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Newbie looking for advice

Started by ValentineMommy, Jan 13, 2004, 03:14:52 PM

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Hi all... my name is Joy. I am a 24 year old mother of a 23 month old little boy living in California. My ex and I separated in September of 2002 and things have been hectic off and on. I have a few problems with my ex and am wondering if anyone can offer advice.

My ex has visitation with my son Kyle every other weekend (friday thru tuesday) This is not the court ordered visitation... my ex and I verbally changed it because his work schedule changed.

I take Kyle to his dad's house every other friday, and when his father brings him back to me on Tuesdays Kyle is exhausted, dirty, and hungry. I have brought these issues up with my ex and he has explained that Kyle refuses to eat the majority of the time in his father's care, and he doesn't nap either. He has never given me an excuse for the bathing issue.

When I take Kyle to his dad's he kicks and screams and begs me (the best that he can) that he doesn't want to go. I explain to him that daddy loves and misses him and that hes going to have fun... but all he does is cry and hold onto me.

My ex has made it very clear that he uses physical measures to discipline our son. For instance, on Monday night he told me that one night Kyle refused to pick up something he threw, so his father hit him in the head with a newspaper. Just a few weeks ago his father (I will refer to him as Mr. X) told me that when Kyle uses foul language he slaps him in the mouth. Mr. X said that when Kyle is running around and is super hyper he "grabs his arm and squeezes until he calms down". He has also said that he has "spanked his butt very hard and then put him to bed for the night" for playing with a remote control for the T.V.

Kyle has come home 5 of the last 8 visits with a runny nose and cough; when I dropped him off he was perfectly healthy. I asked Mr. X to give me insight as to why he thinks Kyle is getting sick so often and he suggested it might be because he turns the heat off at night to keep his gas bill down.

There are many other issues which I won't get into unless someone asks (I don;t want to make this any longer than it is) My question is, is there anything I can do to force Mr. X to go to parenting classes? Can I take this information to a court and will they be "on my side" or will I seem like a disgruntled exwife? I am in no way out to harm my ex, and I certainly wouldn't want to take Kyle away from his father, I just want things to improve.

Anyones suggestions would be very appreciated.


You sound like a very caring and loving mother.  Do you happen to have a court ordered visitation schedule?  If so, how long have you not gone by it?  

I would suggest:

1.  Take child to your pediatrician for a check up.
2.  Take pictures of your child upon immediate return from dads.

Does dad smoke? If so, does he smoke around him?  Can you send pre-prepared meals for the little one that dad can just heat up for him?

I would also suggest changing the visitation to this if you live in the same town:

Fri evening to Sat evening every week.  Mon. eve to Tues eve. every week.  This ensures that the child is well fed between visits as well as bathed, and dad can still have access until he either 1) goes to parenting classes or 2) matures

If dad argues, just tell him of your concerns and that you feel a judge would be concerned as well.  Perhaps less time for long periods is the answer, and see how short, more frequent trips work.  

Its worth a try.  What do you think?


I'm not very good at this, but I can somewhat relate...my daughter is almost six and when she visits her Dad, she also comes home filthy and hungry and not dressed well.  She has asthma, and he smokes around her.

I would suggest not letting the little boy stay for such an extended period.  I would let him go for a night one week and another night the next week.  I would also do what is said above...take pictures of the child when he returns and DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT.  You will hear that alot here....keep track of everything, write it down...and maybe go see a lawyer for a free consultation, just for some advice.  

Do you have a court ordered visitation schedule?  If so, what is it?

I feel for you and you sound like you are very worried, as you should be.  The child is only 23 months old, and his father is taking some severe disciplinary action for his age...document that as well.  As for turning the heat off at night to save on a gas bill...I don't think I can even comment on that, it makes me so mad...how irresponsible is that??  

Does your ex pay child support?

Good luck


Unfortunately I can't really split the visits up as suggested since my ex lives an hour away. He also works nights, so he wouldn't be able to do overnight visitation during the week. He wouldn't go for it anyway, and I really don't wanna go back to the old order (and he will definately pull rank and go back to that if I start taking charge) Our old order is every week, Monday night thru Thursday morning. We agreed on this in mediation before actual visitation had started, so I never had any idea it would be like this.

