You need to get into court first thing Monday morning with an emergency motion to return the children to the family home and for temporary custody and support. Every day that you wait, makes you appear to have conceded that the children are better off with the other parent -- and away from you.
GET A LAWYER IMMEDIATELY!
Seriously, I've been doing this a long time, and I know what I'm talkin' about here.
First off, if the hearing was postponed, then I disagree with your attorney's approach, and if you didn't have an attorney and you succumed to a continuance, that was a mistake (got to learn from mistakes or you will repeat them).
The longer the order stays in place, the more reluctant the judge will be to set it aside.
Anyway, you need to assess the truth of your situation. Are you a danger to your kids? Do you have anger issues? Are you controlling, hostile, argumentative, etc? If you are, then you need to stop, because the judge will see right through that stuff, because he/she does this all day long 5 days per week, 48 weeks per year, and you can't fool him/her.
That said, protective orders are the devil to undo because the parent seeking the order need only allege that she's afraid of you, and if it seems genuine to the judge, then the order will stick and you will be stuck.
You need some witnesses from the community who have seen you with your kids on a regular basis and who will testify that they've never seen anything even remotely approaching abusive behavior.
You need some witnesses who will testify to your ex's drug use.
You need a psychologist or psychiatirst who will testify that you are not using, don't have an addictive or controlling personality, etc.
You need to move the court to order drug and psychological testing on your ex before the hearing, which means another ex parte hearing.
And, you need to get over the fact that your ex will lie about you in court. EVERYONE in the family courtroom lies -- that's part of the program (even the baliff and the clerk are lying half the time).
This is just business -- not personal. You have to take the high road. You don't drink, don't do drugs, you're not aggressive and you have a great relationship with your kids, and your ex is a low down dirty drug dealing ***** who is a danger to the kids.
That's your position, but you will need a lot of evidence to prove it up.
Can you get it all? Not unless you have unlimited financial assets. But, you get what you can and put on the best show at the hearing that you can. If you don't, then you will lose.
Get a lawyer.
You would request that the other side stipulate to a psychological eval and drug tests. If/when she refused, you go in ex parte and request that the judge order it on grounds that you believe that she is using, because you've observed her in an intoxicated state.
You could even ask that the children be placed in foster care temporarily, so as to emphasize that you're more interested in their welfare than to get custody or reduce support.
Or something like that.
Emotional abuse and being forced to do home improvements sounds like some sort of psychological slavery. Frankly, if I were faced with that sort of testimony, I would object to it as confusing, narrative, and substantially more prejudicial than probative.
I cannot encourage you to use a denial as a means of avoiding the truth. However, it's trial practice 101, that if there is no proof of a financial (i.e., receipts. checks, credit card statements, etc.) or sweat equity contribution to property, that the person asserting that financial interest on their own word alone, won't have a lot of credibility with the judge, unless the other party admits that the contribution actually occured.
As far as emotional abuse, you can always play the polygraph card. i.e., lie detector evidence is generally inadmissible in most jurisdictions, over objection from the other party. However, the offer to take a polygraph exam on a hotly contented issue with no other credible evidence to support or oppose it can cause the judge to question the veracity of the party making the objection -- even if the judge denies the polygraph.
The point is that you must find ways to get the judge to believe the other party less than you, rather than to believe you more than the other party, because the judge really doesn't believe anyone from the get go.
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