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Author Topic: Ex Wife refuses to bring our son to counseling because she is too busy - MASSACH  (Read 6650 times)

csneed1972

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I was wondering inf anyone out there can help me with information on how to handle a difficult issue I have with my ex wife. 

We have been separated since my son was 3 years old and he is now 8, almost 9.  As he has grown up he has had some issues with anger and fixation on certain issues and we both agree that he needs counseling.  I now live 1500 miles away in Kansas and visit every couple of months and then he and his older sister spend the summers with me while not in school.  After last summer and working very hard with my son to manage his issues I then started looking for therapists back in Massachusetts that he could visit so that he could recieve the help he needs.  My ex-wife and her new husband along with my current wife all agreed that we were going to get him in counseling and stay in constant contact about his care, this however lasted less than 2 months after he returned from teh summer with me.  My ex wife ket moving appointments that I had made for his with the therapist and then told me that it was too much for her to bring him becasue she has two younger children with her new husband that are under 2.  It was so difficult to deal with her that my mother would drive 2.5 hours one way just to bring my son to an appointment that was less than 10 minutes from his house.

After Christmas when my mother went on an extended vacation to Florida my ex wife stopped bringing him all together to his appointments saying that he was doing better. 

Unfortunately he has been struggling more and more lately and I recieved cals from my ex wife 3-4 times a week to calm him down and to help him.  I have told my ex-wife and her new husband that I truly believe that it would be in the best interest of my son for him to move here with me so I can help him get the help he needs. 

My ex says that there is no way that she will let him move to KS with me mostly because of the loss of support and then also because of the distance but she is not giving him the care that he needs.  Now we have joint custody so we have equal share of responsility for his medical care but I can not make her bring him to his appointments.  which brings me to my question

Is there any legal precendent in Massachusetts where a non custodial parent can legally make the other parent take a child to medical apoointments, and if not then what do I do to begin the process of changing the parental orders with the court to have my kids move in with me?


ocean

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You could get the counseling court ordered, but that would require you asking for a hearing and coming to court to get it ordered.
How is he doing in school? Is he having outbursts at school? Keep in contact with teachers and ask for report cards. For now, can he get counseling in school? At least it will be something. If there is a history with school behavior then you can go back to court and ask that he go to court ordered counseling with a certified child psych. Make sure it is stated that it will be a certified counselor.

It sounds like your ex needs rules and consequences at home. You can not change the ex's parenting ways. It will be very hard to get a custody change. What if you offered to keep paying some support but have him come for one school year? Being that far away it is hard to get involved in every day issues at her home. Can you talk to his medical dr if you think there is more to this? Between the school and dr you should get more answers about if this is an issue in her home or outside too.

csneed1972

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Thank you for your thoughts.  He has had some outbursts at school and has atcually been the subject of some bullying this year for the first time which I have spoken to the teachers and principle about.  After the last report card period I contacted the school and requested that I recieve a copy of his report card because no matter how many times I requested to see it, it would never be produced.

My biggest problem is that this is a pattern forming where my son is not getting the attention that he needs.  My daughter is 13 now and she is the oldest but has some activities after scholol and neighborhood friends that take up most of her free/play time.  My son however is not in any after school programs because my ex wife has repeatedly said that she does not have time to bring him to the practices etc because of the two babies she has at home.  My daughter is in softball this spring but replies primarily on her friends parents to bring her to practices and games. 

My son CRAVES attention and needs to be able to participate in sports or other proects but has constantly been shot down because of a lack of time.

He seems to only respond well to me when he is having a hard time or while in the throws of an outburst so I receive calls from my ex constantly demanding that I talk to him and tell him to behave etc. 

If it is so difficult for her to deal with him and the two new babies then I will gladly take custody of him, something that I have repeatedly told them I wanted but that seems to make it more of a reason to not let me obtain custody.

