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Messages - durandal

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>Why can't your attorney be present at the hearing?

A: I believe that she cannot appear due to the fact that she was retained at such a late date (last week), and has obligations already scheduled for that date.  She gave me a letter stating that she would give the court the dates which she can be present. From what I have researched, she is a very good family lawyer, and comes highly recommended from several sources within the family court field here.

Its somewhat relieving to know that the financial issues, which are short-term, will not (or, perhaps I should say probably won't) negatively impact my case. I'm trying my best to get my things together for my daughter's sake.

Thank you very much...

I am contesting custody of my 9mo. old daughter. My first court date is Feb 22, and I have retained an atty. but my atty. is requesting a continuance due to the fact that she is unable to be present at that court appearance.

Up until now, I have been visiting the child at the BM home. I visited quite a bit initially, sometimes for three or four days in a given week. Over the course of several months, that ground to a halt as I couldn't get any cooperation from the BM on visitation outside of the home. I saw my daughter last on Jan. 1st.

The baby had her 9 mo. well-baby immunizations scheduled for Feb. 15th, but the BM cancelled the appointment and told the doc's office that she would reschedule. She hasn't rescheduled, and the BM doesn't know I've been in constant communication with the pediatrician. This comes after the BM telling me that her and Jasmine were going out of town last weekend, which I have found out was also not true. I'm very afraid that she has some unknown medical reason for not taking the baby to be seen by the doctor.

When in court my atty. suggested that, in addition to the continuance, I ask for temporary visitation. I also have scheduled a doctors appt. on Feb. 23, the day after the court date. I want to ask the judge that I be allowed immediate visitation starting on that day (Thurs.), or Friday morning, so I can take my daughter to the doctor, and have at least the remainder of the weekend to try to 'rebond' with her.

Question #1 - Is it feasable that, given the circumstances, the judge is likely to grant this request? (Note: I also have photos of my living arrangements and the baby's room complete with photos of furnishings, clothing, food and essential supplies necessary for the weekend visit.)

Now, over the past nine month's, I've had the 'perfect storm' of financial woes (child support - which I initiated, student loan payments, and an auto reposession garnishment). After struggling for several months trying to juggle everything (and still buying items for my child outside of my cupport obligations) i finally was evicted from my apt. It has forced me to begin steps for filing for bankrupcy. In fact, I've already paid the atty. fees for filing and fully intend to follow-thru with this.

If left with student loans, I could very comfortably afford another apartment, and to take custody of my daughter and care for her. I already have moved into a much improved, smoke-free home in a good neighborhood, and can stay there as long as necessary (rent-free) until I can get past the financial hurdles.

I also have made arrangements with my work supervisor, who, along with his wife who takes care of their four daughters during the day, to provide free day-care for my baby for as long as necessary. In addition, I have a stand-by sitter who I've known for several years, also with two preschool daughters, just in case.

Question #2 - I'm thring to get my financial house in order - will the bankrupcy issues hurt or help? (Note: The BM is on welfare, smokes in her home, has worked for two months in the four years that I've known her.)

Thanks for the response!

Dear Socrateaser / RE: New father, new custody case, old troubles
« on: Feb 07, 2007, 10:02:47 AM »

>If you are saying that unless you get financial relief, you will have to >go it alone in court, my answer is you don't have a chance at getting >custody.

I'm not being clear. I WILL retain an attorney.

>2) Will my financial status outweigh her attempts to frustrate
>my parenting?
>I don't understand the question.

I'm trying to understand if (in the courts' analysis) the matter of the CP constantly attempting to minimize my involvement with the child is as serious, or more/less serious an issue as being in a temporary financial hardship. I have a good job, stable income, but last fall the 'perfect storm' hit me, and it has taken me this long to resolve the matters. In six months (most likely much sooner), the financial issues will be irrelevant and I am certain I will be able to support a child and myself with my income.

>It's up to the judge. I wouldn't count on it.
>I don't know what stage you're in.

