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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Unbelievable. This makes me sad.

I need to get ink for my printer so I can get emails printed out and organized.

My head is spinning. He's asking for "joint custody", stating a decrease in income, therefore asking that child support be recalculated to take into account the amount of time DD spends with him.

His attorney advises me he wishes to exercise his overnight parenting time with every other weekend and on Wednesday evenings. "Pursuant to your Dissolution Decree, he is entitled to this immediately."

So, okay, I will go ahead and just give him the 2 overnights two weeks from now instead of one on his next weekend.

But should I take back my Friday night this weekend? I don't mean that I'd say I'd take it back, but I can email him stating I've received his demand letter and that starting immediately we will simply follow the IPTGs for EOW + Wed.

At least my butt is covered in the previous email where I explained that once we did the transition to one overnight, after that we'd be following the IPTGs. For heavens sake, giving a child a MONTH to adjust to transition to a regular overnight schedule with him here when he's been away for 4 years is NOT something to WHINE ABOUT!!

This letter is dated May 14th, and petition is stamped by the court the same day. Just wow. It's what I predicted, it's what I expected. But I really hoped he'd calm down.

I'm praying the court is going to think this is ridiculous. XH may just be hoping to scare me into agreeing. We've agreed to go to mediation to deal with matters like these, so that will be the first step. I guess I should at least talk to Legal Aid. Maybe they have someone new practicing there by now.

I'm going to contact my mom's friend who used to practice law here and see what I can find out. I suppose I can take advantage of free consults here and there to see what other attorneys predict the outcome will be based on this judge.


ETA: This is what the petition says at the bottom:

WHEREFORE, Former Husband respectfully requests this Court to modify the Dissolution Decree and change custody of the minor child to joint shared physical custody, modify the existing child support order, and for all other just and proper relief.

That pretty much just screams "I don't want to pay child support." I don't know ANYONE in this state who has 50/50, and I know a lot of divorced/single families. The fact he hasn't lived here ever doesn't trump all those other dads who lived with their children full time up until the time of the separation.
 

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I am sorry BB.

I would switch immediately to the schedule he referred to. Any additional time should be assumed canceled.
 

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Does "joint shared physical custody" mean 50/50 or is he really just asking for child support to be reduced to cover his every other weekend?
 

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Aw BB, I'm so sorry. I know how stressful it is to be sucked into a custody fight.

I'm unclear tho-is he asking for true 50/50 *physical* custody (and if so, what schedule??) or he is asking only for the EOW + 1 weekday that is already spelled out in your agreement?

I wouldn't feel rushed into that schedule-you have documentation that you both agreed to start that schedule in, what, 2 weeks? Certainly he is not going to get into a court room in 2 weeks, and even if he did, he agreed to wait for overnights until then AND he has seen dd barely at all for most of her life-no judge is going to fault you for doing a slow reintroduction that ex agreed to!!!!

All that to say, I wouldn't panic here. Definitely call legal aid and see if you can get someone on board to help you with the filing/paperwork/appearance part of things.

If he is really asking for 50/50 shared physical custody, I would be totally shocked if he got that anytime soon. I'm actually really suprised if he asked for it already-the smart thing to do would have been to build up some status quo of actually being involved in his daughter's life first. I really think you are in good shape to argue against that. At minimum, you can insist on a step-up plan if he wants more time than the standard, in fairness to dd.
 

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I am so sorry.

Yes, don't give him any extra time. Definitely keep dd with you next weekend according to the schedule. He doesn't get to have it both ways. And make sure you have clear documentation of everything to date, making clear that he has never lived with dd. Also that he left his last job voluntarily. Some judges will impute income in a case like that and make him pay according to the salary he is capable of earning, just choosing not to at the moment.

He doesn't get to quit his job and become unemployed and decide that he wants to be a 50-50 dad without the trouble of working so he can have more parenting time - especially when he has never lived with her! He is employable, he should be getting work.

