Fighting, stumbling, falling, getting up to fight some more.

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Re: Fighting, stumbling, falling, getting up to fight some m

Unread postby WinAtLife » Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:52 am

massdad1234 wrote:OP - what is the overnight breakdown on temp orders? What are your goals? Lower CS? Better parenting plan?

What are you hoping to accomplish by moving?


Hey everyone... Not sure what the etiquette is on resurrecting old threads, but it's been an INSANE past 3 months.

Current status:

- I moved! 300 yds from the school, 0.8 mi from STBX. Thanks to all for your input and guidance - of course it's been non--stop work in settling in, getting the place to a kid-friendly and comfortable situation, but it's incredible now. The kids don't want to go back to STBX house after our time together. Place is 50% larger SQFT than STBX house. Huge backyard. Kids have their own rooms and beds (I sleep on a cot or in DD room in a separate bed: 2 queens fit in there!)

- Instantly dove into school activities, at least 1, up to 3-5 playdates for DS8 and DD5 every weekend.

- current custody arrangement - fought for this in agreeing to allow kids to move - EOW after school Friday through Tues morning dropoff, I also Monday night overnight after school to Tuesday morning dropoff (on her weeks).

- Incorporated my mother into kids pickup/dropoff schedules: she is now picking them up from school instead of extended day care every one of my Mondays, and on my Friday afternoons

- I work 9-5 with super flexible and accomodating work schedule, and get home around 4:30ish on my weekdays with kids. Walk the kids to school every one of my weekdays (Monday morning and Tuesday morning on my weeks, and Tuesday mornings on her weeks). She cannot do the same, lives outside of range to do so esp with these super cold MA mornings.

- Have not missed ANY doc appointments, school events, and volunteered for field trips and in-class activities for both kids. I am the room parent for both DS and DD. The principals of school know me well, as do admins and teachers. STBX went to complain to principal that I'm "overvolunteering" and she feels excluded. I told the principal that "I am completely unapologetic for my level of involvement in my children's lives." She agreed that I shouldn't be... was only meeting with me at the behest of STBX.

New wrinkles:

- had 4 way to discuss 2018 holidays. Successfully hashed them out, added birthday visitations to the mix, and also everyday phone calls before bedtime.

- STBX was overheard screaming at her attorney for "losing" on the phone calls (she thinks they aren't necessary at all since "the kids were fine without any contact with the other parent during parenting time"), and forced a meeting with a parenting coordinator (meeting this Friday, after one reschedule by STBX prior to holidays).

- STBX, literally the next day, said they were busy due to a birthday party, call denied. Then allowed one call, then denied call the day after. I called 5x because I was concerned she wasn't hearing phone, she replied next day via email that the phone was not heard at all, but also to "stop blowing up phone" (contradicted herself), then since denied phone call access altogether, putting her in contempt of the recently entered orders.

What I am aiming for:

- 50/50 custody, with my being primary custodian (she's currently PC). My place is larger, I live closer, and the handoffs are smoother at my place since I live on an actual street and she lives in a filing cabinet style apartment complex with a dangerously busy parking lot.

Notes:

- She has adamantly fought against 50/50. Currently receiving full child support based on EOW + 2 hr < parenting time > 1x wk (our original temp orders from 2016). I've continued to pay despite change in custody. Waiting to modify with final decree (to show judge I have been enduring on the financial front and only motivated by desire to increase time with the children in their best interest).

- Pretrial at end of month scheduled.

Questions:

- What are my chances of just walking in with a well-written pretrial memo and getting 50/50 at this point? And what questions do you guys have of me in terms of supporting info? I need as much of the wisdom of the brothers that have went through this... Attorney is saying that I won't get 50/50 unless we go to trial or STBX agrees to give it to me voluntarily (never gonna happen)...

Thanks as always guys. Was fighting the battles as hard as I could since I've been away from the forums. Hoping this is the final stretch...
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Re: Fighting, stumbling, falling, getting up to fight some m

Unread postby massdad1234 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:38 pm

great job moving close, that will show your commitment to your children. The STBX will need to showcase why you shouldn't have 50/50.

"Your honor, i am a committed father who moved within walking distance from their school. I am actively involved and see no reason why an equal shared custodial/parenting cannot be put in place"

Without moving, your case didn't have as much pizzaz. By moving, you show your commmittment 100%, actions speak louder than words.

Piece of advice - chill out on the phone call things. Give that time to breathe, but honestly, do you know a woman over the age of 10 who doesn't know where her phone was/is and missed a call? Maybe your STBX is different than mine, but she about lives on her phone.

Don't talk about financial aspects or the hurt you are in. Talk about how you have no real reason preventing you from being a shared equal parenting time. Make it so that they are locked into their school district/school. If STBX were to relocate, you would assume school based activities to include increased parenting time.

