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Stbx continues to try to dictate the parenting schedule

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ninon posted 3/12/2018 20:02 PM

outside a legal framework (I don't even know if he's hired a lawyer yet) and to insist on keeping ds for more days in a row than he can cope with (per my first post, ds comes home to me hysterical, furious, and suicidal every time). We have agreed to work with a child psychologist to help mediate and keep the focus on our son's needs, but it will take weeks for all of us to meet with her (we are meeting separately; we cannot even be in the same room atm), in part due to STBX's (non-essential) travel schedule. In the meantime, I am worried that we may both show up in a kind of "stand off" at ds's school tomorrow, which would be horrible for ds. I'm at my wits end dealing with this conflict on top of still being overcome with shock, grief, and rage. Any advice for getting through the next few weeks until we have feedback from the psychologist?

freetogonow posted 3/12/2018 21:03 PM

My only advice is to do what’s best for your son at all times. If the only way to avoid confrontation is to yield, then you yield.

josiep posted 3/12/2018 21:07 PM

I went back and read a few of your previous posts and I'm wondering if you have a strong enough lawyer? From the sounds of it, you need a pitbull to go against your STBX.

I'm not clear -- do you have a legal agreement in place for visitation? Or just an informal one that the two of you agreed to? If there's no legal agreement, are you required to allow him to see your DS? Or, is it legally required for you to allow him to keep him overnight? I can see where you'd have a strong case to prevent that since he got an apt. without a bedroom for his own son. I can't imagine a court punishing you for letting your son stay home with you for a few months until the pain and shock are processed. To force this poor child to have his world turned upside down without a safety net would be cruel and if he wants the security of being home, safe and secure with you and his dog and his own bedroom, then so be it.

Every state has it's own standards but it's my understanding that 50/50 joint custody doesn't always mean 50/50 physical custody. My daughter has 50/50 joint custody but the kids are only with their Dad every other weekend. Has your attorney clarified that with you?

Some states have an app that goes through the court system for the parents to discuss everything about the child via email. If it's available where you live, check it out because the less you have to talk to that man, the better. And even better, they keep all the emails and they can be used as evidence in court.

I trust that you've made copies of all your evidence against him and left them with a trusted friend or in a safe deposit box? You cannot trust you STBXH so be very cautious to protect those files.

And last but not least, maybe you could call your son's teacher and involve her? If the school has a counselor, they might be able to help him with all of this.

And if you have any friends who have gone through it who have a child near his age, maybe have a get together and let the kids play together. Hopefully, if you son mentions how distraught he is over what's going on, the other child will say something like "oh, I remember those days and they were really awful! But it's fine now, just gotta wait until it gets better."

As for spring break, no. Just no. Unless your son wants to go. Otherwise, just no. You are the parent who didn't abandon him. You are the parent who keeps a roof over his head and does the homework with him every night. By STBXH's own action by walking out on his family, you are in charge and nothing happens without going through you first. Period, end of statement. When he wants it to be different, he can take you to court.

It just frustrates me seeing how we all immediately go into fix it mode when the shit hits the fan. Why are we the ones who do all the work and clean up the mess? Screw him. Let him take you to court. You just hang out with your son and create new routines and habits and traditions and do something fun together and let him do the dirty work. Maybe dog agility classes would be fun. Or start checking out every dog park in your area and create a map of them. The more you can do positive things with your son and quit focusing on the rat bastard, the sooner your son will feel better. Not to mention it'll do you a world of good as well.

Sorry, I've been all over the place with this post. The mighty brain is churning tonight

There's a long time wonderful poster here on S.I. who often advises people to put on their bitch boots. I can't say it as eloquently as she does but honey, it's time to put on your bitch boots.

[This message edited by josiep at 9:19 PM, March 12th (Monday)]

ninon posted 3/13/2018 01:16 AM

Thank you both.

Freetognow, I agree--If he makes this into a standoff I have to relent, for my son's sake.

Josiep, thank you for the legal questions and other feedback. I honestly don't know if my lawyer is strong enough. She advocates minimizing conflict on all sides for the good of the child and the opposite has happened, sheerly because my STBX is behaving so selfishly and horrendously.

There is currently no legal agreement re. parenting, the schedule, etc., as STBX has refused, thus far, to enter the legal process. After I filed, he requested a 30-day extension, which is almost up. He has not responded to my lawyer's subsequent communications.

I was not aware of any difference between 50/50 custody in name vs. physical 50/50 custody. I will have to inquire about that.

Thanks also for reminding me to keep my documents safe.

I have notified the teacher and ds is working with the school counselor individually, occasionally, and is in a support group led by her for kids whose parents are separated/divorced. When he didn't want to go to school a couple of weeks ago because his dad was going to pick him up, I marched him straight to her office and she said "whoa--he's really angry at his father."

