Amidst a recent move, I had one of those conversations that happen for those of us who teach family law. My mover, Big Mike, about halfway through the day, discovered I taught family law. I saw the spark in his eyes. “Well then I really need to talk to you!” he said. Sometimes this means someone has had a terrible experience with a lawyer, or with a judge. After all, family law is one of the most common intersections that people have with lawyers. Just as often, they have a situation they want to discuss.
That was the case with Big Mike, who several trips later up and down the stairs, started to tell me his story, in the hopes that I might have some advice for him. What was fascinating about Big Mike’s story was what it revealed that is remarkably commonplace: the legal uncertainties and lack of support of non-marital families.
Big Mike has a son who is 11 years old. When his son was 11 months old, Big Mike came home to a cleaned out apartment, the baby’s mother gone along with his son and her 7 year old daughter. They had long since ended their relationship, but Mike thought they would work out how to raise their son together. Instead, she had decided to move to live with a friend in another state. Big Mike found them and made it clear that he wanted to remain in the life of his son. She responded by giving him the baby, and since then he has raised his son. His son’s mother made no further contact nor did she visit. She remained out of state with her daughter, and subsequently got into a relationship with a man who molested her daughter. She moved a number of times, and continued to make bad life choices. Meanwhile, Mike maintained contact with his son’s grandmother, who his son visits periodically. Recently the birthmom made contact with him, and her text made him concerned that she might want to try to establish a relationship with her son, or even might seek custody or visitation. The message indicated her regret for not being a good parent, but that she would like to make amends somehow. It also hinted at the possibility that she might move back to Florida. Read More