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My husband, myself and our daughter (12) have been living abroad for the past 6 months due to my husbands 2 year job assignment.

Marriage was very rocky before the move, however I was hopeful the new environment might help.  Sold the house, put everything else in storage and moved. The marriage has worsened to the point where I would like to return to US.  Daughter does not know I am considering this, but has asked if we could "go home early" and has mentioned that "Dad seems mad all the time and it's kinda scary".   She loves her Dad very much, and he loves her.  There is no physical abuse, but he can be bullying and controlling, and you never really know what will set it off.  We tried counseling for many years, however, no significant improvement for any length of time.

My thought was to allow her to finish the school year and return then. If I return and file, I assume that I would file in the state (CA) and county were we previously lived for 15 years?  This is where we would reside on return.

As husband would still be living out of the country for another year, would my daughter be obligated to fly alone to visit? 

Would filing while husband is still abroad provide any advantages for me (custody issues, etc.) or might this be viewed by the court negatively?

Any advise would be appreciated. 

Thank you very much.
Hello all you wise parents,

I have an odd one for you ......In the begining of the year, my ex sent me an email asking me what I would be able to contribute to our sons college education.   I replied that I had saved up about 5k, but that was all the cash I had for college.  However, I also stated that I would continue to provide all our sons medical, dental and auto insurance; clothing; food; gas.  Our son is 18 now and goes back and forth as he pleases.

My ex then had a face to face discussion with ds and offered him 100k for college or a start up company.  He was trying to get him to do the start up, but after weighing all his options our son decided on college.  He applied, was accepted.  We all toured the school, and he signed up for his classes.  I sent the first years payment on the dorm out of the 5k.  Now, one month before school starts his dad sits down with our son and says that due to the fact that he was required to pay me child support all these years, he feels that I should have more to contribute than 5k.  He feels it is only "fair" that I pay half (even though I provide all the living expenses as listed above).  He wrote out a much exagerated list of CS payments that he had made and showed our son, claiming he is an adult now "and needs to know these things".  Son said he felt his dad was tryinig to make him feel guilty or feel sorry for him.  Ex then told him was no longer offering him 100k, and now unless he can get me to pay half, he will not pay for his college.  Son was placed in an impossible middle position with college hanging over his head unless he could get me to "find the money".  Ex then sent me an email stating that unless I paid half I don't care about our sons education.

Our son is crushed and I am just shocked he would do this - especially a month before classes begin. I feel like he's using our sons college as a ransom of sorts and it doesn't sit well with me. 

Any advise before I have to respond to his demand?   Thanks!!!
Hi Soc,

We are in Ca. and have joint legal and physical.  

We asked for physical last year at trial after ex (mom) disagreed with mediators recommendation that custody should go to dad.  Ex is an alcoholic as is her current husband.  We were not able to convince the  judge, but we did get a clause adopted in our court order which states parents must be clean and sober 12 hours prior to and during custody time and chldren will not be transported by anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol while in their care.

Well, stepdad recently got a dui (two counts, one for dui one for excessive blood alcohol).  Kids were in the car.  Kids didn't tell us and neither did mom.  Infact, she doesn't know we know yet.

In addition, son, 15, is in treatment for alcohol and drug addiction himself.  Mom refuses to permit him to enter in-patient treatment.which has been recommended by his counselor.  We would like to obtain legal custody so we can get him help.  

We asked for physical custody in trial, but unfortunately judge believed mom when she said she doesn't drink anymore.  In reality, both mom and stepdad drink everyday.  Judge went with moms request for 50/50 over mediators recommendation for dad primary.

1.  How best can we use this awful situation (and serious violation of our court order) to better protect the kids?

2. Is the fact that they were in the car and endangered in this manner enough to go back and actually get legal custody? Or ask to change physical again?  

Any suggestions would be really appreciated.

Thanks so much.

