ONE FATHERS STORY


My son was conceived in my hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico. His mother was a childhood sweetheart. When we were teenagers, we lived together in Santa Fe for about a year, and then for about six months in New York City.

After not seeing each other for about ten years, we started hanging out again when she started breezing through town from time to time. She would call me up and say she was going to be in town for a few days, and we would perhaps spend the weekend together. She was traveling around a lot, so when we did see each other it was usually for only a day or two at a time. After an intimate encounter she would always say something like, "...by the way, I'm leaving for Thailand on Monday. Don't know when I'll see you again..." The last time this happened, she said "...by the way I'm leaving for Tucson on Monday to take care of a sick friend..." That was the last I had heard from her until two months later, when she called me to say she was pregnant and she was going to give birth.



I was not unhappy to hear about her pregnancy. Although we didn't plan to have a child, we had talked with each other about what it would be like once on a weekend camping trip. I told her I would support her any way I could; I offered to marry her; I asked if she wanted me to move to Tucson; I asked if she would like to move to Santa Fe; I said if she wanted to live with me, I would take care of all the living expenses; I said if she wanted to have her own place, I would help out any way I could. After some time, she called me to say she would live with me in Santa Fe. We made arrangements for me to go to Tucson and move her stuff to Santa Fe. I reserved a big rental truck for the weekend of the planned move. I kicked out my room-mate, cleaned my rented house from top to bottom, painted all the walls, spruced up the grounds and did a dump run--the place looked beautiful. Then, just two weeks before the planned move, she came to visit. She took one look around the place and said "Why is everything so clean? I'm not going to live here" then she drove back to Tucson...I canceled the moving truck and looked for a room-mate.

When she went into labor I called her at the hospital and told her I could be in Tucson, within eight hours. She said she didn't want me to be there and asked me not to come. She chose to leave my name off of the birth certificate and, regardless of our agreement that if she were to give birth to a boy I would name him and, if a girl, she would name her, she gave my son a first name that I never would have chosen for him; her own middle name; and her own last name. Although Arizona guidelines recommend it, she refused when I asked her if she would share travel expenses in exchanging my son. I have never been allowed to see, or even speak to my son on his birthday; she has never let my son spend Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Summer Break with my half of his family--essentially robbing him of his right to a relationship with his grandmother, three aunts and multitude of cousins. She has always dictated everything regarding my son and I have had no say whatsoever about any aspect of his upbringing. She took him to Thailand when he was only two-years old and I had no idea where they were staying or for how long they would be gone. She has never sent me a report card or even told me were he was enrolled in school. She has never informed me of his medical condition or well-being. I had to find out from my son that he was allergic to citrus. She has even told me that she brought my son to Santa Fe, without telling me about it or letting me see him!

Although she has always done all she can restrict and control my contact with my son, she was at least somewhat cooperative and let me have my son (at my own expense and with no reduction in child support) for a couple of weeks at time when he was very young. However, after she became involved with some weird aggressive guy who she eventually married, she became increasingly uncooperative about discussing visitation. Eventually, she refused to speak with me at all; effectively completely alienating me from my son. I was reduced to leaving unanswered messages month after month in an attempt to have any kind of contact with my son. She started to (and does still) encourage my son to call her husband "Dad," and to refer to me as "Daddy Dave." Her husband even assaulted me during an exchange: "Your a little piece of sh*** I oughta kick your ass!" he yelled in my face while poking his finger in my chest--my son was barely outside of hearing range when this happened. Had my son not been so close by, I might have followed my instinct to break his finger and jaw--this guy is much larger than me and I was considerably intimidated...I am glad that I was able to control my fear. As I was driving away, my girlfriend, my nephew and I, all witnessed as my son's mother came out of the hotel and stuck her middle finger high in the air (in full view of my son). I had not witnessed such atrocious behavior in humans since high-school. Their bizarre and belligerent behavior made me more determined than ever that I would do all in my power to rescue my son from the obvious insanity he was being raised in.

