I just received a Summons and Complaint for Child Custody, Child Support, and Attorney’s Fees from my ex husband, who has recently re-married (and I am sure it is her behind all this) about 2 days ago. My court date is Oct 1 so this post is extremely time sensitive!!

I now need to respond to this by writing an Answer. I have researched extensively on how you write the answer, but I need to ask for visitation, and Shared Legal Custody. Now I was told that filing a simple answer is free, but asking for something is $150.00. Is that what they mean by asking for something? How do I ask for these things? I am by FAR NOT an unfit Mother. A quick history… I left David (my ex) in May 2010. He asked me not to take the kids from him and he would not ask for Child Support. Since I knew they would have a higher quality of life with him. (Private schools, in need of nothing, since he has a great job and makes plenty of money) I hired a full time Nanny to watch the children during the day since he has a full time job. I The reason I did not take my 3 children is because I didn’t even have a place to go, let alone try to find a place for all of us. Plus, they all needed to stay there for school, therapies, etc. It was an abusive situation (only towards me, he was basically indifferent toward the kids) so I had to leave. I was in fear of my life. Anyway, I stayed in contact with my children through their nanny, and even came back twice to David to try to work through things so we can keep our family intact, but the drinking was still too prevalent and his anger had gotten worse. So I continued keeping in contact with the kids over the phone, thanks to the Nanny. I would receive pictures and was able to call them anytime. I never called Davids phone to talk to them unless it happened to be their birthday or Christmas and he was off work and HAD to talk to him to get to talk to my babies. This went on for several 3 years, until the end of last year when Amanda (their Nanny) was inexplicably fired! I had heard from the kids and Amanda that David had gotten a girl named Gabrielle pregnant, and she and he were now an item, but they kept Amanda until Gabby had her baby and had to stay home anyway. That was DECEMBER 2013. I have not talked to my children since then! They will not answer any phone calls. I have tried texting, emailing, snail mail… everything imaginable to get a hold of them to talk. David blocked my number and Gabrielle threatened me with a restraining order if I stepped foot on her property or continued to “harass” them by making so many phone calls and texts. I eve tried sending a colorful envelope addressed to Tyler, my oldest, who is 9, thinking he might see it and ask to read it. I literally tried EVERYTHING! Next thing I know I’m getting a Summons and a Complaint in the mail, dates August 29, stating that he wants Sole Legal Custody of all 3 and Child Support because I do not contact the kids!!! They also made several allegations that aren’t true, like I’m “Bi Polar and forget to take my medications and act bizarrely”… which I have never been on meds for Bi Polar because I have never had that diagnosis!! They said that I live in poverty… just a bunch of lies. My children are MY LIFE. I LOVE AND MISS THEM WITH ALL MY HEART. I am better for them then Dave, in every way but financially. Which is the reason I have never attempted to keep them. I NOW have anxiety and depression, that I’ve never had before because I do not know WHERE they are, HOW they are… NOTHING!
So I guess here are my questions… I live in Florida… I can not make a trip to NC, I don’t have a vehicle to get there or else I would have been there to see them more than just 4 times in the passed 4 years! I am going to have to mail the “Answer” to their complaint and you are so limited on what you can write in those. What can I file that I can explain my half of the story and BEG the judge to not allow the injustice to happen to my kids. Taking their Mother away from them would have seriously negative lasting effects on them I’m afraid. There must be a counter suit or something that I can file from Florida where I can plead my case to the judge! PLEASE! I can’t lose my babies anymore then I have for the last 10 months. I want SHARED LEGAL CUSTODY and scheduled phone calls every week where I can talk to them. THe child support I don’t mind paying. I don’t believe MONEY should dictate whether I have a relationship with my kids or not.
Thank you for any help you can give me!

Your situation is complicated, and you should hire an attorney to advocate on your behalf. There is a lot going on here; at the custody hearing he will argue that you have chosen not to spend any time with them, and you will have to put on evidence to rebut this. The facts you have shared about your ex keeping the children from you, blocking your number, refusing to give the children your correspondence, etc. is all relevant, but you will have to put on evidence of this at your hearing. You cannot simply fail to show up in court and expect to get shared custody. North Carolina is the home state of the children, so North Carolina has proper jurisdiction. You do not have grounds to file anything in Florida. Again, I would suggest hiring an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney you might consider our online service. You can get access to a library of legal forms and communicate with an attorney through our Rosen Online. This service only costs $199/month, and would be a great resource to help you draft the legal documents and get advice should you choose to represent yourself pro se.