What happens when you CAN'T get your child to visitation? - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-16-2013, 09:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have sole physical and legal custody of my 29 month old son.  His father was abusive and controlling and gets supervised visitation.  He also threatened to kidnap our son and take him out of the country, when my son was 1 1/2 months old.  I live in Western, MA, my son's father lives in the Bronx.  The custody/visitation was done in NY, Westchester County, where I lived with my son at the time, but none of us live now.  The judge allowed me and my son to move to MA for our safety (from my son's father).  We had supervised visitation halfway between our homes, in Hartford, CT, but I recently talked my son's father into moving visitation closer to my home- Springfield, MA, for financial reasons.  The judge told me in court that I'm responsible for paying for supervised visits, however, nothing is written about it on the actual custody/visitation order.

 

Our custody/visitation agreement goes something like this:

1.  I have sole physical and legal custody.

2.  He has supervised visitation somewhere between our homes.  (Nothing is said about how often.  We started out twice a month, then he went down to once a month, then I asked him if we could officially go down to once a month, because I was having a hard time affording it.)

3.  The supervised visitation has to be affordable to me.  (I found the cheapest available, but still more than I can afford.  I've been bringing my son anyways.)

4.  I have to inform my son's father of all major health, educational and general welfare of my son.  (I've done the minimum, but that's mostly because he shows no interest- I've had to reschedule visits before because our son was sick, and didn't even get asked what was wrong with our son, or if our son was okay.)

5.  We both need to inform the other if our home addresses change.  (I moved last August and informed him immediately.  His house was sold 14 months ago and I have proof that he's moved, but he has yet to inform me.)

6.  Basically, both parties have to play nice, especially in front of the child.

 

My son's father has not seen my son for his monthly visitation for three months.  Last month was my fault- my ride was very sick and I had to cancel at the last moment.  I offered to reschedule for the following week, but he told me he already had the bus tickets and his (female) friend in Springfield to spend the night with for that night, and it would be too expensive to reschedule.  The two months before that, I just never heard from him about visitation, so I didn't pursue it.  Since we started visitation about a year and a half ago, I cancelled maybe three times total.  But... my ride's car is in the shop and I have to bring my son to visitation on Thursday, as in, less than 48 hours, and he made it clear that if I "deny him his child again", I will find myself in court for contempt of court, and he will be asking for full weekends, weeks in the summer, holidays, etc.  During supervised visitation, he's been on his best behavior, and I'm afraid that since he plays a good game when people are watching, he may get more visitation if we go back to court.  And then my son will be in serious danger.

 

I can't find a ride to bring my son to visitation on Thursday and I have no money (and nobody who can lend me the money) to buy bus tickets or train tickets.  Can he file for me being in contempt of court and "denying him his child" for me having to cancel two visits in a row, making him not to have seen our son for 4 months, if we have to wait until next month for the next visit?  Basically, my question is, I'm trying my hardest to make this work for him, but if I can't make it work, how much doodoo will I be in?


I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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Old 07-16-2013, 11:00 PM
 
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I'm not positive about this, but you might be able to raise the issue of not being able to afford these supervised visitations in court. You shouldn't be the one who has to do everything for your son. If he is serious about visitation then he should have to pitch in--either pay for it or pay half, is probably what the judge will order if you bring it up. Bringing documentation that shows how you spend your money and how there is none left over for visitation plus the fact that you are dependent on others for rides will probably make the judge change the court order.

It sounds to me like this man has scared you so badly that you are not considering the fact that you are doing the best you can and no one can fault you for that. Unless the judge is unusually cruel, your sound, documented argument will be more than enough for a change in the court order.

