Feeding the Machine: The fight to Survive the Game

I dream of the day that I never have to set foot in a courtroom again.

Just last year alone we had to travel to Manhattan 4 times, once to do the legwork of tracking my husband’s ex down and serving her papers and then we had to travel 3 times for court. That’s close to 6,000 miles. I shutter when I think of how much money those 4 trips cost us! Gas, food, Airbnb’s and lawyer fees…omg our lawyer bill is disgustingly overwhelming!

Thinking about what we went through last year causes my mind to drift back even farther, back to when we first embarked on this insane journey. Back then, we were so naive…we had pretty straightforward we thought, very logical, expectations for our quest to petition the court system to modify Steve’s custody arrangements. Our supreme confidence was in part due to the fact that we were backed by a 6 inch stack of evidence against his ex showing all of her dirty deeds and proving Steve innocent of all of her disgusting accusations. Oh boy were we so off base! I think this is due to my ever optimistic view on life and faith that people will behave in an upright, honest way and that truth and logic should always prevail. Is it wrong of me to find myself feeling that I am losing faith in humanity?

We started down this rollercoaster ride in the spring of 2015. That’s almost 4 years ago!! You see, Steve had lost track of his ex in 2012 shortly after she was awarded that bogus default judgement because she went into hiding. Yep, she kicked her supposed “love of her life” to the curb right after she got what she wanted…that no contact order and lame judgement. She only wanted him for his money, so she could rake Steve over the coals in 2 courts….one in Vegas where she got permission to move away with their daughter, and then the second court in New York where she carried out the heinous part of her plan…slapping him with false allegations and forcing their daughter to say the most horrible things about her Father. Its kind of hilarious that Angelica and that poor sucker got married on Valentines Day! That’s just how despicable she is. On her way out the door she even tried to charge that dude with crazy false abuse charges. The guy is still so scared of her to this day that he is afraid to make a statement against her. He and his family loved Gia and his heart breaks for her….he has shared some pretty crazy stuff with us but that’s about as far as he will go because he knows how vengeful and psycho she can be and he’a got a new wife and baby to protect.

So yeah…we’ve been doing this for a while. As soon as we found out that Angelica was living in Las Vegas, we took her to court. We had to fly out to Vegas at least 3 times for hearings and court prep. But of course as soon as we had her served, she skipped town and fled back to NYC to hide behind that bogus judgement. She gave the court in Vegas a fake New York address so we wouldnt be able to find her there. Eventually the Vegas court tossed the case back to NY and we had to start the process all over again…but it took over a year to be able to find her and have her served.

After almost 4 years of this crazy, we are no farther along then the day we began. We are still fighting for the RIGHT to have a hearing. Yep, can you believe that?! Four years and probably at least $70,000 later….NOTHING. Not one bit closer. Gia has gotten 4 years older and her life has gotten worse. This August will be 3 years that she has had to live in a homeless shelter….and with each and every court appearance her Mother has worked on her harder and harder, so hard that Gia has been in the hospital 4 times trying to harm herself. She’s being tormented and not one entity has stepped in to protect this child. Not her Lawyer, not her teachers, not the staff at the hospital, not the Judge and definitely not CPS who we have had to call a few times. We provided so much information to the Judge and to CPS but no one seems to care. The judge knew that Gia had to be admitted to the hospital 4 times, and that she was suicidal…but she showed no urgency what so ever. We just dont get it. The only person that could be causing all of this is her Mother. Gia was 5 last time she saw her Dad…none of the allegations are even true and besides, she shouldnt even know anything about court and the hearings. A Mother who loves her children would shield them from fears….she would reassure them.

This whole process is a joke. The court system is a joke, the Judges are a joke, CPS is a joke….and lawyers are just the court jesters. Everyone’s got their hand out taking our money as fast as they can shove it in their pockets and we keep on feeding that machine until we are drained financially, physically and emotionally. It’s a very costly game that we are set up from the beginning not to win….at least not until we are totally broke and our children are so messed up mentally they may never recover!!

This leads me to what happened in court. If it wasnt so unbelievably wrong and unnecessary, it would be comical…..

The judge was supposed to make a decision this time….she was going to tell us if our request for an evidentiary hearing was granted or of she was going to deny it. Shes had since the end of November to look over everything we’ve submitted…and the crazy thing is, just 2 weeks ago Angelicas lawyer coughed up the 2 CPS reports that had some pretty heavy stuff contained in them. The judge has had plenty of time to look them over.

