Seeing a lawyer tonight, worried.
I would speak to a lawyer. Many will do a free consultation.
In my state custody and cs payment are handled separately. He has not made any attempts to have a relationship with the children and they are established where they are at. Most courts wouldn't change that unless he could prove an unsafe situation. In my case, they advised us that if we wanted to make changes to do it before dd was established in school, friends, etc. because the courts in our area would push to keep the status quo.
I think he's likely just trying to push you around and having some legal advice will help you feel more confident in that. If he gets the feeling he has no control over you, you won't feed his ego, or whatever it is he gets off of from you he will lose interest.
Getting the state to get CS from my ex was the best thing I could have done and wish that I had done it sooner. They calculated in arrears too. Of course, ex has had his license suspended (more than once) and has been to court twice for nonpayment. But now it is the state's word vs. mine. The state's lawyer is there on my behalf. They did garnish his wages for the thousands of back support but his current wife contested it and now it is in escrow "indefinitely".
I have a different lawyer for custody- and boy do I pay out for that-but that is a separate issue.
No advice from me, but I'll attempt to reformat the OP into paragraphs so that wiser mamas can read your original post. Here it is:
I don't know why I'm such a stress case about this. I'll try to keep it as short as possible because lord knows I can be wordy when I get going.
I'm going to a lawyer tonight to have them sign a document that will allow an organization to collect child support on my behalf.
Up until this point, child support has been non existant. We separated four years ago. I have received child support four times, and only half of the court ordered amount (he told me that $250/month is plenty to raise the kids on).
I should have done this YEARS ago, but I've been so stressed about it because he, at one point, threatened to "take custody" from me to get out of paying child support. I made more than him at the time, and he informed me just how much I'd be required to pay HIM for child support. It would have been financially crippling. And I still would have ended up with the kids most of the time, because he's away for "work" all the time.
I have had full custody for the past several years. We were supposed to have joint, but he up and left the country for "work" (ie: 6 months of vacation time, he was unsuccessful securing a job during this time to the best of my knowledge). Before he left, I had an agreement signed stating I had full physical custody, and we have joint decision making. He was to see the kids each weekend (when he's in the country.)
When he returned to the country, he did not see the kids or contact them for an additional three months. I finally tracked him down (through his parents) and his excuse was that he was "couch surfing" and "living in a drug house" and didn't want the kids to be there. Well duh. When he finally got his life sorted out, he took them a handful of weekends. After Christmas of last year, he disappeared again for another full 6 months with zero contact. For no reason. He lives half an hour away.
It is worth noting that he did pay half of daycare during this time (it's in our court order), but not without me chasing him and hounding him constantly, and getting it late every single time. He paid zero for child support during this time. The four times he paid anything at all were in 2011.
The kids are nearing the age where they are out of daycare. I worry that I will be receiving no help from him, in the coming year. He has also had another child with another woman, which is his latest excuse for not paying. Also worth noting, he finally has a "real" job (ie: he doesn't get paid under the table anymore) and I understand that he now makes well more than me. But still pays nothing for child support.
What is the point of this post? I'm stressed about the backlash this will cause once he gets the letter from the organization, informing him that the support amount will be coming directly off his paycheck.
He has threatened to take custody before. He is currently armed with a "documentation folder" full of lies and slander. He is a damn good liar. He had me fooled for our entire relationship. I can't even begin to describe his personality. He has all the signs and symptoms of a full blown sociopath. Charming and charistmatic, amazing liar, grandiose sense of self, irresponsibilty and promiscuity... He can convince you the sky is green. I'm SO so worried that if he takes me to court, he will get custody based on his incredible ability to convince anyone of anything.
Some of the "documentation" he has is just disgusting (because he's emailed me about it, ridiculous accusations based on snippets of out-of-context conversation between the kids). I have told him it's ridiculous, and he admitted it's ridiculous, but still hangs onto it as a threat. Like when he informed me that I don't let the kids call him when they ask (they NEVER ask, and when I've suggested to them that they call him for father's day or to keep in touch, they say no!)
