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unbelievable what our court systems can jurisdict in the privacy of our homes..one must wonder what lurks under the robe of some judges casting their opinions on us?
i have joint split custody of a 6 yo child. i have endured a decade of horrific verbal abuse with her father when i decided to physically bail out on him over a year ago.(i took my daughter along and got severely reprimanded for that!) there are many outstanding legal issues to be hashed out before a divorce decree will be issued. however in the meantime, i have met a wonderful, compassionate man who treats me and my daughter like royalty. his treatment towards me is unlike anything i have ever had, nor remotely CLOSE to what i had had with my estranged husband. we live towns apart and are together daily, be it his place or mine. he plays an active and healthy role towards my daughter when she is in my custody. she witnesses a man treating mom with dignity and respect. i view this as invaluable information for her to relate to any future relationships she will eventually incur. her father however, still attempts manipulation and control over me and what i do away from him. i am in a financial bind due to the ongoing legal battles and my boyfriend and i are seriously considering a live in situation come fall this year. i am terrified my someday(ex) will file for full custody due to this arrangement, simply for control and punishment towards me (for finding a better life)..i suspect strongly that my husband has BPD or some serious form of personality disorder, and is a high profile in my community. so far the local courts have amazed me with their rulings (def. in his favor so far) and i am very gunshy and disenchanted with the legal system in my county. i want desparately to begin a new and healthy family unit with my BF..we would marry but i cant as i am legally married and will be for some time. my daughter witnesses first hand a healthy couple interaction, and sharing our expenses would alleviate the stress in that area and allow for more pleasurable activities and vacations. but i would absolutely be devestated to lose even one hour with my daughter due to this pending decision! o god to hear that has happened to some of you is heartbreaking! i live in PA...any thoughts?

I am not in this exact situation and don't live with my boyfriend but we spend as much time together as possible especially when the kids are around so they can get used to me and get to know me and vice versa, as we are planning to get married in the near future. My boyfriend and I have dated now for almost a year and its extremely hard to determine what can be done and what cannot. For example, in order to go on a camping trip with him and the kids, do i have to leave at a certain time or just stay in another tent? Is staying in another tent the same as sleeping in another room of a home or .... See what i mean? Just planning simple vacations, etc. is a hastle. I feel that the children should be put first as far as protecting them and their best interests, and this situation is not about me or my boyfriend or his ex-wife, its about them and each situation is unique. I think the courts in this country should keep that in mind, and customize the verdicts to each child, and see what would be best for them. If a child is stable in a home where a girlfriend or boyfriend is living with them and loving them as a new guardian and caregiver, i see no problem.

America the land of the FREE???????
i am sorry, but the courts are getting involved too much, marriage to me is a piece of paper, i feel as long as people are getting along paper or not, as long as certain things happen behind closed doors, i do not see any harm in this, the only thing i would not agree on if there is a constant partner change, this would not be good. i feel that everyone has the right of starting a new life with some one new without having to jump into marriage out of fear what the ex might come up with next to make life a misery.

Please remember that this has to do with what is in the best interest of the children....not the father....not the mother. Can we forget about ourselves and our own selfish needs for the sake of our children? Haven't they been through enough already? Most have not only lost their family unit, but their home and many of their friends due to the divorce of their parents. Love is all about putting someone else's needs before your own. If you can't...then marry the person you're living with.

I am facing the same situation in South Carolina. This law is unbelievable. How could the government force you to be married? How could the law control your relationship? It is an absolute violation of Rights and I would like to know how to challenge the law in my state. Any help is appreciated. xxenom@msn.com

If your engaged is it ok to live together or is that piece of paper needed? Forcing marrages to live together will only cause more devorces. Only thing taught to children will be marrage means nothing and its easy to get in and out of it.

