Visitation while dad is basically homeless. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 10-23-2010, 11:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My son's father is a bum - beyond a bum, a complete waste of space. However, the State of Texas says I have to let my son spend every-other weekend with him. I haven't LOVED it but I didn't fear for his safety - dad is shacked up with a fairly nice (if not very bright) lady who adores my boy, and she has 3 kids of her own, and knows "mom-stuff".

Well as of the 19th of this month, they've been evicted from their apartment. No major crisis caused this to happen, he refuses to work because he doesn't want to pay child support and she lost her job and liked staying home with her kids so she didn't find another one.

So they're sending her two girls to live with friends, and my ex, the girlfriend and her son will be living with my ex's BFF and his wife. I know these folks, we hung out when the ex and I were together, and they're nice people but smoke A LOT of weed. I have no moral problem with weed but it is currently illegal and I don't want people smoking weed around my kid any more than I want them getting drunk around my kid.

The ex is expecting me to let my boy go spend his weekend at this house that they're squatting at, with these people. I've called every state agency I can think of, and I have no recourse. Unless I hire a lawyer and file papers, which we simply can't afford, I have to let him go, or violate the court order.

I talked to my ex, and (attempting to phrase it delicately with him) suggested that "since y'all have so much on your plate right now..." that they take the boy all day saturday or all day Sunday, and I'd pick him up and drop him off - but the only change he was willing to make was that now I'm dropping him off at noon on Saturday and picking him up at 4 on Sunday. (Regular schedule: 6 on Friday to 6 on Sunday)

First, am I being a b&%$c to think that his basic homelessness renders him unfit to take my boy for the weekend? The people at CPS acted like I was a total b-word.... and this is my REAL question - by knowing that these people my son will be exposed to are major drug people (well, drug-doers, I dont think they're dealers or anything) am I setting MYSELF up to get into trouble?

Mama to DS T (10/11/2004) and DD M (09/03/09) and cookin' up baby #3 due late March/early April 2010!
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#2 of 13 Old 10-23-2010, 11:46 AM
 
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Yes, I think you are absolutely wrong to equal homelessness with inability to take care of and visit children.

I have been homeless with a child. It is a horrible, horrible, place to be. I was lucky to good friends that helped me through that segment of my life.

Quit using diseuphemism, squatting, to describe the situation. Squatting is taking over abandons property. They are not doing that. They are staying with friends, it could be family, or a hotel. If they were truly squatting then you would have a case with the state, but not because they are staying with friends.

Second of all, suck it up your son is also HIS son, whether you like it or not. There is a lot of anger in your post. Your son will see this. This will harm your relationship with your son, in the end.

This is a hard job market to find a job. There is a lot of competition. I think you are assuming a lot about your ex and his girl friend. You are assuming the worse about these friends also. Many people smoke and drink but don't do it around the kids. People do refrain from it for a week-end.
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#3 of 13 Old 10-23-2010, 11:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My post was long enough, and I didn't include a lot of things, including 5 years of no child support, his father knocking me around, abandoning "our" son for a year, and calling her kids "our kids" and "our" son "your son" in emails and phone calls.

Yes, there is A LOT of anger there. And I'm also a 33 year old mother of 3, college educated, and know enough not to let my son see it.

Squatting might not have been the right word, and I apologize for that. However, their situation is of their own making, and they admit it. They CHOSE this, rather than work. They are content on food stamps and welfare and the charity of strangers/friends.

The people they are currently staying with do not have children and are not the types to "give up the weed for the weekend." I can guarantee you they will smoke weed in the house with my son there. So will his father, since he does every weekend.

Mama to DS T (10/11/2004) and DD M (09/03/09) and cookin' up baby #3 due late March/early April 2010!
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#4 of 13 Old 10-23-2010, 12:09 PM
 
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Call legal aid and see if they can help you. I have been in your shoes, but I was lucky enough that ex recognized his inability to provide an approriate environment and either took ds to his mom's for hte weekend or just took him out to the park for a few hours and brought him home the same day. It's rough, I know...

Bring back the old MDC
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#5 of 13 Old 10-23-2010, 12:22 PM
 
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It doesn't sound like a great situation but I don't think you have a choice. It is his son, he has a place for him to visit, and he wants to see him.

People makes all kinds of bad choices that might make them homeless. They might have bad luck with addicition or health issues or health care bills. But I don't think that makes them necessarily a bad parent. He isn't homeless and his living situation while not ideal, is not squatting. I hope their situation improves quickly and they can provide a better environment for your son. And I hope the nice lady can be reunited with her girls soon.

And yes, I think you have a right to be angry. Just not much you can do about it.
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#6 of 13 Old 10-23-2010, 12:48 PM
 
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If you feel it would be an unsafe situation for your son, you should be able to get a temporary injunction to prevent the visits. If you feel like your ex has been doing drugs, you can report this and try to get it part of the order that he has to submit to drug testing and provide a safe place for the visitation before they resume.

