Defending Dads

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The Day Of

For the two weeks leading up to October 26, 2016, that date loomed over my life like a blood moon. As of 10:00 AM that morning, a custody conference would be held to determine whether I should be tried for contempt of an order issued two years prior.

At issue were my decisions to suspend (a) communication with the plaintiff and (b) regular visitation with my children. These decisions were based on several factors, chief of which had been the long-established and ongoing failure of the other side to act in good faith and my determination to set my affairs in order post…everything!

I had tried without success to raise money to cover legal expenses via a GoFundMe page. I had no choice but to walk into the torrid expanse of a legal desert without a canteen.

In the days leading up to the conference, I agonized over how best to prepare. The old saying holds that the truth shall set you free, but this had been far from my experience with Northampton County courts.

Curiously, by nightfall of October 25, I felt little trace of the phobia that typically gripped me before a court date. The absence of that crippling dread left me free to concentrate on the conference rather than my intense aversion to the process.

I looked over the notice of conference I received through the mail. It cited rules of Northampton County’s civil procedure. I reviewed those rules.

According to the rules of service, several items should have accompanied the notice of conference. There was no trace of these items. To my thinking, my law review was done.

Having worked for a preeminent law firm for a several years, I knew that my effort, while fruitful, had fallen far short of the standard of due diligence. I cut things off to help manage my emotions. Helping my cause is getting easier, but it is still exceedingly difficult to sustain objectivity.

Regardless, I know that a plaintiff’s failure to properly serve a defendant in a proceeding has the effect of an emergency brake triggered on a speeding train. I was tentatively emboldened by this realization. I drifted off to sleep marveling that I was so at peace the night before court.

At 4:00 AM the morning of the 26th, I hit the floor. Typically, I would wash up and head to the gym, but that morning was all about the conference. I planted myself in front of my laptop and, within minutes, my notion of plaintiff’s failure to properly serve notice became an affidavit ready for notarization and submission for the record.

At the appointed time, I walked into the Northampton County court house with only my wallet, keys, a blank stare, an open mind and a notarized affidavit. I hadn’t bothered to analyze my new-found confidence, but I knew that the truth was on my side and my relationships with the kids were at stake. Maybe determination to do right by them has finally overridden my utter disgust for the entire divorce process.

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