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Any advice on Custody/Visitation Modification? - Update post 26, 40, 45 - Page 2

post #21 of 71
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeannine View Post
It sounds like you and your husband are doing all the right things - and it's good that you're so supportive of him, as a father. It's not an easy road, but especially if that little boy is hearing bad things about a good Daddy (starting at such a tender, impressionable age), it is absolutely essential that he know, as he grows up, that nothing his mother can do will make his father give up and walk away from him. All kids need to know they're that important to their fathers, but it takes a lot of work to show that to kids whose moms are trying to sabotage the paternal relationship.

With any luck, your Law Guardian will help nip the problem in the bud with adequate visitation. When my step-son was 5, the Custodial Evaluator advised the Court to give my husband more visitation than what's recommended in the state guidelines, "to offset (the Mom)'s efforts to damage the father-son relationship". Then she moved across the country when my step-son was 6 and was quite open that she didn't like my husband getting so much visitation and the main reason she was moving was to get my step-son away from him. The C/E recommended my step-son remain here with my husband, but the court let him move with her anyway. She was so resistant, uncooperative and sometimes flat-out defiant of the court, regarding my husband's visits that my husband won sole custody when my step-son was 8. The C/E stressed to the court that the only reason my step-son had maintained any decent relationship with my husband at all, from 6 to 8 - and a large part of the reason my step-son seems so well-adjusted, considering all the crap he's been exposed to - was my husband's strenuous efforts to maintain contact and regular visitation, no matter what his ex threw at him, to block it. Regular contact is so important.

As to why the ex is doing this... ???? I believe my husband's ex has a profound, core insecurity. She had very upsetting, fluctuating relationships with everyone in her childhood family. They go a decade at a time without speaking to each other. After leaving them, she flitted from one would-be benefactor to another - relatives, boyfriends, fiances, husband, never on her own - right into her 30's. I think she was looking for that secure, supportive connection she didn't feel from her parents, but sadly none of those subsequent relationships worked out, either. I think the single relationship in her entire life that feels unbreakable to her is the one with her son. She appears, in what she says and does, to be incapable of separating the two of them in her mind and to assume he thinks and feels everything she does. So it's easy to imagine that, a) she doesn't understand or accept him loving his Dad, if she hates him; and b) she feels overwhelmingly threatened by my husband spending time with him or being close to him. There's no reasoning with her, because it's not logical. Finally, the only thing the court could do was take control of the situation away from her, by giving my husband custody...which of course confirmed her every worst fear - that my husband always wanted to take her baby away from her. (He didn't. It broke his heart to live separately from his kid, but he appreciates the mother-child bond and he would have accepted regular visitation, if she had simply allowed him to exercise it!) Even worse, by the time he got custody he'd met and married me, so I just add to the threat, by being a potential replacement for her. Maybe similar forces are at work in your situation?
So much of what you wrote feels right to me as far as my situation. Especially the bolded. My husband told the Law Guardian that he wouldn't let Cameron grow up without a Dad and would be there for him no matter what it took. I was very proud!

Cameron's mother has always bounced from her parents house to her boyfriends' houses and then back again. We think where she is at now is her brothers house, but we aren't sure. So the insecurity factor may well be what is behind all of this . . . Something to think about anyway . . .

Thank you for your insight.
post #22 of 71
I didn't actually realize that Cameron was only 2, and that you and your partner have a baby together who is one.

There's nothing inherently wrong with that - people berak up, people meet new people, people have more kids - it happens. But I was envisioning a woman denying access to an 8 y.o. or something - a child who remembered living together as a family, was cognizant of the breakup, had developed a relationship with his Dad while living together full-time, etc.

At this stage - she's probably hoping that you guys will give up if she makes things difficult enough, and that Cameron won't think of your partner as his dad and won't miss him or have to deal with being part of a blended family. This isn't a realistic hope given your partner's behjavior to date, and most people wouldn't say it was an ethical hope, and it's real strange that she's taking cs and sniffing around for more at the same time that she's trying to erase Daddy. But if my husband had left (or I'd left him) when my eldest was less than one year old? I sure as heck would have hoped that he'd drop off the radar and that we'd both go on to meet great people and have happy uncomplicated nonblended lives. I wouldn't lie to doctors, for sure, and I'm glad you're getting a lawyer to hopefully stop that kind of behavior in its tracks, but the mere hope that your ex is going to go on and focus on his new family and leave you and your baby alone? I don't think that has anything to do with hating you guys, or wanting to hurt her son (not that it wouldn't), or even being jealous. She just doesn't see your partner's role in Cameron's life to date as something that equals her role, and she doesn't want to faciltate the development of a larger role for a man she no longer considers family.

She's wrong. But it's a very human response. Pick one of your exes, and imagine handing your baby over to him and his new girlfriend for a couple of days. That's some serious pain-and-panic-generation, even thinking about it, hmmm?

