View Full Version : any lawyers?
03-07-04, 01:04 AM
Does the safehouse community have any lawyers knowledgable in child custody? And more than that, willing to discuss a situation like that in their free time - cuz it's doubtful I can head off to where ever ya work and talk about it there
Basically, my friends ex boyfriend has 'primary residential custody' of their children. He has told her that if she dates or spends time with any guys and he finds out about it, he's going to move from Florida to North Carolina to keep her from being able to have visitation.
I know there are laws against doing something like that, but in the online research I've been doing, it seems like it all falls down when it comes to enforcing those laws.
He has some bigshot attorney, and she just has legal aid, and her legal aid attorney has basically advised her that she would have trouble doing anything about it if he decided to make good on his threat.
And aside from the obvious (to me) wrongness of the situation, I @#%$ want to continue dating her!!
Some more details, for what it's worth.
He makes roughly 3x as much as she does.
He's claiming to have hired a PI to watch her and report to him if she does see anyone in her free time. Whether its true or not, she's unwilling to risk it, which is what she told me this morning and started my information hunt.
When the original custody dispute occured, she was working 2 jobs to his one, and he lives with his mother, which gives him a built in babysitter. She has no family to speak of. Currently they both work only one job, but he works more hours and is salaried to her much lower hourly wage.
He works for a nationwide company that would allow him to relocate basically anywhere without a loss in wages.
The three children involved are a three year old and 1 yr old twins, so they obviously have no say in the matter.
Years of being bullied and pushed around by him leaves her in what seems to be an almost universally submissive frame of mind. When he does things like hit her (domestic violence? assault and battery?) to punish her for (insert infraction here) or takes her cell phone and computer away from her to his house (theft?) to keep her from using them to communicate with...well, mostly me...he then uses similar threats (that is, involving her children) to keep her from reporting him - which would give her a much stronger case if she were ever able to get up the courage to have him arrested for it.
They had an informal agreement where she was allowed to see the kids basically anytime she wanted, but he also holds that over her head, saying that he'll tell the judge she isn't having the children on her scheduled visitation days. Also, his family has proven willing to lie in court for him in the past.
Obviously, there isn't anything I can do for her myself. I've been researching what I can on the 'net tonight, and in divorce and custody chatrooms, but the only things that sound like they have any authority quickly move into legalise that I can't be sure I'm understanding correctly.
Thus I return to the only large source of living information that I can think of - The SafeHouse.
Is there any advice out there?
03-07-04, 01:56 AM
does she know anyone that can make him disappear into the everglades............
Earth Destroyed by Solarflare. Video at Eleven
Theres something on the Wing....
03-07-04, 02:35 AM
I don't want to butt in here but this does sound quite fishy to me. And all information I know of custody is only from having went through divorce myself, and a friends one. ( both touched custody matters)
First off, the two were not married? And the guy has her kids? The question of why he has her kids in the first place comes up. Sorry to think in ways like this, but have you seen the guy push her around, and claim he would leave the state for her not to see her children? Is all she states true in fact?
This is as far as I know not legal what so ever, she is the mother to these children, and he probably is simply trying to force her into submission or trying to hurt her by using the children as tools. His mother seems part of it being that she must be babysitting the children, and more or less claiming them as 'hers'.
The idea that she should not be dating is ludicruous, she does not have the children, so there is really no reason to this as simple 'cruelty' on the ex boyfriends side. If this is all true.
Perhaps it be a good idea to check with a real lawyer, and maybe she should not be doing this alone. Also I would try to check on all paperwork existing on the case, a little bit I assume is that she has gotten into this without knowing what she would lose.
Before you pay for all though, I would suggest you and her talk things over quite a bit, she will have to know what she wants, does she want the children back? Does she want him to stop bullying her, fixed visitation rights etc etc. All these things can go in front of the court, and be fixed on dates and times and everything.
Sometimes social services are quite helpful with information, perhaps are able to pinpoint you to a lawyer who's main field would be custody matters. Otherwise I would suggest find a real lawyer as quick as possible and simply deal with the costs as a necessity.
Senny, ret Pally.
03-07-04, 04:24 AM
First, I think that asking for legal advice at the safehouse is akin to asking for medical advice. Not a good idea. I know there is 1 lawyer who visits our boards, but I am not going to name them as it would be their choise to get involved.
That said, I wonder if she could record what this guy sais. Start recording phone calls and conversations. Then report it to the media or his company. His company is not going to want to have the general public find out that he is using them to separate a mother and her children if he moves. And the media would probably love to do a "channel 10 investigates" type story on "parents using custidy to control their former spouses".
