In 2001, I got full custody of my 7-month-old daughter while representing myself. The mother abandoned our daughter for 20 years with very little contact and gaps of no contact for 1, 3, 5 and 7 years. I’m a white male who raised my bi-racial daughter myself – defying what society thinks of single custodial dads. As of age 21, she was still living with me and dependent upon me for some things.
I was continually dragged in court by the mother’s 2nd attorney Don Ferrell who practiced for 50 years. He and the mother tried to block my 30 mile relocation (while she lived in California) and also attempted 7 restraining order motions and contempts. I also fought against 2 corrupt Guardian ad Litems and had all of their investigative reports thrown out or disregarded. I did my own contempt motions and child support modifications. This sometimes led me to the Court of Appeals. I’ve won some and lost some. I even was thrown in jail after being a no-show for a court hearing… a court hearing that I was never given notice about. So, I‘ve pretty much seen it all.
James’ family court experience:
- I volunteered with fathers’ rights groups like DADS America and The Other Parent.
- I worked as a Legal Assistant for the largest family-law-only firm in the Pacific Northwest (McKinley Irvin in Seattle).
- I’ve done contract work with several other attorneys.
- I worked as a clerk for judges at the courthouse.
- I was a Legal Assistant for Pierce County’s public defender (the Dept. of Assigned Counsel) in Tacoma, WA
- And most importantly, I’ve been helping fathers, mothers and grandparents one-on-one with my own work here. I’ve worked with almost 300 dads who also got full custody without a lawyer and 1,000’s more who got 50/50 or did better after they fired their attorney.
- I’ve also worked with dads who sued their own attorneys for malpractice, who wrote demand letters to schools, doctors, opposing attorneys and other officials and more.
- I’ve worked with countless mothers and father who represented themselves at trials that lasted 1 to 4 days, putting witnesses on the stand, cross examining them and presenting their exhibits and trial notebooks.
- I’ve also worked with dads and moms who have won in the Court of Appeals.
What I’ve learned since 2001 is what actually works in and out of the family court system when a parent is demanding their rights, and if they choose to still work with a con artist attorney, how to force that attorney to do their job or quit.
More details of James’ personal court battles & experience
In 2001, I was dragged into family court when my daughter was only a few weeks old. I was blindsided, shocked and felt betrayed. The mother and I had a good plan to raise our daughter, even though we were no longer together. I worked at night and we lived 3 blocks apart. I was going to care for her during the day, keep her out of day care and we would split time with her. But, the mother’s family didn’t like me so she had to follow their lead and cut me off.
The “cutting off” process started when I was served with an emergency restraining order at a doctor appointment (of all places), right as I walked out the pediatrician’s front door in Seattle, WA. I scrambled to find help and resources. Since I was a warehouse worker living paycheck to paycheck, I didn’t have $5,000 for a lawyer retainer. That’s what “fathers’ rights” con artist law firm “Goldberg and Jones” demanded. They actually told me that I’d only get every other weekend, even though I worked at night and the mother worked during the day. They didn’t even want to attempt to fight for me having day time visits during the week. See my video here (link) on that law firm that has been ripping off dads for decades.
Soon I discovered DADS of Washington, the state chapter of DADS America (which is now almost defunct). A mentor showed me a few things that helped get me on the right path on representing myself. (Nowadays, I literally share 100 times more information for free on my YouTube and Instram pages).
This is the short version of how my 7-month custody battle went. We had 2 hearings on the mother’s restraining order attempt. The judge refuse to grant a permanent order and the temporary “emergency” order was dropped. Despite the fact she had 6 witnesses and the rude bailiff on her side, I humiliated the mother and exposed her lies. Then I went to family court and got ZERO visitation in front of Pro Tem Commissioner. In Washington State commissioners handle family law matters. You can appeal a decision to a judge (called revision). So, I did. Then I got 5 days per week visitation. This time the mother had Attorney Mark B. Livas with her (17 years experience) and I made them both look stupid in open court. Then the mother violated that visitation time. I did a contempt motion. The appointed Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) on our case wrote a statement defending the mother. Despite being outnumbered 3 to 1 (the mother, her attorney and the GAL), I won my first try on contempt. Many attorneys tell dads, “Don’t do contempt. It will look too aggressive.” But, it’s THE ONLY way to hold the other side accountable. I got make up time for all 4 days I missed and the mother was sanctioned (penalized) $250 that she had to pay me.
