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    KDUB75's Avatar
    KDUB75 Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    May 6, 2012, 11:41 PM
    Unfit Father...
    I am a divorced father. I have been divorced almost 4 years now. My ex-wife, by default, was awarded sole legal custody and we both have joint physical custody of our daughter. This entitles me to visitation as has been set forth in our Parenting Times Agreement.

    However, over the course of the years since this divorce happened, there has been a steady decline in cooperation with this agreement (court ordered visitation) on her part. I have also experienced long periods of no phone contact after trying desperately for weeks (sometimes even months) to reach my daughter. Two years ago, I moved for a better work opportunity and to remarry. I have worked very hard to stay in close contact with my little girl since the move over 1550 miles away from her, including making planned visits back to see her only to have that visitation denied upon arrival and all phone contact cutoff for months at a time!

    My daughter has also made and asked some very "age inappropriate" statements and questions regarding me "lying to her" and "moving away because I love my new wife more than her and to make her sad". She was sure to say "mommy was telling her those things".

    I have since filed for a visitation modification because of the steady decline of my relationship with my daughter due to these damaging actions. It was made known to me by the ex-wife that she is going to prove me an "unfit father" and take her away from me for good.

    Even though I have had a brief issue with drug use for a couple months time earlier in the failed marriage with this person (sober for years now) and have struggled to keep up with my child support, I have managed to completely change my life around and almost have my back support caught up. I am not afraid to admit my mistakes, but I have NEVER put my child in danger or used drugs (when I did use) around her or in-front of her or anything of that nature (I was nowhere near her or anyone else). Not making excuses for my behavior back then, just making sure that is clear!

    I want to know if my ex-wife has grounds to prove me unfit from these past behaviors? I do not have a legal record or anything... never had to go to rehab to quit. Just sucked it up and quit on my own.

    I believe it is in my daughter's best interest as she has expressed ever since I've moved that she and I maintain our relationship. We are very close and have a very awesome bond ever since she was born.

    Either way, I will be interested in anyone who can honestly answer my question. Of course I know I have admitted to some "not so proud" moments of my life on here. I can appreciate anyone's disapproval of these poor decisions. I do ask that you please not forget that I (just like you) am human and make mistakes and have learned a great deal from those mistakes! Please no throwing stones! :-)

    Thanks
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
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    #2

    May 7, 2012, 03:59 AM
    She did not bring these issues up during the divorce? Then its unlikely the court will entertain them now. Unless she can prove that you are currently unfit (seems unlikely if what you say is true) then the court will be unlikely to accept her complaint.

    I would ask the court to appoint a guardian ad leutum (GAL) to represent your daughter. I would also ask this person to talk to your daughter about what she said about your lying to her. Parental Alienation is usually actionable and if you can prove it, ti will become harder on your ex.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
    KDUB75's Avatar
    KDUB75 Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
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    #3

    May 15, 2012, 12:44 PM
    Hi Scott,
    I am sending this update. We attended our hearing last May 11th, 2012. It was continued for a later date but not until after the mother's lawyer had two representatives from child support and a child therapist bare testimony against me. The child support agency reps testified that I have been later and have $2000 in rearranges but have been making payments to both my current support amount and the rearranges. They also said that I haven't turned in any of my address changes or employer changes which is not at all true! They said in fact that the mother turned that information in which is an absolute lie! What can I do about this? I have no idea how to get a witness testimony stricken based on false witness.

    They also brought a therapist who has been seeing my daughter since the mother was served with the motion to modify the visitation order. Conveniently, the therapist has never contacted me nor was I ever made aware of my daughter even seeing a therapist. If I'm not aware of this then I can't request these records which is still my right to do. This therapist testified that the daughter does not have a relationship with the dad which is absolutely false!! The testimony was very bias. Again, how can I have this testimony stricken from the record? Please help me!!

    Thank you.
    KDUB75
    KDUB75's Avatar
    KDUB75 Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
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    #4

    May 15, 2012, 12:50 PM
    I also want to ask you:
    If I am representing myself, can I speak with the judge like the attorney from the other party? Thank you...
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
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    #5

    May 15, 2012, 12:57 PM
    You can't have the testimony stricken from the record, what you can do is rebut it. If your ex is represented by and attorney and you aren't you are starting with two strikes against you.

