Yes yes yes yes yes.
Originally Posted by Lexibaby
Has anyone gone through this?
And it is HARD to watch the man you love go through this.
After enduring this kind of crap from the time his son was ~6 mos. old, my husband was finally awarded sole legal and physical custody, when his son was eight
When you're up against a mother who's not afraid of being found in contempt of court, you are playing a game of perseverance. Steel yourself.
I am very willing to discuss specifics and strategy in more detail, if you want to PM me. (I'm not opposed to sharing info. openly, but I already have done that quite a bit. And without knowing more detail about your situation, I don't know which parts of my family's experience would be most helpful to you.)
Some important basics:
* Document EVERYTHING. Sure, people can lie in a log. But for some reason, when a judge or custodial evaluator is hearing two different stories, it lends credibility if you've kept a log that backs up your
story. Logs can also help you identify patterns and piece together information. For example, you may look back and realize the times the ex was most difficult to deal with happened to coincide with her shacking up with new boyfriends... but you didn't know about that at the time.
* Read the laws and case law for yourself
. If the letter of the law is favorable to your case, do not accept a lawyer's - or even a trial court judge's - explanation that in practice
things are done or enforced differently than they are, on paper. Don't shy away from insisting that the letter of the law be followed.
*Don't give up.
In one year alone, my husband had at least 3 hearings where the judge ruled his ex-wife was NOT in contempt for repeatedly denying him access to his son (when he traveled to visit him, after she moved him across the country)... because the law only said he was entitled to "liberal parenting time" when he visited out there, it did not specify HOW MUCH parenting time was "liberal". So how could she be found in contempt for deciding that 3 hours in a week-long visit was "liberal"? It was SO frustrating
! But in the end, it worked in my husband's favor. Ultimately, he asked for custody, basically arguing that the court was incapable of enforcing his parental rights and dealing effectively with his ex-wife's persistent efforts to cut off his relationship with his child and that this was not in the child's best interest. The new judge agreed with him - and even cited all the prior hearings he'd lost, as evidence that there WAS, indeed, a problem with leaving the child in the mother's custody: she was good at getting away with
* Talk with your husband and become like-minded about when you'd be ready to fight for custody - and how it should be structured, if he won. The ex need not switch roles with your husband and become a minor figure in the child's life. Parenting time could still be close to 50-50. But if he had the title "custodial parent", the cops WOULD intervene, if his ex refused to return the child to him when it was his parenting time. (Not that you WANT cops involved - that's upsetting to the kid - but sometimes that shift in the balance of power, the knowledge that the law's no longer on her side, will cause a problem mother to toe the line and actual cops aren't necessary.)
* He must show up on time to pick up his child every single time he's supposed to have parenting time,
even if his ex says not to come. You must find some way to document that he did this. He must be able to prove he was DENIED visitation, not that he didn't show up. Same with other parental involvement. If she tells him not to come to the school play or parent-teacher conferences or his son's soccer games, he needs to go anyway. If she flips out, it will be clear SHE behaved badly, not that your husband didn't care enough to attend. (Hopefully, being in public will keep her from behaving in a way that would embarass the child, even though she may be angry.)
* Focus on the right thing:
Some alienated fathers who get lost in their own pain end up concluding the best, most selfless thing they can do is to walk away, so their child's life can be free of conflict. But absolutely everything I've ever read about children whose fathers DID walk away shows that kids fare BETTER knowing their Dad was driven to fight for contact with them; as opposed to seeing that their Dad was capable of walking away and losing them. Your husband's pain is awful, but it's not the important thing
. When a child has TWO loving, capable, non-abusive parents who both WANT to be involved, it is abusive and it is neglectful of the child's most basic, most important needs to try to terminate or sabotage the child's relationship with one of those parents.
It's harder to justify backing down and easier to continue the good fight, when you remember that your child's being abused