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Ex husband refuses to let me talk to my kids when he takes them on vacation, need advice about...

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi mamas,

Been a long time since I've been here on mothering. I am hopeful some of you mamas have some ideas for me.
Long story short: my ex-husband is a classic narcissist and he lives to feel like he still has control over me and the kids. He also must show me at all times that I do not have any control over what happens when he has the kids.
He is bipolar, unstable, and can be quite scary. He is also charming and extremely manipulative and has no qualms about lieing to get what he wants. He wasn't like this when I married him but slowly became a monster over the years. When he left, I was a stay at home mom of ten years, homeschooling my two boys, 8 and 6.

He stole my retirement, filed for divorce, got a shark of a lawyer and actually tried to get a 50 50 split with the kids. The kids who he almost never saw because he was out partying every night. He just made up his own reality about being an involved dad etc. He moved in with his girlfriend almost immediately upon leaving me. Snce he left, he has made my hell. He absolutely is mean and horrible to me every chance he gets. He tells the kids I am unorganized and my home is dirty. He is completely horrible to me. He is very clear that he hates me and that he wishes i would just go away. Meanwhile, I have managed to grow a lucrative career, keep my house and find a good school for my kids.
He sees them every other weekend and one overnight a week.
For the second time this year he has had them for a week vacation, and for the second time he has refused me access and not let me talk to them for the week they were gone with him. Right now i know they are out of town but I don't know where and he has not allowed me to talk to them on the hpone. He has had his phone turned off for two days now. He says I can go to hell and that he wants them without me in th picture and I don't need to talk to them.

Last time I got my lawyer involved and it did nothing. He just laughed at the lawyers letter.

I really don't know what to do. Do I tell my 10 and 8 yearn old that he wouldn't let me talk to them. Should I justnbuy them a phone? I'm not sure he won't take that away. Using a lawyer seems like a waste of money. I just feel stuck and at the whim of this horrible sick man.

Thanks for reading,
post #2 of 14
Im so sorry, that is absolutely horrible. I think that is quite illegal also? I'd have to look more, but I'm pretty sure you're at least allowed to know the well being of your children. Your best bet might be calling your lawyer. Tell the lawyer that sending a letter just isn't enough. I hope things work out, I know I'd be frantic if I had no contact with my son for more than a day.
post #3 of 14
Horrible! I'm so glad you got away from him and you managed to keep the kids largely away from him too.

I think it's ok to tell your kids that you tried calling to check in every day but their dad's phone was turned off. You can tell them you will try to work out a solution for their next vacation w him. Maybe even ask them if they have any ideas for what to do.

I worry that giving them a phone might put them in danger if he thinks you are trying to keep the kids from wanting to be w him.

You should absolutely know where they are at the very least.

I'm sorry he is so awful. He certainly is a classic narcissist. Hugs.
post #4 of 14
I am so sorry you are dealing with this. My ex is similar in many ways. My 11 year old refuses to go on any visits at all with him. She is in counseling to help her deal with it all. My 6 year old now goes by herself every other weekend and one evening per week. He refuses to let her call home at all while she is there. I sent a phone with her when she first started going alone, but he told her not to call me. She stopped asking to call me because she knows it makes him mad. I have no rights with the phone call...I can take him to court, but my lawyer says I probably won't win when it's only 4 nights per month that he has her (plus 2 weeks in the summer). If it was a vacation...I may have more rights, but even then, it is questionable and he would simply say they didn't have phone service, the phone didn't work, etc... (his excuses when they went north for 4 days). I think you should know where they are for sure, and you may have rights on that, I would definitely ask about it. Good luck mama.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks mamas! I did talk to my lawyer and he is in violation of the parenting plan. He has outright refused to let me talk to my 8 year old since Monday. His phone is off. He turns it on just long enough to order me when I am allowed to pick up the kids tomorrow. We made a switch so are off on our nights. I switched a weekend with him as a favor. I wont do that again.
My lawyer says I can file a contempt of pp charge and if I win he will have to pay my fees. I guess my fear is that he will come after me. He is all about punishing me and claiming I am mentally ill and doing whatever he needs to do to make himself look good. I am afraid of what he may do. But at the same time I cannot stand not talking to my kids all week.
post #6 of 14

That sucks mamapajama.... my heart hurts for you.   


Document EVERYTHING.  Take him to court.  He is clearly violating the arrangement.  I can't see how any judge is going side with him on this, no matter what he tries to counter with (you're mentally unstable, etc).  Given his behavior, I think any judge will see through his lies.


I do think you should explain to your children how you tried to call them.  A week is a long time, and they need that reassurance.  I like how lilgreen suggested it- even asking them if they have any ideas for next time.  That way you aren't outright villianizing their father (though, imo he is very much a villian!), but they will know that you were/ are trying to reach them during the vacation, and they will eventually put it together that their father is the one blocking that access.  


