I will begin by apologizing for the pity party that ensues. It is my hope that this will be my final “sob story” type of entry. As much as I hate to write this, I know that I must, before I can continue with deconstructing this corrupt system. The following captures a snapshot of my battle for justice over a 3 year period, thus far….
In June of 2014 I discovered that my wife of six years, and mother of my two young children, had been maintaining long term, and on-going multiple affairs. Upon reflection, it seems ridiculous that I had not even considered the possibility before. After I proposed to her, many of my friends warned me of the possibility that she may be a “gold digger,” but I was convinced that she loved me. I was even more convinced once she became unexpectedly pregnant with our first child. Even so, I believed that she was sold on the future that I was trying to build for our family. She never complained about my heavy class load or work schedule. Now I know why.
I spent a long six month’s trying to understand what had happened, and how to fix it. I went to marriage counseling. She went a few times, but resisted any real discussion. Once the therapist suggested that she be checked by a psychiatrist for Borderline Personality Disorder, she cussed him out and never returned to counseling. As I tried to focus on fixing my family, she focused on anything else. She got into body building, started hanging out with a bunch of meatheads, and was rarely home when I was available to be with the children. The breaking point was when she asked to take the children to Oregon for Thanksgiving in 2014, and blackballed me. I obliged because I hoped that perhaps a week away may create some clarity. She had been in Oregon for two days when I learned that true purpose of her visit was to spend time with a boyfriend there, who was also a drug addict.
I moved into an apartment while my family was still in Oregon. I cringe to recall my children returning home to find that their daddy, and most of his belongings were no longer in our home. We no longer had a home. Still I was not ready to file for divorce. I was hopeful that me moving out may be the wakeup call that she needed. Once she returned to Kansas, and had calmed down, we scheduled a time to talk. I hoped that this was a good sign. I was shocked when she began our conversation by telling me that she was moving to Oregon, and taking the children. I left that night and drafted a request for divorce, and filed it the next morning. This, at least, kept her from taking the children and running to Oregon immediately.
Still hoping for the best, I found a lawyer who was willing to mediate our divorce, and save us thousands of dollars in fees. My hope was to remain amicable, at least for the children’s sake. As I set up the mediation, she appeared to be on board. Once again, she surprised me when I asked for her signature on the mediation paperwork. She informed me that she had hired representation, and was preparing for litigation.
Things quickly spiraled from there. I felt forced to hire representation. My first lawyer was a near retiree named Ann Colgan. In our initial consultation, Ann seemed like a straight shooter who would focus on results, so I retained her. She made me two promises: 1. I let my wife play princess for 7 years and now I was going to have to pay for it. 2. The divorce would be finalized, at the latest, within 180 days.
180 days came and went, a dozen status updates, and there was no trial in sight. By this point I had paid Mrs. Colgan over $5000 in retainer fees, but she was demanding another $3000 retainer to keep going. I felt taken advantage of, refused to pay another retainer without anything to show for it, and so she withdrew.
Drained of financial resources by the court, I resigned to represent myself; pro se. I figured that Ann and I had already done most of the pre-work, and I just needed to show up and present my information and case. Everything at this point seemed to point in my favor. My ex had lost two lawyers, yelled at the judge, and missed or been late for several court dates. Even so, I never had any intent to ask for anything that could be considered unfair. I only ever wanted 50/50 equal parenting time.
Before the trial even began the family court system had leveraged my children to the tune of approximately $60,000. Most of that came in the way of spousal support (alimony) and child support. I am not against child support, but according our temporary court orders, I had the children forty-seven percent of the time. Every weekend and Wednesday nights. One can easily deduce that I was paying for all of the extracurricular activities too, since I had the children during their free time. It would be quite difficult to logically explain then why I was being forced to pay $1560 a month child support. Even more interesting is that I was paying $1848 for spousal support. Essentially the court was admitting that she deserved more than my own children. Suspect at best, because this entire process is supposed to be driven by the best interest of the children.
The day of the trial arrived and I entered the court room with some safe assumptions and expectations. I assumed that the support payments would remain the same, and that assets and liabilities would be split evenly, as standardized by Kansas law. Finally, I presumed that I had equal rights to raise my children. I was wrong on every account. That morning my ex-wife, her lawyer, and her parents were over 45 minutes late to the trial. As a result, I was cut short in my questioning at 5pm. Equality.
