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So, I have court on Wed morning. It is scheduled for 9am (heard it will not be on time, never is, lol) and I have been assigned a Public Defender. It's a female, which I am glad of. Hoping she is good. I put the app in for her same day I put the petition in, but low and behold, just got approval papers on Friday...had to fill out some paperwork, sent it out Sat...now I have to call tomorrow to see if there is ANY way to meet with her before court. I was told probably not...which scares me. Now, this is just preliminary hearing. IDK what that means, but heard they will basically hear the basics of the case, and make temp support and custody orders. I have some stuff documented...all the "major" things I could remember...and have kept down all of the phone convos that haven't gone well, or the fact that he hasn't called the kids at all...etc. When Hunter came home filthy, in his pullup, soaked through and poopy (he had been in it a long time!)...yeah, documented that as well. I am just plain scared. I want my kids. What if I don't get them? At this point IDK if it is best to ask for sole or joint custody. I dont want him to have a say in what I do with the kids, and if he has joint, he can. If I ever wanted to move to Watertown (an hour away) to better myself and live with Adam...I couldn't...just so many things that he could still freakin' control! He has had little or no care for these kids up until last October, and suddenly he considers himself father of the year! Really?! I just want it over, but I am so lost and confused. I need some good advice on which way to go...cuz I need like a 90% chance that I would get sole custody to go for it. Sigh...it's like, I want to be their parent. I want them to see their father, but don't want him to have much of a say. BUT, scared to absolute pieces to just go for it. Ugh.
Depending on where you live, things can be a bit different but the gist is this..
There is a very important thing in the majority of custody cases called Status Quo, the courts will typically not play with this unless there are undeniable facts that cause them to (such as the parent they are living with has documented abusive behaviour etc etc which you don't).
Basically what this means is the kids have been primarily with you, with him having some visitation so..
I recommend that you request sole custody - you can always 'settle' down to joint custody if it comes down to it in a settlement conference.
You will need to ensure that you have your documentation in order for court to provide proof of your requests - you will have to remove emotions from the matter & stick with the facts (hard, I know).
Your first court appearance will absolutely be a waste of time as it usually tends to be. In some cases they may make a temp order in regards to custody (listing you as primary & him with visitation), but unless he has offered to pay some child support while the matters are before the court, you may not get a temp order for child support unless he has provided financial documentation to the courts already.
Be certain that you note his level of involvement - medical, educational etc - the less interested he has been in those things, the better chance you have of removing his say in those matters. Even if it were joint custody, once you are listed as primary, your say is the final one in those matters.
My ex has no say in anything in regards to the kids at all - I don't even have a mobility clause (that deals with where you would choose to live and/or move the kids to). He has the small amount of visitation that he was willing to accept, but he has since stopped contacting the kids since June 13th (the last visitation he had with them).
I represented myself for my custody & support case so I can't give you actuals for your case specifically, but simply provide you with the info as above in regards to what I did learn during that time.
My final order has been in place for more than a year and my ex will be more than $5200 in arrears in a few days. His drivers license has already been suspended for non-payment of support, and now they are waiting on a court date to serve him with a notice of Default Hearing - I firmly believe that it's best to have whatever enforcement agency you have in your area to deal with collecting the support, they have the means to chase deadbeats down. Unfortunately it doesn't guarantee that you will be able to get the child support, so don't ever bank on it or budget for it.
KrazE is 100% right. Ask for the moon, settle for the stars. The fact of the matter is they will not grant you more than you ask for (without extenuating circumstances) and if you start off high, you will probably wind up somewhere around what you expected to get initially. Ask for EVERYTHING. He needs to support his kids! His visits should be supervised if he has been abusive at all toward the children. If you have any proof of that--not neglect but actual abuse, bring it to court with you and request supervised visitations.
Don't worry. We have all been through it and all had the same fears. It will work out.
Thanks ladies. I am still scared...even the public defender said he COULD get 50% custody. I am like really? Cuz, I have documentation of his emotional abuse. I know that Wed will be a waste of my day...but that is ok...it means we are at the beginning of an "end" so to speak of this all. He is VERY anxious to get a divorce, cuz of the new girl living with him...I think he intends to marry her, cuz he is an idiot. Not that she isnt a good person, just b/c he JUST met her in June. Anyway, so I am really wondering how much he will drag this out. He might start out dragging to piss me off...but in the long run, how much does he wanna pay his lawyer? Cuz he will be using him for the divorce too. So...if he wants to pay out the arse for this...fine by me. I hope they come up with a support order..even temp. I am getting 100 bucks every 2 weeks....ugh...and the kids are starting to need things. Sneakers, clothes and just general stuff. I will keep you all posted as to what happens Wed. And I am going for sole custody, cuz, like you said...shoot for the moon, settle for the stars! I like that!
