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Author Topic: We're at a loss for what to do...  (Read 3334 times)

HanasStepMonster

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We're at a loss for what to do...
« on: Oct 28, 2008, 10:44:25 AM »
I am the step-mother - trying to do what I can to support my husband in his custody/visitation issues.  Some background before I go into my tirade ;-)  My step daughter is the result of an affair my husband had with his ex (she was married, he wasn't).  For the first four years of my SD's life, he was bullied into submission by BM and her mother, thus, no custody/visitation/support order is in place between the two of them (this has some pros and cons).  We have been to an attorney who has stated that we have every right that any father would have, married or not.  There are 2 other children from this BM, by a different father (ex husband) who we are good friends with their father and step mother.  Now here are our issues:

1.  SD has started to cry every time we go to take her home.  She has stopped referring to moms house as home - our is "home".

2.  BM is "engaged" to a man we DESPISE.  Drug user/abuser/jealous of the kids, you name it.  We can not catch them doing anything "wrong" in the presence of the children with the exception of...

3.  Watching inappropriate movies/television.  My 5 year old SD was permitted to watch Pans Labryinth, a very violent, graphic rated R movie.

4.  Inappropriate clothing - shorts in the winter, sweats in 100 degree heat.  No coat in 30 degree weather.  

5.  Little to no "grooming" - SD is sent to school on a regular basis with hair not brushed, teeth not brushed, dirty clothes, not bathed, etc.

6.  Child Support not spent on kids.  BM has ZERO in bills - her mom pays EVERYTHING (and I do mean everything).  Yet, no school clothes bought, no coats, old nasty shoes, etc.

7.  My hubby and I have SD in dance - she is not permitted to go on her moms weekends (once a month).  We don't fight this when SD is with her BM, however, most times she is with her non-biological grandparents (BM ex-husbands parents!!).  We would not take SD's time away from BM, however - she's not with BM!!

8.  BM only has her 2 nights a week most cases, Monday and Tuesday.  Wednesdays she's with us.  Thursday's she's either with us or the same grandparents listed in point #7, Friday's she's either with us or the grandparents, saturday - same, sunday - same.  

9.  SD cried the other night - not that she missed her mommy, but that she never gets to see her anymore.  We offered to give up a night each week so that she could stay home with her mommy - her reply?  "No, she'll either take me to mamaw and papaws, grandmas or the boyfriends"

10.  When directly asked where she wanted to live she told BM with her daddy.

11.  BM has gotten into a routine of lying.  When asked directly if the kids were on free lunch at school (we didn't care that she was - just wanted to know so I could stop going to wal-mart at midnight to get lunch stuff!) she said no.  When confronted after it was discovered this was a lie, she stated she did not know how they got on free lunch.  My SD is in kindegarten this year - she HAD to have applied - it couldn't have rolled from last year.

12.  Dropping SD off at BM's and BM reeks of pot.

These are just from the past 4 weeks!  I could go on all day.  Our biggest concern is school.  Right now SD is still excited about school, but older brother and sister have had issues in the past.  Sister failed last year, brother almost failed.  She is starting to learn their "tricks", hiding notes, work, etc...but it's pretty rare.

We just don't know what to do - we're in VA which is still a "mother's state" (are there ANY "father's states?"  please tell us where - we'll move next week...ha!).  It's pretty darn hard, but we just aren't sure which issues to focus on, which to chalk up to tough breaks.  I know there are others out there who have it MUCH worse than we do and I am grateful that we don't have some of those issues - but, she's messin' with my baby girls head and I'm FURIOUS.  


Giggles

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I feel your pain..m
« Reply #1 on: Oct 28, 2008, 11:14:51 AM »
and understand what you are going through....I too am a step-mom who's stepson is under seige from BM...sigh

As for your issues...most times court would shoot them down due to "difference of parenting styles"...sucks I know...but really not much you can do about it.

Do you have a formal visitation/custody/support order?  If not...that may be your best route.  You could possibly try for primary placement of your SD but work it like it's joint.

let me know and I'll try to give you a few pointers on what to have in a detailed parenting plan.
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Kitty C.

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Immediate action...........
« Reply #2 on: Oct 28, 2008, 02:35:49 PM »
About the only point I see that you can take immediate action on is #12.  If you EVER drop her off and the BM smells like that again, you have EVERY right to drive straight (WITH the child) to the nearest police station and report it.  If BM screams bloody murder, then call 911 on the spot and REFUSE to leave until police arrive.  Demand that they test her for being under the influence.....if they can do it there, fine, but if they have to take her to the station to do it, so be it.  But I seriously doubt you would have to make a demand......if the call comes in as an individual smelling of pot, one whiff will be enough for any cop.

Releasing a child to someone whom you truely believe is under the influence can be considered child endangerment on YOUR part, because you potentially put that child in harm's way.

The problem is, you can ONLY act on this while it is happening, you can't even wait until you get home.

But the ONLY way to have any influence whatsoever in the situation is to get a court order for custody, whether it be sole or joint physical and/or legal.  The atty. you spoke with was wrong.........untill you have a CO stating who is allowed to do what, your husband doesn't have a legal leg to stand on.
Handle every stressful situation like a dog........if you can't play with it or eat it, pee on it and walk away.......