This isn't about homelessness. This is about bringing a child into an unsafe situation. If my XH had to move in with friends, I would have no problem continuing the visitation as long as those friends were safe people for my son to be around. If they were not, I would do anything in my power to protect my child, which is exactly what the OP is trying to do.

Perhaps supervised visitations would be a good compromise? He still gets to see his son and you know for sure that he's in a safe place.

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#7 of 13 Old 10-23-2010, 02:55 PM
 
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OK, just to make it clear where I am coming from:

1. I think NCPs should have regular visitation whenever it's safe and healthy.
2. I have no objection to pot.
3. I don't think that a home situation is inherently unsafe because there are adults there smoking pot. Far from it. Some of my all-time favorite parents smoke pot.

THAT SAID, the degree of instability in this situation is such that you need to intervene. Forget your ex - speak directly to his hosts and tell them that you are uncomfortable with the homelessness/drug situation, that you've begged your ex to consent to an altered visitation plan and he won't see reason, and if they allow your ex to bring his son into the home for an overnight stay you are going to call the cops. Be apologetic. Make it clear that you wish them no harm, but are completely out of options that won't put you in violation of the order, if they don't put the nix on your son staying over.

If that doesn't work, you'll have to follow the custody order if you truly can't afford to get an injunction. You may have some luck if you go down to your local police station and tell your story - they may agree to send a squad car out with you when you do the dropoff, giving you a chance to explain your concerns in front of the officer and ask, one more time, for permission to change the visitation plan until your ex has housing again.
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#8 of 13 Old 10-23-2010, 04:26 PM
 
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I had to run off earlier, but wanted to come back and say this: The problem isn't drugs and it isn't homelessness, but the intersection of the two. As guests, your ex and his wife do not have the authority to set boundaries or enforce their own rules/values in the place they are living. They are living in a place where there is ongoing criminal activity. They have demonstrated how they REALLY feel about the situation by keeping "their kids" out of it and sending them to a safe place, so why on earth would it be OK for "your kid" to crash there all weekend? Your ex is experiencing a serious judgement fail, and he needs a reality check, preferably delivered by the court.
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#9 of 13 Old 10-23-2010, 04:35 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post
I had to run off earlier, but wanted to come back and say this: The problem isn't drugs and it isn't homelessness, but the intersection of the two. As guests, your ex and his wife do not have the authority to set boundaries or enforce their own rules/values in the place they are living. They are living in a place where there is ongoing criminal activity. They have demonstrated how they REALLY feel about the situation by keeping "their kids" out of it and sending them to a safe place, so why on earth would it be OK for "your kid" to crash there all weekend? Your ex is experiencing a serious judgement fail, and he needs a reality check, preferably delivered by the court.
I agree. It isn't about homelessness. I would contact your lawyer or the courts and see if you can get a custody modification, even temporary, until there is a safe and stable home for them. Surely your ex could understand given the situation? (I say this knowing mine probably would not)

Could they stay with your ex-MIL or something with your ex? My oldest kids go to my ex's mother's house or family to see them since he does not have a safe and stable home. We do not have a custody order as such-I am the sole custodian and it's my decision, though.

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#10 of 13 Old 10-23-2010, 07:20 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post
I had to run off earlier, but wanted to come back and say this: The problem isn't drugs and it isn't homelessness, but the intersection of the two. As guests, your ex and his wife do not have the authority to set boundaries or enforce their own rules/values in the place they are living. They are living in a place where there is ongoing criminal activity. They have demonstrated how they REALLY feel about the situation by keeping "their kids" out of it and sending them to a safe place, so why on earth would it be OK for "your kid" to crash there all weekend? Your ex is experiencing a serious judgement fail, and he needs a reality check, preferably delivered by the court.
It sounds like from the OP that the 2 daughters are going somewhere else, and the son is also staying in the friends home.

OP, unless you can file papers (which you don't necessarily need a lawyer to do), you're going to have to send him.
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#11 of 13 Old 10-23-2010, 11:26 PM
 
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If your husband had an apartment and chose, on his parenting time, to go visit friends overnight with your son, the situation wouldn't be much different.

We often take our kids to visit friends for the weekend. Sometimes we sleep all in one room, or in sleeping bags, or on the living room floor.

We live 3000 miles away from my step-daughter's mom, so when my husband goes there, he and my step-daughter stay with friends in a little one bedroom apartment. They usually sleep on the floor on a blow-up matress. How is that situation different?

It sounds like you believe he has been smoking pot every weekend and doesn't abstain during weekends he is parenting your son. There's a pretty good chance he sometimes has friends (probably even the same friends) over while your son is there. If they always smoke together regardless of whether children are around, they probably did it at your ex's house too. Why is it different now that they are doing it at the friends' house?

