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Author Topic: Going back to court?  (Read 5435 times)

mdegol

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Going back to court?
« on: Sep 26, 2009, 03:20:38 PM »
Hi Everyone,
I posted awhile back and got some great advice. I am in need again (prob won't be the last time). Sorry this is long.

So background is bf lives in Texas, I live in Mass. Very tense relationship (if you ask me, coming from them) much of which I believe originates in the new wife (she is very controlling).

So I had an issue a while ago where bf was constantly changing my pickup location, ultimately making it the airport, when our agreement state that transportation is shared to and from his hotel. Anyway, I ended up picking son up from airport since I wasn't going to not show up! That was my last post. So it just continued from there. They had pushed things as far as they could with the pickup, so now they worked on THEIR pickup, which up to this point was from my front door. They now wanted it at a local Starbucks, and I am sure would have kept getting further and further until I was picking up and dropping off at the airport (a stated intention of theirs). So I refused. They had to come to my home. They pushed it so far as to go to the Starbucks and wait until I called asking why they were late (this was father's day visit, the last visit) and they then came to my home.

So I KNEW something would happen today, the birthday visit, and there it was. Pickup went real well (we have started a picture book of them that I go through with son to help with transitions although they (bf & sm) initially refused to make it saying I wouldn't show it to son anyway) son didn't scream, upset but not terrified. So I thought things were ok, then I get a letter in mail from their lawyer saying that they are going to take me to court to modify about pickup and dropoff. Also, they had asked two weeks ago to visit for Halloween. They have not followed the schedule since we started (supposed to be every third weekend not specified further) this is five weeks after this birthday visit, and I am not even sure where else to count from since they have come so irregularly. I have always said yes, but this time I said we were busy and he could come weekend before or after. Nothing else. I received no response from email even after followup, but got this letter today. They count is as a third weekend from their first visit after court, but settlement doesn't specify how it is counted. I was thinking based on last visit, since there are 3 and 4 months between visits sometimes. Last year they took the Halloween weekend also and I had complained a little but said yes to the visit, so I am SURE that is why they even picked this weekend. So they didn't even try to protest or negotiate. Straight to court.

His lawyer is known for bleeding her clients which also bleeds me. So I was thinking to postpone getting a lawyer since the issue seems pretty small to me. I am not in contempt, if anything he is with the airport issue. If possible maybe even represent myself.

I would like to know what you think about the Halloween thing. It is not reasonable for me to have to be 100% flexible. If there was a history of me saying no a lot I would understand, but this is the FIRST time since child is born. Also, about meeting his lawyer. Any advice?

Oh, and I forgot to add, that they are also going to request that I not be there for these exchanges!! I have never done anything to deserve this beyond their claim that I say goodbye too long and do "nothing" to reassure son. I wasn't at one exchange due to work conflict (so my husband did it alone) and they complained about that. Now, I am not supposed to be there. For the record, I don't say good bye more than anyone else or more than they do when they give him back. Exchanges are less than a minute generally (again because they are running away usually!).

I am not trying to sound like an angel, but I have been pretty careful and have tried to not cause conflicts. I just haven't allowed them to completely push me around (although I have allowed quite a lot).

I was thinking to meet with her and let her bleed him a little, so they don't take me to court over stupid things, or too quickly as they are here.

Also, if I do have to go to court, if you have suggestions about arrangements. They want maximum flexibility, I guess so I can never say no even off schedule. They want lots of visitation just in case they want to come, but only come about 6 times per year (if followed schedule would have had 18 visits). Also, stepmom is vindictive (sent pics of their wedding in picture book for son) and a lot of these issues are coming from that (bf is a wimp). They get a generous cs reduction for travel (beased on 18 visits). And I have numerous nasty emails (written by her as though him) were they just generally insult me and belittle me. (Not have me at visit exchanges is an attempt at this).

Anyone have ideas???  How do you deal with people who just don't follow agreements anyway?(I suppose you would sell a book if you could answer ;) And constantly threaten court? And then try to turn it on you?

