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Topics - Mamacass

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Child Support Issues / c/s ugh
« on: Feb 16, 2007, 02:50:10 PM »
Quick question, if anyone knows.  BM lives with her parents.  Now we got custody 6 months ago and have just filed for CS.  I have a feeling she's going to lie on her paperwork to get out of paying money.  

Right now she gets disability but doesn't have any household expenses that we know of since she move back in to her parents house.  If she claims to pay rent, is there some way to make her prove that she has to pay rent there?  Do her parents have to claim the rent $ on their taxes?

We don't want to be petty, but when it comes to child support we've been screwed harshly in the past and we will be paying for that for years to come.  I just want to make sure we've put ourselves in the best position to make sure my SS has everything he deserves, (even if most of it ends up in his savings account for when he turns 18).

Child Support Issues / Disability tidbit
« on: Sep 28, 2006, 12:05:44 PM »
Thought this was kind of neat.  As a stepmom sometimes I feel like a glorified babysitter.  I called SSI the other day, because now that we have custody of SS we want to make sure that his mom isn't misusing the check she gets for him.  She is on disability and as you know, she gets a check for her and one for SS.  

Anyways,  I wasn't sure if she needed to let them know that she is no longer taking care of ss (she gets 6 weeks of visitation a year), or if this was something we could do.  I'm pretty sure that if we wait on her, it'll never happen.  Well the lady I spoke with said all my husband needs to do is bring the custody papers down there and apply to be SS's designated payee.  And she suggested that if I'm the one who handles our paperwork and affairs that I be listed as the designated payee.  

This kind of caught me off guard, because as a step-parent to actually be in charge of anything for SS is unheard of.   I filled out all of SS paperwork for school and soccer, but I couldn't sign any of it.  In fact there's a spot for Dad's info and a spot for Mom's info, but no spot for me.  I'm just the emergency pick-up person.  

It's nice that SSI will actually recognize me as someone who takes care of SS.  But you want to know something weird- even though it makes sense for me to be the designated payee, I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with it.  I'm afraid it will look like I'm trying to get his money.  and I guess years of not being able to sign anything for my SS, a part of me feels like that lady couldn't have been right.  Didn't SSI get the memo that apparently everyone else got? the one that tells them to treat step parents like babysitters? Sure, we can take care of the child, but don't let us actually make any parental decisons.  

Sorry, I guess this kind of turned into a vent.  I just meant to put some info out there about disability since I saw a few posts about it.  Hope you guys don't mind.

Dear Socrateaser / Legal custody?
« on: Feb 22, 2007, 04:03:49 PM »
Right now I have an order that awarded me custody of my son and the mother very limited visitation (less than the standard for my area).  However, it in no way mentions legal custody.  I assume since it only lists visitation for the mother that there isn't joint legal custody at this time.

BM has appealed the courts decision, and now we are actually working through our attorneys to try to settle outside of court before the next trial.  She is not trying to get physical custody, just more visitation.  She sent an offer with her proposal for a new visitation schedule which includes giving her joint legal custody.

We have answered her proposal with our own modified version.  One of the things we disagree on, is the joint legal.  As our attorney explained it, joint legal means that we communicate about the child.  We all, my attorney included, had a good laugh over that because communication with the BM is extremely difficult at best and usually impossible.  

Now supposing that BM doesn't agree, and this goes to court, can you help me understand the joint legal thing better?

1. Since the current order doesn't list legal custody at all, does that mean I currently have full physical and legal custody?

2. Do we have to agree on everything if we have joint legal custody?  I'm not sure I fully understand what joint legal means, perhaps you can give a short explanation?  

3. What would some reasons be that a court would deny joint legal custody?  

Dear Socrateaser / court related questions
« on: Jan 31, 2007, 10:47:31 AM »
We were given custody in September and BM appealed the courts decision, so we have the appeal date set for next month.  The original decision gave BM visitation of 1 month during summer, 1 week at Christmas and Mother's Day weekend.