She asked me for money often, even before my son was born, but she always refused to discuss a parenting plan. I sent her what I could at first but when she continued to refuse to discuss a parenting plan, I encouraged her to file for child support. I mistakenly believed that the court would hear the custody/visitation issue at the same time as the support issue--unfortunately for my son and I, this was not true. Although she was appointed an attorney who spoke for her at the hearing, I couldn't afford one and none was provided for me. The New Mexico court refused to hear the custody issue and said I must petition the courts in Arizona for visitation. The New Mexico courts were happy to award her with a generous support order, even though she was making approximately four times what I was at the time. I was living in poverty, making less than $10,000 per year, at the time I was ordered to make these exorbitant payments. The added financial burden made it almost impossible for me to visit my son in Tucson, much less bring a paternity action in the Arizona courts on his behalf.

Even though the job-market was horrible I didn't want to move away from Santa Fe; by then I was halfway through the paralegal program at the Santa Fe Community College and I wanted to finish my classes. I didn't know anyone in Tucson anyway, and it is a rather dismal place. Why should I have to move to some other place just because she abducted the fetus there?  What guarantee did I have that she wouldn't just go somewhere else? Had we been married when my son was born it would have been easy to get the New Mexico courts to order back to Santa Fe. I struggled to make my support payments and continue my schooling and visited with my son whenever I could...

I finally finished the paralegal program at the community college, but was still having trouble finding steady work in Santa Fe, and my financial situation was getting worse. I decided to move to the North Bay area of California, where I have some family. Demographic research showed that I would find work there as well. The move took all of my remaining resources and I lived in my car for several months while I tried to get situated in California. Finally, I was able to get on my feet and find regular work. As soon as I was financially able, I planned a visit with my son. I had given up trying to speak with his mother about seeing him, but I sent her an email begging for some visitation. She replied that I could visit with my son for a few hours at a time under the supervision of she or her husband. That was the last straw, I couldn't stomach the idea of being supervised around my own son by someone who had attacked me--I told her that I didn't recognize her husband's authority to supervise my visitation with my son and that after the way he had behaved the last time I saw him, I didn't think it was a good idea for him to be around at all. Then she insisted that I meet with she and her family counselor as a precondition of allowing me to see my son, which I quickly agreed to even thought she had no right to make such a demand. I decided I would bring the paternity action.

Because I couldn't afford an attorney, I prepared the papers as best as I could by myself and planned my trip to Arizona. I would couple the visit with my son and the filing of the paternity action into one trip. I met with she and her family counselor. I made it very clear at the meeting that I wanted some kind of a parenting plan initiated immediately. We all agreed to meet the following day so we could prepare a plan. I had already filed the paternity action, but I could still abort the process by not serving her with the Summons.

After the meeting with her and her therapist, I visited with my son for about three and a half hours with his mother present. We had a great time and my son was very affectionate. She had said she could stay until five-thirty, but at five she said it was getting late and they must go. When I got back to my hotel room I called to remind her that we were to meet at the therapists the following day. On the following day I met with the therapist at the appointed time to discuss the parenting plan, but she didn't show up. Her therapist was quite perplexed but I wasn't surprised at all.  "I knew she would never show," I told him. She did show up later to supervise a few more hours of my visitation with my son, but there was no mention of a parenting plan. I decided to go through with the suit. After another great afternoon at the amusement park with my son, she was kind enough to let me take him in my car while we all drove to the mall. While we were alone in the car, my son told me again (for he had said this many times in the past) how much he loved me and how he wanted to come stay with me at my place. We went to the mall and I bought him a book and then we all walked out to the parking lot and I hugged kissed him goodbye. He squeezed me again as hard as he could--you know, he did that thing where they grab your leg and sit on your foot, like they will never let you go. Then he got in his mother's car and looked very sad. My heart broke as I headed to the airport and flew home. I flew from San Francisco to Tucson, and only got to spend a total of about six hours with my son. In my opinion she and her husband have tortiously interfered with my relationship with my son and his right to have a relationship with his father, but without the benefit of a competent attorney and a large legal fund, I could never get a court in this country to do what's right.

