them.  The hospital told me they have been forbidden by the BM from releasing my son's records.  If I could get hospital records and arrest records, would I have a decent chance of getting joint custody?  The BM lives within 8 miles so if there was joint custody it would be the best possible solution, since total custody appears out of the question.  The BM has a wealthy family who are also totally unethical, to put it nicely. Oh yes, and the BM is now preventing me from picking my child up from school, which I have been doing for several years.  The CO names his previous school and is therefore not able to be used to enforce my visitation rights.  The BM is also demanding that I pick my son up 4 hours later than I do currently.  She has full custody.  She's a control freak and she lies and does whatever she needs to do to ensure she stays in control.  Meanwhile, a judge claims I misfiled two motions, when I don't think I did, if they were misfiled at all it was the clerk who filed them once I paid the fees.  It's like judges ignore me because (a) I am currently acting pro se; and (b) I'm male. I am not sure what to do about all this, in the circumstances...
Due to recent injustices with both my children, I am feeling rather defeated, in terms of having any faith in the court system.  But if I could get joint custody I would very much like to.  I need more rights in order to protect my child because he is going to need more protection once the BM reverts to her normal MO with him.
Title: Re: Custody Issue ongoing....
Post by: Kitty C. on Dec 07, 2011, 02:11:35 PM
To be honest with you, Heston...I'm more concerned about the child's welfare than the custody issue right now.  And I believe you when you say that the BM will probably pick right back up from where she left off with the abuse.
You are also right in that the courts do not like pro se litigants.  You can wonder all day long about what happened to those filings, but in the end it really doesn't make any difference now, does it?  But what they WILL listen to and HAVE to listen to are any allegations of abuse.  The thing is, coming from you it will have little or no impact for the simple fact that you are a party to the situation.  In order to be effective, allegations of abuse must come from a 3rd party your son's case, from the school or doctor.  School officials and anyone in the medical profession are automatic mandatory reporters and they are required by law to report anything they see as suspicious. 
I am a mandatory reporter due to my involvement in EMS.  The penalties for neglecting or refusing to report abuse is substantial and can threaten a reporter's credentials and/or certifications.  A report of suspected abuse from the school has to be made to and investigated by DHS/CPS.  In your son's case, I don't know how much involvement you have with his school...or how tight the BM has them wound around her little finger....but that would be the best place to start.  His teachers see him often enough that they should be able to see whether there are signs of abuse.  You might want to have a convo with them to ask if they have ever observed that...and tell them that you will support them if they feel the need to report anything suspicious.
Title: Re: Custody Issue ongoing....
Post by: ocean on Dec 07, 2011, 05:03:54 PM
How detailed is your visitation plan?
Go back and modify the order and instead of asking for joint custody ask for things to be put into the order like:
-remove child old school with the words "current school"
-father will have access to all school, medical, dental, psych, hospital, and outside activities of the child
-father is allowed to all events at school and outside activities

The reason you are asking for change "mother has told current school not to release records to father as she says the last court names xx school and not the current school, Also mother has interfered with fathers visitation and changes times of pick-ups, father requests the following words:...... put what you want with days/times/pick up places. If at school, make it detailed and that they can not release to mother on fathers days.

I can not believe that you pay so much for filing. In NY it is FREE! Divorce costs a few hundred dollars but after that you deal with family court and those filings are all free.
Title: Re: Custody Issue ongoing....
Post by: Heston on Dec 14, 2011, 11:26:55 AM
Thanks Kitty and Ocean for your suggestions.  I agree that my child’s welfare is the most important thing here.  The only reason I had considered filing for joint custody was to give him an opportunity of living with me next time this happens to him, without filing for sole custody and putting him in the position of undergoing extreme pressure from the BM and her family, as happened recently.  I realize it’s very difficult to get sole custody when I currently only have visitation rights.  I do agree that filing for modification of the order is probably the best thing to do at this time.  The reason I’ve been pondering what happened re the mis-filings, was to avoid this if I file again.  The visitation plan is not detailed enough and I will try and get more detail put into the next one, if I can get the court to file my next motion correctly.  BTW, the county this court is in charges close to $150 per motion but the court in another county dealing with my other child does not charge anything. 

The current school is aware that my child was beaten recently, however, I would say that the BM has them twisted around her little finger.  She is very convincing.  So I do need a CO stating the “current school” and specifics relating to picking him up.  I did speak with the counselor and the principal at the school recently.  And yes, it would be a good idea to speak with them again and let them know I would support them if they feel the need to report anything suspicious.  I will do that.  Currently I am unable to see my son as I can no longer pick him up from school for midweek visitation (due to his mom’s recent actions with the school) and the CO states the BM is to bring him to my home for weekend parental time, but she refuses to do so.  If I were to go to her house instead she would most likely file an EPO or cause some other trouble.

