A Mother’s Struggle: How Far Would You Fight for Your Child?

Updated on October 10, 2018
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Meg has a B.A. in English and Minor Writing. Her interests fuel her passion to share topics and stories with the world.

Would You Stop Fighting For Your Child?

After the uphill battle of making a better life for their children, Hayla Henson and her loving husband moved to South Carolina with the promise of consistent work and a house where their children could grow up in. Hayla dreamed of her own daughter and son having their own rooms and playing in the backyard of their home.

On August 23rd, 2018, Hayla and her husband‘s lives got turned upside down when the judge presiding over their case shattered their plans and dreams of a beautiful childhood for both their children. Family court had decided in favor of Hayla’s daughter’s biological father by granting full medical advocacy to him with joint custody and refused to allow Hayla’s daughter, Dylan, to move to South Carolina. Instead, the judge alotted Hayla only to have five weeks in the summer, one full weekend per month, February and April vacations, only some days of Christmas vacation, and the ability to visit Dylan if she gave notice 15 days in advance.

Hayla (right) and her daughter (left)
Hayla (right) and her daughter (left)

Dissecting A Judge’s Ruling From The Court Papers

For viewing pleasure, the inclusion of the three pages of Hayla’s court ruling papers are unmared by highlights. These are the actual court papers that Hayla was given. Before the exploration and dissection of these court papers, it is important to form one’s own opinion before the opinion of another is given.

Before the dissection begins, this article is duly noted that it has a bias interest in Hayla’s story. Other names that should be addressed is the judge presiding over the case, Judge Michael L. Alfano, and her daughter’s biological father, Noah Lord.

Hayla’s Actual Court Papers Of The Ruling

Calling Out Judge Michael L. Alfano’s Credibility To Judge

Although the court papers never used the first person narrative, it is assumed that the terms ’The Court’ alludes to Judge Michael Alfano since he is representing ‘The Court’ as a presiding judge in this particular case. Essentially, it is safe to assume that it is the judge’s own personal concerns then?

A judge is meant to preside over the case without bias and to gather all facts to make an unbiased decision since it is not about one man’s personal opinion. It is about the actual best interest of the child. How can anyone garner any actual decision when details aren’t accurate and the right questions were never asked or explored?

As a representation of ’The Court’, he should be held in the highest standards to be a truth seeker. The truth is devoid of any egotism, because the truth isn’t about personal opinion. The truth is the truth.

Erroneous Information Concluded By The Presiding Judge

  1. Within the court papers, The Court claimed that Hayla was pregnant with her third child (check out the second image under “1. The Relocation is for a Legitimate Purpose” in the first paragraph). Hayla has only two children and she isn’t pregnant with her third child so how did Judge Michael Alfano arrive at this information. Hayla wouldn’t ’credibly testify‘ that she was with her third child if she was indeed not pregnant. If it wasn’t the judge that arrived to that conclusion then who gave him that information to begin with?
  2. ”The Court temporarily delegates all medical decisions for the child solely to Father” (Check out the last image in the second to last paragraph). The entire paragraph before outlines why Judge Michael Alfano came to this conclusion. He claimed the she presented no credible evidence of any exemption even though she submitted the notarized form ’Certificate Of Religious Exemption’ (check out image below section). He then said that she claimed religious exemption, but she didn’t provide any evidence of belonging to any religion that opposes vaccinations.

    According to Hayla, he never once questioned her about her religious beliefs and only questioned Noah. She is a part of a religion called Christian Science. Although, Christian Science is ambigious about their stance on vaccination, it is safe to assume though that vaccines aren’t on the top of their list considering Christian Science believes in prayer and faith healing over medicine.
  3. ”The Court believes the child needs frequent, continuous contact with both parents. When Mother decided to move, it meant that one of the parents would have less time with the child. The move was not inevitable...” (Check second image under ”3. Best Interests” in the second paragraph).

    Considering that in the above paragraphs The Court did determine that Hayla had “legitimate purpose and to provide a better standard of living for Mother and family” then why does The Court seem to think differently in this other section by believing the move was then not inevitable?

    The lead into the above statement is The Court meaning Judge Michael Alfano “believes that the child needs frequent, continuous contact with both parents” then it is safe to assume he also believes “when Mother decided to move, it meant that one of the parents would have less time with the child”. It clearly states later on in the paragraph that “Mother attempted to move with child in 2016, and after the Court became involved, she moved back“. It is safe to possibly assume that Judge Michael Alfano believes that Hayla is attempting to limit her daughter’s contact with Noah.

    If assumptions are being passed about then it should be noted that in 2016, Hayla and her husband found themselves homeless and had decided to relocate to South Carolina. However, she had been in contact with Noah about what was happening and was blindsided by Noah when he decided to get the courts involved. Also, it should be noted that there was no child support order and Hayla never demanded it. It is even noted in the court papers themselves that child support was never demanded. They both shared joint custody and Dylan spent her time with both parents. It seems that Hayla tried her best to be fair when it came to her daughter and the father of her daughter attempting to keep open communication.