This will be the hard part - don't take any of his bait. Keep all of your communication short, business like and to the point. Don't discuss your opinion of him, his choices or the legal situation at all. If you have to address something, do it with as few words as possible and stick to the objective facts.

Custody and access are different things. The two of you could have joint custody, meaning decision making regarding education, religion and medical care - but access is a different matter. Since you have had the current access schedule in place for years now and he has chosen to live far away and not access it, that doesn't mean he gets a reduction in child support now that he is actually spending time with her. He voluntarily gave all that up years ago. Until something new is said by a judge, child support remains as is.

He is the one who is going to have a lot to prove. He will have to account for the fact that he was voluntarily out of her life to this point and only minimally involved, the fact that he quit a job and has done nothing to secure new employment. Let the facts speak for themselves. Conduct yourself impeccably and watch him make perfectly clear to a judge that he has only his own interest at heart.
 

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I wonder if the best way to look at it is asking if that extra night will help your dd adjust. If it will you might want to offer it anyway.
 

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I'm sorry!! I suppose he figured on the c/s discount he was asking for to pay legal fees.

It really seems like it's all about money and trying to bully you financially.
 

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My response from someone living in your state....

Screw his intimidation tactics! Your transition schedule was more than fair and I wouldnt budge at all.

Don't answer his attorney at all, ever.

Did he actually file for a court date or is this just a threat? You need to consult with the legal clinic ASAP .
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
No, SS, I think if I give him that Friday evening from my weekend, as well as the EOW + Wed afternoon, then he will expect every Friday evening in the future. DD can skype and chatter with him any time she misses him (within reason - I ask her to finish her food and go pee first).

She'll be excited about spending the night. So I'll keep reminding her that I get her ALLLLL this weekend!!!! My boyfriend will be gone on a camping trip, so it'll just be a girlie weekend. We'll probably work on planning her birthday party and sending invitations. Just going to do another backyard kiddie pool party with cupcakes. We always have a blast.

I've been reading up on custody issues on legal zoom...just basic concepts on how these things work...not specific to Indiana...but giving me a better understanding of what to expect.

Points that are reassuring:

1. Most courts won't change custody arrangements if the current changes were known of by either the parents or the court.

2. Nearly half of all states presume it's in a child's best interests to continue to live in the home he/she has been living in.

3. Most states allow parents to decide custody arrangements initially, but if they can't, the court will rely on state guidelines, which are what we have in our orders, and agreed to when we divorced 4 yrs ago.

4. Sometimes custody can be changed due to an improvement in circumstances, but that typically involves someone being jobless or homeless, or on drugs, improving their situation. Not just moving back from out of state and not wanting to get a job.


I'm feeling better. I should hear back by Wednesday from someone who can help me with legal advice and correspondence...maybe even represent me pro bono if we end up at a hearing. Which we probably won't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm sorry!! I suppose he figured on the c/s discount he was asking for to pay legal fees.

It really seems like it's all about money and trying to bully you financially.
Yes, yes, yes, and yes. I think you're dead on.

My response from someone living in your state....

Screw his intimidation tactics! Your transition schedule was more than fair and I wouldnt budge at all.

Don't answer his attorney at all, ever.

Did he actually file for a court date or is this just a threat? You need to consult with the legal clinic ASAP .
As far as not budging, I will, starting this week, simply follow the IPTGs. Butt, see cover? Butt, use cover! I can't allow him to have ANY valid arguments. If we end up in mediation, which is mandated here - he can't just take me to a hearing - I will bring my big binders of documented information, with color-coded tabs, and show his attorney the emails between us. XH: I'm in town as of this morning and I want 2 overnights every week starting yesterday so I can count them all up and get more overnights to score lower on the child support calculator!!"

Then I will show my notes and photos of text msgs regarding the car seat debacle, and ask it to be included in our new agreement that we refrain from name-calling, for example and I quote from XH's remarks over the phone on May 3rd when he demanded that I give him my car seat or pay him $20, "Remember, BB, every day is a new opportunity for you to decide not to be evil." Ahem.

