Much needed advice on a dad who wants to come back after 9 years

L - posted on 04/23/2015 ( 25 moms have responded )

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So, I need advice. My sons biological father wants to come back into his sons life after 9 years with almost zero contact. The last I had heard from him was when we went to court for mediation when my son was just over a year old, and we were to set up a parenting plan, which he never followed through with. He contacted me out of the blue the other day requesting to see him because he "finally got his life together". I told him no, I don't believe its the best choice for my son. What are my options, exactly? After so long, does he have any rights, since we went to court so long ago? He has been paying child support this whole time, but has had ZERO contact. I'm going to be setting up a consultation with a lawyer soon just in case he wants to push the issue, but has anyone else been through this? Any advice is very appreciated!

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Ev - posted on 04/23/2015

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I am tired of seeing this question too and I am the one that chose to be the non-custodial parent for the sake of the children.

LP--There are others that have posted similar questions in the past. I am going to answer yours to a degree.
1)Legal advice--None here can give it as this is an international site and in that case you might get some advice that does not pertain to where you live or the laws that are governing your area. So the only "legal" advice you can get here is to find a lawyer in your area.
2) I have to agree that keeping a child from a parent is not allowing them to establish some sort of relationship. Supervised or otherwise, this child should have some sort of relationship.
3) In your court documents from before, whatever visitation he had still stands. You never said you went and had it modified. Also, just because you both know the same people in the same town does not mean anything. You do not know if the information they are telling you is correct unless they have first hand knowledge. If you try to use this in court, its only hearsay and the judge is not going to listen to it. The last time you talked to the man was 9 years ago. You do not know him anymore. You ONLY KNOW him from the past and do not know for sure what he has changed in his life to become a better person if he has. You do not have that first hand knowledge either if you are relying on what others tell you. Also, unless you can totally prove with documents of any kind about his behavior, crimes, or anything that could be a danger to the child, that will gain you something but only if you can prove it. Just because you do not care for the person does not mean you can say no to a relationship that the child deserves if dad follows through on his end this time. If you withhold the child from visits of any type then dad can file for custody and he just might get it because of parental alienation. Also, your comments on his mother being abusive and crazy won't stand up in court either unless she is proven to be a danger to your son too.

I think you would be best off allowing dad to see his son in a public place where you can keep an eye on things and let them start to develop something of a relationship. It will look good on you too.

Patsy - posted on 04/27/2015

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You have done everything as your should. You have a pending appointment with your attorney to determine your rights and obligations according to the Law. After nine years of no contact with your son; I would not think your ex is automatically entitled to see his son - without any questions asked. You should try to find out about his lifestyle to determine whether he has, in fact, gotten his life together ...as he claims. Maybe he has and maybe he hasn't. Try to find out if he is abusing illegal drugs or anything else illegal or dangerous. Your attorney might be able to give you some ideas on how to go about that in a casual manner...like asking him over the telephone if he smokes marijuana, or whatever, and record the answers (if that is legal). If he has, in truth, gotten his life together; that would be good. Then maybe he would be a positive influence on your son...if if if he has gotten his life together in a meaningful way.

Sarah - posted on 04/23/2015

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I am in a mood today, so forgive me....
I am sorta sick of single moms coming here to find ways to keep bio-dads out of their kids lives. Over and over I see, "i don't think I should allow him to see my child, or I think it is better my child not ever know his father" As soon as they hear the dad will likely get visitation then the dirty deeds of the past come out. The only criminal traffic violation I can even think of is a DUI or a hit and run, some people have hard times keeping jobs, and so what if he went back to live with is mother? Do any of those things mean he is a danger to his child or has nothing to offer has a father? I am not saying you should happily hand your child over to someone he hardly knows but why fight them getting to know each other?
I have not been in your shoes, but if someone put my life under such scrutiny they'd find some "issues" i am sure.

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Ev - posted on 04/27/2015

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"I am not declaring that I am making the final decision on whether or not he is allowed to see him. My lawyer, whom I have a pending appointment with, and the courts will do that. I am not mistaken there. All I am expressing is that in the mean time, I do not feel comfortable allowing him to have CONTACT. And I do have my reasons. As I had mentioned previously, I think he is dangerous due to his driving habits, his ideals (being that he comes from an incredibly racist and bigoted family) and the fact that he is living with his abusive mother is a concern as well.

(And I DO know that she is abusive. I was a teenage mother. When we were together in high school, I would go to his house and witness it first hand. We are talking ex-biker gang family. The mother would fly into fits of rage over the slightest thing, slap him and verbally abuse him in front of his friends to humiliate him. The woman has a very large tattoo over her forehead, if this gives you a visual. Not to mention, when I turned up preggo at 16, I was SUBJECT also to her verbal abuses, being called every derogatory name she could think of.) Proving this is another issue altogether, I realize."

