Any advice on Custody/Visitation Modification? - Update post 26, 40, 45 - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 71 Old 07-05-2010, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband tried to pick up my Stepson for his normal visitation and instead was directed to the courthouse and ended up with an "Order to Show Cause".

There is plenty of background (of course) but long story short, my stepson's mother has gone to a judge and requested "supervised visits and no overnights" because "Father hasn't properly cared for child during visitations. Cameron has been newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes". The only "supporting documentation" was a page and a half hand written and notarized letter. That was enough for my husband's visitation to be temporarily suspended until the court date - which just happens to be set on Cameron's second birthday .

Has anyone else had to deal with this type of situation? What documentation, etc. should I get together? We are already getting a lawyer, but I'm the overly obsessive type and want to get everything together that I can now.

Thank you for reading!

I'm a mother to one, stepmother to one and wife to my one.
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#2 of 71 Old 07-05-2010, 06:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Over forty views and nobody has an experience or advice to share?

Should I put this someplace else? Just let me know, please . . .

I'm a mother to one, stepmother to one and wife to my one.
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#3 of 71 Old 07-05-2010, 10:50 PM
 
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my stepson's mother has gone to a judge and requested "supervised visits and no overnights" because "Father hasn't properly cared for child during visitations. Cameron has been newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes".
So just to clarify: your step-son was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and mom wants to restrict your husband's parenting time because she doesn't think your husband will be able to care for him properly?

I would (even if it is not reality) assume mom is scared, as any parent would be, to leave her son with someone who she thinks may not understand his special health needs, which can be especially scary and intense when they are first diagnosed and everyone is trying to get them under control.

Then, I would learn everything I can about it. Meet with his son's pediatrician... if you can't for some reason, talk to another pediatrician to get as much information as you can about type I diabetes. Read whatever you can about it. Learn to test blood sugar and administer insulin if you can. Dad should talk to mom about it, or at least make attempts to (email is great so you have the documentation that he has tried).

Basically, if it were me, I would want to be prepared to convince a judge that we had a plan to care for your step-son when he is with you. I would want to be able to list (or actually list, if you respond to the order) all the things we have done to learn as much as possible. If mom is not cooperative, I would list the attempts you have made to get the information you need, and be specific about what you need in order to continue visitation-- a meeting with the doctor, weekly parenting meetings about his health, access to his medical information, etc, etc, etc.... whatever you think in necessary.

Again, it will help if you start from a place of assuming mom is just trying to protect her son, who she feels is fragile. Mom is probably really scared right now, and it's understandable that she doesn't want to let her son out of her sight if she feels like doing so could endanger his life. Regardless of mom's history, do your best to pretend this is the case and start from a place of assuming the best. It will help you see what you need to do to convince a judge not to change visitation, but to allow dad to have the information he needs in order to parent his son.

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#4 of 71 Old 07-06-2010, 05:19 AM
 
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I would add that while it may help some if you do what aricha suggests, it is vital that your DH--the father--do all that himself personally as well. And emphasize that he has done so, as have you. But the emphasis probably needs to be on his ability to care for a toddler with diabetes.
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#5 of 71 Old 07-06-2010, 06:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for the replies!

My husband and I attended the same "Diabetic 101" class that his mother did. My husband was at the hospital daily while Cameron was admitted and spoke to all of Cameron's doctors, dietitians, etc about his care and obtained the same, if not more, information as Cameron's mother about his condition. He has spoken with the doctors on Cameron's diabetic team, and attempted to go to his appointments (mother changed one appointment time at the last minute so my husband would miss it and refused to tell him when she set up the next). So we have consistently shown that we are concerned about Cameron's well being and his new medical needs.

I don't understand where Cameron's mother is coming from. The request states that he has had all sorts of illnesses and behavioral problems since we received visitation. His pediatric records just don't support this! My husband couldn't get the actual documents yet (and won't before court since their office is closed until the end of the month) but he did speak to the pediatrician and received specifics as to what Cameron has been seen for.

If he has been sick why wouldn't she get treatment? As a mom I just don't understand??? By her own admission on the court documents we received Cameron is miserable and throwing fits for the week after he goes back home. I understand children need time to adjust, but she just had it notarized that he is miserable for half of her parenting time! He isn't miserable with us, and I just don't know what to do to make sure he is healthy and happy . . .

Sorry, this is turning into a rant. I really just wanted to know what documents I should get together for court . . . I know it is absolutely impossible to get meaningful case specific advice on a forum where the facts presented are so one-sided!

Any other advice from "been there done that"'s would be wonderful.

I'm a mother to one, stepmother to one and wife to my one.
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#6 of 71 Old 07-06-2010, 09:21 AM
 
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Sorry, this is turning into a rant. I really just wanted to know what documents I should get together for court . . . I know it is absolutely impossible to get meaningful case specific advice on a forum where the facts presented are so one-sided!
YOU should not be getting any documents together for court. I do apologize if that sounds harsh... but this is your husband's case, and your husband's son. If he has interest in his son's case, and proving that he is a capable Father... then he should have no problems what so ever getting together what he needs to for court.

Often, we women fall into a sort of trap of needing to be the care taker in all aspects of our lives... and sometimes take on tasks of other adults that we should not.

I am speaking from experience... and I found out the hard way. I wanted to help STBX in regards to custody issues with his eldest DD, and would research things and seek advice here, etc.