Attorney Livas had sent me 170 written questions in Interrogatories and so I used common sense and re-typed the same exact questions and wrote them back to the mother which bombarded her with more paperwork and attorney fees. I now sell a packet of 6 different questionnaires.
Gal tries to sabotage my case
Eventually all of my getting on the offensive wore the mother down — especially with me winning several hearings and the mother spending $1,000’s on a lawyer just to lose. So, out of the blue, her attorney called me and offered to settle on me having custody.
But our corrupt, man-hating GAL, Megan Stanley (of Integrative Family Law) in Seattle, tried to block what the parties were willing to agree to. Megan tried to get me to sign off on a domestic violence (DV) class. She told me, “It’s not what you think. This will help you learn conflict resolution skills because at some point you and the mother will need to talk.” (We’ve talked for about 2 weeks in 20 years and I’ve been just fine with that).
I told Megan, “I’ll take a conflict resolution class. But, I’ve never committed DV so I’m not taking a DV class for something I never did. What about the mother? What do you want her to take?”
She said, “Well the mom has been through a lot, especially with the move” (to leave the state and abandon our child). What’s even worse, is that the GAL wanted the Parenting Plan to read, “If the father misses DV classes, then the mother can petition the court for a change of custody without having to prove a change of circumstances.” But, the LAW REQUIRED a change of circumstances (such as someone got on drugs, or a parent became handicapped and couldn’t care for a child, or a parent abused a child, etc.). The GAL tried to set me up. And years later, I found out that she had done that to other dads.
So, I refused to sign off of this insane offer. So, the GAL continued to block the process. Then I had to set a hearing and motion the court to enforce the agreement that the mother and I settled on. Before the hearing started, while we stood in the court hallways, the GAL tried to push me into signing the agreement she wanted. I refused and said, “Tell it to the judge.” We went in there and I told the court that the mother handed over the child and I had physical custody but I could not get a doctor appointment at Children’s because I didn’t have the Parenting Plan finalized. I made Megan look like an idiot because she was BLOCKING our child’s medical needs. The Family Law Commissioner asked Megan if she wanted to keep the case alive and push for her DV class recommendation (which would make the case to trial at least another 6 months down the road). Totally humiliated, the GAL had to surrender and the Family Law Commissioner signed off on our Final Parenting Plan, which you can see on my “Proof of James’ Wins” page. You can see on the last page, there is my signature WITHOUT a lawyer, and GAL’s and the mother’s attorney Mark B. Livas who was so embarrassed by me that he never repped the mother again.
The mother physically transferred the child to me for good, on 9/30/2001. I finally got official custody by court order on 10/29/2001. It took a month because of GAL Megan Stanley’s antics. But, I had custody until my daughter graduated from high school. As of age 20, she still resides with me.
James’ next 18 years of court battles
After my Final Parenting Plan was finalized, I had about 40 documents in my court file. By the time my daughter graduated from high school, I had over 1,100. Usually an ugly, hotly-contested divorce ends up having about 200 – 250 court documents on file. I’ve seen ugly cases that got up to 500 when the parties went back to court for several attempts to modify their parenting plans.
But, in 2002, I went back to court in order to modify child support. The mother’s first attorney Mark B. Livas refused to come back on the case. He later wrote a declaration stating that I was the hardest opponent he ever dealt with (that’s actually a compliment, but they used this to make me look bad). The new attorney at this office:
4127 NE 96th Street
Seattle, WA 98115
You can search WSBA Directory and look up his name and see he had 50 years experience when he recently retired. So, this was no slouch that I was fighting against.
Ferrell was notorious for driving up costs for the other side and filing frivolous motions. One time, when I was searching for lawyers (for info and free consultations) a lawyer told me, “If you have me come on board against Ferrell, I want double my retainer ($10,000) because he makes things so hard.” Everyone was afraid of him and no one ever filed bar complaints for Ferrell’s antics. But, every attorney I talked to said, “He’s not disbarred yet?”
