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A better understanding

Started by pixie84, Jul 05, 2008, 09:28:34 AM

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Basically I am here (I just signed up today) to gain a better understanding of my whole situation.

I am the step-parent in this situation.  My husbands daughter lives on the west coast with her mother and we live on the east coast.  I am extremely frustrated by the whole situation.  We are a young couple (in our mid 20s) my husbands daughter is 5.  He really hates this situation so he avoids it as much as he can.  I try to explain to him that this isn't something he can ignore and that he needs to do everything that he can.  He tells me that he wishes someone who's been in his situation could explain to me how he feels and that it's not something I can help him with.  Basically he feels that I can never understand how he feels because I'm not the one who doesn't have visitation with their child. To explain that last sentence my husband has 2 scheduled phone calls with his daughter a week and according to the decree of divorce visitation starting with 2 (1)week long visits from here to there (a more concrete schedule to be decided in meditation which didn't work because the mother won't agree on anything).  We have gone there once to visit so far and out of 8 days and 7 nights the mother allowed us a total of 17 and 1/2 hours of time with his daughter.  This discouraged my husband a lot.  Now the mother is saying that he needs to have visitation in front of a mediator to ensure the daughters safety, can she do this as it's not court ordered? He has never been violent or done anything to cause a need to ensure her safety.

Am I doing the right thing by seeking answers to his questions and getting him paperwork when I can and offering advice and support or am I totally in the wrong?  Any advice and support offered would be appreciated more that words can express. Thanks


have been around.  Stand by and see if people answer today or tomorrow.  

It's very hard when the BM (bio mom) doesn't want to work with the father.  Either she has valid concerns for the child's welfare or she fears a relationship with the father will interfere with her relationship with the child.  In this case, I suspect the latter.  Unfortunately, fear is a powerful emotion.

The wonderful thing about tiggers is I'm the only one!


In Short it can really suck sometimes.

It shows how much you love and support your DH and now realize just how unfair Family court really is!  It is also very sad that your DH doesn't have the ability to establish a wonderful loving relationship with his daughter.  I'm not sure how to say this...other than it's good that you support your DH in this matter but you need to take a backseat to this.  Unfortunately for his daughter, she has a Psycho BM that will alienate him from her and if she turns out to be a bad kid, will blame him because he wasn't involved in her life.  These women want it both ways and sadly many fathers can't do much about it.

A few questions....

Is there a court order for visitation?

Is your DH following that court order?

Is the BM?

Any chance of moving closer to the child?

I wish I could offer more positive advice...but I think your DH and you have a very long road ahead.  I think you should read up on PAS (Parent Alienation Syndrome), as well as "Divorce Poison".  If your DH has a court order he MUST try to follow it to the letter if at any time he wants to try for contempt against the BM.  If your DH is adament about not pursuing it, then respect that wish and leave it be.

BM's like that don't make any sense to people like you and me...sadly they never will.  I am a CP Mom and I'm THRILLED when my son goes to see his Dad!  When I talk to him while he's there, I encourage him to talk about the fun things he's done and I tell him that I'm happy for him...because I am.  EVERY child has the right to the love and support of EACH of their parents...Until the court ENFORCES that...then sadly many children like your stepdaughter will suffer!!
Now I'm living....Just another day in Paradise!!


I have been a stepparent for 13 years.  My DH was also long distance non-custodial for several of those years.  For your own sanity, you need to learn to distance yourself from the issues related to your stepdaughter and her mother.  This doesn't mean you don't love or do not support your DH, but you are the stepparent.  your steppdaughter is only 5 years old, and you have another 13 years of this crap coming.   Issues that crop up from all these dynamics can destroy a marriage in a heartbeat.  All your pushing and prodding to get your DH to not *ignore* what is going on will begin to grind at him and he might become resentful to you.

When you are a stepparent you have to learn to control what you can control and let go of what you can't control.  You cannot control your DH to step up to his ex.  He has to do this on his own.  You can support your DH to do this, but you can't make him.  You cannot control the ex to do the right thing and allow your DH to see his child.

The ex is enjoying the control she is taking over their daughter.  There are numerous steps that can be taken for your DH to enforce his visitation rights.  However, with you being coasts apart, this will probably require legal action.  You need to ask yourself how much money are you willing to part with and then live with it.  A lawyer will be expensive.  