Once she was served with the paternity suit, she came up with the $5,000 to hire an attorney right away and a hearing was scheduled. About six months later at the hearing, things did not go well. Even though I understood it to be standard procedure in the family courts where there were allegations of violence, my request for a restraining order against her husband was refused and I had to present my case with my attacker sitting right there in the courtroom. I went to go find a bailiff (apparently none was appointed to the courtroom, again in spite of my allegations of domestic violence) in order to reduce the intimidation factor. Without the bailiff sitting behind me, I would have been alone in the courtroom against her, her expensive attorney, and her aggressive husband. The judge basically refused to let me speak at the hearing and she didn't look at any of the volumes of evidence I brought. She spent a lot of time lecturing me about how rude I was, and smiling at the expensive attorney. She looked at me with hatred in her eyes and pointed at me as she pontificated. I cried as I tried in vain to get the judge to let me speak.

It was nearly a complete waste of time bringing the suit. With such financial disparity, I never had a chance. 
For all of my trouble, all I got was an earful of a hateful, sexist judge's, rhetoric; it took all of my emotional and financial resources and I still have no parenting/visitation rights.  I do feel good, knowing that I did all that was in my power to fight for my son's well-being, but that is accompanied by feelings of powerlessness and frustration. My son's mother is still not cooperative about communicating with me, but the judge did rule that I could have at least one phone-conversation per week with my son on a specific day, and his mother has more or less honored that. I was ordered to pay $2,000 of her lawyers' fees, which makes absolutely no sense to me because if I could have afforded attorney's fees, I would have hired one to represent my son's interests in the suit I brought on his behalf. Nevertheless, considering the judges obvious hatred of me, I was just glad I hadn't been ordered to pay all of her lawyer fees. It definitely didn't help me to get the courts involved, I don't recommend it unless you can afford an expert attorney. It is easy to see why so many fathers flip out when trying to deal with the system. Try to educate yourself as much as possible about child custody issues; you can find a great book on the subject, right here: Click Here!

Fortunately, my son has not yet been turned completely against me--when I visit with him he displays great affection. He often tells me he would like to spend more time with me and come visit me at my new home in California. He does display a lot of anger and frustration though, and some of the questions that he asks are hard for me to answer. His questions and remarks suggest that he may have overheard his mother and step-father saying some unpleasant things about me or discussing other matters which a child should be left out of.

The implications of my story are scary and should not be ignored. Arizona has the highest number of single mothers--I believe that is because some women are taking advantage of this loophole in the law: If one parent takes a child out of the state without telling the other, it is considered child abduction, but if a woman takes an unborn fetus out of the state and gives birth in another state, she can then long-arm the father for child support in the state where the child was conceived, and she never has to let him see his child. If a father wants to enforce his paternal rights (and his child's rights), he must petition the courts wherever the abductor has gone off to.


I started this page partly as an outlet for myself since the judge would not let me speak at the hearing. I had to find some way to get my story out. If you are an attorney reading this and you would like to help my son and I, please contact me. Anyone who wishes to contribute to our legal fund can do so by clicking on the "Donate" button below:






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19 comments:

Jason T said...

Scott, I'm glad I read your blog tonight. I am in the midst of great frustration and anger because I have once again been made a fool in front of my 2 son's mother, her family, her husband and the judge. To make a long story short, she has violated visitation plan set by us years ago by mediation and approved by the courts since Sept 08. To justify her actions, her lawyer painted me as the reason despite no wrong doing on my part. I've expressed my displeasure with the unavailability of my children verbally and peacefully but her lawyer claims that the stress brought upon by my actions is the reason they are in KY instead of Tucson.

