Daughter Begs Mom: Get a Lawyer

My daughter, JJ, was angry—so much, it seemed she would reach up and shake the clouds until they thunder, and cold bullets of rain explode against the Earth.

 The day started out so well—sleeping in late, and cuddling up on the couch with bowels of cold cereal on our laps while we watched cartoons. Then visiting the grandparents she missed and repeatedly asked to see. JJ romped and played with her cousins in the bright afternoon sun. She splashed in the pool, and dried off jumping on the trampoline. Grandpa ordered a pizza for lunch, and we all dove in—cheese dripping off our fingers, our faces smeared with spicy tomato sauce signaled delight.

 

JJ didn’t want to leave. I couldn’t blame her—her father, Mr. X, decided that he doesn’t like my parents and has been actively working to keep my children separated from their maternal grandparents, basically all my relatives, and any connection to our heritage. This was especially cruel because Mr. X used to allow the children overnight visits with their grandparents. My parents created a room in the house for the children—with bunk beds to sleep and a closet overflowing with toys. The dresser was filled with clothes my parents bought for my children. Even the kitchen cupboards were filled with brightly colored plastic plates in animal shapes, bottles of water, and healthy snacks for the kids—Grandpa made sure they ate organic, and drank purified water. My children share a close, loving relationship with their grandparents; they suffer a tremendous amount of grief due to alienation and an unjust legal order tearing my family apart.

 Which brings me to the park… I left my parent’s home to bring my daughter and my toddler, RJ, to a museum. Time was running short, and JJ was a bit cranky so I drove to the park instead. It was a warm, sunny day and the playground was filled with noisy children. RJ ran happily toward the slide. JJ hung back, almost refusing to walk. She crossed her arms over her chest, tucked her chin down and wouldn’t look at me. When I asked JJ what was wrong she only replied in grumbling noises. JJ glared at the playground like I was dragging her into the pit of hell. I did my best to ignore her, and tried to remain upbeat, hoping some distraction would lift the clouds—to no avail. When I tried to talk to JJ she completely ignored me, and continued to grumble.

 

I was not deterred by JJ’s attitude—she is so much like me in her personality and energy. I once had a fighting spirit that was only broken by a brutal act committed by Mr. X that left me silent and complacent. I admire the fighting spirit in my daughter; I know it is going to save her from the abuse and dysfunction she is now living in. As much as I want to reach out to JJ, I also want to honor her fighting spirit—what she was trying to tell me—and find a way she can talk and feel that her words are valued, that I am listening.  So I sit a few feet from JJ  and spoke, not looking at her because I knew this would invite challenge and said, “You look like you are upset and want to say something. I am here if you need to talk. I won’t bother you or make you talk, but just know when you are ready I am listening. I love you a lot and I really want to help if I can.”

JJ glared at me. She didn’t say anything for several minutes and then, “I want to go back to Grandma’s house! Why can’t I see my Grandma? It’s not fair! I used to get to see her all the time.”

I always try to be careful what I say to the kids about anything court related but try to give them enough that there is some resolution so they are not left with more questions. “We only get one visit a month, and I try to fit everything in as best as I can. I will try to make more time to visit Grandpa and Grandma. I’m sorry about that.”

It’s not fair.” JJ grumbled, “Why can’t I see you more too?”

“I am not sure why, I did ask for more time but the court says only once a month. We will just have to do our best. I love you very much and think about you every day. I will keep asking for more time to visit, but we will have to be patient if that does not happen right away.”  I reply.

JJ is nearly shouting now, “Why can’t you talk to the judge? Tell him I want to come home! I want to see Grandma! It’s not fair!”

Honey, I did talk to the Judge and this is what he says… I did the best I could. Even if I can’t see you a lot, I will write letters and we can talk on the phone.”

I was writing letters almost every week since the children have been taken from me, then Mr. X moved and won’t give me an address–any address–to send the letters. So now I only get to see the children once a month with no contact in between.