In any case, when Ferrell came on board he made things 100x harder than the first attorney, Livas. But, I still beat him several times. During my child support modification in 2003, Ferrell tried to get me found in contempt and sought a no-contact order against me because I contacted the mother ONCE for the first time in 2 years. Well, I really didn’t contact her directly, I simply sent pleadings to her because Ferrell played games ignoring me. His motion failed. He was so outraged that he came up to the judicial assistant after the judge left and said, “I need a copy of the recording. This guy’s going to jail. He just committed perjury.” He always tried to intimidate everyone like that.
Objection to Relocation
In 2003, James moved 30 miles from Seattle to the Tacoma area with his daughter.
The mother had lived in Los Angeles for 1 ½ years and had NO contact with our daughter who was now 2 years old. By law, I had to notify her of my new address.
So, she objected to my relocation which makes it automatic that we will change the parenting plan. Ferrell gave her this idea and we were in court for another 1.5 years, fighting and arguing and we got a new GAL (guardian ad litem).
Well, as you can imagine , the GAL was on the mother’s side. This was still early on in my case and I got scared about doing trial on my own. So I hired an attorney Chris Bartow. He let me write all the paperwork and tell him what to say at hearings and he was very aggressive. He almost got in a fight with Ferrell in court hallways. He didn’t back down. In any event you can go to my page “Proof of James’ Wins” and see the transcript from a hearing in 2003. A judge (actually, a family law commissioner) said on record that the paperwork was excellent. Bartow admitted, “Actually my client James wrote that.” The “judge” complimented me and said “maybe law school should be his next step.”
At this same hearing, the “judge” said the GAL had no credibility (after I destroyed her in my briefing). And the “judge” also attacked the mother for abusing the system against me because she had abandoned the child and was seeking more time. The mother, her attorney and the substitute attorney from that day, and the GAL were all humiliated.
The rest of the way
After this, I started exposing Ferrell on the internet.
I filed bar complaints and the WSBA found that he used a racial slur against another attorney, that he threatened and harassed process servers and that he was abusive towards me in correspondence. I also found out that Ferrell was sued for malpractice by one of his own clients in King County case #00-2-24598-0. I reached out to her and she told me the horror of how Ferrell would take over a case for women clients, then set hearings without telling them and lose on purpose so the women would go broke and then he would “invite” them to live with him. She told me that he had forced 20 women to live with him over the years. I reached out to some of them and one told me that he talked them into “working off their bill” by doing FREE secretary work at his home office. He had a modern day slave labor set up in his home.
I exposed all of this. So, then Ferrell was on a mission to pursue and harass me in court as long as he was a lawyer. That’s why we have 1,100+ documents in 18 years that he was on the case. At one point he worked for free and was so obsessed with me, he would work on the case while traveling the country with his wife.
After the mother did the first one, Ferrell helped the mother with 6 more attempts at restraining orders against me. All failed. I went to the Court of Appeals 4 times against him and won twice. I could have won another but my daughter was about 16 and I needed to focus on her needs at the time. When Judge James Edwin Rogers (the Presiding Judge in Seattle’s King County Superior Court) took over my case, he bent over backwards to help and accommodate the abandoning mother and basically worked in tandem with Ferrell to go after me.
The judge refused to order the mother to pay for daycare and medical costs even though RCW 26.19.080(3) requires it. I appealed Judge Rogers and got him overturned (you can see the Court of Appeals order reversing him on my “Proof of James’ Wins” page). After that I told the whole courthouse how their lead judge was corrupt and incompetent and didn’t care about children and that he didn’t know or didn’t care about basic child support laws. He hated me after that.
Contempt and jail time
In May 2015, Ferrell did a contempt motion against me and claimed that I refused to share school and medical records with the mother, who again, abandoned our daughter for 20 years. She only saw the daughter a few times a year and that was only in a few different years. In between visits, there was abandonment for periods of 1.5 years, 3, 5 and 7 with NO CONTACT WHATSOEVER with our daughter. She once called her school in kindergarten but before and after that the mother has NO INTEREST in school or medical records. So, I never bothered her.