Over time I realized my STBX was an abusive jerk and all I was doing was enabling him to continue to take no responsibility for things he should be.

I'm not saying your DH is abusive... but I do want to point out, if he himself has no interest in getting together documentation to prepare for court for HIS son... I'd keep my eyes wide open on this.

I just noted that you said a few times that you wanted to get together documenation... and quite honestly, it is not your responsibility, and completely your DH's responsibility to prepare for HIS court case.

I'd really sit back and think and question if he is trying to dump this ball in your court.

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#7 of 71 Old 07-06-2010, 09:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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YOU should not be getting any documents together for court. I do apologize if that sounds harsh... but this is your husband's case, and your husband's son. If he has interest in his son's case, and proving that he is a capable Father... then he should have no problems what so ever getting together what he needs to for court.

Often, we women fall into a sort of trap of needing to be the care taker in all aspects of our lives... and sometimes take on tasks of other adults that we should not.

I am speaking from experience... and I found out the hard way. I wanted to help STBX in regards to custody issues with his eldest DD, and would research things and seek advice here, etc.

Over time I realized my STBX was an abusive jerk and all I was doing was enabling him to continue to take no responsibility for things he should be.

I'm not saying your DH is abusive... but I do want to point out, if he himself has no interest in getting together documentation to prepare for court for HIS son... I'd keep my eyes wide open on this.

I just noted that you said a few times that you wanted to get together documenation... and quite honestly, it is not your responsibility, and completely your DH's responsibility to prepare for HIS court case.

I'd really sit back and think and question if he is trying to dump this ball in your court.
I agree that it is not my responsibility to get together documentation. (And here comes the "but . . ." where I justify my actions anyway :)

My husband has very limited time (he works 10 hour days) and Cameron's mother knows this. We have one week to provide a response to the Order to Show Cause. My husband has shown interest and has gone to speak to the doctors and put in record requests everywhere he could - before the court issue even came up. I just have more time to actually look at everything and put it together for the lawyers since I am a SAHM.

I do admit to a tendency of being overbearing in all aspects of our lives, and my stepson's well-being is included in my concerns.

I'm a mother to one, stepmother to one and wife to my one.
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#8 of 71 Old 07-06-2010, 11:11 AM
 
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That's bizarre, that the OTSC actually has stopped your visitation. In my experience (which is not in New York, so YMMV and this is not legal advice), when one party files a petition, the status quo remains the same until the hearing, unless emergency orders are granted because the filing party alleges (with sufficient support) that the child is actually in harm's way.

Since you are already getting a lawyer--and you already have documentation about the diabetes education and so forth--I would suggest leaving most of this to the lawyer. It's hard, I know (being a lawyer myself, especially, it's REALLY hard to pull back and let someone else handle something) but they're not emotionally involved. I'm not saying you should stay out of it entirely*--if the lawyer advises you to get a document from an office that's only open 8-5 and your husband is working that whole time, go ahead and get the document rather than pay the lawyer's office $200/hour to do so or have your husband lose pay to do so--but it's OK to take a step back.

*In the interest of full disclosure, I have done some legwork for my husband, for a child support issue. In his case, it was forms--because of my training, I could locate the form in 2 minutes and answer questions as to how to fill it out and he got through it in 20 minutes; my husband had no idea where to look for the form and would have struggled mightily to fill it out (though his lawyer would gladly have charged him for handling it). Sometimes, it just works that way and I don't see a problem with it, IF you're not acting because your husband is not interested in acting himself. What I do not do is involve myself in negotiations or in decisions regarding amounts, other custody issues, etc. Too perilous.

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#9 of 71 Old 07-06-2010, 11:23 AM
 
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That is very strange that custody was suspended. The mother must've had some strong evidence to do that. Typically you need to show strong evidence that the child's welfare is endangered to get custody suspended. I'm not saying your husband is doing that but you should go through the court records and see what evidence she provided. I would get your lawyer to immediately overturn the decision with an ex parte hearing and strong evidence that the father has done nothing and is about to miss his son's birthday due to this crap. So i would get documentation/declarations/formal letter with hospital letterhead that says how the father participated in the class and was present at the hospital with the child. Any witnesses or proof you may have in regards to how well you are caring for the child are great. Teachers, daycare providers, medication receipts, Dr's..any professionals that have seen your husband present and involved. I say medication because i don't know if maybe you can show how you have insulin on hand etc.
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#10 of 71 Old 07-06-2010, 12:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Once we actually have the lawyer, maybe I will be able to let go (some) . . .

The hospital and pediatrician statements are a good idea. My husband is calling today on his break to see what he has to do to get Cameron's current records (since his mother will not let us know any details about how he is doing, not neccessarily for the case) and I will suggest he ask for something official stating his involvement . . . It would be easier if his normal pediatrician wasn't closed until the end of the month. We think Cameron's mother is changing pediatricians anyway, but we aren't sure to who. We have a medical information release in the current order, but still have trouble getting names and addresses out of the mother.

Thank you for the responses and keep the ideas and suggestions coming!

I'm a mother to one, stepmother to one and wife to my one.
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#11 of 71 Old 07-06-2010, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I forgot to add that the "supporting documents" with the Order were just the page and a half hand written statement. Nothing else. Nothing from doctors or any other professionals. No journal entries or logs. Nothing. That's why it kills me that we can't see Cameron. There is no proof of my husband not caring for Cameron's needs because it isn't true.

