Help With Legal Fees For Everly

In September 2018 disaster struck. Everly’s mom was granted emergency sole custody and an order of protection against me. She claimed that I was physically abusing Everly. She also launched a full DCS and police investigation against me. 

The pictures she used to prove my “guilt” were taken 3 days after Everly’s week with me. However, the judge (who was probably scared of making a mistake) ruled in her favor. I didn’t see Everly for almost 2 months. I kept my hopes high knowing that these were false accusations and believing in the truth, but those were the two hardest months of my life. 

After hiring an attorney and contesting the rulings, the order of protection was squashed and joint custody and parenting time was restored. 

Then began the real battle. A battle that would take a whole year to see through. A battle that would cost everything. 

This wasn’t the first time allegations were made by Everly’s mother. I had spent the past three years in and out of court fighting against false accusations. By that time I had probably spent about $10,000 in legal fees with no repercussions to her whatsoever. 

In 2018-2019 alone, I have had DCS visit my house about 9 times. I’ve had the sheriff department at my house more times than I can count. Every time, we all agreed that these were false accusations, but there was nothing to do about them. The departments were still obligated to investigate the accused and there weren’t really any repercussions for the accuser.  I am not upset with the various departments for doing their job and investigating. But I am frustrated that they could do so little when they could tell what the root of the problem was.

Throughout this process I’ve taken court ordered drug tests (all clean), mental health screenings (everything was okay) and court ordered parenting classes. 

Nothing would stop the accusations and the litigation.

In the meantime, Everly’s mom’s erratic behavior kept spinning out of control. This resulted in Everly having emotional and behavioral issues. It also resulted in me struggling to keep my teaching studio as I was desperately trying to keep up with everything. 

By August 2019, I had to shut down my teaching studio and move in with my parents, as my financial situation just grew worse and worse. The emotional toll was getting to be too much and I couldn’t keep up anymore. 

I was able to get a full-time job and am still working, but the take home barely covers the day to day expenses.   

Finally, in September of this year, Everly’s mom was institutionalized after having a mental breakdown. Everly ended up staying with me full time. She was finally safe. 

Her mom was released 24 hours later, but the incident was bad enough for me to be allowed to keep Everly. 

Then in October, after our trial, I was awarded sole custody (decision making and physical). The system had finally seen the truth. 

But this truth came with a hefty price tag. I now owe my attorney $30,000. More money than I can even fathom. All of this because the system failed to act swiftly and because Everly’s mom was allowed to continue to litigate and accuse. 

I am incredibly grateful that Everly is safe. There is no doubt that no money in the world could ever top that. The emotional strain was worth it. My baby is safe and we can start to move forward from this. 

But I am also saddened and disappointed in the system for taking so long. I am disappointed to see that the departments didn’t work together and had very little power. They knew what was going on and yet their hands were tied. I am disappointed that a person was allowed to make devastating and false allegations without consequence. This person, a person who herself is in desperate need of healthcare, was allowed to harass and torment another person for years and no one would stop her.  Instead of intervening and getting her the help she needed, she was allowed to put a child in danger.  

At the end of the day, the message from the system to me was: good job for standing up for your daughter, we will award you custody, but we will also leave you worse off than you could ever imagine. We wish you all the best rebuilding your life. 

So now I ask for help. Not just to pay for my fees and make life a little bit easier for both Everly and myself, but to create awareness about this issue. People need to know how incredibly broken the family court system is so that  we can work together to solve the problem. Family court does not have to be like this. Family court can become a place where good decisions are made quickly. Family court can become a place where people with mental health issues can get the help they desperately need. Family court can become a place where you don’t have to lose your job, house and sanity to protect your children. This isn’t about punishment. This is about standing together and doing what is right for our kids.

So again, I ask for help. 

If the total amount of donations exceed the goal, those funds will go towards helping other people who find themselves in my position.      

I dream of creating a non-profit that will support others who find themselves in this situation.

Let’s create a movement!

- Everly & Jonathan


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Jonathan Nilsen 
Phoenix, AZ
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