Hi Soc,

We have joint legal and joint physical in Ca.  Fifteen year old son has drug and alcohol addiction.  Has been in counseling 6 mo. after overdose in Oct. and ER visit.  I asked his mom (my ex) at that time to allow him to enter a treatment program after his overdose (I would pay), but she refused to "send him away" and would only agree to counseling.  In addition, she told son that "your father wants to send you away" which has alienated him from me and given him cause to act out even more

Yesterday his counselor urged us to enter him into a wilderness program as his addiction is worsening (failed freshman year, continuing drugs and drinking while at moms unsupervised).  Ex refuses.  

In addition she signed him up for drivers training without informing me or his counselor.  Counselor  and I had an agreement with son that he would need to be sober for at least 4 mo. prior.  He is not.  (In my opinion her own alcoholism is causing this denial or refusal to act to protect our son, but that is an opinion.  I can't figure out why she would want him behind the wheel of a car or not getting better if not that).

I was unsuccessful in obtaining more than 50/50 in a custody bid last year.  

1. Do I need to get legal custody so I can get my son in treatment?  Or perhaps just legal custody over this issue?  The counselor has said he will do whatever it takes to help including appearing, if necessary.

2. What would be your advise on how to get some control here so I can protect my son?  (We have a younger son as well, 13, who is starting down this road as well.)

Any help would be very much appreciated Soc.  I am so frustrated.

Hello Soc,

I am in CA and share joint physical and joint legal.  Son is 14 and has a history of alcohol and drug use when in moms custody.  He overdosed recently.   This wasn't the first time, but this time she took him to the ER as he was shaking and foaming at the mouth.  His blood alcohol was .22  He is diabetic as well.

I believe we almost lost him this time and know there WILL be a next time if nothing changes.  I want to put him in a rehab program or wilderness program and I'm willing to pay.  

Ex is dead-set against this.  In fact, she immediately told our sone that I'm  trying to "send him away to military school" and  polarized this issue further.  She stated that she doesn't want son to be mad at her.  She will only agree to counseling of a counselor she chooses.

I believe she is in denial due to her own alcohol issues or is afraid of how this will be perceived.  We just finished a custody trial 6 months ago and it was a horrible experience for everyone, but mostly the kids.  I raised these issues in trial, but ex lied to downplay.   Is there something I can do legally to intervene for my boy here?  

Thank you very much for any advice.

DH was granted primary custody on a temp. basis 3 months ago.  We had a hearing scheduled for today to either make it perm. or make changes.  Kids are doing much better in school, etc. so we are hopeful it will become perm.  Mom is fighting to go back to prevl. plan.

Last night DH noticed legal computer files were missing.  14 yr old SS admited he got into DH's computer, found legal files, called his mom and told her what docs he found.  He said she asked him find anything "incriminating on her", then print out docs then delete them from DH's computer.  She also asked him to remember how to do this again for later.  SS complied and printed out some legal docs for her.

So questions:

Aside from feeling violated and betrayed by SS willingness to do as mom asks in all this, is there anything here we can write up for opposing counsel or Judge?  Or is this common dirty tricks stuff?

Mom admited to treapassing into our home previously using younger son to gain admitance so there is a documented history here in the current order.

Is there anything we can do?

Dear Socrateaser / Question custody order...
Nov 11, 2004, 07:58:53 PM
Soc, on the off chance you may feel the urge to check your messages...
a question for you.

Dad had primary physical custody granted (joint legal) with an order to return in 3 months to "see how things are going".  The impression everyone got was that the judge may keep things the same or go back to 50/50 based on how the kids were doing.  Dad getting custody was based on the mediators report.  Mom fought it to trial.

My questions are these:

In your experience, when a judge grants a custody change on a temporary basis what types of change is he looking for that would lead to a decision to return to a previous custody timeshare (which was 50/50)?

Have you seen this done and what was the order upon return?

Thanks for
Hi Soc,

We are in Ca.  Mediation report came back recommending "sole physical custody to Father. Visitation to mother" (the timeshare works out to be about 70% dad/30% mom).  Joint legal.  Mother opposes and trial date looms near.

Mother stated that she would settle if the agreement was reworded to "joint physical with father having custody 70% and mother having custody 30%". Joint legal.

What is the legal benefit to keeping the wording state "sole physical custody" if the timeshare spilt is still 70/30?

I realize there is an emotional reaction here on her part, but would I be foolish to consider re-wording this report after 3 years getting to this point?