I am very nervous that we are getting to an point with him that if he does not get the help that he needs he will be lost and it seems that although my ex says she agrees she is not willing to do what it would take to get him the help he needs. 

ocean

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Call the school and see if there are any programs right after school, at the school that he can get involved in. Maybe boy scouts or a club? Many programs here use the schools after school. Since it happens at school too, ask if they have social groups (taking turns, being a good friend) and maybe can take him once a month by himself to check in on him. You can make a behavior chart with him and ex. If he has a good week, he can earn things. If he has a bad day, the consequence is listed so ex knows exactly what to take away. It is her house though....

It is VERY VERY hard to get a custody change if ex is not willing to send him to you. Courts will not do it, plus you are not in same state AND there is siblings in her house. That is a lot to go against. Family court really does not have common sense.

Ask the school if he has any discipline reports. As his father, you are allowed by LAW to get copies of everything in his perm record folder, attendance, and copies of his emergency cards. Some schools have all of this online with a special password given to parents.


Kitty C.

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What kind of rapport do you have with the school?  Is there anyone there whom you can talk to easily, ie. child's teacher, counselor, principal?  If so, ask to set up a telephone meeting (so that when you do talk to them, they can devote their full attention to the conversation) regarding your child.  Ask about discipline issues, if they've discussed this with your ex and how often that's happened.
 
School personnel are '3rd party observers', meaning that they have no emotional attachment to the situation.  They are your best bet to back you up on this, because right now, you have very little to go on.  Absolutely demand to see his records....if there is enough info in there, it will be extremely useful if you need to take this all the way to court.  One thing to keep in mind, tho....they also have to be willing to testify to back up their records.
 
Info in the school records you should be looking for:  contact w/BM to discuss issues, BM informing them she is taking care of it, any lack on her part to follow through, any discussion on the school's part about BM's refusal to seek help for child, any suggestions they have regarding help for the child...I think you get the picture.  Have you received copies of records from the few times he DID attend counseling?  If not, get them.  If you have to request in writing, include certified copies of the CO and his birth certificate. 
 
If, at any point, the school or counselor refuse to provide you with those records, remind them that they are required to by law AND, if they fail to produce them, you will be required to have them subpoenaed.  It's better for them to do it willingly and they know it.
 
This case is pulling at me......because my son was at that threshold at one point.  From personal experience, I feel obligated to give you one more piece of advice.  If there would come a time that some sort of residential treatment is strongly recommended, you might find yourself between a rock and a hard place.  DS got to that point (via recommendation of his child psychologist) and what he needed at that time was WAY too expensive for me.  We're talking one year of residential treatment for the exhorbitant price of TWO 4-year degrees.  As it is, I sent him for 2 months to a wilderness therapy camp, only to find out we got the cart before the horse...and now I will be paying for the next 20 years for a 2 mo. program that cost $30,000.  A few months after that, he was in juvenile detention...where they did a psych eval. and determined he needed residential tx. (duh)...and they placed him in tx. via CO (and paid for by the state) for 6 months.  It really needed to be for a year, but by then we'd run out of time...he turned 18.
 
Prior to one of the juvenile court hearings, I told his probation officer (whom I wouldn't want to cross on a good day) that if I had know what it would take to get my son help, I would have told him to break the law a LONG time ago.  Food for thought.......
Handle every stressful situation like a dog........if you can't play with it or eat it, pee on it and walk away.......


csneed1972

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I would like to start off by saying thank you all for your words and advice.  I did not know that there was anywhere for a non custodial father to turn and try to get help. 

My son pulls at my heartstrings because he is such an amazingly kind and compassionate young man that one minute can be very helpful and caring and then something can set him off and he is gripped with anger and frustration at not knowing how to deal with it. 