She has refused to let us see Cameron since he was released from the hospital. This makes it hard to prove that we can take care of his new medical needs. We do not have any medications, since the hospital would only write scripts to the parent with sole custody.

There is no reason to suspend visitation, but she managed to do it.

So frustrating . . . and very, very sad.

I'm a mother to one, stepmother to one and wife to my one.
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#12 of 71 Old 07-06-2010, 03:33 PM
 
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I forgot to add that the "supporting documents" with the Order were just the page and a half hand written statement. Nothing else. Nothing from doctors or any other professionals. No journal entries or logs. Nothing. That's why it kills me that we can't see Cameron. There is no proof of my husband not caring for Cameron's needs because it isn't true.

She has refused to let us see Cameron since he was released from the hospital. This makes it hard to prove that we can take care of his new medical needs. We do not have any medications, since the hospital would only write scripts to the parent with sole custody.
Certainly, this does not sound like sufficient evidence to go ahead and suspend visitation before the hearing. That's not how it's supposed to work. But one reality of family court is that things OFTEN don't work the way they're "supposed" to because judges are human - in the case of family court judges in big cities, they are overworked, overbooked humans who sometimes become desensitized to the heart-wrenching issues they deal with every day and who sometimes just rubber-stamp things that come their way, like your husband's ex's request. I believe she had no secret, damning evidence and that it's just a sad, unfair, ill-timed temporary ruling.

Also, there's nothing wrong with you helping with your husband's court case. You're partners. If you invest the (considerable!) time to document and research things, make logs, etc. that does not mean he's indifferent toward his son or his case. If he could afford to pay a lawyer to do all those things for him, so he could spend his time earning a living and interacting with his family, I'm sure he would. But no average family can afford that much of a lawyer's time. You're not pushing or forcing him to pursue his parental rights. You're just helping him manage his time. I'm sure he helps you, in other ways.

#1- Of course you need to document his/your own involvement with your stepson's hospitalization, attending the class and anything else that's relevant along those lines. You both need to be prepared to speak intelligently about how to care for him. You've already received good advice about this.

#2- You need to document every instance where the Mom has refused to share information about your stepson's condition or appointments, or blocked your husband's access to his medical records or acted to prevent your husband from communicating with his doctors. Even if there's no way to get third-party verification of these problems, there IS value in you simply, succintly listing each time these things have happened. There is credibility in keeping logs. These problems show the court that the mother is not interested in making sure your husband is educated and properly able to care for the child. Instead, her larger interest is in finding excuses to limit his contact with the child. If she were genuinely just afraid about the diabetes, she would welcome your husband attending doctor's appts. and learning more about the disease - and being able to witness for herself how he reacts to the information (Is he attentive, or is he blowing it all off?) Also, there would be NO excuse for failing to offer your husband SOME access to the child - especially on his birthday. Even if she were genuinely afraid of being away from the child for long periods, she could still offer SOME father-son contact before the hearing. Her motives here are clearly not pure. I suspect this has a lot more to do with the kid's behavior problems at her house than it does with the diabetes.

#3- You need to write out your basic arguments. Think of it as a cheat-sheet for your attorney. The atty. may even want to submit a version of it, as a Statement of Issues. Include what the prior visitation schedule was (i.e., how much access the child was accustomed to having with his father before the mother interfered); how reliable your husband was about exercising his visitation - and the fact that the mother made no effort to warn him of her request for supervised visits before cutting off his visitation, nor did she make any attempt to discuss and resolve the concerns she allegedly had, about the child's care at your house. Cutting off contact was her first course of action. That's cruel, grossly disrespectful of your husband's role in the child's life and not in the child's best interest.

#4- You need to make a limited list of people who can be relied upon to provide good, solid testimony about your husband being a good father. The more objective third parties, the better - like teachers, coaches, doctors. But if you're not sure what those people would say (such as, "Well, I don't really know Johnny's Dad. I've only met him once."), stick with friends and family.

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#13 of 71 Old 07-06-2010, 04:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Jeannine - I think we think alike. When I read your post to my husband he agreed. We are in the process of implementing some of your suggestions now. Thank You!

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#14 of 71 Old 07-14-2010, 07:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Sigh. Mini update . . .

We received additional papers in the mail. Apparently Cameron's mother decided to go all out. She also filed for an increase in child support. The reason? "Father stated he works multiple jobs." Huh? My husband works 10 hour days at one job. He has actually tried to figure out how to get a second job, but between taking time to see Cameron six days a month and wanting to spend some time with his family, couldn't.

So we'll be going to court just so that she can get the exact same amount she is now. Yay. I don't think I mentioned it in my previous posts, but Cameron's mother apparently moved last October - while we were still in court procedings for our current visitation agreement. Does anyone know if the fact that she moved to another county and didn't update her address with us or the courts or child support system affect anything?

Also, we received some of the medical paperwork yesterday. On one of the "medical history" sections Cameron's mother stated that he is exposed to "Second-hand smoke, Recreational Drug Use, and Alcohol". What in the world? What kind of place did she move to?

Our court date can't come quick enough.