Seriously, I am sorry this is so long......


ocean

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Re: Going back to court?
« Reply #1 on: Sep 26, 2009, 03:34:14 PM »
Good idea to meet and talk to his lawyer..(make sure you make it a long visit! LOL). Tell the lawyer you have no issue with his client seeing child but his client has only taken 1/3 of his scheduled time to date. Show dates on a paper. Since he had Halloween last year, you can tell him you want child this year and already made plans, period. Ignore all the other stuff (threatening court, telling you that you cant be there...).

How are the 18 visits spelled out now in the court order? Stick to what it states regarding transportation and visits just like you did for the father's day visit. You pick up where it states, if they are not there or refuse to come, call police and get report and see what they can do to get child there.

mdegol

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Re: Going back to court?
« Reply #2 on: Sep 26, 2009, 04:03:13 PM »
Well, the idea with police is good, but I don't even know since it is supposed to be their hotel. They won't tell me its location.

I like that statement about only using 1/3 of visits. It is stated every third weekend (nothing more), Thanksgiving weekend alter, 4 Days week of Christmas with x-mas eve and day alternate, fathers day, birthday. If you count the visits in a one year period it is a max of 18 (including Thanksgiving). Since son's birthday last year came 6 times, Birthday, 3 regular weekends, father's day and Christmas. and He also could have taken for his wedding and opted not to (not counted in 18 visits). He has the option to extend the weekend visits one day if it is a holiday. He has never chosen an extended holiday weekend (weird). Now he gets 1 week 4 times per year (non-consec.) on top of rest and has not scheduled that yet either.

Flexibility works well, actually, if they just wouldn't be looking for trouble. I really just want to go on with my life and find a way to live with it. *sigh* So I put up with a little more than I should have. I think what happened is since last time they said they would be filing in court and then didn't, they don't want me to think they are always bluffing.

CuriousMom

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Re: Going back to court?
« Reply #3 on: Sep 26, 2009, 04:34:57 PM »
My son's fatherand his attorney do the same thing - there is no working on anything; I constantly receive demanding letters that this is what they want and in the next paragraph they've already filed something in court.  The letters are filled with demands based on his wants (and lies because he thinks this will help him in court - hasn't happened yet) and not what's in the best interests of my son.  As yours, mine wants to have whatever flexibility suits him and I'm suppose to drop everything and/or agree.  I follow our ordered schedule so my son isn't completely confused and has stability.  By following the ordered schedule both of us can plan accordingly for vacations and holiday's, etc.
 
Only utilizing 1/3 of his visitation speaks volumes, at least I think so.  If you're not going to use what you already have why do you need more?  In your favor, you've been extremely flexible and allow him to see his son and the fact that this Halloween does not work doesn't make you look bad.  If you're going to modify your CO have it explicity state where drop-off and pick-up's will be or have father required to provide you where he will be staying 7 days prior to his actual visit.  Although you can't dictate what he does with him when he has him, you have the right to know where he is staying while visiting with his father.  Now's the time to streamline the CO down even more to avoid this in the future.
 
 
 
 

ocean

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Re: Going back to court?
« Reply #4 on: Sep 26, 2009, 05:52:15 PM »
Does is say the third weekend (meaning the third weekend of the month)? OR every three weeks as of the court date?
Did the letter just threaten court or did they file? (You can call family court and see if papers were filed, in our state you can look it up on a website).
If they are bringing you back, then counter claim with: (or maybe send/have ready when you talk to his lawyer)...
a) Father refused to give mother hotel information for return visits. Mother requests a new set place, such as XYZ, at 6pm on the last day of fathers visit.
b) Mother requests that visitation be more defined as their is confusion as to when the 3 weekend shall be. Mother requests that the 3rd weekend be determined by the third friday of each month plus birthday and holiday vacation. Father must notify mother as of May 1st of each year, with the week long visit dates so she can make appropriate child care/activity arrangements in the summer.
c) As per fathers request, At pick-up, mother will send child out of the house with bag to car, father and guests will remain in car at street (driveway?) and father only will load child in. At drop-off, father only will let child out of car and allow child to walk to mom's car unassisted and mother will load child back into her car. (This keeps step mom away and not saying anything to you)
d)Father currently is getting a child care credit for the 18 visits plus summer visitation. In the past year he has only used 1/3 of this time. Mother is requesting child support be recalculated. Maybe add : If father uses all of his visits over the course of next year the amount will go back to XYZ.


