Contempt? Ironically I’m not guilty!

Ironic because I’m feeling a lot of contempt right now, it’s just not contempt according to California Statutes.

On Thursday August 4, 2005, I was served personally with papers accusing me of being in contempt for not following custody orders. My first reaction was why was this being served on me when I was represented by counsel. A quick call to my attorney answered that question. Something about being quasi-criminal in nature and that the party must be served personally even if they are represented by counsel. It didn’t make much sense, but it didn’t make much difference either. Mostly because I’m not in contempt under California statute, but also because finallly on August 31, 2005, maybe, just maybe I’ll get a chance to put evidence before the judge to show what I’ve been going through for the last year.

You see, just over one year ago, I filled an Order to Show Cause (OSC) in a LA County Superior Court to change custody. My daughter was starting Kindergarten in a few weeks, and I felt that a slight modification to the the current custody practice I had with my daughter’s father was needed to accomodate the schedule of Kindergarten as opposed to preschool. That filing started a snowball rolling down a hill and it has collected my resources and energy along the way.

I’m not going to make a long story short, so I hope everyone will bare with me as I tell my story over then next few days and even weeks. I’m not a great writer, so putting my story down in words is a challenge, I’m also time challenged, but right now, my most important undertaking in life second only to looking out for my daughter is to tear down the current custody system and make sure that it’s re-build with the best interest of the child in mind.

June 7, 2005

That was the last time I was in court for a hearing. What was on my mind then? On my mind was that if the custody evaluation had been completed, we probably wouldn’t be there……at least not for the reason we WERE there. My daughter’s father dragged me into court to seek a court order to FORCE me to sign a passport application allowing my daughter to be taken on what he called a vaction to Jamaica. A country not party to the Hague Convention (a international treaty which binds country’s government to cooperate in returning abducted children to their home country) and the country from which my daughter’s father’s wife is native. WHAT?? I couldn’t even believe they were hearing this case, let alone two hearings. Prior to having to go to court to defend this, I received several threatening letters from opposing counsel threatening not only to take me to court, but also to seek attorney’s fees against me. He had sent letters along with pictures of the home of his wife’s father which only served to make me more uncomfortable because from the looks of his home, he to be quite wealthy. I’m not sure what I was more concerend about, my daughter not returning to the states, or my daughter being returned to the states in a pine box. Seriously, either by accident or on purpose, I was very worried and frankly, I’d like to see the laws about this tightened up to the point where one parent can NEVER leave the country with a minor child against the wishes of the other parent. The rare obductions are every bit worth just keeping our kids home if both parents cannot agree to the international trip, but I understand the nature of the beast……..the lawyers make more money if they have to come to court time and time again to get a judgement and/or interpretation of the law. If you’re interested in reading the letters I got regarding this trip, they’re posted in this blog.

Well, the judge didn’t order me to sign the passport application for my daughter, but his reasoning for not making me do so was infuriating. I don’t think I was infuriated at him specifically, just the entire situation. The judge said that he didn’t believe that my concerns were valid, but he wasn’t sure and since there wasn’t time for a full hearing on the matter with testimony from each sides, he wasn’t going to order this trip. It was somewhat a poetic justic because originally, the hearing was scheduled for May 11, 2005. When opposing counsel discovered that our courtroom (in LA Superior Court, unless someone moves to change it, your custody case is in the same court and same department forever) was dark on May 12, 2005, he changed the court date to May 12, 2005. I’m relatively certian that he intentionally did this in order to go before a judge who frequently ruled in his favor. This was the second time he had attempted to have a case heard in Department 2 instead of department 63 (our department) since January 1, 2005 when the previous judge who had frequently ruled in his favor was promoted to Department 2. Well sort of backfired because when we went into department 2 on May 12, 2005, the old judge wasn’t there, the was a “judge pro temp”, or temporary judge who refused to rule on this matter and he remanded the case back to Department 63. The next available date the case could be heard after that was June 7, 2005 since the attorney was going to be out of the country for an extended vacation for the rest of May and early June. This was only one of the dirty tricks pulled by opposing counsel, check back, you’ll be able to read more about his tacticts in this blog.

Well, I left the courtroom feeling considerably less than triumphant because who can feel triumphant when they’ve just spent $2,000 (just MY part) to have a judge spend 15-20 minutes telling you “I don’t think so”.

Prior to that hearing, I was in court January 10, 2005 and this time, I was there for safety and psuedo job protection. Please bookmark my site and check back for updates on how it was that I got to where I am today in my custody case. The hearings, the letters, the e-mails, nobody should have to go through this mess.

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