I also have documentation - four calendars outlining the few times he's taken the kids, neglect, exposure to unsafe conditions, exposure to inappropriate situations, the brainwashing sessions, the history of non-payment of any sort of support.... The list goes on.
I just worry that if this goes to court (and it will, his pride is on the line here) it will become a slam-fest of us slinging mud at eachother for stupid things. I can sit and be good and do well with presenting the FACTS of the situation, but I do not do well when people lie about me. IT is my weakness. I flip out. I can't handle when people lie about me. And he WILL be lying about me.
Ugh...I guess I just need to vent. I'm so stressed about filing this paperwork. I'm stressed that he'll take my babies from me. I"m stressed that when that happens, it'll financially cripple me because I'll be handing him over a quarter of my monthly pay.
Being with him will damage the kids. They already hate going there (which he blames on me, he doesn't see that it's his own un-involvement in their lives that has shaped their opinion of him).
I don't even what to think about how the school situation would work... He's told me in the past that I WILLbe giving him 50/50 custody and he WILL be enrolling them in a school near his rented apartment. Not asking. Not suggesting. He just tells me "This is happening" and expects me to jump. And then never mentions it again. He has done this three times.
They are stable where they are. They are established in a school. They do well, they have friends, they have a social life and activities all centered around the hub of my house, most of which I volunteer for.
I am NOT cool with disrupting their lives. I don't think it's in their best interest in this case, with a father who up and disappears from their lives at a drop of a hat, with no contact. I hate this.
Edited by emilysmama - 6/27/13 at 6:56am
Posting the other post from the original poster:
Rubelin, I tried! It's not giving me any options to format. Technology hates me, lately, I swear it!
Nutshell version - I'm going to have the province garnish my ex's wages, as he has paid child support a total of four times in the four years since we've split.
am worried that doing this will trigger him into trying to take custody from me, as he has threatened this in the past to try and get out of paying. I have had primary physical custody for 3.5 years, and he has abandoned the kids several times, for periods of 4-9 months each time. Even still, I am paranoid that he'll win 50/50 custody, as they favor equal rights in our province. And he is a spectacularly good pathological liar, and has fabricated "documentation" against me (I know of only a portion of it.)
I went to the lawyer last night and all went well. Paperwork is going into the mail today! I hear it takes forever for them to process it, but that once it's done, they'll start collecting directly from his employer within 30 days.
I just hope he can hold down this job for that long. =/ He's notorious for losing his jobs. Never his fault, though. Nothing is!
Your synopsis was helpful =)
I would basically advise you to stop worrying that he could ever take your kids away. Yes, he should be able to get some visitation (and he is their father, ideally, kids should get to spend time with their parents unless it's harmful), but he left for 4 years, has not supported them financially, hasn't made them a priority in any way. To people on the outside looking in, it's pretty clear that he is not in a position to have custody of them
He knows he's got you scared, that's why he told you he'd take them, but reality is that he can't actually take them. Stand up for yourself, and for them and hold him accountable.
I don't see any reason at all why he would get primary custody, or even 50/50. You said you have a signed agreement that you have primary custody-I'm assuming you mean a legal document filed with the courts? If he wants to change it, the burden of proof is on him, meaning he has to explain to a judge what has changed drastically and why it would be better for the kids to live with him 50% or more of the time. He has a history of abandoning them for months at a time, has a spotty employment history, kids would have to switch schools, move away from friends, etc....He can't just decide he is going to do those things, and judges generally want to keep the status quo if the kids are doing well.
Bottom line, try to relax :) Yes, he might end up with *more* visitation, but it sounds pretty unlikely he will even use it based on his history, and I would be totally shocked if he ended up with much more than he has now since he hasn't used it! Good luck!
OP's most recent post, edited to add paragraphs, below:
Paperwork is in the mail! So the ball is officially rolling. I'm so excited to have this out of my hands. I'm tired of fruitlessly trying to be a bill collector every month. It's EXHAUSTING.
Paragraphs will fail again, so I will keep this short.
Yes, we have a court ordered custody agreement. I have primary physical, he has access to them on weekends. He rarely uses his weekends.
