I need help and can't afford an attorney

Vickey - posted on 07/04/2012 ( 36 moms have responded )

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I am a single mom. We have joint custody. But I have joint and physical custody. A month ago he took me to court to get more summer vacation with her. I agreed but then my 9 year old came home and said her dad is sending her on a plane by herself to grandma. I have no problem with her seeing her grandmother but he never discussed this with me! So much for him wanting to spend extra time with his daughter. What can I do to stop this. I need help. I would consider her flying alone when she is 12 or 13 not just turning 9!

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Laura - posted on 07/05/2012

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i believe he has to have permission from the court to legally take her out of the state. My ex and i had to sign an agreement to the effect that if they go more than 50 miles from me he has to have my permission

Shawnn - posted on 07/06/2012

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Everyone that's telling you that "it's illegal", etc...needs to understand that what's LEGAL with how he uses his time with your daughter depends on HOW YOUR DIVORCE DECREE WAS WORDED.

If it's worded "In the event that the child would be absent from the biological parent's physical care for over 48 hours, the non custodial parent at that time will have the right of refusal", then yes, it's illegal for him to make such arrangements without prior contact with you. Any other wording in the document, or a different condition would change the circumstances.

Make sure, before you arbitrarily refuse to let the child's grandmother interact with her, that you carefully examine your documents. Generally, most attorneys will answer questions over the phone for no fee, up to a point. And, most attorneys (at least in my area) will be more than willing to meet you for a consultation for either no fee, or a minimum fee, if you explain your situation.

But, seriously, in the US, it's not legal for her to fly alone, so she'd have to fly accompanied. This means the airline will assign an attendant who will meet her at check in, seat her, monitor her during the flight, and at any layovers or changes will directly hand her into the care of the next attendant. This continues until she is handed over to an approved adult (usually with ID for confirmation) at her destination.

The first question I'd ask myself is this: Is it worth sacrificing whatever small contact she may get with her paternal grandmother? Will she, as she grows up, understand that you would not allow that contact, and the reasons for your decision?

One thing I do agree on is that demanding change won't help. Calmly assessing the situation, rationally stating your reasons for your hesitance, and reasonably discussing this with your ex will be a lot more helpful in the long run.

Martha - posted on 07/05/2012

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The time your ex has your daughter is his time, and if he sends her to his mother's, that is still part of his time and he chooses for his mother to have time with her grand daughter. Will he be spending time with her before and after she sees grandmother? Since you don't have a problem with grandmother seeing her, is it just her flying, with a companion, that is your problem, or the fact that he did not tell you he wanted to send her to grandmother for a visit? (Have you discussed everything you do with/for your daughter with him while you have her in your custody?)

FYI: My grand daughter flew back and forth with a companion from the time she was 4 years old. She said the companion stayed right by her side the whole time and handed her into daddy's hands in TX, and the companion handed her into mommy's hands when she flew back home, each and every time she flew!!! She did this every 3 months until she started school. (My daughter sighed her up for air miles and she has gotten free tickets at different times from that.) She is now old enough she no longer needs a companion to fly, but the airline still takes good care of her and makes sure she gets to the right person when she lands at her destination.

Mommy - posted on 07/09/2012

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In the states, if a child is flying without both parents, the parents not in attendance need to sign a notarized letter in order for the child to be permitted to fly. My friend had to have her husband sign a letter saying it was ok for her to bring her children to Florida without him. You could also call the airline and notify them that this is not an approved flight, and you can provide them with the court documentation.

Ashley - posted on 07/07/2012

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Depends on your custody agreement... I have joint custody with my ex, but have sole physical custody. By having sole physical custody my agreement states that any travel out of state must be approved by me. Also any overnight stays that are not with the other parent during their visitation must be approved by me or my child be returned to me for that night. Hope that helps...

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Jennifer - posted on 07/17/2012

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I imagine whether or not she sees her grandma isn't the issue here. I am getting that you are just concerned about your daughter flying alone and being entrusted in the care of strangers considering what all could happen. I think it's a reasonable fear and you should definately discuss it with your ex. Maybe he would see your point and some kind of compromise could be reached. I do have to say though that it's not unheard of for a young child to travel alone like that. Also I agree with a previous comment that was made saying that what your ex is allowed to do or not depends on what you all agreed to when the custody agreement was made. You should get out your papers and read over it again. There may be something in there that could work in your favor. Good Luck!