ETA--i just noticed that that's not actually written in the court order. Well, in that case, it will be even easier for you to get the judge to side with you if your ex decides to make a stink about it. Just explain that you cant afford it, provide documentation that shows that and explain that its not even part of the court order. It is not as big of a deal if its not in the actual court order, thus, it can be much more easily modified.
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Old 07-17-2013, 06:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not positive about this, but you might be able to raise the issue of not being able to afford these supervised visitations in court. You shouldn't be the one who has to do everything for your son. If he is serious about visitation then he should have to pitch in--either pay for it or pay half, is probably what the judge will order if you bring it up. Bringing documentation that shows how you spend your money and how there is none left over for visitation plus the fact that you are dependent on others for rides will probably make the judge change the court order.

It sounds to me like this man has scared you so badly that you are not considering the fact that you are doing the best you can and no one can fault you for that. Unless the judge is unusually cruel, your sound, documented argument will be more than enough for a change in the court order.

ETA--i just noticed that that's not actually written in the court order. Well, in that case, it will be even easier for you to get the judge to side with you if your ex decides to make a stink about it. Just explain that you cant afford it, provide documentation that shows that and explain that its not even part of the court order. It is not as big of a deal if its not in the actual court order, thus, it can be much more easily modified.

 

I would love to bring it back to court, but the court where the jurisdiction is is 250 miles away (about $140 of gas in the car- I can barely afford the $50 a month it takes us to get to the current visitation place) and if history repeats itself, if I could manages to beg, steal and borrow the money for one trip, I would be dragged back and forth about this matter for the next year with counter suits, stall tactics, etc.  eyesroll.gif  I can't afford to bring  it back to court.

 

When a truly psychotic man (and I use the term, "man" loosely) is as violent and controlling to you and your older child as he was, and threatens you with kidnapping your child, and tells you he knows how to keep on his best behavior with the supervising place (which he did- the place that was doing the supervising in Hartford would give him a glowing report puke.gif), you'd be scared, too.  My son would never be safe, physically, nor emotionally, nor lose the chance of being taken out of the country, with his father, and he's already threatening that I make this visitation or he will file for unsupervised visitation, the most that NY courts will allow for a father (New York is VERY pro-father, no matter what the circumstances).


I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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Old 07-17-2013, 06:38 AM
 
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I filed for child support modification and they are letting my daughter's father do a phone hearing because he's out of state.  Is that something that your court system would allow?  Maybe contact the clerk and ask.  It's worth a shot anyway.  Also, I know you can transfer your case to where you are living now.  People move, stuff happens.  If everyone had to go through the district where the case was originally opened, there would be a whole lot more no-shows and arrests for contempt.  


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Old 07-17-2013, 06:47 AM
 
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By the way, it sounds like your ex really has no interest in his kid.  I think you should call his bluff.  Make him file in court.  You shouldn't SAY it obviously but I think you should basically have the attitude of "oh yeah, effing MAKE me go back to court buttface.  I dare you."  I know you are scared of him and rightly so it sounds.  But as long as you've kept copies of conversations between you(sticking to email might be your best option there instead of verbal conversations that you can't have copies of for the judge) and you have notified him of your inability to get your son to visitation and didn't just NOT show up, you should be fine.  You are not willfully keeping the child from him.  You are unable to make it and offered to reschedule last month.  He chose not to reschedule his trip and didn't offer another acceptable alternative date.  HE dropped the ball.  I bet you $1 that if you keep letting this go and just doing the minimum that you are FORCED to by court order that he will eventually fade away.  This sounds like the way my oldest daughter's father acted in the beginning, all "I want my rights! You can't take away my rights.  She's mine too!"  But guess what?  She's turning 13 next week and he hasn't seen her in 11 years.


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Old 07-17-2013, 07:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I filed for child support modification and they are letting my daughter's father do a phone hearing because he's out of state.  Is that something that your court system would allow?  Maybe contact the clerk and ask.  It's worth a shot anyway.  Also, I know you can transfer your case to where you are living now.  People move, stuff happens.  If everyone had to go through the district where the case was originally opened, there would be a whole lot more no-shows and arrests for contempt.  

