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We've Moved; Ex hasn't tried... but thoughts on future communication - with kiddo

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Holiday season came and went without communication from my son's father. Very disappointing, not surprising, but very disappointing.

 

Quick run-down: Ex and I separated when kiddo was 18months. We were never married and I always remained sole-custody just because, we didn't do anything legally about that (except child support, Ex is on the legal books for Support). For two years kiddo was with Dad one night a week, and Dad was consistent on that.

 

Two months ago, me and the 4yo kiddo and I moved across country, literally 2300 miles away from Dad. I gave Ex TONS of notice; notice to Stop me; notice to file whatever he might have wanted. I totally expected to hear from a lawyer... but it didn't happen. So we moved. Dad was angry (of course!), but he didn't do what was Fully In His Right, and let us go.

 

Throughout the move I texted updates and photos. Endless cards and packages have arrived (way before Xmas) from the Grandparents, but nothing from Dad. Xmas came and went. Nothing from Dad. Somewhere in there was an update from School and us getting established with a new pediatrician, which I emailed to Ex the information, to keep him in the loop and to see if he had anything to share. No response.

 

New Year's came... and he finally texted with "it would make my day to hear his voice"

Which i didn't respond with anger (even though I was FUMING on the inside)... I was all about... let's make it happen. Once again (because I'd sent it before), here is my Skype name and any time you want, I only need an hours notice...

And then Nada.

No follow-up.

Just dead-space.

And they never got to talk. It never happened.

 

And now here we are, 2+ months in a new town across country.

 

I told him when we moved, You are his father, I Will Never let him forget you; I will do everything in my power, as long as you are interested.

And I meant it. And I still mean it. This is my son's father. I am fighting ALL of my family (who'd rather him just disappear) in my want to keep up connection with this man, because he is His Father.

 

But... he is not trying. He is not doing Anything. He is not calling. He is not even texting me to see if his son is OK. I'm sure he is seeing Facebook posts and probably feels like he is staying up to date, because I tag him in every picture that I take. But he is not actually doing Anything on his own.

 

--

And my family in my head is starting to creep in.

Maybe I shouldn't try to keep them in touch.

Maybe his failure to TRY..... try before we left, try now since we've been here...

 

I dunno. The boy is 4yrs old. He still has memories of his father and while he doesn't really ask about him, he says things..."mommy, this is the biggest river I've ever seen; Daddy doesn't have a river like this; Daddy's river is small"...

 

And he didn't question whether or not Daddy sent him something for Xmas, but we were making cards and he Loves to write notes & cards, and he was happy to make a drawing for Daddy...

 

Daddy is on his mind, for sure.

 

I don't know if I should pressure the Skype connection or let it go? Afterall, I moved him 2300 miles away from his father... I know eventually there will be dramatic, horrible repercussions from that. But does he Want or Need to talk to him today? Do I need to BEG his father to make it happen?

 

Anyone been through this?

I guess the clincher is that I am not dating, nor do I plan to (in the foreseeable future, at least). There is not a man in MY life that I'm planning to fill the Daddy role. His dad is his Dad. But his dad is now far, crazy far away. And that has to be confusing in itself... I've just been filling up our 2months here so far with Grandpa and Uncles and the men that I want my son to have a role-model with for the future. And I'm going to keep building on those relationships...

 

But those are not his dad.... 

post #2 of 20

I think it might be time to stop tagging him on FB posts. Stop making it easier for him. If he's gonna disappear, let him do it. It sucks for your son, but it sucks whether or not you try to keep dad in the picture, when he's not trying to be there.

 

Your son has an amazing momma and you'll make sure he's got fabulous men in his life, too so he won't miss out on that. It's your ex's loss, whether or not he ever realizes that =(

post #3 of 20

I can't say I agree in letting him disappear. Here is what sucks in the situation. IF the courts do get involved they will ask if you try to keep them connected. It will look bad on you if you don't so it's better to keep your own butt covered just in case. The only reason why I try and keep a relationship going with my son and ex is because of the courts. 

post #4 of 20
I agree with working to keep up contact. Why wouldn't you just try to call him on Skype? At the least you could record that you tried then. You know he is not going to organize it.