But, when she/Ferrell filed for contempt, I immediately emailed him the contact information for the latest doctor and her middle school. Our daughter was about to go into high school and I had not decided where she was going yet. So they charged me with LYING about school records because I gave them the contact info for her previous medical school.
The judge set a court hearing WITHOUT me ever being served. The judge emailed me at an OLD email address I never used again. He was so biased that he acted like the mother’s personal secretary and HE “served” me via email and the mother was not responsible for doing so. Since I never knew of the hearing I didn’t show up for court. A bench warrant was issued for my arrest. I found out about this later. I set a hearing to “quash” the bench warrant. As fate would have it, I got arrested right before the hearing…. Pulled over for holding a cell phone while driving and I got arrested in front of my child.
So, I was in jail for 2 days waiting for this Motion to Quash hearing – when you have a “bench warrant” you are supposed to be ushered to the judge immediately. Didn’t happen.
I had an attorney represent me at the Motion to Quash hearing. The Judge Rogers ordered this:
- James must sign a waiver releasing school and medical records to the mother
- James must sign a waiver allowing the mother to claim the child for taxes for the next 4 years in a row (even though she abandoned her and doesn’t contribute anything but basic child support)… our order said we take turns claiming her and now she gets rewarded with the whole benefit
- James must present the waivers to mom’s attorney Don Ferrell and if he APPROVES of them, then he will send to me and I will determine if James is released from jail. The judge gave the power of my freedom to my enemy.
What’s the worst thing about all this is that my attorney discovered an email FROM the mother TO the school a week BEFORE I went to jail. The mother had already gotten records and was STILL PUSHING to keep me in jail.
This was never about school and medical records. This was Ferrell trying to conjure up anything he could to get something on me. He read that in the Parenting Plan I’m supposed to share records with the mother. So, he found out she never attempted to get any so he blamed it on me. And this literally mentally slow judge bought it. Or he hated me so much for getting him reversed that he went along with it.
All the mother had to do was call the last known medical provider that she used when our daughter was a baby (when mother had custody and chose the medical provider). It was the SAME ONE 15 years later. All the mother had to do was call the SAME school district she called when our child was in kindergarten. Our daughter was in THE SAME school district. Just two phone calls! She didn’t do that. She’d rather do a contempt motion and have me thrown in jail.
So, when my lawyer wrote up “release forms” – the school district had no such thing so she had to customize one – of course Ferrell DISAPPROVED. So I stayed in jail over the weekend. My lawyer was supposed to correct the forms by Friday but got busy with other things. On Monday, she re-did the forms and Ferrell STILL objected. We had a hearing set to review the release form in front of Judge Rogers on a Thursday. On Wednesday night, before the hearing, Ferrell called the courthouse and said, “Go ahead and release James”. He knew that the release forms shown on Monday were fine. So, I was going to get released on Thursday. Ferrell didn’t want to go to court just to watch me walk out free. So he pushed it all until the last minute.
What’s most hypocritical and ironic is the following….
When my daughter was a few months old, the mother scheduled and UNNECESSARY brain surgery for our daughter. There was a diagnosis of a POSSIBLE complication. I didn’t find out about this until well after it was scheduled. I called Children’s in Seattle and demanded records. The mother NEVER TOLD me about this. When I talked to the head neurosurgeon, he said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t even know there was a father around.” I asked him about the procedure and shared my concerns and asked about waiting to see and/or looking at the other options.
The day of surgery the neurosurgeon decided, “If it’s not broke, let’s not fix it”. After years of follow up visits, there never was a problem. My intervention may have saved an unnecessary surgery. But, the mother was so concerned about the embarrassment of having a child with issues that she wanted to rush a decision to “hurry up and fix it”.
Meanwhile, the mother was hiding all of this from me. I had to dig and search for answers. And she turns around and has me thrown in jail for 8 days because she doesn’t want to dig herself. But, all it took was a phone call. And that’s actually what she did BEFORE I went to jail.
