Wednesday, January 09, 2008

We've been blindsided, and we need help - 5 updates

I'd originally intended to write a very different post, but circumstances have changed.

... I can't begin to tell you how hard this is for me to write...

We've been blindsided, and we need help.

We need to raise $30,000 in the next two to four weeks, or our children could be taken away from us by a foreign court, hostile to Americans, and hostile to gun owners.

As you may know, we've been in the middle of a very long, and very nasty custody battle with only two possible outcomes: full custody for us, or full custody for my ex-husband. We have attempted to be reasonable and accommodating at all turns, but he is doing everything he can to obstruct and harass us.

So far we've won, and he has lost; every court case, every motion, every mediation. Every request he has made of the court has been denied. Every claim he has made has been disproved. Every action they have moved for has been denied or dismissed.

We have won, over and over again. We WILL win this case, as long as we can stay afloat.

We can't stay afloat much longer.

We've racked up $38,000 in legal bills over the last two years, fighting for the kids; against my ex-husband, who despite his low chances of succeeding is still intent on using loopholes in the legal system to try and steal custody of the kids.

It's not as if he really wants the kids either. If he was really concerned with the best interests of the kids, he would not have reneged on the original negotiations, or he would have settled with us.

Instead he's accused me of violating an international treaty and kidnapping the kids. He's already lost the case in the AZ District Court, where the judge essentially threw him out on his ass. He narrowly missed defaulting twice in fact, because he refused to respond to a US court; while in the mean time, he was filing Canadian motions, without serving us with notice of them. He then tried to use those motions as a basis for his claims in US court.

They threw him out on his ass. He had clearly acted in bad faith. In fact, he was caught lying on the stand, and forced to admit it, not just once, but twice.

At this point, he has no legal or factual basis to continue; but he has one other tactic. He can try and bankrupt us by filing useless motions.

That's what he's decided to do. After his last defeat, he appealed to the 9th Circuit.

Our reply to his 175 page appeal brief (which was simply a restatement of all the arguments that the other courts had previously rejected) cost us $10,000 ALONE, and we're still paying it off.

Remember, that's just the paperwork.

That's not the problem though.

The appeal and reply breifs were filed in September. We were scheduled for standard track; and normally it takes the 9th Circuit 18 months to 2 years or so to review a case and schedule oral arguments.

Well, two weeks ago, they revised our case to fast track; and scheduled a supervised mediation session between both lawyers.

Yesterday the lawyers and mediator held a teleconference, and all attempts at mediation failed. My ex husband absolutely refused any negotiation, and insisted on moving ahead with oral arguments.

From the point mediation fails, the oral arguments are scheduled for 2-4 weeks from the date of mediation.

2-4 WEEKS, maybe less. As soon as the end of this month, and almost definitely before the end of February the oral arguments will be held.

In order to present our case to the 3 judge panel and take his place in the oral arguments, our lawyer has to fly to San Francisco and spend (most likely) 3 days in court. His flight, lodging, meals, and most importantly TIME are all our responsibility, as is the week or more of full-time work preparing his arguments and catching up on all precedent which may help or hinder us.

The estimate for all of this? $20,000.

We were expecting this kind of cost. We were keeping up with out bills, paying down about $2000 a month, plus our initial retainer and deposit.

Unfortunately my ex forced a flurry of paperwork and meetings in November and December, which put us behind about $10,000. We've paid out another $2000... but now there's this $20,000 balloon.

We would have been alright, because we expected to have 2 years or so to save up and pay for it. As of right now though, we don't have a shot in hell of paying for it, especially on top of the $8,000 we still owe.

If we don't send our lawyer to San Francisco to plead our case, there's a real possibility that he will win the appeal by default.

We've requested that the case be heard on the filed briefs alone (there's really nothing to say in the oral arguments that isn't in the briefs); but my ex is refusing anything but the most expensive possible course of action. He knows that he has no legal ground to stand on; his only hope is to bankrupt us and make us lose by default, or give up.

If he wins his appeal, the jurisdiction for this case will most likely be moved up to Canada, which is ultimately what my ex-husband wants.

You see, his central argument for being granted custody absolutely depends on receiving favorable treatment from a Canadian court.

Why?

Well, the ONLY reason he's EVER given for why the kids are better off with him, is because we have an "unsafe" home environment.

The reason he claims our household is unsafe?

Well, because we have guns of course. He's tried to convince that court that the mere presence of firearms in the house is a danger to the children.

No questions about safe storage. No questions about how we've educated the kids (who know what to do if they see a gun NOT in the possession of an adult). Just hysteria over the presence of firearms in our house.

In fact, he tried to claim he felt threatened by the fact that I personally own and carry a gun. He tried to equate gun ownership with child abuse, and drug use.

Obviously this approach has not worked here in Arizona, or federally. Both the county, and district court judges literally told their lawyer to stop making the argument, because it carried no water with them.