Your partner should fight this attempt to get rid of him, because the vast majority of people who have BTDT, both professionals and ladies on this board, concur that it's what's best for Cameron long-term. But you might find that you, yourself are a more effective stepparent if you can empathize with mom's reasons for not wanting her toddler to grow up thinking he has two families if she can possibly avoid it. Would you want your baby to be trained up to love one of your exes, perhaps to the permanent detriment of his bond with the wonderful man you plan to share the rest of your life with? Or would you prefer, in your heart of hearts, to be free of your past mistakes? There's no need to ascribe jealousy or insecurity or another about-you-and-your-partner reason to her behavior. He could have the bank account of Warren Buffett, the body of Hugh Jackman and the soul of Mr. Rogers and she's probably still believe it was in Cameron's best interest to get him out of the picture.

And she'd still be wrong, and you'd still need to fight, and I wish you the best of luck in getting justice from your family court.
post #23 of 71
Thread Starter 
Smithie - Thank you for your perspective and wishing us luck . . . I need to think about your post for a bit. Some of it rubbed me the wrong way and I want to be clear in my own mind why that is before I respond.

The court date is today . . . Positive thoughts, please!
post #24 of 71
I'll do you one better than positive thoughts:

I truly do hope that your partner's parenting time gets reinstated. I understand, intellectually, that a continued relationship is by far the best thing for Dad and son both. But emotionally, I also understand the "we broke up after mere months as a family, you found a new partner and had a new baby right away, why can't you leave me and MY baby alone?" perspective.
post #25 of 71
Thread Starter 
Smithie: I think a little more background history is needed. I do admit that right now I am bitter, but I'll try to keep things relevant.

My husband and his ex were together for two years. Then they had a falling out because she wanted to be a party girl and he wanted a stable relationship. So she moved out (back to her parents house) for a year to prove that she could be more mature. She was trying to move back in with my husband after the year was up, but he decided he couldn't trust her. The last time she came by was for a birthday present of an intimate nature.

My husband and I became good friends while he was with his ex. Two months after the birthday thing my husband and I decided to become more than friends. His ex did come by a couple of times to see if she could get him to cheat on me. When he wouldn't she dropped out of the picture for a couple of months. Then my husband saw her at Walmart and she was pregnant. She told him her due date and that father was the guy she was with then. He wished her well and parted on what he thought were good terms.

My husband found out that she had lied about both her due date and the father when he received paperwork that said he had to go to court for paternity testing. She was on welfare, so the state wanted him to pay child support. Surprise! And the best part was his first court date was the day before my due date.

So the start of this whole situation was a mess.

I think that's probably why your post rubbed me the wrong way. They never had a "family". He wanted one, she didn't. She had had two abortions to prove this. Then she gets pregnant and decides to "keep it" and lies to my husband then refuses to give him any chance at a relationship with his son.

It hurts me because it hurts him. I'm angry at her for causing him pain. I have trouble seeing why she is like she is not just with this situation, but with her life.

Hope that clarified some things.
post #26 of 71
Thread Starter 
To sum up today's court adventure: Our lawyer didn't show up for court. She did call us to let us know she wouldn't be there, but she would be calling the court to have the court case adjourned. She didn't.

My husband and I are not familiar with the county the case is in. We got lost on the way to the courthouse and were 14 minutes late. Since our lawyer failed to show and we were late, the judge gave Cameron's mother exactly what she wanted. So right now my husband only gets to see Cameron how and when his mother says. Which is never, since she won't return phone calls or text messages.

We are working on getting the case re-opened since our lawyer didn't follow proper procedure. But it looks like we won't be seeing Cameron for a while yet. Sigh.
post #27 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amanda L View Post
To sum up today's court adventure: Our lawyer didn't show up for court. She did call us to let us know she wouldn't be there, but she would be calling the court to have the court case adjourned. She didn't.

My husband and I are not familiar with the county the case is in. We got lost on the way to the courthouse and were 14 minutes late. Since our lawyer failed to show and we were late, the judge gave Cameron's mother exactly what she wanted. So right now my husband only gets to see Cameron how and when his mother says. Which is never, since she won't return phone calls or text messages.

We are working on getting the case re-opened since our lawyer didn't follow proper procedure. But it looks like we won't be seeing Cameron for a while yet. Sigh.
Oh, I'm so sorry, Amanda!

Didn't you say there's some type of guardian ad litem involved? So this is just a temporary ruling, until the guardian makes a more informed recommendation to the court - right? If that's so, then if Mom spends this period - when she has total control over Dad's access to the child - abusing her power and denying contact, in the end it may give both the guardian and the judge a better picture of her intent.

