Feb 5, 1999 update
I am going through the toughest time in my life, I am a 25 year old father
who is fighting for my rights to be a father to my 3 year old son.
I went into my relationship with my ex without thinking, I was infatuated with her and I
didn't see past her perfection. As I grew to know her, I realized she had a very
large anger management problem that I was unable to help her with. She had two
children, both from different fathers and she was desperate to find someone to take care
of them all. I new that I couldn't rescue her, she made the same promises over and over
again, breaking them continuously. We broke up and made up many times, I always had
hope that she would keep her promises to go to counseling and get help but she never
followed through. Near the end of our relationship she knew that I was distant and
she was worried that I would leave her. She asked me what I would do if she got
pregnant and I said that I would do the right thing and marry her. I should have
gave her a different answer because she purposely got pregnant and later I found her pills
in a drawer, she had stopped taking them. We were together on and off until my son was
about 6 months, I couldn't take her anger any longer and finally left for the last time.
Since that time I have been walking on eggshells. Many times she has denied
me access and has given me little or no access. When I met someone new the problems
worsened and she became very unreasonable. It didn't matter what I did or said she was
very jealous and if I didn't do things her way she would deny me access and a lot of the
time that she denied me access she would give no reason for it. She would play the
"call your lawyer" game so finally two years later I called her bluff and got a
lawyer and started legal proceedings for full custody. She got really mad and asked
why we couldn't keep the legalities out of it and I told her that if we could agree on
access without going on her mood at the time then we could have. It has been a year
now since I started my custody battle with her. We go to trial in January and I have
a very good chance of winning because of over-whelming evidence against her.
I was feeling that I wouldn't stand a chance of winning custody but my girlfriend kept at
me, pushing me, I was getting angry and frustrated at her but I kept going. We
started having weekly meetings about the trial, we both had chores to do in regards to the
trial. She did most of the typing and I did most of the field work, things still
didn't look good and again I was losing faith. We decided to give it one more go and
do some investigating that we hadn't tried before and we found out something that changed
the attitudes we had from negative to positive. Through our persistence and hope we
finally have found enough evidence that may prove positive for my custody war.
This letter is to show fathers who are having this kind of problem with their ex-wives
that there is hope. First thing they have to do is start calling their ex-wives
bluffs, be firm on access and if there is a problem with access then get a lawyer and get
serious. If they go for full custody then don't sit there expecting the lawyer to do
everything, get out there and do everything you can to find evidence, go to schools,
hospitals, doctors offices, places where she may shop, old neighbors, old landlords, old
friends of hers, anywhere she has been or anyone she may have encounter through the years
that would give you information about her and that would help you. You don't want to
go to court unprepared because you will surely lose. You need to back up all your
stories or allegations with evidence or affidavits so make sure you have that ready.
Most importantly if you feel you have the more stable home for your child then
request for a court counselor, he/she is the eyes and ears of the court, they interview
each parent and watch the parent interact with the child also interview any personal
references that you give. After their investigation is done they put in their report
stating which environment the child would be most secure and stable in. Never go
into that court room unprepared because you will lose and you never want to say to
yourself "I could have, I should have, I would have". Later
when the child gets older they are going to ask questions and the most valuable question
on their mind is "didn't you love me enough to fight for me"? You never
want to hear those words so remember as long as you did everything you possibly
could to get custody of those children, even if you lose, they will know you did
everything in your power to get them and they will know you love them.
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Update Feb 5, 1999
I thought you may be interested in reading in more detail what we did to
gain interim custody of my son Kristopher. I wrote you earlier to explain that we
just had 3 days of trial and another coming up in June but I was granted interim custody
until that time. I really want to help other fathers like myself and these hints I
believe will be useful for others that are in my position.
The most important thing to remember is; what is in the best interest of the child? Most
angered parents forget about the child and focus on the animosity between them by being
vindictive and revengeful. Unfortunately it is the children that are used in the
spiteful games and are caught in the middle.
Some tips for single fathers!
1) Keep all evidence but replace what you take.
*If your child is sent in clothing which is very inappropriate, like too small or very
worn out, or very dirty, keep it, don't wash it and replace it with new clothing. It will
be used as evidence in court. Keep it in a zip lock bag and date it with a quick
note of why you kept it.
*If your child is sent in soiled underwear, don't wash it, again, put it in a zip lock bag
and date it with a quick note, if it is bad and the child reeks of urine and feces then
take them to the emergency. All legal documentation is best.
*Take pictures of the state your child is in on their arrival. Take pictures of all
bruises, scratches, sores which are unusual, even in the private areas. DON'T MAKE YOUR
CHILD FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE OR ON DISPLAY! Do it in the most comfortable way for the child.
Take them to the emergency room right away whenever you get them in that state because if
it is bad enough you may get your child without having to go to court. Do not report it to
social services, if it is bad enough then take them to emergency and get the doctor to
report it to social services. The reason is because the other parent can say you are
harassing them because trial is coming up and you just want to make her look bad and in
fact she can make you look bad.
