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LegalGems, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Experienced Family Law Attorney
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I have full custody of my 5 1/2 yr old-due to prior Dom

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I have full custody of my 5 1/2 yr old-due to prior Dom Violence from the non-custodial parent who resides in Missouri. He is behind 8 grand in support. I work fulltime in crim justice job. He is taking me to court to ask for "more" visitation and has an attny. I do not currently have an attny because I am financially strapped having to support my son on my own w/o child support. I went to court last mth and his attny said we needed to come into agreement (my ex's terms) or we were going to a pre-trial on Oct 27th...I seriously fear for the life of my son and know that he is highly violent, a rapist and drug user,he has 3 oops, and all women will testify, 1 of those women he raped resulted in the birth of a child 1 yr younger than my son and he does not pay support for the child, paternity has been determined. His own sister will testify as well if needed and also fears for my sons life if he were to go w/him unsupervised. I have never "refused" visits to him, and even paid for 2 "supervised" visits in Springfield Il. I don't know what to do-some say get a Guardiem at Liediem, others say mortgage all u have to get an attny to go to trial-but, in lieu of all this, What is my Best Option to protect the LIFE of my little boy? The last visit I called the police who told me my little boy did not have to go because he was refusing and scared, they asked my son why he told them, "because he locked me in a room, and wouldn't let me out" so this is on record. Furthermore, I have been to 2 mediation appts and one attny said, he was "impossible". Please help me figure out what my BEST option is at this point? God Bless You, I cannot sleep at night over this.

Hello! I will be reviewing your question and posting a response momentarily; if you have any follow up questions please respond here. Thanks!

Thank you for your patience; I am sorry to hear you and your son are in this situation.

The good news is that a few years ago, realizing how unfair/lopsided contested custody cases can be, the legislature amended the statutes, specifically section 508 (here) which allows the court to order one parent to pay the other parent's legal fees, in order to level the playing field, so to speak.

Custody battles are difficult to handle as a self represented person, so having an attorney is ideal. And even if both parties are represented, the court may still appoint a Guardian Ad Litem as that person is charged with overseeing the best interests of the child- s/he is the child's advocate, so to speak. It is often encouraged in highly contested cases, because you have a neutral third party (as it relates to the parents) trying to figure out what is best for the child.

Domestic violence is a serious issue and can have a huge impact on custody, particularly if that party is exhibiting abusive/neglectful behavior towards the child specifically. The court will look to see what is in the child's best interests- and will look for a safe, loving and nurturing environment-not something that the police report seems to indicate is the situation. It is quite possible the judge may wish to speak to the child in chambers (more informal) to interview the child to find out the child's feelings; or the judge may appoint a therapist to interview the child, and to provide a report to the child on whether the child feels safe/secure at the respective homes. If it indicates a concern, the judge can even order a parent (or both) to undergo psych evaluation to determine what living arrangement is in the child's best interest.

The court can, if there is valid concern, limit visitation to supervised, requiring the supervised party to pay for it.

I would strongly encourage you to hire an attorney with the understanding that they file a motion for a request for attorney fees (ie retainer, future fees) so one can have proper legal representation. The court is even more likely to order it if the other parent is using the court system vindictively- ie without merit, just to harass or run up costs for the other parent.

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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
God bless you and thank you so much, you have no idea how alleviated I feel about the situation already. I was so ready to place my career and the possibility of perhaps jail time, even though I have a clean crim record to "protect" my little boy because if I don't protect him...who will? I was going to attempt to speak to the Judge myself to state my Highly Serious Concern for his Safety...but, it was a shot in the dark, a maybe, but even the offenders at my job get rights..why not my innocent little boy...Thank you so much again! God bless you very much, I will try to find an Attorney asap.

You are very welcome; I am very glad to have gotten that information for you and I certainly hope you locate a fantastic attorney that can help you and your son out. The judge won't allow "ex parte" communications by a party- so one can file an affidavit/declaration and serve it on the party, and then the judge will be able to get an idea of the situation based on that. There is something called limited scope representation- for example, the party prepares the declaration, and then pays the attorney to review it to make sure it addresses all relevant points and is worded in a persuasive manner. The best to you and your little boy! take care.

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