Thanks, Smithie and Greenemami.
Well, more frustration. I appreciate this forum so much, because I can vent without driving my DH crazy or bad-mouthing DSS's mom to people IRL who know her, or know DSS. DH and I make a conscious effort not to "isolate (DSS) in an environment that is hostile toward his noncustodial parent", like she used to do. (Although, she makes a pretty bad impression all on her own, by not visiting or getting involved at school, etc.)
DH's attorney was not quick enough, filing a response to Mom's motion to continue. So the new judge, apparently believing Mom that it was a "joint" motion, went ahead and continued the hearing (for three months) and ordered mediation. Thankfully, the judge had the sense to reject her proposal for mandatory reconciliation counseling. (Seriously?)
We are still bothered by the mediation, though:
1- In our state, you're supposed to start with mediation. DH tried that last school year. Mom refused to take her attorney's calls. Her atty quit. Then she refused to respond to DH's atty directly, or accept certified mail from him. "Atty." (allegedly?) went ahead and filed a motion for mediation without being able to prove service on Mom. The Court sat on it for months. Finally, Atty went to the court to discuss it directly and was unofficially advised that the new judge had been reviewing their super-long case, and the general consensus was that mediation couldn't possibly work, so why didn't Atty go ahead and petition for a hearing? By that time, we agreed. What can we hope to accomplish in mediation with a woman who refuses to communicate? DH requested a hearing last month. The Court set a date within a few days, although Atty didn't get around to telling us about it until this month. But then Mom requests mediation and suddenly it seems like a great idea to the judge?
2- Is the truth, possibly, that Atty never got around to filing DH's petition for mediation? He certainly never got around to giving DH a file-stamped copy of it. If that's true, then in the Court's eyes DH's first step was to be litigious and Mom is the cooperative one who wants to mediate. When in truth "cooperative" is the polar opposite of Mom.
3- The Catch-22: DH was able to get custody in part because he fired two previous attorneys who just weren't staying on top of his case...but judges don't like that. Both times, the judge took time out from hearings over Mom blatantly defying court orders, to lambast DH - on the record - for changing attorneys. As long as you're represented, you can't get your own copies of paperwork (to see what really has or hasn't been filed) and you can't file pleadings on your own that you think need to be filed, but that your atty blows off (like responding to Mom's motion for continuance). Yet, if you're not satisfied with how the guy you're paying thousands of dollars to represent you is representing you, you have to worry about making yourself look bad to the judge, if you replace him. Not to mention the fact that we really can't afford a retainer for a new attorney, anyway. I absolutely hate feeling stuck like this. I know DH does, too.
4- Mediation is meant to keep high-conflict families out of court. However, since DH has had custody, he and Mom have been out of court for 4-1/2 years. (That's major, for them. While she had custody, they were often in court monthly!) Moreover, why did the judge go ahead and schedule a hearing, after the mediation, if not that he assumes the mediation will fail? Usually, the parties request a hearing IF (after) the mediation fails. Indeed, it's evident from Mom's response to DH's pleadings (if not from her prior refusal to communicate) that she will not be reasonable in discussing the issues DH has raised. So, we're going to waste a couple thousand on mediation and wind up in court over the same issues anyway. How is that the best use of anyone's time or money?
5- One of the issues DH raised is that Mom shouldn't keep paying child support "through the cost of her visits", when she hasn't visited in a year (and only came for one weekend, in the eight months before that). We know money hasn't been the problem, because she's been lavishing money on DSS at an unprecedented rate, while using the lack of visits as a tool to manipulate him into saying he wants to live with her (because she tells him that's the only way he can see more of her). However, those details are hard to get into court, because of hearsay rules. Right now, DH could walk into court, state the simple facts about how little she has visited recently, and have a solid case. That won't be true, in January. Predictably, the same day Mom filed her motion to continue, she scheduled a visit in November. So, she can walk into mediation and the January hearing, and say, "Be compassionate. I had financial troubles and couldn't afford to visit my baby. But now I can afford it again - and have been visiting - but my cruel ex-husband doesn't want me to come and wants to take away my means to do so." Then she can walk back out, still not paying child support, and stop visiting again, to manipulate DSS. That's how she is.
6- One of DH's other issues is that, considering the absolutely ridiculous issues we've had recently (Mom - who's Jewish - agreeing to let DSS spend Christmas with us, then scheduling him to fly out to her on Christmas Eve and saying, "Whoops! I forgot what day Christmas is. But now that I've scheduled it this way, I want to have him on Christmas!"; and Mom totally rearranging when she has DSS for the summer, to try to keep him from attending his brother's wedding, etc.)...DH wants to pay for and choose DSS's flights to visit Mom. Now, that issue won't be resolved until after Christmas Break. Mom is already causing drama about that and directly involving DSS, of course.