Imagine you are called to appear as the respondent in a trial. There is a Petitioner listed in the case – but that Petitioner has never asked for anything. You are just told to appear in court and defend yourself against whatever is thrown at you in the courtroom.
It sound impossible, like something out of Alice In Wonderland, but that is where the mother in this story has found herself. She going to trial this week without knowing what anyone involved in the case is asking for. She is scared for her child. She is scared that the judge may decide to switch custody, that he might order her toddler to live away from her, the baby’s sole caretaker to date-possibilities that the judge has threatened her with, despite the fact that no one in the case has asked for it.
As a recap:
The Bureau of Child Support Enforcement opened the case over a year ago. The mother didn’t ask for it, but the state opened the case anyway. The original case was about child support – how much the father should pay.
She thought she was going to court to address and establish child support. Next thing she knows, the judge begins to change custody. The judge refused to address the fact that the father wasn’t paying child support-of which the case was opened to establish. Instead, the judge presents his own parenting plan to be followed, orders the baby to overnights with a man she has never known, and when the mother brings up her concerns about the father’s ability to safely care for the child about brings up one of the father’s violent outburst she captured on video (the video is located on the homepage of this blog), the judge refused to watch and threatens to take her child away.
On what grounds? No idea. The father has never filed for anything with the court.
So here we are. The father, instead of the state has been named as petitioner, and the mother who has cared for and supported her child since birth is being put on trial. Has she been accused of being an incompetent mother? No. Has the father stated what he wants? No. He is just being allowed to come into court and ask for – well, who knows. He could ask for and be granted anything, up to and including full custody of a child who is terrified of him.
How is this allowed to happen in the United States Family Court? Aren’t we told that we have civil rights?
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