Date: Tue, 26 Apr 2011 18:17:03 -0400 [03:17:03 PM PDT]
From: Txxxx Xxxxxxx <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: ‘Tony Fantetti’ <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: Ohio Council for Fathers Rights website
Thanks for providing this informative site, organization, and your blog.I’m researching a possible appeal for a custody trial in Hamilton County that seemed mine to lose. xxxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx, however I received a phone call this afternoon from my oldest son (xx) who was in tears and inconsolable, as his mother told him he and his brother and sister would be staying with her, and they would be seeing much less of me.
Of course, xxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxx, but if what my son told me is accurate, I am shocked. I had lies thrown at me during and before trial, unproven accusations of relations with a minor leveled at me by the mother and a neighbor of her’s (who’s sexual advances I rebuffed, hence her lies and accusations), and backed by no proof whatsoever other than allegation and misinterpreted email.
Meanwhile, the custody investigation came down strongly in my favor saying we should form a shared parenting plan; the kids should spend the majority of the time with me, and attend the local public school in my neighborhood. She accused me of doing drugs and she, herself was found to have drugs in her drug screen (and even admitted to the custody investigator she had done them – I tested clean), and had attempted to bring a strange man into the home one morning at 8am immediately after I dropped my daughter off, both very intoxicated and bringing in more alcohol – and a photograph of her attempting to bring the man into the home was presented as evidence.
Again, xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx the mother was requesting
full custody, and I presented a shared parenting plan that reflected the suggestions of the court appointed custody investigator. What worries me is that my son told me ‘mom said we would be staying with her and won’t see you as much’… I wonder, if what my son says is accurate, is this typical behavior of ‘family court’ judges to apparently disregard the recommendations of their very own court employees? I’m sure the fact that the ex is an ‘artist’ and makes very little money has a great deal to do with a ruling that will keep me and my money wrapped up in the child support
The magistrate (Newberry) we have seems to be fair – even lowering my initial support payments that were set far too high by a temporary magistrate when this all began. However, I certainly have my doubts about the ability of the judge to make a reasonable decision, again, if what my son says is accurate. The judge is brand-new to the bench (having been a magistrate prior to January), and the judge was switched mid-stream (from Panioto, who retired, to Sieve).
Depending on xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx, I may decide to appeal. My son is distraught at the thought of having to live with his mom – he and I are far too alike, and we both fear she will take out her animosity on him in the future. And if I do appeal, I’m afraid I can no longer afford my attorney. I felt he made a good case for me, but I can’t afford to spend more money on
him if he is not thoroughly invested in my dilemma, which I suspect he may not be. I noticed in another post you referenced a list of ‘retain or refrain’ attorneys, but I could not find it on your site, other than one ‘refrain’. Also, any information on anyone willing to help me file my appeal inexpensively would be greatly appreciated. The ex had full control over our
finances, and did a spectacular job of ruining our credit, both jointly and my own personal credit, which I didn’t have an opportunity to rebuild, as I mentioned, she had full control over our finances.
I have been funding the divorce proceedings by borrowing money from my parents, who are on a fixed income, and can’t do so any longer. I myself am living in the good graces of my parents who are allowing me to stay in their old house so I am not destitute. At the end of my two-week pay cycle, I’m down to about $15 bucks, if I’m lucky.
Any additional money I have goes toward keeping groceries in
the house for the kids when they’re here, and buying them second-hand clothing from the thrift store, as she refuses to let them bring clothes (bought with money I earned when I lived there) to my home.
This sickens me, as I have always been very close to my children. I cooked dinner for the family virtually every night after work, when she sat on her rear and made ‘art’ which is too overpriced to sell in this economy. I put them to bed every night, took them to the park, the zoo, taught my boys to
ride their bikes, and took them to scouts and campouts.
She never attended any of those things. xxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx. You know what he asked the boys? He asked what they thought of March madness basketball. Never once asked them where they wanted to stay, where they wanted to go to school, whose home provides them more (they have their own rooms where I live now). He didn’t bother to ask
them who took them to their sports practices and games, or to scouts, or to sleepovers with friends. If he had, it would have exposed her lies about how she ‘did it all’. She didn’t – I don’t begrudge what she has done for them, but she lied on the stand (and had others do so too) and said I was never there for my kids. I have always been there for my kids – always.
