My rights to see my son as a parent.

Charlie - posted on 11/28/2015 ( 14 moms have responded )

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I must admit right off the bat that I am not a mother, I am a father but I found your responses and info I read on a couple of threads very informative so I thought I would take a chance and ask.
I am having an issue with my son's mother trying to keep me from getting my son on our arranged days. We have no court agreement just a signed agreement between us as two adults trying to be civil for our son. A little background. I have one DUI and no other tickets not history, my record is clean except that but I am making efforts to not be that person, yes I messed up. Since then have been attending AA meetings and trying to get out of it. She has a history of mental illness and has been on and off anti depressants for about 8 years or so and wanting an abortion while being drunk the day she told me she was pregnant and she was committed for 72 hour suicide watch when our son was 2 months old He is soon to be 16 months old, She has also abandoned her two older children who are 10 and 12 and refuses to see them. She has not seen them in over a year and has only spoken to them twice in the last six months. Not even a card or a call on their birthdays until I convinced her to skype with them. Now to the meat of the issue. Our agreement was we each get our son on our days off and the other time he is with his baby sitter . So despite the fact that I worked all day and drove straight to the sitters house after and have not drank in weeks, the sitter, her stepdad, said I smelled like alcohol so now she is refusing to let me have my son on my day off. That's not legal, he can't keep me from taking my son can he. Oh btw he claims I was drunk that night I picked my son up from him, which i was not, but said nothing that night. Showed no concern and didn't even mention it til a week later. I would have fixed the issue that night by having local pd come and give me a breath test but he waited til a week later. If you thought that someone picking up your grandson was drunk would you not say something til a week later or figure it out right then? I am totally perplexed by this whole thing. Please help despite the fact that I am the father not the mother. :) Thank you.

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Raye - posted on 11/30/2015

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I agree with the other ladies. Once you have a court order, if she refuses you access, then you can charge her with contempt. Until then, your personal agreement means less than a hill of beans, and neither of you have the right to keep the other one from the child. Be calm and reasonable. Keeping a record of your attempts to see the child and her denials would be helpful, but if you have it in texts or e-mails that you could provide the court as proof (not just "he said/she said"), then that would be better. If you want to file for more visitation, 50/50 custody, or full custody, you might have a case, but should speak with a lawyer who can tell you what kind of battle that might be, what proof you would need of her behavior and of your rehab, etc.

FYI, the stepdad, the babysitter, the grandparents, whomever else is watching the child, have absolutely NO legal standing in the matter and cannot keep you from your child. The police cannot get involved in custody matters, as that's a civil matter. They could throw you in the drunk tank if you are inebriated, they could take a report of vandalism, trespassing, etc., they can issue a restraining order... but they can't give the child to you or take the child from you. You have to get the court orders for custody/visitation, and if there's a breach, file charges. Then the court will handle the consequences and placement of the child.

Jodi - posted on 11/29/2015

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What I mean about the AA is that you document YOUR attendance in a diary :)

And I am never biased about gender - what it comes down to is that children deserve to have a relationship with both parents. If you focus on the child's rights and the child's best interests, rather than your rights, you will be fine. Always present it as the child's best interests.

Dove - posted on 12/01/2015

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Definitely time for a court order. Keep going to those AA meetings. You can do this!

Raye - posted on 12/01/2015

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I also want to throw in that the more calm, reasonable, and respectful that you are to her, her family, and to the court, the better it looks for you. If you are hateful to her on texts or e-mail, then she could use that against you, also. So, don't play into the drama.

My husband and his ex have court orders, and my husband has primary custody (his ex is clinically bi-polar and just walked out on her family). He has allowed his ex more time than what the orders dictate (and gone way out of his way to be nice to her), because he is trying to do right by his kids. But she is often flaky and cancels, or picks them up at bedtime only to take them to school early the next day (no quality time), and consistently ignores them when she has them. She has backhandedly threatened to go to court for full custody and file for child support, so I have been keeping track of her erratic behaviors (the ones I know about). I don't know if it will help if she does end up fighting in court, but it most certainly couldn't hurt to have facts. I try not to put emotion into it, just recording the date, circumstances of the behavior and if it had a distinguishable negative effect on the children.

Jodi - posted on 11/30/2015

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Even just having an initial appointment to discuss a plan is a good thing!

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Charlie - posted on 11/30/2015

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Its gonna have to wait for tax returns but I know she cannot afford one either so I hope things get better before then but I am now way more prepared than I was 2 days ago. Thank you all. :) I will update when I can.

Sarah - posted on 11/30/2015

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Charlie, when you go to AA, even though it is anonymous and that is one of the reasons the program works; usually the leader or moderator of the meeting will be willing to sign a log with his/her first name and last initial. I have seen this in DCFS hearings that I have attended over the years. Would it hold up in court? I don't know, You'd be surprised how the Family Court judges know where and when and who runs those meetings. At the very least keep in on your calendar and note the topic of the meeting.

Charlie - posted on 11/30/2015

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thank you all for your helpful replies. I was hopeful and concerned at the same time that being the father here I might not get the support and suggestions I have. I apologize for underestimating the power of you all to come together to help someone who is not the same as you. :) Thank you again. I am actually buying a notebook tonight at work to start documenting things and have friends on facebook taking screen shots of some of her nonsense as it happens. I hope she will eventually come around and try harder to be adult about this but only time will tell.

MaryAnn - posted on 11/30/2015

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You definitely need a court order.
Where I am, unless there is a court order stating otherwise, no one can refuse you access to your child.

Sarah - posted on 11/30/2015

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You need to get your custody arrangement settled in court. You are correct, the sitter cannot keep the child from you, or her either. She cannot refuse you access to your child either, unless she has a temporary restraining order put in place. The more calm and consistent you are, the better your odds of gaining more access to you child. Is your goal to have custody, shared custody or regular visitation? Keep a log on your AA meetings and a detailed journal of what happens at pick up and drop off times.

Charlie - posted on 11/29/2015

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thank you for replying, and the only issue is the documentation of AA meetings as it is anonymous by name. I have been, from the beginning, hope to work this out as adults who have the same interests at heart but apparently I am the only one trying, but I appreciate someone finally responding and not being biased by my gender. Thank you Jodi.

Jodi - posted on 11/29/2015

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It sounds like it is time for a court ordered agreement. She is clearly breaching what you guys originally agreed to, but what is happening here is not illegal because your agreement is not a legal one. If you can make it legal, THEN you can file for contempt if you are refused visitation. At this stage, you have no legal standing at all.

I would suggest you talk to a lawyer and have some custody and visitation orders drawn up. Don't be greedy in the orders - if you are happy with the current agreed arrangement, then it is more likely one she will agree to (and therefore a less drawn out custody battle). Also, keep a diary on every time you turn up at your agreed visitation time and are denied visitation - this will reflect poorly on her part. Also, make sure you are turning up or attempting contact EACH and EVERY time on your agreement (and keep notes of that in your diary). You may need the evidence that you are being denied your rights. Also make sure you continue attending AA and that this is documented.

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