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Main Forums => Visitation Issues => Topic started by: ConcernedFather on Nov 10, 2014, 04:41:34 AM

Title: Thwarted Inter-state Visitation
Post by: ConcernedFather on Nov 10, 2014, 04:41:34 AM
My ex-wife and her boyfriend live in Texas, and I live in California.  My daughter lives with them during the school year and I have court ordered visitation on a certain number of weekends throughout the year in Texas, as well as additional time in California.  There are no dates in the court order.  The court order only states that I must give thirty days notice regarding which weekends these are.  I have encountered multiple issues with these scheduled visits.

Until now I have given the notice long before the thirty day requirement via Our Family Wizard, which the judge ordered that we use during the divorce proceedings, though there is no standing order that we use it now that the divorce is final.  I have encountered many of the following problems.

1. Sometimes I get no reply for weeks, in which case I just follow up again until I do get a reply.

2. Sometimes I am told no.  Initially, I tried just visiting anyway because I felt that was my legal right.  (I found out the hard way that my custody orders are not enforceable by Texas police.)

3. When I visit, on occasion the visitation is refused.  I have been given anywhere from zero days to three weeks notice that I will not be allowed to visit, but I follow through anyway, because the plans are in place and my ex-wife has no legal right to do this (of which I am aware).

4. The police will not help.  Initially they told me they could only help if there were specific dates in the court order.  Since then I have been told by another officer that even with dates there is nothing they would do.  In fact, they have told me that if I set foot on her property even to knock on the door, I will be arrested.  This is alarming to me given that I am not and have never been prone to violence, and am merely attempting to exercise my custody rights.

Because of these issues, and because my ex-wife started to reply with alternative dates, more recently I decided to accept her alternative dates (which are fewer than those that I request, ultimately giving me less visitation).  I have recently attempted to exercise my visitation, yet was prevented from having the visitation, on one of the alternative dates that was offered by my ex which I accepted, all via Our Family Wizard, which I believe is enough of a paper trail.

I am at a loss as to what to do at this point.  I want to go back to court to see if I can convince a judge to allow me to have the time from these thwarted visits returned to me during the summer, tacking it onto my visitation.  I would also like to seek financial compensation for the travel expenses and lost work hours.  I don't know whether this would be a Request For Order and if this is something that would be considered by a judge.  If I can do this, would it be best to pursue it in California court where our divorce was finalized, or does Texas have jurisdiction now that my ex has been living there for more than six months?

I have found this helpful letter that I will use as a template going forward.
"Notice Of Intent To Exercise Visitation" /cms/plugins/content/content.php?content.118

However, I have a few questions about it.

Should these dates and times present a problem for you, respond via U.S. Mail by (date) with alternate dates and/or times so that I may have sufficient time to adjust my schedule accordingly to the alternate dates and/or times.

Why should I offer this?  With someone who has been so difficult to deal with, giving her the right to offer an alternative date at this point is a recipe for delay and potentially blocking the visit.  In the past she has gone off on a long tangents about how this is not good for our daughter or they already have plans, none of which is mentioned in the legal agreement.

If she denies, then you send a letter to the court stating that on (date) at (time and place) your ex refused to produce the child for visitation and did so without notice of a change of dates for visitation and reference the appropriate letter (the one you wrote stating the dates and times and requesting notice of any changes by your ex via US Mail).

Is there a template on the site for it, or should I write it from scratch?  Who would be the recipient of this letter, the judge? or the clerk?  Do I have to find out the name of the clerk?

What good will the letter do?  Does it simply serve as evidence that I'm taking the proper measures when we do end up back in court?  Why not just include it in my declaration and exhibits when filing?

I know I have asked a lot of questions, and I actually have more!  I'll save those for another future post, but please give me any advice you can.  My friends and family are likely tiring of hearing my woes, and their advice is not always the most sage as it is uninformed and infused with emotion.
Title: Re: Thwarted Inter-state Visitation
Post by: MixedBag on Nov 10, 2014, 07:09:50 AM
I too was 12 hours one-way drive to exercise parenting time with our son.

