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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!!!

Dear Socrateaser / Stepdad got DUI, kids were in the car
« on: Jun 21, 2006, 12:07:07 AM »
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.

Dear Socrateaser / Computer treaspassing by SS for Ex.....
« on: Jan 27, 2005, 12:11:08 PM »

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...
« on: 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!!  : )

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