Because this is a no-fault state, STBX is not viewed negatively under the law for the affair, for leaving, or for renting an apartment without a room for his son. Unless a full parental inquiry is ordered and he is found to be negligent, unsuitable, etc., he is considered to be as capable and present a parent as I am and will likely be awarded joint (physical 50/50) custody. This is what I have been told anyway.

[This message edited by ninon at 1:31 AM, March 13th (Tuesday)]

shakentocore posted 3/13/2018 01:42 AM

I agree you need a lawyer with a backbone. My bet is that she does not know how to litigate / fight which is why she is pushing mediation / “collaboration.” You should have requested temp orders. Order and structure helps young children during this upheaval.

To prevent your STBX from leaving the state have a 2,2,3 schedule. That would not prevent taking DS for long weekends. Also, with a firm schedule, you have a better chance of receiving more custody time with DS if your STBX “misses” time due to travel or work. You can argue that STBX doesn’t take advantage of 50/50 so the time split should reflect reality.

Catwoman posted 3/13/2018 06:30 AM

You need to get a LEGAL visitation schedule ASAP.

As far as his travel goes, I would advise him (especially since it is non-essential) that he now has to schedule around his parenting time, just like any other single parent.

You need the protection of the court in this instance. If your attorney won't go to bat for you, get one who will.

Cat

josiep posted 3/13/2018 12:00 PM

Today is a new day and maybe it's time to make a new plan for dealing with this guy.

#1, do your due diligence and find the best pitbull lawyer in your area. Ask the school counselor and teachers, ask your friends and your coworkers, read online reviews, call any friends who know someone who works in the courthouse. Even better, go to the courthouse and talk to the people at the information or clerk's office. Tell them your story and tell them you want to protect your son from future hurt and ask which lawyer is the best for that. Heck, call your state congressperson or even your federal congressperson and ask whoever answers their phone.

#2, get an appt. ASAP to ask all these questions and to get a plan of action set in place.

#3, check for the co-parenting app. If not available, send your STBX a registered letter that all communication going forward must go through email. Create a new email address for yourself and use it only for that.

#4, Also notify him that your son will not be going out of the county or staying overnight with him for awhile. Tell him very clearly that DS is having very emotional problems with it all and to give it some time. He wants to sleep in his own house, in his own bedroom, with his dog and his toys, etc. and to please respect DS's feelings right now. And that you'll revisit it when things calm down. Tell him that he's seeing the school counselor and that you will not make any comments about his father to him, good, bad or indifferent. That their relationship is theirs alone but it needs some time to heal right now.

#5, Drops and pickups will be at a neutral location; he is no longer to come to your house. That you will revisit that at a later date as well but it upsets you too much right now and for ds's sake, it's best if he not see you upset.

#3,4 & 5 might help calm the waters for now. Be very careful not to say anything is forever, that's why I kept using wiggle phrases.

When you've finished #1 & 2, then you can take the nice gloves off and go to battle. For right now, it's best for you and your DS to get things toned down.

And my biggest piece of advice: do something fun and silly with your DS every single day. New things if you can. Show him that life goes on and will be fine.

Play fun music when you're home. Don't let him stay in his bedroom for hours on end and be really careful to restrict screen time. Keep him busy with fun stuff and stuff that bonds him to you and to his dog. That will help him more than anything else.

And Mom? Get yourself to IC if you haven't already. And 12 step groups if you can. And listen to podcast and YouTube videos/talks when you're driving or cooking, etc. There's a wealth of supportive information out that that will help shore up our confidence and rekindle your sense of being the awesom person you really are.

Don't let the bastards get you down. Show them who's boss. You are woman, start to roar. Or somesuch peptalk words. Trying to awaken the buried goddess of light and power here - please tell me it's working. :)

Tigersrule77 posted 3/13/2018 12:03 PM

Mediation and collaboration only works when both parties are doing it. Sounds like your situation is not, so you need someone to give you sound advice so you can stand up for yourself and your son. Since it sounds like you are not far along in the process, now would be a good time to ask others for a recommendation for a good attorney.

How old is your son?

Was your agreement that you would just change your schedule whenever your STBXH wants? Or did the two of you have some kind of original agreement? If you can reference that, in your situation, you might want to try to stick to it and if your XH is not available those days, it is his problem.

ninon posted 3/13/2018 13:13 PM

Thank you, Josie and Tigers, so much for your replies. I am trying to take in all you've said.

I really hope I don't have to hire another attorney. I have already paid half the retainer fee for this woman, who came highly recommended--my immigrant mother literally had to sell her heirlooms for me to do it (STBX, on the other hand, comes from wealth and will be able to access family funds almost indefinitely). But I will certainly consult with another attorney and if I have to switch I will find out what that entails.

