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#1 of 19 Old 02-11-2012, 09:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My friend J has always been a single mother to her 3 year old. There's never been a plan on the book, she has always tried to amicably share time with her x. No child support given, no help with expenses, it just was what it was and she was comfortable with that. Three weeks ago she was blindsided with papers. X hired a lawyer, wanted SOLE custody, with her having EOW (when she cared for baby 90% of the time to this point (even now with his court action pending)), as well as having her pay child support. I told her to call a lawyer, but we both know she can't afford to hire one, could even get a loan... Last night she learned her baby, while in x's care, stopped breathing. She wasn't informed until more than five hours afterwards, and when she got to the hospital, his gf got in her face. She went home ( she had come straight from work), showered, changed her clothes, gathered her wits, went back to the hospital and had the gf removed from the building. I told her not to leave baby's side again, but x's mom is still there harassing her and making rude comments. We're both at a loss... This was the first place I thought to turn. J is a wonderful mom, and has never tried to keep baby from dad. She says he's trying to play house with his gf. Does anyone have any similar experience in Florida? Or does anyone just have any words of advice that I can pass along to her to help her through this situation?thanks in advance for any replies and thanks for reading. Cassie
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#2 of 19 Old 02-11-2012, 09:11 AM
 
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There should be legal aid lawyer she can get- she needs to get one ASAP. I don't think he has a shot- judges see right thru this crap.  What will most likely happen is it will backfire on him and he will end up with E/O weekend and paying child support himself.

 

BUT SHE DOES need to contact a lawyer.  Contact any family law lawyer and they can probably tell her how to get in touch with a legal aid lawyer or who does pro bono-

Also contact the womens center in the area( the one that deals with Domestic violence) they have a list of lawyers who will work pro bono for womens issues.

I am sorry for your friend how scary.


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#3 of 19 Old 02-11-2012, 12:04 PM
 
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Yes, I agree that she really needs legal assistance - legal aid and/or a women's resource center.  The ex is full of it, but can continue to make trouble if she doesn't put a stop to it.  She just needs to prove that she is the primary caregiver AND she needs to stress that she was not notified of an acute medical situation, in a timely manner, when the child was in ex's care.  It does indeed sound like the girlfriend wants to play house and wants your friend out of the way as much as possible.  But your friend needs to turn it around and not only that, require that the ex pays child support (I love that he never did, and now wants her to pay him).  HA! 

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#4 of 19 Old 02-11-2012, 12:21 PM
 
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Document, document, document!!!  Write everything down in a journal.  Keep it objective: "Ex picked ds up at 6:15pm Friday evening and returned him at noon the next day prior to ds's lunchtime" instead of "Ex was over an hour late AGAIN, and then brought him back starving because he is too stupid and lazy to make a sandwich for hsi own kid"   :)

 

Make an itemized list of the child's expenses each month.  She probably won't get her order retro'd to the dc's DOB, but it's a good idea to start keeping track now as it should go back to the date of his filing.

 

Tell her never, EVER again to leave her child in the hospital.  It was probably no big deal, but it's the sort of thing that can get twisted around against her.

 

Most areas in FL have a Legal Aid office which is listed in the AT&T phonebook.  She needs a lawyer like yesterday.

 

And finally, I am not a lawyer and am not giving legal advice, just sharing my BTDT.  Best wishes to your friend!


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#5 of 19 Old 02-12-2012, 08:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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 Idk what happened yesterday, I tried to respond but it never posted... Thank you all so much for your replies, I appreciate it. Apparently when babe was discharged there was an altercation, he was in j's arms and ex and his mom both tried to rip him from her arms. They left marks on the babe, she took pictures. I told her to file for a protective retraining order from them both. Good idea?

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#6 of 19 Old 02-12-2012, 12:53 PM
 
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Yes good idea!! She may not be able get one against the gf, but will get one against the ex. She should also line up witnesses.
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#7 of 19 Old 02-15-2012, 06:53 AM
 
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And until there is a court order giving her temporary custody, DO NOT let anyone take the baby because she won't get him back without a court order.   The police will not help.  And if he's the father, it's not kidnapping.


