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Oh the drama...

post #1 of 148
Thread Starter 
I've been handling the drama of joint custody pretty well lately... but the latest bump in the road has been hard to just process and let go of, like I do most things now. My step-daughter's mother has primary custody (about 70/30) under the temporary custody agreement, which was stipulated to about a year ago (after 4 years with 50/50) so we could move out of state.

(I will just say right now that the LAST thing I need is to be harrassed for moving, told that I shouldn't care because it doesn't really affect me, or someone explaining to me how my husband's ex is really just a wonderful person who I don't give any credit to for the difficult life she's living through no fault of her own... I hesitated to even post anything because I know these responses (and ones I haven't even thought of) are all distinct possibilities, but my desire for support and my belief that this is the place to get it eventually outweighed my dread of being attacked for feeling the way I feel... so if you are in an unsupportive mood toward step-mamas, please just stop reading now...)

Anyway... My husband got an email from his ex in the middle of April saying that she was planning on moving mid-May, listing a couple possible cities near-ish where they live now, and telling him that his daughter would not have to change schools because they would stay in the same district. My husband said he was okay with the idea of a move as long as school, healthcare, etc didn't change and that she told him where they were moving well before they move.

We didn't hear anything until a few days ago (mid May) when he got an email saying they were in escrow and moving in about two weeks (she gave a range of about a week as the move date). She still did not list an address or even a specific city.

The custody agreement is pretty clear that neither parent can change the child's residence without consent, a court order, or proper notice (which is clearly outlined and includes certified mail 45 days ahead of time). Since she has not met any of these conditions, my husband wrote back telling her that she was out of line and that he needed more information than a list of three possible cities she might be moving to.

She emailed back refusing to give him any more information, saying that she would tell him the new address when they actually move there... She implies that she doesn't even know what city she is moving to, let alone what her new address will be... having bought three houses ourselves, I have a pretty hard time believing that she doesn't know the address or location of the house she will be closing on in two weeks.

They go to court tomorrow on an unrelated hearing (getting rulings on some issues that they haven't been able to resolve on their own in their custody agreement). To us it seems so stupid that she is going to pull something like this right before she has to go in front of a judge... she has violated their temporary agreement more than once already, and it is hard for us to face that she is going to continue getting away with these things... but we have to prepare for that reality. Our lawyer is good, and has been able to hold her accountable for some things in the past, so we hope she will be able to help put some more safeguards into the agreement...

I just want the world to be a good place that makes sense to me... good people are rewarded for doing the right thing, and people who lie and manipulate get punished for doing so... and the family courts hold parents accountable and protect the rights of both parents and their children. I think for the everyday stuff I am good at ignoring, moving on, laughing, or keeping faith that if we just keep doing the right thing we will come out okay... but I have to admit I am having a much harder time dealing with the likely outcome that the legal system will just shrug and condone her behavior by letting it slide.

Anyway, I guess I am just looking for support from the other step-mamas who feel my pain! I fluxuate between trying to stay optimistic, feeling beaten already, and trying hard to put it out of my mind since there is nothing I can do...
post #2 of 148
I'm sorry you're dealing with this. It sounds like you have a good perspective, and I know it can be hard. Really hard. I'm like you. I try and believe that if you live your life trying to do the right thing and treat people fairly it will come back to you.

That said, I have a heck of a time keeping positive, expecially where the legal system comes into the picture. People told me that there is a bias in favor of the mother, and I've seen that play out first hand. Not trying to stir the pot or say that the bias isn't there for a legitimate reason, but not all men out there are evil victimizers. Most of the time DH goes into court just hoping to prove that he is less of a jerk than he is being portrayed to be.

You're right that your DH's ex should have notified him about the move. But you're also probably right that she can make a case that she had to move to Town X in the best interest of the child, she couldn't remember the address when DH asked her, or flat out "I thought I told him about it before." Judges don't want to be bothered (and they don't really have the time) to understand all of the nuances of what's going on or the history of pattern behaviors involved.

