She's taking us to court-- Update #20 - Mothering Forums
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Blended and Step Family Parenting > She's taking us to court-- Update #20
Flor's Avatar Flor 04:40 PM 05-12-2007
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Just got the info in the mail. The background is that when dss was 4, she moved away after severe issues with alcoholism. She returned when he was 7. At that point she had one evening a week and everyother weekend but it was spotty and irregular. Later she told me that at that point she was addicted to meth. When he turned 9 she moved closer and had him Tue/Thur one week and Tue/Fri/Sat the next week. About 30% custody. All seemed fine for about 3 years. We thought she was in recovery and everything was fine.

Suddenly we learn she had a DUI a year ago, she has been drunk on several occasions when dss is there, she has been dating men (she has a live in boyfriend that dss calls stepdad and is the father of her kids) and bringing them there while dss is there and some are pretty shady guys, she tells us she smokes pot daily and isn't going to stop, she was investigated by CPS, though they won't give us the details. We found all this out over the course of a week. Dh freaked and said no more overnights until she does drug/alcohol testing, though she could have him during the day anytime. We agreed to go to mediation to work it out and that is scheduled for Monday.

She filed for 60% custody and child support.

I'm scared. She is an addict, but where is the proof? She had stints in rehab and jail years ago, but other than the DUI, she has been an under-the-radar addict for years. Her boyfriend is a great enabler. We had no idea. I'm afraid the judge is going to see no reason to not give her 50% custody. It is so unfair. We are the stable ones, the hardworking ones, the clean living ones. It seems like none of that matters.

What would she do if the roles were reversed? Would she just tell dh fine, get drunk around dss, smoke pot, date drug dealers, whatever? I don't see how we could have done anything differently.

Earthly_Joys's Avatar Earthly_Joys 05:26 PM 05-12-2007
I am so sorry to hear that BM is causing so much grief. It really sucks when parents do not have the best interest of the child in mind. My only advice is to get a really great lawyer so nothing is skipped over and you are represented well.

What state are you in? In VA a parent has to give three major changes (positive) for consideration of custody changing. Just because a bio parent shows up and decides they want to change things does not mean anything will change. It will be reviewed but I don't see them handing her 60% of the custody. Take a deep breath, you will be okay! HUGS

elizabeth
gurumama's Avatar gurumama 05:30 PM 05-12-2007
So your DH has had primary custody for more than 8 years, she has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, a previous jail conviction, a DUI, a CPS investigation, and she's trying to--what?--prove your DH is "unfit"?

What are the grounds she's using?

No judge is going to grant her that. Get a good lawyer. I'm sorry she's doing this to you. Also--you might want to get your dss in counseling. At 12 your dss might have a say in all this, but he'll need a professional to help him sort through his feelings.
Flor's Avatar Flor 05:44 PM 05-12-2007
Thanks for the replies. I am just feeling really nervous. I hope you guys are right. We are in California, so I don't know if there is a 3 changes rule. We have a really good lawyer, but we just received the letter today, so I'm hoping we'll get to see her Monday morning before mediation.

It seems that some judges always go for 50/50 unless there is a great reason not to, while others go with the status quo if there is no reason to change. Hopefully that will be the case. The papers she filed with the court say that dh has become unreasonabley restrictive. She left out the reasons why.
~MoonGypsy~'s Avatar ~MoonGypsy~ 05:57 PM 05-12-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flor View Post
She filed for 60% custody and child support.
IME, it sounds like this is her reasoning. I don't know the woman, and she could be a very lovely woamn for all I know, but it sounds like she doesn't care about her son at all. She cares about drugs and alcohol and those are very expensive.

It sounds like you really need some proof. I would start recording all the conversations you've had with her, especially if she's offered up "incriminating" pieces of pie in the past.