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#8 of 19 Old 02-16-2012, 06:16 AM
 
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So sorry to hear that she is going through this. Pp's are right about many things. I don't know about Florida but in KY an EPO is 99% of the time automatically granted and you have 10 days until the follow-up hearing and you can get a lawyer pro bono for it.

However, in KY Legal Aid will NOT touch a custody case outside of a pending divorce or EPO. Just a head's up.

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#9 of 19 Old 02-16-2012, 03:12 PM
 
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Just wanted to second saying that J should NOT have Dad take the child for visitation as he sounds like he would keep him and make her fight to get him back.  She can allow supervised visitation as not to appear that she is keeping the child from him.


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#10 of 19 Old 02-22-2012, 06:23 PM
 
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When I checked a few years ago, FL was one of the states whose family law actually includes a clause about considering the "moral fitness" (or something like that) of each parent, when deciding custody.  Your friend might well make the case that, by shacking up with a GF - and especially by allowing his GF and mother to be rude to her (J) while her child was in the hospital - that the father is less "morally fit" than J, since she has demonstrated a consistent willingness to be civil and to facilitate contact between the child and his father, even without a court order.

 

All of which may be comforting for J to know, but the important thing is that the court will almost certainly want to maintain stability for the child - and, for this child, stability means being in the primary custody of the mother.  The court will also want to know why the father cannot show any records of financially supporting this child he suddenly wants to have, full-time, and receive support for!  I don't think J has the slightest thing to worry about.


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#11 of 19 Old 02-22-2012, 06:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CassiopiaTheOnly View Post

Apparently when babe was discharged there was an altercation, he was in j's arms and ex and his mom both tried to rip him from her arms. They left marks on the babe, she took pictures. I told her to file for a protective retraining order from them both. Good idea?


I don't think so.  Unless there's regular violence, she'd risk looking like she's jumping on any excuse to deny access to the child.

 


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#12 of 19 Old 02-23-2012, 08:29 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Jeannine View Post


I don't think so.  Unless there's regular violence, she'd risk looking like she's jumping on any excuse to deny access to the child.

 



Thats not true. As long as she offers supervised visitation. I mean really, the father was literally fighting with her over the child. No child should be fought over. Ever. Especially not after being released from the hospital.

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#13 of 19 Old 02-23-2012, 12:32 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post



Thats not true. As long as she offers supervised visitation. I mean really, the father was literally fighting with her over the child. No child should be fought over. Ever. Especially not after being released from the hospital.


Of course you are completely right, that the Dad's and grandmother's behavior was wrong.  But that was an unusual, highly-charged situation.  Baby wound up in the hospital on Dad's watch.  Of course Dad was afraid Mom would blame him, which explains (though certainly does not excuse) the reluctance to tell the Mom about it.  GF acted badly.  Mom had her thrown out of the hospital.  Grandma has been told God-knows-what, in defense of her son's desire to get custody.  If she raised him, she may not be the brightest bulb in the box, herself.  Everybody on Dad's side was emotional and defensive.

 

But ordinarily, Mom does not think of the baby as being in danger around Dad or Grandma and provides access without a court order.  So, clearly, their behavior at the hospital is not the norm.

 

It might also be difficult to prove.  It's complicated, to subpoena footage from hospital security cameras.  And that footage is low-quality.  If Mom reacted defensively, it might be very hard to tell whether she was participating in fisticuffs or just protecting the baby.  Most likely, a judge would wind up listening to Dad and Grandma's verbal explanation, versus Mom's.  They would sound completely opposite and the judge wouldn't be sure what actually happened.

 

I'm not talking about proving this to a protective-order judge.  P.O.s are easy enough to get.  They don't require proof.

