Lawyers. That one word conjures up a ton of images and stereotypes– none of which are very flattering. Some people believe that our society has become heavily litigious, with people making frivolous claims and filing insignificant and unnecessary lawsuits. In other words, people get dragged into court over some STUPID shit. Some of things are SO ridiculous that you may think that you don’t need to hire a lawyer to take of it! Why bother?! CLEARLY, the judge will see that this person is LYING! “I’ve got proof! I’ve got evidence! All I have to do is tell the truth!” That’s what I believed, anyway. And I’ve believed it probably a bit longer than I should have. And now, I am at a point where if I don’t get something done to drastically change this situation…things are going to get much, MUCH worse.
The last time I was in Family Court was back in 2008. “Crazy” had decided, out of nowhere, that the brownstone that I had lived in, that she had spent time in, for over two years, was “unsafe for a child”. It started with a brief comment she made one day while picking up Maya. She said that one of the steps leading up to my apartment in the brownstone was “weak”, and that “someone could fall and get hurt. That’s unsafe!” There were 3 levels to this brownstone– I was on the top, a couple was on the ground floor, and my landlord lived on the bottom floor. There was nothing wrong with the stairwell. But she called 311 to file a complaint about an “unsafe living condition”. She used this as an excuse to keep Maya from visiting me. She said I could visit Maya at her house– “that’d be fine– you are ALWAYS WELCOME to see her here!” This old game…
So I took her to court. I defended myself, because I figured that I had everything I needed to prove that she was lying! The most important thing I had was a copy of the report filled by the 311 representative that inspected the stairs. Turns out that (surprise) not only was there nothing wrong with the stairs, he was convinced that the call was a prank. When I presented the report in court, ‘Crazy’s’ lawyer asked to see it, as well as the judge. The judge said, “Did you know anything about this?”
‘Crazy’s’ lawyer said, “No, I didn’t know anything about this.”
BOOM. I did it! I proved that ‘Crazy’ was lying in court! And it was effective, and it shocked her– ‘Crazy’ didn’t see it coming! Before we walked into the court room, she was mocking me– sucking her teeth, snorting arrogantly, saying shit like “this is SUCH a waste of time! What do you think is gonna happen? This is just SO STUPID. What a waste. Yeah, we’ll see what happens…” Those are exact quotes. She was absolutely blind-sided with the fact that she was in the wrong.
Hindsight is 20/20, they say. While I scored a victory there, I put her into a position where she had no choice (at that moment) but to resume the regular visitation schedule. Where I went wrong is that I didn’t go far enough. The only thing I was concerned about was getting my time with my daughter back. I was ignorant to the law, and idiotically did not even take advantage of a court-appointed attorney. I didn’t think I need one!
I remember being in the hospital when Maya was born. It was a miserable pregnancy, and a soul-crushing delivery, up until the birth– when I saw that little girl…she was it. She was ALL that mattered. All of the bullshit, the insanity, the lunacy, the toxicity…’Crazy’s’ disinterested brothers, her horrible mentally ill (no joke) mother, her spineless– but kind– father…ALL OF THAT BULLSHIT WAS OVER! Here she is! Maya Eloise! Since that moment, I have done nothing but fight to keep that little girl in my life.
What I saw over the first 3 years of Maya’s life was bar-none the most dysfunctional family I have ever seen. ‘Crazy’ lived with her parents for 2 years. ‘Crazy’s’ behavior got worse. She was putting Maya physically in the middle of disputes she was having with her mother– and when I say “disputes”, I mean screaming, yelling, throwing furniture, drinking glasses, coffee mugs, etc. I remember taking Maya for a walk while the two of them fought. I heard them from 2 blocks away. They are no strangers to police visits.
I saw these things happen. I’ve had to move in to try to take Maya away, but then ‘Crazy’ would go nuts and things got worse to the point where I would just leave. Then I would find out that the cops were called. That happened ALL THE TIME. This would keep me up at nights– this raised my blood pressure! I just stood on hopelessly on the sidelines, believing the popular notion that no matter what, I couldn’t take custody of Maya. Unless ‘Crazy’ was a heroin or meth junkie, there was NO WAY that I could take custody.
I saw a lawyer on Friday, and I am seeing another on Tuesday of this week. I’ve been talking to different lawyers for a few years, and quite a few in the past few months. I’ve told this story time after time, and I get here the same thing: ‘Crazy’ is…well, crazy, and her behavior is antithetical in every way, shape, and form of the responsible custodial parent. I don’t need a lawyer to tell me that– I’m LIVING it! I think my biggest problem is that this is far MORE important than just conveying to story, or the narrative of the situation. My problem is ignorance. Not only ignorance of the legalities of this situation, but ignorant of how to classify ‘Crazy’s’ behavior. It’s one thing to just say “she’s crazy!” or “she’s a horrible mother!” You have to be able to explain how and why that is.
I had just recently, within the last 2 months, discovered the tern “Parental Alienation”. This is also classified as a syndrome, as in “Parental Alienation Syndrome”, or PAS. Knowing this information has helped me not only to form a more cohesive case, it has also lead me to believe that I cannot move forward on my own. PAS is a really big problem that if not addressed is going to destroy my family. I’ve come to realize that without the expertise of a lawyer that has handled cases like this, Maya may never get the help she needs.
Within the next couple of days, I’ll be making a decision about who I want to represent my case. One of the things you will always here a lawyer tell you about cases like this is how expensive it will be. They throw numbers as you that sound absolutely overwhelming. Even now, I am confronted with a cost that is a bit scary to deal with. FORTUNATELY, I will be getting some financial help– which I know is not an option for a lot of people. Hell, it’s the reason why I defended myself the first time! It’s still not an excuse to go it alone in the court room– especially when you can request a lawyer to help! It’s a good thing to do the research ahead of time. There are a lot of lawyers out there that offer 30 minutes to an hour’s worth of free consultation. Regardless if you can afford an attorney or not, DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Research online, go to your local library, ask questions, TALK TO PROFESSIONALS!
On top of all of that, lawyers know each other– they know the judges. If your lawyer knows “her” lawyer, and your daughter’s lawyer, and the judge…well, there is a possibility that your case can get resolved a lot faster than if you’re going in there cold, with no friends or allies in the room. An advocate is what you need– someone that will vouch for you, lend you credibility, and sell your narrative in terms that a judge wants to hear– not your impassioned personal plea.
I can no longer afford to go at this alone. I need help. ‘Crazy’s’ story is crystal clear. What she is DOING is clear. And she will do what she did before– hire a lawyer to help propagate misinformation and lies. Without a lawyer, there will be an inadequate representation of these issues, that will end up stretching this out for another 2-3 years of repeat court visits. With a lawyer, I could put an end to all of this. While nothing is truly guaranteed, I have to change my previous strategy.
TO BE CONTINUED…