Angelicas lawyer made sure she got me kicked out of the courtroom last time so I really didnt think I would be allowed to go in, but we had our 2 youngest girls with us and we were going to have THEM go in my place. We felt it was important to give the judge a small picture of Steve’s family life…I say small because we actually have 11 children all together, my 9 and Steve’s 2. We still have 4 at home plus one exchange student lol! Anyway…our lawyer told me to just go in with the girls, so I did. I could feel the anger behind me as we walked in. Steve heard Angelicas lawyer gruffly say, who are THEY?! And it didnt take but a minute for her to stand up and demand that we leave…and the judge agreed and we were ushered out. Not more than 5 minutes after we left, Steve walked out…I was shocked. Apparently the judge asked both sides if they had anything to say, the replies were “no”….and then she said, “I will send you my decision by email by the end of the day.” We were all stunned. We came all the way here for THIS??! Our lawyer was furious…and apologized to us on behalf of the NY court system. He really didnt know what to think or what to say, and he’s been doing this for 40 years!

We were about to leave when our lawyer stood up and walked over to talk to Angelicas lawyer. She was trying to get him to get us to give up. He told her there was no way and reminded her of the very concerning things contained in those CPS reports. She acted like she had no idea what he was talking about and asked him to show her where in the reports did he see what he was referring to. He proceeded to show her in at least 4 different places….all she could say is that he was “cherry picking”, she got angry and said “well, I see we arent going to agree”! But before she walked away, she turned and said, “remember, I work pro bono..I can do this ALL DAY!” Nice huh? The crazy thing is, technically she doesnt work “pro bono”, shes not doing this for free…she gets paid by the government. Just another way Angelica is stealing from the government, getting free legal services for battered women! Omg…SHE is the one who is and always has done the battering!! It just kills me how much she lies, and people just believe her! Shes taking services away from women who are truly battered, who need a safe place to live and services to protect them!

So here we are, traveling the 700+ miles back home. Court was on Thursday, it’s now Saturday and no one has received anything from the judge. Theres been no word at all.

This path we are on definitely isnt for the faint of heart. I dont know how many times one or both of us has felt like giving up.

But still we trudge on…..for Gia.

~Wendy

On the Road Again

I can’t believe it’s been three months from our last court date already! Sitting in that courtroom back in September when we learned about Gia’s mental state, our November court date seemed so far away…and now here we are at the end of February, back on the road, heading once again to NYC with the hope that this may be the time we are granted an actual hearing and even more importantly, we might finally be able to have a visit with Gia.

Quite a bit has happened since September….and also at the same time, not enough has happened.

On our way to court in November we received a very distressing phone call….our lawyer had a death in his family so he wouldnt be able to be there for us in court. We felt so terrible for him and his family…but we were terrified for us. Three years of chasing Angelica around, 2 States, 2 courts, 4 judges, 4 lawyers, a LOT less money later…and now when the judge was going to make the decision we’ve been waiting for, our lawyer wasn’t going to be able to be there!! He was supposed to fire off our Grand Finale and to fight the barracuda woman (Angelica’s Fraggle Rock lawyer) so now what were we going to do??!

Our lawyer gave us the option to reschedule the court appearance or to have his assistant, Faith, fill in for him…and truthfully, we didnt think she would be able to handle it. So to try and save the day, I contacted a lawyer that we have been talking to that we may hire later on to bring a defamation of character lawsuit against Angelica. He happened to be free during the time our appearance was scheduled for..so we hired him to just represent us that day along with Faith. Turns out, they made a great team! This new lawyer came up with a plan to stall the judges decision to buy us more time…and it worked! Having him in the court made everyone a bit nervous wondering what we had up our sleeve. It was a great strategic move.

That day was crazy. I knew the minute the barracuda walked into the courtroom, she had it in for me. As she entered, she leaned to the bailiff and told him something as she pointed at me. I figured that she was warning him that she was going to have me escorted out. She did, but not before she tried to get me in trouble with the judge for creating a GoFundMe page, where I told the whole ugly story about Angelica’s psycho behavior and her plan to keep Gia all to herself. She also tried to get both of us in trouble for calling CPS on Angelica a few times. We had very legitimate concerns for Gia’s safety, especially after CPS closed the first investigation and a couple weeks after that Gia was in the hospital for self harm. We were furious that they labeled the case “Unfounded” so we thought they needed to have an update on the situation they deemed safe. Well, the judge wasn’t having any of that which just made Angelica and her lawyer look stupid. But she did succeed in being able to make me leave the courtroom, although the judge was extremely nice about it and basically looked at me with a “please just humor her idiotness”…so I obliged.

She really thought she pulled one over on us but fast forward almost 3 months and WE are the ones laughing now! Ol barracuda, she just couldnt resist, she just had to try and get one last dig in before court. She made a rogue move and decided to send those 2 unfounded CPS reports to our lawyer, with quite a bit redacted, but with still plenty of evidence to cause great concern for Gia’s well being. The only reason she sent it was to throw it in our face that they were “Unfounded” and to tell us to stop harassing her client. I’m honestly still shocked she could be so stupid as to think our lawyer wouldn’t scour those papers to find anything we could use to prove what we were trying to get the judge to see. So our lawyer requested that we be able to submit them for the courts consideration…but…we requested that the judge review them without all of the redactions. So this means that the judge will be able to see even more than we saw!

