Quick run down. Last year my husband and I invited my daughters father over to our home and told him about a move to Florida that we were considering. Due to my husbands job. We were located in ca then. My daughters father didn't agree so I suggested we proceed through the courts, to which he agreed. He filed for joint custody in March, that case was dismissed due to his non Payments to the courts. This happened in July, I then went to seek legal counsel and ask if I was still obligated to reside in the state of ca, no is the response I received. Her father and I were never married and no court orders were holding me back anymore. I moved in September of 2015, at the end of January I was contacted by the search and retrieve unit and was notified of a motion that was set by the father. He and his brother lied to the courts and said they served me on August 18, 2015. I have Text messages between my daughters father and I stating I was at work. After work my husband, daughter, and myself left to Anaheim for Disney. So u can prove they're lying about serving me. Her father also states that he mailed me the forms in December, knowing I had moved. So I never recieved them. He had proceeded with the courts and was granted full sole custody, mind you since we broke up in 2014 he has not provided for her nor shared 50/50 time with her. He works two jobs and on his "time share" my daughter would spend most of her time at his mothers house. Until my husband would leave work at 3 to pick her up. We had court where I appeared telephonically, on 2/9/16 and I asked the judge to give me a mediation since I was unaware of all proceedings. On 2/10/2016 we had mediation, father pushed for full sole custody and supervised visitations for me the mother. My next court appearance is tomorrow 2/23/16 and I recieved the notion from the mediator who suggested the father take sole custody of my daughter. What can I do? I feel cheated out of this case because I was never served, and have not had time to obtain an attorney. With such short notice I don't have 3,500 to put down for legal assistance. Can I appeal this if he is granted custody? If so how do I go about doing so?
1 Answer from Attorneys
The short answer is that if you don't have $3500 to retain counsel, you don't have the $5,000-$10,000 for an appeal. As far as the court is concerned you have had over three weeks to find an attorney. At the very, very latest you should have hired an attorney when you failed to reach a mediated agreement on 2/10. Your ONLY hope is somehow to find an attorney who is free to go to court tomorrow, hire them today, and have them go in and ask the court to continue the hearing to a later date because they have just been hired. There is NO guarantee that will work, but it often does in these situations where the client has tried to deal with things on their own. Given that you knew you were going to go to court tomorrow as of 2/9, or 2/10 at the latest when mediation failed, however, many judges will say "you had your chance."