The judge told me in court... but it's not in the court order... do I still have to do it? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 07-23-2012, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a court order stating that I have custody of my 17 month old son and his father gets supervised visitation.  I was told in court by the judge that I would have to pay for the visits, but that she was allowing me to move away because of Domestic Violence.  I now live in MA, the father still lives in NY.  The visitation costs are almost half my income and I can no longer afford to pay for visits.  I noticed that although I was told in person by the judge that I would have to pay for visits, the custody/visitation order states no such thing, only that the visits are to be supervised and by what place.  I live paycheck to paycheck and I can't afford to go back to NY to modify the arrangement, nor do I have time- I just was accepted and will have to move on or around the 1st of August.  Am I obligated to contine paying, even though the order says nothing about it, as long as I continue to make my son available for visits with his father, therefore not denying his time, just tell him I can't afford to pay it anymore?  I was living with family, but will soon be on Section 8, but Section 8 will not count this as an expense, as it is not in the actual court papers, and if I cannot afford to live on Section 8, I will have to move into a homeless shelter with my children.  What can I do?  Can I get in serious trouble if I no longer pay for visitation, as long as I continue to make my son available?


I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#2 of 17 Old 07-23-2012, 04:15 PM
 
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I think that you are obligated to pay, because the judge said so.  If your ex made an issue of it, all they would have to do is pull up the minutes and/or the court transcript and see that the judge really did order it.  Unfortunately, I just went through this myself. Is there a DV agency who might be able to assist you? Most of them are familiar with the local supervised visitation centers, so maybe they can help you with a fee waiver. Can you modify the original order due to financial hardship?  But please do something, because you don't want your ex to file contempt charges against you.  If your ex is anything like my abusive ex, he'd probably jump at the chance to make trouble for you. Good luck!

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#3 of 17 Old 07-23-2012, 05:48 PM
 
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Is he paying child support?  If not, then I would not pay.  And if your ex pushes it, well, push right back.  And since it isn't in the court order, your push would be harder.  And a good argument for why you paying for his parenting time shouldn't be in the court order. 

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#4 of 17 Old 07-25-2012, 08:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by chloema View Post

I think that you are obligated to pay, because the judge said so.  If your ex made an issue of it, all they would have to do is pull up the minutes and/or the court transcript and see that the judge really did order it.  Unfortunately, I just went through this myself. Is there a DV agency who might be able to assist you? Most of them are familiar with the local supervised visitation centers, so maybe they can help you with a fee waiver. Can you modify the original order due to financial hardship?  But please do something, because you don't want your ex to file contempt charges against you.  If your ex is anything like my abusive ex, he'd probably jump at the chance to make trouble for you. Good luck!

 

Everything was settled in NY, almost 200 miles from where I live in MA now.  I literally cannot afford to have it modified because I can't get back to the original court- my financial situation is as such that $5 makes a huge difference, never mind almost $100 of gas to get to each court date, while continuing to pay for visitation and all my bills, plus possibly several months wait for the modification to be done.

 

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Is he paying child support?  If not, then I would not pay.  And if your ex pushes it, well, push right back.  And since it isn't in the court order, your push would be harder.  And a good argument for why you paying for his parenting time shouldn't be in the court order. 

 

I'm currently on assistance and they are trying to find him to take him to court for child support.  I'm actually waiting to get records from them that he no longer lives at his address and they can't find him, as he moved and didn't tell me he moved or his new address, and that IS ordered in the Custody/Visitation order.  (I haven't told him I found out he moved, because eventually he will go back to court for UNsupervised visitation, and since he previously threatened to kidnap the baby and I have solid proof that his house was sold in May, I'm hoping that when the time comes, it will keep my son at supervised visits longer, but in the meantime, it means no child support for now.)


I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#5 of 17 Old 07-25-2012, 09:47 PM
 
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If it is not in the order, then it is not ORDERED. I would see about getting a copy of the court minutes, They never transcribe word for word usually just a general idea of what is happening.

If it is not in the order then it cannot be enforced. And if it isnt in the minutes then there is no record of it being said...and a judge who sees dozens of cases everyday is not going to remember a coment made.

 

Are you talking about cost of transportation/travel, or something like a supervisor?

I cannot imagine that you were forced to move becuase of DV, therefor to keep yourself and the kids safe that it wouldnt be a violation of many of your rights to expect you to solely cover the extra cost associated with being able to stay safe from your ex.