I lumped these two together - basically I filed my first petition for custody, visitation and child support all at the sime time - last November.
Feb. 22 is the first day that I will appear in court for these petitions. Nothing else has transpired w/ regards to these issues. I'm trying to determine what I need to appear with on that date. Will I need to have the attorney there for this, the first court date? Will I need to have witnesses/evidence subpoena'd to appear at the first court date?

>Ordinarily, this is a bad idea because it makes you look hostile and >vindictive. But, in this case, because the CP's history is so overt, I >think it's the way to go.

Yes, and I neglected to mention that her aunt (the only family member who still communicates with her in any way) helped another of the fathers to get custody from her, and if subpoena'd, will testify on my behalf. She knows the CP, and how she behaves.


Dear Socrateaser / New father, new custody case, old troubles
« on: Feb 06, 2007, 05:32:32 PM »
I am a 40 year old, single non-custodial father of a nine month old infant girl – my only child – I am seeking custody thru the courts here in Virginia Beach, VA. Two weeks after birth, I filled out papers with the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) to confirm paternity, and, if positive to begin support payments. This I did of my own free will for my daughter’s sake. I declined signing the birth certificate at the hospital because I was uncertain that the child was my own.

Since birth, I have been as responsible as possible – I have been there since birth trying to participate in her life. The CP has been using the child to manipulate me in attempts to foster a relationship that will not work. I have not been allowed to spend time with my daughter outside of the CP’s home since birth, and to this day have had to parent my daughter at the CP’s home under the mother’s watchful eye. The mother has told anyone who will listen that I am an absentee father, and has been able to generate plenty of outreach support and welfare payments during this time.

In October while visiting my daughter, the CP and I were in a heated argument about this arrangement and I left. Later that week, I was arrested for assault and battery, and released on recognizance. The case was later dropped by the Prosecuting Attorney’s with the CP’s agreement. I refused taking anger management classes since I didn’t do anything wrong – and her written statements are so blatantly false that I believe any judge reviewing them will see them for what they are.

She even violated the restraining order of no contact issued against me as a result of this. She called asking me to call her – in essence soliciting me to violate the restraining order – which I did not do. After that incident, I filed the petition for custody. My court date is Feb 22 – just a few weeks from now.

Since then, my situation has gone from normal to SNAFU. I was living with roommates at the time, but the combination of support payments, school loan repayments and an auto repossession have crippled me financially. I have been forced to move in with a co-worker and share a condo with her and her grandmother. None of us smoke in the home – I don’t smoke at all.

I will need to file bankruptcy to get back on my feet. I am employed full time with the same employer for over four years. I have had difficulty with paying bills, traffic tickets, etc. (and still have some outstanding) but have never missed any support payments. I am seeking forebearance with the student loans but haven’t heard anything yet.

The CP has five children, ages 4, 5, 12, 14 and our girl. CP has lost custody of all four and only has my daughter. She is a convicted felon for domestic violence. She owes $3K of back child support for her two youngest, and would have been jailed save the fact that she was pregnant at the time of her trial. I feel she is going to try to use last year’s taxes (since I now cannot say that the child was with me at least part time) to pay her past due support. She always comments on sending their father a empty envelope for payment.

The CP lives with a sixty year old man (she’s 34) who she claims to take care of. They both smoke in the home, at least a pack a day for each of them. He has COPD (chronic bronchitis), receives S.S. for his disability, and can’t even lift the baby up much less offer any real assistance in caring for her. In the five years that I’ve known her, she’s worked a total of two months at a job and quit because she couldn’t get along with management.

I charged her with annoying ringing in December to stop her from making excessive calls, sometimes 40 to 50 times a night in the middle of the night, always swearing, making statements about moving out of town with my daughter, saying that she doesn’t trust me with taking my own child out of her home, having men call at 4 am, etc. I have this all recorded – she left messages on my answering machine leaving her name clearly in the messages. But because I could not afford an attorney at the time, she was able to lie and manipulate her way out of the charge – the judge dropped the case.

I was unfamiliar with the subpoena process and failed to get the tape evidence admitted to the courtroom. Prior to this trial, I had went before a magistrate twice in the past and was told that I couldn’t do anything about her phone calls until the time she violated the restraining order. I don’t want to make that mistake twice. She has since called my job and lied, telling an office worker that I stole something from her home.