My daughter is furious, “Why don’t you get a lawyer? I saw on ‘Rockford’ that a lawyer is only $75! You could get a lawyer!” –Mr. X watches  the 1970’s detective series, “The Rockford Files”, my daughter must have been watching. I couldn’t help but to wonder if Jim Rockford were investigating my case, would things have turned out  differently?

Honey, lawyers are more expensive than that. But I do my best talking to the Judge—and your Dad—on my own. This is what they decided, and I know it’s not easy but we just gotta do the best we can. No matter what, I love you, and thank God for you every day. I will keep asking for more time to visit with you.” It has taken alot of practice for me to remain this calm.

But I saw on ‘Rockford’..” JJ is nearly in tears now. Her shoulders sag, and she came to cuddle on my lap. “Rockford gets a lawyer all the time. You can too, Mommy…”

jim rockford photo: Jim Rockford Garner.jpg

I am near tears myself. I just want my children to have a normal, happy childhood—and to be their Mother. I see my children struggling, their safety is at risk, and now they are being kept away from their loving mother and anything that represents her…I don’t have money for a lawyer. And I don’t have the knowledge or skill to adequately represent myself in court pro se.  I don’t have the answers why. Why would Family Court conspire to take my children away? Why am I being denied my legal rights, and due process? Why is the Guardian ad Litem covering up evidence of abuse, refusing to interview witnesses and will not do a home observation with the children and I? Why is Judge Robben refusing to do any sort of reunification efforts, even when I request? Why are these children continuing to show emotional distress and make concerning reports and no one is listening? I don’t have the answers. And they are not the answers a child should hear. So I keep my thoughts silent. Force a smile. And push the pain away…these questions will revisit me in the night, keeping me awake, only in silence and darkness, I don’t have to be so strong anymore, the tears fall. 

So I do what I have been forced to do time and time again over the years, smile, try to act like everything is fine and enjoy the moments I have with my children. I scoop RJ up from the bottom of the slide, swing him in the air until he giggles and announce that we are going on a hike. We walk around a path meandering near the lake. I remember how warm my JJ’s hand feels, her fingers closing over mine…tears sparkle in her eyes but something else too: excitement. She dashes away to collect rocks and then again to help her baby brother climb a low hanging branch. And just for a few moments the pain passes away, the storm recedes into a brilliant blue sky, and we are family.

— Emily Court/M21

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About Emily Court

Mom & Kids Need "Just Us" To Fight Injustice in Family Court. I blog to raise awareness about problems existing in the family court system, and use my own story as a personal example of how the systemic failures in family court, and the Guardian ad Litem Program, affect families, in an effort to encourage needed reform. "Emily Court" is a survivor of domestic violence and homelessness working to create a better life for her children, in a stable home free of violence. In her efforts to rebuild her life, she has not only encountered harassment and intimidation from her alleged abuser but faced systematic failures in family court that have empowered her alleged abuser and put her children at risk. Emily is fighting to keep her kids safe, and bring them home. Through writing and blogging, Emily is working to raise awareness about domestic violence, and the urgent need for family court reform. She is currently working on a memoir titled "'Til Prayers Are Answered".
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7 Responses to Daughter Begs Mom: Get a Lawyer

  1. Pingback: Good For Nothing Teens Force Their Own Grandma To Beg For Money « BGTV MEDIA ONLINE

  2. Reblogged this on amississippimom and commented:
    I’ve lived this so similarly that it physically pained me to read but I am so glad I did. Strength in numbers, therapy in wading into the pain slowly, with trusted “others” who know how it feels to live with a painted smile on the outside while silently screaming on the inside, having your child ask those “why know one cares” “why money matters” “please DO something” … it goes on and on, I well know. Thank you for sharing. It encourages me to try once again to rally the strength to keep plugging, and also try to put our own sordid, unbelievable story in words to share. I am most grateful for everyone who shares. It helps others who are suffering similarly. I have come to see this forum, information, story-sharing as a family of sorts that no one else on earth can every truly understand.