*Take pictures if your child doesn't get regular hair cuts. Ask the other parent to get
the child's hair cut if they don't have it done by next visitation then you get it done
professionally. Make sure you take before and after pictures.
2) Keep a daily diary.
*Keep a daily diary of everything. Things that you should note in a daily diary are:
a) Sleep habits, do they have nightmares? how often do they wake in the night? do they
have problems falling asleep? Where do they sleep? how you got them asleep?
b)What they eat in a day. Are they fussy eaters? how do you get them to eat healthy foods?
What foods to they eat? The diary may show a pattern of eating habits which will reflect
on the other parent.
c)How the child reacts to others. Do they play nicely with other children? Do they have
reoccurring habits of hitting, biting, slapping, kicking, spiting, calling names or
swearing? Are they aggressive at play? Are they sensitive at play, feel out of place,
picked on, scared or pouting a lot? Has the child done something which is really
questionable, as in unusual sexual behavior? Is he/she focused on body parts? Do
they like to go under the covers to play with another child? Do they like to play with
closed doors? (Never allow children to play behind closed doors) Do they like to tattle a
lot? This may show they get their way with the other parent which indicates favoring which
believe it or not, is unhealthy for the child in the courts eyes because it promotes
spoiled children and problems later in life.
d) Take careful note of what they child says which is upsetting or unusual. If the
child talks a lot of their other parent or siblings or step-parent which is cause for
concern then write it down right away. Be careful not to lead the child into conversation
of the other parent because this is not looked at favorably in court. Spontaneous talk
from a child is best for notes especially if they repeat something over and over like
"Mommy spanks me with a wooden spoon."
e) Take note of the child's washroom habits. Do they go often? Do how often do they
have a bowel movement? What is their stool like? If the child is constipated it can be
cause for concern. If the child is afraid to have a bowel movement what happens is the
stool sits in their bowel and the body absorbs the moisture out of it and it becomes hard
and round. The child then has problems having a movement and it usually will tear or rip
their anus. If they complain about bowel movements or bladder problems take them to the
doctor right away.
f) Take note of your daily routines and activities, state how the child reacts with your
interaction with them and in what way do they express their happiness with you.
g) Always take notes of every pick up and drop off whether it was good or bad. Take note
whether the child is happy or unhappy to see you or the other parent. It is a good idea to
have a hand held recorder with you to record every pick up and drop off without them
knowing. Remember you can not edit any of the tapes and if there is a pick up or drop off
missed there could be an accusation from the other party that you edited the tapes and
they could be thrown out of court. Taping is very important and you need to be careful.
Always have transcripts ready for the court. Remember that anything you say in your own
tapes can also be used against you so remember to be on your best behavior. Another hint
let the other parent finish fully what they are saying, make sure you don't cut them off
because in their anger or discussion they may say something which will be very useful for
you and if you interrupt them you may lose that very important information which could
have been the little piece of evidence which could have gotten you the win.
h) Take notes of phone conversations with the other parent. A tape recording of the phone
calls is best also.
3) Do not take your child to a psychologist unless it is requested by the courts or by
*The reason is because you may add more stress to your child because you don't have the
child enough to keep up regular visits and therapy will only confuse the child more. Wait
until after you get custody or shared custody.
4) If you feel you have the better home for the child then you may want to request a
Custody and Access Report be done by the court counsellor.
*The courts will appoint a counsellor to visit your home and the home of the other parent.
What the court counsellor does is interview you and your spouse at your home then watch
you interact with your child. You should build a good relationship with the counsellor and
allow them ample time to view your home. It is important to give the counsellor your list
of witnesses which will verify you are a stable person with a good home. You can also
supply them with a list of witnesses that know the other parent and will verify your
accusations against them. It is important to keep the court counsellor informed of any new
evidence or short comings with the other parent. Keep in touch on a regular basis with the
court counsellor. They cannot side with either parent but you can keep them informed of
all that goes on which will be beneficial for you. Do not try to bash the other parent,
only tell facts not your opinion or you will look like the fool.
5) Keep a photo diary of your family.
*Take pictures of family outings, family at play, interaction between children, your home,
your child's bedroom and anything which will show your child interacts with you and their
other family members well. Take pictures of their surroundings to show they live in a nice
6) Do your own investigating.
*Do up a history of your relationship with the other parent from the day you met to the
present date. Try to remember anything that will help you with your trial.
-Was she always arguing with neighbors?
-Was she always arguing with friends, or family?
-Was she angry with children a lot?
-How was her temper?
-Was she verbally abusive, emotionally abusive, or physically abusive?
-Was she violent or aggressive?
-Did she do drugs, alcohol or smoke?
-Did she party a lot?
-Was she yelling or swearing at the children?
-Did she lock the children in their rooms?
-Did she hit the children? Where? With what?
-How is her cleanliness?