My son has a serious medical condition that has been seriously neglected by the BM but I cannot get the medical records that would prove it.  The hospital did contact me once about it, but cannot release the information that would assist me in filing a motion.  I will check whether it can be subpoenaed or not.  Likewise, I am not sure if I can get the information about arrests concerning domestic violence.  When/if my son is attacked again, I will get a police report so there is a third party involved.  This recent time, it was only the school who knew about it.  I don’t think they reported it because they knew I had an emergency custody order and they probably thought, like I did, that the judge would deal with this issue.  Instead the judge refused to look at the motions so nothing was done besides ordering a parenting plan concerning homework, chores and the child keeping a check on his medical condition.
Title: Re: Custody Issue ongoing....
Post by: ocean on Dec 14, 2011, 12:39:12 PM
The school must call as they are mandated. So call cps and ask if there is a current case on your child. The school may not tell you but the next phone call, I would make sure to tell them that you know they are mandated reporters and that last incident should of been reported along with any future issues (including medical).

Title: Re: Custody Issue ongoing....
Post by: Kitty C. on Dec 14, 2011, 02:49:51 PM
The school is screwed..........if there is a suspicion of abuse, it MUST be reported within a certain length of time and I am sure that time has expired.  Mandatory reporting laws originate at the federal level, but states have enacted some variances....regardless, there's very little change from state to state.
Below are excerpts from Iowa MR Guidelines from Iowa DHS:
Education Educators may spend more hours per day with children than their families. That’s why the role of educators is vital in the mandatory reporting process. All licensed school employees, teachers, coaches and paraeducators are mandatory reporters. The involvement of educators in the reporting of child abuse is mandated or supported by federal standards and regulations and state laws, policies and procedures. Each of these government levels provides authority for, encourages, or mandates educator involvement in the reporting process by stating what is required of the educator and how that obligation is to be fulfilled. The primary authority at the federal level is the Federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. FERPA, which governs the release of information from school records, does not bar the reporting of suspected child abuse by educators. In the majority of cases, educators will be relying not on school records, but on their own personal knowledge and observations when reporting child abuse. Because no school records are involved in these cases, FERPA does not apply. In a small number of cases, it may be necessary to consult school records to determine whether a report of child abuse should be made. Ordinarily parental consent is required before information contained in school records can be released. However, there are exceptions that can apply in cases of child abuse.
How Do I Report Child Abuse?  According to Iowa Code section 232.70, if you are a mandatory reporter of child abuse and you suspect a child has been abused, you need to report it to the Department of Human Services. The law requires you to report suspected child abuse to DHS orally within 24 hours of becoming aware of the situation. You must also make a report in writing within 48 hours after your oral report. The employer or supervisor of a person who is a mandatory or permissive reporter shall not apply a policy, work rule, or other requirement that interferes with the person making a report of child abuse. As a mandatory reporter, you are also required to make an oral report to law enforcement if you have reason to believe that immediate protection of the child is necessary. The law requires the reporting of suspected child abuse. It is not the reporter’s role to validate the abuse. The law does not require you to have proof that the abuse occurred before reporting. The law clearly specifies that reports of child abuse must be made when the person reporting "reasonably believes a child has suffered abuse."
Sanctions for Failure to Report Child Abuse Iowa Code section 232.75 provides for civil and criminal sanctions for failing to report child abuse. Any person, official, agency, or institution required by this chapter to report a suspected case of child abuse who knowingly and willfully fails to do so is guilty of a simple misdemeanor. Any person, official, agency, or institution required by Iowa Code section 232.69 to report a suspected case of child abuse who knowingly fails to do so, or who knowingly interferes with the making of such a report in violation of section 232.70, is civilly liable for the damages proximately caused by such failure or interference.
Why can't the hospital release your son's records to you?  Is there a court order specifically stating that you are not allowed to have it?  If not, then you are certainly entitled to it....inform the hospital (and any other facility that you want his records from) that you will require the courts to demand that they provide the records to you....or they can just give them to you willingly to keep that from happening.
Something just doesn't seem right here, bad as you describe it and all the other issues involved (especially the medical ones), and if it were me, I'd be banging on doors, making phone calls and demanding that someone pay attention to what is happening to this poor child.  And I wouldn't stop until some kind of action was taken to protect him.  Right now, YOU might not have a legal right to get directly involved..........but there are others that certainly can and legally should.  Don't stop and don't take no as an answer, either.  Official entities like to push their weight around sometimes and try to buffalo people like us into thinking that we are powerless to do anything...but they are WRONG.  Just because they say that this is how it's done or there's nothing else they can do, don't believe them.  This isn't a time to maintain the status doing so, you could have a severely injured or dead child on your hands via the negligence of others.  Ask yourself this:  do you really trust them (school, hospital, DHS, etc.) enough to let them continue to call the shots?  Your answer will tell you what you must do next.....