Since then, I have been buying baby furniture, clothing and joined a group called Fathers In Training sponsored by the Virginia Dept of Social Services. Its for fathers who have been court ordered to attend conflict resolution classes and to learn better parenting skills – again I did this of my own free will. I haven’t been to see my daughter for about a month now – I don’t want to risk the CP fabricating some trap to get me in trouble – and of course it hurts me to be away from my child. Although I’m no stranger to raising kids (I’ve helped with my brothers’ and have two godchildren), I also have a network of friends and several babysitters lined up who are also close friends.

My questions are:

1) Given my severe financial difficulty now, which would be alleviated with bankruptcy, reduced or eliminated support payments, and forebearance (or at least reduction) in loan payments, do I have any chance of gaining custody of my daughter?

2) Will my financial status outweigh her attempts to frustrate my parenting?

3) In the event that I am unable to secure the attorney I have chosen (I have about half of her retainer’s fee), is it likely that the courts will grant an continuance for that reason? They haven’t been very understanding up until now.

4) I want to be *as ready as possible* given the situation, but any fees I pay for subpoena’s now comes out of my retainer savings. Do I need to subpoena people, documents and evidence now, at this stage, or will their likely be hearings, court ordered tests and visits, etc. before I get to subpoenas?

5) I don’t see joint custody as a viable alternative – she will only use it as a tool to create a crisis and try to do damage to me or to get the child back. What are the courts likely to think - given our history?

6) I’m not trying to remove the child from the CP’s life, I just feel that if I were the CP, I would be more fair and willing to share the responsibility equally, something her mother is not able to do. What weight will this have in the courts view?

If you have any other advice (other than get that retainer fee – doggedly working on that) I would greatly appreciate it!

Visitation Issues / QUESTIONS: VIRGINIA Parenting Plans
« on: Apr 11, 2007, 10:47:16 AM »
I recently had my interview with the LCSW that is doing my home study, and she asked me about the BM's visitation schedule should I be awarded physical custody of our child. I was somewhat unsure on what a good schedule would be. This is in Virginia.

I had thought about this, but the LCSW got me to the point of seriously thinking about this - I really should have a solid parenting plan submittted to the court before the next hearing date. I've tried to find the necessary court forms for parenting plan motions which are Virginia specific, but to no avail.

I can't really afford to buy one (the family court system is a grotesque cash cow for the legal profession anyway), so I decided to make on of my own.

I did find others, and specifically I found one from the state of Oregon -they had several - and the one in particular adresses domestic abuse, substance abuse and im my opinion addresses our circumstances well.

Although my main motivation is twofold 1) maintaining a mother-child relationship; and 2) protecting the physical and emotional well-being of our daughter, I can't deny the fact that I think it will help show the court that I am serious about my daughter's welfare and not just looking to fight.

QUESTION 1: I was going to use the forms as a TEMPLATE to develop a viable plan, and was wondering if that would be a good idea. Of course, I don't plan to actually use the Oregon documents.

QUESTION 2: Although the Judge has the power to throw the document out anyway, what potential pitfalls might doing this pose?

Any other advice would be appreciated.

durandal - in my own private thermopylae

Visitation Issues / RE: Q about Show Cause and visitation
« on: Mar 14, 2007, 03:53:59 PM »
Hello all,

Thanks for the help. I will try to clarify some points so you can all have a better informed opinion:

>You should be exchanging the child in a public place like a police >station to avoid ANY problems.

A) We exchange at a police precinct as it is stipulated in the temp. visitation agreement.

>However, I think NO you can not do a "Motion to Show Cause" >because you have a temporary order, not a permanent order.

A) I'm certain of my right to issue a Show Cause - I spoke to a magistrate about this.

>You say you have PROOF or documentation...

A) Documentation is both recorded voicemail messages from CP and from two-way conversations taped w/ verified consent. Time and dates are also recorded, cross-referenced w/ phone company records. My recordings span more than the entire time the child has been born, since the CP started her manipulations before birth. Most contain admissions of the following;

threats to leave the state with the child;
threats to give the child to social services;
opinions that I don't care/provide for the child;
verbal derogatory statements about the bench
and verbal threats to disobey court orders...