And XH, how many vacations from work have you taken in the past 2 years that involved traveling? Ahem. Yes. And how many of those trips did you spend visiting DD here in Indiana? Ahem. And when you spent Christmas 2013 with DD and your extended family, what did you give DD that year for Christmas on Christmas Eve when your family exchanged presents? Oh nothing...that's right...

Yeah, I know...I can vent and I can dream. And, Rocky, I'm calming down. I am not feeling angry anymore, and my head has stopped spinning. I'll get local legal advice and will do all the right things to ensure he has no valid complaints. I'm a great mom, and DD has thrived under my care.
 

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I'm so sorry. What a drag!
Tina Swithin - check out her website and her book "advice from the battlefield". She has MS and self represented (I'm not suggesting that; however I think it is really important to find legal help who understands these assclowns and how to stay one step ahead).

Are you actually legally obligated to start EOW right away? Or does your decree specify a warmup period?
 

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If its any help, Xh has filed 3 times for 50/50 and I still have primary residence (I suppose that could change). I had carrots to dangle each time. I don't know what your xh's carrot will be but I assume you will be researching case law to find out the batna (basically what most likely order will be) and figure out some leverage.

Does his new wife have any impact on his support (given that he has two potential income earners?)
 

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Just had another thought. You should be able to use evidence dating back to beginning of your orders...so you may have lots of material to demonstrate the patterns of his behaviour that make shared custody not in dd's best interest. Splitting talks about the importance of documenting patterns of behaviour with specific examples to support that pattern.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Good thought, AG. In the discovery materials, XH wrote that he believed my mothering skills were "adequate" but that his only concern was my inability to provide for her financially.

Also, he agreed to very little parenting time while he was still in town and DD had just turned 1 yr old. The mediator thought I should offer more, and I just shook my head. She was surprised that he agreed to so little, until she started connecting the dots.

I used to have him meet me at the police station to pick her up, and had the police meet me at XH's house to pick DD up. There were times he yelled at me via skype when I asked about late child support. The situation with him offering to pay for preschool if I'd sign over that form so he could claim her on his taxes, then lying about claiming her (stating he didn't use the form therefore the $100 he gave for gymnastics meant he had paid more than enough, in his mind). In reality the refund amount from claiming her turned out to be less than the previous year, so then he went back on his word, rather than saying "the money wasn't as much as I thought", he just denied that the agreement was valid...until I told him I was going to file and claim her myself. Then he copped to everything and sent the money for part of preschool.

If I can show a pattern of him going back on agreements, such as with the car seat, maybe even go back to when he closed out our bank joint account and took every penny that was in it, even though I had put the majority of what was left in there.

I have emails to my previous attorney and letters from her asking him to stop opening my private mail, such as bank statements, while we were separated.

I also have the really nutty email he wrote me at the time of separation, begging me to drop the divorce and telling me he would give up rights to DD if I asked him to. Which I never have. I have an email exchange where I had accidentally charged a sandwich to the wrong debit card, and it came out of our other previous joint account. I immediately mailed him a check for the exact amount. I have always done the right thing and he never has. When I was pregnant and learning to walk again he filed for divorce and threatened to take my unborn child by declaring me unfit.

In spite of this, I have facilitated his relationship with DD enthusiastically, giving him additional time with her when she seemed to be handling his visits well, coupons for places I knew she liked going, and made time with her daddy a top priority when he came out to visit.

C'mon PMS...period should be starting any minute and then my emotions should calm down a bit more. I'm feeling a bit rattled and shaky, no appetite, nerve pains acting up from stress tension. I hate it. Trying to take deep breaths and take breaks from thinking about this stuff. It's hard to be "in the moment" with DD when I'm feeling a strong need to protect OUR relationship and ability to pay the bills.