 

When Dad walks into court hoping to get custody, he's going to have to come up with SOME complaint about Mom.  And he's going to work super-hard to convince himself and everyone in his support network that the complaint is valid.  And he - and everyone around him - will then feel outraged and resentful, when the judge doesn't give him custody (which the judge, of course, won't).  Most likely, his complaint will center around Mom not giving him enough access to the baby.  If Mom gets P.O.s to keep him and his mother away from the baby (when she never thought they were dangerous before), the judge will at least wonder, "Does she want to keep this guy away from his kid?"  And when Dad loses in court, the P.O.s will give him and Grandma more fodder to flip out over how awful Mom is.  Without P.O.s, they will fume for a while over losing, then remember that Mom always did let them spend time with the baby and they will get over it and back to normal.

 

I believe that if you think supervised visits are "fine", no one has ever imposed them on you or anyone you love.  It is humiliating to be restricted to supervision, around a child you love.  Many custodial parents request it specifically to humiliate the other parent.  Even if that's not this mom's motive, that is what Dad and Grandma will think.

 


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#14 of 19 Old 02-23-2012, 01:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Jeannine View Post


Of course you are completely right, that the Dad's and grandmother's behavior was wrong.  But that was an unusual, highly-charged situation.  Baby wound up in the hospital on Dad's watch.  Of course Dad was afraid Mom would blame him, which explains (though certainly does not excuse) the reluctance to tell the Mom about it.  GF acted badly.  Mom had her thrown out of the hospital.  Grandma has been told God-knows-what, in defense of her son's desire to get custody.  If she raised him, she may not be the brightest bulb in the box, herself.  Everybody on Dad's side was emotional and defensive.

 

But ordinarily, Mom does not think of the baby as being in danger around Dad or Grandma and provides access without a court order.  So, clearly, their behavior at the hospital is not the norm.

 

It might also be difficult to prove.  It's complicated, to subpoena footage from hospital security cameras.  And that footage is low-quality.  If Mom reacted defensively, it might be very hard to tell whether she was participating in fisticuffs or just protecting the baby.  Most likely, a judge would wind up listening to Dad and Grandma's verbal explanation, versus Mom's.  They would sound completely opposite and the judge wouldn't be sure what actually happened.

 

I'm not talking about proving this to a protective-order judge.  P.O.s are easy enough to get.  They don't require proof.

 

When Dad walks into court hoping to get custody, he's going to have to come up with SOME complaint about Mom.  And he's going to work super-hard to convince himself and everyone in his support network that the complaint is valid.  And he - and everyone around him - will then feel outraged and resentful, when the judge doesn't give him custody (which the judge, of course, won't).  Most likely, his complaint will center around Mom not giving him enough access to the baby.  If Mom gets P.O.s to keep him and his mother away from the baby (when she never thought they were dangerous before), the judge will at least wonder, "Does she want to keep this guy away from his kid?"  And when Dad loses in court, the P.O.s will give him and Grandma more fodder to flip out over how awful Mom is.  Without P.O.s, they will fume for a while over losing, then remember that Mom always did let them spend time with the baby and they will get over it and back to normal.

 

I believe that if you think supervised visits are "fine", no one has ever imposed them on you or anyone you love.  It is humiliating to be restricted to supervision, around a child you love.  Many custodial parents request it specifically to humiliate the other parent.  Even if that's not this mom's motive, that is what Dad and Grandma will think.

 


This parent should NOT be worried about her ex (who sounds like an abusive ass) being "humiliated". She should be worried about her CHILD. It doesn't matter that the situation was highly emotionally charged - the father should have walked away and gotten a court order for visitation. He would have gotten one. That is the ADULT thing to do. It's also an ADULT thing to call the MOTHER of your baby who stopped breathing and notify them of the situation. I do not care what their motivation in hiding it was. Neither should a judge (and I don't think they will care either).

 

I ALWAYS call my ex when my ds is sick - even if its just a mild fever. He does the same for me. If DS pukes, my ex and I BOTH know about it. If he stopped breathing my ex would find out as soon as I could call him (most likely in the ambulance on the way to the hospital). He would do the same for me. And he WAS abusive towards me.