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#15 of 71 Old 07-14-2010, 10:06 AM
 
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So we'll be going to court just so that she can get the exact same amount she is now. Yay. I don't think I mentioned it in my previous posts, but Cameron's mother apparently moved last October - while we were still in court procedings for our current visitation agreement. Does anyone know if the fact that she moved to another county and didn't update her address with us or the courts or child support system affect anything?
Ugh to the whole thing, but I wanted to address this (though again, YMMV in New York)--chances are, a move to another county may get her a lecture from the judge, but not much else. If she has a lawyer who knew about the move and didn't say anything, the lawyer could be subject to sanctions or bar discipline. But unless that other county is clear across the state or otherwise impacts visitation time or costs, it won't affect those things by itself. What it might do is impair her credibility on the rest of the issues--after all, if she refused follow relatively simple rules to update her address, why should she be taken at her word for other things?

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#16 of 71 Old 07-14-2010, 10:16 AM
 
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Also, we received some of the medical paperwork yesterday. On one of the "medical history" sections Cameron's mother stated that he is exposed to "Second-hand smoke, Recreational Drug Use, and Alcohol". What in the world? What kind of place did she move to?
I hate to say it.... but are you sure she didn't put that in there meaning he's exposed to those things with you/your dh? This woman sounds slightly off her rocker but I can't comment on whether that's something she would do (have it recorded with the ped that she thinks the kid is being exposed to these things so she has something to back her up when she pulls visitation).

Good luck to you and your dh getting everything sorted out!

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#17 of 71 Old 07-14-2010, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ugh to the whole thing, but I wanted to address this (though again, YMMV in New York)--chances are, a move to another county may get her a lecture from the judge, but not much else. If she has a lawyer who knew about the move and didn't say anything, the lawyer could be subject to sanctions or bar discipline. But unless that other county is clear across the state or otherwise impacts visitation time or costs, it won't affect those things by itself. What it might do is impair her credibility on the rest of the issues--after all, if she refused follow relatively simple rules to update her address, why should she be taken at her word for other things?
I just hope the judge sees things that way . . .

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I hate to say it.... but are you sure she didn't put that in there meaning he's exposed to those things with you/your dh? This woman sounds slightly off her rocker but I can't comment on whether that's something she would do (have it recorded with the ped that she thinks the kid is being exposed to these things so she has something to back her up when she pulls visitation).

Good luck to you and your dh getting everything sorted out!

Unfortunately, I do think that is something she would do. But these were emergency room records from when Cameron was diagnosed with Diabetes . . . The pediatric records state Cameron lives in a "smoke free home". I guess it is possible that she decided at that time to negatively portray my husband, but nothing states "at father's house"? This whole situation is crazy. Poor Cameron.

Thank you for the luck . . . I have a feeling we're going to need it!

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#18 of 71 Old 07-17-2010, 03:42 PM
 
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The pediatric records state Cameron lives in a "smoke free home". I guess it is possible that she decided at that time to negatively portray my husband, but nothing states "at father's house"?
Of course it doesn't benefit your husband to appear to be attacking his ex preemptively (he'll look like a bully). But if it becomes necessary (if she pulls out all the stops to discredit him and pushes to permanently reduce or eliminate his access to the child), make sure your atty. is prepared to make both of these points in court:

1- She ignored whatever notification statutes exist, regarding her move. (Find out what they are. Here, it's very specific. 90 days before the move, you must formally serve the other parent and the court with written notice, including the updated contact info. and a reason for the move, "regardless of whether the move is across town or across the street".) Not only does it speak to her general credibility as ProtoLawyer pointed out, but it specifically shows her disrespect for your husband's role in the child's life and her unwillingness to share basic information. It shows that her unwillingness to share medical info. is part of a pattern, not an "isolated incident". Your atty. could ask her how she would feel, if she didn't know where her child was sleeping while he was away from her; and why she doesn't seem to think your husband - as the other parent - is entitled to the same consideration she would expect for herself?

2- What did she mean by checking that box on the emergency forms? If she admits the issues are at her house, you have some obvious lines of questioning to pursue. But if she meant your house, your atty. needs to pounce on that - but carefully! If he invites an open-ended answer, he allows her to tell whatever wild tales she wants, on the record. He needs to ask specific questions she can't answer affirmatively, like what approximate dates your husband has been arrested for possession of "recreational drugs"? (Never?) For alcohol-related offenses like DUI? (Hmm, never?) Did he smoke when they lived together? (Obviously not, since the child's initial medical paperwork said he lived in a smoke-free home.) Since the divorce, does she go to parties with you two? (No?) So she hasn't witnessed either of you smoking or taking recreational drugs, much less exposing the child to those things? Same with the alcohol? What evidence does she have that the child is exposed to anything but normal, adult consumption of alcohol in your home, such as you and your husband having a glass of wine with dinner? None? So when her baby was in the E.R. - when her only thoughts should have been about his health - even then she was so focused on making your husband look like a villain and a bad parent that she lied on the intake forms? What does that tell the Court about her motivations - and about the messages the child must be exposed to about his father, when he's with her?

IME, these are the kinds of issues family law attorneys prefer to blow off. "Isn't it enough that we can defend your husband and show that he doesn't use drugs?" Well, no, it's not. It's bigger than that, if she has a pattern of trying to keep the child away from his father and to convince other caretakers and authority figures in the child's life to view his father in a negative light, inappropriately. So you may need to be pushy and to have the arguments clear in your own head, to convey them to your attorney. Hopefully, you'll have a great lawyer. They do exist. But you may be just another job to him, whereas this is your only family.

