2 dirty bedrooms, 4 kids, and a mom

Amber - posted on 02/29/2016 ( 22 moms have responded )

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My 3 step children (2 girls 9 & 11, 1 boy 7) and my husband's ex still reside in the small 2 bedroom trailer she had when they divorced in 2010. Only 6 months ago did she separate the 3 kids. She now sleeps in the living room. We just learned that she is pregnant by her latest boyfriend (whom she took our kids along for the very first meeting) and intending to add another body to a house we feel our kids outgrew years ago. Additionally, the place is disgusting due to all of the animals she's had over the years and the lack of cleanliness. Its bad enough that her boyfriend won't allow his child there and won't stay the night himself. For 5 years we've felt that, without an expensive attorney, there is nothing we could do to get our kids out of the squalor there. Now that another body is being added to the situation, we want to know if there are any laws that would allow us to force her to improve our kids' living situation. We have a nearly split custody situation but she is still listed as the custodial parent. We believe the children need both of their parents equally but they shouldn't spend the majority of their time in that environment. We want to force her to take parenting classes, get a place with more bedrooms, and stop introducing the kids to every man she sleeps with, before we go back to them spending half of their time at her home. We are not trying to take the kids from her, just force her to become a better mother. Until she starts making wiser decisions for our kids, we want her time with them limited.

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MaryAnn - posted on 03/01/2016

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Woah. Shawnn didn't make any assumptions- she asked for clarification on some relevant things.
Contact cps.
With their witness, the schools, and maybe a doctors... and some time spent studying forms, laws... Using the internet and free clinics, there is no reason your husband can't represent himself. Its not the ideal, its a lot of time and effort... But the kids are worth it.
When it comes to issues like this, with his rights intact, there is always more he can do for his kids. And if more doesnt happen, nothing is going to get better.
It was simply an angle where he could do more.
If management seems to be an issue, purchase items with the extra money, save receipts. Buy food. Household items. Clothing. Toys. Its not for her. Its not to make her life easier. It doesnt absolve her responsibility.
A questions you can both ask yourselves is... What can we do to directly improve their lives in the intermittent time.

Michelle - posted on 03/01/2016

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Amber: That was not Shawnn's intention at all. She never said it and I have seen plenty of her posts to know that she also wouldn't imply that. What she was saying is that Dad needs to be doing more to get the children into a safe environment. You can't petition the courts or do anything legally, it's up to Dad.
Like the other ladies have said, if things are as bad as you say they are then get CPS involved. Since Dad has pretty much 50% care they would most likely give custody over to him. Complaining to us over and over again won't help. You have been advised what steps to take.
Please be mindful that reading the written word you don't hear the tone someone has written a reply with. The ladies have been trying to help you but you haven't really been taking in any advice.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 03/01/2016

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“Shawnn, don't make assumptioms because not every situation is cut and dry and not every dad is a p.o.s.”~~FIRST of all, where did I say that ALL SITUATIONS are cut and dried, and WHERE DID I EVER STATE THAT YOUR HUSBAND IS A POS????????? Quit putting words into my response that are not there.
“In this instance, you have no idea what you are talking about.”~~My response is based DIRECTLY on your posts.
“When my husband and I got engaged, we agreed that his children would be my children - no distinction in love, care, or financial provision from me”~~That’s awesome. Legally, though, YOU HAVE NO STAND.
“The precedent was set at their divorce finalization and he has been unsuccessful aside from increasing his time with the kids to nearly split custody. We don't have the money for an attorney and the one time we came up with some money for one, our attorney was more interested in negotiating with her attorney than protecting our kids”~~Gee, I managed to find a very reasonable family attorney when we were addressing my husband’s bitch complaints. He worked on a sliding scale and was very understanding of limited income. If you aren’t happy with what you’ve got, look further.
“Truth is "you can't make a ho a housewife" and they don't make good mothers either.”~~Truth is, you keep slandering the ex, you’re not going to be looked upon favorably. I’ve always found that officials really appreciate those blunt ‘assessments’ from non custodial parents and spouses.
“Animal urine and feces and filth is no place for chilren; in MI, children need separate rooms after age 5”~~Last I heard, even in states with funky residential requirements will make exception for the size of home, and in order to have proof that the animals are detrimental to the living conditions, you have to have a report stating so
“any idiot can tell you it's not safe to bring 3 chilren to a stranger's home.”~~Again with the 5th grade name calling?
“ My husband chose to pay more in support because the courts won't change custody and we have genuine concern that our children will suffer more if he pays only what they recommended”~~Ok, but at the end of the day, as you say, it was his CHOICE to do so, and if he did it in an attempt to get more custody, he failed.
“At the end of the day, money pit or not, our primary concern is taking care of our children. I don't know what your experience has been that makes you feel you have the insights you implied but it is apparently drastically different than ours”~~How about 26 YEARS as a step parent, dealing with the ex bitch, dealing with all of the issues? How about that? I’ve been a step parent longer than YOU have been at the adult stage.
“You are no expert here”~~Neither are you, honey…neither are you. However, I’ve BEEN THERE. Done that.