Elizabeth - posted on 07/17/2012

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Joint custody means you both have to agree or it doesn't happen. The reason he didn't tell you is because he didn't want you to know and your daughter spilled the beans. Or, she misunderstood him and you need to find out. Either way you need to talk to him about it. Because joint custody doesn't mean you get to do whatever you want without telling the other when you have her. It means you have to talk and agree about everything. And it goes both ways. If you wanted to say take her on a Disney Cruise you have to talk to him just as if he was still there. If you was wanting to do the same thing he is wanting to do you would have to discuss it with him. But if you both don't agree to it and the other does it any way it's called contempt of court. But then again that involves an attorney and court time. If ya'll are gonna make this joint thing work you have to learn to talk about everything.

Pamela - posted on 07/08/2012

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Sit down with him and ask it the additional time he sought was actually for his mother, and if so, why didn't he bring this up in court? It can be shown that he actually lied in court if on the transcript it says he wanted more time to spend with his daughter and then is sending her off to grandma.

Did his mother push him to get more time during the summer so she could have more time? Usuing a false pretense in court could backfire. See an attorney. Most cities have attorneys who give "pro bono" time. Pro bono means they work for free to help in certain situations. Call your local state bar association and ask if they have any information on any lawyer groups that offer pro bono services. If they say no. Call an attorney listed for chiuld custody cases and ask if they know of such a group.

Here in this state there is one such group. You pay a $25 registration fee. Give the details of your problem and that gets you a phone consultation with an attorney who discusses options that you have. Hopefully in your area there is such a service.

The highest and best in working it out so hat it is an win/win situation for all, most especially your daughter!

Jill - posted on 07/08/2012

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Does your custody agreement say anything about distance? Most divorced parents I know have a clause in there that limits travel distance without the agreement of the other.

Putting kid on a plane alone, or even going with her, wouldn't be allowed without consent.

Ajsha - posted on 07/08/2012

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In my divorce papers I put in there he can't take our kids out of the 7 bay area counties or the state without my permission. He did that once and I went to court to ask what I can do. They told me I can file a change of our agreement or hold him in contempt. Contempt can lead to fines or jail time. All I want is for everyone to follow the agreement we both signed. He was mad but agreed going forward to do what the papers said. Since then no issues.

Everything for you really depends on your agreement. If its not go back and have it changed. Ask people you if they have an attorney that might answer a few questions. The attorney I used also does a consult and would answer a few questions without charging. Good luck.

Julie - posted on 07/07/2012

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If he took you to court and was awarded the parenting time, there isn't much you can do to stop the visitation. I would definitely have some words with him about doing this behind your back. Your child's safety and welfare is at risk here. Whether he thought you'd be okay with it or not, that is a major decision he should have discussed with you!
My hubby and I have fought for, and won, full custody of his daughters with no attorney. You can file a for a modification of the parenting plan, but from what I hear, it's difficult to get them changed. Our courthouse employs two Family Court Facilitators. For $20 (or $10 for low-income) you can ask them for advice on how to fight anything family law oriented in court. They will give you the proper forms and read through them when you're done and tell you how and where to file them. If he is sending her out of state, that is probably a violation of the parenting plan, unless you agreed she could go out of state. If that's the case, you can file an ex parte order which will get you seen in court immediately.
If you're not up for a legal battle, know that every airline offers an unaccompanied minor option. For an extra fee, (which your ex would pay for both ways since this was HIS idea) an adult accompanies her through security to her terminal. A stewardess gets assigned to the minors. They board first and are seated by the stewardess bay up front and they keep an eye on them the whole flight. On the other end, grandma also gets a security pass to meet her at the terminal and the stewardess makes sure she's delivered safe and sound into the proper person's care. I did this with my son when he flew from WA to NC to visit my sister for a couple weeks during the summer. And they will only book them on a non-stop flight so there is NO plane changes!
Whatever you decide, your ex needs to know he needs to communicate with you. And if he's not going to do that, you need to modify your parenting plan to clearly reflect all circumstances and communication. That way if he does anything without your consent in the future, you can file contempt charges. Good luck!!!

Sandra - posted on 07/07/2012

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This is really tough and I know what it feels like. Set a meeting with him first and express your thoughts.If that doesn't work, my suggestions would be to have your request amended and request a court date to settle it. Most of it you can do on your own without an attorney. Also the child cannot travel anywhere without you having a say, so at the moment, you have nothing to worry about. Wishing you luck.