Background: Mediation report came back recommending dad should have custody with visitation to mom of one night per week and eow.  

Reasons stated were mothers DUI while children were in her custody, many agressive boyfriends, children witnessing abuse, many, many moves, poor choices, etc.  

Mom would not agree to adopt report and has insisted on a trial and has refused all settlement offers.  Judge ordered her to undergo alcohol testing before returning for trial.

Now, like a scene right out of a movie, someone close to mom approached dad out of concern for kids with info that mom has been driving while intoxicated again, but this time with children in vehicle.  

In addition, she has had two small accidents due to drinking (one while children were with her - neither of which were reported to police) and that on one occassion mom forgot to pick up child due to her drinking.  

Prior to this info we had intended to try again to settle prior to trial.  Now we feel that this info is credible, most of it first hand and should be put before the judge and attempts be made to protect the children.

However, we don't have a lot of hard"proof" other than the potential testimony of the parties involved and mom's previous issues with alcohol being noted in mediation report and at recent hearing.  

I know this is a bit of a crystal ball question, but Soc, in your experience:

How likely would it be that the judge might act to make moms visitation supervised, order treatment or otherwise change the mediation report due to the recent events?

How best to use this new information to protect the kids?

Any thoughts around this would be greatly appreciated!!  : )

Hello there,

Currently we have 50/50, CA. We had positive medition report with recommendation of physical custody to dad 70/30, legal 50/50. Mom objected to report and trial date was set.  

After interview, mediator is sticking to their report. My husband feels if we offer to keep CS at current rate (based on 50/50) she will settle now as this will give her a way to still "win".  

I think she will settle anyway, due to the looming public exposure of her "issues" at trial.  However the expense of a trial is something we want to avoid.


1.  In your experience, is stipping to keep CS at a higher rate a valid, common tool for pre-trial settlement?

2. Should we wait and offer less now, and wait to toss in CS as big gun closer to trial?

3.  Could this be done with a clause that if mother continues to litigate without real "change of circumstance" the offer is discontinued?

4. And finallly, since we are in the stronger position with regard to the report, should we offer to settle at all, or wait to see if they ask us?

I guess I'm looking for your input on the upside/downside of this plan.

Thank you so much!  

You offer such a valuable resource for all of us!  And I want you to know how much I, and I'm sure ALL of those who frequent SPARC, thank you so much for your advice and wisdom!!  : )


We have a mediation report in our favor.  Mom objected to new recommended timeshare (70/30 dad).  Report was adopted, with summer timeshare for now (50/50).  Trial date set.

In her financial info which we subpoened we found two points of interest...

One, that she had a separate bank account which was used for deposits and she under-reported her taxable income by $25k both to us on her I & E and the IRS on her tax return.  

And two, she falsely claimed she was single in 2003 to claim Head of Household and she was not (her latest divorce was final in '04).  She also falsely claimed son lived with her "full time" in '03 (it was 50/50) for renters credit.

Also, this new info would change her income substantially if considered for CS purposes - but we don't really want to highlight the money issue, but instead her willingness to lie to the court (and the IRS).

1.  How best can we use the financial info we discovered?

Thanks a bunch for your thoughts!!  

We completed a hearing to review mediators report for custody. It was favorable toward Dad and he wanted report adopted as is.  

Mom objected, mostly to school year timeshare where report called for kids with Dad during the week due to her poor choices and toll it has taken on kids.  (70-30 proposed for schoolyear)

Becuase of her objection, the report was adopted for summer timeshare (50-50) and no other changes.  Trial date was set.

In addition Mom was ordered to undergoing testing for possible adiction and it was strongly suggested that she take classes to quell domestic violence children have been witness to repeadedly in her care.

1. I know you don't have a crystal ball, but considering the report was adopted, at least temporarily, and there was an awareness by the judge of Mom's "issues", how best might we avoid the expense of a trial and get her to settle at pre-conference?

Thanks so much for any advice!



We received the recommendation from the mediator for physical custody in her report with visitation to mother.  

