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Advice Needed -- forcing DD to go to her dad's?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
My DD is 13. I have already filed papers with the court to change our current custody situation (at DD's request). Our mediation date is Sept. 23rd and our final court date is Oct. 15. (In our county in CA, mediation is required.)

We filed during a period of time when we knew DD would not see her father for several weeks. That way, he had a chance to let it sink in before DD had to see him again. She requested this because she is afraid he would retaliate against her (this is one of the issues we are taking to court, btw).

So, DD's first time back to her father's was yesterday. She made it clear that she did not want to go. Because she is currently sick with a cold, I let her call her father and tell him that she wanted to stay here and not visit because she was sick. He agreed, which did not surprise us because he never wants to have her over there when she is sick.

My question is, what about next time? She REALLY, REALLY does not want to go. How should I handle this? I am torn because it is two months until our custody can be changed, but DD is insisting that she does not want to see her dad for quite a while.

Extra Info.: Yes, she is going to counseling. Yes, I have a lawyer, but she is on vacation right now. No, there is no physical abuse, but I really think he is emotionally/verbally abusing her (but I am not calling it that in the court papers because it is so hard to prove).

Thanks for reading all of this and I appreciate any input -- every perspective is helpful.
post #2 of 23
What a difficult situation for you and your DD. It is so unfortunate that her father's behavior is having this effect on their relationship. I would be very concerned about your legal obligation to send her there until the custody is changed, especially since you are about to go to have it changed. You want to make sure your actions are on the up and up. Have you talked to her about the importance of going along with the visitation until it is officially changed in order to help her get what she wants? At any rate, you should really speak with your lawyer before you find yourself in any trouble. Just out of curiosity, what kind of visitation are you aiming for with her father and will there be counseling for them involved?
post #3 of 23
Have you spoken to the counselor about having her dad join her there? And about having some joint sessions for all of you so you can help your DD move into her teenage years with her relationship with her father intact?

Are there specific things he's doing that would warrant a change in custody or does she just not feel like going because she's "uncomfortable" or bored or 13? Your post makes it sound like you aren't positive that there is any type of abuse.

I did not like my father at age 13, and my parents were married. I sure wished there was some way I could have just not seen him, but that would have been really inappropriate and I'm glad my mother encouraged me to be spend time with him. A girl's relationship with her father at that age is very important, and it seems like counseling for both of them would be more helpful than just terminating the relationship.

Is her therapist in favor of changing visitation?
post #4 of 23
Unfortunately, I believe you do have to allow visitiation unless the court says you don't. I would hate for your ex to bring it up in court that you aren't cooperating with visitation.

Talk to your dd about it. She's old enough to understand about what the law says. See if there are things you could do to make it easier on her, but staying within the court order - an extra phone call to say goodnight (or that might make it harder, depending on your dd). A bracelet to wear so she can physically remember you love her. If your ex is open to conversation, let him know that dd is having a hard time with the visitation, and suggest things that she might enjoy doing - a movie, a visit to a state park, ect.

It really sucks that your lawyer is on vacation -is there someone covering for her that could answer a question?
post #5 of 23
I agree with the other posters that legally it would not reflect well on you to ignore the visitation schedule until it is officially modified. My DD is 13 and I'm sure there are a lot of days when she wishes she didn't have to be here, but I'm her mom. Even if/when you do modify your existing order, I doubt that the court would support discontinuing all visits with her father.
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
I really appreciate everyone's responses so far. It is helpful to have the other side to the situation explored.

Having said that, I want to be clear that I am, in fact, very certain that DD's father is emotionally abusing her -- however, trying to prove that in court is another matter entirely. Emotional abuse can so often be written off as "just teasing" or that DD is "too sensitive."

Also, DD has had problems with the way her father treated her for years. It is not because she is bored at 13 or just "uncomfortable." Her father and stepmother's treatment of her includes put-downs, mockery, belittling, and lack of appreciation for her accomplishments, etc. There have been many incidents over the years (one where I had to call the police), but this last school year finally drove DD to want to take a stand in court.

I have tried talking to her father, only to have him use the information I have given against her. Every time I try to co-parent and help him understand her, it only makes things worse. If she tries to talk to him, she is retaliated against and rejected even more.

As for counseling, that is part of the change I am asking for. I would absolutely be willing to go to, but my request is for DD and her father to have to attend. The ultimate goal of this whole thing is for their relationship to heal and reach a place of mutual respect. I have always supported DD's relationship with her father, especially since my relationship with my father is so important to me. However, DD's emotional well-being is being compromised, so I have to help her stand up for herself.

We are asking for DD to live primarily with me (we currently split, with about 55% of the custody actually with me). We are asking for DD to visit her father one weekend a month, with week day visits on his day off (he is a real estate agent/bartender, so his hours vary greatly, which is also part of the problem). DD would like not to spend any time there, but we all know that it would not be healthy in the long run.