So here we are, waiting and wondering. We have 2 hours until we arrive in Manhattan and tomorrow is our court date. I’m sure Angelica and her lawyer are sweatin bullets right now, regretting that they tossed those reports over to us…but our main concern is for Gia. If Angelica is freaking out, that would mean that shes taking it out on Gia. Where is she? Is she safe? We sent a letter to Gia’s guardian ad litem to ask him to carefully read these CPS reports too and to please be mindful of all that’s happened in the past. Within a week before each of our last 4 court dates Gia has ended up in the hospital. Is anyone keeping an eye on her safety this time?

Sending Gia her Phoenix…sweet girl, you are forever in our hearts and minds. Stay strong!

~Wendy

When You Least Expect It…..

The last few days leading up to today have been busy, stressful and anxiety producing. Real life doesn’t stop just because you have an upcoming court date…you still have work, kids sports etc. and various other obligations.

On Thursday afternoon we received the affidavit our lawyer wrote to respond to Amy’s demand to have our motion of “Request for Custody Modifications” dismissed. It was awesome! They used the 6 pages I wrote that included timelines and cross references from all of the reports and evidence we have to prove Steve’s innocence. But as wonderful as the affidavit was, it threw our life into yet another time of stress and chaos. All of a sudden we are having to scramble around to try to get it printed, signed and notorized….with a “we need you to do this tonight and overnight it back to us”. Ummm, I looked at my watch…..did they even realize that it was 7:40pm??! Where did they think that we would be able to find a notary at this time of night? The banks were all closed. Even if we were able to find a notary, would we be able to make it to a FedEx location before they closed? And how the heck much was this all gonna cost?! Oh, and by the way….our printer was running out of ink! Seriously?
Anyway….yeah, life is definitely interesting. Just when you think ya got it all planned and figured out, life throws you a curve ball. To me, life is very much like the show “The Amazing race”. Sometimes things are smooth sailing and relaxing, but dont get too comfortable, because before ya know it you are running sprints and leaping over hurdles and trying not to get eaten by the lions.
So yeah, that brings me back to this morning. With all of life’s interruptions we were handed this past week, we were nowhere near ready to start our trek towards NYC. I was all keyed up last night, realizing I was way behind the 8 ball and this was NOT how I wanted to start the day today.
I woke up earlier than I had planned to, couldn’t sleep….too much on my mind and to much to do for pete sakes!! I rolled out of bed and as I slid my feet into my slippers our 2 dogs sleepily hopped out of bed and headed to the front door. Potty time. Instead of just letting them out, I stepped outside, something that I dont I usually do in the morning because honestly all I’m thinking about at that point is, “I need coffee”. As I was glancing around the yard my eyes stopped on a mysterious looking stick protruding out of the tall weeds near the side of our property….we live on 7 acres with hardwoods and a pond. I did a double take and squinted harder, what on earth was that? Then I see TWO long “sticks” protruding from the grass. All of a sudden the “sticks” started moving…I couldn’t believe what I was seeing…it was 2 peacocks, a male and a female.
Mind you, we’ve lived here for 8 years and I’ve NEVER seen a peacock! We’re out in the country so we see all kinds of animals…but peacocks aren’t wild animals. Not to mention I’ve never heard a peacock….their calls to each other are unmistakable. If you’ve ever heard one, you would never forget it. I was stunned and baffled…but just as soon as I locked eyes with them, they slowly disappeared into the underbrush. I stood there, did I just see what I thought I saw?? Where did they come from. Where are they going??
I excitedly woke Steve up to tell him. He said, isnt that some kind of sign? I thought to myself a minute and decided, yeah…he’s right. So I looked it up and found out that the peacock represents honor, integrity and the importance of facing life’s challenges, as well as the unknown, with courage and confidence.
Throughout history the peacock has been likened to the Phoenix, the mythical bird that recycles it’s own life. The Phoenix ignites itself into a magnificent fire when it perceives it is going to die, then in time it reemerges from it’s own ashes-reborn, renewed and alive once again. The symbolism in this is that the person who’s animal spirit guide is the Phoenix, has risen from flames as a winner, defeating life’s challenges and hard times.Like the Phoenix, the peacock exudes confidence and encouragement to toss away the old to make way for the new.