    Did you question the witnesses at all? For example: did you ask the reps from child support to document that you are in arrears? Or did you ask the therapists whether she has ever discussed your daughter's situation with you? Did you ask why she testified that your daughter has no relationship with you? Yes you have a right to address the court and to examine witnesses. You have a right to know what evidence and witnesses will be presented BEFORE you enter the hearing so you can prepare. This is called Discovery.

    But you have a continuance. So what you need to do is rebut this testimony. Do you have any proof that you submitted the changes they claim you didn't? If so, you go into court and have them recalled and show them the proof and ask what they have to say about it. Or you hire your own therapists to talk to your daughter and testify as to their findings. By the way, was the therapist ordered by the court or were she hired by your ex.

    But really you need an attorney because her attorney knows all the tricks (obviously) and you don't. You need to know what proofs will be acceptable for the court to rebut the testimony. You need your own experts. Did you ask the court to appoint a GAL like I suggested?
    AK lawyer's Avatar
    AK lawyer Posts: 12,592, Reputation: 977
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    #6

    May 15, 2012, 01:48 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by KDUB75 View Post
    I also want to ask you:
    If I am representing myself, can I speak with the judge like the attorney from the other party? Thank you...
    Certainly. But the attorney is not entitled to speak to the judge out of your presence. If that is what occurred, I would object streniously.

    Quote Originally Posted by ScottGem View Post
    ... Did you ask the court to appoint a GAL like I suggested?
    It's spelled "guardian ad litem", by the way. The Latin phrase "ad litem" means for the legal proceeding. In other words, such a GAL only protects the child in the court case, not in other matters. In some places, an attorney is appointed, and is called an attorney ad litem.

    A GAL is typically appointed when it appears to the judge that the child's interest may be at odds with the interest or perspective of both parties to the case (the mother and the father).
    KDUB75's Avatar
    KDUB75 Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
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    #7

    May 15, 2012, 02:05 PM
    Hi Scott,

    To answer your questions, Yes I questioned the witnesses but I do not believe in the moment I asked all the questions I needed to. I certainly didn't think to ask the questions you have mentioned. I do not have the money to hire an attorney to represent me, this is why I am attempting to represent myself. This is also why I am asking these questions so I can gain the necessary knowledge of these "tricks" to use while I prepare for round 2. I am learning about cross examination and asking leading questions as well as what to ask to support my "testimony" I am basically giving through these questions during cross examination. Any of these tricks you can share with me will be greatly appreciated! How do I request "Discovery"?

    I did request that a GAL be appointed to represent my daughter. I am aware of the spelling BTW, just abbreviating. Thank you for letting me know about that though.

    The therapist is hired by the mother, not the state. How do I hire a therapist for this? Can I request the state appoint a therapist to examine my daughter?
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
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    #8

    May 15, 2012, 05:43 PM
    Let me put it this way, you can't afford NOT to have an attorney. The odds of you winning against an attorney are very small. Have you even tried shopping around? Did you bring the current action or did the ex? If she did, then you may be able get your courts costs covered.

    You have to file a motion with the court for Discovery. I'm not sure what the proper forms are in your court. If you refuse ti get an attorney,then try a local law school. Some of them have clinics that can help you prepare paperwork and strategy.
    KDUB75's Avatar
    KDUB75 Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
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    #9

    May 15, 2012, 07:23 PM
    I filed the current action. I am being counseled by an attorney but not represented by him. He is very busy, this is why I have posted on here asking the questions I have. Again, thank you for your response! I can appreciate your recommendation for legal representation. However, I still do not have the money to hire one. This is exactly why I am asking these questions on this blog. Now that I have made that clear, I will do my best to find the answers I need elsewhere. Thank you for your time, Scott.
    KDUB75
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
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    #10

    May 15, 2012, 08:07 PM
    We aren't going to stop trying to help you just because we think you are making a mistake in going it without representation.

    The problem is we can't give you very specific help, only generalities.
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,278, Reputation: 7690
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    #11

    May 15, 2012, 08:33 PM
    I will be blunt, if you don't have an attorney you are going to lose, an attorney would have most likely objected when false statements were made, they may have challenged the statements of the counselor or questioned them on how many hours was the child seen,

    You will now request a independent therapist see the child and report to the court. You may ask the judge if he would question the child in private without attorneys present.

    You would have witnesses and proof that you submitted the address changes.

    If you don't get an attorney they will file motions and present evidence that should have not been allowed. If you had an attorney, he would have done a discovery of evidence to know what they were going to do, before they did it.

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