03-07-04, 07:01 AM
From The First Amendment Handbook:
Quote:Of the 50 states, 38, as well as the District of Columbia, allow you to record a conversation to which you are a party without informing the other parties you are doing so. Federal wiretap statutes also permit one-party-consent recording of telephone conversations in most circumstances. Twelve states forbid the recording of private conversations without the consent of all parties. Those states are California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington.
03-07-04, 07:50 AM
As to why he has the kids in the first place.
1) He makes more money.
2) He'd had his job much longer. She was changing jobs a lot, and was told that her lack of employment stability was a contributing factor.
3) He lives with his mom, who doesn't work, and that gives him a built in babysitter.
4) During the initial custody dispute, she was working 2 jobs, which didn't leave her with much free time to take care of them.
5) When she had custody, she was letting his mom babysit them, and since he and his mom live together, that allowed him to say that they spent most of the time at his house already.
So far as how much I know for certain - I've seen her on numerous occasions with bruises on her arms that she's attributed to him, or more recently that she simply refuses to explain. I've seen him get loud and threatening with her (the cook who used to be a marine went outside and told him he could calm down, leave, or be broken) and the other night he called her at work, according to her claiming he was leaving and taking the kids, then she got all hysterical and left to try and convince him not to go.
And yes, he is certainly trying to force her into submission and hurt her using the kids. From everything I can tell that was his whole reason for getting custody to begin with. She's over there to see her kids basically any time she's not at work, and yet he never seems to be there, which leaves me doubting that his motive was simply to see them more.
His mother is definately a part of it, as she lied for him in court during the initial custody dispute.
She currently has a fixed visitation schedule, but allow me to digress for a moment.
She was told that her lack of a stable job contributed to her losing 'primary' custody of them to begin with. So she picked a job and mentally locked herself into it. Promoted to manager to be better able to provide for herself and her children (things like getting her own place instead of always having a room mate) and because he is in management and she thought that if she was too it would take away some of his advantages.
However, her (our) current boss, said she could have those days off, but she wouldn't be able to get 40 hrs a week, because if she took off Tuesday, Thursday, and every other weekend she wouldn't be able to pack the 15 hours from her weekend shifts back in on the other 3 days of the week.
Which is where the informal agreement allowing her to see the kids whenever she wants, but only at his house, comes into play. And allows him to threaten her with telling the court that she isn't following her visitation schedule (to try and have her visitation reduced, to give him even more leverage)
Thanks for the comments Senny.
I was aware of the risk involved in asking legal advice on a public message board. I'm fully intending to take everything I read with a grain of salt.
Even if a lawyer doesn't include themselves in the thread, there may be Safehousers who went through something similar, and finding out whether or not it was gotten away with could be helpful all on its own.
I really, really, REALLY liked your idea with recording the conversations, but I had been about to ask the question that Kinare just answered.
Though, perhaps, there might be a way to get a judge to order the tap or wire? If I progress to the point of offering to hire a lawyer for her, that is certainly something I will bring up.
Thanks for the help so far guys.
PS, Filan - the Glades are about 4 hours south of here, but thank you for saying what I was refusing to - if he stepped in front of a bus or something it would solve the whole issue.
03-07-04, 08:08 AM
According to www.divorcesource.com, the The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act was designed to help maintain jurisdiction in cases where childnapping occurs.
However, when I looked into the The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act,
( www.law.upenn.edu/bll/ulc...cjea97.htm )
What I read seemed to indicate that it wasn't working as intended. The states interpret it differently and there isn't provision made to enforce it.
It also mentioned the added cost of likely having to retain a lawyer in both states, and of having to travel to court dates in both states.
In one chat room I visited last night, someone claimed that their ex husband did almost exactly this - took the kids and moved out of state. He then filed for custody in the new state claiming that she had abandoned the kids with him and that no one knew where she was and he hadn't heard from her in 6 months. According to her, that was almost a year ago, and while she was still trying to get her kids back, she hadn't been able to see them except with him during the entire event.
I just don't know guys. The saddest part is that he has her feeling so genuinely defeated and unable to fight back, that she seems reduced to accepting whatever hell he puts her through rather than risk what little she has.
And while I fully expect someone to post soon telling me that she's the only one who can help herself and I ought to just give up on her, I like to think that I would want to help right an obvious injustice even if I didn't feel romantically attracted to her. While I can't really do anything aside from offering moral support, maybe if she feels that someone is willing to stand up for her, she'll be more able to stand up for herself. That's my hope anyway.
03-07-04, 09:42 AM
I think its pretty darned nice of you, she does sound just as you say, deafeted, and probably scared she could lose her kids completely.
Perhaps check into social services, not sure which department but they surely have some sort of custodial matters, if this is the game the guy plays with her, its a sick game.