The sign we were given this morning, we believe, is a message that has blessed us with comfort and strength. We are carrying this with us while we are driving the first leg of our trip today, and will take it with us as we enter the courtroom on Thursday morning. We are also thinking about our Gia, and we send our Phoenix to her today in Faith that she will be able to emerge from HER flames to be reborn into a new life where she won’t have to be a prisoner of fear and isolation any longer….and she can live her life surrounded by the love of her family and in the comfort that the world is hers to experience and enjoy.
For Gianna
~Wendy

Dark Days

It’s taken me over a month to be emotionally able to write this post. Back in September as we were traveling towards NYC and I was writing my last post, we were hopeful and encouraged that this hearing would be the one where we would FINALLY be able to present all of our evidence and the court would see that Steve’s ex wife, Angelica, orchestrated a selfish plot to keep their daughter all to herself. We just knew that the judge would have to see that what she did was in actuality child abuse. She would see that this child was being held prisoner in a life of fear and in hiding, and that she was being made to believe disgusting lies about her Father whom she loved dearly.

But….instead….

All of our hope was shattered when we arrived at the courthouse. The following is the Facebook post I wrote once we were back in our room as Steve and I were sitting, in silence….still in shock and in a tremendous amount of fear, pain and grief.

FACEBOOK

It’s with a very heavy heart that I am writing this. It didnt go well at all today.

The first thing that we got hit with when we entered the courthouse was that Gia was in the hospital…a mental hospital, and shes been there for a week already. And this wasnt the first time…she was admitted in July too. Then….we find out it’s because she had tried to commit suicide. So now Gia is in danger of self harm due to her Mother’s lies and torment. Angelica must be working on her hard for Gia to be this unstable. Filling her head with all kinds of horrible worries and thoughts. We are devastated and scared to death for her safety.

About the actual hearing. Steve and I didnt realize that we are still fighting for the RIGHT to have a hearing about this. This judge is very reluctant to even consider giving us an opportunity to present all the evidence that was never considered in the first place. So as it stands at this point….

We have to gather some extra paperwork to prove some things about a prior hearing that was held in Vegas, and then we have to return to court Nov 27. But that’s only to continue to fight for the right to have a hearing. So essentially if we can convince the judge in November, we will have yet another court date and that would be our first opportunity to see Gia. This just adds to our fear for her mental health and physical safety.

It’s been a very difficult and emotional day for us…we are now trying to make sense of all of this and to get to the point mentally where we are strong enough to pick up the pieces and trudge forward. We do it for Gia…always. Please keep Gia, Steve and I, our family and this situation in your prayers…

We are currently 19 days from our next court date. We have submitted the paperwork that the judge requested along with a statement about the reality of the situation. The statement without a doubt shows clearly Angelica’s lies. We requested that this whole mess be totally investigated….for Gia to be removed from Angelica’s custody, immediate therapeutic visitation with Steve and for forensic evaluations to be done on Steve, Angelica and Gia.

We are back to being hopeful but we live in constant fear for Gia’s health and safety. Praying that the judge will step in to protect a child that desperately needs protection.

~Wendy

Steve’s Story

This is a story about Custodial Interference that eventually lead to Parental Alienation, then moved on to Parental Kidnapping under the guise of false abuse allegations. It’s something you might see in a movie or on TV….but it’s not made up, it’s unbelievably real, scary and very sad.