Brandy - posted on 07/06/2012

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More often than not, the state can offer an attorney for you, free of charge. Check with your local child and family services and they may be able to provide the assistance you need. Explain the situation with them. Usually if a child is in a joint custody situation, all out of state travel (whether on a plane, train, or even a personal car) both parents need to grant permission for the travel. Some states even require paperwork done through the court system they used for the custody agreement. Some aren't as formal, though. You'll need to check with your state on the requirements. I do, however, agree with you. I have a son that is 8 1/2 and I would never let him fly alone. Or in the "custody" of some stranger that works for the airline company. I simply don't trust very many others with my son's safety and well-being. Stay strong mom and don't give up!! "Make some noise" and protect your baby! :) I hope I've helped you!

Dove - posted on 07/06/2012

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If your only concern is the flying alone.... she'll be fine. Just talk to her and explain the whole process and the airline WILL take care of her.

If you have other concerns then it depends on what those concerns are....

I certainly understand your fear, but I don't know if there's anything you can do about this. You can definitely try calling around to different lawyers and ask them though. I've had a few questions answered over the phone for free when I was doing research on my nephew's behalf.

Jodi - posted on 07/06/2012

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Instead of wasting your time and money on a lawyer, how about if you get more information and have a couple of conversations with your daughter and your ex before you rush off to court and fight something you probably won't win since you consented to the additional time this summer.

Understand that all airlines will not allow a minor to fly alone without paying an additional fee for an airline "chaperone" to guide your child. Additionally, even with TSA measures, a parent may get a visitor pass at check-in and walk a minor to the gate and wait with the minor until the plane is loaded and even until it takes off. Also, the person picking up your daughter is permitted to gain a visitor pass and meet her at her arriving gate. If there is a plane change (and there should not be for a minor traveling alone) the "chaperone" will transfer your child from one plane to the next. And if he tried to book her without the "chaperone" fee she will be barred from her flight at the airport (the airlines do not want the liability)

How about if you call your ex and discuss your concerns. Tell him you have no problem with him sending her to see her grandmother but you do have a problem with your nine year old flying solo, especially if she is expected to change planes. Ask that he put her on a non-stop direct flight to wherever it is she is headed. Ask that you be provided with the travel itinerary and also ask that he equip her with a temporary cell phone so that she can text you or call you every step of the way (you can get one for a monthly no commitment fee). If she is old enough to fly alone, she is old enough to be in communication.

Often times a conversation about our greatest concerns and fears is much better delivered without the use of lawyers or the court system. You once loved this person enough to make a child with him.......have a conversation and remind him that both you and he still want one same thing......what is best and safest for your child.

Good luck and godspeed
www.theconsciousmoment.com

Laurie - posted on 07/06/2012

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Unless there is something in your custody agreement about her visiting relatives out of state or being in the custody of your ex at all times during his visitation, there's nothing you can legally do. If the airline she's flying on allows children that age to fly alone, they will provide a guardian for her that should take her from gate to plane and to her grandmother on the other end.

Maybe his mom can't travel? Maybe she can't afford to make the trip? It's really not your business to say what she does while she's with her dad. You are divorced because you have different ways of doing things, and this is going to come up as you continue to deal with each other through your daughter - you can't make him do things the way you want now anymore than you could when you were married.

Meredith - posted on 07/06/2012

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I will tell you this, in Pa, you need both parents consent for the child to be taken over state line.... hence making it illegal. I can also tell you, the non custodial parent has the right to object to ANY overnight caregiver. I do think the bond between grandparent & child should be encouraged, but I believe you need to discuss the the best way to facilitate the visit. Perhaps, he flies her to grandmom's & settles her in before he flies home.
Either way, hopefully you can discuss it calmly.

Meredith - posted on 07/06/2012

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He is Legally not allowed to take her out of state without your permission. Therefore, he can't put her on the plane unless you agree. You can file an immediate order yourself at the court house to prevent her from leaving. Also, in the future make sure you agreement reads that you have "right of first refusal" meaning your ex can not leave your daughter with anyone (even grandmother) when he is not available unless you agree.