Keep your chin up. Let us know how it goes.
post #3 of 148
The father is not living in the same state as the child yet he's upset that she is moving to another city? Is the new city going to make his visitation any different? What changes are going to come from her moving?If she had complied with the court order giving him the notice in time would it still be a problem or would he have denied the move?

I'm sure I would be upset also at her not complying with the court order but in the grand scheme of things what good is going to come out of dragging this out in court?
post #4 of 148
Thread Starter 
Yes, he DOES expect her to comply with ALL the terms of the custody agreement, not just the parts she wants to... Afterall, they both signed it... if she didn't agree with that part, she shouldn't have signed it. But she signed it and is now bound by it. Seh ignored the part about enrolling her in school without his consent. Then she ignored the part about notifying him of non-emergency medical care, then the part about getting his consent for extra-curricular activities... now she is ignoring the part about changing his daughter's residence... which part does she get to ignore next? The part that says she has to notify him of her current address? The part that says she can't get a passport for their daughter without his consent? The part that says he gets to see his daughter?

As for what changes will come from her moving, or would he have denied the move... the whole point is that he doesn't KNOW because he doesn't know where she is moving... she didn't even say that she WOULD be moving to one of the three places she listed, simply that they were planning to... but based on past experience I wouldn't be surprised to get an address (whenever she decides to share it with him) that is not in one of those three cities... last time she moved she told him she was moving to a city an hour drive away from where she actually ended up moving.

This is the frustration we have felt all along... it's not that the one thing she is doing at any given moment is so horrible... it's the pattern, the repeatedly ignoring his rights, the constant implication that she is the parent who matters and he isn't all that important, the little lies or omissions that only add up to something when you see more than just a snapshot of the current situation. It's frustrating to always sound like you are whining about some little minor infraction as you watch your (or your husband's) rights as a parent slowly eroding bit by bit... and have people think you are crazy for trying to stop it.
post #5 of 148
How infuriating! I can't believe she thinks she can just move the child without saying where they're going. Although, if she does stick to the same school district and healthcare as promised, then it shouldn't make much difference? In our case, we would care that they were still near a major (or ok, semi-major) airport so we could visit (well, and that it's not an unsafe area, if that's an issue in her case). But then, we don't seem to have any say in schools and such.

If you can still visit her and she's still in the same schools and such, then it's probably ok. Or are you worried that she's changed her plans and so her lack of info has you fearing a big surprise?

Definitely try to let go if you can, as there's not really anything you can do until after the fact, unless your lawyer manages to bring it up in court asap. Hope it blows over soon.
post #6 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by aricha View Post
Yes, he DOES expect her to comply with ALL the terms of the custody agreement, not just the parts she wants to... Afterall, they both signed it... if she didn't agree with that part, she shouldn't have signed it. But she signed it and is now bound by it. Seh ignored the part about enrolling her in school without his consent. Then she ignored the part about notifying him of non-emergency medical care, then the part about getting his consent for extra-curricular activities... now she is ignoring the part about changing his daughter's residence... which part does she get to ignore next? The part that says she has to notify him of her current address? The part that says she can't get a passport for their daughter without his consent? The part that says he gets to see his daughter?

As for what changes will come from her moving, or would he have denied the move... the whole point is that he doesn't KNOW because he doesn't know where she is moving... she didn't even say that she WOULD be moving to one of the three places she listed, simply that they were planning to... but based on past experience I wouldn't be surprised to get an address (whenever she decides to share it with him) that is not in one of those three cities... last time she moved she told him she was moving to a city an hour drive away from where she actually ended up moving.

This is the frustration we have felt all along... it's not that the one thing she is doing at any given moment is so horrible... it's the pattern, the repeatedly ignoring his rights, the constant implication that she is the parent who matters and he isn't all that important, the little lies or omissions that only add up to something when you see more than just a snapshot of the current situation. It's frustrating to always sound like you are whining about some little minor infraction as you watch your (or your husband's) rights as a parent slowly eroding bit by bit... and have people think you are crazy for trying to stop it.
I get it...I really really do. I fight these type's of battles daily with my EXDH and MY children.