It almost sounds like kidnapping to me!  Whatever your arrangement is, and although you knew they were going on vacation, you have every right to know where your children are!  I would have been scared to death.  *hugs*.  I would have called the police-  maybe they can't really do anything, but at least the complaint is documented.  I know you are afraid of escalating things, but it sounds like your ex has already done that.  

post #7 of 14

If you haven't read all the books on divorcing a narcissist, then get to Amazon and start looking!   I am so sorry you are dealing with this.  Not knowing where they are is a violation of any parenting agreement, and worth a trip to court if you have the funds at all.


I'd suppose that the children are a source of narcissistic supply to him.  I don't have any advice as to how to turn that around, other than to hope he gets a new source of supply, like a doting girlfriend or girlfriend's kids.

post #8 of 14

You have my sympathies - everyone's sympathies, I'm sure.  But based on my own family's experience, I think you cannot change the phone contact issue...which is not the same as saying you should do nothing.  


Wherever you live, there are certainly statutes requiring him to allow reasonable phone contact with the kids, during his parenting time.  But how on earth can anyone enforce that?  He can be found in contempt.  But he won't be jailed over phone contact, so in the end contempt is only words.  He'll be as intimidated by a judge's contempt order, as he was about your attorney's letter.  And it's unreasonable to think his visitation would be reduced, over phone contact, especially since he already has a fairly minimal amount of it.  (If you guys had 50-50 and you could show a long-standing pattern of him not following guidelines about contact with the kids, maybe a judge would reduce him to the amount of visitation he has now.)  And - if he's as you describe - don't imagine the kids would be in charge of their own phone, during his parenting time, even if you bought them one.  Even if he didn't take it from them, he could say things to discourage them from calling you; or hover over them while they're talking to you, to control what they do/don't tell you.


IMO, many details of Family Court orders/guidelines (like how to manage phone contact) are only effective for people who don't need to be told how to co-parent reasonably.  Because, in the end, there won't be a judge, police officer or guardian ad litem standing there with your ex-husband, making him hand the phone to the kids.


Nevertheless, I think it's important that you do two things:


1- Be clear with your kids about what's going on.  I'm big on not bad-mouthing your kids' other parent.  Even if your ex is doing it to you, you shouldn't do it just for revenge.  But if there's a choice between your kids knowing something negative - but true - about one parent; or believing something negative and false about the other, the former is clearly better for the kids than the latter.  The kids need to know that you want - and have a legal right - to speak to them on the phone at least once every day or two, and to know when/where they travel with their dad.  The older they get, the more you should expect them to take some responsibility for making this happen, instead of just going along with whatever their dad wants, even when they know it's not fair to you.  But when they're little, they need to know you won't blame them if the contact/communication doesn't happen.  If they hear from your ex that you don't care about talking with them, at least they will have heard the other side of the story.


2- You need to document - with the court - what's going on.  


When my husband asked for custody of his son from a previous marriage, based on his ex systematically blocking his parenting time, her defense was that it hadn't been "safe" for her to permit more father-son contact than she had, due to "abuse", "stalking", "harassment", etc.  The judge quite reasonably pointed out that - until Mom was on the hot seat - she had not filed a single thing with the court, to legally protect her son from all this alleged abuse.  Mom claimed she had consciously chosen not to file anything, because the court had already given her custody and she'd been advised nothing more could be effectively accomplished; so she hadn't wasted money - or put their child through all the stress - of legal action that could only result in my husband getting a meaningless finger-wagging from a judge.  That sounded pretty sane, on her part.  But, even though her claims of ongoing "abuse" were consistent with the complaints she'd made about my husband during their divorce, the judge was unconvinced that he'd done anything to justify Mom's behavior since then, because Mom hadn't brought it up until after he complained about her.  My husband got sole custody.


Now, in our case that was all good.  My step-son's mom applies the terms "abuse", "stalking" and "harassment", when my husband insists on exercising visitation, even though she decided it was best for their child that he not be involved in his life (in spite of their court orders and the recommendations of their child psychologist).  She needed to lose custody.  


But, in the 5 years my step-son has lived with us, I've seen the other side.  My step-son turns 14 this year and gains a voice in where he lives.  (How much his opinion counts is still a bit of a mystery.)  Mom has intensely coached, manipulated and even bribed him to promise he'll say he wants to live with her, if she does actually take my husband back to court, for custody.  We have a long list of things she has done, showing how unhealthy it would be for DSS to resume living with her, even if he says he wants to.  (That list includes her blocking phone contact when DSS visits her and not telling us when/where they travel.)  However, we have not brought even one of these issues to the court's attention in the last 5 years.  My husband's attorney has insisted that - once Mom lost custody - there was nothing a judge could do, to effectively enforce smaller details, so we'd just seem litigious for taking any legal action.