Trish - posted on 07/06/2012

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As a grandmother that doesn't get to see her granddaughter because of a similar situation, talk with your ex. Tell him your concerns and that you are just worried about the whole situation. See what can be worked out. Sometimes if you calmly talk about it, most of the time it can be worked out. I raised 4 boys on my own while their father was living his life. Due to his life, wives, girlfriends, his priorities weren't always where they should be. Now he realizes this and wishes he had done differently, but at least the boys were raised well and still love their dad. Just make sure whatever you decide, that its for your daughter and her well being, no other reason.

Georgetta - posted on 07/06/2012

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It is his time and maybe this came up and the grandmother requested a part of his time. As long as all precautions have been put into place, let her go. When she gets back, sit down with him and calmly explain, you would like a heads up about any change of plans espically when it concerns a out of state visit.

Lisa - posted on 07/05/2012

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My kids were flying alone by the time they were 9. The airlines assign a stewardess to them that will stay with them until they are picked up by the designated person. It's your daughter's gramma. Get over it and let her go.

Bev - posted on 07/05/2012

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I've had legal questions before and called an attorney that I didn't know and asked him the question and whether or not I had any legal possibilites. Sometimes they can be helpful if you just need to ask what you can do about a situation. It's worth a try.

Melodie - posted on 07/05/2012

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I would try to talk to him, if she really doesn't want to go. Just as an FYI I had the same situation as my ex lived out of state. The airlines will let you through to the gate with a special pass. They you hand your child over to a flight attendent who keeps track of her until they land. Your child is then with the flight attendant until she is handed over to grandma. There is an extra charge for unattended minor, but he can pay that. Your other option is to find a lawyer. Look for child advocate groups in your areas, they may be able to hook you up with a free or low cost lawyer. Good luck!

Jodi - posted on 07/05/2012

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So is this something you are prepared to take back to court and fight because you don't want your daughter visiting her grandmother and you have good reason for that?

Vickey - posted on 07/05/2012

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No we have wriiten in the divorcee decree tht if either of us have to be away for 48 hours then each other gets the right of 1st refusal.

Jodi - posted on 07/05/2012

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You can't really control the situation, but I have written into my orders that if my ex takes my son anywhere (or sends him anywhere) for longer than two nights, he must inform me of all the details. You could just ask him to please at least let you know where she is. But demanding he discuss it with you for your approval is going to be a battle you won't win unless grandma is in some way not in your daughter's best interests (i.e. abusing her). Can you send your daughter to YOUR mother for a week without his approval if you choose? Well, his deal is no different.

Michelle - posted on 07/05/2012

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The reality is he can do what he wants with his time, my son goes to his fathers for two weeks in July and two weeks in August and ends up being sent to camp for a week and goes to his grandparents for a week every summer when he is there the reality is his father cannot take 4 weeks off in the summer to be with him so he is shipped elsewhere. My son does not like this arrangement would definitely like to spend his summers at home with us, there is nothing I can do about it. And legally there will be nothing you can do about it either, it is his job to facilitate a relationship between his mother and his child, you will just be wasting your money going to court over this. If he is approachable talk to him about your concerns see what arrangements have been made confirm with him what is going on don't just go by what your child is saying.

Sharlene - posted on 07/04/2012

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Okay sorry lol. Do you have family to help you out financially with legal cost if you go private. You might have sit with him and tell him how you feel about him not spending time with his daughter on the holidays

Vickey - posted on 07/04/2012

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Your right it is his time with her but he is not going to be with her and yes she will have a chaperone on the plane. But my point is this is his parenting time to spend with her not send her away. Have his mom come here. If we were still married I still would nt put her on a plane by herself.

Vickey - posted on 07/04/2012

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Legal aid won't help me because I get 20,000 a year combined alimony and child support. I also work and only make 9.00 hrly. So they said I make too much for them to help me. Our rent Is 1,000.00 a month. Not including car ins, apt insurance elec gas water gas for the car medical bills and credit card debt which is from buying food and gas to get back and forth to work. So they say I make to Much money.

Louise - posted on 07/04/2012

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In the UK a child is not aloud to fly alone with out a chaperone, either family member or airline staff. Find out the facts first before stopping the holiday. Your daughter may want to see her grandma. If she really does not want to go then you need to step in and speak to your ex and tell him and if he does nothing about it then seek legal advice. I am not sure you can stop this either as it is his time with her and not yours.

Sharlene - posted on 07/04/2012

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Tell your ex to get off his butt and take his daughter on the plane to see her grandmother . try Legal Aide. good luck

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