I live in Dade county – Miami. I’ve been in court since my daughter was born in 2005, with help from the state attorney’s office. I had gone on welfare because her father would not help me with anything and I was alone and did not know how I would maintain my career when I gave birth (not to mention the harsh judgment in my career and from people for being pregnant and unwed!). In order to receive welfare benefits I was required to file for child support and that’s how this whole mess started.
I was an unwed mother. My Ex abused me; he is an alcoholic who abandoned me when I was 4 months pregnant because I refused to marry him. Among other abuse and more serious threats, he threatened that if I ever filed for child support he “had more money, more family, would take the child away from me and I would pay him support”. So I was hesitant when filing at the state attorney’s office, but they vowed to protect and help me and my child.
Before all the litigation, my ex did not ever visit our child – by his own choice. He denied paternity and was proved 99.99% to be the father. I constantly tried to get him to visit and he refused. But he has managed to turn his absenteeism of visitation around to make it all my fault and the judge is buying it.
Upon being served with the state attorney’s suggested child support filing, my ex threatened that if I didn’t give it up he would kill me, kidnap our child and I would never see her again. He called me screaming obscenities constantly. Someone flattened my tires several times, stole my mail, and dug through my garbage daily. (I wouldn’t have believed it was him if I hadn’t seen him do the same to someone else—another long story). Because of his craziness and threats, on the advice of an attorney I filed for a restraining order and then a month later on the advice of my attorney for sole custody of my daughter, then 8 months old.
Now, nearly two years later, with no support ordered whatsoever, several appearances in court asking for help, $15,000 in lawyers’ fees, two incompetent lawyers and one expensive money hungry lawyer I am representing myself now, against a criminal litigation attorney with 20 years of experience; my ex threatens to have me pay his legal fees.
In January 2007 I finally had enough. Stressed, broke, developing anxiety problems that I never had in my life before, I gave up. I realized I would never get child support from him and he really did not want anything to do with his daughter. We both signed a stipulation giving him what he truly wanted “I would never seek support and he did not desire visitation” and we motioned to “joint voluntarily dismiss” based on our lawyers advice.
The judge was infuriated, and denied our joint request. She decided to further complicate things. Even though we both wanted out of this legal mess, she assigned a Guardian Ad Litem and Custody Evaluator. The evaluator is a friend of the judges and 100% biased against me. The evaluator refuses to hear anything I have to say, and keeps claiming I am blocking visitation (it’s quite the opposite). This is based on the fact that I filed for a restraining order and because the judge ordered supervised visits. They appear to see that as interfering with visitation! My ex has never called me once asking to see his daughter…not even ONCE!
The evaluator and guardian ad litem see me as stressed and emotional…. hmmmm…lets see …
- physically and emotionally abused by my ex
- NO financial help with the birth and now for two years…(the opposite..I’ve paid out instead of getting much needed help).
- Forget that my daughter has had several health problems
- I did not even want to start this whole thing……and I don’t want to continue it.
- Everyone in court is believing the way my ex is twisting things to be all my fault..and no one even wants to hear my side of the story, which is very frustrating.
- Single mother (first time mother too!) …raising my daughter all by myself
- I’m broke even though I’ve been working double time to pay the lawyers (and I’ve had several lawyers rip me off and take advantage of my legal naivete.)
I’ve been trying to balance Career-Baby-Daycare expenses -and a full time expensive court battle in which no one will listen to my side whatsoever. Every time I open my mouth all I hear is “fathers rights” Hmm…I have no idea why I seem stressed and emotional….I’m constantly threatened that my infant daughter will be turned over to someone she does not know at all, who truly does not want her, and who has been abusive and irresponsible! Yet in the court’s eyes he can do no wrong! (In court motions he says he wants her—from what he has directly told me (threatened), he just wants a safety net to get out of paying support by getting 50/50 and eventually full custody..hewants me to pay him! He’s never given my daughter the time of day..no birthday/christmas wishes…no diapers..no food…nothing!) you might ask what would he do with a child he doesn’t want? His cocaine addicted …chain smoking .recently divorced..alcoholic sister is willing to care for her!
Meanwhile, my ex, who hasn’t paid a dime, yet has plenty of money in the bank, a stable good paying job ($50,000 per yr), who has taken NO responsibility whatsoever, seems relaxed…unemotional…and as the evaluator put it so perfectly—ambivalent—hmm, wonder why he isn’t stressed. He’s living the single bachelors life, with plenty of money to spend on whatever he likes and time to do whatever he likes…he even recently took a month long sailing trip to Mexico…must be nice! (may I remind you …hasn’t paid child support!)
Oh …and did I mention……(just the icing on the cake) …
not only does my ex pay no support (his attorney has managed to avoid any actual order of support with legal maneuvering for the last 21 months) …..
He did not comply with two supervised visitation orders….
has not completed the court ordered parenting class ordered 8 months ago…..AND….
during one period of supervised visitation, he demanded it was his right to know our daughter’s daycare and pediatrician contact info. He showed up at the day care center unannounced and demanded to visit with his daughter that he had only met the weekend before for one hour supervised visit.
The judge did not care that he was ordered on supervised only and violated her order. Note that he did not even attend the next allocated visits after the incident.
THE JUDGE DOES NOT CARE about ANY of this………My ex CAN DO NO WRONG. He has absolute immunity….and yet…I have been threatened that he may be given custody because of ‘visitation interference’.
Its crazy. I did not want this started in the first place, and now even though my ex and I would both prefer to get out, the judge is forcing both of us to continue battling each other and to continue spending money and time on the court and lawyers.
I’ve been told by everyone in court I chose him, so it is my fault and no one else’s—so why should I be given any credit for what I say? Even the judge said this to my face—my ex is not to be blamed for his actions at all.
If he somehow wins joint custody, or primary custody, I will be forced to be abused for the next 16 years; mine and my daughters life will essentially be over.