Since September, BM has moved back to the area to be closer to our child, so I have allowed her to see him on night a week for 3 hours, and every other weekend.

We feel pretty good about our case going into the appeal.  While BM has improved some situations, she has also has gotten worse in other areas.  Since we have had my son for the majority of the time since last June, and I have a stable household, I feel that I will be able to keep custody.

The only improvement I can see BM gaining from this whole thing, is increasing her court ordered visitation.  

So with that in mind, I thought about offering to go to mediation and offer to make the amount of visitation I'm already giving her official through the courts, and asking in turn if she will withdraw the appeal.  This would save me some time, stress, and a lot of lawyer fees.  

1.Would there be any reason that I shouldn't offer this?  

2. Would this hurt my case, if she declines?  

By the way, one of the weekends that I would give her next month falls on a weekend that I have a huge family function, that includes relatives coming from out of the country.  If I offer to trade weekends, it would have to be for the weekend after, because we have plans for the weekend before.

I would give her the option of saying no, but my son really wants to go, and I would hate for him to miss out.  It's not something that can be rescheduled.  She has asked on several occasions to switch days for her convenience, and I have obliged every time.  

3. Even though it isn't court ordered time, is the court going to frown upon me trading weekends with her when she doesn't want to?  

4. And as a related question, will the courts view it as  a bad thing that I have set up a regular visitation schedule?  (I just wanted to provide some stability for my son so that he knows when he gets to see his mom)

Dear Socrateaser / Appeal
« on: Jan 06, 2007, 10:39:15 AM »
We were awarded custody in September and the mother appealed.  the appeal date is set for February (5 months after the initial decision).

In Virginia, an appeal is not a review of the original decision.  The appeal is to rehear the case in front of a higher court.  So from what I understand it's like we have to prove all over agian to the courts why they should change full custody from the mother to the father.

1. Since we have had the child for the last 5months (and a substantial amount of time even when she did have custody), will the courts look at him living with us being the status quo?

Also, she has been known to lie in court.  How much weight does the "he said she said"  carry with a judge? Or is it more about what you can actually prove happened?

Dear Socrateaser / show cause for C/S
« on: Sep 21, 2006, 07:34:07 PM »
Court ordered me to pay c/s starting 04/03.  In 05/04 my ex and I came to an agreement outside of court that we would share joint custody, with the child spending 2 weeks with us then 2 wks with her.  We also agreed that neither party would request child support to the other and she agreed to cease the request for child support.  
She said she didn't want to go through the courts, and I was afraid that if I pushed the issue she would change her mind.  Instead, we made a contract which we eached signed and we had it notarized.  She also acknowledged the arrangement in a letter she wrote to me 11/05.
Now I have filed for (and won) custody, and in turn she has filed a show cause for c/s in arrears since 5/04.  

1.  How much weight does the notarized agreement carry with the court?  (Is it enough to have the show cause dismissed?)

2.  If the court orders me to pay back c/s, can it be adjusted since it was calculated to include child care, which she hasn't paid since around 5/04?

3.  Will the courts subtract for expenses I have paid?  (I have some receipts for clothes I purchased for my son for my house and for her house.  Also, my son has attended daycare since 5/04, but I paid the bill.)

Dear Socrateaser / Can she ignore petition?
« on: Aug 14, 2006, 07:22:04 AM »
We have filed a motion (in Virginia) to stop relocation and also to change custody from the mother to the father.  We received our summons on August 7th and assume that the BM had hers delivered the same day.  Now since she's looking to move, she was actually out of town until the 12th (looking at houses and preparing for her move).  Last night she called the house to talk, but acted like she never received the summons!  We are pretty sure she has received it b/c of some of the comments she made, but she never directly mentioned it.  We think she is going to pretend she never got it.  

1. If she says she didn't get it, and doesn't show up for court, does this mean the case gets drawn out longer, or do we automatically win?