Is the exisiting court order allow for visitation?  Does the existing court order recognize that your DH lives on the opposite coast of his daughter?  Your DH can only get the law to help to enforce an existing court order.  Encourage your DH to contact a lawyer in the county/state/city where the exisiting court order is established and he can probably get a free telephone consult to find out what his rights are.

If your DH shrugs off calling a lawyer, then dont' involve yourself in it.  You made the suggestion and he blew you off.  Dont' nag.  Don't keep asking him if he called.  If your DH chooses not to pursue it, it isn't your problem, nor is it something you can control.

Here are a few acronyms you need to become familiar with:
DH (dumb husband, dickhead husband, darling husband, whatever applies at the moment)
BM (Bio mom)
PB (Psycho b*tch from hell)
CS (Child Support)
CP (Custodial parent)
NCP (Non-Custodial parent)
SW (Second Wife)
CO (Court order)

There is a huge second wives cafe that you have to apply to in order to gain membership but it will be invaluable for you if you decide to join.  There is a lot of information on this site about disengaging and stepping back but still supporting your DH.

Here is a link:


Thanks for the advice and the acronym tutorial it helped a lot.

To answer your questions

No, there is no existing court order.  The judge only said that visitation would start with 2 1-week long visits by the father from here to there with a further visitation schedule to be decided in mediation.  This would have worked great 2 week long visits for them to become comfortable with each other and then the schedule they agreed on.  However, the mother wouldn't agree to anything she said she wouldn't buy any plane tickets, she wouldn't let her come for her birthday and Christmas, she said we could have one or the other, the problem is her birthday is only a few days before Christmas so travel at that time would be expensive and incredibly stressful.  My husband doesn't want to put his daughter in any uncomfortable situations because he knows visiting here will be uncomfortable enough.  He has even suggested that her mother come here with her so that if she needs her or wants her she will be available and she said absolutely not.

The court knows that we live on the other side of the country, they were generous enough to knock 50 a month of his child support to help pay for the cost of travel.  Which didn't do a whole hell of a lot with the cost of gas now.  I realize in the long run that's 600 dollars but for 3 round trip tickets (DH, SD, and PB) it doesn't equal out.

He has a lawyer who doesn't return his calls, or emails.  He doesn't respond to snail mail.  It's like he got paid and now he doesn't care.  He has ask him several times to call or write him back and hasn't had a response in over a year.  He has pretty much given up on the lawyer.  I don't nag him about the guy either.

I realized a long time ago to take the backseat.  I don't ask about how his calls went, or what his daughter said, I don't ask if he's talked to her mom about something he's told me he wants to talk to her about.  I assume when he's ready to tell me something or when he wants to he will.  I know I can't push for things, after all, it's not my daughter.

Thanks for the advice any more would also be appreciated.


Thanks a bunch.  All the info you provided is at least giving me ideas and things to look into.

To answer your questions

No there is no set visitation schedule that says anything like child will visit dad for x number of days x number of times a year.  The judge left that for them to decide in mediation and that didn't work out.

My DH does follow the court order he pays child support and we provide insurance for her.  PB complains that he doesn't pay half of her medical bills but we have never received a bill from her.  She complains we don't pay for glasses and other things she needs but she doesn't tell us she needs or send us copies of the bills so we can give her our half.

The BM follows the court order because it's all in favor of her.  It doesn't force her to have to allow the child time with my husband so she's loving it.

We have discussed moving closer to her so that visitation would be easier on everyone.

The thing that hurts me the most about the situation is that her mother tells her that she is very lucky and special she has 2 daddy's and 1 mommy who love her.  She doesn't even consider me a part of her daughters life.  And she's constantly throwing it in my husbands face when her husband does something for the daughter that he would have and could have done if he either lived in the same city or had been ask to provide her with whatever it was.


You will receive advice from all ends of the spectrum on this topic.  In the end, you have to decide what feels right to you.  And only you know whether it makes sense or not.

I would advise you to tread very carefully when you are encouraging  your DH to be involved with his daughter.  It sounds to me like he is not fully on board with it - even with having some legitimate qualms.