  3. RW says:

    After dinner tonight with my family, and after waiting months to hear some new Order in my family court case,I came home and googled ‘injustice in family court’, and came to this blog. I am outraged in reading about Emily Court, and even though my situation is not as dismal, it still makes me feel her pain. In 2012 I had a son with a man who did not even want the child at first, asked me to abort. When I did not, he suddenly became interested in the child, and continued carrying on a relationship with me. Little did I know that he had hired a hardball attorney in this very tiny town that we live in, with plans to try to take custody of our son. Once I had our son, I did not give my son his name. He was ofcourse outraged, and showed that in the recovery room of the hospital. He quieted his anger, and went forward with his plans. Recording me during our arguments, and instigating them whenever he could. Suddenly out of nowhere, there was an emergency hearing called in March of 2013, when my son, still breastfeeding was only 6 months old. The hearing lasted from 11am until 11pm that same night, with my whole immediate family and many friends present. About 11 people in total. All witnessed that I was not given a water break, or even a glass of water, and one bathroom break where i was to pump in a dirty stall on the floor. I ripped my stockings, as I tried to dress appropriately, wearing a suit, and then had to return to the stuffy small hearing room, and was prodded and questioned for all of those hours, where at one point I had to nurse my son, in the room with three men present, and one woman. This first emergency hearing was not carried out by a judge but by a ‘referee’. This referee found nothing unfit about me, and ordered that me and the father go to co-parenting counseling, and that I remain primary caretaker, until a court date was established. A court date was set for May 24, and right before that were depositions that were scheduled. At the time I had a very good job with the city as director of a 1200 seat theater. I was harassed so much for having the 8 hour a day job, that I resigned. harassed by the plaintiff and his attorney. The judge that was supposed to hear our first trial date recused herself from our case, siting that she could not handle the case as she would be running for judge in the november 2014 election against the plaintiff’s attorney. Court date was then moved to December of 2013. during this time, the plaintiff stalked my home, sat in my yard every night, and stated in his depositions that he had over 300 audio recordings of me, and 100s of video recordings, of me coming and going from my home, just doing day to day things. he said. I had at this time already filed 4 police reports of his stalkings, but he knew the lieutenant of the police department, and at first the reports were never filed correctly. I hired a private investigator to go with me to the police dept to state that all reports were being filed incorrectly and why was this happening? They stated they were not aware and would be more detailed next time. We asked was he an undercover, they said they wouldn’t tell us if he was. Why would we think he would be undercover? Because he had a conviction on his record for selling ecstasy and methamphetamines to college students, and was sentenced to 4 yrs in prison, then was dropped to 5 years probation because he rolled on his friend. This is what we found out over the course of 3 attorneys and 2 private investigators. over $150,000 in legal fees so far. But it wasn’t over. While seeing our co-parenting counselor, the counselor wrote a letter to the court stating that I, the mother, should be primary, and that the father should have visitation of 4 days at a time, every 9 days. the court read the letter, took the counselors advice, and while we were awaiting trial, set this into an Order. the plaintiff’s attorney, with her plaintiff unhappy, called for an emergency hearing, stating that this was not enough time with his son. The emergency hearing happened on Oct 1, 2013, and at that time, our new judge appointed, because the other had recused for political reasons, sent me and the father down to a juvenile cell to talk about schedule. I had brought 8 different schedule scenarios just in case i needed them. the father, in this cell with me, refused any of the schedules. he said he would not take anything but 50/50. i walked out and told my attorney that he was being unruly in there, telling me that i should get used to that cell, and that he wouldn’t cooperate or reason with any schedule except 50/50, which both the counselor and the judge had said no to.
    we were called back up to the court room, where immediately the judge looked at me, and stated ‘you are going to have to deal with each other for the next 18 years, how old are you ma’am?’
    ’43’ i answered. at that time she said. ‘because you cannot be more cooperative, i am giving you 7 days on and 7 days off, with a mid week visitation’. she looked to the plaintiff’s attny, and asked ‘is she still breastfeeding?’ ‘i don’t know’ said the attorney of my son’s father. ‘okay then, you (looking at the father) can give him formula when you have him, and you(looking at me) can continue to breastfeed if you want’.