Someone tell me there is something that can be done with this bias against fathers. I am so frustrated and distrustful of the courts to ever do anything that is fair.

dad4justice said...

"When Family Court judges talk piously of the "caring court",I wish they could hear the roar of pain that their piety has caused."
John Hirst,Kangaroo Court.

In solidarity good dads.

cheftdp said...

Scott,
Thank you for your story...being the father of twin 7 year olds, I have been dealing with some custody issues as well. Although our situations have differences, I was also treated like crap by the two judges that were put on my cases. I am planning on filing a motion with the New Mexico District court system to allow unmonitored visitations to occur. I wish I could donate and help you out but I am tight on funds, I felt that your story was an inspiration and I hope that all goes well for you,
Peace,
Tobey

Lynn said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I must admit to being a bit confused, or not able to understand some parts. From where I'm reading, I can see that you weren't in a committed relationship with the woman when she conceived. She didn't want you at the birth, she didn't wish to engage with you on a parenting plan, she decided to leave you off the birth certificate and she said she didn't want to live with you. It's clear that she wanted to be a single mother. You volunteer that you sent money, without her having a child support plan in place and for that, you are to be commended. But.....the reality is that you weren't committed to each other, didn't even live in the same towns, or near each other. Most men, if not almost all men, would have been thankful for that and just gone on their own separate ways.

There are no doubts that you operated with the best of intentions. Your motivation was admirable but I'm left kinda wondering why you chose to pursue this. Especially, given your one-time homelessness status, which I'm not saying at all was your fault, but it does not bode well for rpvoding as a father. I can't help but think that you and your son may have benefitted better if you had walked away, allowing you to continue with your life and enter into a committed relationship with a different woman where, as a couple can then make a united decision to start a family.

Lynn said...

The typo word is meant to read "providing"

David Scott said...

Lynn:
Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my story.

Actually, I did not send her much until the support order was in place, and I haven't been able to make all of my payments since then, either. I don't feel too bad about it, because she and her husband are very wealthy compared to me and I will eventually have to pay them interest on every unpaid cent.

I believe it to be a long held doctrine of family law that a parent's financial status should not play a part when making custody/visitation decisions. If you read my article on Homelessness and Abuse, then you appear to have missed the point of it. Alienation from one or both parents often leads to homelessness in adulthood.

Regardless, even if she and her husband weren't taking advantage of collecting the support payments while trying to alienate me from my son, I could no more walk away from him than I could cut off my own arm.

I disagree with your statement about what "almost all men" would do. You seem to be suggesting that I should just continue to pay out nearly half of my income, and abandon my son permanently. I can only assume that you have had a negative experience with some man in your past and that has colored your perception of men and fathers in general.

Thanks again for your comments and please come back from time to time.

nina said...

David,

Thank you so much for sharing your story, it is truly heart breaking, and I wish you all the best. I disagree wholeheartedly with Lynn's comment, and believe that you have just as much of a right to be a part of your son's life as his mother does, regardless of your income, your status, etc. That child is still your son, and all of his mother's efforts to make it appear otherwise won't ever change that fact. The only reason a woman should have the option to CHOOSE to be a single mom if she's been inseminated at a sperm bank. Whether or not you were in a committed relationship is irrelevant. I am proud of you for standing up for your rights and his, and I hope there is a lawyer out there who will help you!

David Scott said...

Thank you, Nina!

Your comments are greatly appreciated. There are few who have joined me in reason on this subject...

Divotdawg said...