-How is her hygiene? The kids?
-What are her habits?
*Try to remember anyone that she crossed
*Landlords are the most important because you may find a pattern of living which may be
cause of concern. How often does she move, what are the condition of the places after she
moved? Did she leave any unpaid rent? Did she skip out of the last month rent?
*Were there any friends that she crossed? Why?
*Try to remember old neighbors and talk to her current neighbors. Did they have any
complaints about her?
*Was she fired from any jobs? Did she get along with co-workers?
*Always be careful of what you tell people about your case just incase they are still on
good terms with the other parent. Just tell them who you are. Most Importantly get their
name and phone number and mailing address first!! Tell them what you are wanting from them
and if you can get your lawyer to call them. REMEMBER even though it may seem as though a
may not have any important information, get your lawyer to talk to them anyway because for
some reason people will all of a sudden remember something or just poor everything out.
Lawyers have ways to gather information and they should be the one determining whether
that person is a good witness for you or not. If you find someone who has a lot to say in
but they are afraid or unwilling to help you, take down their house address and name and
subpoena them, they will be angry but they always pull through for you when on the line of
fire. If you are soft and understanding and don't want to get the person mad at you
and you feel sorry for them then you are not going to go anywhere in your fight because
once you have experience you will discover that every witness will tell you they don't
want to get involved for various reason but you have to remember it is for your child's
sake and don't give them an option to make you feel bad for them, you have to make them
feel guilty for turning their back against a helpless child. You can't be soft hearted, be
assertive, not aggressive and if they are unwilling then you will have no choice but to
*Take a picture around of your child and ask in stores and places where you may think she
will go on a regular basis and ask if they have ever seen your child in the store and give
a description of the mother. You may be surprised as I was to find that someone has had a
run in with her and will be happy to help and lead you to a string of leads. We felt silly
at first and embarrassed but we kept it up and we found our biggest lead by doing that.
*Do Not tape record witnesses unless you have their approval.
7) Communication with the other parent is important but if it is proven that the other
parent is unable to communicate without some course of argument then it is best to avoid
all conversation especially when children are present. If you can't communicate in person
then try phone calls, if that is unsuccessful then try giving letters (always let your
lawyer view it first because you may say something which looks very bad for you) keep a
copy always. Keep all her letters or notes for court. If letters are unsuccessful then get
your lawyer to communicate with her lawyer or to her directly. If there is still no
response then all as you can do is wait for court and say everything there.
8) If she denies you access then always go to the police and report it. Make sure in your
access court order that you have the current paragraph which states that the police are to
get involved if denial of access. Also it is very important to cover every possible loop
hole in the court order because if there is a way a vindictive mother can find to withhold
access she will. She may say there isn't a date stated or a time stated in the order so
she doesn't have to give you access. She may say that the court order doesn't state
exactly where or who is to pick up or drop off the child so she can deny you access.
REPORT every one and don't try to fix it yourself. If she denies you access then if you
can't get your child legally at that moment then leave it be and take her to court for
denial of access. I know it will hurt but it is better than hurting yourself and your
child in the long run. You don't want to make a scene in front of your child. REMEMBER you
will miss them more than they will miss you and
when you fight in front of the child you are only reminding that child of the pain and
hurt that the two of his/her parents have already caused by the separation. Don't sit by
and let her threaten you with denial of access if you don't do what she says. If she says
to call your lawyer if you don't like her demands then do it and call her bluff. She will
get angry and try to threaten you more but stick to your guns and get tough and get
everything legal!!! The games will finally stop once she sees you are not her puppet
anymore and that you are serious. Women know how to pull on those heart strings and the
best defense she has is denying you access to your children. Don't let her pull on those
strings any more. You are strong don't let her weaken you. Get to a lawyer right
UPDATE: May 15, 2000
I just wanted to give an update on the latest (and hopefully final) chapter in
our custody battle. After a grueling 9 day (spread over a year) custody trial I
am pleased to announce that we have gained full custody and full guardianship of
my son. The judge also reduced her access to only 4 hours every second weekend.
If she fails to shelf her emotions, the Judge made it clear that she could lose
all access. He was 3 years old when the trial began and is now 4 1/2. We won
because we did our homework, kept our temper, put my sons best interest in front
of my own and most of all did everything by the book. I had to shelf my
animosity towards his mother and she failed to shelf hers. This, in the long
run, helped us gain custody. There was no physical abuse evident and she is not
a drug addict. We won solely on her emotionally abusive ways. Though we have
custody we still have his best interests in mind and we will not put him through
what his mother put him through and will continue to try and have good relations
with her. It is important never to slander the other parent even after custody
The judge had my son's best interest in mind and ruled on what was the most
stable environment for him to grow up in. A lot of lawyers told me I had no
chance because she wasn't a drug addict or wasn't physically abusive and I kept
searching until I found somebody that believed in me. If you know without a
doubt that you are able to provide a more stable home, don't give up.