Even if I changed the school or medical provider…if the mother called the original ones, they would say, “Well we forwarded records to this school/doctor, so check with them.”
Ferrell and the mom simply did contempt for the fun of it and pushed to keep me in jail after the mother had the records. What’s even worse is that the mother was supposedly back in Seattle and never picked up our daughter from school. Not only that…. The mother, the judge and the lawyer NEVER ONCE, during the 8 days I was in jail, they never asked if the child was okay…and under RCW 26.09.002 everything is supposedly about the best interest of THE CHILD.
I took better care of the child while in jail, and making arrangements, than the mother could out of jail. She could have easily picked up our daughter from school and kept her while I was in jail. But, Judge Jim Rogers ordered that he child be parent-less… by forcing me into jail. And traumatized our daughter who later told me she thought I was going to be in jail for months.
James has been through and seen it all
From when I was first denied access to my daughter for 40 days when she lived just 3 blocks away to our last appearance in court when I sought college tuition help and Judge Rogers said the mother does NOT have to help out with college, I have been through about every thing that a dad can go through. I probably have been treated worse than any custodial parent around. You just don’t throw a custodial parent in jail for denying school and medical records—that happens to dads all the time. In fact, women deny access to the children in violation of court orders and don’t get found in contempt at all, let alone go to jail for it. That’s rare. And when it’s happened the mothers deserved it.
I was called a “monster”…”abusive to women and children”…I was accused of “being so crazy James drove the mother out of state”. Judge Rogers praised the mother for taking the “extraordinary step” of moving out of Washington to California and “driving the mother out of the state”. As if she needed to move more than 10 miles away – we already stopped talking. I broke up with her. I didn’t want her. I stopped talking to her. We talked for a couple weeks in 2005. Other than that, we’ve never talked. The mother admitted, “You’re doing a great job.” She also said that she didn’t know how to file papers so she let Ferrell do it all. He probably took over and told her to give him a “card blanche” so he can do what he wants and he’ll work for free and she won’t owe him all that $10 – $20,000 that she racked up in fees.
Judge Rogers allowed Ferrell to abuse the court system against me. What’s ironic is that when he first “took jurisdiction” of my case, Judge Rogers rebuked Ferrell in open court for harassing his bailiff on the phone. But Ferrell punked the judge and told him off in court, “What am I supposed to do about your rude bailiff? I’ve been doing this 40 years and I’m not putting up with that crap!” So the judge ordered that we all email the bailiff. No phone calls. So, the judge saw how harassing Ferrell was. But, the judge go so self-righteous on me and advocated for the mom and especially hated me after I got him reversed in the Court of Appeals that the judge worked with Ferrell to rule against me several times.
I’m the only real fathers’ rights advocate in America who
feels your pain & who actually is doing something to help
But, overall in the end, I won. I got custody early on and maintained a life and bond with our child. And continued to win several hearings for years and even won some with corrupt Judge Rogers, despite his hatred for me.
So, I’ve seen it all and been through it.
Your lawyer can’t say that. Your lawyer only cares about money. And if you’re a dad, he probably doesn’t give a rip about you. I’m the only real fathers’ rights advocate left in American doing anything like this. Call, write or hit the “Contact us” page to set an appointment if you’re lost, need help or getting shafted. You can also see my FlowCode Page with all my links including contact info at the push of a button:
Thanks for reading a summary of my story (I could write a series of books on it). And thanks for reaching out if you do so. I truly care about your case because I want to see justice for children. I’ve been through it unlike 99% of family law attorneys who don’t even care about system corruption, even though they admit it’s corrupt. And I actually have the courage to do something, confront the system with protests unlike anyone else and helping dads WIN in court while repping themselves. I also help moms and grandparents but the greatest need is for fathers.
Look forward to talking with you and YOU getting the answers YOU NEED.
Masks have been studied for 30 YEARS to see if they stop Spread of coronavirus “the flu”. It doesn’t. And this subhuman POS told everyone and children to wear one even though sasks trap 11 pathogens including the one causing bacterial pneumonia. D. Fauci said everyone in the Spanish Flu died from bacterial pneumonia. And they WORE MASKS back then.