Author Topic: On a serious note, Dads, please read...  (Read 3061 times)

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MGflorida

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On a serious note, Dads, please read...
« on: September 04, 2009, 12:49:17 PM »
Hello all,
I strongly believe in social responsibility.  It’s the main motivator behind writing this to you.  In February, I lost my Shared Custody Case.  After losing, I vowed to locate a few father’s rights websites, and inform fathers having difficulties in seeing their children of the mistakes that caused me to lose my case.  Essentially, I want you to succeed where I have failed. 

KUDOS
I need to give credit where it’s due.  I conducted an online search on “Father’s Rights” and all the websites I found were geared towards selling something.  Kudos to the Daddyplace for having a forum where members could share information with one another and support one another.  My hat also goes off to all of you that care about your children and want to be a part of their lives despite a breakup with a loved one.   

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
I haven’t seen my 5 year-old child since July 2008.  The mother has withheld her from me and does not communicate with me at all.  So, I hired an attorney and took her to court to gain shared custody.  I live in Broward County, Florida. Both my ex and I were ordered to take the Parents, Children & Divorce class by the Judge. After the answer and response stage, we were ordered to mediation.  Mediation was an impasse and onward to trial we go….   

WHY I LOST
What burns the most is that I lost to an inferior opposing counsel.  Opposing counseling made many mistakes.  For example, my attorney and I were able to throw out their witnesses and evidence because they filed them one (1) day late.  However, my attorney and I made equally as costly mistakes, if not more.  I asked my attorney to have witnesses that could attest to my character, my parenting skills, and testify against my ex, and properly portray her as someone who took the law into their own hands and maliciously kept my child away from me.  My attorney felt that wasn’t a good idea and that my testimony alone would be good enough to win. That was the wrong move and a big mistake.  Lastly, there were abuse allegations in my case.  When my ex was on the stand, she lied about everything.  They were obvious lies and I wrote notes to my attorney so he could catch her in her lies.  He chose not to use them.  I was flabbergasted.  Without him challenging her allegations, the Judge had no choice but, to rule against me.  That stung the most because I am not an abuser and never will be.  In the end, I lost, and the Judge ordered me to 6 months of parenting classes, and I will have to start over at the mediation stage again before I can go back in front of the Judge.  Here are tips and lessons I have learned from this:

BE PROACTIVE       
Despite our mistakes in the case, the single biggest thing that would have pushed the tide in my favor would have been for me to be proactive with the parenting classes.  From when I originally filed for shared custody to the date of the trial, it was more than 8 months. I could have had all of this completed by the time I set foot in the courthouse for trial.  Since I’m in Broward County, I recommend that you take the Parenting Skills class at the Mental Health Association of Broward County. It’s an 8-week class.  Then take the 12-week Parenting Support Group/Class as well.  The first two classes are pretty cheap too.  After that, take 4 counseling sessions with a lady named Connie there.  If you have abuse allegations in your case, take the 26-week Batterers’ Intervention Program (BIP) support group.  It’s better to be proactive and erase all doubt than be reactive after the fact.  I wished my attorney had told me about this earlier. I would have made every effort to complete these classes before trial.  From talking to other attorneys after my trial, they were surprised to know that my attorney did not recommend that I take some classes prior to trial.  After hearing that, I fired my attorney immediately and had him file a motion to withdraw as my counsel the same month.  A few men that were in my classes were proactive and we exchanged information to keep in touch.  Needless to say, they won their custody cases and this strategy works.   

LEGAL STRATEGY   
A side from not having any witnesses or evidence, I want you to succeed where I have failed.

Witnesses:  Some of the best witnesses are the grandparents from both sides of the child’s family.  Spend the extra money and have your attorney create a “deposition” and provide “discovery” to the opposing counsel.   

Evidence:    In poking around a few Father Right’s websites, the most consistent thing I saw was documenting each time you call, email, or stop by to see your child.  Even if it will become old and you will get tired of hearing the answer “no,” keep doing it and document it.  This will show a pattern that you are trying and they are not.  Florida Statutes 61.13(3)(a), states that in determining custody, the court will consider certain factors such as the ability to “demonstrate the capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.”

Possession words:  Going back to Florida Statutes 61.13(3)(a), do not use possession words in front of the Judge or Mediator like, “my child, my son, or my daughter.”  The judges hate that!

Procedural Techniques: If you have to go to trial, prepare to be grilled by opposing counsel. Their motive is to paint you as an idiot, abuser, and a fraud.  Have your attorney come up with possible Q&A that opposing counsel might ask when they cross-examine you.  Be prepared!