And if the guy is indeed this rough and brain-gaming her, then I wonder how good of a father he makes as well. His mom on top of this is just unsettling as well.
Fighting against this, specially if he has more money then you two is going to be very hard, I guess the only reasonable thing would be to try to get the kids completely back to her, with him paying her childsupport.
When I was in court etc, the lawyer and court only wanted to make sure that having the child with its mother, is not going to end up with both on wellfare, so that might have been a big reason things ended up as how they are now. So if she goes against it, she will have to make sure, and maybe have an idea on how she can provide for the children, financially as well as with housing.
Also if the father is not home with the children as often as he 'should', and his mom is watching them completely, I would perhaps consider the health of his mom, if she is elderly, etc, it might be a good spot to check into, and therefore make her look like she is not the 'perfect' babysitter.
I don't find it wrong to post on a board like this, it sure can give you some insights, in the end you'll have to check with a lawyer, specially if you like to change the ruling.
I wish you both the best, I can only feel for her, losing your children to a guy thats playing 'god' with your feelings is a torture. To help her gain strenght, all you can do is support her, and help her work on herself to gain hope again.
03-07-04, 11:04 AM
Photograph, document, report. Have her get checked out by a medical professional each and every time she says he hits or hurts her. I know she can't afford to throw $ around, but 1) checking into the emergency room costs nothing upfront, and if she can prove he's hurting her it won't matter, and 2) unless she plans on living the rest of her life this way, she has to do what she can. If she refuses to go to a doc have her take pics herself, as extensively as possible, and show others as much as she is able. Have her write out what happened each time and keep it with the pics.
As for recording, look into the legality of videotaping within your own home? (The free lawyer should at the very least be good for advising her on any legal issues around that..) If she can't afford one upfront or on credit, see about renting a small, hidable cam with audio. Even though it may be harder to arrange, if she's able to video his behavior/threats/etc, that could be better than phone conversations. Just remind her to act normal, because if she's too awkward about how she acts he may suspect something's up and clam up. Not to claim the status of a "real professional" in any one endeavor has been a small price to pay for the many benefits and pleasures of trespassing. ~Leo Lionni
03-07-04, 11:19 AM
Thanks again Senny, and Thanks Jhani.
I've moved on from trying to wade through this myself, to emailing professors at various law colleges around the state. I figure most of them will ignore me, but if I send a thousand emails and get one back that really helps, then it's worth it - and will have done more for me than 10 hours of trying to teach myself custody law via the internet has.
Going out for a bit, the computer is giving me a head ache. Back later guys.
03-07-04, 01:25 PM
The court ruled in favor of the boyfriend over the mother of the children?
That should never happen exp when the mother is working enuff to afford child care such as a baby sitter
Best bet would be to higher your own PI to dig up whatever dirt you possibly can on this guy, and blackmail him back
My mother's been working as a paralegal in family law for several years now (although not in Florida)
I'll try to get her opinion on this when I see her today or tomorrow.
03-07-04, 06:21 PM
Florida law states that the sex of the parent should not play a part in determining which parent gets residential custody of children - although, realistically, a much larger percentage of mothers do get custody. One of the many sites I dug up gave percentages, but I don't remember them well enough to quote it.
I would really appreciate it. Thank you.
03-07-04, 11:50 PM
I hate family law, thus know nothing about it, AND I'm in Texas anyway. oh, and I have another year till I apply for law school period.
Use this site though, it's free, and some lawyers even will send you there e-mail and or phone numbers. I know when I was having some real estate trouble in louisiana, I got some detailed info in a hour long convo from a partner in New Orleans who sympathsized with me, AND gave me a reference to a guy in the area where the dispute was that was as good as gold as far as real estate jurisprudence goes.
03-08-04, 01:45 AM
Thanks Pharius - most of the questions seem a lot shorter than this situation, but I'll try to come up with a short version. I snagged 2 emails off of there and sent them longer versions, just like I did with a couple dozen law professors earlier.
03-08-04, 11:27 PM
Got a reply from one of the lawguru people.
It sounds like she has an attorney through legal aid. If that is the case she must press her attorney to take care of this case. What I can tell you is this. If the parties have a written agreement that was finalized by the Judge then your friend should review the agreement to see what it says regarding him moving. If it says that he can move, then she should file an action to have that changed. He does not rule her if the parties have an agreement. If it says she can see the kids on certain days then he can not keep her from the kids. If he does, she can file an action against him for failing to comply with the agreement. If she is happy with the agreement, then she is the one that is calling the shots. If she is unhappy with the agreement then she should consider filing an action to Modify the Agreement.
Melody Stickel-Martinez, Esq.
So I'll pass the info along and hope it helps.
Thanks again guys!!!