However, we have created a situation where Mom can ask for custody - and if DSS says he wants to live with her - she can say, "There hasn't been a single problem with my behavior in the last 5 years.  My ex hasn't filed a single complaint against me.  And any complaints he makes now are just because he doesn't want to lose custody and reverse the flow of child support."  They did go to mediation over some issues, this winter, but (astoundingly) mediation succeeded, so Mom wasn't found in contempt over anything; there's no official record of what the problems were that led to mediation and Mom appears to have fundamentally changed and become capable of reasonable compromise.


If your ex is half as manipulative, punitive, deceitful, controlling and divisive as my husband's ex-wife, I would not recommend putting yourself in the same position we're in.  You don't necessarily need to seek modifications of your court orders.  Multiple contempt findings - even if they don't result in any different behavior - should insulate you, if your ex makes false allegations against you in the future, or tries to get 50-50 or primary custody of the kids.

Edited by VocalMinority - 2/26/13 at 11:25am
post #9 of 14
Originally Posted by Fortune Teller View Post

It almost sounds like kidnapping to me!  Whatever your arrangement is, and although you knew they were going on vacation, you have every right to know where your children are!  I would have been scared to death.  *hugs*.  I would have called the police-  maybe they can't really do anything, but at least the complaint is documented.  I know you are afraid of escalating things, but it sounds like your ex has already done that.  

I understand these feelings, but for a non-custodial parent to travel with his kids during his parenting time is absolutely not kidnapping.  Parental kidnapping (sometimes called "interference with custody") is a criminal offense in which police can, indeed, get involved.  Failure to share information about your plans with the kids - or to allow the kids to communicate with their other parent - is rotten and wrong.  But it is only a violation of civil court orders and can only be addressed by the civil court that issued them, not police.  


For the OP to involve police or call it kidnapping would make her look wrong and hysterical (in the eyes of the court) and leave her vulnerable to her ex-husband accusing her of trying to alienate him from the kids, which can be a reason to give him custody.  She must remain smarter than he is, not get emotional.

post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Oh what wonderful advice!!!!'
I'm running to work but I have a lot to say this eve.
Thank you mamas!!!!!'
post #11 of 14

That is so awful-I would be a wreck not knowing where my kids are and being unable to talk to them, particularly when they were in the care of a man who has openly professed that he would prefer they were separated from me permanently, father or not :(


Not being allowed to talk to you for a week and your not knowing their whereabouts in case of an emergency on your or their parts is clearly not in their best interest.  I would absolutely file something with the court, at the very least to document it.  I would also try to make sure there was specific wording added into the parenting agreement about letting the other parent know if you are travelling out of state and providing contact information (that actually works!)  Print out your phone records showing when you attempted to contact your kids, along with the length of the phone call to prove he didn't answer a single time.  I don't know how much of a chance you would have of this happening, but I would consider asking my lawyer about reducing the length of his vacation so you are not out of contact with your children so long if it came down to it. 


I would also explain to your kids that you tried to call, but daddy's phone was off.  You don't need to specify that he purposefully turned it off or that he kept you from talking to them, but I do think them knowing that you did your best to get in touch with them is important.  Tell them that next time you will remind dad to keep his phone on and they can ask to call you as well, and even if you don't get to speak to them you will see them in x amount of days. 


While I do agree with PP that a NCP taking a kid for vacation is not at all kidnapping, I think the issue here is that this particular NCP has stated previously that he wishes mom was not in the picture anymore and has exhibited other disturbing behavior (based on the OP's post) which would make me extremely nervous about his disappearing for a week without having any idea where they were or what they were up to. 

post #12 of 14

Hello  Mamapajama - I was wondering the ages of your children?  I saw you mentioned they were 8 & 10 when you were going through the initial process....  I believe? My children are 10 & 12 and I have that same type of husband who will do anything to control me  - so I bought the kids basic cell phones and added family locator to our plan.  I can activate the locator anytime from my phone and get their location. He doesn't take the phones from the kids because I purchased them and the children are old enough to protest. The cell phones are also his primary method of communicating with the kids when they are home and I think that is another reason why he doesn't mess with them - I can simply take them away. I am not sure if this will work in your situation, but, it works for me:)

post #13 of 14

My kids don't have cell phones but they can text me from the ipod's wherever wifi is available.    It's not the most consistent form of communication but at least we get to check-in with each other without them having to ask their dad to use his phone.   

post #14 of 14

I agree with the cell phone idea.

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