Okay, I'm coming out of lurkdom to ask for some advice. I'm in the middle of a custody battle, and long story short, the kiddos 'father' has physically abused me and one kiddo (that I know of) and emotionally abused all of us.
I am seeking supervised visits, because I do not beleive the kids are safe if unsupervised. For those of you that sucessfully got supervised for your kids, how did you do it? What evidence did it take for you to get it? I'm really scared for my kids if their father gets ANY time unsupervised, but I keep reading/hearing horror stories about dads who have documented abuse still getting weekends. Help!
To be honest, it is very hard to get supervised visits. I have a friend who had to send her son to another state for the summer with his abusive father. She would have lost custody had she not done that. Mind you, the courts believed her about the abuse, but did nothing. This is a father who hit the kid on the head after he had sinus surgery and was the reason he had to have the surgery done again (medical neglect on the father's fault).
You need to make sure that you have conclusive proof. A he said she said situation won't work. Every i needs to be dotted and every t crossed. And even then, it may not happen. So you need to prepare for the worst and help the kids prepare. One, by teaching them to call the cops when their father is out of control. This will only work if they are old enough.
In my divorce, I had enough to get it to where he couldn't have the kids overnight until he completed an anger management course (it was the non-negotiable condition of my dropping the TRO) and prevent 50/50 physical. But my attorney told me it wasn't enough for supervised visits or sole custody.
You really need to get an attorney if you don't have one. One who is willing to fight for you.
Judges have a huge amount of leeway in deciding on supervised vs. unsupervised visitation.
When I got custody of DS#1, ex-h was awarded every other Sunday 9-5 supervised by ex's parents. It was easy for me to get this, but there are reasons for that. I don't think it's usually that easy. The circumstances were:
1) Ex-h has 2 children from a previous marriage that he did not have custody of. He was entitled to visitation, but he was inconsistent about it. There were a lot of reasons for that, and I can honestly say that many of the reasons involved his 1st wife who had issues. LIke, her issues have issues. He does not see his children from his 1st marriage. (In fact, I recently reached out to his 1st wife because DS#1 has been begging me to see his older brother and sister. She was sort of nice about it, but told me no. Then she went into some bizarre story about our mutual ex beating on their daughter and her son having to break up the fight, during some visitation that must have happened some years ago... I mean, it's like she took the train to crazy town and got off. I am no big fan of my ex-h, but I never saw him do anything like that to any of his children. I suppose it's possible, but frankly he's just too lazy. He'd sooner let his kids do whatever they want and not have an argument about it.)
2) I had a protective order that he agreed to, and this was the visitation set forth in that order. Therefore, I had a precedent of a visitation arrangement (day, time, and supervision) that ex-h had already agreed to. My lawyer just asked the court to continue it.
3) Ex-h had been in this family court several times for non-payment of child support for his children from his 1st marriage. One judge had put him in jail, and my ex-h created an ugly scene. My lawyer filed my custody papers on a day that guaranteed that I would get this same judge for my custody case. Frankly, once my ex-h name showed up on the judge's bench, I was going to get anything I asked for.
4) I'm pretty sure ex-h didn't show up to court because he had some outstanding warrants, so he really couldn't argue anything.
But the reasons I wanted supervised visits were a little different. Ex-h has never been abusive to DS#1, although he became abusive to me right before our marriage ended (he laid his hands on me once). The supervision was so that I could drop off and pick up DS#1 with my ex-in-laws and not have to deal with my ex. Also, while ex-h is not abusive to DS, he is... like, flighty. As in, I knew my ex-in-laws would make sure that DS#1 was bathed, fed, etc. Even though he is only guaranteed every other Sunday, he's allowed to see his dad and grandparents whenever he wants.
Things are much better now, although we have had our ups and downs. When ex-h was homeless and living in a motel with a stripper, DS#1 wasn't allowed to visit him there, although he could still go to his grandparents. Now, ex-h lives with wife #3, and I trust her, so DS#1 can spend time at his grandparent's or his dad's, whichever he wants (they live very close together).
My order was put in effect in 2006, and I've never had it changed since it gives me full legal and physical custody. Since DS#1 visits to his dad are still de facto supervised by his grandparents or his stepmother, and he's old enough now to find food and shower (LOL), I'm really flexible with visitation.
As usual, talk to a lawyer. Also keep in the mind that if supervised visitation is ordered, who has to pay for it? I don't know, and I avoided that issue because his parent's were willing to supervise.
Mom, wife, full-time student. And tired. DH, DS#1 (9/99) and DS#2 (9/09), and 2 dogs.
I had fled to a DV shelter and was in hiding from ex. I took the kids with me, my ex had a recent felony conviction and I had police reports to back up the abuse claims. I received sole legal and sole physical custody and he had supervised visits. He never once took the supervised visits in 2 years nor did he attend the 52 week batterers program he was ordered to do. Two years into not hearing a word from him he appeared at my home and I had him arrested. This opened the door to new court hearings where the judge believed my ex that I had been letting him visit the kids unsupervised over the two years even though he had zero proof. The judge then gave my ex unsupervised visitation rights and I have been dealing with his insanity ever since. I just went back to court to request the order be returned to supervised visits because I found out my ex has several drug convicts living in his home which he is running as a sober living facility and he has been arrested a few times for beating up his other baby mama and he has open child abuse cases against him. But with all that info the judge thus far gave my ex the kids for the weekend and now our hearing is tomorrow. And I haven't heard a word from my kids to know if they are ok or not.
That is really horrific, Avani. I'm sorry you and your children are going through this. I hope that your hearing tomorrow goes well for you, and the judge returns visitation to supervised. It is pretty remarkable to me the very obvious prejudice that some judges show towards abused women and children. And CPS, in a lot of cases. They threaten to take the kids away if the mother doesn't keep the abuser away from the the kids, then the courts hand them right back to the abuser. WTF?
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