Also, if your ex starts crying while testifying, have your attorney ask her a simple question.  Watch how quickly the act is over and how well they answer simple questions.  Do not get reeled in with the “crying game.”  If your ex starts lying on the stand, have your attorney impeach the witness. 

Most importantly, call your ex as your first witness.  The reason this strategy is so awesome and brilliant is because it only gives the opposing counseling one crack at their star witness, and it gives you two cracks at her via direct examination and then redirect examination.  By doing things, you have effectively taken away the other team’s star player by doing this.  They will not be prepared for this.  A great Civil War general once said, “An attack is not effective unless done in surprise.”  Now, you are preempted by her testimony and you and your attorney can freely alter your game plan accordingly.  It’s better to go last as the witness and finish up strong.  Remember, family trials are decided by one judge and not by a jury. The last impression will be a lasting impression on the judge. 

Court reporter:  Spend the extra $200.00 and hire a court reporter if you have to go to trial.  You will have no recourse if the judge rules against you.  Your chances of appealing their decision will be greatly reduced if you don’t have one.  You only have 30 days to appeal the judge’s decision as per Florida Statute.

Strong Attorney:  I had a nice guy attorney and you know what they say about nice guys…You have to hire a bitch, a bulldog, or a bad ass.  Interview at least 3 attorneys before you make a decision. I’m talking about the initial call or free consultation.  I am talking about interviewing them after you have narrowed down your list to the top 3.  Also, if the attorney is charging for the initial consultation, move on.  Think about it like this, I work in construction and I go out to potential clients all of the time to give proposals.  Maybe, out of the 10 people I visited, 1 will become my customer.  My job pays me for travel and gas so, I don’t worry about it nor does my boss.  My visit is free and so is my proposal.  Trust me, you don’t want to pay for my hourly rate if I was charging to give estimates. 

Do not rush this decision.  It is the single most important thing to do.  Again, I repeat, it is the single most important thing to do.  The best way to tell whether they are a bitch or not is after you tell them your story, see if they get mad.  If they say, “Oh, that’s too bad,” in a nice solemn voice, that’s not your future attorney.  They need to say things like, “I hate when they do stupid sh*t like that!”             

Because people are stupid, I have to state a disclaimer despite trying to help people.  As you can see, I’m an informed person and not an attorney. This is not legal advice.  However, these tips will help you in your efforts.         

Offline Frobozz

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Re: On a serious note, Dads, please read...
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2009, 12:57:44 PM »
First off, thanks for joining.  Secondly, that's great info there. I'm sorry that you had to go through hard times to learn this and hopefully, your efforts in writing this will pay off for others.   

Thanks for the kudos.  Keith is kind enough to bear the costs of the sites and we thank all who are kind enough to donate money to help defray the expenses.    Daddyplace has become a home for many of us.  It's a good place to vent about serious issues, to get advice and to B.S. with other guys when you're having a normal or boring day.  I hope you find some or all of that here and look forward to you sticking around.

Also, please keep us up to date if there are any changes in your legal status.

Good luck to you.


 

Offline Leukoi

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Re: On a serious note, Dads, please read...
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2009, 01:24:35 PM »
I don't get it. 


Offline Keith

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Re: On a serious note, Dads, please read...
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2009, 01:28:25 PM »
Thanks Marcus for those kind words about Daddyplace.  

I started Daddyplace after my divorce and custody battle.  Fortunately for me, I won and have my boys full time.  (Long Story)

I am truly sorry that it didn't work out for you.   Do you get to see your kids at all?

Great Deals for dads on child products, check out Daddy's Deals
Looking for baby names?  Check out the Baby Name Wizard book
New Dad and have questions?  Check out Be Prepared - A Practical Handbook for New Dads.  Recommended by dads.

Offline Scott H.

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Re: On a serious note, Dads, please read...
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2009, 01:38:02 PM »
Marcus, sorry to hear that you went through all that crap. Personally, I think I would have ended up punching the lawyer in the face afterwards, but that probably would have hurt the case even further. I hope that after the classes things turn your way and that ex of yours lets you see your kidagain.



I don't get it. 

Don't get what?


People who think they know it all really annoy those of us that do.

Offline Leukoi

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Re: On a serious note, Dads, please read...
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2009, 02:19:43 PM »
« Last Edit: September 04, 2009, 02:43:50 PM by Bill »

 

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