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Court Question...being sued for custody/visitation

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
My ds bio dad has not seen him since he was 3 (he's ten) I do get child support becuz I went to DSS and got them to pursue support and garnish his wages. I had never had an increase although I was eligible becuz he had always threatened to drag me into court...well I finally said it's time for an increase and had the state reevaluate my order for support, surprise, I get a $500/mo increase. Well after not having any contact in YEARS, the phone starts ringing. He wants to see his son. I say ok, but you need to come here and get to know him and try and establish a relationship. He says no, I'm taking you to court...fast forward...I got served today with a papers requesting custody and/or visitation.
I'm worried about my son who doesn't know this person. It's not that I don't feel like his bio dad has no rights, he just hasn't tried to be there. My son is very close to his stepdad too.
My questions are multiple. First he filed the action in the county that the order for support orginated in, but I have not resided in that county for 8 years. How do I go about requesting the action have a change of venue...and do I need an attorney to do it? Secondly, he wants to forego mediation becuz he resides in another state. I think mediation would be better and much cheaper how do I push for mediation. Lastly, at what point do I actually need an attorney, are there resources that I can find to file most items myself to minimize legal fees or are their agency that will help me for a nominal fee. I reside in NC.
Thanks for any advice/guidance anyone can provide. I'm sort of at a loss as to what to do next.
post #2 of 12
I don't think a judge will let him take the boy for any amount of time without establishing a relationship with him first. Probably in therapy. I bet he filed in a fit of rage over the $$$ and will calm down before court. Remember, if he doesn't show up it's dismissed. He may be blowing smoke to watch you jump. I can't imagine a person being away for 7 years then just wanting to see a stranger because of $$$.

I think you can speak to your local family court & ask, but I think he has to file in the county the child is living in. My husband's divorce and active c/s order was in Arkansas, but the kids lived in California. He had to get it moved to the county the children were in before he could request custody & visitation.

You might be able to get the request denied forcing dad to get a change of venue. You shouldn't go through the trouble for him. Let him pay the fees and do the footwork.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for answering. Even though I don't feel like he has alot of grounds for custody (and I know that he doesn't really want custody) I do think he'll pursue visitation out of principal since he's gone as far as hire an attorney in the state that I reside in. The money absolutely was the catalyst for current action. We honestly never heard from him and he's 8K in arears on his support as it is (would be more, but I've gotten his tax return through interception several times).
It just seem that I should be able to ask for a change of venue without having to hire an attorney. I'd like to do as much on my own before I absolutely have to hire someone. With the holidays coming up I'd really rather not use all my money in court cost and attorney's fee, kwim.
post #4 of 12
Your best resource would be the secretaries at your local family court (or, rather, the court that does the family bits): I did my own divorce, using a lawyer just for the writing-nasty-letters-to-ex bit, and it made a huge difference to the bill: and the secretaries talked me through every single step of the way, including telling me which bits really needed professional advice.
In the UK, the only action required would be a letter to the court that he applied to requesting that the case is transferred to (your home area) as this is where the child has been residing for the past so many years (we had to do it.) Check the paperwork very very carefully to make sure that all the details are correct on both sets of forms. I can't imagine it being too much different in the US, so you may well be able to do a lot of this yourself if you're good with bureaucracy.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Good advice Flapjack.
I wonder how different the us court system is...has anyone had experience out there requesting a change of venue?
post #6 of 12
Well, it does look bad for him that the request follows an increase in money. Judges know these things. In our state mediation is mandatory. You can mediate by phone, which we have done since biomom lived in state but 300 miles a way. We had to go to the mediator's office and she was called on speaker phone. By all means, say yourself some money and mediate. We also pay out big bucks for lawyer's advice before mediation.
Unfortunately even loser parents have a "right to a relationship" but your son is getting older and will have some say in the matter.
He sound like he's just made but the complications of paperwork, mediation, schedules, and a (maybe?) unwilling kid might slow him down.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Mediation is mandatory here too, his attorney is requesting a waiver to mediation. I plan to challenge that though. I think mediation is better for all parties involved.
post #8 of 12
If your ex lives where he filed, you will have a harder time getting the venue changed but what I would suggest is showing up for every hearing, being very patient and reasonable and knowing that this will likely go away.

You don't need a lawyer, you are being very reasonable. Just keep slowing things down. I see lots of kids that are ordered for therapy for re-establishing contact and it takes 6 months of therapy or more before we usually recommend any overnight visits. Any one who has been around family court is going to recognize what he is doing- that it is about money and isn't likely to be a long term committment to your child.

I know it is hard, but just don't even think about it much, it is going to take a long time, many hearings, but isn't likely going to amount to much.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the encouraging words, I need to hear them becuz I know he's not going to go away quietly. He doesn't even live in the STATE he filed in let alone the county.
I spoke to my cousin who is a federal appeals judge and did alot of family court stuff when he was first a judge. He gave me some good advice, but recommended I get an attorney regardless. He felt like the venue thing would be pretty cut and dry and moved without a problem.
I'm glad to hear that judges don't just rule on one day and expect the kid to march off for a visit the next.
I have no experience with these types of issues, so I'm just trying to stay positive and calm
post #10 of 12
I have been through this exact thing.

As for him filing where he lives- you simply need to file with that court proof of your son's legal residency in a different jurisdiction and request that the case be localized to your son's district. At the same time go to your jurisdiction and file to localize the parenting plan there. Basically you file a form that shows that he is a legal resident and then a copy of the original decree and parenting plan.

Mediation can be done via the phone- I have done it. In my case we were required to try mediation before court. I personally would prefer court to mediation as mediation is just trying to find the middle between two points where as court is trying to find what is right.

Hire a lawyer today. He or she can do all of this. You can find someone local who specializes in family law.

Your ex will get visitation but probobly it will be built up slowly over like two years. This is good for your son. Healing his issues with his dad's abandonment at ten is perfect timeing! A teen with angst is no fun.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
I meet with the attorney tomorrow. Are there any questions I should ask. I've tried to think of everything.
post #12 of 12
I am on the other side of your story. My husband has not seen his kids after 10 years. And he is taking her to court. She told him to stay out of their life and for a bunch of reasons he did. She just filed for child support this past year. I understand that they are his responsibilities but she told him to stay away. My husband is a wonderful man and a great father. People change after 10 years. Maybe, its not just the money thing. Maybe its more then that cause it is for my husband. He felt that he didn't want to interupt their life. But since the biomom started it he just felt like this was the right time. I am scared too. Cause I don't know what will come out of the court date Feb 23. I know its not going to be easy. Get a lawyer to answer all your questions cause every judge and court system is different.
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