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Visitation issues with a 14yr old

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hexed posted 4/20/2014 08:40 AM

I could use the collective wisdom of the SI family. I'm not even sure this is the right forum. This is long but I think the background is important

My SO's DD14 is having some major issues.

She moved in with us right before Christmas with her mother's consent (MY SOs XWW). We are just getting ready to change the custody agreement. My SO and his XWW have an AWFUL relationship so we don't expect it to go smoothly.

The reason SO's DD14 moved in with us was escalating issues with her mother and stepfather. We were witnesses via telephone to horrible outbursts by both but in particular the step father. DD14 refused to go home after Christmas vacation and still refuses to be in the same place with her stepfather.

She is also incredibly angry with her mother. My SO and I insisted that she see her mom a couple of times after she moved in here. She had coffee with her 3X. At the request of DD14, I sat in the parking lot so I was close by while they visited.

She has been increasingly refusing to see her mother. Its now been 2 months. Her mother has begun pushing the issue. Yesterday her mother insisted that she was going to come and pick her up from school on Monday. That will be an epic disaster. Legally we can't prevent it.

We have never gotten the whole story on why DD14 is so angry with her mother. Last night it came out that her mother has told her multiple times that "she wishes she was never born" and "that she should've had an abortion" among other things. She's been smacked in the face as well.

DD14 had a history of cutting while living with her mother starting about age 12. This was revealed to her IC about a year ago. Last night she confessed to have cut yesterday. This is the first episode since she's moved in here. She has an IC appointment on Monday.

DD14 has been in my life for 3 years now. It has been a bit rocky from time to time. There have definitely been periods when I did not like her one little bit. However, in the last 6 -9 months we've been doing well. I've been steady and consistent with her for the last 3 years no matter how annoyed I was and think she's finally comfortable. Last night she said that I've been more of a mom in the last 3 years than hers has in 14 year. I know some of that is the anger of a 14 year old but it made me really sad and hurt for her. Its just not OK what she's dealing with.

So the question for the collective wisdom of SI is twofold 1. She is 14 how likely is that a court would require visitation with her mother? There is no documentation of abuse. We have hired a guardian ad litem to represent her. Does anyone have experience in this age group?

2. If there is any hope of keeping this peacefull while drafting the new agreement, terminating visitation right now won't work. On the other hand I'm so worried about DD14 right now, I don't want to make her go. We aren't in a solid legal position to stop visitation since the old agreement is still in effect.

debbysbaby posted 4/20/2014 09:42 AM

Well, I went to court last summer with my ex to deal with some child-support contempt issues. We had not updated the agreement since the divorce and at that time the kids were six, eight, and 10. At the time of court last summer they were 14, 16, and 18. My ex and I both agreed that visitation would be at the wishes of the children. The judge was fine with that and wrote it up that way but added the line that it would be with no interference from me (which I haven't done anyway). It's been better in some ways because the kids have lots of activities that they need flexibility to participate again and now they don't have to worry about their dad pulling the "it's my weekend" card. The only thing is that he guilts them sometimes now that he has that power. Overall however it is much better. I don't see why visitation could not be at the wishes of your stepdaughter. It's very common by the time they reach that age. What does your attorney have to say about this?

Merlin posted 4/20/2014 09:42 AM

Something very similar is going on with my 17-year old daughter. She was 12 when my now ex-w and I split. Custody is supposed to be my daughter only stays with me alternate weekends. This has never happened. She has moved, week-by-week, with her two brothers between her mother's house and my home.

Daughter and ex-w had a physical fight June 2012. Since then, our daughter has spent increasing time with me. For the past 3 months, she has not gone to stay at 'Mom's' at all, even as I encourage her to do so. She had dinner with her mother and talked it out. But she's still with me all the time.

Maybe it's something with teen girls and mothers . It is a stressful time for both.

I don't think she's playing mom & dad against each other. But I do watch for that.

hexed posted 4/20/2014 09:50 AM

There is a strong history of my SO's XWW trying to alienate the kids from my SO. She was chastized soundly in court for this during the last custody dispute.

I don't think DD14 is trying to play her parents against each other since she is flatly refusing to see her mother. We are not super strict but there are definitely boundaries, consequences and responsibilities in our house. Its not all a big trip to disneyland. I really believe there is something there with her mom.

My concern is the e-mail she sent yesterday demands substantial and regular visitation. I am 100% sure that any substantial visitation is going to result in an increase in acting out behaviours from DD14. The IC expressed serious concerns about DD14 running away when she was living with her mom. I am pretty sure that the cutting would escalate. There have been other inappropriate behaviours before she moved in here.

Because there is a history now of DD14 not seeing her mother, i don't think the XWW will agree to an undefined visitation schedule.

I am glad to hear that a more flexible/less defined schedule isn't unheard of.

This is such a tough time in life for kids to deal with things. I am really worried about the short and long term effects on her mental health.

Merlin posted 4/20/2014 10:03 AM

At 14, courts generally allow children to have some say in what they do and where they stay. No one likely wants to 'go legal'. But if it comes to that...