Some questions:

When was the divorce final?  What was his relationship with his daughter before the divorce?  Why is there a situation and order that limits his time with his daughter now?

Supporting our DH's when this is all said and done comes in a variety of forms.  You can be supportive of him loving his daughter and wanting to be involved - but only as much as he is willing to do for himself.  I know from first hand experience that it is so tempting and so rewarding at the time to jump in and 'fix' the situation.  However, I have learned that my 'fixing' in all reality has done nothing but make things worse - make my DH feel 'obligated' to do things he really was not prepared to do; make him feel like less of a man because I handled things.  Not my intentions, but that is what ultimately happened.  I ended up knowing his case better than he did - and that was not my place to be - I was not there when my SD was conceived and I was not there when she was brought into this world.  My DH has been taking care of her since day one with little to no help from her mother.  I was stepping in to help him and take on the mother-figure role in her life.  Finally at age 12 we got custody of her.  Everything should have been fairy-tale then, right?  Wrong.  Far, far from it.  No that we didn't have successes and good times - definitely they were there.  But, in the end spirits have been broken, feelings hurt, and hearts broken.  My kids have been overlooked - again, not intentionally; it's just how the cookie crumbled - but I'm working on that now with them.

My advice to you is to let your DH take the lead.  Don't go off with guns blazing on a relationship-saving-crusade.  Just keep being supportive to him - offer for him to come here and interact with other fathers who are going through what he is going through.  Maybe his opinion will change and he'll find a vision.  Then you can help him take action and make things available to him - it will cost mucho dinero to fight a cross-country custody battle.  Even if all you are looking to do is enforce time with the child.  Some will say it is worth it at any cost.  I say, you and your DH need to make that decision - and if you are willing to forego things and a family of your own to pursue, then go for it.  If you are not, then make things as good as they can be and be as involved as you can be.  Either way does not mean that your DH loves his daughter any less.

Good luck and please keep coming back!


dsm - 37; DH - 41; SD - 18; LO - 12; BB - 5
It's time for me to do for me and mine.  The others can worry about themselves for awhile.
dsm - 44
DH - 48
SD - 26
LO - 19
BB - 12
1 demon who provides cheap entertainment of the fluffy and furry kind.

My mantra - it's time for me to do for me and mine so we can live in the present and not fret about the past nor worry about the future.  What is, is


she's been more on the LD stepparenting thing than I have, but the only suggestion I can add is to just tell your DH that if he doesn't put effort into seeing his daughter now and trying to work what he deems fair will indeed set a precident against him for the future.  

I think he needs to retain a new attorney.  The BM doesn't get to decide everything.  

I think at the very least suggest your DH come to SPARC and talk to other dads who have been in his shoes.  


the only thing you can to do mitigate that is be exactly opposite of what BM says, without belitting BM (never EVER do that).  We vet SWs have an old saying...Take The High Road...no matter what.  


A court order for visitation should be extremely detailed and can take up to as much as 2 pages.  It will say what holidays/breaks/summer time he gets.  It will be impossible to get the existing order enforced since it is so vague.  Once the new order is in place, your DH can start documenting when she breaks the court order, then he can have contempt charges filed on her.  

I am assuming your DH moved from mom, or did mom move from DH?If your DH is the one that moved, then you will probably be mostly stuck with travel costs.

It is mom's responsibility to pay the medical bill for 100% of the amount, then send a copy of the receipt or cancelled check.  Then he would reimburse mom for his half.  It is not your DH's responsibility to deal directly with the medical facility or the invoice.  

The biggest thing to do is to not let this occupy your brain space ior start to obsess over it.  The more you think about it and stew about it the more of your *life* it will start to consume.  As it consumes you, then you will become resentful towards your DH and blame him for the mess.  When you find yourself obsessing (and trust me, you will) fill your head with something else.  Pickup a book, do your hobby, work in the garen, something, anything.  My second family woes almost cost me my marriage and it took about 2 years for my marriage to get back on track.  Adopting the Mantra... Not my kid, not my problem helped me.  Do I love my stepkids?  Yes, I love them very much.  Do I love and support my DH?  Yes, I love him and support him very much.  Because of the love I have for my DH, I took a backseat to the skid (stepkid) and BM issues.  I allowed him to be the parent without me being the nagging wife.