 

I was told by my lawyer in NY that if I wanted to change jurisdiction at some point, I'd have to either come to NY and file, or wait 'til he files the next thing and then I would probably be able to switch jurisdiction from MA, or at the least, have to show up in NY once to request it.

 

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By the way, it sounds like your ex really has no interest in his kid.  I think you should call his bluff.  Make him file in court.  You shouldn't SAY it obviously but I think you should basically have the attitude of "oh yeah, effing MAKE me go back to court buttface.  I dare you."  I know you are scared of him and rightly so it sounds.  But as long as you've kept copies of conversations between you(sticking to email might be your best option there instead of verbal conversations that you can't have copies of for the judge) and you have notified him of your inability to get your son to visitation and didn't just NOT show up, you should be fine.  You are not willfully keeping the child from him.  You are unable to make it and offered to reschedule last month.  He chose not to reschedule his trip and didn't offer another acceptable alternative date.  HE dropped the ball.  I bet you $1 that if you keep letting this go and just doing the minimum that you are FORCED to by court order that he will eventually fade away.  This sounds like the way my oldest daughter's father acted in the beginning, all "I want my rights! You can't take away my rights.  She's mine too!"  But guess what?  She's turning 13 next week and he hasn't seen her in 11 years.

 

Nah, he's not interested in my son, he's interested in that extension of his ego- he's a Daddy, look at him.  You should see his Facebook page, set up to look like he's a single Dad with sole custody of his son, etc.  He's probably low on pictures to post, so needs another visit to supply them.  My son is just a cool new toy he likes to show off to his friends and women he's trying to bed.  I'm praying he loses interest before my son is old enough to catch on.


I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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Old 07-17-2013, 11:28 AM
 
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I'm not positive about this, but you might be able to raise the issue of not being able to afford these supervised visitations in court. You shouldn't be the one who has to do everything for your son. If he is serious about visitation then he should have to pitch in--either pay for it or pay half, is probably what the judge will order if you bring it up. Bringing documentation that shows how you spend your money and how there is none left over for visitation plus the fact that you are dependent on others for rides will probably make the judge change the court order.

It sounds to me like this man has scared you so badly that you are not considering the fact that you are doing the best you can and no one can fault you for that. Unless the judge is unusually cruel, your sound, documented argument will be more than enough for a change in the court order.

ETA--i just noticed that that's not actually written in the court order. Well, in that case, it will be even easier for you to get the judge to side with you if your ex decides to make a stink about it. Just explain that you cant afford it, provide documentation that shows that and explain that its not even part of the court order. It is not as big of a deal if its not in the actual court order, thus, it can be much more easily modified.

 

Me too, I missed this the first few times I read this thread.  I know it's easy to say, but I would definitely try to relax about it since it isn't part of your court order.  I would also check with your lawyer in NY to ensure you are doing what you can/should be doing.

 

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Old 07-17-2013, 11:40 AM
 
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Point three in your schedule days it had to be affordable for you. It isn't right now. I think you can claim that and still be following the terms. It sounds like such a terrible situation. Does he pay support?
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Old 07-17-2013, 04:14 PM
 
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kblackstone--i wasnt trying to say you shouldnt be scared of him, given how he has behaved. Believe me, i know what its like to be terrorized, i've experienced it myself. I was just trying to point out that your fear could be tainting your perception of whats realistic. I speak from personal experience--my ex had me so terrorized i was afraid to do pretty much anything for myself. It was irrational, but extreme fear can affect the mind in horrendous ways. I'm not saying you're exactly the same as myself, but i recognize similarities--the feeling of having your hands tied and he is the one in control. It doesnt actually sound like thats the case. I've pointed out where you have leverage and justmama has given you great advice. Just because a court order was filed in a certain state doesnt mean it must stay there. Like she said, if that were the case, a lot of people wouldnt show up to their court date. I can vouch for this as well--the original child custody order for my son was filed in Washington state and then we had it modified in California a few years later since we both live here. I didnt need to go to Washington at all after the original filing, so i would double check what your lawyer told you about having to show up at least once to have the jurisdiction changed. Have you been to avvo.com? Its one of the biggest sites for free lawyer advice. A ton of lawyers go on there to answer people's questions, it is awesome. One time i asked a question and i got 4 or 5 responses. Most were the same, but that helped me feel confident in the answer. I highly recommend you ask any question you have there and see what they say.