Basically, leverage your close promixity to school to your advantage. The size etc is irrelevent and could be opening up yourself to giving more money to STBX - "now the households are more equal".
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Re: Fighting, stumbling, falling, getting up to fight some m

Unread postby WinAtLife » Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:49 pm

Thanks massdad! This is my 3rd relocation for be close to them in less than a year. Moved within 5 mins away when ordered to leave the marital home (but in diff. town/school district - NO rentals in our original place), then moved to a different home in the same town (but diff school district) then petitioned superintendent to allow children to attend the same school (did this in response to her moving the children without my knowledge to a town 40 min away by drive - judge does not know about this since she allowed me more parenting time in exchange for not dragging the matter in front of judge), and now this move.

How much gravity does pre-trial presentation have in the final outcome? Will it be enough to get STBX to settle?

massdad1234 wrote:great job moving close, that will show your commitment to your children. The STBX will need to showcase why you shouldn't have 50/50.

"Your honor, i am a committed father who moved within walking distance from their school. I am actively involved and see no reason why an equal shared custodial/parenting cannot be put in place"

Without moving, your case didn't have as much pizzaz. By moving, you show your commmittment 100%, actions speak louder than words.



When do I say this part? At pretrial? And do you recommend I say it? Or my attorney on my behalf? I know MA probate/family don't really look at pro se defendants the same as those with attorneys next to them, but I would love to have 3 mins to state my case in my own words...
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Re: Fighting, stumbling, falling, getting up to fight some m

Unread postby massdad1234 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:54 pm

if you can move, find the money for an attorney. There are times to say it, but it is incumbent on you to know when to say them. I do know that temp orders have a habit of becoming permanent, so you need to fight any/all temp orders.
WinAtLife wrote:When do I say this part? At pretrial? And do you recommend I say it? Or my attorney on my behalf? I know MA probate/family don't really look at pro se defendants the same as those with attorneys next to them, but I would love to have 3 mins to state my case in my own words...

Basically, I would have your elevator speech ready at a moments notice. Anytime you can bang the drum of moving to be close, being involved and nothing stopping you from being an equal parent is what you say. How you worked with the mother to get more time. But know, that when you say things like that, she will potentially cut off your access, so make sure you have 6 months history of being involved, being denied parenting time, etc.
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Re: Fighting, stumbling, falling, getting up to fight some m

Unread postby dadforever » Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:58 pm

Hi I'm a MA Dad, too. Been fighting for years. I'll respond in greater detail later and probably send you a PM, but for now how is she affording her attorney? One other comment is that at some point in the process both attorneys will be required to submit a list of uncontested facts to the court- press your attorney to include everything positive that you've told us concerning your relationship with your child- especially the PTA/ chaperone/ school stuff.

Your case and your strategy should be heavily determined by the Judge in your case.
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Re: Fighting, stumbling, falling, getting up to fight some m

Unread postby whatever_works » Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:09 pm

WinAtLife wrote:- What are my chances of just walking in with a well-written pretrial memo and getting 50/50 at this point? And what questions do you guys have of me in terms of supporting info? I need as much of the wisdom of the brothers that have went through this... Attorney is saying that I won't get 50/50 unless we go to trial or STBX agrees to give it to me voluntarily (never gonna happen)...


I am also in MA. You are making good progress but don't be under any assumption that you will get 50-50. In other words, to answer you question the way you worded it - zero chance. Courts in MA are heavily against dads like ancient times. You may get lucky with your judge but one of the two good ones in Middlesex county passed away last year.

Your attorney is right in that you need to go to trial to get 50-50. You would do well to continue preparing for a trial - and pushing for it.
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Re: Fighting, stumbling, falling, getting up to fight some m

Unread postby WinAtLife » Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:02 am

dadforever wrote:Hi I'm a MA Dad, too. Been fighting for years. I'll respond in greater detail later and probably send you a PM, but for now how is she affording her attorney? One other comment is that at some point in the process both attorneys will be required to submit a list of uncontested facts to the court- press your attorney to include everything positive that you've told us concerning your relationship with your child- especially the PTA/ chaperone/ school stuff.

Your case and your strategy should be heavily determined by the Judge in your case.


Thanks dadforever... I really appreciate it. She had a "flat fee" arrangement listed on her financial statements a while back, but with the number of times she's called for me to "talk to my attorney," I'm fairly certain it's a more traditional hourly arrangement. Her parents are probably helping tremendously in feeding the machine. She works, and is receiving max child support from me, currently (based on the original temp orders of EOW + 2 hr < parenting time > 1x week).

I have a judge in Norfolk that has, at the very least, sat and listened to cases rather than dismiss the father right off the bat. The judge called my wife out for false DV accusations at our initial temp orders hearing, and also shot her down when accusing my mother of mental illness in order to block her from being involved in the kids' lives: tossed both out of her request (even though I still got the "default dad" custody package).

Still wondering, what is the impact of what the judge says at pre-trial? And this list of "uncontested facts..." do I need signed affidavits from caregivers/medical staff/etc to back it all up? Do they have to be notarized?

you guys are all an incredible help. Thank you!
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Re: Fighting, stumbling, falling, getting up to fight some m

Unread postby whatever_works » Tue Jan 09, 2018 8:19 pm

Ya all that is normal. Very few judges will yell at the fathers and openly side with moms. All of them appear to be fair a balanced. But the default in MA is EOW for fathers and among the highest child support in the country. That is where you would end up with a fair and balanced judge.
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Re: Fighting, stumbling, falling, getting up to fight some m

Unread postby dadforever » Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:35 pm

I finally have a few minutes.

