I'm seeking urgent assistance on a child custody case involving false accusations made by a vindictive mother who I have been separated from for 3 years now. Throughout our history she has made it increasingly difficult for me to get fair visitation with my now 3 year old daughter. They live in UT and I in a neighboring state so I rarely get to see her. Just last year I took her to court and we went through the typical mediation process where we came to an agreement that I would go through a trial visitation period (to allow time reconnect with the child and prove my interest to be in my child's life). After the trial period I was to have standard visitation as recommended by the state starting in Jan 2009. I have fully lived up to my visitation schedule without issue (except for a few financial setbacks and a car accident that occurred just before a scheduled visit) but just this last October she completely denied me visitation so that she could take a honeymoon/vacation.
Now.. just this month of December she tried to deny me visitation again for no good cause and told me to just take her to court, but then changed her mind when I asked her again via email. They (mother and step-father) did, however, tell me that I would NOT be allowed to come to a birthday party they were throwing her during my visitation and that when I come to pick her up I was not to enter onto the property and I was instructed to just honk. They have no reason for doing this but I complied. When I asked the reason, the mother simply said her new husband "wasn't comfortable with it". I got the same response about me attending the birthday party.
So I came to Utah for my scheduled visit on December 11, my daughter's birthday, and spent the entire day with her. The mother was very rude answering the door telling me I need to be out on the street and off the property. Also, not even a block away my daughter started telling me "my moomy doesnt like you" AND "my daddy doesn't like you". Also, there is tons of evidence that the mother is not telling my child that I am also her father. I simply told my daughter that "It's ok." and that "sometimes people just don't like eachother and that's ok." Anyhow, we went about our day and had fun all day long... mcdonalds, the park, birthday cake with 20candles... etc..etc...
Hours after returning her home, the mother alleged to the police and DCFS that I had sexually abused my daughter simply because she was "acting shy" when she tried to give her a bath, and because my daughter answered "yes" when asked if I had touched her in a "certain place". There are perfect explanations for these allegations, 1) my daughter's pants (and undies) were falling down throughout the day as she played (in public) and I had to keep instructing her to "pull up her britches because everyone's going to see your naked bottom". Her pants were simply too big and kept falling down around her ankles as well as coming down revealing her bottom every time she bent over. 2) I took her to the bathroom several times that day each time wiping for her (both her bottom and other) which explains why she is saying I touched her there. Of course, Child Services conducted an interview with preconceptions that abuse had occurred, so they probably confirmed that "something had happened".
Law enforcement came to my hotel room and questioned me about the allegations and soon left after not finding anything and they have yet to file any charges. Child Services has also not done anything. However, the mother (and step-father) have filed a protective order not allowing me to visit my daughter or even call. In the protective order the step-father and mother stated that they took my daughter to pediatrics the very next day after the alleged incident and that the dr found a "fresh tear near the anus most likely not caused by a bowel movement" and that my daughter's "mannerisms suggested that something happened" (very non-specific). They also state that when the doctor asked if anyone touched her there she said my name.
There are other ways the mother has tried to incriminate me in the past such as accusing me of being an "addict" during mediation whereafter I took a hair follicle test and passed. She also has accused me in the past of being "unfit father" and told me I would never get unsupervised visitation with her until she was at least 9 years old. Before I got the court ordered visitation she would only meet me in a park for a few hours a day while I would cover the whole travel expense and stay in hotels.
Before all of this, and before her new fiancee (now husband) we were on better terms and I came and stayed with her for an entire month without incident. I took care of my 2 year old daughter while the mother was at work. I even went to counseling with her and explained to the counselor even though I did not feel a marriage would work out between the two of us that I wanted to be a part of my daughters life and that it was important for her to know me.
The mother also has accused me of abandoning her when she was pregnant, which is untrue. I was reluctant to be involved with her because when she became pregnant I barely knew her and suspected the child was not mine and wanted to wait for paternity. Even so, my family (mother and husband) offered her a place to stay in my state while she went to school (all paid for) until the child was born and paternity taken care of. Instead, she decided to move to another state, and then to yet another state to stay with her grandparents... now she is living quite well off with her new husband and she's made it a point to me that she no longer has to work. Of course, I never respond to things like that because I see it as immature on her part, and besides, I have moved on and have no interest in her and have my own life. My only interest is being there for my daughter and ensuring I am a part of her life.
So right now, I am focusing all my attention to fight this protective order (pro se) and right now we are in the discovery phase. I also learned during the first court hearing that their lawyer intends to help them file a petition to terminate my parental rights. Them being recently married and such, it seems they are simply trying to set me up. I am desparately seeking someone to help me take the right steps, help proof my paperwork, and with litigation, and negotiations when the other side decides they want to settle.
I am very unsure what evidence or facts I can use to help protect my rights. I have a history of emails where she has been very rude and showing signs of delusional paranoia about my friends and family's friends (spurred by jealousy thinking I was with another woman). I actually could not even have a girlfriend the first 2 years of my daughter;s life in fear that if she found out she would keep my daughter from me. I have emails where I explained to her that her attitude towards me was scaring me and that I felt she could eventually try to use my daughter as a way to punish me or try to keep my daughter from me out of spite. Now that it is actualy happening I need to know if I can even use this against her... if the courts will even care to hear it in a case like this. Is it relevant to bring up her history of psychological counseling? Can I subpoena records from her counselor (records where she talks about me?) I have a long list of stuff I want to ask for in discovery but I'm really not sure if it can be admissable or if it will even matter to the judge.
I could go on and on about this.. there are plenty of details I am leaving out... but I will stop here. If anyone can help or point me in the right direction I greatly appreciate it. I do have 2 lawyers I'm conferring with but I'm trying to limit my time with them because I am also recently unemployed (IT). I will do everything I can to save my parental rights.. and I have already been spending countless hours on research. Now I just need some legal aid to help me through this... if I can get some expert help with this I will even consider a barter or exchange of services if need be. I am a profressional web developer (9 years of experience) and willing to trade my services for some pro legal services if anyone is interested.
Thanks for taking time to read this!