Laws about special needs children and custody?

Amanda - posted on 03/27/2011 ( 2 moms have responded )

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My son is 3 in may and was diagnosed as autistic in sept. he and my father have been split up for over 2 years now and we haven't seen him since he left when my son was only 8 months old (and I was 6 weeks pregnant)

I'm trying to get full custody. he's agreed to sign over his rights (except supervised visitation) for both out kids. however my ex has a history of trying to control me and cause problems.

I know he wouldn't have much to back him in court but I'm wondering if anyone knows about the laws in canada about a parent with a criminal record. my ex was arrested for armed robbery in april/may of last year. It's classed as a violent offence. I was told its next to impossible for a violent offender to get any custody. is this true?

My ex has a violent temper and a short fuse... so imagining him anywhere near my son.. my daughter I'm not so worried about. she'll be two in sept and He's never even met her. I know he wouldn't have a chance with her.

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Sarah - posted on 03/27/2011

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I don't live in Canada, I live in Missouri, so you will probably have to take everything I say with a grain of salt. In Missouri custody is different than parental rights. I have both sole physical and legal custody of my son, but my X still has parental rights and has an allotment of visitation that he may choose to use, but often doesn't. Even though my X has said he wants to sign over his rights many times, it is not legally possible in this state. The state will not "bastardize" a child (their terminology not mine). Meaning, they will not legally declare a child to have no father. There are only a few ways arround it, one is marriage where the new husband adopts your child, thus severing the rights (the X has to agree to it though). The other way is through child abandonment. This may be an option for you. In Missouri, a father has to have had no contact (phone, email, visit, or letter) for over one year. You would have to talk to your attorney to get details on any of this. Which brings me to another good point...get a good attorney! Mine was helpful in every situation possible and was worth every penny I paid him too. Do not go into a legal battle like this attempting to represent yourself!
In your situation, the most important thing will be to limit contact with your X as much as possible without alienating him from the children. Parental alienation is when one parent purposefully sabatoges the other parent's attempt at having a relationship with their children. Courts do NOT look fondly on anyone suspected of parental alienation, so do your best to be cordial to your X, but in a "just the facts ma'am" sort of way. I think it would be good if you could gather any information on your X: files from his previous criminal cases, visitation logs, any documentation about altercations that you and he have had concerning the children, etc. If he is as manipulative as my X was, you need to write down EVERY time you talk to him, what it was about, etc. If you don't he may lie to the courts about what you discussed with him and it would only be his word against yours. If it is legal in your area, you might even consider tape recording phone conversations. In my area, only one party has to consent to a tape recorded phone call.
If you are not able to get out of him getting visitation, fight for supervised visits if you honestly believe your children would be in danger with him. Additionally, pull the autism card. Explain to the courts if the X does not know how to handle tantrums, schedules, therapy, etc for your son. Try to limit visits to no more than 4 hours at a time to limit exposure to the X and stress to your son.
Sorry this was so long, but I hope it helped some.

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