 

I took my 3 kids and moved all the way accross the country and becuase it was due to DV my ex is responsible for any travel expences should he be granted any in person visits.

I know all states are different and some tend to protect the abuser in fear of looking like they are siding with the mom.

 

Best wishes,

Steph

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#6 of 17 Old 07-25-2012, 09:51 PM
 
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Just read the last post were you explained that it was transpo...I left Ca and there when Ex said I wasnt following the order HE had to go in an file( and pay court fees) and then I got to explain my case.

I would recomend wring a letter or email to you ex explaining that he will have to travel (or whatever you need it to be)  and that you know how important his relationship with them is, so X is what you are doing to make sure they are available, that way IF he files saying that you are not complying you have proof that you followed the court order in ALLOWING visitaion.

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#7 of 17 Old 07-28-2012, 12:18 PM
 
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I am really confused as to why the judge thought you should pay for the visits in the first place. That doesn't make any sense to me unless you were making a lot of money at the time and he wasn't making any. Still, it seems like it should be his responsibility.

 

I agree with the previous posts that if it's not a court order then it's not a court order. I would stop paying. I guess it depends on where the courts are but I have been to court with my ex dozens of times and they are typing down every word everyone says. Still, it's not a court order. You cannot be accussed of non-compliance with a court order.

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#8 of 17 Old 07-28-2012, 05:44 PM
 
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Where in MA do you live?

If you're in the Boston area I would suggest you contact Greater Boston Legal Services or the Women's Bar Foundation Family Law Project.

Both can offer you pro bono (free) legal assistance assuming you meet their income and eligibility guidelines.  Even if they can't help you, they might be able to refer you to someone who can.

Have them look over the order and get their advice and see if you can file in MA instead.

I had a wonderful experience with GBLS and strongly urge you call them.

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#9 of 17 Old 08-01-2012, 04:47 PM
 
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I agree that if it was not ORDERED it was not ordered.  You were really stressed at the hearing and cannot remember every word that was said....right? ;)  Get to that legal service.  

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#10 of 17 Old 08-02-2012, 01:07 PM
 
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This is why they give us written orders. With the stress and confusion and disputes going on in court, it's very easy to forget or misinterpret the judge's instructions. Maybe the judge was considering making you pay the costs and decided not to, or maybe he intended it but forgot to order it. *shrug* If you're not ordered to pay the costs, you're not ordered to pay the costs. You have the order in writing - specifically so that you can reference it for instruction in times like this. If it doesn't specify who pays, then it's left to the discretion of the parties involved. That's you and your ex. You've both agreed that you will pay, until now. Fine. You were being helpful and amiable. If you can't afford to pay for supervision anymore, your ex will probably throw a tantrum. Will he get over it and pay, get over it and stop visits, or take you to court to request you be ordered to pay?

 

Since they latter is a valid possibility, I would beg and borrow to keep paying just until I could get the case transferred to MA. Once the child has lived there for 6 months, you should be able to have the case transferred to the child's home state. The NY judge can deny that, but is unlikely to if there aren't any recent disputes. If it seems to him that everything is resolved and moving smoothly, you should be fine. Additionally...you have the ace up your sleeve that if xh contests it you will have the cs enforcement paperwork showing that xh violated the court order and still isn't paying support. If your only reason for filing is so that "future disputes will be less of a hardship" on the responsible parent, instead of the one causing future disputes, it increases the chances that the judge will abide by the law and transfer the case to where it legally belongs at that point.

 

Once the case has been transferred...THEN I would just tell xh "sorry, but I'm not ordered to pay. You can either start paying for supervision, or drive out to MA to ask the new judge to make me" Even if he does, the new judge is unlikely to. ;)


