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Old 06-18-2010, 10:11 AM   #1
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UPDATE post #33 Custody/Visitation questions VERY LONG (SORRY)

Update in post #33

I know that true legal advice trumps all advice given here BUT I do want the opinions and such of mamas here who have been in similar situations....
Many of you on here know my story and how I quickly became the stepmom of a 14 year old and 4 year old triplets at the beginning of this year... I have shared very little about their mom though... but now we are having issues.

First of all... their "mom" (I can't exactly put bio/birth mom because she and Les adopted them Naomi at 4 years old and the triplets at birth) began neglecting their care right about when the trips turned 3 (sept 2008). She began putting almost all of the daily responsibility on Naomi who was 11 at the time. She made it Naomi's "job" to get up with them in the mornings and fix them breakfast and have it all cleaned up before she got out of bed. Diaper changes were also delegated to her and she used the excuse of it being a "hands on educational experience" and joked about it counting as home ec (she homeschooled Naomi at the time). Naomi was also responsible for making them stay in their beds at nap time and she would get in trouble if they got up and disturbed their "mom" during her 'quiet time'.
Last summer just before the trips turned 4 their "mom" totally disconnected and moved into Naomi's room and made Naomi move into Rachel's room... She stayed locked in the room with her laptop playing a game called 'Second Life' and only came out to use the bathroom or to get food to take back in with her and left ALL the care of the triplets to Naomi until Les got home from work at 6:30 pm in the evenings. He then cooked supper and tried to get somewhat of a handle on the mess that a then 13 year old and almost 4 year olds created in a house all day plus do baths bedtimes etc...
In October of 2009 their "mom" decided to move 5 hours away to live with a man that she had met in the online game she had been playing. She and Les divorced then I became the Nanny to the kids (if you don't know that story just look through my previous posts... it is in there somewhere ). I have known them all their lives anyway and they were comfotable with me.
Per their divorce Decree their "mom" is supposed to get them every other weekend, a week at Christmas, all of spring break, and 3 weeks at the beginning of summer and 3 weeks at the end of summer.
Well needless to say she has NOT seen them anywhere near that often and has since left the first guy for yet another man she met in an online game and has now moved to a different state 6 hours away!
She got them Thanksgiving weekend, then 2 weekends later... then at Christmas she kept them 12/26-12/29 she brought them back early because they were getting on her nerves. She did not se them again until February 10th 2010. She came to pack up some of her belonging she had left, she spent 5 hours there packing with me int he house and she kept saying "can you please get them away from me so I can pack?" as they were acting out and trying so desperately to get her attention.
She came back at Spring break in March and stayed with a friend about 30 minutes from us and she took one kid at a time for one night each and stayed at the friends house with them then left. The friend she stayed with called Les and was very upset because she said that the "mom" stayed locked ina bedroom the whole time with her computer and she (the friend) had been the one to care for and spend time with the one kid at a time that was there and that the kids cried for her at the door and she wouldn't come out!
Then Mother's day weekend... we met her at a halfway point 3 hours away at 7:30 pm on 5/7, she returned them at 8:00 am on 5/9 so she had them only a little over 24 hours and they told me when they got home that their "mom" went shopping and left them with Naomi then when she got home from shopping that she made them take a nap.
She has not seen them or even spoken to them on the phone since Mother's day. Then all of a sudden she called Les and says she wants to exercise her right to have them 6 weeks out of this summer. He told her NO!!!
She is saying she is going to get a lawyer and fight him and that he is in contempt of their agreement and that she can drag him through the mud etc etc...
Now I know that according to the decree that she is supposed to have them 6 weeks out of the summer but it states specifically "3 weeks at the beginning and 3 weeks at the end" I told him that the first 3 weeks of summer (as far as school schedule is concerned) is gone so the only thing she'd have a standing to fight for would be the last 3 weeks of the summer IF IF IF a judge would give it to her. Also, I know I am not a lawyer and can barely scratch the surface on legal knowledge of most things but I believe SHE is also in contempt of the agreement since she HAS NOT followed even attempted to follow the visitation schedule and has just expected him to automatically arrange everything according to her whims of when it is convienient for her to have them.
He told her that he fully understood that she could take him to court and that he was fine with that but that he could not in good consious as their father who is primarily responsible for them send them to stay with her in the environment she is choosing to live and also knowing that she would be leaving them all day with Naomi while she worked (she is living with a man she met online and his 16 year old son). He told her that IF she did take him to court that he would petition for Child Support as well (she currently pays NOTHING... per the divorce degree it states "the wife has just recently began her employment and cannot support herself while also sending support to the children, at the time the husband is financialy able to support the children without support from the wife.)
We KNOW that she is SUPPOSED to have a legal right to see them, but we also know that it is a scary situation to send them to for that long and Les has decided that he'd rather face court than send them there!
Have any of you been through/Known of anything similar?
Do we have a leg to stand on here?
Is it even remotely likely that they will reduce her visitation due to the distance that she moved away and/or the fact that she has only seen them 6 times since October?
Is it likely that they wil now make her pay child support since she has now had a job since February and is supporting herself?
Do we risk losing custody of them by refusing to let her have them for 6 weeks?