I hear what everyone is saying about making sure to be on the up and up with the current schedule, but what if DD continues to refuse to go? I have not talked to her father, only she has (with me in the room). However, she has yet to actually say that she flat-out does not want to see him right now. She blamed it on being sick.

Although he has received the court papers, I know he blames me and does not see that he has done anything to DD at all. I am just at a loss because DD is so very adamant about not going.
post #7 of 23
You are in a tough position. I think she is old enough for you to explain the realities of your legal position and for her to understand that if she refuses to you will be in contempt and that will not look good when you go to court. Sometimes in life we have to suck it up and do stuff that is awful and that may be what she has to do. I would advice her to try to be neutral while she is there and maybe use some of the techniques we have to learn in order to work with our exes like not engaging and learning that their issues are their issues. I have had similar problems with my dd so I can sympathize. I hope she gets the space and treatment she deserves.
post #8 of 23
Maybe you can you to court/mediation and ask for supervised visitation until the court date.
post #9 of 23
It sounds like she will really need someone to advocate for her in this process with the court. Will you be requesting a guardian ad litem be assigned to help evaluate the situation?

As far as making her go, I agree that she is old enough to understand the legal obligation to have her go to her father's. I would just really explain that if she wants things to go more her way with the court, she has to go to her father's when it is required. A lot of times in life, we have to power through things we hate in order to get what we want. What a terrible situation to have to learn that lesson with, though.

Also, my other recommendation would be to handle any schedule changes via email or at least finalize them through email. That way you have documented that he okayed the schedule change. Just a way to cover your butt. kwim We have been doing this for years with DH's ex.
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
ma_vie_en_rose ~ I just started doing that with email, too. My lawyer told me to document, document, document, not just provide he said/she said arguments.

So DD called her father today and told him she didn't want to go because she felt disrespected by him and his wife. At first he said that she had to go anyway, but she pointed out that he wasn't listening to her, which is part of the problem. She also told him that she felt she deserved a say in what happens. He backed down a bit after that -- I suspect he wasn't expecting her to stand up for herself. After all, she never has before. She said she really felt good about feeling strong enough to do that.

He gave her permission to stay, but it was not clear for how long. I will be emailing him with confirmation so that it doesn't come back on me.

As far as the guardian ad litem, at what point do I ask for that? I will have to talk to my attorney about that.

Thanks for the input -- I would still very much welcome insight from others. Sometimes I feel really wrapped up in my own opinions and I don't want to miss the forest for the trees, kwim.
post #11 of 23
I am glad she was able to stand up to him and that he listened to her.

As for the guardian ad litem, I would ask your lawyer the specifics about that. I know a judge would have to order it, but I am not sure if that is part of the mediation process. Their sole purpose is to represent the child's best interest and make a recommendation to the court. They will interview everyone involved in the situation before making their decision. So, your DD will hopefully be able to truthfully express her feelings to them.
post #12 of 23
When dss doesn't want to go to his mom's, we usually have him clear it with her (unless the situation is bigger than him). There are many periods of time when he doesn't want to go with her, but we can usually get him to go for a couple of hours then he calls us when he wants to come back. I think it is hard to know when you should step in for them, but at 13 I do think that they can understand the legal situation and also how it looks if it seems that the change is coming from you. It needs to be clear to her dad (and the court) that the change is coming from her.
post #13 of 23
I think at 13 years old your daughter needs some stability. If she has been bounced back and forth she may feel like a nomad. I would try to get the schedule you proposed. I think it would be great if he could see his daughter on his days off. She is at an age where she should not lose contact with her father but she should have a life. Teenagers just want a place to hang, but they need roots. I would try to follow the schedule or document when she he says it is ok for her to stay with you. In my opinion, children should have a primary home. Adults would not like it if they were being tossed around so much. Also, the stepmother may be doing all the caretaking because your ex is working. Your daughter deserves to be happy. Kudos to you for being a mama bear. I will pray for your situation.
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by kellygirl View Post
I think at 13 years old your daughter needs some stability. If she has been bounced back and forth she may feel like a nomad. I would try to get the schedule you proposed. I think it would be great if he could see his daughter on his days off. She is at an age where she should not lose contact with her father but she should have a life. Teenagers just want a place to hang, but they need roots. I would try to follow the schedule or document when she he says it is ok for her to stay with you. In my opinion, children should have a primary home. Adults would not like it if they were being tossed around so much. Also, the stepmother may be doing all the caretaking because your ex is working. Your daughter deserves to be happy. Kudos to you for being a mama bear. I will pray for your situation.
I agree with the part I bolded above. I don't want to "take her away" from her dad, I just want her to have a safe environment to grow up in. I don't think her father's is emotionally safe for her at this time. Maybe with counseling it will be. One can only hope. Thanks for the prayers.
post #15 of 23
My ex is verbally and emotionally abusive and I just cannot allow my children to be around him. About 7 yrs ago, dd is 13 now and ds is 11, I just stopped allowing them to go over there. He petitioned the court, we were sent to a mediator and could not come to an agreement. Basically I wanted supervised visitation and he didn't. The mediator called it an impass and for him to persue it further he had to get an attny and never did. There are court papers that state that they are to be there every other weekend and on Wednesdays. My thought process was that they certainly can't throw me in jail for not following visitation and heck, even if they could I would go to most lengths to protect my children. Ex lives with ex mil now and my kids were going over there to visit her but have stopped doing that because they simply can't stand being around him. He's just too toxic and it's unfortunate that it's now messing up their relationship w/ex mil.
post #16 of 23

