Advice!

User - posted on 11/12/2013 ( 11 moms have responded )

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Hey ladies, I need a little advice. My 3-year-old son's father is an alcoholic. He is by no means a consistent father. Recently, my son and I have started PCIT therapy because he has been very defiant the last few months. He needs consistency and whenever anything is out of balance, it affects him negatively, and he lashes out. His father has not called or tried to see him in 3 months. My son told me the other day that his dad doesn't like him anymore :-( Today, his dad called demanding to see him. I feel like he should not be able to see him until he can learn to be more responsible and consistent because of the stress it puts on my son. What do you think? Is this allowable? I have SOLE custody at this time. I feel like my first priority is to protect my son...until he is old enough to do so. Any advice welcome....thanks

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[deleted account]

Yes, I still think you should get a court order.
Technically speaking, you do have sole custody, but it is not secure. He can take it away at any moment and you don't have many tools to fight back with should he choose to do that.

Compile your evidence against him--any attempts you made to allow him to see his son, that he then refused, any criminal charges ever filed against him, any evidence that his drinking could interfere with the child's care--then contact your attorney again to file for child support and visitation (they are two separate things).
Ask for supervised visitation every other weekend at most (You may have to settle for more than you ask for, so start high). Supervised visitation means you would meet at an approved visitation center, and he would spend a specified amount of time with the child. Even if you don't get supervised visitation, legally regulating visitation will benefit you in several ways.
First, it will add consistency to the child's life because he will be required to take the child at a specific time.
Second, he will not have enough time or interaction with the child to impact his behavior any more than a minimal amount.
Third, if he fails to show up, you will have a record for future court proceedings.
Fourth, it will allow you to press criminal charges if he contacts or tries to contact the child outside of his allowed time slot--that is important not only for protecting your custody rights, but for keeping the child's life consistent.

[deleted account]

What does your court order for visitation state?
If the order states that he is allowed to see him during specified times, and you deny him, he can file charges against you for contempt of court order.
If he is demanding to see the child outside of the times specified by the order, you can deny the visitation, but you MUST make the child available to him during the court specified times.

If you do not have a court order in place, and you just came to an "agreement" outside of court, you both have equal rights to the child. This is VERY dangerous so you NEED to get a court order for visitation as soon as possible. In most states neither parent is required to allow the other parent access to the child. Thus, if you hand your child over to him and he refuses to give the child back, you can take him to family court to file for visitation or custody, but you cannot press criminal charges against him. He could also take you to court now and sue for custody or visitation rights, and if he chooses to do that, the fact that you denied him access to the child (regardless of your reasons) will reflect poorly on you, and will be used in his defense.

LalaBoom - posted on 11/15/2013

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As a stepmom working in the legal system:

You do not have custody until it is established by the courts. Period. I don't know why an attorney would tell you that you do. Your best bet is to get a visitation order in place. Beat him to the punch. File first and file fast.

Unless you can prove that he is an alcoholic, he will, at the very least, be granted visitations. Therefore, if I were you, I'd build my case first with solid evidence:

Take the next six months to document everything, visits, calls, exchanges, talks, everything. This will be your best friend. Then go to a lawyer and ask for what you like using your best friend as solid proof.

If everything you say is true to the tee, you will have zero problems getting sole custody and a very limited and strict visitation agreement.

Whatever you do, do not attempt to keep the father away. Regardless of who he is, YOU made the decision that this man was "good enough" to be the father. And don't try to force him to employe YOUR values/parenting style- he is not you. This is one of the biggest sources of contention between fathers/mothers. Mothers expect fathers to parent the way they do. The faster you see the error in that, the easier it will be to co-parent.

Hope this helps,
Cheers!

Joanna - posted on 11/12/2013

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If I was in that situation i wouldn't let him see him
until he straightened up because I feel like that would just be a tease I wouldn't want my daughter to see him and then ask for him or miss him agin and not be able to and hopefully that will be his motivation to get it together you know?

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♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 11/12/2013

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Since there's no formal agreement beyond support, you need to get one.

Otherwise, he has every right to take his child, and claim sole custody, and that YOU can't see him.

If you have a child that already is in therapy for things, a court order for visitation /support is a must in order to make sure that both parents are adhering to the best treatment plans, etc.

Joanna - posted on 11/12/2013

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That very true and such a hard situation to be in !! Regardless of whatever happens your sons very lucky to have you one great parent above all:)

User - posted on 11/12/2013

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This is actually along the same lines as what the attorney told me. I have text but that's about it. I will continue to keep a long and compile all of my information. I hate that it has had to come to this but again, my first priority is my child. Thank you so much for your help!

User - posted on 11/12/2013

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Hi Joanna! Thank you, that's exactly how I'm feeling right now, like I do so much clean up after he pulls a disappearing act that it can't be good for my son. Especially when showing signs of ODD. He needs consistency but I also want to make sure I'm following the law and doing the right thing. Thank you for responding!

User - posted on 11/12/2013

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Hi Kelly! Thank you for responding! We do not have an actual court order for visitation. He's threatened to take me to court before (not because I wouldn't let him see him, but because that was the excuse he was telling his family for not seeing him) and I spoke with an attorney who told me I had sole custody since we don't have an order other than child support. This is the first time I've ever told him he could not see him until he got himself together and I think that's what bothers me. But I feel like I spend more time trying to "clean" up when he decides to disappear for months. I just got my son on a good track. I don't want anything to disturb that. So do you still think I should get a court order?

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