Grounds for Custody Appeal?

Updated on April 10, 2012
G.G. asks from Erie, PA
8 answers

First off, I live in PA with my children and their father lives in IL.
We just had our second custody mediation last week, he had not even seen the kids in over 5 years at the time of the first mediation (and had been absent from their lives for almost 8 years other than 3 couple hour visits), I agreed to discuss him having them for part of the summer at the second mediation if he: 1. kept in contact with them over the 6 months between mediations, and 2. visited with them over Christmas and then over Spring break (our second mediation was scheduled during spring break so he could see the kids before mediation). He called them maybe 5 times in those 6 months, the last time was on December 9th. He did not come for Christmas after promising our daughter he would, and he did not even call them at all on Christmas and when we tried to call him, his phone was disconnected.
We set up a plan for him to see them before mediation, and he never showed, and then on the day of mediation he did not appear. I was given full legal and physical custody but he is allowed visits with them as mutually agreed upon by me. He is now threatening to appeal this decision, and I am not fearful that we will have to go to court, mostly because I do not have the money to get a lawyer. Is him missing mediation and losing custody as a result grounds for an appeal?
The mediator asked me if he had come for Christmas, I told her that he had not (I did not get into the whole thing of him telling our daughter he would be here, I just simply stated he did not come). She also asked me if he had been maintaining phone calls with them, and I told her no (I have a complete log of his calls to them including duration of the calls, and times they tried to get a hold of him and were unable to). She asked me if we were able to get a hold of him if we needed to and I told her that the last time I had tried to get a hold of him that his phone had been disconnected. She said, that we could not have me waiting in an emergency situation for him to return a call or someone to be able to get a hold of him when he has proven unreliable, and gave me full legal custody, she also stated that since he had not kept up with visits or calls she was recommending full physical custody as well. I asked her if I could still allow him visits and she said she would put a "by mutual agreement" clause in the order so he could still see them.
He told me this weekend that he stopped calling because when he did I made him feel bad. But, when he calls the kids, I never answer the phone, I always give it to the kids to answer, so he never even talks to me, I am unsure how I make him feel bad. The mediator told him flat out at our first mediation that he needed to call them several times a week, where they live, he told the mediator that he had not been calling because he was afraid I would yell at him. The mediator looked at him and said "Who cares? you are not calling to talk to her, you are calling for your kids" I have told him for years that I would let the kids answer, we have caller ID and I have no desire to speak to him, why would I answer, unless the kids are not home.
He also told me he has never sent them gifts or cards because he does not trust me, but his mother lives 7 blocks from us, he could have sent gifts or cards there.
I told him he had no excuse for missing the mediation, he was the one who picked the date, he had 2 copies of the order of the court with the date on each, just as I did. And, if he had any doubt of the day he could have 1. found his papers, 2. called or messaged me and asked me or 3. called the custody office for the exact day.
He is in town this week, and I took them to see him at his mom's house for a few hours, while they were there his girlfriend signed them up for email addresses and Facebook accounts (the kids are 9 and 11), and he and his girlfriend both told the kids that I had been keeping them from him and that I had said that they were scared to go see their father, and that if I would allow them to go to Illinois he would pay for everything and I would not have to pay for anything. I called him and asked him nicely about the facebook accounts and he said he didn't think it was a big deal and didn't think he should have had to discuss it with me (even though they had to lie about the kids' ages to sign them up for accounts because you are supposed to be 13 before you can get one), and when I asked him to please stop talking badly about me in front of the kids (and that we are not supposed to be talking negatively about each other in front of the kids because it was ordered in the custody ordered) he said he was not lying to them and he felt like they deserved to know why they have not been allowed to go to see him at his house and that he was not talking negatively about me.
I guess my question is two-fold...will he be able to file the appeal? and does he even stand a chance if he can? Thanks!

Also - In PA the mediator makes a recommendation to the judge based on what happened in mediation (if one party does not show or the parties do not agree) the judge then makes a decision and signs an order. I have a signed order from the judge saying I have full custody of the children.

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So What Happened?

He served me with the papers today to take custody to an adversarial hearing. I am scared and nervous, but I have documented everything that has happend in the past six months and have all of his emails since the day he left. I know exactly what he is going to try to say, so I just have to prove that he is lying and every other lie he has told will fall apart. I hope and pray that this judge sees his lies for what they are.

Featured Answers



answers from Dallas on

He could file an appeal but from the sound of it i really doubt he will. Also even if he does the chances of him winning are not good given his previous behavior.