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#19 of 71 Old 07-17-2010, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Of course it doesn't benefit your husband to appear to be attacking his ex preemptively (he'll look like a bully). But if it becomes necessary (if she pulls out all the stops to discredit him and pushes to permanently reduce or eliminate his access to the child), make sure your atty. is prepared to make both of these points in court:

From her statements it does seem that she is trying to get overnights canceled and all visitation supervised permanently.

1- She ignored whatever notification statutes exist, regarding her move. (Find out what they are. Here, it's very specific. 90 days before the move, you must formally serve the other parent and the court with written notice, including the updated contact info. and a reason for the move, "regardless of whether the move is across town or across the street".) Not only does it speak to her general credibility as ProtoLawyer pointed out, but it specifically shows her disrespect for your husband's role in the child's life and her unwillingness to share basic information. It shows that her unwillingness to share medical info. is part of a pattern, not an "isolated incident". Your atty. could ask her how she would feel, if she didn't know where her child was sleeping while he was away from her; and why she doesn't seem to think your husband - as the other parent - is entitled to the same consideration she would expect for herself?

My husband has spoken to his attorney and the Law Guardian about her moving and several other instances where she has shown a significant lack of integrity.

2- What did she mean by checking that box on the emergency forms? If she admits the issues are at her house, you have some obvious lines of questioning to pursue. But if she meant your house, your atty. needs to pounce on that - but carefully! If he invites an open-ended answer, he allows her to tell whatever wild tales she wants, on the record. He needs to ask specific questions she can't answer affirmatively, like what approximate dates your husband has been arrested for possession of "recreational drugs"? (Never?) For alcohol-related offenses like DUI? (Hmm, never?) Did he smoke when they lived together? (Obviously not, since the child's initial medical paperwork said he lived in a smoke-free home.) Since the divorce, does she go to parties with you two? (No?) So she hasn't witnessed either of you smoking or taking recreational drugs, much less exposing the child to those things? Same with the alcohol? What evidence does she have that the child is exposed to anything but normal, adult consumption of alcohol in your home, such as you and your husband having a glass of wine with dinner? None? So when her baby was in the E.R. - when her only thoughts should have been about his health - even then she was so focused on making your husband look like a villain and a bad parent that she lied on the intake forms? What does that tell the Court about her motivations - and about the messages the child must be exposed to about his father, when he's with her?

When we went back over Cameron's pediatric forms to get them ready for court, I found where she had stated negative opinions of my husband during his well child checkups. So bad mouthing my husband on permanent records is apparently nothing new.

IME, these are the kinds of issues family law attorneys prefer to blow off. "Isn't it enough that we can defend your husband and show that he doesn't use drugs?" Well, no, it's not. It's bigger than that, if she has a pattern of trying to keep the child away from his father and to convince other caretakers and authority figures in the child's life to view his father in a negative light, inappropriately. So you may need to be pushy and to have the arguments clear in your own head, to convey them to your attorney. Hopefully, you'll have a great lawyer. They do exist. But you may be just another job to him, whereas this is your only family.
My husband (and, by extension, I) have tried to convey just this to the Law Guardian. She did state that this was apparently much more complex than it first seems and that it wasn't going to be an "easy" case. But she also told us she was going to recommend visitation be resumed quickly since it's been almost six weeks since we have seen Cameron. I just hope the judge doesn't order supervised, since there is really no cause.

Thank you so much for your advice. Especially the part about getting the arguments clear in my head first. I just keep going round and round because I honestly have no idea where Cameron's mother is coming from or hoping to gain with all of this.

I'm a mother to one, stepmother to one and wife to my one.
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#20 of 71 Old 07-17-2010, 08:22 PM
 
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I just keep going round and round because I honestly have no idea where Cameron's mother is coming from or hoping to gain with all of this.
It sounds like you and your husband are doing all the right things - and it's good that you're so supportive of him, as a father. It's not an easy road, but especially if that little boy is hearing bad things about a good Daddy (starting at such a tender, impressionable age), it is absolutely essential that he know, as he grows up, that nothing his mother can do will make his father give up and walk away from him. All kids need to know they're that important to their fathers, but it takes a lot of work to show that to kids whose moms are trying to sabotage the paternal relationship.

With any luck, your Law Guardian will help nip the problem in the bud with adequate visitation. When my step-son was 5, the Custodial Evaluator advised the Court to give my husband more visitation than what's recommended in the state guidelines, "to offset (the Mom)'s efforts to damage the father-son relationship". Then she moved across the country when my step-son was 6 and was quite open that she didn't like my husband getting so much visitation and the main reason she was moving was to get my step-son away from him. The C/E recommended my step-son remain here with my husband, but the court let him move with her anyway. She was so resistant, uncooperative and sometimes flat-out defiant of the court, regarding my husband's visits that my husband won sole custody when my step-son was 8. The C/E stressed to the court that the only reason my step-son had maintained any decent relationship with my husband at all, from 6 to 8 - and a large part of the reason my step-son seems so well-adjusted, considering all the crap he's been exposed to - was my husband's strenuous efforts to maintain contact and regular visitation, no matter what his ex threw at him, to block it. Regular contact is so important.

