OK. I am doing lots of research for my DP. He is just now going into discovery and will be setting a date for mediation. I'm looking up lots of information/case law for the Ex's state about abandonment, custodial interference and forced alienation along with allot of searches about what a father should bring with him to mediation. So far he is going to start a phone call log, he calls every day and she rairly picks up the phone, especially when she is local because she is refusing visitation. He is keeping a visit log and CS log. He is also filling out a parenting agreement, 3 in fact. #1 with him as CP, #2 with her as CP #3, worst case scenario... I found a website that said this was a good idea. I also found a website with blank affidavit pdf files and his family/friends that have seen her crazy behavior are going to fill them out and take them to be notarized
So my question to all of you, What was the most important piece of information you had with you in mediation and what are the most important things to have included in the custody agreement/what do you wish was in yours?
Thanks for your help!!! The flood of information from the Internet is drowning me!! lol
If I recall correctly, your fiancee has a difficult ex, similar to my DH's?
Mediation did not work, for him, because the mediator can't "order" something the parties don't agree to; and it is impossible for DH and his ex to come to agreement. How does mediation work, in your state?
As far as important things to have in the custody order (assuming your DH winds up as the "noncustodial" parent. If he has custody, the pressure's on Mom to get the details she wants into the order):
- Specific times the child will call (or answer a call from) the absent parent, since clearly "unrestricted phone contact" is insufficient wording for this mom. She can't be found in contempt in the future, for failing to comply with a nonspecific order.
- Specific arrangements for how and when to schedule make-up visits and the fact that the NCP is entitled to a make-up visit whether Mom denied the scheduled visit, or Dad needed to reschedule.
- A clear statement that both parents have exactly equal rights to visit and be involved at the child's school; to attend the child's special events regardless whose parenting time it is; to seek medical care for the child during their parenting time; and to access the child's medical, dental, mental health and school records.
- Specifics about who has the right to enroll the child in extracurricular activities, who should pay for them, and whether the child is entitled to attend them during the other parent's time. Include church, if relevant.
- Very specifically define holiday parenting time. Which holidays are shared, and how?
- Specifically define who gets to choose dates of variable parenting time (like summer, if the NCP will have an extended period with the child). Set a deadline for that parent to announce their election. Specify that if the 1st parent misses their deadline, the 2nd parent gets to choose the dates, but must follow the same guidelines (about length of time with each parent).
- Specify how long each parent is allowed to take the child on vacation and that each parent must notify the other when and where they will travel with the child, even if it's during their own parenting time. Specify how far in advance they need to notify each other (perhaps 24 hours for a weekend camping trip during "regular" parenting time, but before the end of the school year, for an extended summer vacation).
- Specify that each parent must notify the other, in writing, of plans to move; a month in advance if it's in-town, but two to three months in advance if it's out of town. The notice must include a reason for the move and the new address (as soon as it's available). The NCP has the right to ask the court to consider changing custody, if the CP's move makes living with the other parent in the child's best interest. In such an event, the extent to which each parent supports the other parent's relationship with the child must be considered a factor in the child's best interest. If that factor isn't already part of your state law, then including a statement like this in a custody order would be the hill I'd want to die on, if it looked like I was going to be the NCP.
Best of luck!!
Thanks for all the advice!! I'm not sure how mediation is going to work, they are in another state. It is just becoming more and more every week. His lawyer kinda ticks me off, his attitude is wait and see, pay out the nose and be happy to not see your son. Now the BM is taking his son to spend overnights at a mans house and not telling my dp anything abut the man. His son slipped that he was going to spend the night at Mr....'s house and when my dp started to ask questions.... How old is he, does he have children, where does he live? her response is that is none of your business and I don't have to tell you!! ... I seriously am seeing no light at the end of this tunnel. We have been together longer and I have never met his son, she wont have him for overnights but this guy can! seriously, this grown woman 16 years older than me is a huge CHILD! OK.. rant over. again thanks for lending an open ear... or rather computer screen. lol. again thanks for all that great advice. I showed him and he said to say thank you as well!
I forgot this part.