2.  Should we give her a copy of the summons so as to keep her from pretending she didn't receive it?

Dear Socrateaser / bail question
« on: Aug 03, 2006, 08:01:29 AM »
We live in the state of VA.
So this isn't your normal custody question, but I'm hoping you can help.  We are preparing for our custody case, and have come into some information that my son's mother is currently on bail, awaiting a hearing for a class 1 misdemeanor (something to do with a firearm.)  Now she has been in and out of the state, b/c she is planning on moving.  I didn't think that was allowed, and I'm hoping its not, because then she won't be able to take my son out of the state until she clears up her issues.  See questions 1a and 1b

second thing, we found out that she has a record from about 2 yrs ago for being drunk in public, and a DWI a month later.  See question 2

1A. If you are out on bail, are you allowed to leave the states?
1B. If this isn't allowed, who would you call to make an anonymous tip?

2. Is this still relevant in a custody case to show a history of instability, or is this too old to matter?

Dear Socrateaser / Relocation questions
« on: Jul 30, 2006, 03:56:31 PM »
I'm gonna try to keep the background as short as possible.  

We live in Virginia, and currently so does the BM.  At this time she has full custody and we have standard visistation rights.  

Outside of the courts, we had an agreement 5/04 for son to spend equal time with each parent (in 2 week increments) and for no child support to be paid by either party.  This continued until 9/05 when son started school.  To provide more stability, the agreement changed to Monday through Thursday nights and 1 weekend a month with mom, and the remaining weekends with me (starting Friday when school lets out and ending Monday mornings when dropping him off at school.)  As well as Son spends 2 months during summer with me, and we alternate holidays.  Of course on several occasions during the school year I kept son for entire weeks (whenever our schedule allowed), and also several of our weekends ran through Tuesday or Wednesday b/c his mom wasn't feeling well, or was busy.  

By the way, mom doesn't work, she is on disability (not sure if for back problems or her bi-polar).  Although the school in my district is much better, going to school with her meant he didn't have to attend daycare after school.  Even though I would have rather him go to school in my district with his friends and cousins, I tired of arguing and gave in to mother so that he could go to school in her district.  

BM has shown a pattern of instability in her relationships.  She has been married 3 times (including to me originally).  The most recent marriage lasted from 10/05-2/06 (this includes the month that they dated before marrying).  She also had a relationship between her 1st and 2nd marriage with a man who she had a child with and gave up for adoption.  

On the other hand, my wife and I have been together for over 5 years, and we have 4 y/o son and another child on the way.  

Several weeks ago, BM informed me that she is planning to move to NC (3 1/2 hours away) and wanted to discuss taking son with her.  We have had a few discussions about the move since then, but did agree that it wouldn't be mentioned to Son until a decision had been finalized between us.  She broke this agreement a few nights ago, and called at bedtime, and informed son that they were going to move to NC in a few weeks.  He was pretty upset.  We have seen had some more discussion w/ BM and she has said that she is definitely moving and is 100% set on Son going with her.  She says this is going to be a fresh start for her, and an opportunity for Son to attend a better school.

We believe the whole basis of this move is her current boyfriend.  (They started dating around 5/06 and he is moving back to his hometown since he is getting out of the military.)  She doesn't have any other family there that we know of, but has said she has a bunch of friends down there.  Honestly, I don't think there's anyone down there she's known for more than a few months.  

We have compared the elementery school in the district she is moving to and in our district and the testing scores are comparable.  Also all of Son's extended family (on BM, BF and SM's side) live within 20 minutes of my home.  He is very close to all of his extended family.  

We have told BM that we don't agree witht he move, but if it is such a great opportunity for her we are happy for her, but feel that son should stay in Virgina where he has always lived.  She has told us that a child's place is with thier mother, and since we have 2 other children it's only fair that we let her have the Son.  We seem to be at a point where there will be no compromising and we will have to involve the courts.

