My question involves a child custody case from the State of: Florida
Since the title of this situation isn't the full story, I will have to explain in detail and this might get lengthy...
Mother came to country in 2005 from the Philippines
Mother was married to someone her parents had paid $7,000 in order for her to obtain citizenship in US. (A fact I was not aware of until halfway through our marriage)
Mother had not gone through the Immigration interview process when she met now father(myself)
Mother and Father married in 2008 after divorcing her then husband, and a child was born in October, 2008
Mother was granted Permanent status by Immigration's in Summer of 2010
In October 2008, Father was laid off from work, and Mother was able to find work before Father could. Mother and Father mutually agreed Father would stay at home and raise the child in liu of working and having the child raised by babysitter or daycare.
Father separated from Wife in Spring of 2010 due to wife making claims to police, ending up with father arrested on Domestic Battery Charges (Charges dismissed on both accounts)
The child went with father and both lived at fathers parent's house until January 2011 when Father moved back with Mother in an attempt to reconcile the marriage.
The second separation occurred in April of 2011 when father found wife to be unfaithful to the marriage (I caught her on numerous times doing inappropriate things with other men, while she lied about where she was and who she was with)
Again, child moved with Father to Fathers parents house, both times no objection was made from mother as to Father taking the child
Father immediately enrolled as a Full-Time Student in college while Father's Mother helped support both Father and Daughter financially, in the event Mother continued to refuse to support child, Father would have the ability to obtain a better job with more income to provide for the child without assistance from Mother.
During first separation, Mother would go weeks without attempting to contact Father about visitation of child. On one account we recorded 34 days that Mother had absolutely no contact with child. We begged mother to visit with child, and encouraged she be in the childs life. Mother refused and her irrational excuse was always "My friends party is tonight, I'm not going to get zoe (child)" whenever me or my mother contacted her asking if she was coming to get the child. Mother told me that if I kept harassing her about seeing the child that she would take the child to the philippines and have her parent's maids raise the child so she wouldn't have to "deal" with it anymore.
During second separation, Mother was in the childs life more. We arranged she would get the child when she had days off, and when she returned to work, she would return the child the night before. Agreement was mutual between Mother and Father. This was typically one day during the weekdays, and on saturday/sunday. During this second separation, Mother on numerous times, had time off work and did not attempt to get child. Mother took a week off work, and went to California to visit with friends, not once did she try to contact Father about visitation or try to contact child via phone. I proceded to place child in an "A" graded daycare so that I could attend college. I also enrolled the child in Ballet, as she loved watching ballerina's and wanted to dress up like a ballerina all the time.
A month after the first separation began, I asked the Mother to put the child on Mothers insurance plan, and also asked for financial support to help with daycare costs. Mother refused stating "I shouldn't have to give you money to support Zoe when she lives with you, just put her on medicaid".
The very next day I applied for medicaid, in which the state of Florida demanded I also file for child support from Mother.
The child support hearing was scheduled for Thursday, February 9th.
On the Saturday before the child support hearing, after ballet class, Mother came and picked up child for the usual weekend overnight visit. On Sunday evening, the normal drop off time of the child rolled past. I contacted Mother asking if she was on her way yet. Mothers response was "Oh I got a week off work, I'm keeping her for the week so i can spend time with her". Mother had just started a new job in November 2011. It is very unheard of for someone to be allowed a week off of work, only 2 months after starting the job plus the fact that she had also made threats to remove the child from the country previously, gave me and my mother a huge suspicion that she was about to leave the country with the child, and that we would never see her again. I preceded to ask the mother if I could at least take the child to her Ballet class the following day, Monday. This is when things got ugly... Her response was "No, Ballet is NOT important. I'm tired of you and your mother controlling my time with Zoe". This was not the case as me and my mother have never kept her from seeing the child whenever she requested and always accommodated her ever-changing schedule. When I explained to her that we have not controlled her visitation with the child and that if she kept up I would sue her for full custody(not the best thing to say, but we wanted to let her know how serious this was), she began over-talking me, and said "I'm not going to give you back Zoe until a judge orders me to, so I'll see you in court".