My husband’s marriage to Amy lasted only 4 short years. Although Steve had to deal with some disturbing discoveries about Amy’s past within their first year as a married couple, the real problems and crazy behaviors didn’t actually start until after Amy became pregnant with their daughter Gia. Things within their relationship started to shift. Amy could be cold and/or distant and she started acting erratically. Steve tried to be patient and hold things together thinking that it was just pregnancy hormones that were causing all of her strange behavior. After Gia was born Steve surprised Amy with the car of her dreams…he also paid for her to have the plastic surgery that she had been wanting to have. His thought was that the pregnancy was over and Amy would return to her normal behavior.
Shortly after that, Amy’s behavior became increasingly worse and she eventually became very abusive towards Steve. (Yes, men can actually be victims of spousal abuse). Amy also began to target Steve’s older daughter, Christy from his first marriage. She was verbally abusive, manipulative and vindictive towards Christy….and she became verbally abusive towards Gia too. Christy would overhear Amy on the phone with other men, calling them “Baby” and arranging times to meet with them. Steve found another man’s shirt and socks in the bathroom of their home upon his return from a month long training exercise with the military. His wife had men in the house when he was gone, with his children there. Also during the time when Steve was away Christy found drugs in the garage of their home, drugs that could have only belonged to Amy or the men she was seeing. What was supposed to be a happy life had turned into a nightmare. Not only was Steve having to deal with Amy’s crazy and abusive behavior and the drugs and the other men, she also sent him into bankruptcy due to her extravagant lifestyle.
Steve knew the marriage was over and just as he was at the point of sitting Amy down to talk about separating, she walked out of the house with Gia without telling Steve, and never returned. This is where the Custodial Interference began.
**Custodial Interference is when one parent takes or keeps the child(ren) from his or her parent with the intent to interfere with that parent’s physical custody of the child. This is a crime in most states.
Steve was eventually able to find out that Amy had left California and went back to Las Vegas to live with her parents. Steve immediately contacted a lawyer and started the process of going through the legal system to petition for visitation rights with Gia. It took over 8 months to fight Amy in court before visitations were finally granted. Steve was relieved and didn’t mind the 5 hour drive from his home in California to Vegas to pick up and drop Gia off. He missed his daughter very much and wanted to be able to be part of her life.
At this point in his life, Steve was trying to recover from the aftermath of being involved with Amy. He thought that the drama would finally be over and he would be able to provide his daughter Christy, and Gia when she was with him, stable and happy lives. The first year of visitation seemed to go pretty smoothly, but it didn’t take long for Steve to realize Amy never really intended to cooperate with the court order. It got to the point where Steve never knew what to expect when he got to the end of that 5 hour drive to pick Gia up for their scheduled visit. Sometimes Amy would refuse to let him see Gia at the last minute, or sometimes she wouldn’t show up at the meeting place and couldn’t be found, then the police would step in to help facilitate the pick up. One time when she didn’t show up, it was because she had devised a plan to have Steve killed. She was hoping that if she wasn’t at the meeting place, he would drive over to her house. So she called the police and told them that there was a crazy Marine outside of her home hiding in the bushes with a gun. She was hoping they would show up about the time Steve would arrive and mistakenly shoot him thinking he was armed and dangerous.
During the time when Amy and Gia were living in Vegas with Amy’s parents her Mother Justine was Gia’s primary caregiver. Gia adored her Grandmother and Justine loved Gia. Amy would stay out until all hours of the night partying and doing drugs. Her brother would come home from work at 2:30am after his shift was over and would frequently find that Amy wasn’t home yet. Steve didn’t know any of this until he recently was able to reconnect with Amy’s brother. The other thing Steve found out, well after Amy and Gia moved out of Amy’s parents home…after the death of Amy’s Father, was that he repeatedly molested his biological daughters. Gia would cry and make herself throw up on the days when he had to return her to her Mother. He always felt that it was because Gia missed him and her sister when they were separated and also because Amy was either absent or verbally abusive to her when she was around. But now he wondered if it was possible that Gia was being sexually abused during the 4 years they lived with her Grandparents.
In February of 2011 Amy petitioned the court to be able to relocate to Manhattan NY because she was going to marry a man who lived there. Steve tried to fight it but the court ultimately decided that Amy could move with Gia. Amy promised the court ample visits for Steve and Gia…and even more liberal visits of Steve were to decide to move to Manhattan too. They moved in June of 2011 and Gia came back and spent about a month with Steve in August. That was the one and only visit Steve was to have with his daughter…and the it was the last time he was ever allowed to talk to her or know if she was ok. Amy had been orchestrating an evil plan and after Gia’s visit with Steve she set her plan into motion.

In November of 2011 Amy files sexual abuse charges against Steve, claiming that Gia told her that both he and Christy were abusing her. Steve immediately went and took a polygraph test to prove his innocence and passed with flying colors. CPS investigations were launched in Manhattan and also in California. CPS and the Sheriff’s office in California both interviewed Steve, his daughter Christy, Amy, Justine-Amy’s Mother, Melinda-Steve’s first ex wife, Christy’s therapist, the Pediatric Forensic Social Worker in New York that examined Gia and they also talked with the social worker in New York that was handling the investigation on that end. After a thorough investigation they determined that the charges against Steve were unfounded. It didn’t seem to matter what California CPS thought though, because back in New York they held a court hearing without even considering all that California had to say, and also even though Steve applied to appear by phone, no one from the court called him so he could be present during the hearing. The judge ruled in favor of Amy by default….meaning, because Steve didn’t show up to the hearing, she gets to win the case. It didn’t matter if there was no evidence to support her claims, it didn’t matter that the charges were unfounded in California, and it didn’t matter that the CPS report from New York showed no evidence of abuse either. There was even speculation from the New York CPS worker that maybe Amy was coaching Gia to say these things. No one even considered that maybe this was a set up. No one considered that they could be taking a little girl away from the Father she loved and missed. No one considered that this little girl would now never be allowed to spend time with anyone in her family ever again….not her Father and her sister, not her Grandmothers, not her Aunts and Uncles and cousins, not her friends that were dear to her. No one considered the life this little girl might have being left alone with her Mother with no one to check on her.