I want to keep son in this area, and want to file for custody.  

1.  How can I keep her from moving to NC with son when he goes back to  her in a few weeks?

2.  Should I enroll him in school in my district at this time?

3.  How do I file for custody?

3a.  What do I list as reason for filing for custody- her impending move, her instablity, her mental condition?  I'm not sure if its better to list a bunch of reasons, or just the main few.

4.  She has not provided 30 day advanced written notice of her new address as law requires, is this important or do the courts really care?

5.  What are the things we need to prove to the court to keep son from being relocated?

6.  If we get the order to keep son here, and she moves anyways, does this mean that we get custody by default?  

7. Is relocation and custody 2 separate trials?  Or will they be heard together?

thanks so much!

Dear Socrateaser / How to change custody order
« on: Dec 21, 2005, 07:04:43 PM »
My husband and I have through the VA courts visitation rights of his son.   Unfortunately when his ex-wife got custody it was under the premise that she was worried we would take son away from her, so DH ignorantly agreed to her request to give her custody through the courts.  

Since that order 5 years ago, BM has gone back and forth between feeling the child should spend half his time with DH and telling DH he is a weekend dad.  She also in May of 2003, and May of 2004 told us she was going to sign over custody and give her visitation rights to her parents, but then would call back after a few days to take back her
offer.  Each time ended up in increasing the time that son was scheduled to be with us each month.  In May 2004, she signed (and we had notarized) a two weeks here/ two wks there agreement, that also stated there would be no child support paid by either party.

DH and I have tried to be understanding and work with BM as much as possible for the sake of the child.  DH was raised by his mother and knows the importance of the relationship a child has with his mother.  We have allowed the child to be enrolled at school in the town BM lives, and now have child 3 weekends and 1 week of each month.  However we have recently asked for her to allow the child to live with us as we feel that we have a better environment and more stability to offer the child.

BM has a mental illness that she must take medication for. One of the side offects of the medication is memory loss; In the last month she has "forgotten" 3 conversations with us.  One of these conversations was about changing the times son would switch houses.  Also because of her illness, the child lived with us 9/04-2/05 and spent 2 wknds each month w/ BM because she was in and out of the hospital.

We have mentioned her smoking in the house, and the child has asked her not to smoke in the house.  DH is a smoker, so we aren't asking BM to quit.  We are simply asking that she not smoke in the house b/c child has allergies that seem to flare up only when he is at her house.

BM has also been married twice in two years and each time we are notified when son comes over and announces he has a new dad.  We are not sure when the first marriage ended as it was during the fall of 2004 when child was with us.  However he was very confused as to why his stepfather and stepsister weren't around anymore.  He now asks us how many fathers he has, since his mother encourages him to call his stepfathers Dad.  

The child has been having behavioral problems at school, which only occur when he is at his mothers house.  The last time, BM asked DH if he will discipline child next time he gets in trouble.  She said she feels the DH is better at it than she is.

Also although we don't pay child support, we provide health insurance.  We also provide the coats and shoes, an most of the clothes the child wears.  we are often buying new clothes to send the child to her house in as he comes over in clothes that are 2 sizes too big or 2 sizes too small.  

We have talked with BM about going to a therapist to discuss the situation, as she feels the communication between our houses is poor.  We feel a therapist would be better in our situation than a mediator, because of her mental illness.  It seems whenever we suggest changes at her house, or ask about any events (such as marriages or moves or hospital visits) she thinks we are attacking her.  We are only trying to help the child understand the changes in his life.

DH and I have been together for 5 years, we own our own home and we have a child together, and another on the way.  We can provide the stablity that this child needs so badly.  However we can't afford an attorney to fight this battle. so here's my questions:

1. What are our options for gaining full custody with out paying for a lawyer
1 b. Can we ask for her to apy attorney fees if we go to court
2. what are our chances for gaining custody if we don't employ a lawyer.
3. is there a way to force her to go to mediation or therapy visits?

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