M.M.

I gave birth to my daughter when I was 19 yrs. old. The father married his present wife one month before our daughter was born and left for the military one week after her birth. I was already a licensed hairdresser so I was able to support us on my own with occasional but not frequent help from family, as I did all right. I started support proceedings in Lake County, Fl when my daughter was 2, but the father was stationed overseas so there was little they could do until he returned to the states. (He was not present at birth and not on her birth certificate because fathers have to sign.) I moved to Palm Beach County with my daughter and her little sister in 1997. The child support case was reopened down here in 1998, as the father was stateside then. A paternity test was done (father claims NOW that he did not know he had a child, but we wrote letters while he was stationed in Bosnia and his family never left me alone.)

Child support and visits with him were finalized in Aug. 1998. Judge Burkdall was our Judge then. In January, 1999 Phillips was rotated back into family court after he apparently recovered from a severe accident. In March, 1999, seven months after everything was established and finalized, the father filed for custody. He was out of state at the time, and dropped that. Then he filed 5 contempts in a period of 2 yrs. Only one was held against me, for a Mother’s Day weekend I did not give the father. I gave the father everything he wanted in all mediations, and got screwed out of almost six years of back child support.

The father then moved back into Florida. He was aware that my husband and I were moving, and actually close to where the father had been living out of state. The father had never filed for in state visits, so the Judge said I was within my legal bounds to move but he did not like it. When I did move, the father filed for custody. I came back after only 2 months because my marriage could not bear the strain of all this any longer. We had our trial and I had an attorney who did not prepare any evidence. The bottom line was the Judge ruled on us as if we were once a married couple, which violates my civil rights as marital status is in there with race and religion. It paints a different picture of our story. The father is still with that woman and they are childless after 11 yrs; she swore a long time ago to take my child from me. So judge Phillips said there was a constant problem with me because of all the contempts filed, but he ignored that fact that all but one minor one was denied!! He said I moved out of state without court permission or notice to the father which is a lie—the court file PROVES the lie!! The father presented no evidence that I was not treating her ADD, which I was and attending her dental needs, which I was, but Judge Phillips was so irrational and maniacal that day, that he required no proof. He ripped my daughter from me and her sister even though her dad had abandoned her at birth and the only reason he was around at this point was because I filed for support. Now they do everything to brainwash her, and thwart visits. My daughter is the one who loses most from this conflict, exacerbated by Judge Phillips unprofessional decisions.

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