Sorry this is so long... bless you if you've made it this far

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Last edited by shanree; 07-23-2010 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 06-18-2010, 10:28 AM   #2
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Re: Custody/Visitation questions VERY LONG (SORRY)

Wow I have no advice but good luck! You have a huge battle with her. Maybe request a psych eval on her?
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Old 06-18-2010, 10:29 AM   #3
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Re: Custody/Visitation questions VERY LONG (SORRY)

YOU need to initiate a court date. If you feel that the current situation isn't working and that the kids are not being cared for properly, you need to take her to court. Not only to let the judge know why you are hesitant to fulfill the original agreement, but also to ask for a new agreement. You are living in a stable home and can provide stable care for the kids. Honestly, every state is different and judges can have their biases, but I find it highly unlikely that you will risk any custody by taking her to court. I have not been through a custody dispute, and the only info I have is watching my friend go through his custody dispute. During the divorce he was granted custody of his son (his wife had also run off with some random guy in another state and was drinking and partying like she was some college kid). She later decided that she wanted more visitations with her kid, who she had previously ignored. She took my friend to court and the judge all but laughed her out of court telling her that he would never grant her custody. It helped that their son was about 11 at the time. He was old enough to give his input to the judge, and let him know how his mother was acting (something I really hope your step-daughter will be allowed to share with the judge as well).

Anyhow, I say get a lawyer (if you don't already have one) and file for a hearing with the judge. The current arrangement isn't being followed by the ex, and you both (rightfully) feel that it is no longer in the best interest of the children. Don't let her file and claim that you are not following the rules. Go to the judge yourself and tell him/her that the current judgment is not working and needs to change. It is imperative that you not be found in contempt of court, and the easiest way to do that is to remedy this with the judge now.
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Old 06-18-2010, 10:33 AM   #4
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Re: Custody/Visitation questions VERY LONG (SORRY)

All of this needs to be written down. If you haven't already, then start keeping a journal of any and all contact that mom has with y'all about the kids and what days/times she picks up/drops off the kids. Make sure that the friend is willing to testify as well.

And get an attorney ASAP.
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Old 06-18-2010, 10:33 AM   #5
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Re: Custody/Visitation questions VERY LONG (SORRY)

Make sure you have everything written down....as to when she has seen them etc. Would the friend that has also seen her behavior of locking herself in a room and not visiting while the kids are there be willing to testify on your side if it came to that?
I think the worst that will happen is that you guys will be in contempt of court and made to go along with the current visitation schedule.
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Old 06-18-2010, 11:28 AM   #6
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Re: Custody/Visitation questions VERY LONG (SORRY)

I was gonna say psych eval.