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#11 of 17 Old 08-20-2012, 09:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, here's how things stand for now... Section 8 is taking into consideration what I'm paying for my son's Supervised Visitation with his father, so I can make it financially, with not an extra penny to spare.  The baby's father had made such a repeated fuss in court last January (and the 10 months before then, court every month), that the judge had previously said that she will pass this case off to the first judge who will take it and that neither or us had better "bring this case back to court for a long, long time".  Since it would take me about $100 of gas to get back to my old city and state, for now, I have been expressing the beginnings of "getting hard to afford" to the baby's father, in hopes that HE brings it back to court.  If he does, I will have to go back to court... but I will have a better standing- he will be bringing this back to the judge when she has already express a deep dislike of the case, especially the father's demands, and I will be able to point out to the judge that he no longer lives in the county, he's moved to NYC (without telling me, btw, which IS stated in the court order).  I'm use the fact that he won't let me know where he lives as proof that he is not willing to cooperate with the baby's Mother and may still be a kidnapping risk, when and if he files for unsupervised visitation, as well as a fact of point that NEITHER of us live in the country of the first court order now.  Also, MA is bringing a case against the baby's father for child support (having trouble finding him, since he moved from the address I gave them), and if there's already a case open in MA, even more reason to move the case from NY to MA, right?  And I've been told by my BIL's lawyer friend that once the case in moved to MA, seeing as how I'm on public assistance, no judge is gonna order me to continue to pay for my son's Visitation with his father, since it's state money going to support the CHILD, not the father.  In the meantime, I'm dirt poor, but managing.


I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#12 of 17 Old 08-20-2012, 09:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Mama Soltera View Post

I am really confused as to why the judge thought you should pay for the visits in the first place. That doesn't make any sense to me unless you were making a lot of money at the time and he wasn't making any. Still, it seems like it should be his responsibility.

 

I agree with the previous posts that if it's not a court order then it's not a court order. I would stop paying. I guess it depends on where the courts are but I have been to court with my ex dozens of times and they are typing down every word everyone says. Still, it's not a court order. You cannot be accussed of non-compliance with a court order.

 

 

I moved out of state after he filed for visitation, though he wasn't legally the father yet, so I was penalized.  I left NY with no money and little more than the clothes on my back, to  live with family in my hometown in MA, to escape from DV from the baby's father, but he pulled a "Father's Rights" on me and tried to force me to come back.  The judge penalized me, probably to shut him up, 'cause he kept bringing me back to court every month for 10 months.  This judge is known for having unusual rulings.


I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#13 of 17 Old 08-21-2012, 06:57 PM
 
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In my experience, the answer revolves around how likely your ex is, to pay for a copy of the transcript of the hearing.  Even for a 15-minute hearing, it's not cheap!

 

If it were in your court order, and your financial situation has changed, it would be reasonable to ask the court to modify the arrangement.  If you can't afford to file a petition, you could apply to waive the filing fees.  If you can't afford an attorney, you could file such a petition yourself.  You could likely do these things through certified mail and would not necessarily have to travel.  

 

But it wouldn't make any sense for you to petition to modify something that's not actually in your court order.

 

So, the worst case scenario is that you stop paying for supervision; your ex takes you back to court and shows a copy of the transcript, where the judge instructed you to pay for it.  The judge's instructions do matter.  You could still ask to change those instructions, going forward.  But you might be found in contempt for unilaterally deciding to stop following the judge's instructions, without asking the court's permission.  But, honestly:  what's going to happen to you, if you're found in contempt?  Mothers don't get put in jail for contempt.

 

More realistically, your ex might take you back to court WITHOUT any proof that the last judge told you to pay for supervision.  A new judge might notice that you had a history of paying for it, then stopped.  So you say - truthfully - "Nothing in our court order required me to pay for supervision.  I did, for a while, to facilitate my child maintaining a relationship with his father.  I'm not happy about it.  But I am compliant with court orders.  However, I can no longer afford that expense.  And, quite frankly, how reasonable is it to expect me to pay the entire cost of supervision after my ex committed the DV that made the supervision necessary in the first place?  I will still cooperate in giving him access to the child, if I have to.  But it's in the child's best interest that I feed, clothe and shelter him and his father find a way to pay for supervision, now."

 

One key, I think, would be to make sure that if your ex takes you back to court over it, you appear in front of a different judge.  Check the laws where you are, but where I am, each party is entitled to request one change of judge without having to prove the judge did anything wrong.  The simple fact that the last judge believed your ex had committed DV and your child needed supervision around him - but made you pay for all of it - seems like justification for wanting a different judge next time.  But the real point is, you don't want to appear in front of the person who will REMEMBER having told you to pay for the supervision.


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#14 of 17 Old 08-21-2012, 07:33 PM
 
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This is why they give us written orders...Maybe the judge was considering making you pay the costs and decided not to, or maybe he intended it but forgot to order it. *shrug* If you're not ordered to pay the costs, you're not ordered to pay the costs.