What does your DSS have to say about her?

to you and your family. I hope eveyrhting turns out well.
Flor's Avatar Flor 06:19 PM 05-12-2007
Yes, I think it is odd that she is filing for child support the same month she is moving into a bigger apartment. As for dss, he does love his mom and likes to go over there, in general, but one of the reasons we found out so much info is that he was really upset when she started dating other men while his "stepdad" is still in the home. He likes the guy and was really pissed at his mom and that's when all the other info started coming out. Plus, she's pretty confessional. I'm hesitant to encourage the court to ask his opinion because we've guarded him from some of the info and he has always felt sorry for his mom and her life. He's like her "little man" who takes care of her. Plus, she lives next to the skate park and doesn't make him wear a helmet. Very important things to a 12 y o .

Anyway, she hasn't put much effort into visitation for the last few years, so I'm hoping it is all a bluff. I'm not sure what she'd do with him for that much time. She can't "handle" him a lot of the time. He's mouthy with her.

I just dug out the last court order we had in place. It is from 1999 and says dad has full physical custody. I hope that is hard to overturn on a whim.
Oriole's Avatar Oriole 07:11 PM 05-12-2007
Ouch, sorry to hear your story.
Doesn't seem to have any reasonable ground though, so I second good lawyer advice, and don't think she can get anywhere with it.
offwing's Avatar offwing 07:37 PM 05-12-2007
A good private detective could probably provide a lot of evidence of her drinking and drug use.
Flor's Avatar Flor 07:42 PM 05-12-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by offwing View Post
A good private detective could probably provide a lot of evidence of her drinking and drug use.
That's not a bad idea. We know it from dh's coworkers and her own admission, but we don't have "proof." Hmmm. We'll see what the lawyer thinks on Monday. Has anyone ever hired a private detective?
offwing's Avatar offwing 08:11 PM 05-12-2007
Definitely talk to your lawyer about it.

I had a situation with an employee once that needed investigation. The lawyer I had at the time did the hiring, making sure they clearly understood what was and was not admissible in court.

Be ready to pay the fees for this. But sometimes it is absolutely worth it.
Bethanydear's Avatar Bethanydear 11:14 PM 05-12-2007
You need to subpoena the CPS records. Your lawyer will be allowed to view them, as will her attorney and the judge. It may have been found an unsubstantiated case, but also maybe there is something there.

Ask for a hair follicle drug test rather than a ua for her. Shows longer term usage, like months.
Flor's Avatar Flor 11:27 PM 05-12-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bethanydear View Post
You need to subpoena the CPS records. Your lawyer will be allowed to view them, as will her attorney and the judge. It may have been found an unsubstantiated case, but also maybe there is something there.

Ask for a hair follicle drug test rather than a ua for her. Shows longer term usage, like months.
Thanks for that advice. We were frustrated by CPs. It's our kid, but we can't access the records. That is scary!

Hair follicle-- I was thinking the same thing. She rescheduled mediation twice and I thought she might be getting things out of her system.
Flor's Avatar Flor 11:31 PM 05-12-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by gurumama View Post
So your DH has had primary custody for more than 8 years, she has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, a previous jail conviction, a DUI, a CPS investigation, and she's trying to--what?--prove your DH is "unfit"?

What are the grounds she's using?No judge is going to grant her that. Get a good lawyer. I'm sorry she's doing this to you. Also--you might want to get your dss in counseling. At 12 your dss might have a say in all this, but he'll need a professional to help him sort through his feelings.
I think it is that dh has suddenly become "inflexible." Ie. he said no more overnights until she drug tests. She actually said fine, but that she wouldn't pay for it and that she won't test for pot, so we were going to mediation to figure out how to pay for it. Now I realize that she filed for all this weeks ago, so I don't know how mediation is going to go on Monday. However, I notice that she didn't hire a lawyer, so I'm feeling like if all she did was file a paper, she hasn't commited to this all yet.
Bethanydear's Avatar Bethanydear 10:40 PM 05-13-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flor View Post
Thanks for that advice. We were frustrated by CPs. It's our kid, but we can't access the records. That is scary!

