Violent biological father , child support, and visitation

Lori - posted on 04/20/2016 ( 3 moms have responded )

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My 7 year old daughter's biological father is incredibly violent person with many domestic violence violations and drug and alcohol problems. He also has mental problems. The victim protection person at the custody hearing where I received sole custody told me I should let her get to know him if at all possibly could. I was not ordered to give visitation. I have been letting him see her (only at my place with myself and Grandparents present) as long as he behaved over the years. I did not go for child support because to be honest I was in fear for my life, my parents lives, and even my pet's life. He has from time to time provided money but it became clear that he only would give money if he came to see her as if she was an amusement park ride and he would not help in between. Lately he has been more angry I've heard rumors that he is doing drugs and alcohol I'm quite sure actually and at times he comes to see her drunk... I turned him away. He has horrible horrible attitude towards women (his mantra is that "all women are sl_ts and who_es"...my daughter obviously will not benefit from his feelings towards women. He talks in front of her and jokes about his buddies breaking the law as if it's ok and cool and being in jail is actually normal. He's never going to change and he's just going to get worse. When he says he's going to come by he doesn't and it makes her feel bad, he brings by his latest girlfriend and sometimes even brings by his buddies who are off and even dangerous. One guy had his hand in his pocket while he was watching my daughter I was horrified and made them leave. I'm starting to think that he should not be allowed to see her anymore. I'm also wondering if I should go for child support. My question would be in New York state if I finally did go for child support would they force me to allow him to have visitation. He does by the way have felonies. Will they make me give him visitation even if it's chaperones I just don't want to let him hurt her emotionally and psychologically. I think he is starting to hurt her psychologically...

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Raye - posted on 04/20/2016

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You definitely should file for child support (should have a long time ago), and visitation is NOT contingent upon whether or not he pays. Legally child support is completely separate from custody/visitation, and money can be taken directly from his earnings and deposited into your account. There doesn't need to be any personal interaction for the transaction. The child is not an object to be "rented" out to the father only if he pays. While you may have valid reasons to restrict his visitation, money should not be a deciding factor.

As far as his behavior, if you have sole custody with no stipulations for visitation, then legally it seems you hold all the cards. A child should have the ability to form relationships with both parents. But if you believe the father is a danger to the CHILD, then you can limit his interaction. Since visitation occurs on your property, you can also limit who you allow to accompany him, and ask his "friends" to wait for him elsewhere.

In the event that he would try to fight you for custody/visitation:
Legally, previous history of domestic violence would not necessarily limit parental rights awarded to the father by a judge. Actions taken toward the mother are not an indication that the CHILD is in physical danger. Drug use is a major concern, and you would be within your rights to ask the court that he be tested for drug use. You might also want to keep some kind of log regarding the times that you offer visitation and he doesn't show up, or shows up under the influence, to help prove your case. If you can get real evidence of his drug use and violence (DUI convictions, police reports, etc.), then that would also help you in court... if it were to go back to court.

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Raye - posted on 04/20/2016

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I don't know NY law, but in many places there are services available to victims of abusive relationships to help guard your safety when filing for child support. You may have to face the person during the hearing, but collection and receipt of the money should be able to be done through wage garnishment and direct deposit so no interaction is necessary and no personal information is shared. Speaking with the courts or consulting with a lawyer familiar with these situations should give you a better understanding of what risk (if any) you or your family would experience.

I'm nearly 100% sure, in the US, if you've had a hearing and orders giving you custody, the only way to change it is if you or the father goes back to court to petition for different custody/visitation arrangement. There's no mandatory review of custody/visitation rights nor any automatic change to visitation due to child support. The child support office cannot rule on custody/visitation. And him paying or not paying child support should be no basis for a parent or a court to grant or limit the father's rights to visitation.

Whether you would be awarded retroactive child support depends on the laws where you live, and may factor in whether you can prove you had financial need the entire time or that there were other mitigating circumstances that kept you from filing for support previously. Whether they would consider your fear of abuse as justification or not, I can't say what the judge would rule.

Lori - posted on 04/20/2016

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Raye,
Thank you. I appreciate your words of wisdom. I have been torn about the child support almost daily for the last 7 years because I know that I "should" be doing it and if it were just me and my safety (I am a retired Army soldier) I probably would have but it is my parents' safety and possibly even my daughter's safety. I even have a partially filled out form in my records.
After I have applied will they back date it to the time I received sole custody (I ask because they backdate judgements in the military many times)?
The child support for me is not only about the principal of it, it is more for the well being and benefit for my daughter...what is best for her. Things have always been a bit tight.

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