Will be representing myself in court, need help


#1

First off I’d like to say that I am terribly sorry that you are in this situation. I don’t know that I can answer all these questions but I would like to let you know two things.
One, you are the child’s father and the mother can not legally keep her away from you unless your parental rights have been removed or the court has not allowed visitations. You have a right to see your child regardless of whether or not you have paid child support. This is true for any state. Get together all the information you have. Any copies of the papers for paternity, the refusal of child support, any communications you have had from her since your daughter was born. Videos (possibly) or pictures. Try to remeber dates of visits or any time that visits were promised and write them down.
You will want to have access to all of this information for court in case something comes up.
Two, you really should reconsider consulting with an attorney. I know that you posted you could not afford one, but with this situation, can you really afford not to have one? Consultation fees are minimal if you are looking at the overall outcome of this.

As far as getting witnesses to court, you would need to subpeonae them, but since the attorney did all this for my husband I am not sure how you do this on your own…maybe one of the others know.
You do not have to have a visitation schedule already in place before mediation. Mediation is normally utilized to work out disagreements of visitations and custody, not to get visitations…the court will not be pleased that your child has been kept from you.

You should contact the mother and request a visit, and make a record of that. Since it’s been over 3 years this is going to be difficult because your daughter, while she may have missed her father, probably does not remember you. If she was only 3 years old when you saw her last, then you would be a stranger to her. Realistically, the court will do whatever is in the best interest of the child, thought that may not be the answer you want to hear…I’m not suggesting that you do not try to get visitations with her, I’m only suggesting that you be patient and think about the impact this could have on her. What if the mother hasn’t spoken of you or even told her that you are her father? What if the mother has told her that you didn’t want to ever see her? This potentially could be a traumatic event for her and I can tell that you do not want that…
Please reconsider consulting an attorney and keep us posted. I will keep you in my thoughts.


#2

Recently I have filed papers for a civil summons on child custody/child visitation and also have a mediation appointment to see my 6 yr old daughter. The mother and I were never married, however, I have paternity papers and I am 99.999 the father of my daughter. I even filed papers through the Department of Social Services to pay child support and this was refused by my daughter’s mother. After three years of being a part of my daughter’s life, the mother of my child stopped all communication: phone,email, etc.

She then moved;left her job;no address and I have been unable to locate her and where my daughter were living to file papers. The mother allowed me to see my daughter from the age of eight months until she was just past three years old only a couple of hours when I could get it arranged and the mother wouldn’t default on the visit. The last time that I saw my daughter was in February 2005. My daughter’s mother continued some communication for about another six months to a year with my aunt via email and my aunt mailed birthday, Christmas cards and gifts to the mother’s work address. I tried often to call the mother at her work and sometimes I would talk to her and she would make some promise to let me see my daughter but it would never materialize and then she got to where would never answer the phone. If I had known what I know now, I could have filed papers at her work but I didn’t know this until the past two weeks.

I have tried relentlessly over the past three years to ‘find’ my daughter so that I could get visitation with her. I have since married and I have a daughter who is three years old and I would also like to have both of my daughters to have a relationship. The mother of my daughter as I have ‘heard’ has since married the guy that she was living with three years ago and they have had a child. I have missed my daughter tremendously and I believe that my daughter has missed me tremendously, but I have not been able to ‘find’ a good address until last week. Thank goodness for the internet!

Once I located an address, I went to the apartment, knocked on the door, the husband didn’t recognize me, asked me who I was and I stated who I was and the husband said for me to “get lost” and shut the door in my face.

I came home, made some calls, now that I had a current address. I have attended a child custody/child visitation orientation; filed a civil summons on my daughter’s mother and I had a meeting with the mediation person yesterday. A mediation time has been scheduled, as well as, a potential courtdate if needed, should mediation not work and those ‘filed’ court papers have been mailed certified w/return receipt and the mediation date will be coming up Aug 13, 2008. If the mother doesn’t show up for the mediation appointment, or we are unable to ‘settle’ the custody/visititation then I have to go on Sept 04, 2008 to get a court date for the week of Sept 08, 2008 and then notify the mother of this date. I can not afford a lawyer and I want represent myself “Pro Se”. Now that I have given some history, I would like to know some of the following or at least where I can go to get this information.

  1. How do I get witnesses to court?
  2. Can I take a video tape of some of my visits with my daughter so that the court may be able to see my daughter interaction and the relationship.
  3. Should I have a ‘visitation schedule’ set up before I go for mediation?
  4. Is it possible to ‘see’ my child before all of this is completed?
  5. I will be representing myself as I can’t afford a lawyer, where can I find information for my state that would be helpful in my case?

Thanks for taking a look at all of this. I look forward to hearing back from you.