From the other side

Currently my husband is on the opposite side of your situation. We have not had parenting time since July 4 of this year with Becky. Up until about two years ago Becky relationship with her father and I was really great. DH had always been close with Becky and had participated in every avenue of her life. I have been in their lives since 2003. Over the years Becky and I grew really close. Then her mom got married in 2005 and when that happened she mentioned wanting to come and live with us. DH went to see an attorney and he pretty much told DH that it would nearly impossible for us to get a custody change. Becky had already spoken to her mom and told her about wanting to come to live with us. After that everything changed. Gone was any communication with DH and Becky's mom. Fast to follow was the depressed negative minded Becky who consistantly liked nothing better than to cause drama. Mom started telling her that she was old enough at 12 to make her own decisions about whether or not she wanted to have parenting time with her father. Mom even refused dad one of his holidays. He filed paperwork and he won.

The last two years of mom doing nothing but running us in the ground has taken its toll. Now Becky is refusing to come at all only if she wants to. Mom has removed herself and tells DH that she has told Becky that she needs to visit but refuses to force her. DH filed paperwork against mom for not facilitating visitation and mom filed paperwork stating that DH and Becky are putting her in a bad situation by having to be in the middle. Plus she also stated that Becky wants to change her parenting time with dad so she can have a normal teen life with friends and school activities. We have taken her to every school function, 4H, school dances and even have a car here for her when she turns 16. We have had weekends filled with kids for slumber parties, birthday parties and days at the lake on our boats. So to state otherwise is a crock. There reason are not valid.

I keep asking myself this question as I was divorced raising two kids. Who are the parents here? If mom would not have been so negative and so enabling Becky would have never reached this point with her relationship with us.

I understand if you feel maybe that he is mentally abusing her. But in our situation Becky has continually told things that were not true about what goes on at our house. Each and everytime she does her mom makes a big deal out of it and strives to give her anything she wants to make up for the so called pain that we cause her. Becky has been conditioned to know that if she tells her mom what she wants to hear about us that she will be rewarded. The last thing that mom ever wanted to think was that Becky would have a meaningful relationship with anyone besides mom.

Do you have any other children or does your ex? Also you do not mention whether or not you have a SO or your ex?
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
barbee60 -- I totally have sympathy for you in the situation you describe. That sounds frustrating at best. However, that is not what is happening here.

I can honestly say that I have worked HARD to help DD have a relationship with her father. I WANT her to have a relationship with her father. I BELIEVE to the core of my being that a father's relationship with their children is extremely important. I have in no way knowingly or maliciously manipulated my DD into disliking her father. I have also meticulously worked at eliminating any unintentional manipulation whenever I find it. I am very willing to look at my own behavior and contribution in a situation.

All this is to say that I am not like your DSD's mother. I really believe that a child cannot have too much love. If that love comes from her father or stepmother, I am just as thrilled as it coming from me. I know I will never be replaced, so I secure in my love for DD. There is plenty of room for other people in DD's life.

Unlike your situation, however, this has been a progression over at least 6 years. It was not sudden. Looking back, I can point to things that happened and see how his treatment of DD has gotten more and more controlling. Outsiders have predicted that this day would come.

In addition, the way he treats me is a huge indicator of how he treats DD. I have never once described the way he talked to me to DD, but when she tells me what and how he has said things -- they were exactly the same. The way he treated me when we were together is the reason he and I broke up. He lacks a basic respect chip for anything involving emotions.

Since standing up to her dad, I can see the change in her self esteem. She feels stronger and more secure in herself. We are still going to court, but I think she has more clarity now.
post #18 of 23
Oh gosh. I am not a parent, but I was your daughter.

I was verbally/emotionally abused by my father for as long as I can remember. I never wanted to visit my dad, but never told my mom the full story as to why. I was put down, humiliated, belittled. If this is truly what is going on with your daughter, she may not care to have her relationship with her father come through this intact.