Judge
whatever_works is correct, just because he/she is playing the game doesn't necessarily mean they lack gender bias. However, I will say that my first Judge did yell at Dads and openly side with Moms. It was very blatant..for example he would often be willing to listen to Mom's attorney rail on and on for 15 minutes about how bad Dad was, then cut Dad's attorney off after 30 seconds when trying to mount a defense. So at least you don't have one of those. Regardless of bias, status quo has been established to your detriment; so a realistic assessment of your case is that you would need to really kill it to win at trial. Just keeping it real there.

Your wife's legal expenses: How much money do you realistically think her parents are going to give her to fight this fight? I can tell you that in my case, I drastically underestimated how much help my ex wife would get from her parents. Her parents have paid over 150k so far, and I have no doubt at this point that her Mother (her Dad is now deceased) will fork over another 150k if she needs it. If I had to do it over again, I would change my strategy to account for this. For example, I would use an attorney much more strategically.

Statement of uncontested facts:
These are facts that you and you wife are supposed to agree on. Theoretically, you don't need notarized documents or anything of the like, because both yourself and your wife are agreeing that these are facts. Here is an example of an obvious fact that will probably be contained in this document:
Parents have 2 children, ages x and y.
All of the general pedigree information of your case should be in there: your ages, how long you were married, the current stipulated or temporary agreement, etc etc etc....
All of this is upright and normal; it helps the officers of the court quickly get the highlights of your case. It's the cliff notes.

....however, I can tell you that in my case OC put a ton of stuff in there that was bogus, trumped up, misleading, worded to make me look bad, etc......

Without me writing a book, let me just say this- don't let anyone tell you that this document is not important. It is!. Examples of court officers that obviously read it after it was filed include the Conciliator (btw avoid doing Conciliation; it's a waste of money and time), Mediators, the Judge, and probation officers. In my case I was unsuccessful in getting the proper paperwork filed (long story, you can PM me for the details if you are interested), and it cost me! Don't get caught in this trap.

Pretrial
In all of my cases the Judge hinted as to how they were going to rule if we saw trial. I assume this was to try and pressure us (really me) into settling. I will say that the Judges in my case were not bluffing, they were being honest about what they were going to do. However, I have heard of other Judges inferring they are going to do one thing and then doing a completely different thing come trial time. YMMV
You can expect the Judge, mediators, and OC to try and pressure you into a deal. Failing that, they will pressure you into trying to narrow the issues down. Do not do this! This just takes away your bargaining chips.

I would strongly suggest going in there with a realistic 'bottom line' for parenting time; and being steadfast in not going below that line. You will have to decide for yourself what that line is. And it really depends on a lot of factors that I/we are not privy to. Factors to consider:

1. If you 'hit a single (or double) and get ROFR, is your ex the type to get lulled to sleep while you slowly increase your parenting time for a new status quo? If so, this might be your smartest play. If not, maybe draw a harder line.
2. If you settle, will your ex blow whatever $$ she has and be at a loss for legal fees in a year or two? If so, you could tilt the scales dramatically by carefully crafting a new status quo and saving for your own lawyer. Plus plenty of time to choose your attorney wisely.
3. Is your ex the type to cave under pressure at the 11th hour? If so, I probably wouldn't budge from 50/50, no matter what.
4. How much extra parenting time is your ex offering? If you can get up to around 40% it may not change her child support much. If she cares so much for the $$, that type of offer might be too tempting for her to pass up. Then it's up to you to surreptitiously use RORF and whatever other means at your disposal to get that extra 10% for a new status quo.
5. Assess your risk based on the way the Judge is acting.

(a lot more, but that's a start)
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Re: Fighting, stumbling, falling, getting up to fight some m

Unread postby whatever_works » Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:31 pm

Thanks dadforever. Not to hijack the thread, but to add some thoughts here...

I had a temp judge assigned for one hearing who gave plenty of time to ex's lawyer for BS lies. And then cut off my lawyer. She yelled at me for looking outside the window with a hint of a head shake. Considering all the high drama, her decision was not that bad for me. Me and my lawyer both thought we got off easy that day.

I never cared about those uncontested facts. I will pay attention next time.

I have had two judges and neither one hinted at how they will rule. I can only sense their feelings by the way they react in court. So I am not sure what to make of your pre-trial comments.

But I do get that pressure to settle. Fortunately my ex appears more stubborn than me so the mediator focused on her.

As for narrowing the issues, my lawyer says it is good for the trial to have the judge focus on fewer things rather than more. So he does pressure me into settling as many issues as I can.

I do have a bottom line in mind but I don't know how realistic it is. ROFR strategy wouldn't get me very far because my ex is very manipulative. She would go to extreme suffering to not give me one extra night.

Most my ex offered me was 4 nights and a dinner because back then that would give her full CS. With new CS guidelines 3 months ago, that is not a hurdle. I suspect she would easily offer me 5 nights now. But I don't think I can go from there to 50-50. And this forum says that it is harder to go back for more time than to get more time in the beginning. So that is something to keep in mind.
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