Sometimes, parents (my ex-w included) try to treat children as property as though kids have no feelings or will of their own. Added to the normal tensions of being a teenager, often enough this has bad effects on children.

My ex treats our kids like luggage (my oldest son's phrase) rather than young people. They are to do her bidding unquestioned. So I spend a fair amount of my time trying to balance having them respect their mother while asserting themselves responsibly. This is (of course) not easy.

hexed posted 4/20/2014 10:13 AM

It will definitley go legal. The previous custody agreement was drafted a couple of years ago when my SO was still on the road M-F. It was an 18mos slugfest. It was horrible. SO doesn't travel for work anymore and works 4miles form the house so its much different now.

The good news is that the XWW has allowed DD14 to live with us for months and change schools so she doesn't have much legal ground to move her back to her house. However visitation is a whole different can of worms. We were hoping to not go legal but I doubt that will happen now. We do need something in writing though. XWW is erratic and unstable to deal with. Occasional flexible and rational and other times so off the wall we don't even know what to say.

Luggage is a good description! The XWW definitely doesn't handle the normal teenage defiance well. Comply or die is the way describe it.

SBB posted 4/20/2014 10:16 AM

What is the age when kids can choose? I thought it was 13?

Am I right that she has seen her mother 3 times since Christmas? Are there any other children and if so are they having regular visitation?

I get that teen girls and mother have a difficult time. Moreso when a stepdad is brought into the mix. I know I reacted terribly when my mum started dating when I was 15 - I left home at 17 and was on my own from then on.

My mum said similar things but more along the lines of I ruined her life - how much better her life would have been without kids - how ungrateful I was for her sacrifice. All very damaging.

Will her mum speak to her IC? There cannot be any good in forcing her to go if she doesn't want to. She will run away and/or the verbal and physical fighting will escalate.

The cutting concerns me. That isn't normal teen angst - there is something deeper there.

inconnu posted 4/20/2014 11:41 AM

My youngest was 14, about to turn 15, when my divorce was final. The custody agreement had the standard visitation in it. Because ds was so visibly angry at the time, I outright asked whether the agreement would/could be enforced.

What I was told that while yes, legally his dad did have the right to visitation, at my son's age, pretty much nothing would happen if my son chose not to go. Fortunately his dad didn't push the issue at the time, and they've worked it out between themselves.

But, that doesn't sound like what you're dealing with, since the mom is pushing for enforced visitation. I would really, really hope that a judge would listen to a 14 yr old and do what is in her best interest. Having a GAL is a good thing.

devistatedmom posted 4/20/2014 12:58 PM

I have to agree that the GAL is a good thing. Normally I don't think they would force a 14yo to have visitation...but from what you wrote, I believe your papers say SHE has primary custody, not your SO. I'm worried that might be the biggest issue, and the 14yo could be forced to go back.

I hope he has emails or some proof that she came to live with you with mom's approval.

hexed posted 4/20/2014 13:29 PM

Yes during the transition we drafted very explicit emails regarding DD14 staying here sot that the matter is well defined. The move invovled a change of schools. The XWW has been to visit the new school.

I am VERY concerned about the cutting. IC is aware of the past cutting and will be involved on a more regular basis again. DD14 had been pretty good since she moved. This recent drama with her mother seems to be the cause. The good news is this time she told me about. She's reaching out for support which is a BIG step for her. We talked a loooong time yesterday. We are focusing on the idea that she's safe here physically and emotionally.

There is no doubt that if her mom forces this we are going to end up with a runaway teen with even more problems.

There are twin DS11 who live with XWW. They have EOW visitation and vacations. Things seem to be OK with them at XWW. DD14 seems to be the target. She does push it sometimes so I can see where this escalated but the things that were said and done were waaaaaaaaaaaay beyond normal. XWW has said horrible things and we've heard stepdad call her an effing B!tch. They completely deny having said these things but both of us have heard variations of them.

Yes it has only been 3X since Christmas. I hate to force the issue b/c it upsets DD14 in a way that is far different than her normal teen angst kind of way.

The GAL initially told us she had to meet with DD14 to make sure she hadlegitimate reasons and mature enough to handle it. After meeting with DD14 she agreed in no uncertain circumstances that she would take the case. It was reassuring to hear that.

so frustrating to be in limbo like this.

GreatRoleModel posted 4/20/2014 14:54 PM

(((hexed and DD))) You are doing an amazing job and using such good words with her and she must be feeling very safe to open up with you. She is lucky to have you.
My 14yo has also cut in the past due to XH's behavior and thank goodness I was able to get her into IC which has been the best course of action. The IC helped her find her voice which has been amazing and to see her growth. I am so proud of her for the progress she has made and now can handle XH's words and behavior with healthier outcomes. She has seen her older sister (16) back off her visits with dad and I am sure she will follow suit in the near future. My XH also threatened legal action because of reduced visitation but I think his L told him to back off. He views his visits like the time of possession clock they use in football games in the corner of the screen unfortunately.
I wish you and DD the best of luck and I think it is a great sign the GAL took the case too.

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