Ok, the public defender is going to say that only to cover his/her ***, it doesn't necessarily mean anything at all, so really, don't worry too much (I know how hard that is!)
I don't know where you live, but check in your area for programs that help with the costs of going back to school. Places offer stuff like backpacks of supplies, vouchers for shoes and such.
Also, even if you are not religious, local churches are another place where you can get things for the kids as far as clothes & shoes as well.
Look for consignment shops in your area - you can get things there for next to nothing.
You can do this, don't let him believe otherwise.
My ex was also very anxious to get a divorce, but because of the cost and what would happen if push came to shove and the debts from the marriage would have to be split, he balked on doing it until his family pushed him enough to filing an uncontested divorce seeking nothing but the divorce (this was after the final custody & support order). The divorce was final 18 yrs & 1 day from the date we actually got married (ironic) and it was nothing more than a signed court document to state that it's done.
Yes...I am so sorry I didn't update you girls. My life has been a crazy emotional rollercoaster. So, basically, I ended up (last Wed) with Joint legal with physical placement with ME. This is good, I know. He still gets visitation, and more than I wanted to give him, but I was trying to think of the children, not ME. So, it got settled...and he is already violating it...thinking he can just pick the kids up from daycare, and stuff...and I am going to have to talk to him about it tonight. He just doesn't get it...we have a COURT ORDER stating when he has parenting time with the children...he isn't supposed to go over and above that, but yet...he is. I am supposed to have the right of first refusal...meaning that I can have them if he is working and I am not (and it's his time with them) and vice versa. But, yet just Wed night, he took them for his time, and doesn't he go to work and leave them with his gf? And NEVER tells me!! Then, calls me AT WORK to tell me that he needs the sitters number so that he can go get the kids early. Yes, this is HIS visitation night, but not until 530. UGH! But, I was at work...I couldn't get into an argument with him with customers right there. So, he took away an 1 1/2 of MY parenting time...that he technically owes me. This all needs to be addressed. Why don't I have a backbone to just tell the man no? Well, b/c I have this deep fear he will just take off with them. It scares the life outta me...gives me nightmares and everything. This was an order HE AGREED to, signed and everything...I wasn't thrilled with visiation...but like I said, I did it for the children, not me. Everything is about HIM...and what is convenient for him. Does or did anyone have those fears? Am I the only one? If so, how did you get over them? If I lost my children, IDK what I would do. I would go insane!
The 'issue' here is that you have joint legal custody with you as primary. Which means that you both have exactly the same legal rights regardless of the fact that the child(ren) live with you.
While I understand that he has visitation time specifically set out, he also has the right to pick the kids up from daycare - he's not actually violating anything unfortunately.
You have a few options at this point:
Accept that he is going to be a hands-on parent and he will either continue to be a part of their lives, or it'll wear off and he will show up less & less.
Sit down & try to figure out the pros & cons of him picking up the children and decide if it's really as bad as it seems - if it is, talk to your lawyer
Take the matter back to court - but unfortunately the Judge may see this as unreasonable behaviour by you and give props to your ex for being so involved in the children's lives.
Is there no clause in there about what parent has the final say in decisions provided it's reasonable?
What about mobility clause? Taking kids out of town/city/state/country? Police involvement?
I know it's not the best information to have to read, and I wish I could offer you something more hopeful, but it appears that the court ruled in the best interest of the children based on the information they were given.
He isn't supposed to take them during my parenting time. We both agreed to parenting time, ie visitation. If he goes outside those times (without MY consent), he is in violation. I don't mind him being "hands-on" but I am sick and tired of him thinking he can RULE over us. And, we went to mediation and I...NOT the court did what was best for the children. It is a court order for a reason, not to be just fudged here and there. It pisses me off that he thinks he can.
If your court order explicitly states that he cannot pick up the kids, or visit the kids outside of his ordered visitation, then you need to have it enforced.
There is no need to be angry with me at the information I posted, I am only giving you a response based on what Joint Custody means under the law and without detailed and explicit orders that clearly spell out what each parent can or cannot do, then it's all up for individual interpretation.
I'm not against you in any way, I've been through things that I've never even typed and only my SO knows anything about which included my ex taking one of the kids and refusing to return him or her until I did what he wanted (agreed to something that was unfair to the kids & I, lent HIM money even though he did nothing to help with the 4 kids, or whatever else he wanted) and I would have to call the police to make him return the child.
I know that it's not easy, and in a perfect world, things would work out as we all imagine; but it's not that simple.