DEAR MRS MACAULAY,
My child's father and I are no longer together. I ended things because of his constant abuse. He can't seem to accept that I walked away and he has been begging me to get back with him. Since he can't get his way, he started to tell his family lies about me.
This man has done so much damage that I was diagnosed with moderately severe depression and anxiety. Regardless of the trauma, I still allow him to see his child whenever he wishes.
A couple weeks ago he attempted to abduct our child from my home. I called the police, but they did not show up. I fought until he finally handed over the baby. After that incident, he filed an affidavit for visitation rights.
The oath he made on the affidavit is totally false. What do I do now?
Despite the actions of your ex, you allowed him liberal access to your child. After all that this man did â€” being constantly abusive, harassing you, and lying to his family about you, and even trying to abduct your child from your home, what did you do to protect yourself and your child? You did nothing!
After his failed abduction of your child, he was the one who acted and went to the Family Court and applied for an order for him to have access to his child. It seems that you have done nothing, again, except to ask what you should do now!
Well, you have to do what you should have done long ago. You should have gone to the Family Court from the moment he started being abusive to you. You should have filed for protection and maintenance orders against him. You must do so now in order to protect yourself from any abusive conduct from him in the future. I advise this because he is your child's biological father and you have upheld his right to have access, and your child's right to have a relationship with their father. You were doing what the law requires and what is in the best interest of your child.
Note that you may also seek protection orders against him for his harassment, and to prevent him from entering your home. The Domestic Violence Act exists to assist you to protect yourself and your child. Then the Maintenance Act is there for you to make sure he contributes properly to the maintenance of his child. You must act now. Laws exist which you must use for yours and your child's benefit.
And most important of all, you must apply for an order that you have sole legal custody of your child, because he has tried to abduct the child from your home. Because of his abusive conduct towards you, he should be monitored during any period of his access, to observe him for any form of misconduct. His actions have proved that he has no real respect for the laws of the land and he really only turned to the law to apply for visitation when all his actions to dominate you failed to get him what he wanted. This is clearly not what is in the best interests of the child.
You must also apply, in addition to the protection orders, for his access to the child for specific periods of time in such manner as ordered by the court, bearing in mind what I said about supervised access above.
As the mother of the child, you must act now or else you would be denying your child the enjoyment of all the rights he/she is entitled to have and enjoy. If you can afford to pay a lawyer, please retain one to assist you in the Family Court for your parish. Or, if not, go to the court office. The law provides that the clerks of the court are to assist you free of charge, if you can't afford to hire counsel.
You have wasted too much time already by doing nothing until after he, the party whose wrongful abusive conduct caused you to end your relationship with him, made the first move. You must not permit the man who you know is abusive, controlling, and prone to unlawful and wrongful conduct, to obtain a court order which would give him legal access to his child without any intervention. You owe it to yourself and your child to appear in court to counter and correct his lies, by attending court on the day his court application says you must attend the hearing. If you're unsure of the date or the details, take the document you were served to the court's office.
You also have the right to file your own applications and ask the clerk to fix them to be heard on the same date as his own, and fight for your child and your child's rights.
When you go to the court office, take your child's birth certificate and a copy and have it certified there. Ensure that your applications for court orders are prepared on that day. Do what is right for your child by first going to defend yourself against your ex's application ,and secondly, to make all your applications which I have suggested for yours and your child's benefit.
All the best.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to email@example.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.