I was talking to a former MDC mama and had her read the petition...he's asking for a change in physical custody (we already have joint legal), and he's asking for joint physical. She clarified what I thought I used to know - that this has nothing to do with access, it's simply changing the terms. She said if I give him the EOW visitation he's demanding asap (which I am...just making the weekend of the 30th a 2 night weekend instead of 1), that maybe he'll back down on taking me to court, since that would be expensive. If I can get some pro bono help from a good attorney, then we can threaten to have him pay my legal fees, which is what made him back down before...

For now I'm not responding. I'll drop DD off Wed, and then on Thursday I will email and ask him if he'd like to trade this Friday afternoon for the next Friday evening and make it the full weekend. I have a feeling he's going to demand overnights THIS weekend, since last weekend won't count in his mind, but I'll ignore and repeat the question. He will have to agree, and then can't complain I'm going back on my offer of this Friday.
 

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I know it really sucks and it is stressful. Hugs BB.

We all knew this was the plan all along. He's working on his do-over family right now. I think not being in her life for 4 years, the fact that you already have the standard schedule, etc. will help you in medication/court.

I bet the main reason for him doing this is because you wouldn't accept less cs and this is his way of trying to get it. That and I'm sure he's painting himself as the great father to his new wife and trying to get you back under his control IMO. Little does he know you're not the same BB anymore.
 

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"Little does he know you're not the same BB anymore."

You were amazing then... But he just has no idea who you are now!! Stay strong!
 

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He picked the wrong gal to mess with. You are smart and will outwit him. Let him drown in his narcissism.

My other concern about dd's well being is his history of abuse/neglect. How long has he known this new wife and have they ever really been together long in situations that are not just rosy kittens and mountain highs? She is in for a shock and your dd could be exposed to witnessing the same kind of power imbalanced relationship and abuse and spousal maltreatment that you escaped. I don't know your court climate and how much judges care about that, but it really could be an unstable situation in a few years. Does he have a pattern of unstable relationships after you? Could his last x have gotten any restraining orders on him?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I have no idea about his last exgf, and can't even remember her name off-hand. I probably have screen shots somewhere...oh I think she's tagged in some of my screen shots of him climbing mountains. I'm at the auto repair shop right now getting my a/c fixed, thanks to my dad paying for it and MM saving us half the cost of the compressor. Woohoo!! At least now I won't show up in a full sweat to court if we end up there this summer. Last year was awful.

LOL Yeah, I'm not as scared and depressed as I was back then. Plus, I was a brand new mom of an infant I had no help with, I was off meds for narcolepsy, I had barely any clothes that fit, and he had access to my living space where he mocked me daily and tried everything possible to intimidate me and destroy my support network.

I suppose his last relationship might have ended when she found out he didn't want more children...so then he found someone else who can't have more kids...and manipulated her into his hand. I dare not contact his last exgf because for all I know, she might let him know I asked. I could possibly look into police stations in the Seattle area to see if there are any call records with XH's name on them. I might ask a friend of mine who lives out there to do that, since he's more familiar with the area and might be willing to stop by and pick them up, then mail them to me if there is anything. It's possible there's stuff like that, but more likely there isn't since they didn't live together (to my knowledge), and didn't share a vehicle or a child. They did seem to split right when we were going to court for a recalculation...I'm assuming he fumed something about never having more children. Plus she likely noticed him avoiding the mail.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Don't know if I said this before, but I'm pretty sure Xh came to town with complete intentions of bullying me and taking me to court. I could have done any number of things and he would still have done exactly what he's done. He's hoping this will intimidate me. The fear of more legal fees to pay and he knows I can't afford it. He knows I wasn't getting free legal help back when he canceled the first divorce.

What will be interesting is if he tries to say I have narcolepsy, therefore I shouldn't have primary custody. Because he's sworn over and over that I'm not disabled and therefore I should get a job and when I do, then support should be recalculated.
 
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