>I'm gonna bet that your temporary order is vague...

A) Not so vague. Visits are at a specific time of the week, place of transfer and for a very specific duration. CP has already given the bench reason to 'pay attention' by unusual, unfounded requests for supervision and reluctance to agree to basic, temporary visitation at the initial pleading. Order was violated second week of visitation.

>getting a transcript of the recording IN as evidence is difficult in many >courtrooms.

A) Agreed. But I'm having full transcripts, indexed, done by mom, who is a retired a court recorder and a notary for juvenile court in a different jurisdiction. It is much easier, from what I've researched, to get both my future atty. and judges to pay attention to written words BACKED UP by actual recordings.

>She will say that she was looking out in the best interest of the child by >keeping them in bed to recover.

A) Yes, she will say this. BUT CP will then have to explain why she was calling middle of the night claiming 'emergency', was capable of taking the child to the ER, yet refused. When questioned, she changed her tune and said that the cost of the visit outweighed the severity. CP will also need to explain why she had, a few days prior, said that she may "be late" for the transfer, and also on another message claimed that if I didn't return her calls on demand that she would not be at the transfer. CP might need to explain why only a few hours after the appointed time the child suddenly was feeling better. CP might also need to explain to the bench why she admitted 'not caring' what the order said. All recorded with consent.

>I agree with you on this, but I thought I remembered other posts from >this person and there has been a pattern being established here where >mom doesn't want child to go with dad at all.

A) Total of eight hours away from the CP's home w/ child in 10 months on two seperate occasions, both court ordered - yet BM wouldn't mind one bit if I moved into the home tomorrow... I'd say that's putting it rather mildly.

>There could be a multitude of reasons why a child would run a fever
>(teething for example).

A) That was the 'emergency'... I hope you're just psychic...

>I think I'd just find a way to get the attorney involved now rather than >later. This sounds like it's going to be a contentious battle, so don't go >into it unarmed.

A) I understand that, and I'm making great progress. I'm not as financially crippled as I was just two months ago, and I've interviewed and about to retain a great atty.

Its a pity that we cannot cooperate for the sake of our child. I really have tried time and time again, with the same result. This is what I face - someone who ostensibly will try to appear cooperative, but who is really hell bent and will stop at almost nothing to destroy my relationship with the only child I've ever had. She's just waiting for any misstep.

I'm not a military person (much respect), but I 'feel' like I'm in a war nonetheless, being hunted, everywhere, with no quarter, relentlessly with the sole objectives of breaking my spirit or taking my 'hypothetical' life.

Visitation Issues / Q about Show Cause and visitation
« on: Mar 12, 2007, 03:24:15 PM »

NCP here. All reside in VA.

Have a Order of Visitation (temporary) pending a continued case. Seeking full-custody.

Week two of the court order, CP violated order (no show) for visitation. Claimed child had a fever, but not a medical emergency. Days' prior had suggested in various ways that she would not be at visitation - have CP admissions and documentation. Challenged the Judge both in court by protesting any visitation, and later outside of court, by documented admissions. Basically just manipulated the situation so she could get away with denying visitation.

My problem is - I've retained a laywer have not fully paid the retainer fee... so am not really represented yet. Will have this paid in a few weeks. Can I issue a Show Cause order on my own or does my atty. need to do this?

Does the fact that the Show Cause is a few weeks old diminish the seriousness of the violation in the eyes of the courts?

I've bothered Soc enough, just looking for opinions from you folks.


Custody Issues / RE: I don't know what your agreement states...m
« on: Jun 13, 2008, 09:02:37 AM »
Nothing in the order about relocating. But it does have pretty specific visitation arrangements, which is the typical 'alternating weekends and weekday overnight' deal.

As far as the Name Change goes, here in Virginia and Major (meaning last name) change must be ordered by a judge before vital records will make the change.

