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Child Custody - Advice

Discussion in 'Questions and Answers' started by Seeking Answers, Jun 3, 2010.

  1. Seeking Answers

    Seeking Answers New Member

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    Hey, so my fiance's ex-husband is filing for a review/adjustment of child support, custody & visitation, and contempt. She was just made aware and court date is at the end of the month. I'm looking for any advice or experiences anyone may want to share... every custody case is very different (especially this one) but if there's anything like "make sure you prove such and such", I would love to take any advice out there from folks who have seen people go through these ugly battles or have gone through it themselves.

    Little background... there are three teenage kids, oldest within a year of turning 18. Their father up and left one day, he moved to the other side of the country and remains there. The parents have joint legal custody but physical placement is with their mother, he has the right to have them up to six weeks each summer. He has been in and out of their lives at his convenience in the 4+ years since he left, and in that time he had another kid out of wedlock whose mother is chasing him down for child support, and he has been married & divorced to another woman in addition. Although he was self-employed and ran his own business while married to my fiance, he has not held a job for much time and is almost always behind on child support, he has an open case for two more years regarding felony nonsupport. Two summers ago he chose to not see his kids at all, but last year he saw the two youngest for six weeks and the oldest for one week. He has made statements to the oldest like "I'm going to sue for custody of the other two but not for you", long story behind all that but basically the oldest sees how he really is and doesn't like him, but the younger two don't see him negatively. It's hard because their mom has to be the one making sure they go to school, stay out of trouble, do their chores, discipline, etc., while their father gets to be the good guy whenever he chooses to be around. He plays mind games and has emotionally messed with their heads saying he's going to move back but then a month later says "I have a girlfriend now with a lot of money so basically screw you guys I'm not moving". No Christmas or birthday gifts. He is thousands of dollars behind on support, we're not sure of his full criminal record since he left but besides the nonsupport case he also spent a night in jail for drunk driving when his kids were visiting, their mother's record and my record are squeaky clean.

    My fiance and I moved in together about six months ago, she didn't give him the new address and changed her phone number after he called one day and was threatening and verbally harassed her, he still intimidates her terribly after years apart. Child support agency said she doesn't have to give her new number. The kids never ask to call him. He only called the kids on holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas).

    He has been nothing but an abandoning absent irresponsible father who only wants to be part of his children's lives when it's convenient for him. We feel he doesn't have anything to stand on, but it's all a very scary stressful process. Her biggest fear is the two youngest will say they want to go to dad because he doesn't yell at them, the oldest feels the best place for them is with their mother and absolutely does not want to visit her father. We are meeting with an attorney soon.

    Any advice or support would be super appreciated.
     
  2. unluckyluciano

    unluckyluciano For My Hero JetsSuck

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    Only thing I can tell you as a child of divorce is
    1) Support her.
    2) Don't talk bad about the other parent in front of any of the kids, even the oldest. Even if this is a ruse or whatever, you can't be sure and you don' t want to do anymore damage to their relationship with him.
    3) Support the oldest as I'm sure it still hurts.

    Having said that he sounds like a culo but lets not talk about that.
     
    pennphinfan likes this.
  3. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    Record everything. Record phone conversations. Take detailed notes with dates and times. Collect and organize any and all paperwork showing his lack of commitment. Get records of any crimes he's committed.

    Be anal retentive with any and all data that concerns him and leave the kids out of it.
     
  4. pennphinfan

    pennphinfan Stelin Canez Arcade Scorz

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    agree, but be careful with this part. some states have laws against recording conversations without getting consent from both parties. Unless you have a restraining order against him with it explicitly stating you can record unauthorized conversations, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Check up on the law in your state before you record the phone convo's.

    Quite honestly, if the cards fall right, it sounds like this could completely backfire on him and he could lose all custody, which would be excellent for you.

    As lucky said, be very supportive of the kids, especially the oldest. My dad bailed when I was about that age, and I had to support my mother being the only child at home, and it was very tough. She and the kids are lucky to have you there for support as well.

    And if the younger 2 don't feel ill towards their father, as lucky said be very careful about talking badly about him in their presence. They can take that as an attack on them, and if they speak in court they may say some things about you guys that you don't want if they are upset about something else you said.

    Good luck. I can't really give any advice on your part of it all, but if the kids have any issues I may be able to give some additional advice on that end if you'd like. :up:
     
  5. texanphinatic

    texanphinatic Senior Member

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    Get and keep a good lawyer and follow their advice in all legal matters pertaining to this. As FinD said, document and record everything you can - especially any criminal record or lack of child support. If he isn't paying up on child support, then he very well could lose all rights. But definitely get professional legal advice on this. It may be expensive, but it would be worth it.

    And ofc, provide a consistent and loving environment for the kids. That doesn't mean lack of discipline by any means, but be clear when handing it out why you are doing so, and when they are doing the right thing make sure you let them know and encourage them.
     
