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Here we go again....


confusedmama
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I thought I was finished with court, but no I was served today for a court date on Fri. I am so angry with my ex I could just spit nails. Some recent background info...

After the divorce was final, he stopped paying child support(because he lost his job-his own doing but I can''t prove it) I had him brought up in court and finally after 4 months of none got it through the state. When we finally got to court with this item the judge only made him pay $500 of the $2500 he was in arrears and lowered his payments by $300 a month. I have $20.00 left at the end of the month.

In the meantime-he files to have custody changes for him to get the kids 50% of the time-1week at his house & 1 week at mine. I petition to have a guardian ad litem appointed for the kids, we went to court on this on the 31st of Jan. The judge ruled that visitation/custody would remain the same, except for the fact that he now gets the boys only 1 week a month in the summer instead of every other week. My doing because he has no vacation with his new job and I don't want my children left alone. I believe that he filed this to not pay child support ( and the lawyers actually think this also-mine & the boys).

SO now this, he is trying to get me on not following a court order for not calling him and offering him the boys every time I have to work late. I currently have another family living with me waiting for their house to be completed so on the nights I have to work late they watch the kids so the boys could be in their home in their beds etc...

While I realize it is all about control I can NOT afford to keep running back to court because of his need to control my life. I keep thinking I'm finished with him-I can handle it as a business arrrangement and then he just keeps pulling this crap over and over.

I AM TIRED:sad:

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I have no answers for you. All I can say is that it is so sad to see two people fight over the children they both equally love deeply.

 

So sorry you are all going through this difficult time. Hopefully there will be peace in your lives soon. I wish you luck for Friday.

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Sorry to hear your story. It sounds wearying. :sad:

 

I think I can help with a perspective from a court's possible views - and then what this means for what plan of action you can take in the longer run. But please know I am not an attorney.

 

Mostly I think you have to keep working on the home front. See also my post which follows this one.

 

You have a standing order to call your ex every time you are working late, is that correct?

 

Another question: He is to come get your kids each time and without fail - or is it that only if he can get them, then you can work late?

 

I am assuming the reason for this order/recommendation is because at the time that this court order was made that you were living in a situation that you could not supervise the children while you were working late.

 

Now, however, there is a family who can supervise these children. Unfortunately, unless your ex has been shown to be neglectful or abusive, I would expect that the court would need more than just an argument of convenience or suspected control or vengeance to reverse this previous ruling. He is the father of the children, afterall. The court can't really know how safe your kids are alone with this family. The father takes a whole lot of precedence here.

 

I am also believing you that you feel the ex is using the children to control you - that this is not a real desire to be an active part of his kids life. If so, taking the kids out of their weekly routine at home does not seem worth satisfying a dad who is using his kids to toy with his ex-wife. I will also assume that you know for sure that these people are at least as safe and more watchful than your ex would be -- and definitely as watchful and as safe as any good parent might be. Forget all this legal stuff I am talking about - make sure this family is appropriately capable of being watchful and safe - since they are in your house now. The last thing you need is anything bad happening in this regard.

 

I want you to step back and evaluate this on your own: Do you think this is a father protecting his and his children's need for parental contact? Or do you think that he is using the kids to abuse you?

 

If you think their Dad is being ingenuine -- I would do the following once you can stay at home with the kids:

 

If your Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is still around or if your case is still active, you (or your attorney) contact the GAL and tell him/her your home and work setting has improved - you no longer need the support of your husband's supervision during these hours becasue you are no longer working overtime. A GAL may have to come in to your new setting and make this judgement on her/his own. Or you will need some type of scheduling documentation or letter from your employer. The basis for new recommendations to the court is that your home setting is more stable and safe now. You are present and not working overtime. The kids need greater stability in their routines during the week.

 

Were there social workers assigned to this case? Did you get along with them? How about the GAL?

 

In this case there are three parties. You. Your ex. And your children.

 

A "best interests for the children" argument could be made that the children no longer require your ex's supervision because the home situation is improved. The children's schooling and other activities during the week will be interrupted less if they didn't have to get shuttled between parents becasue your situation no longer leaves them unsupervised at home. In my opinion, the children should feel this way, too.