As to why the ex is doing this... ???? I believe my husband's ex has a profound, core insecurity. She had very upsetting, fluctuating relationships with everyone in her childhood family. They go a decade at a time without speaking to each other. After leaving them, she flitted from one would-be benefactor to another - relatives, boyfriends, fiances, husband, never on her own - right into her 30's. I think she was looking for that secure, supportive connection she didn't feel from her parents, but sadly none of those subsequent relationships worked out, either. I think the single relationship in her entire life that feels unbreakable to her is the one with her son. She appears, in what she says and does, to be incapable of separating the two of them in her mind and to assume he thinks and feels everything she does. So it's easy to imagine that, a) she doesn't understand or accept him loving his Dad, if she hates him; and b) she feels overwhelmingly threatened by my husband spending time with him or being close to him. There's no reasoning with her, because it's not logical. Finally, the only thing the court could do was take control of the situation away from her, by giving my husband custody...which of course confirmed her every worst fear - that my husband always wanted to take her baby away from her. (He didn't. It broke his heart to live separately from his kid, but he appreciates the mother-child bond and he would have accepted regular visitation, if she had simply allowed him to exercise it!) Even worse, by the time he got custody he'd met and married me, so I just add to the threat, by being a potential replacement for her. Maybe similar forces are at work in your situation?

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#21 of 71 Old 07-17-2010, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It sounds like you and your husband are doing all the right things - and it's good that you're so supportive of him, as a father. It's not an easy road, but especially if that little boy is hearing bad things about a good Daddy (starting at such a tender, impressionable age), it is absolutely essential that he know, as he grows up, that nothing his mother can do will make his father give up and walk away from him. All kids need to know they're that important to their fathers, but it takes a lot of work to show that to kids whose moms are trying to sabotage the paternal relationship.

With any luck, your Law Guardian will help nip the problem in the bud with adequate visitation. When my step-son was 5, the Custodial Evaluator advised the Court to give my husband more visitation than what's recommended in the state guidelines, "to offset (the Mom)'s efforts to damage the father-son relationship". Then she moved across the country when my step-son was 6 and was quite open that she didn't like my husband getting so much visitation and the main reason she was moving was to get my step-son away from him. The C/E recommended my step-son remain here with my husband, but the court let him move with her anyway. She was so resistant, uncooperative and sometimes flat-out defiant of the court, regarding my husband's visits that my husband won sole custody when my step-son was 8. The C/E stressed to the court that the only reason my step-son had maintained any decent relationship with my husband at all, from 6 to 8 - and a large part of the reason my step-son seems so well-adjusted, considering all the crap he's been exposed to - was my husband's strenuous efforts to maintain contact and regular visitation, no matter what his ex threw at him, to block it. Regular contact is so important.

As to why the ex is doing this... ???? I believe my husband's ex has a profound, core insecurity. She had very upsetting, fluctuating relationships with everyone in her childhood family. They go a decade at a time without speaking to each other. After leaving them, she flitted from one would-be benefactor to another - relatives, boyfriends, fiances, husband, never on her own - right into her 30's. I think she was looking for that secure, supportive connection she didn't feel from her parents, but sadly none of those subsequent relationships worked out, either. I think the single relationship in her entire life that feels unbreakable to her is the one with her son. She appears, in what she says and does, to be incapable of separating the two of them in her mind and to assume he thinks and feels everything she does. So it's easy to imagine that, a) she doesn't understand or accept him loving his Dad, if she hates him; and b) she feels overwhelmingly threatened by my husband spending time with him or being close to him. There's no reasoning with her, because it's not logical. Finally, the only thing the court could do was take control of the situation away from her, by giving my husband custody...which of course confirmed her every worst fear - that my husband always wanted to take her baby away from her. (He didn't. It broke his heart to live separately from his kid, but he appreciates the mother-child bond and he would have accepted regular visitation, if she had simply allowed him to exercise it!) Even worse, by the time he got custody he'd met and married me, so I just add to the threat, by being a potential replacement for her. Maybe similar forces are at work in your situation?
So much of what you wrote feels right to me as far as my situation. Especially the bolded. My husband told the Law Guardian that he wouldn't let Cameron grow up without a Dad and would be there for him no matter what it took. I was very proud!

Cameron's mother has always bounced from her parents house to her boyfriends' houses and then back again. We think where she is at now is her brothers house, but we aren't sure. So the insecurity factor may well be what is behind all of this . . . Something to think about anyway . . .

Thank you for your insight.

I'm a mother to one, stepmother to one and wife to my one.
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#22 of 71 Old 07-19-2010, 09:00 AM
 
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I didn't actually realize that Cameron was only 2, and that you and your partner have a baby together who is one.

There's nothing inherently wrong with that - people berak up, people meet new people, people have more kids - it happens. But I was envisioning a woman denying access to an 8 y.o. or something - a child who remembered living together as a family, was cognizant of the breakup, had developed a relationship with his Dad while living together full-time, etc.

