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Every Law Abiding Dad Has A Right To See His Kids - Poor Man's Guide To Visitation

Updated on October 7, 2014
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Dad, Family Court is the first place to start.

Fathers If you are being denied visitation, you can definitely do something about it. By using the court system, you'll have visitation within 1-3 months. No attorney is needed. You can file all the paperwork yourself, it's not complicated, and I'll help you through it. If you have any questions feel free to respond to this hub or you can ask the county court clerk who will also answer any questions you may have. To get a visitation order is first a mindset, then a goal (to see your kids). If your strapped for cash, you can get a visitation order for minimal or no cost to you. The first step is to make it a priority to see your kids and step into the county courthouse in the county where the mother lives with the kids. This is where the filing process starts. Once you decide to show up to court and begin the filing process, (and eventually getting the court order), you'll be glad you did it. Your kids will be ecstatic, and love you for a lifetime. Most dad's in this position don't even try to seek visitation, they just give up, and say "what can I do about it?" "I don't have that kind of money for an Attorney" They blame the mother and leave it at that. I've read articles how mothers bash the fathers for not being there for their kids (really chaps my hide). From 2001-2005 I filed 13 "Orders to Show Cause" for not allowing visitation. Most of those orders I filed with "low income" status and was able to file for free. I had to pay $30 to have the mother served by the police. The rest is easy paper work. After the mother was served and had to show up in court, she cooperated. I took her to trial as well and cross examined her witnesses. I won. This repeated dragging her back into court went of for six years. Only because she was extremely stubborn and uncooperative. The courtroom became my tool, and the clerks, became my friends. They new the shenanigans going on. The court process eventually wore her down. From talking to people, my scenario is not uncommon.The courthouse can be a pretty intimidating place at first. But it's your only option for a consistent visitation schedule. And kids like structured schedules.

My Background With Visitation

Up until nine months of age our son would run to me when he was sick, happy, hungry, whatever, I was his favored parent, and he would always be around me, this infuriated Amy (the mother). I was a stay at home dad, raising our son in the daytime and waiting tables at night. Amy and I split up when Jack was a year old, I wouldn't see him for another six months after this (I was grief-stricken and heartbroken), finally when I did see him, he asked; "Daddy, how come you don't see me anymore?" He couldn't understand what had happened at that age. I was devastated, this little guy I loved more than life itself, and for his mother to have total control to deny Jack and myself visitation was just plain cold-hearted, cruel behavior. After 6 months I guess Amy felt guilty and let me see him here and there, this later became an inconvenience for her and she would stop altogether, no phone calls, no nothing. She would plum just disappear. My frustration and heartbreak grew beyond belief. I drank Jack Daniels and left some threatening voicemails demanding to see our son, this was the wrong way to go (in California, this is considered grounds for establishing a restraining order (so if there's one against you, don't worry about it, just stay the course). I had made some wrong choices, what I said to her (on that message machine) was read aloud in a courtroom in front of a jury, afterwards you could hear a pin drop and feel the air sucked out of the room, but that still, didn't disqualify the visitation order. After this episode, when I showed up to Amy's place to see our son (with the visitation order in hand), I was in violation of her restraining order and got arrested, even though I had the visitation order, the restraining takes precedence. The officers said I would need to get another "visitation order" from the court specifying an agreed, neutral location for the exchange. The mother would eventually stop showing up at the drop-off location, so I went back to court and chose the police station as the exchange location for visitation. This ended up working out real well. Because if she didn't show up, I had the visitation order and the police right at my fingertips. She had to cooperate. If she didn't show up the police would drive right up to her front door. It never got to that point though.

Alienated Fathers

What type of impact does it have on a child when their mother alienates a law-abiding, loving father?

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File the Forms, You and the Kids Win!