My mom was like you. She really bent over backward to make things good

I finally put my foot down at 16 and refused to visit my father again. My mom and stepdad did everything in their power to get me to see him again, because they wanted me to have a relationship with him. I finally told her all the things he would do and she just cried and cried that she should have known and she couldn't believe she hadn't protected me. It broke my heart to see her blaming herself.

I decided to give him another chance at 20 years old, but it was the same story, so at 22 I said goodbye forever. That much negativity is so detrimintal to my mental well-being. My blood pressure was through the roof, I gained weight, I couldn't sleep, I was always crying (and I am not a crier.)

Having to put up with my father's treatment left me with no self esteem and an eating disorder, and I would have given anything to have been able to stop seeing him completely at 13 when I begged to. It took me so many years to overcome the effects of that treatment. I still get questions from family members about "Don't I miss having a relationship with my father?" No, I don't. My life is so much better now. I couldn't imagine having to put up with his condesention on my wedding day. I can't imagine having children and having to try to protect them from his words.

Just last year my mom told me how he had treated her in their marriage. She had kept it from me all these years so as not to influence my opinion of him. He was so horrible to her. That's why she freaked out so much when I told her. It was just like what he did to her and she remembers how damaging it was.

Some relationships are not worth preserving.

I just wanted to say good luck, and don't let peer or family pressure keep you from doing what is right for your daughter. I know my mom was influenced by everyone saying I had to have a relationship with my father, and she regrets that so much. Life is hard enough at 13 without one of your parents putting you down all the time.

post #19 of 23
After reading your responses it made me pause and realize how terrible it would be to be forced to put up with mental abuse from one your own parents. Then I sat and thought really hard about some of the things that
Becky got mad at her father for.

But then I will give you examples of what happened and I value your answers in whether or not you think these things are controlling.

Back when Becky was twelve my husband went to pick Becky up from her mom's and when she got into the car she had a belly shirt on. Her dad told her he did not want her wearing shirts like that at our house. Her response was my mom lets me and he said that is up to your mom's when you are at her house but then your mom lives in the country. But he said at our house we live on the lake and there can be a lot of people around we do not know and I just don't feel confortible with you dressed that way, he said especially if we were at work and you were by yourself.
So the next time he picked her up she showed up in another one and he told her to go change and she said I will but you will not like what I put on. She came out in one that was barely below her chest. She had seven cut off t shirts in her bag. So he called her mom and told her he did not want the shirts over at his house and she said well she wears then here and he said that is fine but not here. He was polite when he said it.

Then the next thing was her pants. She was walking around with her crack out and he told her to either go get a belt or he would take her and get her pants that fit.

Then for her 15th birthday her mother got her belly button pierced and never even mentioned taking her to do it to DH. Becky wanted to show it to her dad but he said he did not want to see it. He said I called your mother to see if it was ok for you to get your hair trimmed and nails done for our wedding because you wanted your hair and nails done. He said then your mom lets you have your belly button pierced. Becky's response was well I asked to have it done and my mom said it was my decision.

So rather than fight it Becky and I went shopping and while we were out I bought her two cute small belly button rings and a couple of new shirts and some ear rings and a couple of cutsey key chains that she wanted.

The next weekend she came back and said in front of me and her father never guess what my mom and I did. I said what and she said she took me shopping and brought me some stuff. I was like oh what did you get and she she took a key chain out of her pocket and she said my mom let me get this. It was a key chain, on it was a pic of a steaming coffee cup and it said how would you like a steaming cup of shut the F up. I didn't know what to say. She just kept looking at me and said, WHAT???. I said ok did you get anything else and she said yes a shirt that says if you don't like my attitude to bad. Again I did not know what to say. I said was that it and she said no I got this, she raised her shirt up and she had a rhine stone belly button ring that said the B word on it. I said oh my don't let your dad see that. Well she made a B line to make sure he did. Needless to say he wasn't happy.

I guess the last thing that probably caused her to rebell the most was when her dad decided that he was not taking her over to her boyfriends grandparents house to visit her boyfriend when he found out that grandma and grandpa were leaving them alone unsupervised for 6 hours without checking on them. He said I guess I thought they would be supervised so he told her she could not go back to the boys grandparents house. He did not say she could still see the boy just not alone. He said you will be 16 and driving soon enough then you can go on dates by yourself.

I really think that is what sealed his fate with his daughter because mom never would let her go see the boy and now Becky is allowed to go to the grandparents to see him.

Those were the only issue that we had except she got in trouble several times for being mean to the animals at our house and to other children. At least that is what I have knowledge of.

So ladies I want your honest answers was my DH to controlling with his daughter?
post #20 of 23
No, that just sounds like normal teenage rebellion. I am sorry it has strained your relationship with her. Hopefully she will come to ger senses soon.

My mom was always on me about my clothes, and I sure threw fits about it, but it certainly wasn't anything that would qualify as abuse.
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