 

Supervised visits are not ideal. No arguments there. However, if a parent is threatening to CUT OFF CONTACT with a childs primary parent, they should be the only option until there is a court order that protects BOTH parties.

 

I know that you have a reasonable ex, and I know that your DH's ex is a witch (to put it mildly). But you CLEARLY have NEVER been threatened with losing your child forever. I have. Without an OP I would have.

 

Also, in the eyes of the law, ONE case of violence is enough for an OP. Trying to take an infant out of his mothers arms and literally playing tug-of-war with him, is an act of violence - against the mother AND the child.

 

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#15 of 19 Old 02-24-2012, 06:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all, I wanted to update and thank you all for your insight, as this is so new for both of us, and we're just trying to figure it out.

 

J's babe is actually 3, not an infant, so when the altercation happened he was absolutely distraught for the next few days. He's better now though, resilient :) 

 

J went ahead with the TRo, and will go back to court to see if it stays in a week or so. The altercation happened in a video blind spot, so no footage, but she has the statements of three security guards and three onlookers as well. Her boyfriend also has a TRO against ex by ex attacked J's boyfriend when he intervened and tried to get ex off J. He was injured also.

 

Ex has ulterior motives for filing for custody...in December he went to J's house, kissed her and begged to get back together. She refused, and a month later she was served with papers. She plans to bring the letter to court.

 

Since being granted the TRO, ex and his mom have both called DCFS on J to file reports. Claims were for abuse (used pictures from when she was attacked outside her work one night, she has a statement from that night to explain her injuries), neglect, that babe is sick and J isn't administering proper medical care (she is, but they would know this how?), and that there is alcohol and drug abuse in the home and in the presence of the child (both she and boyfriend submitted to tests on the spot and passed, even though the social worker explained that she assumed boyfriend would be on pain mess from the injuries. He actually opted out and is not taking medication because he doesn't want that in his body.) J then showed the social worker the TRO order and the statements from the hospital, and she said she sees what's going on.

 

I told J to make sure she gets a copy of the report from the social worker.

 

Shes going to talk to someone at legal aid on Monday too.

 

Thanks so much again, we really appreciate it. She's one of my closest friends here.

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#16 of 19 Old 02-25-2012, 06:50 AM
 
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J will not be able to get a copy of the report from the social worker - however she needs to tell the social worker that it needs to be filed with the court. Then she needs to make the judge aware that DCFS was called, that she and BF submitted to drug tests and passed based on allegations made to DCFS.

Tell her to give the social worker all copies of anything filed with the court. The report needs to be filed with the court - J will not gets copy, her lawyer will be allowed to read it to her though.
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#17 of 19 Old 02-25-2012, 05:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh wow, I didn't know that (obviously), I went ahead and texted her right away so she knows what to say on Monday when she calls them. Thank you!!
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#18 of 19 Old 02-25-2012, 06:51 PM
 
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That's how it was in NY when I had CPS called on me. She can ask, but it definitely must be filed with the court. J may get some correspondence from DCFS, and that she should keep and make several copies of.
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#19 of 19 Old 03-07-2012, 06:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok y'all I wanted to pop back in with another update :) J had her temporary hearing, I think the final one is set for July. The restraining order for her against ex has been extended through to the final hearing. The one for DC against ex has been dropped. He can see DC every weekend, I believe it is, and has been ordered (FINALLLLLLLLLY) to pay child support! Also, an attorney was sitting in at their temporary hearing and asked to speak with J afterwards, and J texted me to inform me that she now has the legal counsel she needed but couldn't afford! Now we're just going back to life as normal, waiting for our hearings that will finalize everything! J is still keeping a journal and taking lots of pictures (that kid doesn't seem to EVER not smile) and keeping track of everything she's doing for her DC while they're together. Awesomeness :) :) thank you all!!

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