My husband was absolutely heartbroken, devastated, depressed when the court let his ex move out of state with their child. He felt furious and hopeless when time and again, the court did nothing about him going out to visit and her not letting him have parenting time. But, looking back, if she had stayed in town - or if the court had promptly fixed the surface problem by giving a clear visitation schedule for the times he traveled to CA - he never would have accumulated a case for getting custody, and the rest of his son's childhood would have been spent continuing to deal with each week's new form of denied access, parental alienation, sabotage, etc.

I think, for most fathers in a position similar to your partner's, this road is not easy or quick. Don't give up.
post #28 of 71
I'm very sorry that your lawyer screwed up so badly. And I appreciate hearing more about how your partner (and you, since you love him and your life is joined to his) found yourself in this crappy situation. I can see how this all went down without either of you making a single decision that wasn't ethically OK in the context you thought you were working with.

I will never understand why pregnant women give the names of previous sexual partners to their welfare caseworkers when they don't want the guy involved with baby. To be totally honest, I would feel like I had the moral right to walk away and be a single parent if I conceived outside of marriage and the guy already had a new pregnant girlfriend, but if I were to do such a thing, I would sure as heck not sic the welfare people on the guy I didn't want to be father to my child! Good grief! If it gives you any satisfaction, think about the number of times this woman has tortured herself over THAT mistake.
post #29 of 71
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeannine View Post
Oh, I'm so sorry, Amanda!

Didn't you say there's some type of guardian ad litem involved? So this is just a temporary ruling, until the guardian makes a more informed recommendation to the court - right? If that's so, then if Mom spends this period - when she has total control over Dad's access to the child - abusing her power and denying contact, in the end it may give both the guardian and the judge a better picture of her intent.

My husband was absolutely heartbroken, devastated, depressed when the court let his ex move out of state with their child. He felt furious and hopeless when time and again, the court did nothing about him going out to visit and her not letting him have parenting time. But, looking back, if she had stayed in town - or if the court had promptly fixed the surface problem by giving a clear visitation schedule for the times he traveled to CA - he never would have accumulated a case for getting custody, and the rest of his son's childhood would have been spent continuing to deal with each week's new form of denied access, parental alienation, sabotage, etc.

I think, for most fathers in a position similar to your partner's, this road is not easy or quick. Don't give up.
The Guardian ad litem was only involved to give her opinion as to if it would be detrimental to Cameron's health for my husband to have visitation. Which she did tell the judge that it would not be. But since my lawyer didn't show up (or even put in the paperwork that she needed to to show she was our lawyer - on paper it looked like we didn't have one!) the judge ruled in Cameron's mother favor. So an actual order is in place now, not just a temporary thing. I just hope we can get the case reopened. If not we have to wait for the order to come in the mail and file a petition to modify. We should know more later today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post
I'm very sorry that your lawyer screwed up so badly. And I appreciate hearing more about how your partner (and you, since you love him and your life is joined to his) found yourself in this crappy situation. I can see how this all went down without either of you making a single decision that wasn't ethically OK in the context you thought you were working with.

I will never understand why pregnant women give the names of previous sexual partners to their welfare caseworkers when they don't want the guy involved with baby. To be totally honest, I would feel like I had the moral right to walk away and be a single parent if I conceived outside of marriage and the guy already had a new pregnant girlfriend, but if I were to do such a thing, I would sure as heck not sic the welfare people on the guy I didn't want to be father to my child! Good grief! If it gives you any satisfaction, think about the number of times this woman has tortured herself over THAT mistake.
The sad part is that I don't think Cameron's mother regrets naming my husband as Cameron's father at all. I think (purely speculation) she has her family all telling her that he should be happy sitting back and paying child support since he wasn't there for her for her pregnancy. I don't think any of them know that she lied about who the father was and cheated on my husband with other guys when they were together. Who would go around advertising that, you know? So her family thinks my husband is some dead beat that got her pregnant and dropped her for me (and then got me pregnant too!) and now only wants visitation because of the child support thing. That part isn't speculation - it's almost verbatim on Cameron's pediatric records under "Father involvement" along with other negative comments. Her family also refuses to call me his "wife". All documentation from their end say "girlfriend" even though we've been married for almost two years! That part is kind of funny, but still sad.

I hope Cameron had a great birthday. Cameron's grandmother saw me walking to court and exclaimed "We're all done! Cameron has a huge Thomas the Train cake for his birthday. We're going to go have his party now! Bye!" That hurt, but I'm glad my husband was already in the courthouse.
post #30 of 71
wow...is this a lawyer you were paying? she needs to get this straightened out NOW.
post #31 of 71
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by betterparent View Post
wow...is this a lawyer you were paying? she needs to get this straightened out NOW.
This is our "Assigned Council" (that counties version of public defender/income based attorney). I do think she needs to get it straightened out. But I suppose she would have to answer our phone calls or return our messages first . . .