Hearing is 3 weeks away.  Mother is now attempting to stall by hiring a new attorney and asking for a continuance so the new attorney can ramp up.  We do not want a continuance.  We want the report adopted first, then she can readdress with her new lawyer at a later date if desired.  

We are in Ca.  How likely is it that her stall tactic will work?

Thank you very much for your input.
Hello there,

We have spent the past 2 years obtaining an order to return to mediation (for custody changes) in California. We have had a date on the calendar for the past 2 months.  So today my ex calls and says she is pushing it out - again.  

Are there rules regarding changing mediations dates?  I'm frustrated.


Custody Issues / How to handle this one??
Apr 13, 2005, 04:05:04 PM
Background: Dad was granted primary physical custody last year.  This was done on a temporary basis, but it's been over 7 months now.  Mom has had difficultly accepting this.  She stated in front of both attorneys and DH that "she will never agree to it and won't accept it".

Even though we have been careful to include her contact info on all emergency cards at school and doctors office, this has not been good enough.  She has taken it upon herself to go to the school and create new cards for each child, listing herself and her new husband as contact for  "child lives with" and using her phone numbers as contacts.  Dad has been put down as "emergency contact when parents not available". In addition, she listed DH's phone number incorrectly on the school card.  

At the doctors office, for which DH provides sole insurance coverage through his employer, she changed the contact information again listing her address only .  I found this out because the doctors office called our home and asked for her by name, as they had a test result for SS and couldn't reach "her" at her other numbers.  She has also called DH's insurance directly and changed SS dentist without our knowledge or consent.  When DH has spoken to her about this her response has been "they are my children and I am entitled to make any changes I see fit".  It is very frustrating.  

Anyone else have this issue with your ex?  Any thoughts on how to deal with this with the doctors office, etc.  Aren't there HIPA laws concerning privacy which should come into play here?  I need the knowledge from those who have walked this one before.

Thanks very much!
Hi all,

We have learned through a reliable source that ss has been smoking pot and drinking while in moms custody (she provides little supervision).  We are due to return for hearing in 2 months to assess how custody is going.  Obviously we first want ss safe and not associating with his current peer group; but second, how do we actually document this type of behavior for the judge?  Doesn't seem like we can just "say it" as we need to have proof?  SS admits to nothing.  Mom denies he "would ever do such a thing", especially while in her care.

Anybody dealing with this?  Any help is appreciated.

Custody Issues / Question on temp custody order
Nov 11, 2004, 08:16:17 PM
Hi all,

Dad got primary physical custody granted (yea!) with an order to return in 3 months to "see how things are going" (boo!).

The impression we got was that the judge may keep things the same or go back to 50/50 based on how the kids were doing. Dad getting custody was based on the mediators report. Mom fought it to trial.

When a judge grants a custody change on a temporary basis what types of change is he looking for that would lead to a decision to return to a previous custody timeshare (which was 50/50)?

Anyone have experience with this type of order??

Hi Everyone,

We just received the report from evaluator, and due to the mother's troubled lifestyle and poor parenting she recommended giving dad physical custody and mom visitation.  We are thrilled! While we are pleased that dads concerns were heard and validated with the recommendation we are wondering what happens next? We have a hearing date coming up.  Does the judge always/usually/sometimes adopt the mediation recommendations?  What can be done to stall or prevent the recommendation from being adopted by opposing counsel?  If the mother changed attorney's, would she automatically get to post- pone the hearing date?  

We would like to take a moment and be pleased, but feel that until it is adopted by the court, we aren't safe.  

What is your experience getting a recommendation adopted.  We are in California BTW.


We are in the middle of custody mediation.  I see many posts referring to custody evaluations, but not custody mediation.  It took two years to actually get to this point, due to mom's stalling and refusal's.  

From the very first session, before even meeting the children, the mediator stated that she is "hesitant to change the current order" which is 50-50.  She is still stating the same thing, even after many sessions.

This leads me to think that custody mediation is designed to get to 50-50 as "the ultimate goal" and since we have it, there is nothing short of something horrific that will make a mediator actually recommend a change.

Has anyone had the experience where a mediator actually recommended a change from 50-50? (this is California).

Thanks for your input and wisdom.  My patience is wearing thin......