So since the time of that hearing, Amy ditched the man she claimed to be so in love with, the firefighter from New York. She didn’t need him anymore, she got what she wanted. Amy quietly snuck back into Las Vegas with Gia. They lived there for over 3 years, right there where all of Steve’s family lives, and no one knew. Amy never contacted them so that Gia could see her family, she kept Gia hidden and isolated.

All this time neither Gia or Amy knew that Steve never gave up searching for them until Amy received the Notice to Appear motion that we filed against her. She was shocked that we found her but being the snake that she is, she quickly packed up and moved Gia back to New York to hide behind the “No Contact judgement” against Steve that was awarded to her. She made up some lie to the Las Vegas judge that she had to move so that she could find a specialist physician for her alleged back injury. She requested to appear by phone, which she did, and she put on a very good dramatic show with tears and the whole nine yards. The judge ordered her to produce the evidence she had to back up her claims against Steve…and although she went two weeks past the date that she was to have them to the court, the judge overlooked it. Steve filed a contempt motion but it was denied. The paperwork she entered was the CPS report from New York which basically said there was a possibility the abuse claims could be true…but there was no evidence to back up the claims, nothing, no physical evidence, only what Amy was saying and what Gia was being made to say. The court in Las Vegas didn’t really want to have to deal with this so they let the time expire…so we would have to start over and fight her in New York. The law states that jurisdiction will be in the city where a resident has lived for over 6 months. So because they kept putting off our court dates in Las Vegas, we were forced to take this matter up with the courts in Manhattan because that is where Amy was living.

Amy filed a motion against Steve as soon as she moved back to New York…claiming that he broke the No Contact order because he filed a petition in the Las Vegas court system to review the case and modify custody. Steve still at this point, never had his day in court to present all of the evidence from California…he only wanted a fair hearing and to be able to plead his side of things. Her motion was denied and the case was dismissed, the judge ruled that he didn’t break the No Contact order by filing a petition. This made Amy really angry and she went into hiding, once again. As much as we tried, we couldn’t seem to track her down to serve her the papers to start court proceedings in New York. She knew if we couldn’t find her, we couldn’t serve her and if we couldn’t serve her we couldn’t take her to court. We hired another private investigator to try and find her and all they could find was that she had a suspended driver’s license until 2024. So after repeatedly asking the courts permission to subpoena the school systems in New York to see if Gia was attending school, we finally got what we needed….we found the school and the school gave us their address!

Because it was getting costly to stake out her residence to try to catch her to serve her the papers, our lawyer suggested we come to New York and do the foot work ourselves. We thought that was a great idea and we were hopeful to even possibly get a glimpse of Gia. So we brought our daughter Chloe who is about the same age as Gia with us so we didn’t look like child abductors if we had to stand outside Gia’s school. On the last day that we were scheduled to be in town, we were feeling quite defeated because we still hadn’t been able to serve her the court papers. So we went back to the school and Steve waited in the car so as not to break the No Contact order and Chloe and I went into the school and started asking questions. I was able to find a girl who was friends with Gia so I had a quick talk with her and found out that she had already gotten on a bus and left. We were devastated. So we decided to take one more shot at trying to find Amy at their address…which, by the way is a homeless shelter for battered women!! So she’s living off the government pretending to be a battered woman, getting free services, including free legal services from a battered woman’s service provider in Manhattan. Steve’s daughter has not only been uprooted and dragged back and forth across the county 3 times in the last 7 years, she is being made to live in hiding in a battered women’s shelter. So not only has she had heinous thoughts and images put into her head and also forced to believe lies about her Father, Gia has been made to live like a fugitive, always hiding, having to be careful not to tell people too much and always looking over her shoulder in fear–because her Mother has pounded it into her head to be afraid of her Father and not let anyone know who they are or what the situation is because he might find them. That makes it pretty hard for a little girl to be mentally and emotionally healthy and for her to have a normal life…to have friends and play sports etc.