I immediately went out and retained the best attorney money could buy... and one that specializes in Family Law, and they ONLY accept male clients, as to specialize in helping father's with legal issues. This is a law firm with about 9 attorney's and about 30 other various employees/paralegal's etc..
The day of the child support hearing, my attorney was able to get her served with a dissolution of marriage, and we also filed Motion for Temporary Relief.
My attorney informed me ahead of time that the judge may not grant me child support for whatever reason so to not get my hopes up. He also told me that because it was the state suing my wife for child support, he would not be able to represent me, but assured me it wouldn't matter what happened that day because during the dissolution of marriage, we would have child support ordered, because all the evidence and facts would be heard then.
During the child support hearing, I had brought with me a calendar of all the times Mother had picked up/dropped off or came to visit child, which came out to the child having been with me for 80% of the time. Mother told the judge that Father and Father's Mother were keeping the child from her. The judge immediately looked at me and started to talk to me as if I was a criminal. I began to tell the judge "Your Honor, she works 6 days a week, and is unable to see the child but on her days off, we have not kept her from her child at all." The Judge then looked at me and asked where I worked. My response was that I was a full time student in college and before I could finish my sentence he snapped at me and in an angry voice said "That is a choice. You can go out and get a job just like everyone else does. Going to college is a choice you made." He then immediately asked where the child was at right now and I began to explain how the child has lived with me until last week when the mother took her from me and has refused to return her home or let me see her. The judge then said "I'm not going to order child support, I'm going to let your attorney's handle this." The State's Attorney that was representing me immediately objected saying "Your honor, this is clearly an attempt for the mother to avoid being ordered child support. The child has been with the father up until a week ago when the mother took the child from the father and has refused to return said child." The judge by the astonishment of everyone in the courtroom then said "Then I should order that the father pay child support since the child is living with the mother now." He paused a moment and then retracted the statement and said "I won't order child support in this case, I am postponing this case for another hearing in May."
I was in shock, at how her lie, outshadowed my solid evidence, and that it didn't matter that it was clear she was doing this to avoid child support, even after the state informed the judge that was what was occuring.
Having been told a few days prior by my private attorney that this hearing really didn't matter that we would get child support ordered eventually, I bit my tongue and kept my cool.
Since the hearing, each day I have sent the Mother a text message asking to see the child (no more than two text's per day, consisting of my original request, and an acknowledgement of her response) Mothers response varies between "Not until a judge orders me to" or "My attorney has told me not to discuss anything with you and that our attorney's will talk"
How is that she is legally able to take the child from her home, and then downright REFUSE for me to even see the child, let alone return the child home.
I have contacted several law enforcement agencies to see what I can do, and if she is breaking the law and I am told that she is not breaking the law, so there is nothing they can do.
How is what she is doing not kidnapping? I understand the Mother has equal rights to the child that I do, but what do my rights even mean if she's legally able to do what she is doing... I am just stunned, and everyone around me that knows the situation (even a few of the mothers friends that have contacted me) are in shock, and just as stunned as I am that this isn't illegal.
I just don't know what to do, and my attorney is doing everything in the legal aspect of getting this fixed, but he cannot tell me when we will be able to get before a judge, he said we could be in front of a judge as early as next week, or it could take a few months before we get to see a judge. I am just so lost, and feeling so violated, and feeling as if something bad is going to happen to my child that I have been primary caregiver to, and raised since birth. I'm going crazy fearing that what happened at the child support hearing, could possibly happen at the custody hearing, and that the mother would be given majority timeshare and I would be required to pay her child support. in the meanwhile the child would be in an unsafe environment being fed junkfood and alloud to do whatever she wants with no discipline or structure. To put things into a little perspective of my fears, if the Mother did not have me in the childs life to take care of the child, it would more than likely end up in another Casey Anthony type situation, or the child would be smuggled out of the country and I would never see her again.
Someone with some good advice, please help me... I am very scared and I just need to know if there is anything my attorney's could do that they aren't doing, or if I am just screwed and have to live in fear for the next few months waiting to get before a judge.