Hope you are happy in your new location.
post #5 of 20

Make sure you're keeping a record of all of this if you aren't. Save text messages and emails. Keep a journal of what you told him and when, things like "Told him we were moving to [location] [time period] in advance" "Reminded him we are moving" "Sent images and updates during move" "Gave him new pediatrician information" "Told him about son's first week in the new school" "Tagged him in facebook post about our son". Say who instigated contact (whether you started the convo or if your ex did). Anything you do to keep him involved in his son's life? Record it. Anything your ex misses (no Christmas card/gift/call? Yeah, you need to record that.), record that as well.

 

You said that your son made a drawing for his daddy- did you mail that to him/send him a picture of it? It may be a good idea to do that (and, again, record that you did).

 

 

I agree with PP that you can't just leave it because it could look bad for courts, but make sure that you record your efforts so that your ex can't say "she didn't do anything to keep us in touch- she moved across the country and didn't even tell me!" and turn it into a battle of "he said/she said". Be able to show that you made every effort to keep your ex in your son's life and that your ex couldn't be bothered.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Springshowers View Post

I agree with working to keep up contact. Why wouldn't you just try to call him on Skype? At the least you could record that you tried then. You know he is not going to organize it.

Hope you are happy in your new location.


The problem is that to start a skype convo between her ex and their son, she has to make sure her son is there. If she tells her kid "I'm going to call daddy!" and daddy doesn't want to talk/doesn't reply/whatever- that's going to be heartbreaking for the kid, I'm sure. This is why I wouldn't suggest doing that.

 

Instead- I think she should suggest a specific time. Rather than "give me an hour's notice", say "how does Friday at 4 sound" and, again, make it clear he can choose a better time if that doesn't work for him.

post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by annlea View Post
 

I can't say I agree in letting him disappear. Here is what sucks in the situation. IF the courts do get involved they will ask if you try to keep them connected. It will look bad on you if you don't so it's better to keep your own butt covered just in case. The only reason why I try and keep a relationship going with my son and ex is because of the courts. 


I agree to some extent, but I think what looks bad to the court is if you are blocking contact, rather than not encouraging it.  I would continue sending email updates about the legal custody things-school, medical, etc.  I would not tag him in your FB photos, but I would send a few photos via email once in a while.  I would make sure he has your updated phone number/address/email address.  Other than that, there isn't much you can do to make him stay involved.

 

I would also make sure that you do automatically have sole custody, both in the state your son was born and in your current state.  In my state, that is not the case with unmarried parents-dp and I were not married, but because he is on the birth certificate, he had equal legal and physical custody claim until we got a court order saying otherwise.  

post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenemami View Post
 

I agree to some extent, but I think what looks bad to the court is if you are blocking contact, rather than not encouraging it.  I would continue sending email updates about the legal custody things-school, medical, etc.  I would not tag him in your FB photos, but I would send a few photos via email once in a while.  I would make sure he has your updated phone number/address/email address.  Other than that, there isn't much you can do to make him stay involved.

 

This is kind-of where my brain is headed today... continue to keep him in the loop because he does have the right. If he responds or not, at least I'm being a responsible parent.  But maybe not going out of my way to make communication happen, as some have mentioned, maybe stop Tagging him in pictures/posts. I'm not going to Block him or anything! But maybe not make it so terribly easy.
I've told him numerous times I only need an hours notice for a Skype call, so we are about as flexible (and receptive) as we can be.

 

YES I am documenting everything; saving all emails/texts I send and I've always had a journal of everything just because I never knew if a legal battle was headed our way.

 

As far as custody, I have a lawyer in Oregon who counseled me before the move.  Because we do not have a formal custody agreement, according to the lawyer, I'm not under requirement to provide visitation. I'm unsure about this coming summer, but my intention has always been to Get Back to Oregon to give them some time together - and obviously I would travel with him since he's too young to travel alone. And also because we have no formal custody arrangement, once he's with his father, technically he'd be In His Custody, and Dad would have no obligation to give him back to me.