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answers from Charlotte on

Call your mediator this week and talk about it. If you have a lawyer, talk about it with the lawyer. No one here can give you the advice you NEED. They can only give you opinions.

It would be helpful for you to put the link of your other thread here.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Well I don't know how it is in PA, but in MO mediation paperwork has no real legal ground unless it's filed within the court system, which most of the time it is not. It's supposed to be a settled upon agreement between the two parties. So yes, he has every ability to file and appeal and ask for a judge to hear the case instead of a mediator. Especially since HE didn't agree to the actions of the mediator. Now whether or not it will change anything is a totally different thing. Judges are going to look at the same things the mediator looked at and make decisions from there. I would keep all the documents in place that show when he calls, when your kids try to call, etc. Also, a judge will want to know what efforts you made to let him see them. The fact that you asked for a clause shows your trying to make sure your kids have a father.

Honestly though, it sounds like he's saying it more to get under your skin. If he hasn't been fighting to see them up to this point, it's probably for a reason. I have a friend whose kids mother actually is refusing to let him see them, but I have NO sympathy for him because he doesnt want to assert his rights as the father because he doesn't want the court to order child support on him.



answers from Philadelphia on

His appeal sounds like a threat just to scare you. This man seems to follow through on hardly anything. If he does appeal you and the mediator have a good record of his behavior and anyone can see his blaming you are just excuses for irresponsible behavior. If it comes down to going to court I would make the argument that that in last 5 yrs you have not had the opportunity to really know this mans lifestyle bc he is so inconsistent in seeing his children. Bc of that for the time being or until he shows real effort you do not want him taking your children out of state( I'd say overnight but I'm not sure the court will side with you!)
Also complete rant here! It is 100% selfish to bring your gf to see your children w you when you hardly see your children. I think it's proof he really doesn't want to interact with them. Really! He couldn't leave his gf one day of his life to see his kids!!!! Ppl are selfish!
Good luck!


answers from Bangor on

Anybody can appeal an agreement for any reason they choose. Whether or not it gets granted is another issue. An appeal will not be granted on the basis of someone missing a scheduled date unless they can prove they had "good cause" such as an unexpected hospitalization, etc. That being said, even if he does file the appeal, and a court agrees to hear it, he only has about a 1% chance of winning anything. And even then, the only thing the judge or mediator will give him is more visitation rights.

As far as his actions, they speak very clearly for themselves. No mediator, judge, or anybody else that looks at the facts is going to believe what he is trying to claim. He would need proof of anything he brings to court. Proof that he obviously does not have. In the off chance he does fabricate some kind of proof, you still have the right to present your argument, and thus disprove anything he tries to claim, as well as once again bringing up his actions (not calling, visiting, lying, badmouthing you, etc.)

I really think you have nothing to worry about. Things should stay as they are. Try not to stress yourself and keep going the way you are going. You are doing a wonderful job in a hard situation.


answers from San Francisco on

Although he *could* appeal, it seems very unlikely, based on his past behavior, that he actually would. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that your children are fooled. At 9 and 11, they know their father is feeding them a line of BS. He won't contact them on Facebook any more than he did on the phone. (Just to be on the safe side, google how to kid-safe the Facebook accounts so you don't end up with weirdos trying to contact your kids online.)

Even if he does pull his act together and appeal the custody decision, on what grounds would he do so? His track record is dismal, and the mediator is on your side here. I don't think you have anything to worry about. I'm sorry you're having to deal with all of this. Hang in there.



answers from Cumberland on

He can file appeals all day and every day-he will have to pay a filing fee each time-I doubt he stands a chance-and I would not let a person who cannot even pick up the phone and call his children to keep the children for even one hour unsupervised, much less one night-not to mention his comfort level with lying in front of them. He's afraid you'll yell at him? Boo freaking hoo. He's not afraid of the damge he's doing to his children. He should be willing to endure a whipping for the privilege of being with his children. I also think the girlfriend is the one behind his sudden interest-not sure what her motivation is-but I bet it has something to do with money.



answers from Boston on

Sure he can file an appeal, but I doubt he will. This is a guy who can't be bothered to call his kids and then tries to lay the blame on being afraid of being "yelled at" over the phone by you, their big, bad scary mommy (and you seem perfectly calm and reasonable to me)? Sounds like all talk and no action. I wouldn't worry about the appeal - you've done everything right, he's done everything wrong. Even if he does file, he may not have grounds to get the appeal heard.

Keep doing what you're doing - document everything, continue to be calm and rational, and don't worry about this until or unless he actually does something.

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