I also agree that the guy doesnt sound serious about being a father. Like you said, his son is just an extension of his own ego. I highly doubt he has the endurance and motivation to keep coming to see him for years to come. People like him are typically fickle and chaotic. Once he sets his sights on a new woman to torture he will probably show up less and less. Thats just my guess based on seeing it way too many times. Its easy for him right now because he's not having to pay for anything and he doesnt have responsibility other than playing with him for a few hours once in awhile. Anyone can do that. So i wouldnt worry about him having partial custody, i really dont think he is motivated enough to maintain that.

Also, and this is very important, i cant stress it enough: DOCUMENT EVERYTHING!! This is how you persuade a judge to side with you, nothing else works. Document how you offered to reschedule and he said no, document your financial status, document any emails between you two (and make sure you email more than call because it provides written documentation), document the abuse, any doctors visits, any therapy for yourself and any therapy your son may have, any and everything document, document, document. The threat about trying to get more custody should be done in writing, i would email him and persuade him to say that in an email. Its also important to put in writing the fact that its very difficult to make it to the supervised visits as this helps your case, so why not send him an email that says this and see how he reacts? He will probably threaten you, which makes him look bad. You need to start thinking about ways to make sure it all gets documented, it makes you appear on the ball and motivated.
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Old 07-17-2013, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Also, and this is very important, i cant stress it enough: DOCUMENT EVERYTHING!! This is how you persuade a judge to side with you, nothing else works. Document how you offered to reschedule and he said no, document your financial status, document any emails between you two (and make sure you email more than call because it provides written documentation), document the abuse, any doctors visits, any therapy for yourself and any therapy your son may have, any and everything document, document, document. The threat about trying to get more custody should be done in writing, i would email him and persuade him to say that in an email. Its also important to put in writing the fact that its very difficult to make it to the supervised visits as this helps your case, so why not send him an email that says this and see how he reacts? He will probably threaten you, which makes him look bad. You need to start thinking about ways to make sure it all gets documented, it makes you appear on the ball and motivated.

 

 

Oh, I've got that one- that the main reason why I insisted that everything would be put in email or text, and that's the main reason the judge let me move out of state with my son in the first place.  It's all being documented for future ammunition.  wink1.gif


I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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Old 07-19-2013, 06:05 AM
 
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hug2.gif  Well, if there's a silver lining to this situation, I'd say it's that you are OBVIOUSLY a very caring mother and mentally strong person.  

 

 

My daughter's father's last visitation was May 1st 2001.  ROTFLMAO.gifPretty awesome huh?  Father of the year candidate??? eyesroll.gif  He went from visiting once a week and calling when he couldn't make it and being late frequently and leaving early to mostly emailing and the occasional call to screening all my calls and calling me back to texting only.  lol.  Now he won't even call.  He texts me.  That's it.  And I am taking him back to court for child support modification and he's going to be doing a phone hearing instead of seeing me in court.  He won't even show up for court.  He hates me that much.  He's just going to call into the courthouse and speak to the district attorney for the modification.  I don't even have words for that.  Dude, our daughter is turning 13 next week and he won't even call her or send her a card.  She hasn't gotten a present from him since her very first Christmas when she was 6 months old.  lol.gif  

 

 

 

Does that make you feel a little better maybe?  I mean, at least your ex isn't the only douche out there who doesn't care about his kid.  


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