I quoted this because it does raise concerns that are legit ones but at the same time you have to understand that you can go in to court and say all those things, but unless you have documented proof of the abuse, dangerous habits and so on, the judge is not going to want to hear that. I know, I have been through custody and divorce and all that goes with it. I also know that just because their ideals do not match yours does not mean you can withhold visitation. You are doing right by asking a lawyer and all but until then, maybe a public place like MCD's or something until this is sorted out.

Ev - posted on 04/27/2015

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"I am not declaring that I am making the final decision on whether or not he is allowed to see him. My lawyer, whom I have a pending appointment with, and the courts will do that. I am not mistaken there. All I am expressing is that in the mean time, I do not feel comfortable allowing him to have CONTACT. And I do have my reasons. As I had mentioned previously, I think he is dangerous due to his driving habits, his ideals (being that he comes from an incredibly racist and bigoted family) and the fact that he is living with his abusive mother is a concern as well.

(And I DO know that she is abusive. I was a teenage mother. When we were together in high school, I would go to his house and witness it first hand. We are talking ex-biker gang family. The mother would fly into fits of rage over the slightest thing, slap him and verbally abuse him in front of his friends to humiliate him. The woman has a very large tattoo over her forehead, if this gives you a visual. Not to mention, when I turned up preggo at 16, I was SUBJECT also to her verbal abuses, being called every derogatory name she could think of.) Proving this is another issue altogether, I realize."

I quoted this because it does raise concerns that are legit ones but at the same time you have to understand that you can go in to court and say all those things, but unless you have documented proof of the abuse, dangerous habits and so on, the judge is not going to want to hear that. I know, I have been through custody and divorce and all that goes with it. I also know that just because their ideals do not match yours does not mean you can withhold visitation. You are doing right by asking a lawyer and all but until then, maybe a public place like MCD's or something until this is sorted out.

Ev - posted on 04/27/2015

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"I am not declaring that I am making the final decision on whether or not he is allowed to see him. My lawyer, whom I have a pending appointment with, and the courts will do that. I am not mistaken there. All I am expressing is that in the mean time, I do not feel comfortable allowing him to have CONTACT. And I do have my reasons. As I had mentioned previously, I think he is dangerous due to his driving habits, his ideals (being that he comes from an incredibly racist and bigoted family) and the fact that he is living with his abusive mother is a concern as well.

(And I DO know that she is abusive. I was a teenage mother. When we were together in high school, I would go to his house and witness it first hand. We are talking ex-biker gang family. The mother would fly into fits of rage over the slightest thing, slap him and verbally abuse him in front of his friends to humiliate him. The woman has a very large tattoo over her forehead, if this gives you a visual. Not to mention, when I turned up preggo at 16, I was SUBJECT also to her verbal abuses, being called every derogatory name she could think of.) Proving this is another issue altogether, I realize."

I quoted this because it does raise concerns that are legit ones but at the same time you have to understand that you can go in to court and say all those things, but unless you have documented proof of the abuse, dangerous habits and so on, the judge is not going to want to hear that. I know, I have been through custody and divorce and all that goes with it. I also know that just because their ideals do not match yours does not mean you can withhold visitation. You are doing right by asking a lawyer and all but until then, maybe a public place like MCD's or something until this is sorted out.

Ev - posted on 04/27/2015

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"I am not declaring that I am making the final decision on whether or not he is allowed to see him. My lawyer, whom I have a pending appointment with, and the courts will do that. I am not mistaken there. All I am expressing is that in the mean time, I do not feel comfortable allowing him to have CONTACT. And I do have my reasons. As I had mentioned previously, I think he is dangerous due to his driving habits, his ideals (being that he comes from an incredibly racist and bigoted family) and the fact that he is living with his abusive mother is a concern as well.

(And I DO know that she is abusive. I was a teenage mother. When we were together in high school, I would go to his house and witness it first hand. We are talking ex-biker gang family. The mother would fly into fits of rage over the slightest thing, slap him and verbally abuse him in front of his friends to humiliate him. The woman has a very large tattoo over her forehead, if this gives you a visual. Not to mention, when I turned up preggo at 16, I was SUBJECT also to her verbal abuses, being called every derogatory name she could think of.) Proving this is another issue altogether, I realize."

I quoted this because it does raise concerns that are legit ones but at the same time you have to understand that you can go in to court and say all those things, but unless you have documented proof of the abuse, dangerous habits and so on, the judge is not going to want to hear that. I know, I have been through custody and divorce and all that goes with it. I also know that just because their ideals do not match yours does not mean you can withhold visitation. You are doing right by asking a lawyer and all but until then, maybe a public place like MCD's or something until this is sorted out.

