I am a single mother of four children, 18, 5,2,and 8 weeks old. The father of the three youngest has been verbally and financially abusive to me, and sexually abusive to the 3 oldest. CPS was involved a year ago, but my then four year old was too afraid to disclose, as his father has hit him over the head, and threatened to take away his then, baby brother. Also, my four year old is developmentally, and verbally delayed due to the abuse he suffered over the course of 3 years. I knew I had to leave, so I did, returning to my home state of NY with all the children in tow this July the 22nd. Once he found out, he made true on his threats to take the children away from me and file for full custody, driving to NY to serve me on the 3rd of August. He wanted sole custody, child support, and paternity establishment for the baby girl I had in NY, July 23rd. I came back to NC, and stayed with the children in a DV shelter, and while there, filed for a protective order. At this point CPS got involved again, and I got papers from them stating he was not to have unsupervised contact and the children stay with me. Apparently they had a court date for a hearing on an ex parte I missed (as I did not know about it, and was in a DV shelter 150 miles away) and he got automatic relief for his claims. In his complaint, he alleged I abused drugs and drank heavily, neglecting the children, which was absolutely not true. I have been the primary care provider for all my children, feeding, diapering, bathing, dressing, etc. exclusively since last OCT when I discovered his true nature. He, on the other hand, has projected his shortcomings onto me: He was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning, blowing a 0.30, gotten a DWI, and been dishonorably discharged from the military due to illicit drug use (LSD). Not to mention, my 18 year old has confided in me he molested her several years ago. She is now involved with law enforcement, and CPS is involved with us as well, but they are worthless, as the CPS worker was summoned as a witness for them, and stated she didn’t see why he couldn’t keep them. Are these people in cahoots, or what? I now believe he is actively molesting the 5 year old again, as his school performance is suffering (he might be placed in a special ed class) and his demeanor is deteriorating rapidly, and his father won’t stand more than 3 feet away from him when I am present (no chance to talk to me in confidence) stating our son is scared I am going to bring police when I show up to visit. (This is probably the current threat he uses to scare my son into not telling) The man I have lived with for 11 years is seriously disturbed, and has two year old, and a newborn baby girl in his care I am terrified for, as his depravity knows no bounds; I can see him fixating on her while he holds her for LONG periods of time, in a trance. He is a real, live monster, that I apparently cannot protect my children from all because I don’t have the money for an attorney, and Legal Aid in this state has no funding for child custody cases, as he has turned this into. This is a domestic violence situation, and I need help YESTERDAY. Is there any one I can appeal to that might help me legally protect my children from an abusive man? The “system” moves at a snails pace, and the children are in danger TODAY. What can I do?
If he received an ex parte child custody order, the court should have a return hearing scheduled within 10 days from the entry of the order. If that is not soon enough, you should consider filing a counterclaim for custody and filing a cross-motion for an emergency custody order. Judges are reluctant to reverse a decision made on an ex parte basis, but if you have significant evidence, you might be able to get the judge to change his or her order.
Well, it is too late. I did not have an attorney at the follow up ex parte hearing, and as I am not a lawyer, I did not do very well at all. With the exception of a couple of basic questions, everything I asked was objected to. I don’t know what evidence there could be, as law enforcement told me not to “tip him off”, so I have nothing (paperwork-wise) from them while they are investigating, and no medical records that substantiate anything. CPS is probably not going to do another interview with my son. Since they couldn’t get him to spell it out last year, until I can verify he has molested my son again, and there is a fresh, new instance of abuse, they won’t do anything. The attorneys I talked to locally quoted me 2500 to 3500 for 10 - 15 hours of work, handling the final custody hearing. Not one has even suggested a counterclaim to get things happening sooner. (though that might be because money is an issue) And I know from experience, I have no business representing myself unless I want to lose. I was told at the courthouse, I couldn’t even file custody paperwork on my own, so I have no viable options.
Good lord this makes me so sad! Which county are you in right now? Although I am not an attorney, but instead a NC State Bar Paralegal, I volunteer for the local family justice center and work to help find Pro Bono attorneys for emergency cases such as yours. I am a survivor of domestic violence and sometimes we are misunderstood in our plight to save our children.
1st have you contacted the state bar to see if they can get you an attorney who is willing to work your case pro bono?
2nd if the military kicked him out for any of the conduct towards your children I know you would have had recourse through the military, but he is out now and surely a waste of time.
3rd in your county do you know if there is a local center for help such as the family justice center we have in Fayetteville?
4th call or walk in to any family law firm you have nearby and ask if they are willing to work pro bono.
5th have you attempted to locate nearby churches since a lot of them will provide funds in these such cases.
6th you can file a form with the county as an indigent so that at least your court fees would be waived per the attorney I work for here in Fayetteville.
Do you have visitation at all? Please call the state bar and at least ask if they can give you a referral for services. This breaks my heart.