 

However, if I were the GAL or the judge and the kids wanted and needed to be with the dad, and this supervisory arrangement did not seem to be affecting their education, and the dad did not have any incidents of neglect or abuse, then I would not recommend a reversal of the original court order. But I am not the GAL or judge. This is you asking me for advice.

 

Tell me, what happened in your family which led to the assignment of a Guardian ad Litem?

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I currently have another family living with me waiting for their house to be completed so on the nights I have to work late they watch the kids so the boys could be in their home in their beds etc...

 

This family's involvement in your home is temporary.

 

If it is temporary, I don't see the court reversing this order at this time.

 

My recommendation is to work toward getting a job which might allow you to be with the children and perhaps take the "best interests of the child" approach - the home situation has improved - they need more stability in their weekly routines, and the kids want this, too.

 

Regarding the money thing - ugh. I'm sorry you have to rely on your ex like that. Here again the job thing, savings, all that stuff which you can do to reduce economic and other vulnerabilities for you and your children is what I recommend focusing on.

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The sad thing about kids and divorce is that you can think everything is set in stone and you can now plan your life accordingly, then the ex can go back to court again... sometimes they do it on purpose, specifically to harass you, but lots of time they do have a not too well hidden agenda, like trying to get more custody to reduce or eliminate child support, or just get back at you if they are still angry/bitter at something like you removing his month in the summer with them.

 

that 50/50 split on where the kids live is a ploy that is pretty typical.... he knows if he has them 50% of the time that he won't have to pay child support, or much less if he makes more than you becuase the amount paid is based on amount made and percentage of the time kids spend where... so both lawyers and judges are very aware of this tactic, and will usually not change a custody order in terms of time spent unless there is a clearcut reason for it, like your reason for him not having them an entire month in summer... but if some circumstances do change, or one of you does something that the judge feels is not right, that is when those things change...

 

the problem comes when you do indeed have an order to do something, and just ignore it because you think it is not right... i.e., not call when you are working late. regardless of the merit of that now that your circumstance has changed, that order is the *judge's* order and you are not following it. so your ex can take you to court on this technicality, that you are not doing something you were ordered to do by the judge... the judge can always change the order to remove that requirement, but in the meantime you are in contempt, so please respect whatever orders you are given, and ask to have whatever you don't like changed, rather than just not doing it... something like that you can ignore now and again for a special circumstance (child sick, better not to move between houses), but all the time shows that you are just disobeying an order becuase you don't like it... but the person you are disobeying is the judge not your ex, whenever the judge orders something.

 

the good news is that most judges are very aware of the games that exes play in court to LOOK like they have the best interest of the child at heart, when they are just using that leverage to try to punish the ex or pay less money. they also recognize when someone is just out to soak someone for a lot of money too... so i wouldn't be too worried about him significantly changing custody like giving your ex 50%, unless there is some other reason for it, a major change in circumstances, or the judge feels you are being uncooperative or deceptive about something big...

 

also, please try to let minor amount of financial lapses on his part go, especially if he doesn't have a job or whatever. that can make you look like you're money grubbing if don't cut him some slack now and then... plenty of men do quit their jobs, but lots do go thru temporary trouble not of their own causing, and do get a job again...

 

if it happens once, the judge will usually give some financial relief to him, like your judge cutting the $2000 down, but if its a pattern where your ex doesn't have a good excuse for not paying, or is slacking, or you can prove he's doing it specifically to avoid child support, then you might have more of a case...

 

the sad news is that a huge percentage of fathers DON'T pay their child support, some never, they just skip town etc. and judges are aware that this is the case, so if they can keep them paying whatever they can, as much as they can, then they will make choices to do that rather than force the father into a position where they have huge judgments they can never get past, or are likely to skip out entirely because they feel wronged and unable to keep up...

 

so your best bet is to try to make some permanent changes to adjust your budget to live a bit under what his child support is, more than just $20/month, so it doesn't become a crisis for you if he's late, nor force you to go to the judge for minor short term lapses in payments, which can make you look like you squabbling over money, not what is right for you kids...