L - posted on 04/27/2015

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Let me place this in front of you. Imagine this.

You have a child. You and the father are no longer together. In fact, the father is remarried and has a step child with his new wife. You have court ordered scheduled visitation, and your child goes to the fathers house every other weekend. Life is relatively normal. One day, your ex's wife calls you on the phone, asking if it is ok if she can stay a night with you with her child because something awful happened and she is afraid and confused and does not want to return home. Her child, the stepchild who is 5, said something quite alarming about his stepfather (your childs father). Without going into disturbing details, it implies sexual molestation. To you, the child describes this activity in ways that no normal 5 year old should understand after they come over. Ok, so you allow her to stay with you until she contacts the authorities and can find a more permanent address. You console her and offer as much support as possible, yet you feel angry because now, YOUR child has to take a rape kit and be examined for just in case because of this awful incident.
Lets say the new wife goes to stay with her brother, and within the week, you call to check up on her and she tells you that it was all a misunderstanding, that she has dropped the charges, and she is living with him again. You are furious, and beg her to reconsider her stance and swift change of heart. You are concerned not only for her childs safety, but your own now. Do you allow your child to still see the father, though there is no evidence that this has happened to your child? That would, legally, be what would have to happen, otherwise you would be breaking the court ordered visitation schedule and YOU would be the one in trouble.

Would you fight tooth and nail to restrict contact, despite the probability that you could be "alienating" the father, at least temporarily? For one, this is what I would do, at least in the most legal way possible before I was forced to allow contact. I can't imagine just HOPING that is was, in fact, a misunderstanding only to have it occur again to your child this time, only because you didn't trust your gut and because you wanted to do it by the books. There is the thing you're supposed to do, and then there is the thing that you should do. I for one, would ABSOLUTELY DIE if I were to allow regular contact without having fought it as much as possible, and then my baby was hurt in any way. Can you imagine living with that guilt?

This is not my story, but it is a true story of my best friend. The only reason I am saying any of this is because, moral of the story, though I may not be honoring a parenting plan that was set up 9 years ago and is in dire need of modification, I am doing what I believe to be the right thing, until I am forced to do the "just" thing.

L - posted on 04/27/2015

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I am not declaring that I am making the final decision on whether or not he is allowed to see him. My lawyer, whom I have a pending appointment with, and the courts will do that. I am not mistaken there. All I am expressing is that in the mean time, I do not feel comfortable allowing him to have contact. And I do have my reasons. As I had mentioned previously, I think he is dangerous due to his driving habits, his ideals (being that he comes from an incredibly racist and bigoted family) and the fact that he is living with his abusive mother is a concern as well.

(And I DO know that she is abusive. I was a teenage mother. When we were together in high school, I would go to his house and witness it first hand. We are talking ex-biker gang family. The mother would fly into fits of rage over the slightest thing, slap him and verbally abuse him in front of his friends to humiliate him. The woman has a very large tattoo over her forehead, if this gives you a visual. Not to mention, when I turned up preggo at 16, I was subject also to her verbal abuses, being called every derogatory name she could think of.) Proving this is another issue altogether, I realize.

Whether the court will consider me having a very real concern for the wellbeing of my son parental alienation is yet to be decided. I simply told him that as it stands, I do not concede to contact until I have been properly advised. I'm not an expert, but I do not think that qualifies as "alienation". I am not running away or actively ignoring his request.

Every situation is different and needs to be evaluated accordingly. I don't know that my personal feelings and gut instinct to deny contact will get me very far, because if its not on paper, my opinions and experiences don't mean anything unfortunately. You may judge me or call me selfish. That's ok. But I've also learned to follow my gut instinct, and my gut instinct is that this is bad news.

Ev - posted on 04/27/2015

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Patsy--

I have to agree with the others. You can not up and decide that the other parent be it a mom or dad is good or not for the kids to see. If the parent has been out of the picture for a time, you do not know that parent anymore. But you also can not hold them from a visit with the child especially when it is court ordered.

Patsy - posted on 04/26/2015

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The situation should be evaluated. She is contacting a lawyer - that is the right thing to do; and it would be prudent to find out more about his lifestyle, if possible, to make sure he is not into something dangerous or highly objectionable or illegal.

Sarah - posted on 04/26/2015

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I am not saying that all fathers are good parents or are cut out to parent at any moment. What I do think it every father has the right to see, get to know and parent his children. There seems to be this pattern of fathers that are not involved, disappear, don't pay support , have trouble with the law or for whatever reason they do not step up and parent. Is that OK? Of course not! But that doe not mean that these fathers, who do come back and say I'd like to parent, should be turned away.
Being a mom does not make you a better parent or entitle you to deny another parent the right to their child. There are plenty of bad moms out there. Plenty of single dads going it alone. I am just so frustrated with the idea that a mother has the right to deny the father access to his kids. When that baby is conceived it is a 50-50 deal. I fa dad steps up after years of a woman parenting alone, why would she not jump at the chanced for her kids to meet dad, to get some help?
Maybe because I am not personally affected by this, I should keep my thoughts to myself.