  • Now that you’ve proven you’re the father, ask the clerk for a “child custody and visitation order-form.” The form will ask you what type of custody you are requesting, ask for joint custody, this is the easiest to get.The custody/visitation form will ask you times when you’d like to see you child/children.
    • Once these forms are filled out, you’re going to be asked to set a court date, set the date for 30-45 days out, this will give you time to have the other party served. You got to have the mother served in a reasonable amount of time before the court date (so she has time to provide the court with a response to your request for visitation), usually it’s around 21 days. The best and easiest way to have the mother served, is to have the sherrif do it (typically they have an office located in the courthouse), ask the clerk for that form as well and where you need to go to give it to the sheriff, some courts will give the documents to the police for you. Also if you don’t know where she lives, there are professional private servers who will charge you $45 dollars to have her served. You can find their business cards in the small claims court division (same courthouse). And they'll find her, even with just the slightest bit of information you provide them.
    • When you get her response in the mail and read it, do not let it rattle your feathers. She’ll make all kinds of excuses and will probably lie in her declaration and in the courtroom as to why you should have supervised visitation or no visitation at all. Do not deny any allegations or argue with her in front of the judge or any other place, let her rant and rave, stay cool and keep your composure, this makes you look like the rock solid parent. If the judge has a concern about what she’s saying, he’ll ask you about it (then it’s your turn to talk). Keep in mind, these judges hear the same rhetoric day in and day out, if there’s a rat in the room, they’ll smell it out.
    Typically a judge will award weekends, with every other Wednesday. If mom refuses these times, and most likely she will. Then the judge will send both of you to a mediator (same courthouse) to work out a visitation plan. If there’s still no agreement, you’ll be sent back to the family courtroom that same day. And an official custody, and child visitation will be ordered by the judge. If mom is still being uncooperative (with false allegations) you’ll be sent to an evaluator. Just go and see the evaluator, the evaluator will ask you simple questions like “do you have food in the fridge?” or they might even come out to your place to take a look around. I lived in a motel at the time, an evaluator came to my motel room, took a look around, and was impressed with all the pictures I had of my son hanging on the wall. These were pictures of experiences we had together. The evaluator and I had a pleasant conversation. She went back to court, and said I was a loving, fit dad, and my place was perfectly acceptable for visitation. All these professionals will be rooting for you, they respect a dad who fights for his kids. Mind you court is geared for the benefit of the mother, but that's o.k. They call it the “tender years doctrine” 0-5 years old when the child needs to be with the mother for nurturing. Still, just keep doing what’s asked of you, seems complicated but it’s not (just orchestrated steps). You have to fight for the kids, it’s that simple, and your kids are counting on you (even if they don’t know it yet). Mom has probably tried to alienate you from them (like my kids’ mother did) makes no difference. She’ll be fighting a losing battle guaranteed. Fathers typically just give up too east and too soon. That’s not an option for you, your kids need you. When they grow up and know you fought for em’, that'll speak volumes. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Representing Yourself at Family Court

The first thing to do, is decide to get this ball rolling. If you’re not legally married you’ll need to establish that you are the father (petition to establish parental relationship-form), the “family court clerk” will give you this form to fill out. This finding protects the relationship between you and your children (for life). Typically it's around $120 to file. If you don’t have the money, don’t worry. There’s another form for that, it’s called a “fee waiver” ask the same clerk for it. This form will waive just about all your court costs and fees (i.e. paternity testing-if need be). Even if you are making money and your expenses make you break even, then you can still qualify. You don’t need documentation to prove your income, just your honesty (fill out the form the best you can). Then you’ll be sent to a courtroom for the judge to approve the fee waiver. Don’t be anxious, you’ll just have to wait for a couple of hours (at the most) then the judge will approve it. After it’s approved, bring it back to the clerk to turn in (file). All filing of documents will be free from this point on. If you’re wondering how much it will cost you if you don’t qualify, each state is different, but you should be able to get a “visitation order” for under $200. Remember, you don’t need an attorney, the judge is looking out for the "best interest of the child/children," period. All forms that you fill out and file, make sure there are three copies- one for the court, one for you, and one for the other parent (to have served). This is mandatory. When you go to your hearing and you see she has an attorney, do not panic, the attorney can't do anything to you. My kids' mother had three different attorneys (throughout the years), and all they did was collect her money, I beat em' all. Remember, the court is thinking about "what is in the best interest for the children." Her attorneys lied, and the judge sniffed those lies out.

They Miss You Dad...

Quality Time

When you are granted visitation, this is your guaranteed quality time with your kids, take em’ camping or anywhere you want. They might not show it at first, but they’ll treasure their time spent with their dad and the experiences...ingrained for life. Start making fond memories, as soon as you can, you only get one shot at raising them, kids grow up fast, and you've haven't been there for them, excuses don't matter, it still hurts them. There’s nothing more valuable in this world than experiencing the love of your children and visa-versa. The most expensive gift you can give your children... is "your time."

Treasured Moments

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Fatherless Facts

A myriad of maladies. Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, and criminality.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Survey on Child Health, Washington, DC, 1993.

Drug Use: "...the absence of the father in the home affects significantly the behavior of adolescents and results in the greater use of alcohol and marijuana."

Source: Deane Scott Berman, "Risk Factors Leading to Adolescent Substance Abuse," Adolescence 30 (1995)

Child Abuse. Researchers in Michigan determined that "49 percent of all child abuse cases are committed by single mothers."

Source: Joan Ditson and Sharon Shay, "A Study of Child Abuse in Lansing, Michigan," Child Abuse and Neglect, 8 (1984).

Psychiatric Problems. In 1988, a study of preschool children admitted to New Orleans hospitals as psychiatric patients over a 34-month period found that nearly 80 percent came from fatherless homes.

Source: Jack Block, et al. "Parental Functioning and the Home Environment in Families of Divorce," Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 27 (1988)

Emotional distress. Children living with a never-married mother are more likely to have been treated for emotional problems.
Source: L. Remez, "Children Who Don't Live with Both Parents Face Behavioral Problems," Family Planning Perspectives (January/February 1992).

Hungry for love. "Father hunger" often afflicts boys age one and two whose fathers are suddenly and permanently absent. Sleep disturbances, such as trouble falling asleep, nightmares, and night terrors frequently begin within one to three months after the father leaves home.

Source: Alfred A. Messer, "Boys Father Hunger: The Missing Father Syndrome," Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, January 1989.

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