... But if the case is sent to Canada, even if we could afford to hire new lawyers and travel back and forth, we would still be screwed. Every bit of our involvement with firearms and 2nd Amendment rights would be hauled out in front of the judge; and they would most likely listen to his tripe about firearms in the home being the equivalent of child abuse.

Unfortunately between current attitudes in major Canadian cities concerning private ownership of firearms, decades of left-wingers appointing judges, and the blatant anti-Americanism of the Canadian courts, we'd most likely be screwed. IF we could even afford to fight.

Even the district court judge noted that he believed the Canadian court would be unfairly prejudiced against us based on this argument.

My ex-husband knows this. He knows that we can't afford for this fight to go to Canada.

So, in order to prevent us from fighting he and his mother have been using the insurance money from her HOUSE BURNING DOWN WITH HER HUSBAND IN IT.

No, that's no joke. His mother recieved a $250,000 insurance settlement when her house burned down with her husband in it. Rather than buy a new house, they've been using the money to draw us into ultimately fruitless, and malicious legal battles. They are intentionally bleeding us dry financially, so we can't fight them in court.

Up 'til now, this tactic hasn't worked; but we're out of money. Chris has gone through all of his savings and assets, and his family can't help. Neither can mine.

As of today, we can't come up with the additional $20,000 necessary; or the $8000 to cover the bills that have already accrued.

We have no family who can help, we can't take out a mortgage because we don't own the house, we have no collateral to secure a personal loan...

...we're screwed.

Why spend all of this money to draw us into legal battles? Well it's obviously not to give the kids a happy, secure life.

All of this money spent on stupid, pointless, and malicious legal wrangling should have been spent on the kids. They should have used the insurance money to buy a new house and prove that they have a stable home environment for the kids. We should have been able to use our money to buy the house we're in, and do things like take the kids to Disneyland.

But the kids aren't the point. It's not about the kids at all to them.

It's about me.

They want to punish me for leaving. For escaping an abusive situation and taking the kids with me. They want to destroy my new, happy life.

Over 3 years of being dragged into court have taught me that all they want is to WIN. If they wanted anything less than my total destruction, this all would have been over years ago.

Instead they've been waiting for Chris to get fed up with the situation and leave, or for us to run out of money. Obviously Chris hasn't left and will never leave, but we have run out of money to fight this battle.

I hate broadcasting all of this personal information, but I don't have a choice. These are my KIDS he may be stealing from us.

They're everything to me.

I CAN NOT let my ex-husband take them, because he will most likely do everything in his power to make it so I can never see them again. He has said exactly that; vowing that if they ever return to Canada we will never see them again.

If we don't come up with the money I can't keep fighting for what's right for the kids.

So please, please help us. We've run out of options, and we desperately need cash or ideas for raising money to keep us going, as we enter this last, and most expensive portion of the battle. Anything you can give, any IDEAS you can give, are greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Mel

UPDATE: I just wanted to let everyone know, thanks to your help and support, we've managed to raise enough to cover what we were behind on, all in the first 24 hours.

We're 1/3 of the way to having this thing beat. Now we just need to raise the rest of the funds to continue the case.

I know it's completely inadequate, words aren't enough; but thank you all so much.

UPDATE 2, Midnight, Janary 12th: After two days, we've received over $16,000 in confirmed and booked donations; with an unknown amount on it's way to us by mail. We estimate it's about $4000 more, but we're not sure.

I'm shocked... just blown away by this. We posted this hoping that we'd get contributions from a few friends, and readers... instead, we've had over 300 donations, from $5 to $1500.

We've both been crying, this has just... how can you thank people for helping you save your kids?

On a more unpleasant note, we've also had the Ex, his family, and friends register at several sites that have linked to this posting; and post negative, false, and clearly libelous comments. They've also attempted to access Melodys email (something they've done before).

Best of all, we've got proof of all of it.

Somehow they don't seem to understand that there is no true anonymity on the net. There are always logs of everything, and where there are logs, there are backtraces.


UPDATE 3

My apologies to all of you I have yet to thank, I'm about halfway through the thank-yous. Something that needs our immediate attention has come up, and we must deal with it now. Thank you for all of your support.

UPDATE 4

Again I apologize, I'm falling further behind on the thank yous as donations keep coming in. I would never write a form letter or send a mass mail out for something like this, I need to thank you all individually. An email isn't nearly thanks enough, but at least it's a start.

As of last night, we've reached $18,000 confirmed, with another estimated $5000 coming in. We'll know better by the middle of next week. A fair few folks have pledged a donation after the 15th (pay day for a lot of people) or at the end of the month.

UPDATE 5 - Midnight, January 14th

Just a quick update... wow this has been incredible. As of midnight Sunday night/Monday morning, we've reached $20,000 confirmed; and still an unknown amount in checks coming in by mail. Some people have told us how much they're sending, some have not. We're currently estimating $5,000 more coming in; and if that's correct, we've only got another $5000 to go to reach our goal.

We received one check on Thursday, and we expect the rest to start arriving tomorrow; with hopefully most coming in by the end of the week so we know where we stand.

Thank you all so much for helping us.

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