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Custody Battle: Fighting The Ex-Husband from Hell

bigstock-Tough-7278255-thumb-300x200-93320.jpgThere are custody disputes, and then there are all-out custody wars.

That was the case when Richard Rifkin and Kimberly Dawn Carty decided to divorce.

As they took their battle to family law court in three counties (Marin, Los Angeles, and San Francisco), the father made multiple accusations against Carty - while mostly representing himself in court.

After a Marin County trial judge had heard numerous complaints and allegations about the mother from the ex-husband, the judge had enough of the father. The judge ordered the father to pay a portion of his ex-wife's attorney's fees, declared the father a vexatious litigant, and prohibited the father from filing new litigation without representation from an attorney.

A vexatious litigant is someone who brings meritless legal actions against another person for the sole purpose of harassing an adversary.

Father Argues He Isn't a Vexatious Litigant - By Suing Again

The father was going to give up easily.

The father attempted to vacate the judge's order and to remove his name from the Judicial Council's lists of vexatious litigants. Not surprisingly, the Family Court denied the father's application so the father, of course, filed an appeal.

Basically, the father felt that labeling him as a vexatious litigant was improper, that the Family Court should not have made him pay his ex-wife's attorney's fees, and that the Family Court did not seriously consider his allegations to hold his ex-wife in contempt.

The vexatious litigant ruling was made after the ex-wife filed a request with the court. The court didn't take this request lightly. Before labeling the father as a vexatious litigant, the court noted:

  • After the mother had succeeded in getting a temporary restraining order against the father, the father asserted that the mother was a risk to abduct, abuse, or neglect the children.
  • The father accused the mother of fraud

The Marin County Superior Court rejected the allegations presented by the father's attorney. Four months later, the father began to represent himself in court. He repeated the same allegations but in August 2010, after an evidentiary hearing, the trial court rejected the father's allegations for a second time and entered a restraining order against the father.

Ex-Husband Files 15 Additional Complaints Over the Course of Two Years

The father didn't stop there. He made the same allegations on 15 additional occasions between October 2010 and June 2012. The father then boldly told the court that unless the mother agreed to his terms for child custody and removed the restraining order that he would "grind her down."

The court didn't take too kindly to those comments. That's when the court ordered the father to pay the mother's attorney fees of $24,196.

After a seven-month hiatus, the father found an attorney to represent him. He then argued that the Family Court's allegation of the vexatious litigant label was based on a misunderstanding and the labeling was "unconstitutionally vague." He also argued that he should not have been forced to pay his ex-wife's attorney's fees.

The family court denied his application and the father's appeal began.

In the end, the Court of Appeal of the State of California, First Appellate District agreed with the lower court's ruling, handing the father another defeat.

He remains labeled as a vexatious litigant and must pay his ex-wife the attorney fees he owes her.

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