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Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Lesson in Family Law, is this really how it is?

My friend after losing the custody battle

Today was the first time I have ever gone into a court or seen how law really works. I am so disappointed. No, I'm so BEYOND disappointed.

A close friend of mine has been battling for full custody of her son for about 4 years. Her son has just turned 5 and will start kindergarten this coming fall so the previous 50/50 custody arrangement (or shall I say ruling) will no longer work considering the father lives in different county[s].

There's so many details I won't get into it all but I will try to give the most important. Forgive the choppiness of this. Understand that I know the pettiness and finger pointing and all the stuff that goes on with these things. This may sound a bit petty on my part too, but what can I say?
I am telling you a bit of background so you know the history and why certain details of the case are so important as well as why this comes as a shocking blow.

Engaged and very young, my friend became pregnant. She quite college at the time in order to work full time to support her fiance while stayed at home claiming to go to school so she wouldn't have to work later, but he never did. Nearly 2 months before giving birth he left her. He has never held down a job for longer than several months at a time (and still has not). He has always lived at home or with my friend or his current "fiance," all of which have supported him. Worse, his own mother enables his actions by giving him access to her accounts. He doesn't need to be responsible when people take care of him. After the birth of their son they were "together" again for a while, but come to find out later he was seeing and living part time with another woman (his current "fiance") for about a year. Meanwhile my friend who wasn't concerned with trusting him was working full time and going to school full time to finally get her degree while also taking care of her son. She currently works full time and is pursuing her masters degree. He still has no job, no degree and shuffles back and forth between his parents house and with his "fiance."

He is a "stay at home dad." His "fiance" has a child that he claims to watch while she works 2 jobs. He doesn't live there all the time and her mother watches her daughter. He has only started claiming this since the he was served. He also started claiming his girlfriend to be his fiance since then. I assume to appear to be a stable home/family environment for their son.

After serving him he failed to show up in court several times. The judge ordered mediation. They could not come to an agreement. The mediator found that the Stay At Home Dad should have full custody because he would have more time with him as well as the "bond" that he has with the 'finance's" daughter (3 years younger than him).

My friend works full time but has every other Friday off and spends nearly all of her off time with her son. She takes online courses for her degree which she does when he is asleep at night.
When she is working her mother who works at an elementary school down the street from his preschool takes him home and watches him until my friend returns just a few hours later.

Their son has several medical conditions that have required surgery and many expenses. My friend is the only one who has had medical ins for her son. She has paid for all his medical expenses, has taken him to all his Dr's appointments specialists and surgeries. He has chosen not to be involved, to help out in any fashion or even be there for surgeries. He now of course claims he was not given any info on them or that "he didn't want to be in the same room as her." so he couldn't be there for his son.

He was ordered to pay a certain amount child care and other expenses and has not paid a penny.

My friend has made sure he is 100 percent ready for school on the fall, all medical etc & forms filled out as well as has already enrolled him in school. Which happens to be the school his grandmother works at.

She can prove she has provided him with a stable, secure home and that she is a responsible parent taking care of ALL of his needs.

There are many other details, some really important ones but require too much explanation.

The judge asks my friend immediately what she thought of the mediation. She explained her concerns as well as others. He didn't address any except for one. Asked what the father thought of the mediation report. He said he fully agrees with it. Asked the judge to make sure my friend kept her son on medical insurance because "he is a stay at home dad." Judge ruled entirely in his favor. He gets full custody during the school year she gets 3 weekends out of the month of which she has to do 100% of the driving between 3 counties. She gets summer vacation while he gets the weekends during summer and 3 full weeks. He gets 2/3 of Holidays. The judge also ruled that she keeps his medical ins. because SAHD doesn't have any.

So, I sat in court today and watched my friend lose her son.

Deadbeat dad wins. How is it possible?

Not only is this ruling unfair with regards to her time wither son (on weekends she spends at least 1 full day driving) but it sounds like he ruled as though she were completely unfit to be a parent!

Last note: During summer time she gets the weekdays while he gets the weekends. Think about that. She doesn't get summer vacation. She still works full time. She will be getting LESS time with him during the summer than when she only has him weekends. It seems to me that it makes more sense for her to have him the whole school year to get maximum time with him. She will get his medical needs met, make sure that all other needs are met and that he has an active social life with extracurricular activities etc. (He won't allow him to get involved in them as he states himself that they will interfere with vacations.) Does he really sound fit to have full custody?



Mrs. D said...

Not surprised. I don't know what is going on but it will be interesting to see how these kids turn out and what ends up on studies of children growing up in these kinds of circumstances. I know of a few cases simular where the mom lost full custody for being the better parent. In many cases these days moms are losing custody for being the parent and not the BFF. Your friend is going to need you. She has a long, hard, hard battle on her hands even if the courts are no longer involved. How sad for the kids.

Can you give an update and let your friend know I am praying for her (and for you). No matter how hard it get's she MUST hang on to God, pray for guidance and listen and obey God above all else.

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