As sad as it is for me to admit this I am under no false illusion that I would win any kind of custody battle with my ex especially given the state of Massachusetts is such a pro maternal state when it comes to custody amongst the many other strikes I have in this case.  I just want to force her to get him the help he needs.  From 1500 miles away I called and arranged evaluations of therapists, interviewed a half dozen of them before choosing one that seemed as i they would be able to help us, I attended all the appointments remotely via phone when the therapist thought it would be helpful, I kept in constant contact with the therapist, the BM did none of this, she called me the morning of his first appointment, 3 hours before he was supposed to be there and said that she did not feel good and could not bring him.  this happened two more times before my mother, who is just as invested in my sons mental health, offered to drive 120 miles one way in order to make sure he made it to his appointments.  She did this 4 times before Christmas and then after the holidays went on an extended vacation to Florida and we quickly went back to my ex not being available to bring him to the appointments.

My son asked his mother soon after the holidays when he was going back to see the therapist and she told him that he did not need to go anymore because he was doing so much better.  His BM I forgot to mention earlier has been on prescription anti depressants for the last 15 years but follows that vicious cycle of taking them until she feels better and then deciding she does not need them any more, until she crashes and realizes that she needs them again.....

In this type of a situation would the courts mandate her to take him to the therapist if I forced the issue?

Kitty C.

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It's a crap shoot.....they could go either way.  Which is why you need all the ammo you can get.
 
Let me ask you this:  when BM calls you because she can't handle him, have you ever been tempted to tell her, 'If you took him to the therapy he NEEDS, you might not have this problem'?  Lord only knows what kind of reaction you'd get, but it would be interesting.
 
Another thing to keep in mind.  Have you ever talked to your son about what to do if things really get out of hand between him and BM?  Does he or can he call you?  Or is it only BM?  If she does, maybe a better response would be to ask her the question, 'I'm 1500 miles away, do you need me to call the police or CPS to help you?'  I bet that would be like a glass of cold water in her face!  Or if you've talked to him and you have a strong suspicion things aren't right, you can call the local law enforcement (I personally recommend the sheriff's office over police) and ask to have a 'welfare check' be done.  You tell them your concerns and why you think something is going on and how you feel your child might be in danger (either to himself or others).  If they were to arrive and they determine it to be a dangerous situation for your son, they have the authority to remove him from the residence.  And even if they don't find an emergent situation, it will put BM on notice that she is being watched.   Just make sure when you make the initial call that you have joint custody and be prepared to fax them the CO if they ask.
 
The bottom line here is until someone of higher authority tells her she HAS to do it (and can put their money where their mouth is, like LE, CPS, and the school because they can report neglect, too), she won't lift a finger for him.
 
'My son pulls at my heartstrings because he is such an amazingly kind and compassionate young man that one minute can be very helpful and caring and then something can set him off and he is gripped with anger and frustration at not knowing how to deal with it.'  You could be talking about my son....except his situation was started with ADHD and fueled by an absent father who died when he was 13 and a step-father who didn't 'get it' right away.  He, too, dealt with a lot of anger and frustration.  But in the case of your son, as he gets older, this will just become more and more difficult. 
 
Gather as much documentation that you can now and keep gathering it.  Were those phone calls with the therapist recorded?  If so, pay to have them legally transcribed....you can't do it yourself and have it be admissible in court.  I can only imagine how difficult it must be to deal with this from 1500 miles away.  And I hate to be so dire, but you WILL lose him if something isn't done to stop the spiral.  BM needs a really strong wake-up call and/or turn over custody to you. 
 
Just remember this:  if you do have to go to court, ALWAYS ask for more than what you want or think you can get.  Which means if you do have to file for changes in custody, absolutely ask for primary physical with visitation to her.  Ocean suggested paying CS for a year while you have him....good idea, as you can also petition the court to revisit the custody situation after one year to see how your son is doing.  If there's a big turn-around (and I don't see why there wouldn't be!), the court may make it permanent and tell her she pays CS now.  Just don't expect her to comply.
 
And don't hesitate to PM me if you have questions or concerns, too.

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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