Be careful, because this is not always true.  Here's an example:

 

Standard family court procedure here is that a judge might issue a temporary injunction against a parent who repeatedly violates court orders.  And violating an injunction is a criterion for losing custody.  But it's temporary.  The next time the parties go to court, if the judge does not specifically state in the new orders that the T.I. is extended, then it automatically expires.  

 

There is also a criminal statute enabling any judge to issue a permanent injunction against someone who's really, really bad about violating court orders.  Obviously, the permanent injunction never expires.  So if a P.I. says you serve a month in jail the next time you're found in contempt, it's basically a one-more-strike-and-you're-out rule for the rest of your life.  But family court judges never issue P.I.s.

 

My husband had a serious problem with his ex-wife refusing visitation.  The judge kept threatening her to follow their court orders, but nothing actually happened to her, if she didn't, so she just ignored the judge.  In fact, she would even tell him, "No.  I don't like that order and I don't intend to follow it."  It was like he couldn't believe she would actually say that and didn't know what to do about it, so he'd just act like she hadn't said anything.  Anyway, DH knew asking for a T.I. wouldn't help.  His ex would cooperate just long enough to let it expire, then start cutting off his contact with his kid again.  So he asked his attorney to request a P.I.  It was so unheard-of that his atty wouldn't do it.  So he fired his atty and wrote his own request.  

 

At the hearing (perhaps the 3rd contempt hearing over visitation in as many months), the judge finally got fed up with Mom ignoring him and said, "I do find you in contempt.  I do issue the permanent injunction."  But the actual order (which may have been penned by a clerk who wasn't even present in court) simply said, "This court issues an injunction under statute XYZ-123," which could just as easily mean the regular temporary injunction.  The court order did not say "permanent" anywhere.

 

They went to court a 4th time over something else and the injunction wasn't discussed.  So, of course, Mom thought it had expired.  But the next time they went back to court over denied visitation, a new judge read the transcript of the injunction hearing and said, "This judge clearly stated the injunction was permanent."  The fact that Mom had violated a permanent injunction was one of the justifications for giving sole custody to my husband.

 

In-court instructions do matter.  But you have to be able to prove what they were.  Every word of a hearing is not part of the court record, unless someone orders a transcript.


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#15 of 17 Old 08-21-2012, 07:54 PM
 
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In-court instructions do matter.  But you have to be able to prove what they were.  Every word of a hearing is not part of the court record, unless someone orders a transcript.

 

Your example really does not pertain to this case.  In your example, there was a clear court order that was SIGNED by the judge.  And the subsequent court matter did not reverse that as that was not the purpose of that court hearing. 

 

In the original poster's case, it's NOT in the court order, at all, that she has to pay.  The judge NEVER signed an order stating that she has to pay.  And if what came out of the court was incomplete, it was up to the other party to file an amendment within a timeframe to correct it.  If they don't, then they are SOL. 

 

And given that he is not paying child support at all and is avoiding being served, I doubt he's going to take her to court.  And if he does, well, they know where to serve him to get child support ordered. 

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#16 of 17 Old 08-22-2012, 06:51 AM
 
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And given that he is not paying child support at all and is avoiding being served, I doubt he's going to take her to court.  And if he does, well, they know where to serve him to get child support ordered. 

Yes, that's really the key.  It is not a good idea to ignore verbal instructions from judges, because they can be legally binding, even if they enhance something in an order, beyond what's written.  But you have to ask yourself what the potential consequence is, and in this case the potential consequences of continuing to pay for supervision sound much, much worse than any potential consequences from stopping.


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#17 of 17 Old 08-22-2012, 03:23 PM
 
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Yes, that's really the key.  It is not a good idea to ignore verbal instructions from judges, because they can be legally binding, even if they enhance something in an order, beyond what's written.  But you have to ask yourself what the potential consequence is, and in this case the potential consequences of continuing to pay for supervision sound much, much worse than any potential consequences from stopping.

It's the SIGNED court order that the court is going to go by.  If there was a mistake, then it is up to the litigants to make the correction within the timeframe allowed by law.  A verbal instruction is not binding unless it is put into a court order and signed by the judge. 

 

And if too much time has passed for the correction to be made, his taking her to court isn't going to do anything. 

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