My ex-husband failed his, If there is such a thing as "Failing" one and now he is out of our life forever.
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Old 06-18-2010, 11:38 AM   #7
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Re: Custody/Visitation questions VERY LONG (SORRY)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Janine View Post
YOU need to initiate a court date. If you feel that the current situation isn't working and that the kids are not being cared for properly, you need to take her to court. Not only to let the judge know why you are hesitant to fulfill the original agreement, but also to ask for a new agreement. You are living in a stable home and can provide stable care for the kids. Honestly, every state is different and judges can have their biases, but I find it highly unlikely that you will risk any custody by taking her to court. I have not been through a custody dispute, and the only info I have is watching my friend go through his custody dispute. During the divorce he was granted custody of his son (his wife had also run off with some random guy in another state and was drinking and partying like she was some college kid). She later decided that she wanted more visitations with her kid, who she had previously ignored. She took my friend to court and the judge all but laughed her out of court telling her that he would never grant her custody. It helped that their son was about 11 at the time. He was old enough to give his input to the judge, and let him know how his mother was acting (something I really hope your step-daughter will be allowed to share with the judge as well).

Anyhow, I say get a lawyer (if you don't already have one) and file for a hearing with the judge. The current arrangement isn't being followed by the ex, and you both (rightfully) feel that it is no longer in the best interest of the children. Don't let her file and claim that you are not following the rules. Go to the judge yourself and tell him/her that the current judgment is not working and needs to change. It is imperative that you not be found in contempt of court, and the easiest way to do that is to remedy this with the judge now.
Thank you... this was helpful! I have suggested to DH that we be the ones to file something but he is such a easy going passive guy and "feels bad" even though he knows he is doing the right thing. Not to mention the 14 year old is dealing with A LOT concerning all of this and she still talks to her mom quite frequently (she has her own phone and she and her mom talk, the mom just doesn't talk to the trips)and tends to believe every single white lie, excuse, etc that she hands her. Naomi actually did accept his decision to not let them go pretty well though and says she understands where he is coming from but she keeps saying "but she's my mom, I just want to see her!" She knows that the responsibility her mom put on her was wrong and that the lifestyle her mom is living is unhealthy and not a good environment for her and the triplets to be in, but at the same time she tries to defend her and she has also leaned to the side of believing her mom when she tells her stuff like "I only made you do so much before because your dad made me so stressed that I couldn't function and I had to get away" and "Now things are different because I am happier, when you come here you'll see" etc.

If she does beat us to the punch on filing something... are our chances of getting anything changed going to hindered?
In your friend's case did he file or did she?
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Old 06-18-2010, 11:44 AM   #8
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Re: Custody/Visitation questions VERY LONG (SORRY)

I agree with a pp, YOU need to set a hearing to have the order changed. Given the circumstances, I don't think you will have any problem getting it changed.
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Old 06-18-2010, 11:45 AM   #9
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Re: Custody/Visitation questions VERY LONG (SORRY)

She seems like she's just feeling guilty about not seeing them and wanting to stir up trouble. If the first 3 weeks of summer have passed I would send her a nice email (so that you have proof if something went to court) saying sorry you missed the first 3 weeks but we will be happy to comply with the last 3 weeks. Sounds like she really wont invest a lot of time or money...which is what lawyers and court are. My x does this every few months. Gets really upset and says he is taking me to court...never does. It would take too much time and effort. I just wait it out and try not to get too wrapped up in his threats.

It also seems that if you send them to see her for the 3 weeks at the end of summer she will probably send them home early again.
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Old 06-18-2010, 12:00 PM   #10
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Re: Custody/Visitation questions VERY LONG (SORRY)

Its going to completely depend on the judge and the situation. Legally, you cannot without hold visitation and a judge isn't going to look kindly on that and you have to be able to prove strong abuse or neglect and the threshold to deny visitation is very high.
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