Judge Wiley increased child support payments by almost $700 per month, and allowed the respondent to retain 90% of our assets, while leaving me with all of the acquired debt. He justified letting her keep 10 years of acquired assets by reducing the duration of spousal support payments ten months, but of course increasing child support. The math indicated that we only had $1848x10x2= $36960 in assets. Her wedding ring alone was worth $25,000. Immediately I realized that this was a farce. He refused to accept documentation from Kelly Blue Book or Auto Trader on the value of her Expedition, but instead accepted her testimony that it was only worth ¼ of the value that these professionals quoted. So, he took everything that I had worked hard to acquire for ten years, and justified it by giving me back some of my own money. He ordered that we each keep the debt that was in our own names. 95% of our family debt was in my name because she had not been employed, and had poor credit score. Now I have the poor credit score. This is “equality” in family courts. Attack the breadwinner on all fronts, and extort as much money as possible.
Forget all of the financial injustice. I have made peace with that. I can always make more money. I cannot make more kids. I had a vasectomy at her request shortly after my son was born. I was never the least bit worried that my kids would be taken away. Every person I had ever talked too, every article I had ever read, claimed the same thing. “One parent cannot move the children more than 50 miles away from the other parent without due cause.” That is a common-sense rule. A decent parent would not even try.
We had lived in Kansas for seven years at the time of trial. This was our home. We moved here on agreement that it was a fair location to raise our children; halfway between both of our families. Both of her parents encouraged leaving Oregon and Evergreen Aviation for a stable and promising career with the US Army. My daughter had lived in Kansas since she was 1 year old. My son was born in Kansas. Their father, the sole source of financial stability, bearer of emotional support, provider of unlimited shoulder rides and floor tackles; his career was in Kansas.
So, how does a person, with no abilities or aspirations, walk into open and shut case of equally shared custody, but walk out with “joint custody” that takes the children 2000 miles from their father, strips him of all parenting rights, makes him a visitor 10% of the year, and leaves him bearing all financial responsibility? How is a judge, that never met my children or even asked about them, qualified to tell me what is in the best interest of my children? How is taking someone’s children to Oregon because the other parent lacks emotional support in Kansas in the best interest of the children? What about my emotional support? Most importantly, what about my children’s emotional support? How is this justice?
So much more could be said about my trial, but I will save that for specific entries exploring detailed corruption. One last extreme slight, I will share here. The court acknowledged my disability (profound hearing loss) enough to provide me with a real-time transcriptionist for all court hearings. I bet you would be surprised to then learn that Dan Wiley then approved a parenting plan that insisted that I maintain a relationship with my children via the telephone. The corruption of family court knows no bounds.
The trial was in April 2016. In May 2016 I filed several motions in an attempt to shed further light on the situation, submitting objections, and asking for modification. These motions were ignored by the court for 5 months. No written order was produced until late August 2016.
During this time my ex-wife abandoned her children on June 3rd breaking the existing court order. KSA regulations require 30 days written notice to move. She provided me with 3 hours. I was entirely responsible for the children from June 3rd to August 23rd. I filed for contempt of court based on this and other information, and it was completely ignored. All of my objections were ignored too. My clear requests were denied on technicalities that could not be explained. Just like that, my children were gone.
In the 8 months since my children were kidnapped from me, I have seen them for a total of ten days. Those ten days cost me an extra $4000 in travel expenses. I got no say in the parenting plan at all. To make things worse, if that’s possible, the parenting plan which was approved by the court is not the parenting plan that was presented during the trial.
I have court dates pending in which she has requested reimbursement of child support for the summer and her flight back to Kansas, and her and the children’s flights back to Oregon. I know that she will be awarded this. I know that there is nothing that I can do to stop it. Why is she continuing to steal from me when she supposedly already got everything she wanted? She has the money to pay for those flights because she withdrew half of my 401K less than a month ago. I can only assume that she is doing everything within her power to completely remove me from my children’s life.
Once she filed a motion to garnish my wages for monthly child support, I knew it was now a game of control and alienation on her part. The parenting plan grants me some extended time with my children during the summer. There is no way I could afford to pay her full child support and also pay for day care here. I hired another lawyer, against my better instincts. I paid Pam Burton $1500 to write and present a motion to modify for me. Pam blew the retainer, and filed nothing on my behalf. She has yet to release my file containing dozens of documents that I researched and provided her, or any of the work that she supposedly did.
Hope is impossible in conditions such as these. I do not believe that I will ever receive any type of justice. My sole hope is to fight the system and pray that my son or daughter never have to endure these types of hardships.
So, there is a snapshot of my story. I have not included many things; some intentional (we will get to them) and some simply forgotten. However, I plan to address each issue that I have with the system in a linear fashion. Occasionally, I may write about some current issue or something weighing on my mind, but for the most part I will try to tackle these problems in the order which they occurred.
Again, I know that I am not special; I sonder. I know that this is happening to people all over this country. Many are scared to speak up, and are afraid that speaking the truth will further worsen their case. For me, it cannot get much worse. Let me be your voice. All I ask is for your support in raising awareness and fighting corruption in your family courts. Let us not suffer from ellipsism.