Domestic violence and interstate custody battle-any advice?

Rachel - posted on 05/02/2012 ( 8 moms have responded )

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I am in a very difficult situation. I married my now estranged husband not even two years ago-at the time of our marriage our daughter was already 6 months old. I have two sons from a first marriage that I have custody of. From the night of our wedding, the abuse started. There have been countless violent outbursts, two that caused me to leave him and file for divorce, one that caused me to flee to a battered women's shelter.

I guess I was gullible, because after a few months of counselling with him also going separately, though things would be better. I was advised by my counselor that she felt he may suffer from narcissistic personality disorder (she was also counselling him) and that I may want to consider getting out of the marriage for safety reasons. I didn't listen. He coerced me into moving 1700 miles away by threatening to never see me and our daughter again, but at the same time promising things would be perfect if he just got out of the crummy town we were living in. We moved, but found out right after that my sons could not move with me, so the boy returned to their home state of Colorado and a custody battle ensued over them.

I wanted to move back with my older children, but the more I talked about going back, the more abusive and controlling he became. He also began openly drinking, combining his daily alcohol consumption with Paxil and Clonazepam. He was hopping around to different doctors to get his pills, but told me he only took 2-4 a day, and he has been on this pills for many years. I was trapped and cut off from everyone, all alone in a new state, once we moved to the Virginia. He even became abusive towards our daughter. Then I found out he was abusive to my older children as well, as a report was filed by their counselor and social services made an inquiry about my childrens' welfare.

I decided to take a stand. Since he now controlled everything, even checking the mileage on my (HIS) vehicle and making sure all my time was accounted for it was very hard to leave. He threatened to kill me etc.

I left him a note, stating that our home was not stable, that we needed time apart, that he needed to get help for the substance abuse. I encouraged him to talk to his family, and explained where I would be, in Colorado with my family. He constantly harrassed and threatened me, and told me he would take our baby away, so I filed for a restraining order against him which was made permanent.

But because I lived in Virginia for 10 months, Virginia is assuming home state jurisdiction of our daughter. He cut me off from everything, and I have very little money. I do have legal aid in Virginia, and have now been ordered back for a custody hearing in June. I have NOT been ordered to bring our daughter. I have at least 8 witnesses preparing statements, I have print outs from doctors encouraging him to taper off the clonazepam, I have phone records where he tried to shut my phone off, an inquiry from social services and 3 different counselors over the last two years along with the time I spent in the womens' shelter.

He has more money than I do. There was no court order determining custody before I left. And the restraining order predates all of his filings. Yet I am terrified the courts will grant him temporary sole custody or something. We don't even have divorce proceedings started.

Colorado is where my daughter was born. Her brothers live with me, and my custody of my sons is only in Colorado. I was away 10 months in Virginia. I have a lot of evidence against him. But I hear such horror stories about good moms losing their children because the domestic violence is not taken seriously.

Does anyone have any advice to help me fight to protect my daughter? She is and always has been with me, but has only lived with him less than a year, as we had so many problems and kept separate homes until going to Virginia.

I am penniless, and working hard but barely making ends meet. I am tired, and I am scared for my daughter. Does anyone think the judge will take her from me? I have never done drugs, no criminal record AT ALL. I work, I have a small home for my kids, and one of my sons is a newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetic who isn't stable. He needs a LOT of daily care, and I am the primary for my two oldest children. Any help would be so greatly appreciated!

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Annette - posted on 09/04/2012

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I am NOT a lawyer, but I've got a little bit of experience in all of this....



Your RO should be good in all 50 states. Period. But it is temporary pending the custody trial. According to the UCCJEA (Universal Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act), wherever the child lived for the last 6 months is the state/county that has jurisdiction over your case. So, Virginia has jurisdiction.



Typically for custody trials, you DO NOT have to bring children unless specifically ordered. After the trial, though, you may be ordered to produce her for parenting time.



The duration of time that you and your STBExH were together is irrelevant when determining parenting time. He is the father of your infant child. Therefore in the eyes of the law he should get parenting time and/or custody unless you can prove that he is unfit.



One thing you might want to consider is ONLY communicating with him in writing. Never on the phone. Only text messages that you can print out and/or e-mail. In fact, your attorney (and I hope you have an attorney) will probably advise you to just use e-mail if you haven't been advised of that already.



Do not let his access to money scare you. Just keep your nose clean, follow any court orders you currently have to a "T" and get a good lawyer. Also remember to keep a calm head and NEVER let him get to you emotionally.

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Tina - posted on 05/04/2012

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ok thanks i've got to admit the judicial system is dumb sometimes even in australia. You've got back up that could be the big difference. So often all a person has is persons word against the others.

Rachel - posted on 05/03/2012

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I just worry because I hear such horror stories of good moms who lose their children because they have no financial resources to fight. There are some major flaws in the judicial system, but at the same time I have to try and have faith. It sounds like things are a bit different in Australia, that's very interesting. I will keep you updated on what happens, and post it on here just in case it helps someone else.

Tina - posted on 05/03/2012

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That's probably a good idea. I think it would be hard for them to anything in another state. I live in australia the rules would be different but my took us away from our dad to another state and there was nothng he could do until we re-entered the state. My dad isn't abusive at all. It's hard to say for sure what will happen but I don't see any reason why any one would grant your ex access. Worse case scenario I'd be fighting all the way as I bet you would. I really feel for you. Hope everything goes your way. It should.

Rachel - posted on 05/03/2012

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Yes the restraining order grants me sole custody of our daughter and he is ordered to have no contact with her on the order, until the end of June. But I got it in Colorado, and don't know if Virginia will honor it. That is what I am worried about. I was not ORDERED to bring my daughter to Virginia at the time of the hearing, and am thinking of leaving her with family in Colorado since I was not ordered to bring her with me. Just not sure of anything though.

Tina - posted on 05/03/2012

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I certainly will let you know if I think of anything else. I'm just wondering since you've put a restraining order against him did that include your daughter that could also go in your favour. I remember when my mum place a restraining order on a man that order included my brother and I. That meant he also was meant to go near our school.

Rachel - posted on 05/03/2012

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Hello Tina,

Thank you so much for your compassionate advice. I have been scared for so long, and I have been worried that since he hasn't been arrested or had the police called that the judge would not hear all the evidence I DO have. All I want is to protect my children and help them have a balanced and loving home to grow up in. If you think of anything else I would be very grateful to you.

Thank you!
Rachel

Tina - posted on 05/03/2012

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By the sounds of it you're doing all you can do. You have alot of prove if coucillors and everthing can back you up that's always good. Just don't back down. I've heard horror stories too. Alot of the time when the abusers are given custody the other parent gives in because they're scared of getting into trouble with the law. My aunty had a similar situation. She finally just didnt' send him to his dad. His father eventually gave up. I don't see why it would be an issue for you though if you have proof and all the backup you do. Money shouldn't play a big part I wouldn't think anyway. You're managing to take care of her that's what matters. Stay strong I hope the justice system does the right thing by you.

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