  6. rafael

    rafael Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    I would create a timeline detailing his actions pertaining to the kids since the divorce. I'd keep it factual and avoid judgments, like he plays mind games. This will help your attorney paint the picture for the judge.

    The main concern I would have is that the judge will greatly weigh the kid's wishes. If the younger kids say they want to be with their dad, then it could happen. Now I imagine that the judge would be unlikely to want to split up the siblings, but you never know. Still I would resist the temptation to try to coerce or manipulate the young kids. I'd be real factual. I'd let them know what questions they were likely to be asked and why the questions were being asked. I'd give my opinion (as the mom, not the step-dad), but I'd be careful to avoid bad-mouthing the father. He will always be their father regardless of the outcome of the hearing so being told that half of your genetic material comes from a scumbag is never good.
     
  7. 1armychick

    1armychick New Member

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    I have been dealing with a very similar situation with my psycho ex-husband. I personally feel he does what he does to get me worked up and won't really act on his threats, but just in case, I have worked out thousands of scenarios in my head to counter what he might be able to do to me. So far, it is in my favor, and not because I am so delusional that I can't see reality for what it is.

    1). My ex abandoned his son just as her ex has abandoned his kids. This will be a very negative strike against him/them in the courtroom. This alone gives me a warm, gushy feeling as far as the decision leaning in my favor.

    2). My ex doesn't pay his court ordered child support just as her ex doesn't. This will be a HUGE negative strike against him/them to the judge. Whether they could pay or not, they are still liable for it. If he was having financial issues, he should have dealt with it years ago instead of waiting to do it. Owing back child support, in most states, will constitue jail time. It can also mean losing all rights, period. And just because he is taking her to court doesn't mean he won't have to pay for what he owes her now.

    3). My ex doesn't have much to do with my son just as her ex doesn't with his kids. This will be a major negative strike against him. The court will not take kids from a parent that is doing the job just to give the kids to the parent because he wants them. There has to be a reason (alcoholism, drugs, etc) for this to happen. (Sidebar - this is countered with the children's wishes. Each state is different as to what age a child has to be in order for their wish to be taken into consideration). The oldest looks doesn't want to move with this parent and will be taken into consideration, even for a basis for the youngest children. Also, just because a child says they want to live with the other parent doesn't mean it will be granted. Can the sperm donor in this case provide for his children? Is he the better of the choices? From what you have stated above, the answer to this is no.

    They already share custody and there is an established guideline for visitation. It sounds like he wants to get out of paying as much child support as he has been ordered. If he can't pay his child support, what makes him think he will be financially able to take the kids into his home and provide even basic essentials to them? Don't worry, the judge will see that, too.

    Good luck to you both.
     
  8. KeyFin

    KeyFin Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    1) 70% of what the judge looks at is where the children currently are and if they are being taken care of properly. He already has visitation that he's not using so he doesn't have a chance at custody...why would he get the kids more when he's not seeing them now? Judges see through that crap in a heartbeat- don't sweat the custody part, unless you are your finacee are seriously messing up.

    2) Contempt is when you endanger the children, deny the father visitation, or ignore a judge's ruling on any of the stipulations. Not to sound blunt, but you have no idea what went on between the husband and your fiancee in the past...and of course she gets upset.

    I once had a girlfriend steal my car and total it...after she maxed two credit cards and withdrew $500 from my bank account for drugs that I didn't know she was suddenly hooked on. When I called the following day her dad got on the phone and said I was a horrible person for upseting her so badly and to never call again....but of course he didn't know what had transpired in the last 24 hours. Ex's fight and there's 2 sides to every story...her being upset has nothing to do with who's right or wrong.I know you love her, but it's not your fight and you have no right to judge him.

    3) If the ex husband lost his job or took a big cut in pay due to the recession, then the child support can be reduced in some situations. This is what he's probably fighting, and the other stuff is just fluff to make him look more responsible in the eyes of the judge. He may get it...he may not, but sudden filings like this are always about one of two things....revenge or money.
     