Yes, I strayed from her in our marriage, but not in the way she accused me of, and I was always there for my children. But she wishes to use my love for my kids as a weapon against me.
I definitely feel there was bias on behalf of the judge, as in researching him, he is a catholic school grad. There’s nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that catholic school vs. public school is a major issue in this case, and the fact that we could never afford catholic school. Oh – did I mention she is on food stamps because she refuses to get a real job?
Well, sorry for my rant. Thanks for any information you can provide, and for the resources you’ve already provided here on your site. I wish I had found it months ago…
Thanks for taking the time to email me your story. Sadly, it’s replete with “more of the same” and another good example of why the mother in approximately 83% of cases nationwide, is awarded sole custody of the children.
I personally had Panioto as a judge and although in some respects felt he truly wanted to do the right thing, I’m convinced he had either dementia, the beginnings of Alzheimer’s, or was on a medication that adversely impacted his ability to sufficiently preside over trials, and therefore was incapable of properly discharging his duties.
Quite frankly, I was going to out him to the media for the terrible injustices he committed against my daughter in my most recent custody trial. And that, by completely disregarding her testimony and while knowing that she was coached (but not by me) and for routinely falling asleep on the bench during said trial. Those were the good parts. I will for now withhold the truly horrendous things he did as they truly continue to endanger my daughter’s life in a very real sense.
It was funny how the opposing counsel’s cross-examination of what I did in this organization was allowed as my attorney’s objection on the grounds of relevance was “overruled.” However, very pertinent testimony under cross on my daughter’s mothers part (and that was to my benefit) was silenced as her attorney’s objection on the grounds of relevance was sustained. Truth be told, I may day write a book and describe (in considerable detail) what happened then.
That said, how does it apply to your case? Well, I too now have Sieve presiding over my case, and if Panioto was bad, Sieve will be ten times worse and here’s why; I’m told (and ASSUMING it’s true, so in defense of him, I must point out that I’ve not verified this personally) that he did nothing but hear “Domestic Violence” cases in Domestic Relations whereby he rubber-stamped Protection Orders. Assuming that’s indeed a fact, there’s zero hope for any fathers in his court. Reason being, his attitude will be “All mothers are truthful and good, all fathers are liars and bad.”
As far as appealing the decision, don’t waste your money. The appellate judges in the decisions I’ve read have specifically stated that they “will not substitute their interpretation of the “best interests of the children” for that of the trial court. Said otherwise, the appellate courts feel that such a determination can only best be made by the trial court judges/magistrates as they are intimate with the details of the case. I even went so far as to get my own attorney’s opinion and he says it’s “extremely difficult” to have a custody ruling overturned.
However, he did say that he’s successfully had some custody decisions successfully overturned on appeals based on technicalities. Based on what you told me in a follow-up email, perhaps you might have a chance at being successful. His contact information can be found here if you wish to run it by him. I can tell you that between attorney’s fees, filing fees and transcripts, an appeal would probably cost you about $5,000 more.
I truly wish I knew of some attorneys who would be willing to work on a pro bono basis, but knowing how many indigent fathers are out there (and how many make requests of me alone) I think many attorneys would themselves be indigent if they took on pro bono cases. I’m sorry I don’t have anything better to offer on that front. I suspect that if I were at least a 501c, I’d stand a better chance of locating some attorneys who’d work on a pro bono basis on occasion.
You asked if it’s normal for a Court to ignore its own Custody Investigator’s (CI) recommendation, and I say, “absolutely.” There’s not a CI in Ohio that in my opinion can overcome the anti-father bias and prejudice that many judges have.
Although, there was a father in Butler County Ohio who not surprisingly was involved in a very heated contested custody trial. A court appointed Psychologist interviewed both father and mother as well as all of the kids involved. He found (and wrote in his report) in part that, “the mother was psychologically unfit to parent the children, was attempting to alienate the children from the father, she was psychologically damaging to the children, and she was abusing drugs.” I personally read through the case documents myself.