Custody Issues / Questions on Relocation and Major Name Changes...
« on: Jun 12, 2008, 04:52:34 PM »
Hello SPARC Members & Guests,

I'm here to ask for opinions about two things. One of the things that I didn't fully comprehend during my initial custody dispute was that they (disputes) often are ongoing and surface again - sometimes years later.

Just to get some facts out of the way - I am the bio-dad, and have primary physical custody and joint legal custody of a two-year old child. I have been the primary for about a year - before that the bio-mom was the primary. We were never married - nor have we ever lived together, and we all reside in Virginia. During the first year, I maintained frequent and close contact with the child, filed my own child support papers/dna testing apps two-weeks after birth, and never missed a single payment - in fact I overpaid every month. I was granted custody because the bio-mom refuses to work, chain smokes in the home, has a criminal record and routinely engaged in manipulation/frustration of my access to our child. I know what you're thinking, but its water under the bridge...

Since I have been granted custody, I have been the parent to provide for 95% of the childs' financial needs, and the majority of her other needs as well. The bio-mom misses visitations sporadically, sometimes frequently, still doesn't work, still smokes in her home, and is now almost a year in arrears on her very modest (in comparison to my past) support payments. She has never paid even a penny of her support payments to her child, not to mention her other four - you read it right, (4) support obligations. Once again, water/bridge...

I'm contemplating going back to court to get our child's last name changed. The last time I asked about this, I was attacked by a very angry person who knew nothing about my case history. Please, if you need background information just ask, or better yet, check my posts - they tell *most of* the whole story. I want to do this for a few reasons - first is that I'm finding it very awkward when it comes to daycare arrangements - some of you know the drill- people mistakenly assume we have the same last name..., funny looks..., gossip..., etc. Now I can stand up to this, but what about the child, what happens when they're old enough to comprehend the subtle (and not so subtle) snubs you get?
My second reason is that the child was not given my last name as an attack - it was a deliberate act meant to harm me and to be used against me whenever she so chose. In not so many words (and not as nice ones either), she has made it clear that this was one of her modes of manipulating and aggravating me.

The other thing I'd like to get some advice on is relocating. I've wanted to leave Virginia since before our child was even conceived - for reasons both personal and financial. To put it mildly, I don't see myself staying here, the culture is very different from my own upbringing, and my opportunities for financial prosperity here seem exceedingly distant. To add to this problem, I have no relatives in the area, with the exception of our child and her mom. In essence, my support network is hundreds of miles away. This was not a problem when it was just me, and it would have been okay with the right mom, but not as it stands. I am planning to relocate to a city where my relatives live, and where I stand a chance of making a good living. Keep in mind, the childs' mom does nothing to support her child other than her occasional visitation.

So, having said enough, what say you?

Custody Issues / Question about responding to show causes in VA
« on: Oct 23, 2007, 02:15:51 PM »
Both myself, our daughter and the BM reside in Virginia.

We are due to go back to court in early November for a six-month 'evaluation' of our case. So far it has been a rocky six-months, but I have done everything in my power to comply with the court's orders, to provide for our daughter and to try and keep the BM actively involved in her daughter's life as well. It hasn't been easy, mostly because the BM has fought me tooth and nail on everything.

I was recently served with multiple OSC (show cause) motions by the BM for what she alleges are issues of non-compliance with out court order. She had these served at my place of employment (of course, this went over just lovely!) since its where I am most of the business day.

I'm not concerned at all about the allegations, since there are several very credible witnesses, who will be in court to testify about the BM's behavior w/regards to court order that she claims I have totally disregarded. Her claims are unfounded, and I'm sure it will bear out in court.

My question has to do with writing an answer for each of these, which I plan to do. Generally speaking, do I have to provide the BM with a copy of my answer, or just the court? Our court date is in two weeks, so I plan to get this on the record ASAP.

Then again, as I stated before, the BM has totally shot her credibility, and as such it should be quite evident for all to see that she is vindictive and mean-spirited. In light of this, I'm wondering if I should even bother filing responses with the court.

If anyone has any advice on how I should proceed, please let me know, and thanks in advance!

P.S. - sparrowmom please don't post my threads!


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