Chloe and I somehow managed to just walk right in to this shelter even though it’s protected by guards who have to buzz you in. Not sure who they thought we were but they buzzed us in and I walked up to the guards desk and asked them if they had an Amy ******* living there and they of course told me that they couldn’t give out that kind of information. So I proceeded to tell the long and crazy story and let them know that they may be harboring someone, for one, that wasn’t battered…and two, that she was avoiding the court system. They were horrified as I was filling them in on the details so they called the on duty manager over. She had tears in her eyes when I was telling her the story but she said that even though it was very sad, she wasn’t able to tell me anything about the women who lived there because they were there for protection. But as she was turning around she whispered, but if you were to call the police I will cooperate fully. That told me all I needed to know…she wouldn’t have me call the police for nothing, Amy and Gia did indeed live there. So I called the police and asked them to come and help me serve Amy. While Chloe and I were standing in the lobby waiting for the police, in walked Gia from school! My heart was beating and I didn’t know what I should do. So as she rounded the corner and was about to get on the elevator I called out her name. She peeked back out of the elevator, looked at me and said…”yes?” I asked her to come over to where we were and all she said is, “I can’t” …and disappeared back into the elevator, the door shut behind her and she was gone. I was shaking. I just talked to my husband’s child that he hasn’t been allowed to see in over 7 years! The police came and I filled them in as to what was going on and also gave them the shortest version of the story that I could. They were shocked and thought it sounded like a movie you would see on TV. They went in to talk to Amy, who was very irate at this point because she found out that Steve found her and that I was able to get into the building that was supposed to be safe, secure and private. She yelled and screamed to the police for almost 45 minutes and then they served her the court papers. But this is how good of an actress she actually is….when the police came back to give me the paperwork, they had a different attitude. They just looked at me with pity and they said, there are some things that you don’t know about your husband. I was shocked…and then furious! Are you kidding me??! Apparently they didn’t care that I had a 6 inch stack of reports, testimonies and evidence that my husband was the victim of a vengeful ex wife. Apparently they didn’t care that Steve and I had been married for close to 5 years and had a houseful of children and not one bit of abuse that Amy was accusing him of has ever happened in our home. They never took into consideration that Amy could possibly be lying….or that just maybe poor Gia was being held prisoner by a psychotic woman who didn’t really care anything about her, that she was just using her to carry out some crazy scheme to hurt Steve. I couldn’t believe it. I just walked away with a very heavy heart, disillusioned with the system that was put into place to protect people and to carry out justice. Wasn’t it innocent until proven guilty? How could a screaming crazy woman be believed over me, a calm person that had facts to back me up…me with a fear and concern for the child??

Amy filed criminal charges against Steve that day for breaking the no contact order. We didn’t realize that the order also included anyone approaching her FOR him. Apparently our lawyer didn’t know that either because it was under his direction that we went in the first place. We left town the next day, victorious but also fearful…for Steve, because he could possibly be arrested for this, but more importantly for Gia because we knew she did something that Amy warned her against doing–she talked to a stranger and told her (me) who she was. We feared that Amy would retaliate against her and severely punish her for that. We decided to call CPS in New York and file a concern. We gave them more information than they knew what to do with, hoping that they would see what was really going on ….but sadly, after 2 months they closed the case and labeled it Unfounded. The thing we learned is that CPS is only there for emergencies…so it doesn’t matter to them if they stumble on a situation like ours where there is long history of abuse and evasion, they just try to determine whether the child(ren) are in immediate danger. So don’t rely on them to come to your rescue if you have finally tracked down your ex who has taken your child(ren) away from you unlawfully…they won’t help you, and they can be pretty darn rude about it.

After we managed to have her served, a court date was set but we were in doubt as to whether she would decide to show up or not. Well, she did…but she showed up late and then delayed the hearing. To make matters worse, we got into the courtroom (we had a court referee instead of an actual judge….this is the same person who threw her charges against Steve out about a year before this)….and Amy told her that she would rather this case be heard in front of a judge. So after we had already sat there with 2 lawyers for at least 2 hours, we now had to continue to wait around to maybe possibly get in to see a judge. Eventually we were told that we could enter the courtroom….but the judge was NOT happy! It was her lunch hour and she was wondering why on earth we were sitting before her. So she set a court date for a month from that time and we all walked out. Just one more trip to New York, more money spent on gas, food, lodging and lawyers. Oh the lawyer fees! That day we added 6 hours of lawyer fees to our bill, 3 hours with 2 lawyers and 3 hours with 1. As with everything else in New York City, lawyers don’t come cheap! They pushed our court date back 2 times and this is where we are today as I am writing this.

We have a court date in one week…September 27th. Our lawyer sent us the affidavit today that they wrote up explaining the facts of the case and what we are asking for…I was amazed! It was so beautiful, it brought me to tears! All of our hard work trying to find all of her mistakes and inconsistencies …hours of going through that 6 inch stack of paperwork to find her errors and slip ups….Steve and I put together a 6 page timeline to help our lawyer keep everything straight and to have all of the important information in one convenient place and it was finally all neatly packaged up into an actual court document! So we leave in 4 days and start our journey to New York once again, anxious yet hopeful. We are bringing our usual bag of things we want to show and to give Gia….2 photo album books that introduce her to her family and help her to get a feel of who they all are, a necklace we carefully picked out for her with special meaning that she can wear to remind her of our love, a small photo album for her to keep filled with the last pictures Steve had of her and his oldest daughter and him together, “getting to know you” forms that Chloe and our youngest daughter Amayah filled out so she can start getting acquainted with them and letters from the kids. Its been just over 7 years since my husband has seen, talked to and held his baby…..we hold our breath and pray that this time he will be able to finally do those things again.