So I'd planned to start working with my Oregon atty sometime this Spring and see if we can do a custody hearing there this summer. That way we're set for upcoming years. But again, as lawyer stated, if it's formal and on the books, I will be REQUIRED to provide visitation, and since I'm the one that moved away, it'll be at MY cost (sigh).

I guess we'll see how that goes over the next few months.

 

Thanks guys for your words.

post #8 of 20
Would it not be better to do it in your new location once enough time has passed?
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Springshowers View Post

Would it not be better to do it in your new location once enough time has passed?


From what I understand, it has to originate in the state the child was born in. Once custody is established in Oregon, North Carolina would just abide by whatever was set in Oregon.

My lawyer was telling me that 80% of the forms and filing could be done over fax/email, but that I've have to Come Back to Oregon for the actual hearing.

 

Maybe I'm misinformed??

post #10 of 20
I just thoughti have heard people here say once you have lived somewhere for a certain period of time you can file in that state. I personally know nothing though. But it might be good to check the rules where you are now just in case.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by JordanKX View Post
 


From what I understand, it has to originate in the state the child was born in. Once custody is established in Oregon, North Carolina would just abide by whatever was set in Oregon.

My lawyer was telling me that 80% of the forms and filing could be done over fax/email, but that I've have to Come Back to Oregon for the actual hearing.

 

Maybe I'm misinformed??

That is when that state has jurisdiction. Right now it doesn't so yep...you would have to go back to the original state. Talk to the lawyer about switching it. I was able to switch jurisdiction to CT from MA once we lived here for over 6 months. But this depends on the state.

post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by JordanKX View Post
 


From what I understand, it has to originate in the state the child was born in. Once custody is established in Oregon, North Carolina would just abide by whatever was set in Oregon.

My lawyer was telling me that 80% of the forms and filing could be done over fax/email, but that I've have to Come Back to Oregon for the actual hearing.

 

Maybe I'm misinformed??


I was under the impression that once you had established residency (usually 6 months), you should file in your current state, especially since there is no custody agreement in Oregon already.  It would make it much easier for you so you don't have to go back and forth.  I would definitely ask your lawyer about this. 

post #13 of 20
Quote:
I agree to some extent, but I think what looks bad to the court is if you are blocking contact, rather than not encouraging it.  I would continue sending email updates about the legal custody things-school, medical, etc.  I would not tag him in your FB photos, but I would send a few photos via email once in a while.  I would make sure he has your updated phone number/address/email address.  Other than that, there isn't much you can do to make him stay involved.

 

:yeah

 

In my state a child support order must establish a residential (i.e. custodial) parent in order to identify which parent pays and which receives the child support on behalf of the child. So if dad doesn't request parenting time ("custody") at that time then mom remains the child's sole custodian. I am not familiar with OR laws, but it is possible, if not likely, that OR has already established jurisdiction of the case by creating the child support order. If you are interested in moving the case to your new state, you should ask your lawyer what OR's requirements are to release jurisdiction to your new state. It's possible OR won't release jurisdiction for any reason while either you, the child, or the child's father remain in OR and/or maintain ties to OR; or perhaps they will release it if the child's father becomes absent from the child's life for a long enough period of time. The requirements vary by state. Of course it would be more convenient for you to not have to go back to OR for hearings (which could occur at any time he decides to formally request modification of parenting time).

