My fiancee was served with papers in which his ex-wife has filed a motion for temporary and permanent custody of two of their three children. A bit of background: his ex moved out of the home over two years ago. She insisted that the three children live with her, and my fiancee agreed to let them try it. The children moved in with his ex, and before 2 weeks had passed the children were calling him in tears begging him to come get them and for them to move back in with him. The children in fact moved back in with him and remained in his full-time care with her having weekend visitation from that point forward. Fast forward to fall of 2010…we got engaged and decided to move in with each other. We needed to relocate to another county at that time due to employment. The younger two children said that they wanted to finish out the school year and then wanted to move in with us, while the oldest child (age 9) was not willing to stay with his mother and wanted to move with us immediately. So, the oldest child lives with us, and it was agreed between fiancee and his ex-wife that the other two children would move in with us at the conclusion of the school year, since they both felt strongly about finishing out that school year. During the 7 remaining months of the school year, the mother has repeatedly (at the admission of the children) said derogatory comments about the children’s father, and about 2 months before school ended, she went out and got the two children each a puppy…we believe she did this to try to coerce the children into staying with her. Now, the children are attached to the dogs and one states that if she moves in with us her mother will give her dog away, which upsets the little one a great deal (we can not have any pets at our home due to pet allergies).
We also are aware that two reports have been made to CPS regarding issues with the mother caring for the two younger children. In addition, she consistently places a great deal of emotional stress on the children. Not to mention that she enforces few rules/regulations in her house…the children run all over the house, jump on furniture, and she does not censor the music/TV they watch. They listen to music with vulgar lyrics related to sex, drugs, and violence. Her home is also filthy and full of fleas, as the children regularly report seeing fleas and getting bitten.
Okay, so she was able to somehow borrow the money for an attorney to file this motion. We, however, can NOT afford an attorney. We have read extensively and have been gathering evidence (e.g., keeping written logs, photos, and even videos of the children). We will have to go to court pro se, but are worried sick because she has an attorney and we don’t, and we are genuinely concerned about the welfare of the minor children, and feel very strongly that the siblings should not be split up. We would like to subpoena individuals who can provide character witness, as well as the case worker(s) from CPS, but it seems we can’t do that without an attorney. We would also like to have certified affadavits written, but again, it seems an attorney must do this.
So, here are my questions in a nutshell:
- We feel we have enough evidence to prove that our home is in the best interests of the minor children, but do not have an attorney to represent us. Is it even possible to win without an attorney?
- Can we obtain subpoenas without a attorney?
- Can we obtain certified affadavits without an attorney?
- Are pictures, audio recordings, and videos submissible in court?