My time too wasn't defined except that I was to give 2 weeks notice for one weekend a month and that I had to pay for all transportation (airline ticket, unaccompanied minor fee, and his gasoline expense to drive 110 miles to and from the airport).

We got into it several times.....there was a clause that said he had final decision making authority and he translated that into sole custody on many occasions.  I on the other hand took the position that I had to give 2 weeks notice for one weekend a month so that situation was an exception AND I had to pay for transportation so that put me in control there too.  Oh did we fight -- and dummy me didn't realize what fighting with a narcissist meant.

SO...I personally took the subject to court under a "Motion for Clarification" -- told the court that these two situations cause us to constantly argue and cause undue stress.  Several months later, we had a hearing and the judge agreed with me and my position.  Never again did I hear arguments from Dad.  I too thought I was being nice and cooperative by planning 6 months in advance.....but see he's not a planner, so he didn't see it that way.

A "Motion for Contempt" is much harder to prove -- go search on Socrateaser's part for "three elements of contempt" because that third element is a bear.  But a motion for clarification just might do the trick -- get the judge to clarify how things are supposed to work.  And then start documenting and working it out again.

OH, and we were also ordered to use OFW.  Seemed like a great idea until I realized that it wasn't Dad logging on to the system, it was his fake-wife thanks to the date time stamp.  We were ordered to log in and read every other day again in the order.  it didn't matter WHAT I ever said, it was twisted around into something else.  You might want to read up on Narcissism....  I wish that I had.  Parental Alienation Awareness was important too -- but I missed the other half of the puzzle totally which would have made life so much easier and less stressful.
Title: Re: Thwarted Inter-state Visitation
Post by: Waylon on Nov 10, 2014, 09:58:57 AM
OH, and we were also ordered to use OFW.  Seemed like a great idea until I realized that it wasn't Dad logging on to the system, it was his fake-wife thanks to the date time stamp. 

OFW is kind of lame. I've heard from a *lot* of people that ( is a better system, but YMMV. I admit I'm biased, so take it for what it's worth.
Title: Re: Thwarted Inter-state Visitation
Post by: MixedBag on Nov 10, 2014, 11:52:02 AM
I was "excited" to use OFW -- heck ANYTHING at that point, what I learned was that it's only as good as both sides want it to be....I honestly haven't see the other product.

If one side doesn't want to use it or doesn't want to cooperate -- then you need a judge with a backbone to make changes accordingly -- you need follow through.

Just like discipline at can threaten, but if there's no follow through the kid figures it out.

Our court system is the "follow through" right?

and unfortunately that follow through is down to the individual judges in each county....and there's tons of those. 

Title: Re: Thwarted Inter-state Visitation
Post by: ConcernedFather on Nov 10, 2014, 04:43:04 PM
@MixedBag, thank you for the great advice.  I'm going to investigate a "Motion for Clarification" as well as requesting that the time and money be repaid.

Now, should I add to that the other violations of the order that I haven't mentioned, most notably no phone calls or Skype sessions with me when my daughter is with her mother?  How can that be remediated?
Title: Re: Thwarted Inter-state Visitation
Post by: ConcernedFather on Nov 10, 2014, 04:44:23 PM
@Waylon, I'm not switching away from OFW at this point, because that would involve another discussion with someone who causes problems at every opportunity ;)
Title: Re: Thwarted Inter-state Visitation
Post by: ConcernedFather on Nov 10, 2014, 04:45:15 PM
@MixedBag, PS: I'm dealing with someone who may have a narcissistic personality disorder as well, so I understand.
Title: Re: Thwarted Inter-state Visitation
Post by: ocean on Nov 10, 2014, 04:50:53 PM
Yes, you can put it all into one hearing. Do you have strict times/days child should be available? Look on here for precise wording something along the lines of "mother will have child available for a phone call (skype, whatever) every Xx days at xx times. If child is not available at the above time, child will call back father before bed that same night"

You can ask for lawyer and if there are any court fees/travel fees in the contempt case. If you win, you should get that money back. You can also (maybe next time) ask to have consequences built in for any future denials of visitation and phone time as the court sees fit.