mdegol

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Re: Going back to court?
« Reply #5 on: Sep 26, 2009, 06:49:40 PM »
Curious Mom-Do you represent yourself? Sounds like his attorney doesn't meet with you, just goes to court? If you do not, you must be having to pay many legal bills? Do you have a strategy to minimize them?

My mother is concerned that she will use statements against me, but I told her I am not arrested or anything, that it is not like criminally incriminating statements. She can't tape me without my knowledge and if it goes bad, I will just leave. I know mediation is confidential, but I don't know about conversation with the other lawyer to try to settle an issue. I assume they are not but at the same time, it is her word against mine.

I think the worst I might do is reveal too much of what I am thinking. Example: BF says that he wants me to go to the airport for pickup because it gives him an extra hour with son. Sounds good right? But the funny thing is he picks son up on Sat at 10am when the settlement states 9 am. I have never called him out on it because I don't want him to fix it. It belies his true intention, not to lengthen his visit as much as possible, but just to lengthen my DRIVE as much as possible. Think I can use that in court? Another time, I suggested taking a later flight out to get extra time (he returns son around 11:30 from airport instead of 10am as it was before when pickup was from his hotel, although he can have until 3pm) and he stated "Where is YOUR sacrifice in that?" Is this about my sacrifice or seeing son max possible?

Ocean- I love those suggestions. They are very helpful. Son is only 2, so he can't really do this unassisted for now, but would be good in future.

I consulted a different lawyer post-settlement and he was impressed by how vague the settlement is. His lawyer wrote and we amended it. As I have been trying to comply with it, this has been the major problem

Here is what it says exactly "The defendant shall have visitation as follows: Until age two, visits shall be in Massachusetts every third weekend from 9:00am on Saturday until 3pm on Sunday. If the weekend is followed by a Monday holiday, at the defendant's option the visit shall be extended to 3pm on Monday. The parties will be flexible in accommodating the defendant's travel arrangements and shall share transportation to and from the defendant's hotel."

Does that mean from the court date? From the very start, he visited the court date, then 10 weeks later, then 6 weeks later, Christmas, 5 weeks later, 3 months later...so on. I guess I was thinking from the last visit.

The letter threatened to go to court in 2 weeks if I do not respond. I know they didn't file because I checked yesterday, since i was suspicious when he wasn't replying to my email.

Notification is also a big deal so I really like the May 1st idea. We have no provisions as to notification, and that has been a problem. I don't know right now if they will take him for Thanksgiving this year, or Christmas, because last year he chose not to take Thanksgiving and chose not to have son Christmas eve and day. I wanted Thanksgiving and Christmas to alternate with each other too, but now that is messed up as well. Our settlement says every other Thanksgiving and alternating Christmas, but not how they relate to each other. And now it is getting to almost October and I don't know his plans. So that's one thing I will deal with when I meet his lawyer.

CuriousMom

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Re: Going back to court?
« Reply #6 on: Sep 27, 2009, 08:07:15 AM »
mdegol -
 
Yes, I have an attorney representing me with everything, he also helps me be reasonable at those times I lose my temper with everything.  I am extremely lucky, he's a great attorney who tells me how it is, what the norm is and tells me to prepare for what may happen - and he's not billing me to death.  I lucked out :-)  If you need to obtain one, do as much research as you can first, I found mine by word of mouth. 
 