I am currently in the same situation. I have been living with my girlfriend for 13 months now. Because of my work schedule and this ridiculous law, I have seen my two girls for a total of around 10 hours in one month. It is becoming a strain on my current relationship. Although I know inside that my girlfriend is not the reason, I sometimes find myself holding it against her that I can not see my children more often. Any updates on this case would be much appreciated. scottmanbg@yahoo.com

I PERSONALLY WAS IN THE SAME SITUATION WITH A WAYNE COUNTY MICHIGN JUDGE. SHE REMOVED MY CHILD FROM MY CUSTODY BECAUSE I LIVED WITH SOMEONE. SHE DID NOT TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THAT I HAVE LIVED WITH THIS PERSON FOR OVER A YEAR BEFORE SHE TOOK CUSTODY. IT HAS NOW BEEN ALMOST 4 YEARS THAT I HAVE BEEN WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER, AND THE JUDGE WILL NOT CHANGE HER MIND. I FEEL THAT IF FAMILY COURT JUDGES THINK THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO FORCE YOU INTO MARIAGE JUST TO MAINTAIN CUSTODY OF YOUR CHILDREN, THEY ARE COMPLETELY WRONG.

Times are changing. It is not the covenant of marriage that makes a happy well balanced home, it is the love and comittment that two people have for one another and the example that they set for the children. If you treat each other with respect, admiration, joy and love, your children are having wonderful role models. A certificate of marriage does not make this happen. Two people do. The courts have no business ruling on this. Save the time in the courts for the real cases that affect the safety of our children, not on things like this.

Hi, the cohabiting life-mate here. Actually, the trial court's conclusion that Mr. Muller didn't express his views on cohabitation is nonsensical, made clear by the transcripts. Also made clear in the transcripts was the perspective of the custodial parent (Plaintiff).

Personally, I am appalled. My faith in our judicial system and it's role as a protector of our freedoms have been shattered.

From the appeal brief (page references to transcripts):

Plaintiff testified that she cohabited prior to marriage (page 71). Plaintiff also testified that premarital overnight visitations were "something that [she] never believed in, in the first place..."(page 71). Plaintiff testified that her initial request was for Defendant to wait six months before having his girlfriend spend the night when children were present but that she later changed her mind (page 70). Plaintiff testified that she "asked [Defendant] to compromise with [Plaintiff]" yet did not find the compromise of three months, which was a direct split of the difference of time between their opinions, suggested by the family counselor they consulted on the issue (page 17), reasonable. Plaintiff testified that she "wanted him to wait so bad" and that she "felt kind of helpless" (page 70). Plaintiff testified that the lack of "the piece of paper that sanctifies the marriage" (page 72) was her only objection to Defendant’s girlfriend being in the home overnight when minor children were present.

...Plaintiff stated that initially she asked Defendant to wait six months. When no agreement could be reached, Plaintiff requested family counseling. Plaintiff then rejected the compromise proposed by the family counselor. Plaintiff testified that she felt helpless. When asked if her objections would be nullified by engagement, Plaintiff testified "I would like them to be married." (page 71) Defendant holds that this court action and Plaintiff’s "moral" objections are the tools with which she exacted her control over an ex-husband who would not submit to her will.

Defendant testified that he loved his girlfriend, is committed to her, and is willing to make a lifetime commitment to her (page 28). Defendant stated that he found that "it’s highly important to have commitment" for the sake of a child (page 32) and that he and his girlfriend "want to grow old together". Defendant’s girlfriend, Ms. Moon, later testified that her intentions in regard to her relationship with Defendant were "to spend [her] life with him." (page 60) It was acknowledged by Plaintiff’s counsel that girlfriend has strong moral objections to the current institution of marriage and that Defendant was "trying to make it a partnership, so [Defendant is] sensitive to that" (page 29). When asked about the drawbacks to not being married, Defendant stated that "There’s nothing at this point... that have any relevance to our situation" (page 34). Defendant stated that he had personal objections to getting married for the wrong reasons (page 30 and 31) and that to get married "because the court is precluding a full relationship which includes cohabitation in order to continue with [Defendant’s] overnight visitation with [Defendant’s] children" "would be the wrong reason"...

...The trial court dismissed Defendant’s beliefs and upheld without question Plaintiff’s "moral" beliefs despite the multiple contradictions in her admissions and behaviors.

Defendant holds that his beliefs as expressed are in and of themselves affirmative moral beliefs and should not have been devalued by the trial court. Defendant holds that the trial court committed abuse of discretion both by denying the importance of Defendant’s beliefs and emphasizing the importance of the unquestioned but questionable "moral" beliefs of Plaintiff.

I am the appellant in this case and cannot afford an attorney to take this before the state Supreme Court, but am reluctantly prepared to go in pro-per. If there is an attorney interested in the chance to change law, an willing to work pro bono, please contact me at cmuller001@yahoo.com or 248-981-1036

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