I've finally had to accept that as long as my children and happy, SAFE, and loved to let go of things. It's taken me a long time to get to this point but physically, mentally and financially I just couldn't continue to fight over things that in 20 years from now won't make a difference anyway. The power struggles had to end somewhere and unfortunately it was me that *lost* but I just had to do it. The "little things" are not worth my sanity anymore.

I've also come to realize that with the "little things" the judgment isn't worth the money the ink cost to print it.

Try to let go some. I try to ask myself with each *fight* what difference will it make in the long run other than to say "I won"?
If the child/children are happy, safe and loved by everyone involved then everything is going to be OK.
post #7 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by pentaxlady View Post
I've finally had to accept that as long as my children and happy, SAFE, and loved to let go of things.
Isn't this the point, though? Aricha and her DH don't know if the child will be in a good, safe neighborhood and/or school because they don't know where she's going. In general, I think your perspective is right, but where a child lives and goes to school isn't a small thing that won't matter in 20 years. It's something that could have a significant impact on her well-being.
post #8 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandiRhoades View Post
Isn't this the point, though? Aricha and her DH don't know if the child will be in a good, safe neighborhood and/or school because they don't know where she's going. In general, I think your perspective is right, but where a child lives and goes to school isn't a small thing that won't matter in 20 years. It's something that could have a significant impact on her well-being.
I don't know their history and won't pretend that I do. But she did says that the father went from 50/50 custody to 70/30 for a move out of the state. I don't know the reason for the move and it isn't my business but he felt comfortable enough to make that move and lose/give up some of his custody time to the mother. That tells me that he trusted the judgment of the mother with the wellbeing of their child. If he felt that the mother was a horrible person that would put the child in an unsafe school and horrible neighborhood I doubt he would have left. JMO
post #9 of 148
(sigh) aricha, of course she should comply with the agreement.

However.

Here's a lady who was willing to run off with DSD and hide from your dh. She's moved before and not told you where. You knew she's unreliable when it comes to sticking to agreements, and you also knew she's not particularly interested in working with you or accommodating you any further than she must.

I think what she is doing now is not at all surprising. You can hardly be surprised when she behaves like herself. She knows there's not much you can do to enforce most of the agreement, not from way across the country.

Keep in mind, too, that for mothers who are fulltime custodial, we often forget about the men. They're not there. They're not the ones taking the kids to the doctors, to school, to activities, to playdates, whatever. They don't meet with the teachers, come to the recitals, buy the socks, what have you. My xh is right here in town and sees dd every day, but the last time I took her to the ER, it didn't even occur to me until we'd been there a few hours to call him and let him know -- the thought of him just didn't enter my mind. He's not part of the team, if you catch my meaning. And when I did call him and ask if he wanted to come down to the hospital, he thanked me for telling him and declined. He's really not involved in the day-to-day care stuff.

If you want to be part of that team, I think you really have to physically be there and be actively engaged. Otherwise, even the most wellmeaning CP is going to fail to mention things. The daddy becomes a bit of paperwork. ("Oh right, must call ex and inform him of ____. Toss that to the top of the pile.")

I know you've got 30%, but for most of the year, you've got something approximating 0%. That's going to show, especially if she's not serious about keeping you in the loop in the first place. If you're serious about stopping it, you're going to have to be physically present, or very rich, or both. I think perhaps what you have bought for DSD here is two worlds: One in which her mother does essentially what she wants, and one in which you guys do essentially what you want.

Sorry it's frustrating.
post #10 of 148
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama41 View Post
They're not the ones taking the kids to the doctors, to school, to activities, to playdates, whatever. They don't meet with the teachers, come to the recitals, buy the socks, what have you.
I just got off the phone with my husband and step-daughter, who were on their way back from her choir recital... yup, the one he took her to. Then this week he will be in her classroom everyday, volunteering as he does every month, and talking with the teacher. He will take her to dance class later this week, where the teacher and front desk staff know him well, and will pay for her recital costume while he is there. They might even go buy her some socks.

