I have been told that lawyers spend a great deal of time focused on themselves and their accomplishments. It may be because that bar was so hard, we want to highlight the fact we passed every chance we get! However, this blog will be a bit different. Yes, I will share information about myself, but I want to spend more time providing you with information to help you deal with your family matters. Here you will find tips and insight that you can use to advocate for yourself. Whether or not you work with an attorney, you must do your own research and learn what is essential in any matter.
Throughout my life and career, I have learned the importance of family. My role is to help you figure out what is best for you and your family and how to help yourself when you go to court. Lastly, I want to help you figure out how to put your best foot forward in any situation.
With that, I start with the true story of Kevin and his son Michael. Their names have been changed to protect the identity of everyone involved. However, Kevin agreed that it was essential to share his story. His story is one of determination, the unmet needs of a son, and demonstration of love in its purest sense.
Kevin met Sandra in college. A mutual friend introduced them, and they made a connection. That connection led to a few sexual encounters and, eventually, a pregnancy. Kevin, just a college student, was admittedly not ready for parenthood. He was not in a serious relationship with Sandra and, therefore, didn’t see a future. Regrettably, his initial reaction to the pregnancy “you’re getting an abortion right?” Sandra initially agreed, but changed her mind, as was her right, and decided to keep the baby. Kevin did not know that this was happening until he got a call from the hospital that Sandra was having his baby. He was not happy at all and refused to be involved. This was not a bright moment for Kevin. He did not own up to the responsibility he created during his “connections” with Sandra. Leaving Sandra to raise Michael on her own.
Kevin was to some a “deadbeat dad.” Kevin hated that term and thought he should do so something about it. Some time goes by, and Kevin realizes, “wait, I have a son.” He figures he should at least spend some time with him. Sandra had since relocated to Connecticut, but Kevin remained in his home state. Kevin reached out to Sandra and asked to visit with Michael. The visits began, and things are going well. Then Kevin starts to have difficulty in keeping a job and working a car. He often has to cancel his visit, as he did not have a reliable means of transportation.
Visitation was not Kevin’s only issue. By that point, Sandra filed for custody in family court. Kevin was given the notices, but he did not understand the importance of coming to court. As a result, Sandra ends up with sole custody by default. A default judgment happens when only one party does not come to court, and the other party does appear. The other party can have an opportunity to ask the court for whatever orders she wishes. The court may grant it because there is no one there to oppose the request. Kevin decided he was not in a position to fight, and so he does nothing for several years.
Time goes on, and Kevin stabilizes, and he is doing well in life. He has a good job, his own place, and a reliable car. For many, this would be enough to say, “I am doing well.” Yet, Kevin sees that he can’t be pleased as he cannot be his whole self. Kevin is not just a good employee, and a productive citizen, he is someone’s father. He is Michael’s father. If Kevin is going to be a complete person, he has to find a way to be a part of Michael’s life. This means dealing with Sandra and all of the pain and disappointed he caused her.
Kevin begins again
Kevin begins his quest by sending emails to Sandra. He does not have her current phone number, and so uses what he has: an email. Sandra is non-responsive to many of his emails. Eventually, she tells Kevin that Michael is stable; she has a fiancé, and introducing Kevin into their lives will only be disruptive. Kevin can understand the intrusion, but he realizes that he cannot allow Sandra to have the final say. He realizes that he may have to go back to court as Sandra is not receptive to his requests.
Kevin does some research and decides to at least sit with an attorney; me! We talked at length about the nature of his relationship with Sandra and his goals about hiring an attorney. Kevin was determined to try, but he is not sure of the outcome. After our meeting, Kevin realizes all he can do his try and see what happens. He doesn’t have a lot of hope, but he is not ready to give up.
We file our motions in court so that Kevin can modify the sole custody and, more importantly, gain visitation with Michael. The first court date is immediately met with opposition. Sandra remains angry about Kevin’s reaction to her pregnancy and the fact he has not been present. She is married now and expecting her third child. Adding Kevin to the mix is not want she wanted to do. After meeting with Family Relations in Court, it was determined that Kevin and Sandra will engage with a visitation agency to start supervised visitation between Kevin and Michael. This way, a third party can make a recommendation as to how to proceed with Kevin having more significant parenting time with Michael.
The Moment of Truth
It takes some time to locate a facility. Kevin was encouraged to continue working towards finding a facility, and he did. The first visit is scheduled. Kevin is prepared. He has snacks. Kevin is ready to answer his son’s questions. He is prepared to see his son again after having no contact with him for several years.
Sandra brings Michael to the visit. The person supervising the visits has had a prior opportunity to meet with Michael and explain the purpose of him coming. The supervisor said to Michael that Kevin is his “biological dad,” thus making very clear this distinction between Kevin and Michael’s step-father.
There is an awkward moment where Kevin is not sure if he should shake Michael’s hand or give him a hug. Then there is the question for Michael of whether he should call Kevin “dad” or “Kevin.” This was an awkward moment for both until Michael realizes for himself what is happening. Michael begins to cry and says to Kevin, “I finally have a daddy of my own.” Michael explained that each of his siblings can see their dad, but he did not. It is at this moment that Kevin realizes the importance of his fight. It is not about a contest with Sandra or being called a deadbeat dad. It is about his son.
Kevin’s two-hour visit includes a serious question and answer session. Michael wants to learn more about his father and wants to know what he does in his life. Yet, the most critical question for Michael is, “When will be the next time I see you?” Kevin has so much more hope at this point. He knows that he made the right decision. He knows that while going to court was not his first choice, he had to do something, or nothing would change.
Kevin’s initial reaction to Sandra’s pregnancy was not good. His subsequent decision not to stay involved with Michael cost him significant time away from his son. However, your past mistakes do not have to define your future. We can’t delete our errors, and we will have to deal with the consequences. However, you can decide to do whatever you need to, to learn from those mistakes, and move forward.
The family court system is designed to allow individuals to represent themselves. You know your case, and you know what you want. Whether you do it on your own or hire me to help you, please do not give up on having a relationship with your child. Every child deserves a “daddy of their own.”