He does pay child support, his wages were garnished. He only pays $50/wk though, since the support order is based on the old custody order, which shows he pretty much has him 40% of the time. I know I have to go back to refile for custody and support, I am just afraid of his retaliation acts; I am afraid he is going to take it out on Kyle.

I have been documenting everything. I have a journal on my home PC where I document all conversations, conditions before and after visitation etc. I take pictures when there is something wrong.

Last spring Kyle came home with finger shaped bruises on his arm and a larger bruise on his bottom. This happened just about 2 weeks after his father told me he "squeezed his arm until he stopped misbehaving" so I was rather concerned. I took pictures and kept them on my PC but didn't call CPS or the police. I spoke to Mr. X about the bruises and he said that they must have been from me because he never would do anything like that.

Last summer Kyle came home with a severe sunburn, 1st and 2nd degree over 75% of his body. I took several pictures of this, and took him to his pediatrian. His doctor didn't file a report with CPS on her own (which I believe she should have) so I did. I called CPS to report Mr. X, not for abuse but for neglect. They told me there was nothing they could do but talk to him; they wouldnt make a report or anything. They said it wasn't abuse, it was negligence, and they can't act on that. The police told me the same thing. When I brought up the bruises they told me that those were not actionable either because A) they can't use my pictures, I have to have the police take them, and B) because he is a toddler and is subject to fall and could have gotten the bruises himself.

I am pretty much at a loss. Like I have said before I love my son and would never, ever do anything to hurt him. I just hate having to take him to his father's house; I feel like I am puting him in harms way. He obviously isn't happy at his dad's house if he doesn't eat or sleep... but I can't keep him home; Mr. X will call the police and that will start a huge war which I don't want to get into.

For the record Kyle has a very stable home life now. I am engaged to a wonderful man who is more of a father to Kyle than Mr. X ever has been (and probably ever will be) I work full time and leave him with a very good friend who treats him wonderfully. He is well fed, well clothed, well taken care of and loved very much. I discipline him using time outs, which Mr. X does not agree with at all. When Kyle says bad words I put him on time out and he doesn't say them again. Yet when he comes home from his dad's house he is dropping the "F" bomb all over the place, even saying "F-U" to people. I have talked to Mr. X about this and he just gets irrate and irrational so I drop the subject.

Can I go to a court with this information and push for supervised visitation? Or do I have to wait for something bad to happen, which is my biggest fear.


I'm afraid I'm not very good at this, but I will tell you this:  You have more than your share of reasons to be concerned...

No, I don't think you should wait for something REALLY bad to happen...too often we see this happen...changes are made when it's too late..

Can you afford to get a good attorney and go for sole custody with supervised visits until such time that Mr. X has attended some parenting classes, counselling, etc....?
If your lawyer is good enough, they will suggest this and more alternatives.  This child's life is at stake.  I understand you not wanting to take the boy from his father and that's a good thing..BUT..he shouldn't be getting away with such neglect either.  My daughter's father is kind of the same way, not as bad, but still somewhat clueless to the responsibilities of being a father.

I think you have done a good job so far of documenting..keep it up!  Everything is important...and you should have enough for a case.

I'm sorry, I'm not much help...better at advice, maybe...


Believe me, any of your help is greatly appreciated.

I don't have a lot of money, so I couldn't afford a power attorney to help me out. Thats my biggest dilema. Believe me, if I had the money I would totally do it without a second thought, but I just can't afford thousands of dollars, unless they would be willing to take payments. I think I am going to call around and see what I can do. I had originally considered just doing all paperwork and filing with the courts myself but I think if I do that I am in for a very rough battle, especially since he is more than likely in a position to afford an attorney.


This is definitely one situation where you don't want to be without a lawyer...it could get very ugly for you.  Look around and get someone who specializes in this sort of thing.  Do you have family that can help you out financially?  How about a line of credit to get started?  Anything to save this boy from anymore harm..