He has spent 25% of each of the last six months with his daughter. He calls his daughter every night and talks to her via video chat every weekend he isn't with her. If he has fallen off mom's radar, it is not for a lack of his presence in his daughter's life. We didn't see her mother at all for three months straight while his daughter was here last summer... and she certainly wasn't taking her to school or buying her socks. Yet somehow we managed to keep her informed about her daughter's whereabouts. If the responsibility of being a custodial parent is too much for her, we would be more than happy to take it over.

And I'm sorry, but there is a big difference between forgetting to tell him she scheduled a dentist appointment and refusing to tell him where his daughter will be living in two weeks.
post #11 of 148
are they going to court for the guy's stuff? I am kinda curious about why they are being so mysterious when they gave advance warning to you guys of the move. To be really secretive she could have just not said anything and had the mail forwarded.
post #12 of 148
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pranamama View Post
are they going to court for the guy's stuff?
No, they are not going to court today about the move, etc. They are going to court for a permanent custody agreement. They have a temporary one and have been trying to work out the reamaining items outside of court for the last year. Technically speaking, they are going to court for mom's stuff because she is the one who filed something asking the court to decide the remaining issues.
post #13 of 148
I'm sorry, Aricha. Your DP is still your DSD's Father and he has every right to know where his daughter is living. I know my DP would be livid if his ex tried to move without telling him. We even gave her a heads up that we will be moving sometime in the coming months.

It's sad that people think NCP's can be a forgotton peice of paperwork.
post #14 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
I
It's sad that people think NCP's can be a forgotton peice of paperwork.
I think that CP's saying this really detracts from the NC fathers that are involved in their children's lives. If your child's father is so unimportant and simply a formality, then ask his to relinquish his parental rights. Solves the problem right there.

Let's reverse this, let's say that a dad wanted to take a child for visitation but "forgot" his address and didn't provide it to the mom? How well would that go down here on MDC?

To me, you can't have it both ways. If you expect a NCP to support the child financially, then you have to take the chance that they might want to have a say in what goes on in their child's life (such as educational and medical decisions).

To me, this is really fishy. Even if she didn't remember the address when Aricha's dh asked, she could have let him know after she returned home (where she would presumably have paperwork). If she had a problem with telling him her moving plans, she shouldn't have signed the temp parenting agreement.
post #15 of 148
personal
post #16 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by aricha View Post
I just want the world to be a good place that makes sense to me... good people are rewarded for doing the right thing, and people who lie and manipulate get punished for doing so... and the family courts hold parents accountable and protect the rights of both parents and their children. I think for the everyday stuff I am good at ignoring, moving on, laughing, or keeping faith that if we just keep doing the right thing we will come out okay... but I have to admit I am having a much harder time dealing with the likely outcome that the legal system will just shrug and condone her behavior by letting it slide...
Life would be so much easier if we all felt this way. When my dss was 10 or so, his mom moved 3 times ...all within a 1.5 year time period. We didn't know about any of the moves until after they were done. The last move was about 70 miles south of us and she specifically told our son that although he didn't have to hide any information from us, he certainly didn't have to broadcast it either...so here was this child being shuffled about (she always volunteered to drop him off/pick him up, so sweet of her) and all the time knowing full well he was lying about where he lived. This was also very stressful for him because someone found out he was 'living' outside of city limits and he should not have been in our public schools. This was was reported and scared him because he felt like he was being watched. Actually, he lived with us from Monday-Friday and then on the weekends he went to where ever she was living. Anyway, 15 years later, he's a young man and all is well (?) but that time period for us was very draining. I feel your pain. I don't know why his mom thought she didn't have to disclose where she was taking him. She always acted like she was above the law and it didn't pertain to her because she was the MOTHER. There was a court approved arrangement in place but she ignored things that she didn't like. We would have been broke if we took her to court for her behavior everytime she ignored things and when we did get there, there were so many other 'important' issues at hand that her breaking the rules was put to the bottom of the pile. I agree with the others that something is fishy here..... Unless she's really into messing with your head (and your dh's) and she's just playing games, she might really be attempting to break some rules with this move. You have a good attitude and your heart is in the right place but trust your gut. There is no reason not to tell you guys where she's moving to unless your reaction could interfere with the move. Good luck.
post #17 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
It's sad that people think NCP's can be a forgotton peice of paperwork.
It is very sad, JSMa, although I meant that for the CP as a practical day-to-day matter, not as a matter of personal sentiment, and certainly not for the child. Obviously the daddy's more than that for the child.

