Has anyone dealt with a similar situation with custody?

Nicholas - posted on 01/02/2013 ( 17 moms have responded )

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Hi, I wanted to ask the community here if anyone has had experience in a similar situation and what they might have done to remedy it. I have sole custody of my son through Arizona courts but currently reside in Missouri for over a year due to a permanent change in station from the military. I allowed my ex-wife but with extreme hesitation to exercise her right to see my son and take him to cleveland, OH. I clearly stated prior that he was to be returned on November 4th but has refused to bring him back. Since then here is what i have done. I have filed police reports with proof of original agreement. I have provided divorce decree that has stated who has full custody. I have expressed great concern that the address that was given to me was meant to deceive and exploit this visitation, otherwise i would have attempted to pick him up by now. The case was submitted to prosecuting attorney and i was told that since i originally gave permission that it was not a crime. I have hired an attorney and before i can even attempt to modify the current agreement I have to file for a jurisdiction change. Since I have hired my attorney 2 months ago they have yet to serve her due to a lack of urgency. I have done everything that i can possibly think of. I have spent almost everything i have on attorney fees and expediting the process the best that i can but like i said before that I cannot even begin to change anything until jurisdiction has changed. I feel like no one cares or is willing to help me get my child back. I have served my country well for 7 years, deployed twice while being a single dad and when i need help the most from my country, the system in which I swore to protect cannot even protect my son from a clear violation of my rights. In fact the response i received from cleveland police that even if i provide proper documentation stating i have custody that i still cannot forcible remove my child from her residents even if i knew where she lived unless i had a subpoena or a warrant. My only stupidity is that I tried to do the right thing by allowing my ex-wife to be a part of his life because she is his mother regardless of our differences. Most of this obviously is a rant and probably serves no purpose to anyone except as a warning of what not to do and what can happen even with sole custody. Coming here for answers is literally my last effort before i lose all faith in what is clearly a broken system. Can anyone tell me where i failed or what i have missed in the process for getting my son back? Is there something that i should be be doing now? should i be talking to a judge? Heck i even tried to go to the FBI and their response was to talk to an attorney. sigh

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Lacye - posted on 01/03/2013

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You have done all of the right things. I hate to say this but the reason why you aren't being taken more seriously is because you have a penis. If you were a woman, this would have been straightened out LONG ago. Just keep trying. That's all you can do for right now. Have you thought about hiring a private investigator to try to help locate your ex and your son? If they can find her, it would probably make it easier to get the ball going.

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Kim - posted on 01/04/2013

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Oh my gosh! If she is not giving you visitation then start documenting that as well as anything else she does not do. including phone visitation . If she is denying you seeing your child then she is breaking the law. You need to gather evidence. Record all conversations with her. Save all text messages, and e-mails. If you can get her to e-mail conversations those are the easiest to organize and show the judge. You will have to go through a lawyer and it will cost alot but in the end you will win, it will just take lots of patients and time. You need to tell your ex as often as possible how much you love and miss your child and ask her what you can do to resolve these issues. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. This is what we are having to do. Be patient and Pray............ Kim Best Wishes Dad, you can do this its just another life chanllenge.

Ashley - posted on 01/04/2013

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michael hannah is in the kansas city area. that is where i live too. i believe his office is in raytown. good luck

Nicholas - posted on 01/03/2013

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Kansas City area. Yea i would hire a more expensive attorney but i left active duty to go to school full time so unfortunately i do not have a lot of excess funds to be switching attorneys. Im just hoping that my attorney will produce good results. Thanks for the advice on the attorney. I will definitely keep him in mind.

Ashley - posted on 01/03/2013

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I live in missouri and it is a screwed up place when it comes to this. Before I got married, me and my husvand were split up and I let him have the kids for the weekend, even my son who is not biologically his, but he is the only fatber he has known. We got in a fight abd he said he wasnt bringing my kids back. I xalled the cops and showed them that I had full custody and he was not bio dad for one of them. They said I gave permission, so all I could do was hire ab attorney to get them back. I dont no where u r located in missouri but michael hannah is an awesome attorney. Very expensive, but he was a judge for years and gets what he wants.

Nicholas - posted on 01/03/2013

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jodi since i already filed paperwork with the police stating the truth of what happened i cannot lie now because i have already made a statement saying that i allowed her to exercise her rights for visitation. The cop told me flat out that he would not have let his child out of the state and would have forced them to take him to court. He said this is where i made the mistake. That even though the decree was vague it would have been in my best interest to allow only supervised visitation. But to be honest i was just trying to do the right thing. I thought that if we could at least work out something to the extent that he can be part of both our lives that he would be happier. Sometimes making a harsh decision is really necessary i suppose.

Nicholas - posted on 01/03/2013

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yes perhaps i should have filed with the courts that i was moving however to be honest i thought i was fine since it was already stated in the parent agreement. There might have been a time where she could have contested this and forced me to move back but my son and i have resided here in missouri for over a year. Every attorney that i have spoken to has said that even if i didn't have the parent agreement stating this that her chance has done passed. She had done nothing after we moved so I'm pretty sure that even in the eyes of a judge this would not be something she could use against me. Like there is a timeframe of 60 days prior to moving that you have to file with the courts there is a timeframe that the other parent has to file to contest the move because if the parent does not then its almost too late due to child jurisdiction laws. Most likely 6 months is my guess because that is how long it takes to establish residency.