My son is almost 9.

STBX and I talked about trying the 2-2-5-5 schedule, but that was before my son started showing consistent signs of serious distress. I said in an email to him last night that this is not "a reasonable amount of difficulty adjusting to the schedule." I said: "This is not normal. Eight-year-olds-talking endlessly of suicide is not normal, even for those whose parents are divorcing. This is a serious situation and ds needs to be taken seriously." Of course, he will not accept this.

What I want to know is if there is any kind of mechanism that can help us reach a temporary agreement until we have the expert advice of the psychologist. I have asked again and again for compromise and cooperation from STBX, but, instead, he continues to issue patriarchal directives without any legal authority. I can't believe he is taking this tack after all he has done to me and our son (except I can).

Peacebwu posted 3/13/2018 14:40 PM

The pain and wait for life to settle in under new agreements is really a tough one. I do know from experience that I have had to take the higher ground and lose a lot, personally, at times to be the stable support my kids needed. I like to think of it in terms of dialectical behavior therapy training...What's most effective? It may seem that's manipulative but it's not. It's keeping peace for a child that doesn't deserve to be in the middle of such a tough deal handed. I fight when I must for my child's sake. I hold my tongue and keep the peace when it's not something I have control of and if it won't help in the bigger picture. My ex and I have completely different ideas about life and raising children. Just being in existence sometimes rubs him wrong. Our relationship has been full of mistrust from the point our marriage began to crumble. I have to constantly choose to forgive him (doesn't mean forget the harm and I must continue to keep boundaries) so I can release the toxic emotions of anger and bitterness that want to eat me up. If you have an agreement on how the visitation should be, I'd stick to it. If your ex is constantly trying to get things changed or get more time realize that the more you give the message you send is that you think he's capable of being a co-parent and trust your child's welfare. If you are going for full custody then stick to standard visiting schedules. The courts don't look at the emotions or hear say. They look at what the child had with the two of you together, what's been status quo and what's the best interest for the child under the new circumstances. It's great you are working together with a child psychologist! I would look into if there's a temporary court order due to your ds stability if he's suicidal every time he returns. I'd definitely get the school involved and discuss what's going on. See if there are resources they can help get into place and watch your ds for signs, as an added support. Anything you can do to keep from talking negatively, discussing the divorce in a negative light, and promoting a loving supportive stable home will help your ds heal. There's no heartache like watching our kids go through a trauma in life. There are really good resources to help families and kids with divorce...perhaps even books to read. Take care of all of you with the basics of sleep, healthy rainbow diet, exercise, quiet time to rest the mind and relax, and lots of loving nurturing time. You are a good mom to be considering so many avenues and gain wisdom! Praying healing for you and your ds!

josiep posted 3/13/2018 16:22 PM

What I want to know is if there is any kind of mechanism that can help us reach a temporary agreement until we have the expert advice of the psychologist. I have asked again and again for compromise and cooperation from STBX, but, instead, he continues to issue patriarchal directives without any legal authority. I can't believe he is taking this tack after all he has done to me and our son (except I can).

********************************************

This is what I mean. If there haven't been legal papers filed, you are under no obligation to consult with your STBX or to come to any agreement with him. You don't want to, you don't like it, you've got too much other stuff to do and he abandoned you and DS. So now, YOU get to set the terms. And if he doesn't like them, he can get an attorney and file.

NiceGuySF posted 3/13/2018 17:12 PM

Ninon,

Is your lawyer letting you know what the next legal steps are to resolve this? Ultimately, I believe you will need to go in front of a judge ASAP in order to get temporary orders in place.

Try to limit communication with STBX over email/text so there's a paper trail, especially if he isn't being cooperative or reasonable when it comes to setting a schedule or discussing how your son is responding to the situation.

ninon posted 3/13/2018 20:36 PM

My lawyer has not outlined any legal steps to resolve this--she said that STBX and I need to come to some agreement. This seems like an inadequate response. I'm going to consult with a friend's former lawyer and will consider changing counsel. In the meantime, I am regretting sending my emotional email last night in response to STBX's carefully calibrated, "rational" message (if you read for content, however, it is clear that he is ignoring his son's psychological state and pushing forward an extra-legal schedule that I have not agreed to). I am going to have to be more disciplined about how and what I communicate. But I feel like I also need additional legal structures to support and protect me and my son in this situation.