  9. DeDolfan

    DeDolfan Premium Member Luxury Box

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    Well, not sure where to start, so I guess the first thing is that since this guy is self employed or whatever, that is a convenient tool for him to "hide income" to mitigate his support payments. If that is so, then he is nothing more than scum for treating his own children that way. With that said, it is hard to imagine any judge awarding him custody as he apparently is "unstable" in relationships or so it seems anyway.
    In this situation, you are put in between the rock and the hard spot and you have little recourse yourself, at least until you marry the children's mother and adopt them. But, one thing I'm leading up to is and one piece of advice I know personally that works and that is to never bad mouth the father in front of the kids. My wife and I divorced 16 yrs ago and I had 3 daughters, 17,14 and 10 at the time. It was a very nasty divorce created mainly from her infidelity, among other things. She always talked me down to my girls way before we even separated and of course since the divorce as well, trying to gain some kind of "twisted edge" over me through them. IO had always thought that for my girls' sake, i would tough it out until at least the youngest graduated from HS. But, things got so bad that I finally decided that enough is enough and that even my youngest was at least old enough to know a) who I was/am, and b) that she knows things are not right between her mother and I. So, we mutually agreed to separate and that I would leave so we could sort things out and it would be less disrupting to the girls since I worked 10-12 hrs a day and my wife stayed home. I hoped to be able reconcile our differences but that never happened as the very next day, she started the divorce proceedings. My wife lied to our girls about our reason to separate and that I just simply walked out on them and deserted. Anyway, for a long period afterwards, she kept lying to the girls about me, trying to justify her own actions, etc. Anyway, I didn't mean to go into this much detail but figured it was necessary to make my point which is that whatever you do, do not bad mouth your financee's ex to their children. The day will come when they are old enough to see what has happened and that if you stuck by them thru this then they will no doubt love you for it. I never bad mouth my ex to my kids, ever for no reason whats so ever. I took it on the chin the day in court because I would let my lawyer use any proof of infidelirty in the trial because my ex brought the kids with her to court. this was after we both agreed to leave them in school that day. My ex continually worked me against my girls and I just kept the faith in that someday they will eventually find out the truth about their mother but I knew it could never come from me tho. After all these years of having a tenuous relationships with them, little by little, they started to realize what was going on. This year was the greatest Father's Day ever, for me, as my oldest and the last to finally understand, finally broke this wonderful news to me while I was there at her hous. My other 2 girls showed up also, unexpectedly and we all talked about this and as of now, my oldest has nothing to do with her mother now either. The other's pretty much wrote her off already and I found out that they had alot to do with my oldest finally understanding. But still, I never said anything bad about their mother. They asked me a lot of questions about her and the things she did and I answered every one of them honestly. They already knew the answers anyway so i was only reaffirming the fact. It was a long time coming for me but in the end, the wait was definitely worth it and all the $$$ that the divorce cost me, it was the best $$$ I've ever spent. It has come full circle. I just hope now that some of this might help you thru your ordeal now. Good luck!!!
     
  10. Stringer Bell

    Stringer Bell Post Hard, Post Often Club Member

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    Its really an issue between her and her ex-husband. And really the only thing you can do is be supportive of her.

    I would also avoid saying anything negative about him, atleast to the youngest ones. Its a delicate situation, because if you bad mouth him, the kids may turn on you. I know that sounds weird, especially if he is as you describe, but the younger ones will have a natural defense for their biological father.
     
  11. finyank13

    finyank13 Reality Check

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    I see this in family court everyday, it is vey sad. It sounds like you honestly do not have much to worry about, meet with your atty DEFINATELY...

    Just because somebody files for an adjustment, doesnt mean anything, he is the one bringing suit, he has to prove any and all aspects as to why he wants it lowered, I assume he wants it lowered right?..

    The Court isnt hearing, "well I dont have a job"....it doesnt fly, I have seen that argument honestly 100's of times, to the point when it comes up now we all laugh as the guy/gal has no shot of it being changed..

    The original divorce decree has yes joint custody, but placement is with your girl as you said, HE has to prove that placement with him, is a better option for the kids to the Judge, and prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. That is a hard burden to prove, uprooting 2 kids and going cross country, right before school is getting ready to kick off?? I dont see it. Also he has to prove your finacee is a determent to the kids, how does he know that being where he is? My guess is they go after you, and say some sheet to make you look like the bad guy, IMO it is there only angle.

    He will pretty much bag himself, not being employed or being employed off and on, the criminal records, this stuff ensures the placement staying with your finacee. The Courts, all they want to see for the minors is stability, and this dude is anything but stable.

    When you talk to the lawyers, get the late payment info, his record, anything showing is instability, Courts dont like late child payments for obvious reasons, but also that is an order from the court, and late payments are deemed as "disrespecting the court". Go in support of her, and show the Court you are there in support for the kids and your finacee, but DAMN IT, shave, and look presentable, that means a suit, no Brandon Marshall jerseys or Dolphins hats got it??

    I will say this, all of it aside, the father by permission of the Courts has permission to see the kids, so regardless of your/finacee feelings (and they are warranted trust me) he has every right to see them, trying to hinder that or blocking that altogether, looks bad from ur end, I wouldnt do it....

    hope this helps....family court is a tough place, not everything gets answered, often times you will have questions, that the court cant answer you know? the douche can call you and badger you, and there is really nothing you can do, taping phone convo is inadmissable in most court proceedings. getting a TRO is your best bet, but then a hassle to because again he has that right to see them, so to meet up and exchange the kids in a police parking lot, under a policeman's watch is not fun. family court pinnacle of people's problems, because family is first and foremost. I hate working that court, nothing good comes from it except Adoption Day, and thats one day a year here in RI...
     

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