Jodi - posted on 03/01/2016

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"not every dad is a p.o.s."
I can't say where anyone said this.

"Truth is "you can't make a ho a housewife" and they don't make good mothers either"
Yes, name calling the biological mother will get you everywhere.

"in MI, children need separate rooms after age 5;"
From my understanding there are actually no particular laws or regulations around this. And there are certainly no children being harmed by it. This is just you being petty.

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Aeturner81 - posted on 03/10/2016

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Update - My husband emailed his FOC contacts and asked about whether documenting expenses he's covered is considered when support is reviewed. They told us its not. Support is based on a calculation and anything he provides above and beyond is our choice and doesn't impact the calculation, regardless of receipts and records. They said that if we're not happy with the condition of the clothes that the kids come in, we can always file a parenting time motion to address it. He also asked if all of these factors are enough to change custody. The answer was that its enough of a change in circumstance to discuss it but not a guarantee that a change would be made. Also requested an investigation by CPS. They interviewed the kids the day after our request but still haven't made a visit to the ex's house (its been nearly a week and a half). The kids tell us mom is freaking out that CPS is investigating her again and they've moved in with their grandmother until their "house is fixed." We believe that it's also her way of avoiding a drop in by CPS. At least we know they are in a clean environment at grandma's, even if there are other issues there. Once the CPS investigation is over, we're going back to court again for custody. We're disappointed in CPS but we aren't giving up.

Aeturner81 - posted on 03/01/2016

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Again, my apologies to Jodi and Shawnn. I revised my earlier replies to eliminate the offensive elements - I didn't think to do that with my initial apology. My experience with negativity toward fathers and step moms, while relatively brief as Shawnn pointed out, colored the way I read each of your comments and I responded negatively in turn. My husband is a good man and a good father. He is the face in court but we are a united front up until he walks through that door. We truly were looking for help when I posted in this forum. I am sorry that I was so quick to assume the worst about your comments. If you find anything else about my prior posts offensive, please let me know.

Jodi - posted on 03/01/2016

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"Your question of whether my husband contributes financially and the majority of Shawnn's comments judge and condemn myself and my husband. While not stated, it is certainly implied that my husband is just another POS father trying to steal his children away from a loving innocent biological mother."

Um, excuse me, my question about whether your husband contributes financially implied absolutely nothing and was not intended to imply anything. It was merely a question.

"Your incorrect assumptions do my kids no good."
There were no incorrect assumptions except yours because YOU are reading things into people's comments that aren't there.

Thank you for the apology.

Aeturner81 - posted on 03/01/2016

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Michelle and MaryAnn, thank you. I am new to this site and forums. I appreciate your insight on other people's comments as my inexperience with these posters and my negative experience with people assuming the worst of the father and stepmother cause me to take offense more easily. Dad is doing everything he can to get the kids into a safe environment. CPS was called 5 years ago by someone else and they left the kids with her. CPS visited her again (although I believe at someone else's home) when she made an unwarranted claim against us after we filed our last custody motion. They reprimanded her for the unwarranted investigation but did nothing else. I didn't disregard the suggestion for CPS contact but we don't have a lot of faith in CPS based on our experience. Additionally, I can't make a knee jerk decision on my own either after a single day of people's comments. My husband and I spoke last night regarding my post and I had him read everyone's comments. We also did some research on CPS after our talk. We have a tenuous relationship with his ex that tends to reflect how she feels at any given time. The kids see that so we do everything in our power to get along with her. However, CPS offers us the ability to do an anonymous investigation without rocking the boat of that relationship. I would love to hear more about free clinics - how do we find those? I like the idea of providing items for the kids rather than extra support to her. Before his support review, we had a dollar amount in mind that the support would be. As a step parent, I am not allowed in for those meetings and discussions and he made the decision to provide more, knowing it still fell within the dollar amount that we had discussed. With the way she spends the support and the extra, we will start providing items for the kids and document it for his next support discussion. She will lose the extra in her pocket but we will guarantee the kids' needs will be met. I apologize to Shawnn and Jodi for my own incorrect assumptions and responses accordingly.

Aeturner81 - posted on 03/01/2016

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My husband and I are not trying to steal "his" children away from a loving innocent biological mother. I will not share all of the details of our situation online. Suffice it to say that the over sexualized environment their biological mother provides brings about behavior that reflects that a two bedroom house is not adequate for our children of two genders. Not all biological mothers provide safe nurturing environments for their children. Some are more interested in serving their own selfish desires than providing for the needs of their children. As a step mother and a biological mother, I cannot fathom her apparent disconnect to a mother's natural instinct.

