A Father’s Fight: One Dad’s Tribulations Through The Family Court System

Family lawBy Kristian Pedersen

My story began like many others. My wife and I were discussing divorce.

After returning from a late-August vacation, I accidentally found a message on my wife’s phone about meeting a man for drinks. When I told her, the divorce conversation accelerated.

I texted her dad about helping me find an apartment in town and we spoke about remaining friendly. I told my wife I’d take our four kids to Cape Cod for Labor Day weekend so she could have time to think.

I told her that if we divorced I’d want to remain in the kids’ lives and that I’d want 50/50 shared physical custody.

Upon returning on Monday night, she threw me and my 17-year-old daughter out of the house (a daughter from a previous relationship). I called the police to tell them what happened and the dispatcher said I made a good choice because my wife likely would have made something up to have me removed anyway.

The next day when I called to ask if I could pick up my belongings, she said she’d call the cops. I once again called the police and had them escort me to my home to pick up some of my stuff.

My wife asked me to take the kids for the coming weekend via text and I told her I couldn’t because I was busy trying to find a place to stay.

She then met with her lawyer and they filed a restraining order the next day. He then proceeded to tell my attorney that he had not yet been retained. (He probably didn’t know that my ex and I texted about her meeting with him.)

The affidavit she wrote was more like a laundry list of a bad marriage.

She claimed I had a gun. (I’ve never owned a gun.) She said I threatened to kill her and the kids (but asked me to take them for the coming weekend).

Related: 4 Things To Know About False Allegations Of Abuse

I assumed the judge would dismiss the affidavit. I followed the father’s survival guide to divorce to a “T” and it was obvious that this was a tactic to gain an advantage in litigation. She even claimed the events took place on a day when I was across the state with our children.

At the RO hearing we made a good case to have it dismissed.

The judge asked my wife’s attorney if I had done anything recently that would warrant an RO, because all of his accusations were from 5-10 years prior. The attorney then accused me of rape and claimed I obtained a gun through my boss at the Air Force base where I work to take care of a coyote problem (even though soldiers can’t bring guns onto a military base and I had an affidavit from my boss denying this claim).

I was certain the judge would dismiss the case, but he ended up gutting the RO, essentially punting the ball. I received shared custody of the kids and I just had to avoid her making up a story to have me arrested.

I was served with divorce papers and she filed for temporary orders. At the temporary orders hearing I wanted 50/50 shared custody, but because of the RO my lawyer said it was a long shot.

I made a good case for shared physical custody. I was a soccer coach, Cub Scout den leader, and assistant Scout Master for the Boy Scouts. The kids always went to church with me and I took them to almost all of their extracurricular activities and nearly half of their doctor appointments.

The judge, who would retire a few months later, seemed like she was falling asleep at the hearing and ended up giving me three weekends a month (Friday-Sunday) and every Wednesday-Thursday. She ordered me to pay $250 per week in child support plus half of all activities, uninured medical expenses and all health insurance.

Just five more nights a month and I would have 50/50. I have a flexible schedule while my wife works nights from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. so I argued that the kids should stay with me on the nights she works.

The financial aspect of this was simple. My wife is college-educated. She works part-time and makes as much as I do. If we agreed to 50/50 custody and she went back to work full-time, she would have to pay me support.

Logistically, we have a best-case scenario for 50/50. I’m renting a house a mile from hers’ and the kids all want to see me more. My lifestyle is more conventional.

And yet, here I am barely getting by. My wife and I could easily provide for ourselves and kids independently and we could schedule parenting time so that we could both have quality time with the kids.

The house was our only asset. She’s buying me out and I’m using that money as a down payment. I told her attorney that I would waive any right to child support if they agreed to 50/50 shared physical custody, but they refused.

Now, on Monday nights I pick up my youngest son for Cub Scouts and take my oldest to Boy Scouts.

The judges never appointed a Guardian ad Litem, so it’s safe to assume they never felt the kids were in any danger. My attorney thinks the judge continued the RO to protect me from my wife.

Currently, I’m settling my case because I can no longer afford an attorney.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

What could have been taken care of for a few thousand dollars has cost us each more than $20,000. I’ve agreed to the terms because my wife is working part-time. However, I’m hoping the order will be modified to 50/50 since I have purchased a home nearby and my wife should be going back to work fulltime.

Numerous studies prove shared physical custody is best for children of divorce. I should also have the same right to parent as my wife.

Often, you hear about what fathers will do to avoid paying child support. In my case, my ex chose to hire an attorney and paid tens of thousands of dollars in order to avoid paying me support.

Recently in Massachusetts, a shared parenting bill sponsored by fathers/parental rights organizations found favor in the House and Senate, but the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts lobbied against it and added language that contradicts the bill’s original intent. They watered down what would have been a huge step toward the presumption of 50/50 shared custody.

In 2016, we need to recognize that family dynamics have changed. Laws were made under the old assumption that men would be breadwinners and moms would be caregivers. Times have changed and those stereotypes are discriminatory.