We did get in contact with the head attorney at the Assigned Council office. They are looking into things and we should know more about what is going on this afternoon.
post #32 of 71
"The sad part is that I don't think Cameron's mother regrets naming my husband as Cameron's father at all."

Aaaaaauuuuugh.

"I think (purely speculation) she has her family all telling her that he should be happy sitting back and paying child support since he wasn't there for her for her pregnancy."

AAAAAAAUUUUUGH.


"I don't think any of them know that she lied about who the father was and cheated on my husband with other guys when they were together."

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUGH!!!!!!

You are a strong mama to get through all that b.s. with your love for dss and your desire to be with him intact. That's just a crazymaking situation.

I know that just saying it won't make the money magically appear, but your husband needs a real lawyer who isn't being paid scut wages to represent way too many clients. If he truly believes that he was named as the father knowingly, with the intent that the welfare folks would legally establish his paternity and collect support monies from him, then he was invited into this situation by the women he impregnated, and if there's nothing objectionable about him or his background then he's entitled be an equal parent with equal parenting time. That was her call to make (regardless of how the ethics play out, practically speaking she could have kept him from discovering that he was the babydaddy if that was what she felt was in her child's best interests). She opened the door. Even if she IS sorry now, it's just too late to erase Daddy.
post #33 of 71
I hate to say it, but your lawyer is not a replacement for you. This is in large part your own fault - for being late. Next court appearance you better make absolutely positively certain that you are there 30minutes early. Or 9am sharp. No matter what time your appearance is - your dh MUST be on time or early. Thats his fault, and not anyone elses - and thats the way the judge see's it. No matter if your lawyer didn't file the papers she said she would - its your fault you weren't there (and his fault he wasn't there on time).
post #34 of 71
Thread Starter 
Smithie: Yup. It is most definitely a crazy-making situation.

The lawyer thing is a tricky one. *I* would beg borrow and just short of steal to get a "real" lawyer to defend Cameron's rights. But my husband sees that as depriving *this* family and doesn't want to do that because he is not at all sure that Cameron's best interests will be served even with a "real" lawyer. He can't help but picture us going over our heads in debt and still end up getting nowhere. He doesn't feel right applying for assistance and wanted to get through all of this without a lawyer at all. I managed to convince him that since neither of us have law degrees that would be crazy. So we compromised with a public defender.

But I do agree that it is WAY too late to erase Daddy.
post #35 of 71
Thread Starter 
thyra - We must have cross posted. My husband does take responsibility for being late. He apologized to the guardian ad litem and even the clerks we spoke to. They in turn told him that normally the judge is running at least 15 minutes behind and it was a fluke that he was right on time yesterday! They also said that if there had been a lawyer on file that the judge would have allowed extra wait time as a professional courtesy. It's just so frustrating.

Thank you for chiming in. I love the varied perspectives out there . . .
post #36 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amanda L View Post
Smithie: Yup. It is most definitely a crazy-making situation.

The lawyer thing is a tricky one. *I* would beg borrow and just short of steal to get a "real" lawyer to defend Cameron's rights. But my husband sees that as depriving *this* family and doesn't want to do that because he is not at all sure that Cameron's best interests will be served even with a "real" lawyer. He can't help but picture us going over our heads in debt and still end up getting nowhere. He doesn't feel right applying for assistance and wanted to get through all of this without a lawyer at all. I managed to convince him that since neither of us have law degrees that would be crazy. So we compromised with a public defender.

But I do agree that it is WAY too late to erase Daddy.
Even though you can't afford to pay a lawyer, can you check into law schools in your area? They may have cheap or free legal representation by law students - this is worth it b/c they have only a few cases and are learning so they are usually pretty gung ho - plus they are supervised by professors that are usually really experienced. If they can't help you they may be able to direct you to other options (that are not assigned counsel).
post #37 of 71
Thread Starter 
thyra - Thank you! I hadn't even considered law schools. I'll research and talk to my husband about it tonight. Maybe since we have had two horrible public defender experiences he will consider it.

ETA: There is one in the town we are having proceedings in! The next closest one is an hour away, so hopefully this one can help . . .
post #38 of 71
(fingers crossed)
post #39 of 71
My lawyer always has an articling student on staff. Since he knows I don't have a lot of income, the student does most of the paperwork stuff, and I only have to pay full lawyer's fees for his face-time in court. Maybe you could find an arrangement like that?
post #40 of 71
Thread Starter 
The head attorney at the Assigned Council office must have really pulled some strings. Not only is the case reopened and the order revoked, the Guardian ad litem is coming for a home visit tomorrow AND we have an appointment set up with a NEW lawyer on Friday!

Yay!

We don't have an actual court date set up yet. We have to wait for the paperwork to go through the system. But hopefully soon!
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