Legal Question in Family Law in Washington

Family Law

Is there some law that will assist in a father receiving his visitation back when we can prove that the mother has told the child that the father died in a car crash when in fact she is illegally keeping him from the father after she realized that the bogus court case that she started wasn't going to work? We know that she is in comtempt of court but as Washinton is very much a Mother's state it is difficult to prove a mother unfit or even for a father to re-gain custody without a court battle and tons of legal fees. Does this fall under slander or defimation of character in any way?

Asked on 4/03/09, 3:19 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

P. Jayson Thibodaux Law Office of P. Jayson Thibodaux

Re: Family Law

Although it is always difficult to address all concerns in one response - a contempt action could be used to force the mother to comply with the visitation order and also provide the father with additional visitation time in order to compensate for time lost. If it can be shown that the non-compliance was willful, attorney fees and costs can be assessed by the court against the party found to be in contempt.

Allegations that the father died in an car accident raise other concerns. You may want to look at the parenting plan to see what is required in order to modify the residential schedule. Good luck.

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Answered on 4/03/09, 3:41 pm

Amir John Showrai The Pacific Law Firm, PLLC

Re: Family Law

I always bristle at the suggestion that Washington is a "mom friendly state" or a "man friendly state" for that matter. The lawyers who perpetually feed into this myth only worsen the problem by convincing their clients that this is a fact and thus making it hard for otherwise reasonable parties to reach a compromise. The statutes that govern family law favor allowing children to remain in the residential setting they are most accustomed to. The fact that in most cases men work more than women and that men tend to do less child rearing means that more men are not primary residential parents.

I've had female clients in the same position and they walk in and find out their husbands are going to be the primary residential parents and they are shocked because like you, they are under the impression that just because they are mothers they get custody. When I explain that with their husbands working 35-40 weeks and they working 60-80 hour weeks, no court will give them the kids (unless there is something wrong with the father) they need time to recover from that information.

That said, each case is different. In your case, if you can prove what you say about what your ex has done, then I think any court is going to take her to task and provided you make the proper motions, you are going to get substantial time with your child, and you may have a great chance at becoming the primary residential parent. It depends on how agregious the circumstances of your case turn out to be.

You may have a defamation case against your ex, but unless she is of some financial means, you may as well forget it, unless you are willing to pay a ton of money to an attorney to pursue it, only to be left holding a monetarily worthless judgment.

If it were me, I'd hire counsel, and yes, you are going to have to spend big, big bucks to get this all done, and although you are eligible for attorney's fees if your ex is found in contempt, most often, unless she has lots of money, the Court will award only a fraction of your attorney's fees.

I know parts of what I've written are not going to go over well with you because they refute your understanding of they way family law works in Washington. That said, if you spend time analyzing the statutes and case law, you will see that I am correct.

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Answered on 4/03/09, 6:42 pm

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