 

I would review your records from the Court about the child support order. If you don't have those records, your lawyer can get them and (e)mail a copy to you. Does that order establish you as the primary or sole custodian (I assume it would, since you're the one who receives the child support payments)? The idea that he can legally abscond with your child is nonsense. He has no rights to take the child--even if he's on the birth certificate--until the Court grants him such rights. Legally being identified as the father (or paying child support) does not grant custody rights. See Oregon Statute Section 109: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/109.175 

 

Along the lines of facilitating a relationship between your child and his father, it's one thing to notify dad when you'll be in OR for a few weeks and to suggest he can meet with the child while you're there, and another thing entirely to metaphorically show up at his door with the child and push him to take DS somewhere without dad's even asking for it. Personally I would send dad an email of your expected summer vacation plans (i.e. what days you'll be in OR) once you know the approximate schedule and leave it to him to ask to see the child during that time frame. You might even send an email update once half the vacation time has passed, to "remind him" that you're in town if he wants to visit DS.

post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by autumngrey View Post
 

 

:yeah

 

The idea that he can legally abscond with your child is nonsense. He has no rights to take the child--even if he's on the birth certificate--until the Court grants him such rights. Legally being identified as the father (or paying child support) does not grant custody rights. See Oregon Statute Section 109: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/109.175 

 

This is not true in all states though-in PA, until I had a custody order stating otherwise, ex and I did have equal rights to our children even though we were never married, because he signed the birth certificate.  So technically, ex or I could have kept the children from the other parent without facing legal consequences (other than looking bad later in court, presumably)  It doesn't sound like this dad is likely to do that, and I'm glad to see that in Oregon, he cannot.  I just thought I'd clarify this for other readers though :)

post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by autumngrey View Post

 

Along the lines of facilitating a relationship between your child and his father, it's one thing to notify dad when you'll be in OR for a few weeks and to suggest he can meet with the child while you're there, and another thing entirely to metaphorically show up at his door with the child and push him to take DS somewhere without dad's even asking for it. Personally I would send dad an email of your expected summer vacation plans (i.e. what days you'll be in OR) once you know the approximate schedule and leave it to him to ask to see the child during that time frame. You might even send an email update once half the vacation time has passed, to "remind him" that you're in town if he wants to visit DS.

 

Thanks AutumnGrey for posting the statute and I'll look in to it, but as Greenemami says, my lawyer while in Oregon told me that without a court-ordered custody agreement, "Whomever" is in possession of the child, has custody (Yes, XP signed the birth certificate).  Just as it was within my right to move us to North Carolina, it would also be within XP's right to take him wherever he wanted. Again, luckily has never been a concern with him while I was living in Oregon and not a real concern over any visiting we might do back to the state, but still!

 

And just wanted to clarify that as far as visiting Oregon, I would Certainly let XP know! The sole reason for visiting the state would be so they would have time together.... so he would be incorporated in to all plans. Again, according to my Oregon lawyer, because we have no current custody agreement, I'm not required to provide visitation, so I don't Have to travel back to Oregon this year.

 

This is where things get sticky that my Personal, potentially Spiteful self kicks in and says... if you can't provide some child support or some want for communication, why should I foot the bill for physical visits?

And where my lawyer kicks in and reminds me that Child support (and potential lack of payment) has nothing to do with custody; that technically he still has a RIGHT to see his child. Which, of course, when considering the best life for my child... Of Course I understand! Of course I would never stand in the way of him seeing his father. The question becomes that without a court-ordered requirement for Me to return him to Oregon for visitation, do I really have to?

 

-- I need a lawyer in my state to coordinate with Oregon, I'm realizing as well. Maybe not pressing, but needs to be looked in to.

 

And just to update, this week XP has been texting with "I really miss him". And my response is always, consistently... "Whenever you want to skype with him, just let me know."

I mean, texting that he misses him... well, that's Fantastic. Do Something About It! 


Edited by JordanKX - 1/11/14 at 10:05pm
post #16 of 20

Is there a reason he can't talk on the phone to him?  Isn't skype a pricey thing that requires a lot of internet service?  If this turns nasty in court I could see him saying he doesn't have skype or access to steady enough internet to run skype and you refused to let your son talk to him on the phone.  I don't think that would look good. 

