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Custody and the Boy Who Cried Wolf

Tonight's post on The Boy Who Cried Wolf in a custody case was written by our Savannah family law attorney, David Purvis.

I have previously discussed my concerns with the abuse of the ex parte process in family law. This week I watched an opposing party go down in flames for an abuse of that very ex parte emergency process.

Four times in two different counties in the past eight months, this guy filed an "emergency" motion for a change of custody. FOUR TIMES! And on all four occasions, his petition was dismissed. Not once did he present a shred of evidence that showed that his children were in any danger or that there was any actual emergency that required a judge to push the other 300+ open cases on their dockets to the side to hear his pleas immediately.

At this most recent hearing this week, the boy who cried wolf made another appearance. The judge very rightly denied his petition for modification of custody, but still allowed for an unscheduled visitation to occur that evening since opposing party had driven 5 hours to be in court here in Savannah and the children live here in Savannah. All afternoon in court, opposing party kept telling the judge "I just want more time with my children." We had no objection to him seeing his children that evening and the judge set out a dinner visitation. Guess who did not show up to dinner? That's right, the boy who cried wolf.

Opposing party's intentions have been made crystal clear to all involved by crying wolf. His true intent is not more time-on-task with his children. If it were, he would have shown up for dinner this week. He would have squeezed every precious minute of time with his children he could. He would have taken the extra time given to him by the judge and made the most of it.

That's really what we all want from our co-parenting situations - that both parents have as much time as possible with their children. But opposing party's true intentions were made clear at both the hearing and his failure to show for visitation - he is filing these actions to harass his ex. Every time he files one of these "emergency" actions, his ex has to hire an attorney, take time off of work, and defend herself.

Aside from making opposing party pay for his ex's attorneys fees and costs for these non-emergency, frivolous actions, there are no prophylactics to prevent opposing party from filing again or from claiming an emergency. There is no way of closing the courthouse doors to him and I don't think we should. One day there may be an actual emergency. Whether anyone listens if and when the wolf does come is an entirely different story.

David Purvis

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