Evelyn - posted on 01/03/2013

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Nicholas~I would not call it a mistake so much as you were already doing what you were supposed to. The move might have been but you had a job calling to go to and had to go. You gave her time with the boy you share with her. There is nothing in that to be called a real mistake. It should be on her head for not returning him to you when she agreed to do so. I really think that the only thing you did was move out of state. I do feel for you. Its hard to wonder about your kids when they are not with you. I used to do that and still do with my son who is at his dad's. Just living as close as we do, I still do not see him all that often. But I do wonder if his dad and step mom treat him right, if he is loved and cared for emotionally, if he feels like he is part of the family, and all that.

Jodi - posted on 01/03/2013

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Nicholas, what have your attorney's told you about the possibilities of "kidnapping" the child back if you can locate them? I normally wouldn't recommend it, but I'm guessing she might have problems fighting that because she has NO custody paperwork, right?

Nicholas - posted on 01/03/2013

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yes my attorney and i have......we actually found out where she was at a couple weeks ago.....i got some info from an old mutual friend and found out she worked at radioshack which i creepily narrowed down by calling every store in the vicinity of the fake address she gave me......luckily she answered the phone on one of them....now since it has taken so long to get a case number when i am ready to serve her i suspected she quit because i stopped receiving child support. Usually you can tell when they quit if the amount is significantly less than normal. We do have a chance at an address and if it doesn't work then we will hire a private investigator but truthfully its more of the process that is taking all the time in the world not really knowing where she is at. Now the important thing is to know where she is at because now we are trying to serve her but a month ago it wouldn't have sped anything up. Ill try to keep you guys up to date. If anybody would like to ask anything or what not to do feel free to ask because this is a good example of what not to do and maybe all of you can learn from my mistake.

Nicholas - posted on 01/03/2013

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totally agree with you jodi......In actuality it doesn't become a national issue until criminal charges are brought up. Since my son and i resided here in missouri for more than 6 months then jurisdiction would go to missouri. However they do not change jurisdiction just to change it, there has to be a reason to do so. in missouri for example one of the statutes state that in the absence of court order a parent cannot refuse, entice, or harbor the child from the parent who also has rights to the child. This is not verbatim but it is still to the same effect. The penalty for this is a class D felony progressing further the longer the timeframe is. It is parental kidnapping. I tried to push this with the prosecuting attorney telling them i had no idea where he was at and had no access to him, they responded that because i have a divorce decree then they can do nothing because in the decree it says that she has visitation rights. The message sent here to me is that regardless if i have sole custody of my son that it doesn't matter and that it all boils down on who technically decides to take the child first. If another parent exploits a visitation then the law refuses to get involved with it even if they have just visitation rights. They stress that it becomes a civil matter. So in my situation it actually would have benefited me much more if I did not have a court papers stating I had any right to the child thus the statute "in the absence of a court order". As a matter of fact i would have probably got better results lying and saying that he was taken from me, of course i might have to pay some fines however i bet i would get my kid back quicker. Not to mention trying to hire a private investigator just to find that person if that person doesn't want to be found. Thats the problem because there is no sense of urgency unless it is apparent that the child is in immediate danger. The problem with this is no one knows wheres my son is except for her so how can i even know the situation he is in if i do not have access to him? Im not asking for them to decide whats right or determine who gets custody of the child. What i am asking is what is morally right. I currently have sole custody of my son so if i say i do not know where my son is at then it should be the laws responsibility to help me get my son back and if my ex wife disagrees with this then she is more than welcome to take me to court and settle it in that aspect, not run across the country with my son. Its just appalling. i can beat this in the ground however i thought i would try to keep this up and because maybe somebody knows something that i don't already know.

Jodi - posted on 01/03/2013

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I will admit, the system in the US confuses the heck out of me. A big part of custody issues there seems to be the different laws and different agreements in different states. At least here, it is a national law, and by the sounds of it, that is a good thing :\

Evelyn - posted on 01/03/2013

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I applaud your efforts. I can see your reasoning. I wish you luck and all in getting this figured out.

Nicholas - posted on 01/03/2013

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yes you are correct it does not grant permission to move to another state however i had a parent agreement form filed that in the event of a military obligation that would put me out of state that i will retain full physical custody of my son. My ex-wife is not fighting that i moved because there really is no grounds legally since it was attached to the decree. I believe the instance where i failed was that I allowed her to take him across the states in the first place. In hindsight i thought i was doing the right thing however legally it would have been in my best interest to not do so but to only provide supervised visitation regardless of what the decree says. I really do appreciate each of your opinions

Evelyn - posted on 01/03/2013

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I agree with Jodi, unless you have it listed in the custody agreement and the judge concurs about moving, there is not much you can do going from one state to another. In my divorce and custody decree since they were done at the same time, it states that if a parent has to move and if the children are with that parent, the other parent and court have to agree to the move. Each state has its own venue on laws concerning custody of children. Now if you had stayed in that state you originated the custody arrangement and she had not brought the child back to you, then you could have had her for kidnapping. But since you moved to a new city/state and she took him out of state with your permission for a visit, the custody arrangement with the original state won't be looked at by the state you live in.

I am grateful to you for your service to our country. But when it comes to custody issues the states are not going to budge for anyone. I am sorry this happened and I hope you have good luck in getting him back.

Jodi - posted on 01/03/2013

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Sole custody granted in one state doesn't necessarily grant you the right to ,move to another state, from what I understand. I am assuming she had some form of visitation. Did you get court permission to move interstate? That could have something to do with it.

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