I love your blog and would like to link it to mine. I am an avid parental rights advocate and came across your blog from a comment you made on an anti-cps blog by Yvonne Mason. She forwarded it to me. There's a lot of advocates who do not work for fathers' rights. I am not one of those. Too many men are being falsely accused of horrific crimes against their children and spouses just so they can have the upper hand in a custody fight. This is wrong on soooooooo many levels. I have an anti-cps blog myself and would really appreciate it if you would provide a link to it on your blog as well. It's http://cpsasystemoutofcontrol.blogspot.com. I am working with Ms. Mason to write a book about CPS abuses. It will definitely include a section on false allegations against fathers. It has to stop. Getting CPS involved is a bad, bad,bad idea. When I got a divorce from my husband (I'm remarried now), we split custody 50/50. We never, not once, argued over who got the kids. Neither of us paid child support although we did financially support them together, no matter where they were. However, he didn't need my money as much as I needed his. I was a stay-at-home mom. If we can do it, everybody can. That's why I advocate for noncustodial parents fighting allegations of abuse by the other parent!

Anonymous said...

I wish my ex would read this and realize how good I am to him instead of complaining all the time. I go out of my way for him when he is traveling (which is often) so he can have extra time with them before and after trips. I also sometimes have to drive them 45 minutes away to his parents or my mother has to drop them for me. But all he does is complain about having to pick them up and drop them off as we live 30 minutes from each other and just recently because he would have to make an extra 20 min trip to take her to dance class 2x. I try to work with him on things all the time but he has no respect for the effort I put in and threatens me anytime he doesn't agree with things to try and get his way.

david scott said...

@Anonymous:

Thank you for your comment!

You should be admired for your commitment to your children's well-being. I am sure you will be rewarded greatly for selflessness as they grow older.

Best wishes to you.

Sharon said...

Wow David, that's quite a story and I have so many things running around in my head. First of all - thank you for your comment on my blog http://www.sharonpavey.org/equal-parenting - which is what led me here.

I think your story may unfortunately have something to do with the many many many fathers who unlike you have abandoned and rejected their children over the centuries. My father was one of those men, who left me as a baby and went on to father more children with more women and leave them too.

But - be reassured for your son's future, not all children with one parent grow up to have problems & from what you say about him, he's doing ok you know and obviously adores you even though you guys clearly do not have enough time together.

I don't agree with Lyn that you should just give up and walk away, I wish when my mother told my father to go away, that he had not. I wish that like you, he had been there fighting to see me, be with me and love me every month of my life. I would then respect him now. I have two children of my own and I would never leave them or stop fighting to be with them.

My husband & I share childcare - something that's pretty rare here in the UK. And we have discussed what would happen should we ever part, we plan to share the care of our children like Divotdawg said she did. Of course, anything could happen and then our courts would intervene.

The legal process where you are sounds crazy. I think it's not so unjust here in the UK although I do belive that the law generally favours mothers still.

Only one last thing I would say - is that because of all the problems you have had, perhaps other young guys could actually learn from you and not risk getting themselves pregnant with a girl who may just walk off with their foetus. I'm sorry this happened to you and the law is simply messed up but boys need to be careful too, and ones with a conscience like you, will end up heartbroken.

Anonymous said...

David, I truely feel for you. I understand your frustration, unfortunately my story is different. The bottom line I personally believe is that political stands have replaced common sense both in and out of the court room. I even read Lynns comment and again ignorance, "it takes two to tango", if she wanted to be a single mom, TOO bad, she should have asked you prior to conceiving and then running off.

My story is a little different and I am a woman. I was raped by a man I had dated briefly and I was so scared and embarrassed I never pressed charges, I just wanted to be left alone. Lucky for me at the time he did leave me alone. I choose to keep the baby because I could not handle the alternatives, although little did I know he was waiting until after I had given birth to claim his "Fatherly rights", we have since been in a custody battle for two years.