At this stage - she's probably hoping that you guys will give up if she makes things difficult enough, and that Cameron won't think of your partner as his dad and won't miss him or have to deal with being part of a blended family. This isn't a realistic hope given your partner's behjavior to date, and most people wouldn't say it was an ethical hope, and it's real strange that she's taking cs and sniffing around for more at the same time that she's trying to erase Daddy. But if my husband had left (or I'd left him) when my eldest was less than one year old? I sure as heck would have hoped that he'd drop off the radar and that we'd both go on to meet great people and have happy uncomplicated nonblended lives. I wouldn't lie to doctors, for sure, and I'm glad you're getting a lawyer to hopefully stop that kind of behavior in its tracks, but the mere hope that your ex is going to go on and focus on his new family and leave you and your baby alone? I don't think that has anything to do with hating you guys, or wanting to hurt her son (not that it wouldn't), or even being jealous. She just doesn't see your partner's role in Cameron's life to date as something that equals her role, and she doesn't want to faciltate the development of a larger role for a man she no longer considers family.

She's wrong. But it's a very human response. Pick one of your exes, and imagine handing your baby over to him and his new girlfriend for a couple of days. That's some serious pain-and-panic-generation, even thinking about it, hmmm?

Your partner should fight this attempt to get rid of him, because the vast majority of people who have BTDT, both professionals and ladies on this board, concur that it's what's best for Cameron long-term. But you might find that you, yourself are a more effective stepparent if you can empathize with mom's reasons for not wanting her toddler to grow up thinking he has two families if she can possibly avoid it. Would you want your baby to be trained up to love one of your exes, perhaps to the permanent detriment of his bond with the wonderful man you plan to share the rest of your life with? Or would you prefer, in your heart of hearts, to be free of your past mistakes? There's no need to ascribe jealousy or insecurity or another about-you-and-your-partner reason to her behavior. He could have the bank account of Warren Buffett, the body of Hugh Jackman and the soul of Mr. Rogers and she's probably still believe it was in Cameron's best interest to get him out of the picture.

And she'd still be wrong, and you'd still need to fight, and I wish you the best of luck in getting justice from your family court.
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#23 of 71 Old 07-19-2010, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Smithie - Thank you for your perspective and wishing us luck . . . I need to think about your post for a bit. Some of it rubbed me the wrong way and I want to be clear in my own mind why that is before I respond.

The court date is today . . . Positive thoughts, please!

I'm a mother to one, stepmother to one and wife to my one.
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#24 of 71 Old 07-19-2010, 02:46 PM
 
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I'll do you one better than positive thoughts:

I truly do hope that your partner's parenting time gets reinstated. I understand, intellectually, that a continued relationship is by far the best thing for Dad and son both. But emotionally, I also understand the "we broke up after mere months as a family, you found a new partner and had a new baby right away, why can't you leave me and MY baby alone?" perspective.
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#25 of 71 Old 07-19-2010, 08:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Smithie: I think a little more background history is needed. I do admit that right now I am bitter, but I'll try to keep things relevant.

My husband and his ex were together for two years. Then they had a falling out because she wanted to be a party girl and he wanted a stable relationship. So she moved out (back to her parents house) for a year to prove that she could be more mature. She was trying to move back in with my husband after the year was up, but he decided he couldn't trust her. The last time she came by was for a birthday present of an intimate nature.

My husband and I became good friends while he was with his ex. Two months after the birthday thing my husband and I decided to become more than friends. His ex did come by a couple of times to see if she could get him to cheat on me. When he wouldn't she dropped out of the picture for a couple of months. Then my husband saw her at Walmart and she was pregnant. She told him her due date and that father was the guy she was with then. He wished her well and parted on what he thought were good terms.

My husband found out that she had lied about both her due date and the father when he received paperwork that said he had to go to court for paternity testing. She was on welfare, so the state wanted him to pay child support. Surprise! And the best part was his first court date was the day before my due date.

So the start of this whole situation was a mess.

I think that's probably why your post rubbed me the wrong way. They never had a "family". He wanted one, she didn't. She had had two abortions to prove this. Then she gets pregnant and decides to "keep it" and lies to my husband then refuses to give him any chance at a relationship with his son.

It hurts me because it hurts him. I'm angry at her for causing him pain. I have trouble seeing why she is like she is not just with this situation, but with her life.

Hope that clarified some things.

I'm a mother to one, stepmother to one and wife to my one.
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#26 of 71 Old 07-19-2010, 08:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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To sum up today's court adventure: Our lawyer didn't show up for court. She did call us to let us know she wouldn't be there, but she would be calling the court to have the court case adjourned. She didn't.

My husband and I are not familiar with the county the case is in. We got lost on the way to the courthouse and were 14 minutes late. Since our lawyer failed to show and we were late, the judge gave Cameron's mother exactly what she wanted. So right now my husband only gets to see Cameron how and when his mother says. Which is never, since she won't return phone calls or text messages.

We are working on getting the case re-opened since our lawyer didn't follow proper procedure. But it looks like we won't be seeing Cameron for a while yet. Sigh.

I'm a mother to one, stepmother to one and wife to my one.
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#27 of 71 Old 07-19-2010, 10:22 PM
 
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To sum up today's court adventure: Our lawyer didn't show up for court. She did call us to let us know she wouldn't be there, but she would be calling the court to have the court case adjourned. She didn't.

My husband and I are not familiar with the county the case is in. We got lost on the way to the courthouse and were 14 minutes late. Since our lawyer failed to show and we were late, the judge gave Cameron's mother exactly what she wanted. So right now my husband only gets to see Cameron how and when his mother says. Which is never, since she won't return phone calls or text messages.