 

I think you should try to get used to having to pay transportation costs if you are pursuing a legal custody agreement.  I am not sure how the courts where you work, but I doubt he will have to pay transportation costs ever because you are the one who moved away.  Where I live if you move away you pay for transportation costs. 

post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post
 

Is there a reason he can't talk on the phone to him?  Isn't skype a pricey thing that requires a lot of internet service?  If this turns nasty in court I could see him saying he doesn't have skype or access to steady enough internet to run skype and you refused to let your son talk to him on the phone.  I don't think that would look good.

 

Skype is free (or at least, accounts were free, I've heard they changed things- I've been using it, for free, for years) and you can use it on smart phones, which even most poor folk have nowadays because you can find fairly cheap options that allow unlimited or fairly large amounts of data. While there are people who don't have internet, that's becoming far less common as the internet becomes a more necessary thing in modern life. Even if her ex isn't paying for internet, I've lived in a few places where we could use a neighbor's internet. If he doesn't have internet, you have a point. But if he has internet and a computer/tablet or a smart phone at all, he has NO leg to stand on. I'd hope that the OP wouldn't suggest skype if her ex doesn't have access to it.

 

Skype is preferable to phone calls as both sides can see each other so it's closer to a face-to-face conversation.

post #18 of 20

I don't see where the ex is asking for a phone call though- it's one thing if she is refusing to let him talk on the phone and another if he doesn't have Skype and doesn't bother saying so or asking for an alternative!   And for a younger kid, Skype is much better so that the child can see dad-most kids have a pretty short attention span for phone calls.  Even my almost 7-year-old will only talk for a few minutes before losing interest. 

 

As far as whether you have to bring your ds to Oregon to visit, no, at this point you do not.  However, I would send him an email outlining your availability (give a lot, if possible, if you are concerned about looking bad in court) and give him a reasonable deadline for letting you know if/when he wants you to bring your ds out to see him.  That way you aren't making an expensive trip for nothing, but you are making it clear that you are willing to facilitate ds' relationship with his dad, even if he doesn't take you up on it.  Also, make sure you reiterate that he is welcome to come see your ds in your state. 

 

Can I ask why you moved so far away?  That might be an issue if it goes to court as well-i.e. moving for a boyfriend will not look as good as moving for a great job opportunity that will improve your ds' quality of life.  In the end, though, your ex had the chance to protest and likely stop the move and chose not to do so, and so has consented not only to your taking ds across the country, but has also made no move to secure a legal schedule to make sure he sees his son on any kind of regular basis, which was totally within his rights and ability to do. 

post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenemami View Post
Can I ask why you moved so far away?  That might be an issue if it goes to court as well-i.e. moving for a boyfriend will not look as good as moving for a great job opportunity that will improve your ds' quality of life.  In the end, though, your ex had the chance to protest and likely stop the move and chose not to do so, and so has consented not only to your taking ds across the country, but has also made no move to secure a legal schedule to make sure he sees his son on any kind of regular basis, which was totally within his rights and ability to do. 

 

I moved back to my home, to a support system of family/friends that I didn't have in Oregon - I didn't have anyone in Oregon except XP's family (which was something, I'm not going to lie. He had helpful family).

I know moving for a job would've looked better - and unfortunately I'm in a predicament with that because I work remotely so technically CAN live anywhere, and I know a court would say... "well, then you can stay here, for the best interest of your child". Got it.

But it really was single-momma needed support, which I Hope would warrant some understanding in the courts.... again, If/when it ever comes to that.

 

---

Phones are impossible. DS has an articulation disorder and being on the phone puts way too much focus on him talking and he gets extremely anxious. He gets anxious at Skype/FaceTime too, but once he realizes he can Show Off his toys and/or his room, where he doesn't have to talk so much, he enjoys it. Skype is really the best option for them at this age.

post #20 of 20

Are you facilitating your son keeping in touch with your XP's family as well? I don't really know how the courts would rule (I agree that it's in your son's best interest for you to have adequate support, whether or not they do is another story), but if you're showing that you're not trying to cut ties with that side of the family, you just want to get the support from yours, it may look better.

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