My case was complicated by the use of a fraudulent protective order. If we apply the same civil preponderance used at an RO hearing, there’s more evidence that her attorney instructed her to file the RO fraudulently than there is any evidence of actual fear.

I just want to be a dad. This is America and I thought telling the truth and taking the high road would show that I was a stable, loving father and that my kids would be rewarded with equal time with both parents.

That hasn’t happened yet, but I’m not going to stop fighting. Shared parenting should be presumed even in the face of false allegations.

Support father’s rights.

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Shawn Garrison is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell & Cordell UK. He has written countless pieces dealing with the unique child custody and divorce issues that men and fathers face. Through his work on CordellCordell.com, CordellCordell.co.uk, and DadsDivorce.com, Mr. Garrison has become an authority on the complexities of the legal experience and was a content creator for the YouTube series “Dad’s Divorce Live” and additional videos on both the Dad’s Divorce and Cordell & Cordell YouTube channels. Mr. Garrison has managed the sites of these customers, and fostered the creation of several of their features, including the Cordell & Cordell attorney and office pages, the Dad’s Divorce Newsletter, and the Cordell & Cordell newsletter.

14 comments on “A Father’s Fight: One Dad’s Tribulations Through The Family Court System

    I have never had one Father’s Day; one birthday; one holiday; one summer vacation; never more than 4 days total etc with my daughter for over 11+ years;..plus all visits were like visiting a scared zoo animal in a cage as they all required (initially supervised as the courts always buy her lies and hysterics) then exchanges at police stations or monitored exchanges…I have been completely economically destroyed by 4 court systems in 2 (almost 3) different states and have spent OVER $130,000.00 in total legal costs and $121,000.00 in child support and only have “seen” my daughter 62.5 days out of her 11+ years of her life!!!!!!!…ex has broken every one of the 14+ parenting plans over 7+ years of court battles!!! Total number of law firms involved in this is over 7! I have passed over a dozen background checks, yet ex continually uses the lie “I might be dangerous one day…”, yet ex has lived with the surrogate father who the courts have NEVER done one background check or required to be part of ANY parenting plan, yet he has received (along with the ex ) over $1,000.00+/month for over 8 years …and has been the 24x7x365-days-a-year “father figure “…I ask all, “IS THIS RIGHT and in the “best INTEREST of the child ?…(or just the best INTEREST of the pocketbooks of my ex and her boyfriend)?”….

    It’s a rough read. Congratulations for keeping your sanity through this seemingly insane situation. My own father kept custody during his divorce(s) much to our benefit growing up. Kids need their Fathers to fight for them, when necessary. I now professionally coach men and women across the country before during and after divorce so they can have a better experience throughout, and work through grief, etc. Thanks for telling your story.

    I feel this man’s pain. My wife has been involved in 5 Department of Family Services investigations, and has been arrested for child abuse against our 6 year old daughter. We have a Guardian Ad Litem and she is still recommending 50/50 parenting time even while she is going through these criminal charges and wants me to pay her child support since my income out weighs hers. Meanwhile, I take our daughter and soon to therapy every week numerous doctors appointments, and everything else. My daughter even asked the police to arrest mommy so she never has to see her again. The Guardian Ad Litem had not even talked to the children and said she doesn’t plan on it, that she will complete her investigation through interviewing us. To think, that I requested the Guardian Ad Litem. There are done of us men more fit to raise children than the mother. Everyone is always talking about a mother’s rights, where are the father’s rights? I set up a Facebook account “Betteroff Divorced” because of it and I’m in the process of time lining all of the incidents because of it. Long way to go, but I’m working on it in between raising a 6 year old and 2 year old. I have refused after her arrest to return the children to her until the next family Court hearing. Wish us luck.

    I think this page originates from Australia and I hear you have it bad there, even worse than the UK. Like many men I’ve had a similar story. Walk I to court to try and get an oder to see your children and you get hit with some form of abuse/violence accusation served on you. I thought after it was proved wrong the same judge would come down on her hard. I spent 5 years in court trying to get access that was constantly disrupted. On a weekly basis my wife’s solicitor would send 2 letters packed full of accusations. It’s paralysing and I learnt that the judge, lawyers, professionals etc just say well serious accusations need to be investigated. Try making one in return and watch the hysterics though. It’s unfair, it’s biased and so institutionally corrupt that any normal member of the public just wouldn’t believe it. It’s not a family court it’s the killing fields of the family court and men and families don’t get justice they get feminist rhetoric. I feel for any father and children who undergo this… it’s a modern day Salem witch trial and it isn’t going to end any time soon. Good luck.

    Thanks for sharing your experience! There are many fathers who are living with the same arduous circumstances. My situation closely mimics yours without the RO. When I was hit with the court’s decision, my reaction has been…”this is not the 50’s and 60’s!”. Father figures do get the short end and I would like more information on how I can help eradicate this discrimination!