Unfortunately it's what happens if you're a busy woman doing the work of raising a child without a partner there, and you've got the daily responsibility of making sure that you and the kids have everything you need. There's nothing malicious in it; it's just that if a team member vanishes and isn't involved in the teamwork anymore, you sort of get on with it mentally. When the guy shows up again, there's sort of an "Oh yeah, it's you," feeling, but you don't really feel that he's a partner in the dailiness of raising the child. Then telling him about what's gone on with the child, or what you're planning, isn't so much part of working together -- because you aren't. It's just one more thing on the checklist. "Must tell dd's father about _______."

I think you'd feel the same way if someone you worked with closely went away for a while, no matter how important that person was. You'd get used to working without him. When the person came back, you'd fill him in, but doubtless there's plenty you'd forget or figure he didn't need to know, and you'd be pretty much set up to keep going without him.
post #18 of 148
Except your entire example is irrelavent here, as Aricha has already gone into great detail about how involved her DH is.

If we are going to help one another in this forum, we need to start actually reading what people post and not go off into off/topic tirades about circumstances that are not relevant to the OP's situation.

It is frustrating enough being a part of a blended family... and when you go to the one place you have for hopefully some commiseratin... A BLENDED FAMILY forum, the least we can do is read with an open mind instead of brining other examples into play that have nothing to do with it.

Aricha's DH should not be some listed after thought. He puts a great deal of effort into being there for his daughter, despite his move. He has every right to know where his child is and what is going on with her.

And regardless... even if the NCP wasn't that involved... that child is still part of them and they have a right to know. It shouldn't be an inconveince the CP to keep the NCP up to date with what is going on with THEIR child... because I am sure the second anything happened with the child while at the NCP's that the NCP forgot to mentio the CP would be all over it. Each parent deserves the same respect and regard for information concerning their child.
post #19 of 148
::

I think the point is being made to please read what is in the post. And to even say that the NCP is like an absent team member...Well, that is just not in good taste at all and neither is it helpful.
post #20 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama41 View Post
the last time I took her to the ER, it didn't even occur to me until we'd been there a few hours to call him and let him know -- the thought of him just didn't enter my mind. He's not part of the team, if you catch my meaning

If you want to be part of that team, I think you really have to physically be there and be actively engaged. Otherwise, even the most wellmeaning CP is going to fail to mention things. The daddy becomes a bit of paperwork. ("Oh right, must call ex and inform him of ____. Toss that to the top of the pile.")
OK, this offends me. I know you didn't mean for it to, and I respect that you are just stating a perspective based on your experience with your particular ex. However, just because a father doesn't live with their child day-to-day anymore, doesn't mean that the mother gets to just cut them out of the equation. If my DSS were here and DH took him to the emergency room, do you think he would just forget to call his mom? And that she wouldn't completely flip out if he did? She's not part of our "team" either, but she's my DSS's mother.

This level of disrespect causes so many challenges in blended families. A CP doesn't need to give a daily report out of every waking minute of the child's day. (Although in many cases they expect that from the NCP about visitation.) But if the child is flunking out of school or going to the hospital, joint custody means you pick the phone up.
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