[This message edited by ninon at 8:40 PM, March 13th (Tuesday)]

josiep posted 3/13/2018 21:06 PM

My lawyer has not outlined any legal steps to resolve this--she said that STBX and I need to come to some agreement. This seems like an inadequate response. I'm going to consult with a friend's former lawyer and will consider changing counsel. In the meantime, I am regretting sending my emotional email last night in response to STBX's carefully calibrated, "rational" message (if you read for content, however, it is clear that he is ignoring his son's psychological state and pushing forward an extra-legal schedule that I have not agreed to). I am going to have to be more disciplined about how and what I communicate. But I feel like I also need additional legal structures to support and protect me and my son in this situation.

Keep calm and carry on. You've got it now.

Repeat after me: I'm in charge now; I don't take orders from him anymore; I don't care if he doesn't like the way I do things; he fired me from caring what he thinks and now I do what is best for my DS. I am the good parent, the solid parent, the wise parent. I will protect my DS and I will maintain a calm, secure and loving environment for him. Anyone who doesn't like it can kiss my ass. Or polish my boots.

shakentocore posted 3/14/2018 06:40 AM

My lawyer has not outlined any legal steps to resolve this--she said that STBX and I need to come to some agreement. This seems like an inadequate response.

It is an inadequate response. SHE works for YOU.

After you find another lawyer, I would tell her she appears to be over her head and would request your full retainer back. And threaten to report her to the state bar. Getting temp orders for children is one of the first things a lawyer does. Also, if you have counsel, your STBX should not be contacting you about legal matters.

It is not your lawyers job to tell you what is best for your children. Her job is to follow the legal procedures to protect your interests. YOU, not your child, are the client. She can pull the “best interest” to advise you how a judge / the court will rule, but go to put off doing her job. I’m also curious what kind of time she has billed while leaving you in legal limbo.

ohforanewme posted 3/15/2018 05:37 AM

Hi ninon

I was wondering how it when with the school pickup of your DS. I so hope that your X did not increase the poor lad's pain.

Given the different jurisdictions, I cant give you much advice but from where I stand, Josiep has given top notch advice.

When the A happens and things move to D, all "lets just be a nice happy family" stuff disappears and you have to deal with things between X and yourself as if this is the toughest business deal of your life. You have to become the toughest business woman on the planet.

Then you save all your love and care, your DS's usual portion, and then all that you used to bestow on X, on just DS. Okay, maybe a bit for you as well.

Then what Josiep said about the bulldog lawyer. No compromise. You have to get a bulldog (or pit-bull, if you prefer that breed as Josiep seems to). The one I got earned himself a bit of an international reputation for a case he handled a number of years back. It helped me in every way. Getting a fair settlement, getting what was in the best interests of my kids. Even getting the case processed in the shortest possible time.

You make the right decision there. You come out with the best possible outcome.

I love Josiep "to do list".

Do it.

We are here with you.

Oh, and one last thing, next time, before you send your "emotional email" come and post it here in "Stay no contact - post it here" thread, That is what many of us do. Works a treat.

Then you can send your cool as a cucumber, "I am as hard as nails and am totally in charge of this" email.

ninon posted 3/15/2018 11:01 AM

Thank you so much Shaken, Josie, and Ohforanewme! I'm talking with my friend's "bulldog" lawyer this morning--I hope the situation becomes clearer to me and, if it makes sense to change, I hope I can afford to. Please send good thoughts.

ninon posted 3/16/2018 10:55 AM

I talked with my friend's lawyer, but do not feel she's "the one." I also talked with my existing lawyer about taking a more assertive approach and she explained her strategy thus far. STBX , of course, has hired a hotshot lawyer with his family's (endless) money. There's no way I can match him in terms of resources, but I am consulting with a few highly recommended people to see if they agree with my current lawyer's approach and, if they don't, I'll switch. It's horrible to have to brace for battle with someone who has already treated me and my son so badly.

[This message edited by ninon at 11:04 PM, March 16th (Friday)]

NiceGuySF posted 3/16/2018 12:36 PM

Re: resources. Talk to your lawyer about asking for attorney's fees to be paid by your stbx (or at least some of them), if there's an income disparity between you. Or see if marital assets can be used to pay your fees... all potential options (and also something you can bring up when talking to lawyers).

ninon posted 3/16/2018 13:05 PM

Thanks for the suggestions, NiceGuy. Unfortunately, I make twice what my STBX makes (though it's still not a lot, especially in our HCOL city), so HE may end up asking for spousal support, which is insane, given what he's done and the fact that he's essentially a trust fund kid.

In calling around, I'm not sure I'm going to be able to afford to switch lawyers. The main issue I'm worried about is the likelihood of 50/50 custody. I'm told that the burden would be on STBX if he wanted to take ds with him out of state, and that his chances of succeeding are low, but the prospect still terrifies me.

[This message edited by ninon at 2:58 PM, March 16th (Friday)]

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