So, it should be pretty important to specify who pays for the child's travel and who gets to schedule it. For us - and the court - it seemed easy and obvious to have DSS's mom pay for most of his flights, when she had custody, DH paid support and she's the one who moved away. Then when DH got custody and Mom didn't pay support, the court made her pay for all of DSS's travel. But paying for the tickets gives you the power to choose them. Regardless who has custody, Mom is as difficult as possible about when and how she schedules travel. DH is now asking to buy DSS's tickets himself.
That was my DH's ex's attitude, but she wasn't quite bold enough to say that (although she came very close...and right to a judge). In our case, this attitude eventually led to my DH getting custody. But it took an insanely long time.
hello.. just wanted to say thanks to vocal, he wrote up parenting plans and gave them to his lawyer. He wanted me to thank you for the great ideas.
Also thanks Kayleesmom for the hugs...lol.. i need them. ;)
I do have a small update; and I'm freaking out!! lol. They submitted their ans. to the interrogatories last week and his lawyer got a call from hers. His lawyer got good and nasty with them and is now actually working hard!! He was taking a really lax view on all of this until he got a view first hand at her particular breed of crazy..lol. My dp was told that she is basically trying to paint him as a non functioning fall down drunk. (We have been living together since July and the most to drink he has had in our home is a six pack in a week.) She is fixated on their being a reason for all of this; that isn't her.
Soooooo... lol. His lawyer got off his little rump and made an emergency hearing for custody and is demanding we have Christmas!!! and a few days after!! OMG!!! we go to court on Dec. 18Th. The lawyer wants me, his parents, and a family friend. I'm really really really nervous! He has never met me and I'm so terrified about how he is going to react to all of this. They still have not sat the boy down and told him what is going on. This is going to cause all kinds of behavioral problems. He is already refusing to talk to his father on the phone because he does not go to their house and spend the weekends any more. The poor kid know something is up but she wont allow any conversation about it. The one time dp tried to say something she freaked out and didn't answer the phone for almost a week.....
/sigh. I see all of the posts here and from all of you I know there is light at the end of the tunnel so I thank you all for being here to vent to. I'm glad this forum is here!! :-D
Good luck in court! Do whatever works for you, to be as calm as possible. Yoga? Just not alcohol. Even if Mom gives you every reason in the world to be upset, you want to seem as "emotionally stable" as you can, in court. Keep in mind, if wild accusations are made about you, you look much better if you simply raise your eyebrows in surprise and keep your cool, than if you sputter and cry, in defense of yourself. Project that you have nothing to defend yourself about.
I find it has helped, to practice question you think will be asked - by both friendly and hostile counsel.
As far as the kid's behavior, my DH was really hurt for a while, when DSS was isolated with Mom and didn't want to talk to him on the phone, or, for example, DSS had "friendly" as a spelling word and his sentence of choice was "I am not friendly to my dad." But it improved very, very quickly when DSS actually got some time around his dad and remembered the distinction between what his mom says about his dad, and what his actual experience is, with his dad. Hang in there. It will probably be the same for you. Give it a little time.
Your husband should be aware that those notarized affidavits will be nearly useless. Mom has the right to question those "witnesses". And unless they are in court for her to do so? Dad can expect the court to toss those statements. A notary stamp doesn't do anything except affirm that the person who signed it is who they claimed to be. It does nothing to prove the truth of the words on the piece of paper. I could have a piece of paper notarized that the sky is green. Doesn't make it so.
His lawyer said the more he has in hand and people with him are mostly a "show of force". Its fine if she wants to question them, They are all more than willing to drive the three hours to be with him in court. Sometimes the truth simply needs to be said.
I understand the family legal system is set up to be you are a "a man unless found innocent." and I understand why it is like that but it more than sucks when you are watching "one of the good guys"; who pays his cp (an exorbitant amount if you ask me, I have friends that receive less and have more children.) He works two jobs was at her beck and call for years. All he wants is to see his son and he cant. She refuses to tell him where they are!! There are weekends he does not know what state they are in because she wont pick up the phone!! now as a child of a divorce this is eternally frustrating, I was on the inside looking out, my mother never spoke ill of my father, she even moved to be closer to my fathers family because she wanted me to know both sides. I was six. I'm sorry, be mad at your ex, hate them even!!! that's OK! But be a parent and do what is best for the child, not what will hurt your ex the most!