Add up the nights you have missed so far, and in the petition, write something like "father has missed xx nights with his child in the past xx months (or year?). Father requests make up times on the following dates xxx. Add exact dates and times (spring break? summer visit?). If it goes into another visit, make sure it says will be added and additional to the summer visit.

Also, yes police do not get involved BUT you can ask them to make a police report so you have proof you were there to pick up child. You can request them to be there at exchanges so you are not arrested. You can change pick up place to police parking lot, if she does not show, they write a report.
Title: Re: Thwarted Inter-state Visitation
Post by: MixedBag on Nov 11, 2014, 07:44:32 AM
IMHO -- in a motion for clarification, you can list all the times the "vague" order has caused missed parenting times because the two of you interpret the current order differently.

In a motion to show cause -- you list all the times you MISSED parenting time because the order CLEARLY states XYZ and the mother failed to have the child available.

It's a fine line between the two.  Remember, court is an adversarial environment....two sides argue that they are both right.

So a motion for clarification doesn't state ONE side is right or wrong, it states that the situation is causing undue stress and duress for both parties and you'd like clarification.  A motion to show cause means you two go in fighting.

So....with a're not going to convince them that they are wrong no matter how long the letter, how right you are....  If they are stupid enough (like mine was), they'll still show their true colors in front of a judge (remember their point of view or interpretation of the order is correct) and you'll get a good order clarifying how things are supposed to work.

My EX#2 firmly believes that his two attorneys (whom he fired), a GAL, and three different judges are buttholes and have their heads up you know where even AFTER getting his butt chewed in court.  The GAL report supported me totally -- the last judge (the Supreme Court sit in retired Judge), had the order typed up and then handwrote all over it stating that the father was to blame for most of our problems -- even ordered Dad to pay for OFW for both of our subscriptions.....and there was much more that stung.  It was from that day forward that Dad FINALLY shut up, but that didn't mean that the mental games with our son stopped and they continue to this day.

Thankfully as of this past month, our son is OUT from under dad's roof and on his own....(Married in September, bought a house and closed in October, and dad's 20+ year job transferred him far away to a high cost of living area -- ooops!)....  So son (age 21) can finally start living without the fear of saying something wrong about his mom and hearing the backlash.
Title: Re: Thwarted Inter-state Visitation
Post by: MixedBag on Nov 11, 2014, 07:46:22 AM
I guess I'm talking strategy here -- and you need a win.... 
Title: Re: Thwarted Inter-state Visitation
Post by: ConcernedFather on Nov 13, 2014, 05:47:15 PM
Well, when you put it that way, the order is clear, so maybe a request for clarification is not really the proper tactic.  The frequency of visits, phone calls, and Skype sessions is all very clear.  It is even clear that all I have to do is give a certain amount of notice to exercise the visits.  None of it has been followed by her.  So a motion to show cause, or request for order, is probably what is needed now.
Title: Re: Thwarted Inter-state Visitation
Post by: MixedBag on Nov 13, 2014, 06:42:44 PM
Just a heads up -- what's clear to you "may not be clear" to the other side that is always looking for a loop hole.

How about sharing what the order says?  Even via private message....

Mine said "given two weeks notice, one weekend a month" type of thing and in another part it said that he "has final say" which he THOUGHT gave him "final say" to turn down which weekend I chose (or whatever I arranged for a flight, etc). 

Even an order that says "every other weekend" -- or one week to include Christmas -- well, when there's a will (to interfere) there's a way ....