We are working on getting the case re-opened since our lawyer didn't follow proper procedure. But it looks like we won't be seeing Cameron for a while yet. Sigh.
Oh, I'm so sorry, Amanda!

Didn't you say there's some type of guardian ad litem involved? So this is just a temporary ruling, until the guardian makes a more informed recommendation to the court - right? If that's so, then if Mom spends this period - when she has total control over Dad's access to the child - abusing her power and denying contact, in the end it may give both the guardian and the judge a better picture of her intent.

My husband was absolutely heartbroken, devastated, depressed when the court let his ex move out of state with their child. He felt furious and hopeless when time and again, the court did nothing about him going out to visit and her not letting him have parenting time. But, looking back, if she had stayed in town - or if the court had promptly fixed the surface problem by giving a clear visitation schedule for the times he traveled to CA - he never would have accumulated a case for getting custody, and the rest of his son's childhood would have been spent continuing to deal with each week's new form of denied access, parental alienation, sabotage, etc.

I think, for most fathers in a position similar to your partner's, this road is not easy or quick. Don't give up.

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#28 of 71 Old 07-20-2010, 12:23 AM
 
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I'm very sorry that your lawyer screwed up so badly. And I appreciate hearing more about how your partner (and you, since you love him and your life is joined to his) found yourself in this crappy situation. I can see how this all went down without either of you making a single decision that wasn't ethically OK in the context you thought you were working with.

I will never understand why pregnant women give the names of previous sexual partners to their welfare caseworkers when they don't want the guy involved with baby. To be totally honest, I would feel like I had the moral right to walk away and be a single parent if I conceived outside of marriage and the guy already had a new pregnant girlfriend, but if I were to do such a thing, I would sure as heck not sic the welfare people on the guy I didn't want to be father to my child! Good grief! If it gives you any satisfaction, think about the number of times this woman has tortured herself over THAT mistake.
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#29 of 71 Old 07-20-2010, 05:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, I'm so sorry, Amanda!

Didn't you say there's some type of guardian ad litem involved? So this is just a temporary ruling, until the guardian makes a more informed recommendation to the court - right? If that's so, then if Mom spends this period - when she has total control over Dad's access to the child - abusing her power and denying contact, in the end it may give both the guardian and the judge a better picture of her intent.

My husband was absolutely heartbroken, devastated, depressed when the court let his ex move out of state with their child. He felt furious and hopeless when time and again, the court did nothing about him going out to visit and her not letting him have parenting time. But, looking back, if she had stayed in town - or if the court had promptly fixed the surface problem by giving a clear visitation schedule for the times he traveled to CA - he never would have accumulated a case for getting custody, and the rest of his son's childhood would have been spent continuing to deal with each week's new form of denied access, parental alienation, sabotage, etc.

I think, for most fathers in a position similar to your partner's, this road is not easy or quick. Don't give up.
The Guardian ad litem was only involved to give her opinion as to if it would be detrimental to Cameron's health for my husband to have visitation. Which she did tell the judge that it would not be. But since my lawyer didn't show up (or even put in the paperwork that she needed to to show she was our lawyer - on paper it looked like we didn't have one!) the judge ruled in Cameron's mother favor. So an actual order is in place now, not just a temporary thing. I just hope we can get the case reopened. If not we have to wait for the order to come in the mail and file a petition to modify. We should know more later today.

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I'm very sorry that your lawyer screwed up so badly. And I appreciate hearing more about how your partner (and you, since you love him and your life is joined to his) found yourself in this crappy situation. I can see how this all went down without either of you making a single decision that wasn't ethically OK in the context you thought you were working with.

I will never understand why pregnant women give the names of previous sexual partners to their welfare caseworkers when they don't want the guy involved with baby. To be totally honest, I would feel like I had the moral right to walk away and be a single parent if I conceived outside of marriage and the guy already had a new pregnant girlfriend, but if I were to do such a thing, I would sure as heck not sic the welfare people on the guy I didn't want to be father to my child! Good grief! If it gives you any satisfaction, think about the number of times this woman has tortured herself over THAT mistake.
The sad part is that I don't think Cameron's mother regrets naming my husband as Cameron's father at all. I think (purely speculation) she has her family all telling her that he should be happy sitting back and paying child support since he wasn't there for her for her pregnancy. I don't think any of them know that she lied about who the father was and cheated on my husband with other guys when they were together. Who would go around advertising that, you know? So her family thinks my husband is some dead beat that got her pregnant and dropped her for me (and then got me pregnant too!) and now only wants visitation because of the child support thing. That part isn't speculation - it's almost verbatim on Cameron's pediatric records under "Father involvement" along with other negative comments. Her family also refuses to call me his "wife". All documentation from their end say "girlfriend" even though we've been married for almost two years! That part is kind of funny, but still sad.

I hope Cameron had a great birthday. Cameron's grandmother saw me walking to court and exclaimed "We're all done! Cameron has a huge Thomas the Train cake for his birthday. We're going to go have his party now! Bye!" That hurt, but I'm glad my husband was already in the courthouse.

I'm a mother to one, stepmother to one and wife to my one.
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#30 of 71 Old 07-20-2010, 10:06 AM
 
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wow...is this a lawyer you were paying? she needs to get this straightened out NOW.
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