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  1. #1
    jTTi is offline Member
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    PFA/Custody case in PA

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? PA

    Ok, I am back with some questions. As some of you may remember my ex filed for a PFA. She is accusing me of hitting my oldest daughter in the back with a belt. She wouldnít let me get the kids. My ex tried to show me a mark on my daughters back. It was a scabbed up scrape from a while ago. She called CYS on me and CYS opened an investigation. This is the third time that CYS has investigated my home. The first two were both shown as unfounded closed. I met with CYS and gave them a statement. Then I received notice of a PFA hearing. I scrambled around and got enough money for an attorney. At the hearing the CYS investigator said my child says I hit her and she is afraid of me. But my daughter would also not let her look at her back. My ex mainly said I was a danger to the kids. And that she had a picture of the mark. They produced a blown up pic of a mark. She also said she took our daughter to her Dr. 3 days later to have it measured. She never presented this picture to CYS. My attorney argued that there is no proof the pic is even of my daughter and the Dr. wasnít even there to testify. The hearing officer mainly over ruled everything my attorney asked for. My ex also said that they had seen me downtown one day and my youngest was scared to see me and hid her face in her car seat.

    When they brought both the girls over to talk to the officer; they ran up to me and hugged me, said they loved me and missed me, etc. They sure didnít look scared to me. The hearing officer talked to both of them at the same time. Afterward he said my oldest did most of the talking. He even said she was answering for her little sister. She did say I hit her. He also stated they admitted they were smoking behind their momís house when they were with my ex. They are ages 5 and 7. But, he deemed it enough to hand down a 12 month PFA. I have supervised visits with the girls every Tues and Thurs from 5-8 and every Sat from 10-8. My ex requested that my fiancť be the other adult for the supervised visits. If she was really that worried she would have asked for someone else. I still canít believe all they were allowed to present without having any proof. But it is what it is for now. I have some calls into a couple therapists that deal with children. I am hoping to get them in to a therapist ASAP. My ex keeps saying she canít take them anywhere until I call. That is BS and she knows it. She just doesnít want to take them.

    The day after the hearing I received a letter from guess who? Domestics!!! My ex signed the papers for the PFA and for an increase in support on November 3rd. But the domestics office didnít file the papers until the day of the hearing; November 15th. I thought it was a little odd. So I called and asked about it. The lady said that they file the papers with the court and the judge signs them that day. When I asked about why it was done different this time she said she didnít know and that sheíd get back to me. She never called me back; even after I called and left messages. So I have a meeting with Domestics tomorrow. I am going to try and persuade them to not increase the support until after our custody is finalized. But I am sure that is a losing battle.

    I have received a letter from CYS stating the case will be closed and shown as unfounded after I have my house visit. I met with CYS today for the home visit. The investigator looked at the house and verified that the case will be closed. She actually apologized for any inconvenience. She was very professional with me and I really appreciated that. So now I have one County agency stating Iím not a child abuser and the court saying I am an abuser. This is exactly why my attorney wanted the PFA hearing put off until CYS finished their investigation.

    So, I am looking for a little direction here. I do have a meeting setup with my attorney but he is out until next week. I want to get my girls back with me ASAP. What are my options at this point? The PFA states that there is a 60 day window to file a custody action or the temp provisions of the PFA will end. What does that mean? I am thinking about filing for the custody action. Should I also file for Contempt of Court or is it a waste of time? How does the process for a custody action work? I want to be as prepared as I can be when I visit with my attorney so we can make the best decision on how to proceed from here.
  2. #2
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    I really think that there is enough complexity in your situation that you should be going strictly by the advice of your attorney.
  3. #3
    mistoffolees is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by jTTi View Post
    So, I am looking for a little direction here. I do have a meeting setup with my attorney but he is out until next week. I want to get my girls back with me ASAP. What are my options at this point? The PFA states that there is a 60 day window to file a custody action or the temp provisions of the PFA will end. What does that mean? I am thinking about filing for the custody action. Should I also file for Contempt of Court or is it a waste of time? How does the process for a custody action work? I want to be as prepared as I can be when I visit with my attorney so we can make the best decision on how to proceed from here.
    You definitely want to wait until your attorney is back. If you have grounds for an appeal or filing a custody action, your attorney will be the best way to accomplish that.

    One error in what you said. You said that CYS said you were not an abuser and the court said you were. That is not correct. CYS said that they could not find evidence sufficient to prosecute. The court did not find you guilty of abuse, either. They said that there is sufficient risk or concern to justify a protection order. The difference between that and what you said is important.
  4. #4
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mistoffolees View Post
    You definitely want to wait until your attorney is back. If you have grounds for an appeal or filing a custody action, your attorney will be the best way to accomplish that.

    One error in what you said. You said that CYS said you were not an abuser and the court said you were. That is not correct. CYS said that they could not find evidence sufficient to prosecute. The court did not find you guilty of abuse, either. They said that there is sufficient risk or concern to justify a protection order. The difference between that and what you said is important.
    That is a very valid point.
  5. #5
    jTTi is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mistoffolees View Post
    You definitely want to wait until your attorney is back. If you have grounds for an appeal or filing a custody action, your attorney will be the best way to accomplish that.

    One error in what you said. You said that CYS said you were not an abuser and the court said you were. That is not correct. CYS said that they could not find evidence sufficient to prosecute. The court did not find you guilty of abuse, either. They said that there is sufficient risk or concern to justify a protection order. The difference between that and what you said is important.

    Yes you are correct. But that is the problem I have with the PFA process. The court should have allowed CYS time to do their investigation then had a hearing. My ex can't even show proof that the pic is of my daughter. I know there wasn't a mark on her that day. I saw her with my own eyes. The main reason for the PFA was the officer felt my children were afraid of me. But, they aren't afraid of me in any way. My ex is only after money and control. How can the courts not see that? If she really was concerned she would not allow my fiance to be the other adult for the visits.

    The time for an appeal has already passed. My attorney said it would have been a waste of time for an appeal. It is a huge uphill battle to overturn a PFA with an appeal. My attorney did say before that I should start a custody action as soon as possible. He says that after 60 days my ex could stop me from seeing the kids completely.

    So, I do plan on filing for custody. Am I right in thinking they will send us to mediation first? How does this process work and how long could it take? Can I ask for my ex to drop the PFA through mediation? I am prepared to do whatever it takes to get my time back with my girls.

    Is there anything I can do about the PFA; like any type of filings to have it removed? What happens with the PFA when the custody action is finalized?

    LdiJ - I just saw your response. I am listening to my attorney. I just want to be as well prepared as I can be.
    Last edited by jTTi; 12-02-2010 at 02:47 PM.
  6. #6
    mistoffolees is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by jTTi View Post
    So, I do plan on filing for custody. Am I right in thinking they will send us to mediation first? How does this process work and how long could it take? Can I ask for my ex to drop the PFA through mediation? I am prepared to do whatever it takes to get my time back with my girls.

    Is there anything I can do about the PFA; like any type of filings to have it removed? What happens with the PFA when the custody action is finalized?
    You really need to listen to your attorney on this. No one here is going to want to second guess him - and he'll know local procedures best.

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