Hair follicle-- I was thinking the same thing. She rescheduled mediation twice and I thought she might be getting things out of her system.
Oh, believe me, I know. I couldn't believe it when I found that it doesn't matter if CPS opens a case and finds it substantiated and it involves your children but it didn't happen in your home- they don't have to notify you. And if you somehow find out? Unless you are already in court, you can't read the record. I just can't figure out who that really protects?
offwing's Avatar offwing 11:28 PM 05-13-2007
It protects the privacy of the people involved in the investigation, as it should. Being investigated is not the same thing as being guilty of something or even charged with something. Many cases close without the CPS finding evidence of anything wrong at all.

I'm sure we can all imagine how in some situations a step parent calling up the CPS pumping them for information on an open case would be a problem.

But a lawyer can usually have a case opened if they can show cause.
Bethanydear's Avatar Bethanydear 10:25 AM 05-14-2007
Please read my post again. I specified SUBSTANTIATED cases. For instance, take the whole step parent/blended family issues out of it. What if your child was being cared for by a neighbor, and the neighbor's husband was accused of molesting one of the children? You would likely be notified, as your child would be interviewed, but you would not have the legal right to know what happens with the case unless you take it to court.

For instance, we had a case in my state in which a mother of two children was involved with CPS for several years. Only one of the father's was involved with his child, had visitation etc. The state suspected this woman had serious undiagnosed and unresolved mental issues, but she was 'working' with CPS so they didn't remove the children. They did not inform the child's father that there was an ongoing case involving his child, much less tell him any details about the case, what the (founded) accusations were, what was being done to address them, etc. She burned her trailer down with the kids in it, killing them. He sued the state, saying he would have attempted to get custody had he had ANY idea there was a danger.

Now that my dh is in court, we've found there are *7* substantiated cases against his ex (2 of which resulting in temporary removals, but here dh is, still sending his children for their weekend visitation, unaware!), and this since dh got sole 6 years ago. He made only one of those calls, so he had NO idea that these cases were happening or founded. Sorry, that is really upsetting to a parent. And not fair.
Bethanydear's Avatar Bethanydear 11:00 AM 05-14-2007
And I guess I should clarify that there is a wiiiiiiiide margin between a substantiated CPS case and the state charging the parent in court with something. If the family is cooperating at all, it hardly ever ends up in court. There are generally many, many chances to fix the situation, a lengthy period of time to do so, and support for resources to do so. But just because it didn't end up in court doesn't mean it wasn't a concern that the other bio parent wouldn't want to know (and do something) about. Domestic relations court jumps on the info that CPS takes and does something about it, if there is another bio parent willing to do the things the other parent won't. Cps's main focus is working with the family to keep it intact.
pinksprklybarefoot 12:27 PM 05-14-2007
I agree with the pp about hiring a private detective (after speaking with your lawyer, of course).

Good luck!
Flor's Avatar Flor 02:01 PM 05-14-2007
We are going to the lawyer this morning and mediation at 1:30. We talked to dss and he wants us to keep the 70%us/30%her situation, he just wants to go back to overnights. We said that is fine with us, we just want her to tell us how we can know when she is sober.

The CPS thing was really scary. We would have never known anything had dss not come home from school one day and said, "A social worker pulled me out of class today." I called the school, they didn't even have a record of it or know for whom the social worker worked. Dss just remembered the social worker's name because she had the same last name as us, so I called around and found out it was from CPS. I called them and the wouldn't even tell me who the call was against. They just said, if a social worker shows up at your house, it is against you, if not it is against someone else. I also found it strange that they never talked to us. If they suspected that dss was being abused, why not ask us what we might know? Even without giving us information, you'd think we'd be important people to interview about his welfare. We just might know something about out own kid! I think they should have notified us that he was interviewed.
Flor's Avatar Flor 05:28 PM 05-15-2007
We went to mediation. We came to an agreement! Our lawyer is drawing u pthe papers. I can't wait to get them signed. We had a "temporary" order in 1999 and nothing since! However, we've gotten t his far before then she didn't sign, so I'm crossing my fingers that she won't change her mind. It says:

1. Dad has full physical custody.
2. Parents share legal.
3. Gives the visitation schedule.
4. Mom will not consume alcohol or illegal drugs for 8 hours prior or during visitation.
5. Gives transportation guidelines!

