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Old 07-03-2008, 07:47 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Custody battle for leaving the state

My husband and i have been married for 12 years, seperated for 18 months. During our 10 1/2 years being together, i endure mental/verbal abuse and some low grade physical abuse. He enjoyed drinking and drugs, cheated on me, etc. You name it, i probably went through it. After finding out that he was using drugs in our home with our children present (but unaware), i finally built up the courage to leave. (we had seperated before, but i always went back). It has been 18 months. During this time, we had SPLIT/SHARED custody (not filed in court). We split the children evenly by 50%. Howver, during his nights, the children mostly stayed with his family or a babysitteras he played softball 4 nights a week, or spent time with his girlfriend, who didnt like my children because they werent hers. Most recently, after spending time together as a family (he was due to move to Texas for a job), i informed him that there would be no future for us. He held me hostage in my own home, knocked things over, yelled, screamed, called names, and then swallowed a bottle of oxycotin in attempts to end his life and left my house and went on a drinking and drug binge for three days. His family called 911, and he hid from police for a day, all the while sending text messages to me "the kids are yours" "id rather die" "my blood is on your hands." Because of his fragile mental state, i didnt want further damage done to my children. So i filed a petition for full custody in VA, packed up my things and put them in storage, filed for emergency family leave from my job, and took my kids to a family friend's house in Georgia. We have court coming up for the decision for custody in one week. I have been in contact with his family and advise them that i was not trying to be malicious, but that i just wanted my husband to get help. I advised them that the children and i would come up once a month to see the family, and that i was not trying to "kill" the husband in court.

I have now been informed that the husband's family has hired an attorney to try to keep me in the state. He has made no mention of doing so for his kids, but more to "give me what i deserve." He has quit his job in order NOT to pay child support, and says that he will fight me tooth and nail for joint custody.

I feel that i did the right thing. I got a dedicated cell phone for the children (9 & 11) in order to talk to their father whenever they want. (he has called 3times for a duration of less than 5 minutes per phone call each). I would much rather the children have a father who they miss, but are able to speak to, instead of a father who loses touch with what is right and kills himself (or me) in front of his children.

I am living off of savings right now, and have no income coming in. Retaining a lawyer is not something i can afford right now. What can i do to win my case alone against his lawyer?
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Old 07-03-2008, 09:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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First of all, the action you have taken to protect your life and your children is courageous and well within your legal rights.

You state that you were separated---NOT legally separated, and not filed at the courthouse, meaning NO custody arrangements were in place. The result of this is that the law views you and your husband as the same in terms of custody. This means that YOU are allowed to take the children wherever you wish---with or without his permission. Had you been legally separated or had there been custody arrangements in place, then you may not have been allowed to "take" the children. You are under no compulsion to do whatever your husbands parents want---they cannot KEEP you from protecting your children, as long as you are married and there is no custody agreement in place. Now, if it were the other way around, and YOU were the mentally unstable one, threatening to kill yourself and they were trying to keep you from leaving with the kids that would be understandable. But to try to keep the only parent who is acting responsibly is ridiculous. "Hearing such and such" is meant to scare and intimidate you. Understand? You not only did the right thing, you are to be commended for what you have done to protect your children.

This means that your husband attorney is , for lack of a better word, blowing smoke, yanno---. His client has serious mental issues and has no legal basis for his claims---in fact, he seems to need serious mental intervention.

If you cannot hire an attorney, go to a woman's shelter and ask them for advice--they cannot HIRE an attorney for you, but they do have attorneys who offer their services that are specialized to your particular situation.

If you cannot get legal representation, take and keep careful exact logs of the threats, the death threats, the 911 calls, etc, as well as any testimony regarding past abuse against you. Did you ever, at any time, file police reports about his abuse? Were there ever friends or neighbors that witnessed the same? All of this will work to support your case.

Also, another thing to keep in mind---men like this who are acting out of spite don't usually bother putting their money where their mouth is---think about it--why would an abusing, suicidal man WANT to go into a court room? He wouldn't.

Seek legal help--there are low cost services available--consult a woman's shelter for assistance.

Good luck.
__________________
Grace

To ERR is human.
To FORGIVE is divine.
NEITHER is my policy.

Last edited by GentleGrace; 07-03-2008 at 09:28 AM.
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