    If Judge Michael Alfano did believe Hayla was planning on keeping Dylan from Noah, wouldn’t he have taken the above into account if he was questioning her intergity and character? Wouldn’t he have questioned her about the specifics of what happened in 2016 to get a better understanding of the situation?

However, given Father’s involvement with the child, and Mother’s decision to move out of State, the Court finds it would be in the child’s best interest to remain here in New Hampshire. Father has a family support system here, including his girlfriend and his Mother.

— Michael L. Alfano

In The Best Interest Of Whom?

It seems like another sad story of a family now broken and divided by a ruling made in family court. Sometimes, life isn’t fair and the most carefully laid out plans refuse to come into play. Maybe Dylan’s father could afford to provide for his daughter? Maybe her father could provide the same residency situation that Hayla could provide? Maybe the state required children to be vaccinated and Hayla didn’t honor state regulation?

Then by all means, it is understandable that the judge ruled in his favor.

Except New Hampshire is an exempt state for medical and religious circumstances. Hayla did follow and file the correct form with proper notarization before this case was presented. Not only that, the previous judge that presided over everything from the beginning and mysteriously is no longer in charge of proceedings had also informed her that no vaccines approach and homeschooling wouldn’t effect relocation. So how does Judge Michael Alfano determine Noah has primary control of health decisions unless he feels he is above the law?

It also worth mentioning that Dylan’s biological father only works two days a week, lives in his parents’ house with his girlfriend, and Dylan would only be living in the corner of his room. Hayla and her husband are currently in the middle of building their home, but they are renting a house in South Carolina. This house would allow Dylan to have her own room. Financially, Hayla owns a small business and her husband is a contractor. Even without the assistance of her husband, she would still make more than Noah.

So how does a judge rule in favor of a father that can’t provide financially on his own, can’t provide adequate housing for his own daughter, and become the primary medical advocate to his daughter in the first place?

Is It Really Joint Custody?

Judge Michael Alfano ruled joint custody with a twist. Hayla would have to live in New Hampshire to be considered relevant. If Judge Michael Alfano was that concerned about providing Dylan with both parents then joint custody should work no matter what state either parent lives in since it is in the best interest of the child not the court or the state jurisdiction.

Hayla had hoped for an arrangement that would outline the terms of joint custody from the very beginning. Since inevitably Dylan would be living with Noah, she would be attending school in New Hampshire.

There are 12 months in a year. A school year is 180 days, which calculates to 5.918 months. It would be half a year that would be granted to Dylan’s biological father due to education. The other half of the year should be allotted to Hayla if supposedly following joint custody.

However, Hayla is only allowed five weeks of summer, one full weekend per month, February vacation, and April vacation. All in all that’s estimated 71 days. That is 2.33424 months not even two and half months. Essentially, Noah would have have roughly the majority of 10 months and Hayla would have only two months.

When A Judge Shouldn’t Judge

Judging by the errors in his determining what was best for Dylan, Judge Michael Alfano didn’t deliver a fair ruling. He didn’t even take into consideration that Noah wasn’t financially competent to provide for Dylan. Yes, it is easy to pay for daycare when living rent free in one’s mother’s house, but could he handle the responsibility beyond daycare and actually provide the financial support Dylan needs if more pressing matters came to pass?

Not once does the court papers touch upon how Noah would or could provide the care and comfort that Hayla could provide now. Wouldn’t that be something important to consider when making a fair and just ruling especially when it is in the best interest of the child in question?

Do You Believe The Ruling Was Fair?

See results

Deadline To Appeal Is Approaching

The ruling by the presiding judge was devastating to Hayla and her family. The deadline to appeal is by October 18th of this year is sadly approaching. With her and her husband’s finances tied into paying for their lawyer, they don’t have the funds to appeal the judge’s ruling and gain another lawyer.

She has started a fundraiser to help raise more money, but realistically and heartbreakingly, she knows that the possibility of gaining enough funds is slim to nil, Hayla and her husband refuse to backdown. Even if she can’t appeal, the fight is not over and she will continue to fight the legal battle for her child.

© 2018 Meg Gallagher

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    • profile image

      Kylie Toth 

      13 days ago

      Hauls moved because she wasn’t able to provide financially in NH. Moving out of state to keep her family from being homeless was her only option. Dylan’s father is using her as a pawn over Hayla. The judge is ruling in her fathers favor while he can’t even give Dylan her own space. She needs a room of her own and not to be dismissed. This isn’t how any child should live.

    • profile image

      SarahL 

      2 weeks ago

      @AllisonDavis There are relocation laws in NH and all were followed. Opinions are not above laws and facts, point blank.

    • profile image

      AllisonDavis 

      2 weeks ago

      you can not relocate to another state with the child without the other parents consent. When you don’t follow that simple rule, nothing is going to go in your favor. She technically kidnapped her daughter, removed her from family that wanted to be in here life. Obviously they are going to send the child back to the state where she originally resided. If she wants her daughter “back” then she needs to do things the RIGHT way by moving back. Judge gave her a lot of visitations. I’ve seen cases where a child wouldn’t be able to visit the other parent in another state until 13 years of age, no holidays or vacations and no weekends. Smarten up and stop bashing the judge for you making stupid choices. It’s not only your child, it’s his too.