This way, even though drinking in front of your kids isn't illegal, she'd be in contempt of court if she does again. Not perfect, but it's a start.

Anyway, her visitation works out to 28%. She still wants child support, though. We have a hearing for that next month.
bigeyes's Avatar bigeyes 06:00 PM 05-15-2007
Yay!

What is the course of action if she doesn't sign?
If she drinks in front of the kids is it considered contempt of court, or just a violation of the agreement.

I hope things work out for you. Someday the kids will thank you for all of your efforts.

Flor's Avatar Flor 07:17 PM 05-15-2007
Oh, if she doesn't sign. . . . then we are back to the insecurity of not having a visitation order. Though, the last one in effect gives dh full physical custody, though it has a really outdated visitation schedule (mentions preschool but dss is 12 now). What might make her sign is that she can't go any farther with her request for child support until there is a visitation order in effect.

The idea behind the part about mom not drinking is that if she does, it is contempt of court. I really don't care what she does the rest of the time (ok, I care a little bit, I'm human) but maybe just knowing that it will cause her a lot inconvience and annoyance will be enough for her to save her drinking for the 4-5 days a week when dss is not there.

Dss is happy!
Pynki's Avatar Pynki 07:31 PM 05-15-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flor View Post
We went to mediation. We came to an agreement! Our lawyer is drawing u pthe papers. I can't wait to get them signed. We had a "temporary" order in 1999 and nothing since! However, we've gotten t his far before then she didn't sign, so I'm crossing my fingers that she won't change her mind. It says:

1. Dad has full physical custody.
2. Parents share legal.
3. Gives the visitation schedule.
4. Mom will not consume alcohol or illegal drugs for 8 hours prior or during visitation.
5. Gives transportation guidelines!

This way, even though drinking in front of your kids isn't illegal, she'd be in contempt of court if she does again. Not perfect, but it's a start.

Anyway, her visitation works out to 28%. She still wants child support, though. We have a hearing for that next month.
Sorry, but with that she's laughably transparent to what she's really after isn't she?
Shenjall's Avatar Shenjall 07:41 PM 05-15-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pynki View Post
Sorry, but with that she's laughably transparent to what she's really after isn't she?
No kidding.

Flor, I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. So very, very sorry. I hope she signs and gives you some sort of peace of mind. You've bent over backwards and gone way beyond for this woman, karma notices that.

All the best!
Flor's Avatar Flor 10:36 PM 05-15-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pynki View Post
Sorry, but with that she's laughably transparent to what she's really after isn't she?
I know. Dh said it was actually funny. I wasn't allowed in for the very last part of mediation and dh said after the mediator presented our suggestion for agreement and they both agreed, dh and hte mediator were standing up to leave and she was still sitting there and she says, "But wait, I still want child support!" I hope she realizes that in some places she'd be paying us with her 28% custody, but whatever. I hope she enjoys her bigger apartment.
MamaNosBest's Avatar MamaNosBest 09:17 AM 05-16-2007
In MOST places she'd be paying you guys! I can't imagine that she'll be granted even a penny --does she even have overnights?
pinksprklybarefoot 03:07 PM 05-16-2007
I am confused as to why on earth she wouldn't be paying cs, let alone you guys paying her.
bigeyes's Avatar bigeyes 03:13 PM 05-16-2007
That's where I'm confused. I think you guys should ask for support. It doesn't make sense that you have the child more and have to pay.
Flor's Avatar Flor 03:38 PM 05-16-2007
That's how it is in our state. If our incomes were equal, she'd pay us. But, she doesn't work, so there is a big difference between her income and dh's, so we pay her for the portion of time she has dss. It will be just a little bit as I understand because we get credit for the 72% of time we have him and the health insurance I pay for him. I've used a few different calculators and they've said anywhere from 38 dollars a month to 100 dollars a month. I don't think she's done the calculations, though.
MamaNosBest's Avatar MamaNosBest 09:32 AM 05-17-2007
But, but but but....

Child support is calculated on the amount of money she/he could/should be making if the payer is deliberately un- or underemployed. If she doesn't work, unless she is disabled, then she should have to pay.

That's outrageous.
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