Patsy - posted on 04/26/2015

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I said she should evaluate the situation. I do not know what her divorce decree stipulates or what her state laws are. My point was that she does not necessarily owe the father - on a moral level - as some stated...as if all fathers were automatically a good influence. I repeat: she should evaluate the situation: her divorce decree, her state laws, and if possible ask a lawyer what her options are...if she has doubts about whether he is a positive influence, or not. He might be a can of worms.

Jodi - posted on 04/26/2015

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Patsy, the law doesn't ALLOW the mother to just point blank make this decision on her own. If this mother denies the father any contact, and the father takes that to court, this mother could LOSE custody on the basis of parental alienation. It has happened. Your advice is dangerous. This is why the advice this OP is getting from others is that she talk to a lawyer and establish custody and visitation, supervised if need be.

Patsy - posted on 04/26/2015

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He does not have unlimited rights and not every biological father is a good influence on sons or daughters. Evaluate whether you think his influence will be positive or negative before you let him in your sons' lives. Once he is in; you will never get him out. Be careful. My ex-husband is a terrible influence on our two sons and one daughter; and they are now in their twenties.

Raye - posted on 04/24/2015

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I agree with what the other moms have said. Allow supervised visitation until you go back to court. He does still have rights.

Michelle - posted on 04/23/2015

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The other ladies have said it all.
If you haven't been back to alter the original visitation schedule then it still stands. YOU don't get to choose if the Dad comes back into his son's life or not.
If you deny him seeing his son then he can take you to court for parental alienation.
Get yourself a lawyer and get another visitation schedule set.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 04/23/2015

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Me too, ladies, but I'm on the other side. I'm the second wife of the man who was treated like dirt by the ex...

Jodi - posted on 04/23/2015

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What it comes down to is your child's right to form a relationship with his dad. What is so bad with setting up some supervised time for your son just to get to know his dad. I have no doubt your son WILL express curiosity about his father as he gets older, and will likely seek him out himself. If he finds out you denied him any relationship with his dad, he may be angry at you - this is quite a common response. You don't want that.

So maybe step back and think about why it is wrong for him to have some level of supervised visits. Is it about you? Or about your son? If it is about your son.....why not talk to your son about it? Maybe he'd like to meet his dad.

From a legal perspective, if your ex decides to apply in court for visitation, he is likely to get some. Denying him visits may not look good on your part.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 04/23/2015

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It's NOT up to you, LP. You don't have the right to make that decision. You need to go the legal route whether you want to or not.

L - posted on 04/23/2015

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Well, I should elaborate, though I'm not sure the specifics will alter the legal outcome anyway. The father lives in the same town as me. We both know mutual people, and it has never been difficult to come into contact with me. That being said, since we DO know mutual people, I have also had to hear about what he has been up since we've spoken last from others. In and out of court for criminal traffic violations, living with his mother, on and off again jobs, etc… The child support was court mandated so that I could have food stamps many years ago and is deducted from his checks, when he gets them. This whole "Ive got my life together" act is something that I am just not buying, due to the fact that when I knew him, he was a compulsive liar and always in trouble, and that is what I've heard from others since then. I think the only real reason that he is trying just now to contact me is because he is living with his mother again, (who is crazy and abusive by the way) and I think she put the pressure on him. Not to mention the message I got from him was disingenuous and hostile. Do to this empirical evidence, I do not trust him to be safe with my son.

Regardless of my motivations, this is the decision I have made. All I am really asking for is legal advice, or if anyone has been in a similar situation, because I will not change my mind. Perhaps when he is a teenager, but now it does not feel right. Thanks for the input thus far, though.

Trisha - posted on 04/23/2015

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You should be somewhat grateful that your son's biological father waited until he felt he was at a good point to be a good role model for his son.
My husband has full custody of his 16 year old, and we are expecting our first in the next week or so... My husband is so excited about raising our child in a stable home, even though he tried his best with his first he feels like he failed him. Don't get me wrong, the 16 year old is NOT a bad kid in any means... but my husband just felt he was not the greatest role model.
Your son's biological father appears to believe that he can live up to this role for your son. Maybe it is a good opportunity to let him try.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 04/23/2015

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He has as much right as you do to be involved in his son's life. You cannot claim that he has not been, because he has been providing support.

Be the adult. Suggest a supervised visitation plan that will let the kid get to know his dad in a gradual manner, with increased time as they get acquainted. You don't have the right to deny your son HIS right to know his biological father.

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