He abused my children (locking them in closets and the bathroom as punishment when they did not behave), which I did not find out until several months after he was out of our lives. I had also seen him smack his children in the face, and punch his son several times for not "getting something for him cause he was too lazy to get up, this was all in a two month period which is why I broke up with him! Mind you I even told chldren services about his abuse to his children, they did nothing! I cringe when I know I have to see him. I have done everything to protect my son. I am remarried and have been living with my husband since I was several months pregnant (he was a long time friend), my son naturally calls my husband daddy because he has been there since birth. His biological father on the other hand has seen my son only 10 times in two years, much because of court prodding, he chooses not to see his son. He wants full standard visitation and no less and is fighting for his fatherly rights! Again, mind you he chooses not to see his son (it's been 7 months currently), abused my sons, has neglected on almost every occasion my son at every visit, because I told him of severe allergies, of which I had to seek medical treatment several times for my son, and sent him several emails and letters about such (yet somehow I miscommunicated to him?!?) He has withheld my son, and lied about living and sleeping arrangments, among other things.... It's just so frustrating! Oh did I mention he has NEVER paid child support?!?!? I cannot afford it, but have spent thousands of dollars in legal fees to protect my child, yet a parent has their rights. Mind you my ex husband of which my other sons are with have a phenomenal relationship, and I would not have it any other way, when I moved for awhile miles away because of work, I made it a point to go out of my way to drive the boys to their dad.

Personally Dave I just think there are really bad parents/people out there and the good ones have to suffer and fight it out for the children. I pray your son realizes all you are trying to do for him.

David Scott said...

@Anonymous: Thank you for your comment. I wish you the best of luck with your children.

Just A Dad said...

Thank you for all the work you do in bringing the issue of Parental Alienation into focus.
I have added a link to your site on www.evilsofpa.blogspot.com I’m asking you to include a link back from your site.
I believe that all victims of PAS have different experiences and views into this terrible problem that is destroying so many families and making family court lawyers rich. I would like to know your idea and your readers opinion as to child support. Money seems to be a reward and incentive for the alienation. Should child support payments be limited to what the state provides (pays a foster parent) to a foster child home?
Are family court attorneys a part of the problem?
How does the court system need to change to address the issue of PAS?

Just a Dad

David Scott said...

I believe I have added permanent links on the sidebar of this page for all who have requested it. If I have failed to add yours, please let me know here: scottdavene@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

Hi there
I somehow came across your blog from looking at my weekly email from United Families International. I read something on their site, seen your link and clicked on it.
Just read your story and my heart is broken for you. Its really not fair for you at all.
I read Lynn's comment here and it infuriated me. She says you should consider walking away and starting another family!? That is the nuttiest thing I have ever heard! How can you even consider to walk away from your own child, your flesh and blood!? She must be a feminist or something.

I am a wife and mom and happily married for 15 years. My husband loves our son as much as I do. How can any human being be so heartless as not to allow another human being (especially a childs parent) share custody!? What in the world!!! Yet this happens every day. It is crazy.

If someone loves my child as much as I love them, I would want them in my childs life.
Children should get as much love and family as possible.

Praying for you!

C

Incog. said...

Even though I have known you for several years now, I never read this post before so I did not know the whole story behind the issue with your son.

I tend to agree with an earlier poster that it's the deadbeat fathers who perhaps have tarnished the reputation of all fathers. So when a good guy like you shows up, judges might be apt to assume you are a deadbeat yourself. Though you were there, for one, and you had evidence to show otherwise....perhaps there is still a state of mind that is decades old, where single mothers were generally the victims and without a male in the house, they could not both earn money and raise a child. But this is not the case in current society. Just as often the women are to 'blame' for the current situation and they themselves do not have the child's best interest in mind.

Personally, your story affects me because I did have my biological father in my life and household, however I do not think he loved me and that he displaced his dislike for my mom at the time onto me. Once my parents divorced, I cut him out of my life and I no longer have any contact with him. It's some type of fucked up universe-logic that a crappy father could have a life with his child, yet just be able to do nothing about it and throw it away...while someone like you who does love his child and wants to have a life with him is treated in the way you have been treated and essentially miss out on your child being a child.

I hope that when your boy is old enough to do things on his own, that he reconnects and you two can finally have the relationship you were supposed to have. I am glad you have shared this personal story with all of us.

David Scott said...

@Incog: Thank you for your comments and for sharing so much of your own history. It was great to see you in California!