HanasStepMonster

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RE: Immediate action...........
« Reply #3 on: Oct 28, 2008, 02:50:42 PM »
I agree.  Unfortunely or fortunately (depending on how you're looking at it...lol) my husband isn't so "hip" on pot and it's lingering smells (I wasn't there - I can pinpoint it immediately).  It took him a few hours to put together what it was he was smelling.  Next time though, I will make sure he calls...thank you for the heads up :)

We do have a legal leg to stand on though.  After we got advice from our attorney, we did some individual research and in VA when there is no custody order in place, paternity is determined by three methods, 1.  Being on the birth certificate, 2.  DNA testing, and 3.  Acting as the child's father - which my husband has 3 out of 3.  When there is no custody order in place, in VA, we can go get my SD from her grandparents as long as mom isn't there, and they can legally be forced to turn her over.  Or - in reverse - if SD is with her dad, the law can NOT force him to relinquish her to her BM.  Now, once dad is away from my SD, (IE, she's in my care, he's at work) then I can be forced to turn her over. This is information gathered from the courts, local law enforcement as well as well as other attorneys.

ocean

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RE: Immediate action...........
« Reply #4 on: Oct 28, 2008, 04:02:08 PM »
I would call the local police and see what they say about that... Our experience is that they will not make child leave...they will file a police report, especially if the grandparents call BM and she comes home.

I would start the visitation process and ask for drug testing. Do you have anything ever on her about the drugs...hospital, police reports. You can offer one too.

All the other points, really you can do nothing about. If SD's school calls social service you might have a chance. Also, have the school put you on their mailing list and you will be sent everything BM gets. She had to fill out a salary questionnaire for the reduced lunch. You might not be able to get a copy of that but you can get a copy of everything else in her folder...report cards, emergence cards...


ocean

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RE: Immediate action...........
« Reply #5 on: Oct 28, 2008, 04:02:55 PM »
I would call the local police and see what they say about that... Our experience is that they will not make child leave...they will file a police report, especially if the grandparents call BM and she comes home.

I would start the visitation process and ask for drug testing. Do you have anything ever on her about the drugs...hospital, police reports. You can offer one too.

All the other points, really you can do nothing about. If SD's school calls social service you might have a chance. Also, have the school put you on their mailing list and you will be sent everything BM gets. She had to fill out a salary questionnaire for the reduced lunch. You might not be able to get a copy of that but you can get a copy of everything else in her folder...report cards, emergence cards...

Also you can ask for First Right of Refusal ...if BM needs to leave SD with anyone, she has to call you first.

Kitty C.

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RE: Immediate action...........
« Reply #6 on: Oct 28, 2008, 04:15:04 PM »
What I'm talking about is making changes in the current arrangements.  You don't have anything in an order, therefore any changes made are only based upon an agreement between the parents.  Given what you've mentioned of the BM, it's highly likely she would back out of anything she agreed on unless she were ordered to do so, and even then it's iffy.

Document EVERYTHING....and I'm sure that your DH will definitely recognize the smell again, LOL!  One other thing......without an order, everything and anything can be interpreted differently, basically it's all 'he said, she said'.  So I think it's highly adviseable that your DH not be alone during transfers...........mainly having a witness.  Oftentimes, police don't give much credence to complaints made solely by separated parents, as they see it as a 'tit for tat', one getting back at the other.  With witnesses, that all changes.

I still feel that your DH would have much more leverage if there were an actual order in place that defined how the child spent her time with her parents.  You can also set conditions (if approved) like first right of refusal, meaning she would have to bring your SD to your home, not the gradparents, if she would need to be gone during her parenting time.  Right now, your DH is at the BM's mercy and she is calling all the shots.  As long as there is no order, she has the power to do whatever she wants, and it's obvious that she is.  Only an order signed by a judge can change that.

How are holidays and birthdays arranged?  Does the BM follow through with what she agrees to?  How often has your SD spent her birthday or Christmas with you?  How often has your DH been able to take her trick-or-treating?  How much time can your SD spend with you in the summer?  Do both parents attend school conferences and is your DH getting any and all info from school?  Can you arbitrarily take SD to a Dr. appt. and, if you felt the situation got so bad for her, would you be able to take her to a therapist or counselor without BM going ballistic?  I'm thinking if she already has a problem with dance, then this could be a major hurdle.  It's issues like this that can be hammered out in an order.

One word of warning:  since you've never had an official custody order, if your DH files, expect all hell can break loose with the BM.  That's not to say it wouldn't happen sooner or later anyway.  BM's like this sometimes get a burr in their saddle and personally I think she's capable of doing anything, including moving away with the child, whether you think she has the right to or not.  Right now, she can do anything she wants and you'd have to fight like hell to get her to stop.  But if you had an order and it stipulated that neither parent can move from the area (city, county, state, etc.) with the child unless certain provisions were made, if she tried, you could get her for contempt.  Much easier than starting from scratch.

I would strongly recommend journaling everything you can remember up to this point and showing and discussing it with a family law atty., preferably one who favors fathers, and see what their recommendation would be.  I think what you've seen with the BM is just the tip of the iceberg and it's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.  Having an order in place will hopefully keep the brakes on BM and give your SD better continuity, which it sounds like she desperately needs.
Handle every stressful situation like a dog........if you can't play with it or eat it, pee on it and walk away.......

 

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