I'm not saying I think it is a great situation, or that your ex is making great parenting decisions, or that you don't have a right to be worried. But I don't think there's a reason not to send him in this situation if you've been doing it in the past situation.

Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
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#12 of 13 Old 10-24-2010, 02:10 AM
 
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Can you go to the clerk of the court and ask their help filing an emergency ex parte hearing. I'm not totally sure I'm saying it right but I think that's what it is.
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#13 of 13 Old 10-24-2010, 03:42 AM
 
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This:

Quote:
My son's father is a bum - beyond a bum, a complete waste of space. However, the State of Texas says I have to let my son spend every-other weekend with him. I haven't LOVED it but I didn't fear for his safety - dad is shacked up with a fairly nice (if not very bright) lady who adores my boy, and she has 3 kids of her own, and knows "mom-stuff".
Implies you willingly sent your son for weekends before (or at least thought he was safe when the court required you to do so). Which means that all of this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by TnMsMama View Post
My post was long enough, and I didn't include a lot of things, including 5 years of no child support, his father knocking me around, abandoning "our" son for a year, and calling her kids "our kids" and "our" son "your son" in emails and phone calls...

The people they are currently staying with do not have children and are not the types to "give up the weed for the weekend." I can guarantee you they will smoke weed in the house with my son there. So will his father, since he does every weekend.
Will just make you look vindictive to the courts. You might not like what I'm going to say, and I feel for you because I have been in a similar situation, but please take it for what it is.

The problem is that the courts see people come in all the time when there is a change of situation and try to claim that it changes everything, when in reality much of the stuff they claim is "unacceptable" is actually stuff they already knew about, and tolerated without feeling their child was in danger, sometimes for years. They see it ALL THE TIME, and while I'm not saying that is actually what's going on here, you are going to have to PROVE to a court that these people are such problems that being in that house is a danger. And unless they have a public record of drug offences there isn't going to be cause for the courts to order drug testing on everybody in your son's household (even then there might not be cause, though you would be in a better position). Your word that they smoke pot won't do it, and mentioning that you KNOW they'll smoke with your husband since you already know he smokes every weekend won't make your case look very strong since you've been letting your son sleep at his house up until now. This is not an attack on you, this is just the unfortunate reality of requesting an emergency injunction...you will have to prove it is an emergency because people walk in every day and make stuff up. The judge you see is going to have heard your story a million times, whether it is true in your case or not he can only determine from actual evidence.

Being on welfare and foodstamps (even by choice, even for YEARS) will be a non issue to the courts when it comes to weekend visitations, and bringing it up might backfire on you in the same way that the thing about the pot might (it will make you look like you are grasping at straws). The part about being "homeless" is only going to be strong enough to sway a judge if you can prove the drug charges since your ex is NOT living on the street. His living situation is the only thing that has actually changed, as you tolerated every other thing you mentioned here before now (even the abuse, even the crap e-mails and even the year long disappearance since your son has been there on weekends since those things occurred) and allowed visitation. I understand why the anger about those things has built up and added itself to what is currently happening, but if they were not strong enough to interrupt visitation before, they will not contribute to it now in the eyes of a family court judge.

Trying to get any kind of emergency order with just the things you’ve already mentioned risks backfiring in many ways. It probably won't work, and if something scarier happens in the future, this case will be on record and your ex could possibly make a case that you are always filing frivolous things and trying to "get him". Sort of like crying wolf (and this also happens quite a bit in family court, so if you have a history of emergency orders that were lifted due to lack of evidence it WILL look really bad during future court proceedings). It could also make whatever parenting relationship you have get more tense, which isn’t good for you or your son, and might make it harder for you to get any details at all about what goes on during the weekends, which isn’t something you want if you really trust your ex as little as it seems you do.

Anyway, please don’t take any of this the wrong way, because I understand exactly how upsetting things get during custody issues when you feel your ex is a bad influence AND isn’t being the father he should be. But this will go no where in court unless you can differentiate yourself from the thousands of other parents who walk in with stories about their “loser ex” by bringing actual evidence that your child is in danger. You may not feel your ex’s choices are responsible, but he is your son’s father and unless there is provable abuse or neglect going on you aren’t going to get a court to help you second guess him since you already have primary custody. I found in my own situation that coming to terms with this improved my situation a lot since I can’t change others, but I can change my reaction to them. I was dealing with TWO irresponsible parents (I have custody of my nephew) who share many of your husbands issues, and in some ways were actually worse (his father is a convicted felon amongst other things) but once I put effort into making things less tense and accusatory, they were open to my concerns when I had them, and would actually give in to things that I would never have gotten in a court order. It's still a rollercoaster, but a less stressful one for my entire family.

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