I have documentation reaching back over the past four years, detailing every single time he has taken them. It's a depressingly low amount. Often, he'll arrange to take them for the weekend and then bail at the last minute. This has screwed my kids over many times, when they have had to cancel plans with friends in anticipation of a Dad Visit, only to end up with nothing to do on the weekend.
Because of this, they don't like going. They beg me not to make them go, and it's just getting really hard.
Entirely different topic, but what do I do in this case? Force them to go? My daughter is nearing her teens. At what point does she get to "officially" make her own choice? She also hates going because he has four children in a two bedroom apartment, and when they go there, she sleeps on the floor.
You guys are right. I"m an idiot for thinking a judge would award him any sort of custody.
Legally, you need to make your DD go for Court-ordered visitation. That obligation doesn't cease until she is an adult (i.e. 18 years old). Even if you do everything in your control to make her go but she bails anyway, and no matter how boring it is for her there or how much she wants to spend time with you or her friends instead, if she doesn't go to Court-ordered visits and he reports it to the Court, you would be in contempt of the Court order and he would have legitimate evidence to present that you are interfering with their relationship. Even if you sincerely believe it's in her best interest to spend less time with him, failure to follow the Court's order will likely hurt your case. If you think sending her would put her in a dangerous situation you still need to request the Court make a (emergency/expedited, if necessary) ruling that the visits can stop or be reduced.
Practically, there will come a point where your good faith efforts to make her go fail, for example if she's driving and takes it upon herself to not go or she makes herself unavailable when you're supposed to take her (e.g. hides at a friend's house). Obviously the more reinforcement she has that visits are optional and/or unpleasant, the more she is likely to fight it. For this reason it's important for you to present a solid façade that it's not something she gets to choose and that it's something you want her to do. Help her brainstorm ways to make it more pleasant. She doesn't like sleeping on the floor? (duh, who likes that) Get her a compact inflatable mattress (look at camping stores) to bring back-and-forth with her to make it more comfortable. Yes, these are things her dad should be doing for her, and you can't--and shouldn't have to--solve problems that he should be dealing with, but at some point if there are some small steps you can do to make her willing to go, such steps should be considered.
With these two conflicting realities in mind, if she really doesn't want to go and you can't convince her otherwise, you can certainly request modification of child visitation and present her wishes to the court for a new visitation schedule. The Court is likely to consider not only if she's sufficiently mature to contribute to the decision (until she's 18 she does not get to make the decision) and what she says her wants are on their face, but also consider whether she has been unduely influenced (i.e. coached).
I don't know what your current order looks like, but my DH's order has a statement that the parties can deviate from the order by mutual agreement. That is to say that if DH's ex asks him to give up some time so that DSD can go to a birthday party and DH obliges, or if DH asks DSD's mom if he can keep DSD for an extra night and she agrees to it, this idea of the missed time counting as "withholding the child" goes out the window. I hope your order has similar language. Regardless, I would keep track of deviations that you perceive have been agreed upon (and the times he bailed!) in case he does decide to make it an issue. A simple ledger with dates and factual descriptions (i.e. no editorializing) of each deviation ought to be good "protection" against any claim you've withheld the children. My DH keeps a Google Calendar and puts in "events" whenever they agree to deviate and makes a note of the reason they decided to go off-schedule. It doesn't have to be fancy.
Of course, agreeing to deviate from the order doesn't preclude either party from motioning the Court to make those ad-hoc deviations permanent. For example, you could petition the Court to reduce your XP's time (presenting the ledger data I described above) because he doesn't use it anyway (I wouldn't personally aim to ask for him to be granted less than he actually uses, at the risk of looking unreasonable to the Court, but obviously what you choose to ask for is your prerogative). If he's "working," and the schedule in the Court's order doesn't mesh with his "work" schedule, then the order can (and I'd argue it SHOULD) be updated to reflect what's realistic. Being flexible in co-parenting is great, but not to the extent that the kids are constantly disappointed and that you can't ever make plans for yourself when they're supposed to be with their dad because he bails anyway (not that the Court will care about the latter, admittedly).