    just like that. without a trial. with no proof that i had done anything unfit or wrong. and without any questions about whether i was breastfeeding, or how i might be attempting to nurse my son until at least his first birthday, which was at the time only 19 days away.

    i had spent many hours in workshops for nursing, and learning about why it was best for my son. she took that from me. without a trial. without asking me or my attorney ANY thing at all. and against a counselor’s letter, a counselor that was appointed by her, the judge.

    my family and I hired yet another attorney from out of town, because we felt this had become way to crazy, way too biased, and spent another large sum of money for him. Our trial happened on April 1 of 2014, and nothing has been ordered since. my son’s father’s attorney, ran for judge, and won. she is very tight with our current judge. in fact they campaigned together for the plaintiff’s attny to win. the plaintiff, my son’s father, wore her campaign Tshirts all throughout this year’s custody battle, even going so far as to take our son to many campaign events, parades, parties, to endorse this woman as judge. he admitted to such in his depositions.

    this case has been pending now for over one hear and a half. it’s so painful that i am now in a 50/50 situation that was put there, without a trial. with a man who has a drug conviction, and plead the fifth in court, on all of his finances, as well as lied about his previous conviction. all of this the judge knows. will she make the right decision? who knows? she hasn’t so far.

    as i said, even though my case is not as dire as Emily’s I still feel for her. And any mother out there who is going through this. And there are many. Many who donot have money for attorneys. We are not rich. We are in debt. to attorneys. but what about those mommies who are forced to give up. who have no family to fight. who have no strength or money or means.. to fight? i’ve heard of women who just give up. And i can see why.. I will never give up on my son, but i can see why women do. they don’t have a choice, they feel helpless and alone.

    After resigning from a well paying job, i was then accused of not making enough money at my now current job. If I work at mcdonald’s it’s not enough. if i direct an entire theater, it is too much. it is injustice, that any mother should lose rights to their young, or old, children, when they are fit to be mothers. and when there are circumstances that prove the father to be unfit, or abusive, or harasing in any way.

    stalking is harassing, it creates anxiety. therefore it could be termed abusive. it is dangerous. i’ve been followed by him in my vehicle when i’ve had the child in my car, and almost run off the road. no one will listen. no one cares. they think it’s silly.. they think i am an outsider, because i moved here from New York. and now this small town thinks that i am unfit. I am literally crawling up out of the hole that this year has put me in. I am no longer viewed the same by this city. people think that i have done something wrong, that there must be something, something wrong with me. if my son was taken away while still nursing? then the mother must be unfit.

    I have been talked about, gawked at, stared at on the street, and students have left my current art program (dance) due to this case. it has quite literally broken my father’s retirement fund.

    while we’ve been waiting for the judge’s decision here’s what has occurred, just since april 1: the father enrolled our son in daycare without asking me, or telling me. I had to find out on my own. after all of his fighting for time with our infant boy, he now has him enrolled 6 hours a day in daycare, while his perfectly good mother sits and wants to be with him. He is only 20 months old, and is not potty trained, and could’ve waited for daycare.

    He kept him from me on Mother’s day. He was told by our counselor to allow me visitation from 8:30-8pm on mother’s day. I didn’t see my son until 6pm that sunday, regular pick up time. I did not do the same hurtful action. even tho i had our son on father’s day, i dropped my son off at 8:30am so that he could attend church with his father.

    it hurts me that i did not get to take my son to church with me, or see him on mother’s day until the evening when he was tired and off to sleep.

    this is killing me.

    recently, two weeks ago, on my wednesday night visit, i noticed my son was sick. i told the father that he needed to go to the doctor the next morning, that i thought he was sick. the father said ‘we are going out of town and i’m not taking him to the doctor’. the child came back sicker. i took him last week during my time, to an after hours clinic. he was given 10 days of antibiotics for pharyngitis and sinusitis. yes this seems minimal, but it adds up to: a neglective father. that is being neglectful.