    I am not a believer that things in the family court or children’s court for that matter, will change any time in the near or distant future. I say this because first and foremost, it’s a thriving business with it’s priorities (making money) intact and backed by not only the federal government, but by every politician and women’s support groups like domestic violence shelters where they accept every woman into if she claims domestic violence or abuse of any sort. Even if there was never a single incident of domestic violence in our marriages. They are also world wide and connected to more court services and free lawyers and money than most fathers even know exists.
    When so called mother’s lie about abuse, file fraudulent declarations and have No proof or evidence to support their lie’s, it’s big business for the courts and probably why committing perjury goes unpunished in the family court system Nation wide.

    My children, were given to their drug addict, alcoholic mother whom couldn’t take care of herself let alone our children. She was at best, an absentee mother of which we proved and even had her admitt to leaving my children alone while I was at work. I am also a recipient of her gas lighting techniques and never had a single incident of domestic violence in our marriage but had my children taken from me because my ex chose to allege domestic violence and abuse that was so over the top the judge in Norwalk, Ca. Just assumed I was guilty even before I stepped one foot into that court house.
    After 5 years of hell in that court and in my personal life I was finally granted a divorce however, now I only get to visit with my children one weekend a month, 9 out of 12 months of the year and if I am lucky 2, 2 week visits in the summer. It hasn’t happened as of yet.
    I am by no means recommending that any good father just give up, but want every father to know (especially if they are faced with the same situation as me) what they will probably face, more times than not in our family court system nation wide. My story is so much worse than I could possibly explain in this forum, but I felt compelled to comment this time. Thank you.

    My ex wife did the same thing. Wrote up a bunch of total lies to get her RO. No proof for any of it. The cop who served it on me said” I believe you it happens all the time”. So 17 years of child support because she decided to go younger..16yrs younger. Child support is the biggest welfare scam for women. Lived in a one bedroom crap holes for years while she remarried in 9 months. Never missed a beat..new house, new cars, vacations while I struggle every day. The amount is unreasonable..I’m sure she uses all my money every month for the kids…well that’s a big fat scam! No accountability at all..that’s the problem. And the money is tax free while I pay after taxes.

    Your story is an exact carbon copy of mine. Pre-divorce agreement for shared custody followed up by motion for full custody by her. Completely false Emergency Protective Order filed against me. She later dropped it when I refused to pay any of the court costs associated with it. She has brainwashed my two oldest children to the point that they will not speak to me. I also tried the truth and honesty approach. I strongly advise any man anywhere going through a divorce to ditch the truth and honesty approach. I told the truth on everything, she made up egregious lie after egregious lie. The judge knew what was going on from the beginning and complimented me on my honesty. Then awarded her full custody. I get to see only one of my three children now only four days a month. At no point in the divorce proceedings was “the best interest of the children” brought up. She’s the mother. She gets them. Done!! If you want to win anything in court, lie through your teeth. Throw up as many lies as you can and see what sticks. It worked for her and I completely lost two of my children. Now she tells everyone that will listen to her that I abandoned my children. I too lived within a couple of miles and tried to contact them daily. She called the police every time I tried to go to my house. I would wait outside for them to arrive before I would even get out of my car. She tried telling them that I showed up threatening her and the kids and asked them to arrest me. I was questioned and ultimately not arrested or detained but the accusation is still part of my public record. Lie. Lie. Lie. It worked for her.

    I’m so sorry you have to go through all of this. I still think the honest approach works best, even if your ex is not telling the truth. I suggest you get a different lawyer and a court appointed entity to determine placement of the children. I had a Guardian Ad Litem assigned to my case and was very nervous about it at first. It turned out that it was one of the best things that could of happened to me. The truth will always come out! Good luck to you and I hope it all works out for you.

    This is sadly a very common occurrence in this and many other countries. A good Dad or Mom should have every right to equal time with their children. But the Father often gets the short end of the stick. I had a two year battle in the court system to get what was fair for my kids and me. I did prevail in my fight to get 50/50 placement and custody of my two children. I took the “high” road while my ex lied, cheated the system, committed perjury and worse of all put our kids in the middle of all this mess. Having a great lawyer and patience were key in my fight. If you’re interested in my story check out https://amzn.com/B01B6WT5VK.
    Good luck everybody and keep fighting for your kids!

    Qui tacet consentire videtur, “He who is silent is taken to agree”.

    Suport mens rights??? NOBODY CARES!!! Where are all the brothers, fathers, uncles etc. coming out to support you against the anti-family court system? You see, nobody cares UNTIL it happens to them. Even you, the author of this article, had nothing to do with any mens rights until after you expierenced what millions of others have to endure. Sure, absolutly the anti-family court system is beyond corrupt, but we all allow it by our blatant apathy!! Everybody knows by now that he mother-bias court is out of control and needs to be abolished but everytime some reform comes up for a vote NOBODY CARES!

    We get the government we fight for!

    “Mens rights are just not worth me getting off the couch. I think there is a football game on isn’t there”?

    My son and anyone who testified for him took the high road. The ex on the other hand lied so much I thought she would burst into flames on the witness stand. Her mother parroted everything she said. My son’s attorney asked her how much they had prep together for the hearing.
    My Grandchildren ended up getting the short end of the stick with only standard time with their daddy.
    Hopefully things can be modified ar some point in time.

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