Document everything, including any minimal conversation you would think wouldn't be important.  I do this for every drop-off and pick-up, including times he picked up and I picked up so there is no question.  Document those visits where he doesn't take him at the scheduled time and picks him up later.  I have a similiar situation, let me not follow the CO to the T and I'm right back in court but it's ok when he doesn't follow it to the T.  I know it is supposed to be what is in the best interest of the child and I try to keep that in the forefront but after awhile I think you have to put your foot down to stop being taken advantage of. If your CO says 9 am then he should adjust his flights accordingly - fly in the night before, etc. 
 
I've never heard of both parents using the same attorney, I'm suprised his attorney would allow this due to a conflict of interest.  Me personally, there is no way I would use his attorney!  As hard as it is, keep a level head and do not say anything that will come back to haunt you.  I know how extremely hard it can be. 
 
Like Ocean said, you really need to have your CO explicity state what his visitation is.  From my experience, whatever schedule was given is what was followed immediately unless decided otherwise and was understood by all parties.  Our temporary CO started the same day and so did the final order that is still being contested by my son's father.  We, being me, father and our attorney's agreed that our final order would start 2 days later than the judge's ruling.  Sounds to me like it's an every 3 week rotation, not every 3rd week of the month.  Your CO needs modified to include all those little details or it's left to each paren'ts interpretation.
 
 Did your son's father decide to move away? 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

mdegol

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Re: Going back to court?
« Reply #7 on: Sep 28, 2009, 12:02:03 PM »
Prior to son's birth is when I moved, but it was after he told me to move back by my family and he didn't want to have any relationship with the child. So I moved and he changed his mind about involvement shortly after birth, and about me moving a couple of months after that, but I was already gone a few months. This is all in a very explicit emails from him.

The first year he saw son 6 times (most of which took place during court case which lasted 7 months). After we legally set visitation that he requested, the second year he also came 6 times (more spread out this time). He had said that he would visit every 3 weeks and got a child support reduction based on that amount of visits.  I agreed to the deduction because I do want him to visit frequently, since it is very bad for my son that there is so much space in between visits (he forgets his father so it is always a traumatic). So I agreed to it to encourage him to visit (although he makes more than $100K a year and could do it in either case). He was probably just asking for this intense visitation schedule to get a big deduction. There has never been less than 5 weeks between visits and as long as 3 months.

Well anyway, most of his complaints are about money rather than not being able to see son a lot. Which I guess is showing what is really bothering him. (PS Won't pay medical either and will argue with me about $5.00, and this weekend was son's birthday and he didn't let son keep any presents. How do people feel about that? I think it isn't very nice. Son doesn't understand now but will soon and it will hurt him! Same was true for last christmas and last birthday. He must think I will play with the toys!)

CuriousMom

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Re: Going back to court?
« Reply #8 on: Sep 28, 2009, 01:01:09 PM »
I'm in an extremely similiar situation - it's all about the money, and it's not me being all about the money it's him.  I've only ever asked to pay what he was suppose to according DR medical policy - he wanted to put $98 in arrears but he has enough money to take me back to court every other month.  Go figure.

How was court?  We have a trial scheduled for the end of October and I'm not sure what to expect.  I've been through several pre-trial conferences and I think the judge is finally sick of his request  and said fine, he'll give him a trial.
 
That is way too long for your son not to see him.  For your son's sake he should try to maintain more contact than that.  It's sad for the child.

mdegol

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Re: Going back to court?
« Reply #9 on: Sep 29, 2009, 05:44:53 PM »
Well, for me, court was very anti-climatic. In my case, it seemed like the judge kind of knew how he was going to rule. It didn't follow the exact protocol that one might expect. So I didn't get a normal experience I think. That was in Texas. In Mass, I settled before going to court to just get it over with. Also, what is interesting here is the judges almost always take whatever issue is brought before then under advisement, and you get the ruling a week later in the mail. This is to avoid emotional outbursts. I guess it depends on the judge and the way things are generally done in your state. What state are you in? Let me know how it goes for you.
Anyway, I guess I am going to get a lawyer in the end. I have a meeting scheduled next Tues with one. I am waiting to hear from a couple of others. I don't think I need the grief of trying to deal with this by myself...

 

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