Aeturner81 - posted on 03/01/2016

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Not every situation is cut and dry. When my husband and I got engaged, we agreed that his children would be my children - no distinction in love, care, or financial provision from me - regardless of how the courts feel about step parents. Shortly after his divorve, when my husband contacted our then 1st grader's teacher to introduce himself and ask after our oldest, he learned that over the course of kindergarten and first grade our child had missed 45 days of school. It didn't take long for him to figure out in full his ex's negligence and for 5 years my husband has fought to change custody. The precedent was set at their divorce finalization and he has been unsuccessful aside from increasing his time with the kids to nearly split custody. We don't have the money for an attorney and the one time we came up with some money for one, our attorney was more interested in negotiating with her attorney than protecting our kids. We made headway in getting more time but we had to "buy" that time because that is his ex's priority. There was no custody change despite our expensive attorney. There are a lot of issues with biological mom's lack of care for the children but I'm not intending to share all the gory details. Trust me when I say that her home in the state that it is in is not place for children. Additionally, she puts our kids well being at risk with some of her behaviors. When we went to nearly split custody after hiring our attorney, he/we agreed to give up the right to have child support revisited reflective of the added time. In essence, we bought the added time. When the every 3 year review came up, my husband chose to pay more in support because the courts won't change custody and we have genuine concern that our children will suffer more if he pays only what they recommended. At the end of the day, money pit or not, our primary concern is taking care of our children.

Dove - posted on 02/29/2016

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Your first sentence is quite true, Shawnn. I spent a year at 16 in a one room cabin w/ my older brother and my dad. The bathroom is plenty enough for privacy unless there are deeper issues at play, but if there ARE those issues... having separate sleeping spaces is not the only step necessary for help.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 02/29/2016

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I've seen PLENTY of mixed gender sibs share rooms sometimes into young adulthood, with absolutely no issues. However, if you truly feel that there is an issue, call CPS.

If your husband truly feels that his children are in that poor of a situation, why has he not taken the steps to get physical custody revised? Its quite obvious (to me, at least) that, even though you use the words "WE feel", "WE want", WE believe", it seems that it is YOU that feel this way, YOU that want this, and YOU that believes this, rather than the both of you.

What makes it clear is that your husband voluntarily stated that he would pay more than his court ordered support. If he feels that his ex is that poor of a money manager, and that poor of a parent, he needs to stop feeding the money pit, and ask for custody revision.

YOU cannot force anyone to do anything. Your husband, however, has the right to ask his attorney to petition the courts for a revision of custody and support. If, after this requested revision, he decides to leave the kids with their mother, and continue to pay more than his recommended amount, I'd suggest that you may have to re-evaluate your relationship with him.

Dove - posted on 02/29/2016

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I don't know about the cleanliness issues as far as the animals are concerned... but I also have 3 kids and myself in a 2 bedroom apartment... my twin girls are 14 and my son is almost 8. Girls have one room, son shares w/ me... and there is no problem w/ that since everyone has their own bed to sleep on.

Amber - posted on 02/29/2016

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There is an order in place. Based on our increased time with the kids and our new baby together, we asked the courts to review his child support a year or so ago. They recommended a significantly lower dollar amount but he agreed to pay a third more than what that recommendation was. The new amount is now bound into an order. When it gets revisited, he has the option to follow the courts recommendation or continue to pay more than the recommended amount.

Like any other child support, the payee has no say in what the support is spent on.

Jodi - posted on 02/29/2016

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Courts "recommend" or courts "order"? Is there actually a child support order in place?

If he is paying more, surely he has some say over how that extra is spent?

Amber - posted on 02/29/2016

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Because he knows she's a poor money manager, my husband pays a third more than the courts recommended his support be set at. He also covers ALL of our son's school and sports costs. He faithfully pays to support the children he loves, despite seeing how she uses that support.

Jodi - posted on 02/29/2016

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In addition to what the others have said......is your husband contributing financially?

Sarah - posted on 02/29/2016

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My advice is to call CPS. You are not wasting their time, that is what they do. Within 24 hours of the call an investigator will go to the home to look around and see the living conditions. No child should have to live in filth or overcrowding. CPS is not there to punish her, but to help the children and her. They may decide the living conditions are fine and not indicate a case. They may indicate a case and give her one month to fix the living conditions. They may remove the kids and set up a safety plan. You husband would have the option to house the kids full time during the time allotted for mom to fix the house up. Make the call and get the ball rolling. You or dad can call anonymously. If a child of the ages you list came into my school nurse office at school, and described what you describe above, I would be obligated to report it to DCFS (CPS in my state).

Amber - posted on 02/29/2016

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If she and baby daddy weren't on and off and were consistently split up, we may have a better chance at getting him to be a witness... Can family services do a series of surprise visits? We don't want to be the type to waste the time of CPS or similar services.

Ev - posted on 02/29/2016

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He has to do this first and foremost legally to get things done. He will need to get proof the house is in such a state that it is a danger to the kids or he can call family services and ask them to investigate this and see what they find. Other than having proof that the place is how you describe and also a danger to the health/well being of the kids, then there may not be much you can do. And if the boyfriend is not staying there with his own child, he might be able to provide information as a witness. I am not a lawyer but these are things to ask about.

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