~Wendy

Parental Alienation

 

Custodial Interference, a precursor to full blown Parental Alienation, happens when one parent purposefully withholds a child from his or her other parent with the intent to prevent or interfere with that parent’s physical custody of the child. This is a crime in most states even if the offending parent has full custody of the child(ren).

This type of behavior can look as innocent as making excuses for the child not to be able to see the other parent, like, “She’s not feeling well enough to spend time with you today”…or “Im sorry, I forgot and scheduled a doctor’s appointment during the time she was supposed to be with you, I guess we will have to put off your visit for another week”. This can go on and on to where it begins to be a struggle every time you are supposed to have visitation. Maybe one week they don’t show up until an hour after the scheduled time to the meeting place, with apologies later of course. Maybe next week they don’t show up at all. It can be anything to throw you off or inconvenience you. The custodial parent meanwhile is secretly hoping that one day you will just back off, lose interest and give up. It’s at that point that they can then tell the child, “See, I told you Daddy/Mommy doesn’t really care about you. Unfortunately usually the only way you can deal with this kind of situation is to hire a lawyer. The other parent has already shown himself/herself to not be someone you can reasonably work with….they may even act like they don’t know what you could possibly be talking about if you try to approach them with your concerns and or accusations. It’s best to find someone to mediate and advocate for you, this will help you to remain more emotionally stable because you will be slightly removed from the situation and you will be allowing someone else to do the arguing for you.
 
If you find yourself in this situation, these are some helpful things to keep in mind as you prepare to go into battle with your unreasonable Ex:
 
1. The first thing you should do is start keeping a log or diary of the occurrences, this will help you keep things straight because circumstances and situations will start getting jumbled together in your head.
 
2. As much as possible try to get physical evidence, for example, emails and texts messages. It’s much better to communicate through written word because you will have a true account of how your conversations go with your Ex. Its pretty much impossible to prove things that were said over the phone, unless of course you record your conversations with them…which I wouldn’t advise doing because you could run into some legal issues with that especially if the other party doesn’t know you’re recording them.
 
3. Make sure that you set up visitation meeting places for picking up your child(ren) in public areas where there are plenty of witnesses that could back you up if needed. Also, get there a little early and make a small purchase so you will have a receipt showing the date/time….this will prove that you were indeed where you were supposed to be and you were there at the correct time. Keep all of these receipts in an envelope. A good way to keep this organized is by labeling your envelopes by month/year.
 
4. Refrain from making any disparaging remarks against the other parent in front of or especially to your child(ren). This could come back to bite you in the butt big time! I know it will probably be difficult at first until you come up with your own generic phrases like, “I’m not sure, that would be something you should ask your Mother”…and then use distraction techniques…”let’s go to the park and play catch”. Or “I’m sorry honey, this is really between your Mommy and I, this is something you shouldn’t worry about…of course this doesn’t change my love for YOU” ….and then again use distraction. Try to use “I” statements as much as possible…talking for only yourself, not the other parent. Let the child figure out on his/her own what the other parents indiscretions are. Unfortunately you will have to hold your harsh words or anger in until your child isn’t around…consider blowing off steam with a trusted friend or family member or go to the gym and work out. Your child most likely will be interviewed or evaluated so you don’t want to take the chance that they may say something innocently to someone that may hurt your case down the road!
 
5. When your with your child(ren) plan fun activities as much as you can. You have limited time with them already…make your time count! ENJOY your time with them…after all, they ARE the loves of your life. You don’t have to do things that cost a lot of money, get creative…just make sure you are DOING something. It’s not quantity of time that counts…it’s QUALITY. Kids just need your undivided attention to feel like they are important and that they matter. Doing things together is a good way to gather more physical evidence too! Take photos of the things you do and also the people you are doing them with, for example, a visit to Grandma’s and time spent with family….or….a trip to the zoo and all the fun you had while you were there. This will show the smiles and the love, so that the child will have something to help them remember those good feelings, and more importantly they will remember the TRUTH when their Mother is working on their psyche. Photos will also be helpful if ever needed to prove how good your relationship is with your child, and will also show that you practice active parenting.
 
** End Note:
Don’t kid yourself, take these signs very seriously. When you start seeing the kinds of things I’ve mentioned above, this is Custodial Interference and chances are, the wheels have already been set in motion for you to be totally alienated by the other parent. The thing you have to realize and understand is that along with the other parent trying to physically keep you from the child, that parent will also be working hard on the mind of your child to try to influence and brainwash them to start internalizing lies about you. The custodial parent spends way more time with the child so they will have plenty of opportunity to embed misinformation into their heads which will start to confuse them and will eventually turn the them against you. Arm yourself and BE PREPARED!!

 

~Wendy