Friday, December 3rd seemed like an ordinary day. The kids went to school, Michael and I went to work. Michael and I were working full time and so the kids would go from school to afterschool, which is where Danny's dad would pick him up to begin their weekend visitation. Around 2:40pm, I received a text from Danny's dad that he was waiting for Danny's school bus to arrive.
Around 6:40pm I was driving home from work and I received a call from Michael. "Babe, there's a police officer here who wants to talk to you." I asked to speak to him and was told that the officer wanted to talk to me in person. I told Michael I was still about 20 minutes away and would be there as soon as I could. I hung up the phone with my hubby and my mind started racing. Was Danny & his dad okay? Had there been an accident? I didn't want to start calling people to make sure they were alright just in case that isn't what the officer wanted to talk to me about. I thought about the woman whom I had to file a witness report about a few weeks earlier, wondered if it was about that.
By the time I got home, my mind needed a break. The officer has told Michael to call dispatch once I had arrived home so he could return knowing I was there. We waited and waited. About 20 minutes after I arrived home the officer returned to talk to me, I met him in the yard. "Ma'am, do you have a six year old son?" Gasp. "Yes." "Was he picked up by his father this afternoon?" Another gasp. "Yes, are they alright?" "Yes, ma'am. Did you give your son hot sauce as punishment?" I looked at the officer wondering what he was getting at but answered honestly, "yes, last night." "When was the last time you saw your son," he asked. "This morning at 6:45am when I kissed him good-bye for school. Why," I replied. "Did you son have a rash on his face at that time," he asked. "No he did not, there was nothing on his face. It was 30 degrees out this morning, he might have some chapping underneath his lip because he bites it but there wasn't anything on his face this morning," I answered.
Then he and I talked about using hot sauce as punishment and whether it was the same as using soap to wash a child's mouth out. The officer shared that one of his fellow officers puts hot sauce on their children's fingers to keep them from biting their nails. I asked him if I had anything to worry about and he said no. He was just told he needed to come ask me about Danny and file his report. The school hadn't called me, the afterschool place hadn't called me, what was this rash that the officer was talking about?
I called Danny's dad at that point. He asked me if I had given Danny hot sauce and I told him yes. He then exploded in an a "I got you!" way, throwing accusations and labels of abuse at me, "I have you on tape!" He was recording our phone conversation. I told him that he was blowing things way out of proportion and that he should have called me before calling the police. He then told me that he didn't call the police, a physician did. A physician? I asked him if Danny was alright and he said yes, except for the rash he had on his mouth that Danny was saying that came from the hot sauce I had given him the night before. I asked to see a picture of Danny, his dad refused. I asked to see the physician report, his dad refused. I told him again that he was blowing the situation way out of proportion and that all that was needed was a conversation between him and I about parenting techniques.
It was about 8:30pm at that point and Danny was three hours plus away in Georgia at his dad's house. I couldn't decide if I needed to go get him or not, I didn't want to cause Danny any stress by showing up to reclaim him because his dad was acting off his rocker and not giving me any information. I called the police department where his dad lives and asked for them to go to the house and check on Danny. The police officer went and called me back, said Danny was physically fine and a very happy child. He said that Danny asked him about being a police officer and said that Danny was watching tv when he arrived. Okay, my momma bear could calm down a little, he was fine although his dad seemed to have gone off the deep end.
The next day (Saturday), I went to work. I only work until about 2:30pm on some Saturdays and when I left that day I saw that I had a voicemail message and text message on my cell phone. The text message was gibberish sent by Danny's dad. The voicemail was clear, "I'm calling to inform you as per my attorney, Mr. Blankety Blank name of City, Georgia, that I will be in front of the Honorable Judge Whatshis where he is going to sign Danny over to me, full custody. You can fight it if you wish but until then, Danny is all mine." ON A SATURDAY AFTERNOON! I listened to that message about five times before it really sank in what was happening.
I called my parents and told them what was happening. They didn't understand how custody could be signed over on a weekend either. I called every government agency I could find in Georgia and South Carolina was unable to reach anyone. I called all day Saturday and Sunday and all I could reach is the police departments. The Georgia police department said that if my ex had been able to get a judge to sign a paper that it was legal.
State of Georgia
Civil Action, File # _____________
Petition for Change of Custody
l. Comes now Plaintiff and files the following petition for a clange in custody of his
minor child, namely Daniel , DOB , which child is now
located in , Georgia in a state of deprivation and abuse, and this court
has jurisdiction over the welfare of this child.
2. The parties were divorced in , Georgia on or about , 2009, a copy
of which is attached to and made "part of this petition" as Exhibit A.
3. The parties were awarded joint custody of the child with Defendant designated as
primary custodian. The child is now in the custody ofthe Plaintiff during regular
scheduled visitation and is found to be in a state of physical and emotional abuse,
suffered at the hand of the Defendant. The minor child was found to be suffering from
corporal punishment and Defendant has admitted to Plaintiffand to ) that she administers hot
sauce which causes the child to break out in red splotches as a consequence. Plaintiff
contacted Defendant who readily admits that she administers hot sauce as punishment,
which conduct is abusive to the minor child and contrary to the appropriate care and
welfare of said child. Plaintiffis awaiting a complete investigation of this matter by local
authorities and is in need of an Order of Protection, pending such investigation requesting
that the minor child will remain in the custody of the Plaintiff pending further inquiry.
Petitioner shows that there has been a substantial change in circumstance, materially
affecting the welfare of said minor child. Plaintiff requests that the Defendant be ordered
to show just cause why said child has been placed in a state of deprivation and abuse and
why custody should not be changed to remain with Petitioner, wherefore Plaintiff that an
Order Nisi requiring Defendant to be and appear and show cause why custody should not
be awarded to and continue in Plaintiff and the Plaintiff have other relief as said best
interest in the child.
Sworn to and subscribed before me
this 4th day of December 2010
Signed by my ex, with Pro Se under his name and the Judge's signature. No civil action file number, no stamps of notary, no court stamp or anything to indicate it happened IN court. The police departments in Georgia and South Carolina said it was legal, it was highly unusual but legal.
This was emailed to me finally at 10:28pm on 12/4/2010. My ex still hadn't provided any pictures or physician report of Danny and was not answering my calls. He told me to direct all communication to his lawyer. A man that I called on Saturday afternoon and had no clue about a hearing with a judge but had talked to my ex earlier that day.
I called my police department and asked to speak to the same officer I had on Friday. He came back by our house and I showed him the Petition and what my ex was saying that I and he had said. The officer looked at it and said he didn't say those things in his report. He advised me to get a lawyer right away and to also go to the police station and get his copy of the report. He said that my ex had argued with him on the phone to arrest me on Friday night. Monday, I called around in Georgia to find a lawyer and to get as many answers as I could. I called all the government agencies again, only to find out that Georgia Department of Family Services didn't have a case against me, and that most people thought the entire situation to be out of the norm and very odd how a child's custody could be changed on the weekend.
Tuesday, we drove to Georgia to meet with lawyers. We hired one around 3pm on Tuesday. When we returned home from driving all day, we had a notice on the door that S.C.'s Department of Social Services had visited and wanted us to call. I called 4x and received no answer but left 4 messages. I got a call back a few hours later and made an appointment for the following day at 5:30pm to speak to the caseworker at our home.
to be continued....