    • profile image

      rachelkravitz 

      5 weeks ago

      @ Angrybird Judges are not known to only listen to one side, their literal job is to take all the information into account and make an informed decision. Not saying it doesn't happen but it's completely false to state that judges are known to only listen to one side.

    • profile image

      rachelkravitz 

      5 weeks ago

      Why so much hate towards the judge? He has a responsibility to make the most informed decisions he can for children during what is no doubt a challenging time. Neither father or mother seem like mature responsible parents but at least the father is staying close to family while he figures it out. Glaring me in the face is: the mother was homeless even though she has her mother in the state, her husband cant find good enough paying work on his own without his fathers help, mother was homeless but her sole source of income is a by-mail cosmetic company that only makes her enough money in her hometown? The judge probably saw that it seems like the mother makes risky decisions (the riskiest being choosing not to vaccinate on the sole basis of personal conviction) but also the decision to try to move the child in 2016 without the fathers consent, moving in 2018 and building a house while leaving her daughter in NH even though she doesn't agree with the fathers living and job situation, etc. This is a good example of why you shouldnt be naive when going into family court. You should study up, know your rights, know how the court system works and cross your T's and dot your I's twice still!

    • profile image

      angrybird 

      5 weeks ago

      Sounds fishy.... judges are known to listen to only one side.

    • profile image

      Kodie 

      5 weeks ago

      She needs her Mom and that is that. This Judge is a prick! And the Father just wants to see Haley suffer. Total bullshit.

    • profile image

      stephanie74 

      7 weeks ago

      I would be interested to know how the father felt about vaccinations while the child was 0-3 years old. If he wanted it done so badly why is he only taking the mother to court 5 years later? This is just speculation but I would guess that he agreed with her at some point but he found out later he could use it against her in court to block the relocation, or in this case since the mother had already moved, grant him legal custody.

      I don't think the decision was made based on the relocation or either parents ability to parent the child. IT came down to the parents feeling about vaccines. I will say that from a technical stand point, this article incorrectly assumes that the Judges opinion is the opinion of "The Court." Our courts (or "The Court" in the documents) follow our general beliefs as a society, and our society (and the medical community and the scientific community) are overwhelmingly in favor of vaccines to prevent the resurgence of deadly diseases and to protect people who cannot be vaccinated. The courts in our country reflect our culture and agree that vaccinating healthy children is in the best interest of the child and almost always grant medical decision making to the parent in favor of vaccinating. It is well known and documented in many similar family court cases that religious beliefs and personal convictions typically do not stand up in court. Hopefully after this child is vaccinated and that issue can no longer be used against the mother Brianna will be able to prove to the courts that she is the parent who has taken overall interest and care in attending to the child's health and well being, which seems to be the case. This is a hard and sad situation and I hope the parents are able to work it out for the sake of their children. Best of luck to them.

    • profile image

      marc 

      2 months ago

      If you take the time to look over the court papers... many contradictions. That's concerning.

    • profile image

      Sarah 

      2 months ago

      Point blank. She needs her mother, she isn’t unfit by no means. Is any of us perfect? Hell no! She is an outstanding mother to both her children and that’s all that matters. Leave the rumors out, it speaks volumes about your character.

    • profile image

      India Lacasse 

      2 months ago

      Because it is absolutely the right thing to do! I've been taking human growth and development classes and we learn in that class how important the mother role is... it is the most important in the development of a child! Give Breanna/Hayla her daughter back!

    • profile image

      sandralay 

      2 months ago

      Um is "Christian Science" considered a "religion"? I looked it up and it doesn't make sense to me. I think we can all agree though that relying on prayer instead of medical care during times of illness is a bad decision for someone to make for themselves, let alone for children. I think the concern over that and concern over the children not being vaccinated is valid, it is potentially harmful to the child. Will catching up with vaccinations and enrolling the child in school appease the courts? Why did the mother move to another state before gaining the courts approval? How do they have the funds to rent a house AND build a house in one state but would be homeless in another? The history of homelessness is also concerning. It doesn't seem like either bio parent is working a stable job that offers healthcare benefits for the child which stands out to me as well. I bet the mother would benefit from taking the courts advice on taking parenting classes and attending therapy and maybe also enrolling in college classes or a trade program to better her opportunities and fiances. Maybe she can start a steady record of employment to help her case to regain full custody. Basically what I am saying is that it doesn't sound like either biological parent is doing as much as they could be (sounds like father doesn't work enough and mother runs a business that only does so-so business based off her social media posts and her husband is dependent on his family for his work) and either one would probably be looked at as favorable by the courts if they were doing more to better themselves and their childs livelihood. Poor kids, this is very sad and I hope is worked out quickly.

    • profile image

      Haley Runyon 

      2 months ago

      Dylan should be with her mother, brother and her mothers husband in South Carolina in a very loving home with her very loving family. This upsets me that she was taken from them and has to live in New Hampshire with her father. Hayla has provided and can provide more for Dylan and her brother then Noah can. I really hope Dylan gets to move back to South Carolina with her mother where she belongs!!

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