Now, given the terrible circumstances involved in that case, you can probably take one guess at who got awarded “full-custody” of the children involved and be right. And if your guess was “the father”, you’re dead wrong. The “mother” was awarded sole custody.
I personally only know of one Hamilton County father with sole custody (that’s not to say there aren’t more) and I believe the only reason he was awarded custody was because the mother was an absent drug addict. And when the father filed repeated motions to have her held in contempt for not paying child support guess what happened? Judge Tolbert (Administrative Judge) threatened to throw HIM in jail, and numerous times!
This is what we as fathers are up against. A father emailed me a few months back complaining that his attorney “sold him down river” and “tricked him” into accepting a shared-parenting (aka joint custody) agreement. I was floored, and really need to post that one to the blog, minus his identifiable information of course.
T, you felt a bias was there with the judge, because it was there. For those of you out there reading this, if you know of any father-friendly judges, please contact me.
The stories of mothers lying on the stand and leveling false accusations of physically/sexual abuse is all to common and rarely punished by the courts when it’s discovered. And that, despite perjury being a felony that’s punishable by up to five years in prison.
The reason I believe that Judge Sieve didn’t ask your sons any pertinent questions and instead relied on questions such as their fondness of March Madness is because he couldn’t care less as his mind was made up. She was getting full custody and you were/are paying “child support.”
Additionally, he doesn’t care that she doesn’t work and collects welfare because “that’s her choice.” If a father as the obligor of a “child support” order makes the same choice, he goes to jail, no questions asked.
When I at one time was arguing pro se in front of Judge Panitio regarding Objections to the Magistrate’s Decision I filed in response to a motion to reduce (“child support”) that was denied, I argued that I was bankrupted and couldn’t afford it, and it was true. You know what he said to me as he peered down at me from his high perch on the bench? “You’re wife (referring to my present wife) needs to go out and get a better job (she was an EMT at the time) so you can pay more “child support.”
I blew a gasket at that point. He and I already didn’t “click” because we’re both Italian, but after he uttered that filth, I unleashed a verbal tirade at him whereby I said in part, “I don’t care if you are a Judge, you WILL NOT talk about my wife in the manner that you are, and you can hold me in contempt and throw me in jail for all I care, because you’re out of line.” Surprisingly enough, he apologized.
I truly know how you feel right now. After my last custody trial whereby my legal fees have approached nearly $30,000 (that could have funded my daughter’s college education) since this all began, I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach by a mule after that ruling. Reason being, all indications were that Panioto was going to rule in my favor, but he literally forgot how he intended to rule as he’d delayed issuing his final ruling until the end of Summer 2009.
I can still very clearly see that oblivious (and stupid) look on his face after he finished fumbling through all the trial notes and papers he had on the bench that pertained to my case and then looked up (and down at us) and asked out of utter bewilderment, “why are we even here”, I wanted to cry after my heart started beating again.
That said, let it go T. There’s no sense in replaying any of it in your head and playing the “what-if” game. Reason being, and truth be told, a father could have a video tape of a his ex attempting to murder his children, and I believe there are judges out there who would make excuses for her behavior and thereby grant such a mother sole custody in some cases. And as sad as it is, I’m not being facetious.
In closing, what I find most repulsive about this madness is how those feckless, wooden and perfunctory Ohio “Family Court” judges, and without any consideration for the “best interests of the children” whatsoever, will gleefully, proudly, and in some cases knowingly place the children into the sole custody of a “mother” who’ll out of her insatiable appetite for vengeance and spite will do nothing but use the children to punish the father.
Rest assured that just as the sun rises and sets each and every day, and so long as the father never bad-mouths the mother in front of the children (an act that is always inappropriate and wrong) the children will grow up and one day hate her.
As I’ve said before, mothers who are hell-bent on effecting their vengeance out of nothing more than their seething hatred for the men they chose to lie down with and create children, need to learn to love their children more than they hate the fathers thereof before they can even comprehend and thereby effect the “best interests” of those very children that they claim to love.
Ohio Council for Fathers Rights