    These are minor things, yes , maybe. but the major thing is: the injustice of how this all went down. a nursing child was taken from his mother, without a trial.

    what can i do? what can i say? i do yes, ofcourse, worry for my son, and for my own sanity. but more than that i worry for other mothers. it literally wakes me up in a cold sweat. it makes me on edge often, and i have anxiety and find it hard to ever really sleep. i am so saddened by the state of things. by the real possibility that in a few days, my son could be taken from me, and i could be given even less visitation. that primary care will be given to the father. he makes more money. he has the judge attorney now.

    but what can i do? i want to fight. not just for myself. but for other mothers out there. the ones who had to let their little ones go. it’s wrong. it will always be wrong. it is … UnJust. and something must be done. please give advice if you like. I am open to any suggestion, any thoughts, and words of wisdom. anything.

    I will never stop fighting.

    • Emily Court says:

      RW-

      I am so sorry for what you and your child are going through, it is horrific.

      This is “Family Court Injustice” — when judges, attorneys and court personnel use cronnyism and inside connections to influence custody rulings, and work their agenda. When judges break the law or violate the rights of litigants. When the safety and well-being of children are compromised by the unjust rulings and/or actions of judges and court personnel. When litigants feel abused, victimized, and that there is no recourse for justice. When justice becomes so perverted that law, evidence, fact and common sense no longer matter. This is family court injustice.

      I am writing this blog to raise awareness of the injustice, corruption, bias and other failures in family court. I am writing for victims who do not have a voice. I am writing to tell my story but also to advocate for desperately needed change. It is frightening and horrific how our children’s lives are put at risk by those who are supposed to protect.

      RW you have my support and prayers. Feel free to write if you want to talk privately: djfund@live.com

      You have my sincere sympathy and prayers, Emily

      PS- I heard you say several times that “your case is not that bad” etc. Please don’t feel you have to compare. And don’t undermine your heartbreak. It is real. It is unjust. There is no comparison. You are a phenomenal mother, who has fought so hard to protect your child. I am inspired by you!

  4. I commend you on the incredible patience and discipline that you demonstrated with JJ at the park. This should get you much farther…sooner…than many of our appropriate and reasonable responses–“righteous anger” (Ephesians 4:26)–to cries for help from the children who have been kidnapped so violently and mercilessly–irresponsibly under the color of lawlessness. I almost cried reading this because “JJ” is what I hear is the “new” name they use for my son at the (reported) abuser’s home. I, too, identify with “JJ.” They (and the Pharisees at bench) are “heaping hot ashes and coals upon their heads” as they continue to deny justice to children, the poor, the weak in spirit, the oppressed, and to “orphans,” so keep remaining silent and give them your other cheek to slap all the while knowing what horrendous fate awaits them for your children’s and your immeasurable pain and loss which I have hope, faith, and confidence, will soon be restored to you and to the rest of us as well. Afterall, the immediate threat of “change” is imminent. I stand with you guys.

    • Emily Court says:

      RE: “I almost cried reading this because “JJ” is what I hear is the “new” name they use for my son at the (reported) abuser’s home.”

      You have my support and love!

      A common parental alienation tactic is to change the child’s name so the child no longer identifies with their given name or previous memories.

      I went to a faith-based domestic violence support group at church. We learned how to counter fear and anxiety with Bible scriptures or positive affirmations. It was really powerful. The concept is that it okay, and NORMAL to have those emotions and reactions. But we can also change the energy behind our emotions and thoughts to be more beneficial, ..and reduce fear and anxiety. One way to change is to focus on Scripture or positive affirmation, and draw in uplifting thoughts, images and words.

      Some of verses that comfort me..

      Psalm 8:2,”Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.”

      Psalm 113:7-9,”He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes, with the princes of their people. He settles the barren women in her home as a happy mother of children.”

      Isaiah 3:13,”The Lord takes His place in court, He rises to judge the people.”

      Isaiah 30:19,”For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; You shall weep no more. He will be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.”

      Lamentations 3:31-33,”For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.”

      Hosea12:6, ”So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.”

      Matthew 23:37,”…How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…”

      Hebrews 10:39,”But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and keep their souls.”

      1 Corinthians 2:3-5.”And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

      Revelation 7:17,”For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

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