 

best of luck, it is always a mess when exes divorce, and cannot settle back into reasonable cooperation with each other... try to work things out with him as much as you can outside court, and live within the means and rules that the judge awards you. if you have real trouble, try consider a mediator. judges look favorably on people trying to solve their own problems rather than constantly returning to court... and always remember it is the judge who holds the key to what happens, so do whatever you can to comply with what he orders. no matter how your husband is behaving...

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My job hasn't changed and actually I'm doing what I went to school to do, it doesn't involve many late late nights-I'm an athletic trainer at a high school which means whenever there is a sporting event at home I'm required to be at school-I'm usually home between 9-9:30. Except football season and then it can be at late as midnight on Friday nights. But my children normally come with me to work-and what better place to spend an evening for boys that watching a sporting event at the local high school?

The court order doesn't address working, I assumed (apparently wrongly) that it meant when going out of town for an overnight or an entire day that I should give him first right of refusal, which if he didn't refuse he would try to use against me in court as saying I am unable to watch my children. These are the games he plays.

 

As far as support, when he went 6 months without paying for his children I did nothing until 3 months had passed-in which time he was collecting unemployment and officiating games and getting paid cash, of which he paid nothing for the children. If he would have made an effort, any effort, I wouldn't have pursued the support, but he did the same thing before we were divorced but working within a mediation agreement and while he still had a job. He has had 17 jobs in the 16years we've been together so this is a habit for him. I refuse to take up his slack any longer. He has the responsiblity to take care of his kids-that is part of being a "good father". It isn't all fun and games.

 

We have been to mediation 3x and it hasn't worked-the rules don't apply to him. If I didn't need his money, believe me I wouldn't ask for it-or it would go to the college fund, but..... because of the way we worked our finances together I am paying for his car, my van, all the expenses of raising the boys for the past 2 years with basically no financial help from him.

I have tried to be fair, I've tried to be forgiving, I feel all I do gets shoved back in my face. I know he misses his children, and I could be really nasty and b*tchy here, but I really wish he would grow up and move on. He controlled me for over 15 years, he can't do it any longer except like this and hopefully soon I can get to a point financially where he won't even be able to do it that way.

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I am glad you are coming here to talk.

 

I know its hard, but is there anyway you can rearrange your life so that you don't need his money at all? Then what you do get is gravy for the college fund. Sure you can't make these changes overnight - but is there perhaps some plan of total financial independence from him we can formulate, to be complete, say accross a year or two? This would not only give you a plan of action to implement, but also something to look forward to.

 

How much money per month would that be (i.e. how much is he supposed to give you) and what changes in lifestyle would it take to pull that off? Do you live in an expensive place like Alexandria - or a more reasonable one like Richmond?

 

Is there an administrative position in the school system you could tell your boss you want and then the two of you together come up with a plan of how you can get a higher paying job?

 

It sounds to me like you've exhausted all your legal remedies to get more money. I know that even the $2000 he is in arrears would only be a one time benefit. Did the judge absolve him of that, too?

 

On a side note:

 

sorry your kid's dad is being such a loser.

 

You probably aren't doing this but I wanted to say, anyway, it is important you don't bad mouth him in front of the kids because he is their only father and their identity is wrapped up in that. When they get older thay can put the other pieces of the full puzzle together as more responsible and grown people.

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I am trying very hard to get my bills in order so I won't need his money, unfortunately because of the arrearage I now have $3000 of credit card debt and because he refused to sign the "quit-claim" deed on the house so I could re-finance in a timely manner my interest rate went up and I got locked into a 2yr pre-payment penalty so I can't even re-finance again to get the rates lowered. As of right now, even with getting the card paid off, until I get my lawyer fees paid and my children out of child care my $$ is totally spent before I see a dime of it. We do nothing extra-I'm struggling to figure out how to pay for the boys to play little league baseball and hoping against hope that they will badger him enough this weekend to take them to sign ups so he will have to pay.

Unfortunately, with public education my yearly raises sometimes don't happen and when they do the increase is usually eaten by an increase in insurance premiums. I am working on my master's so hopefully, yes in a about 5 years I can move up the ladder a little further-its a game and I'll have to see if I can play by the unwritten rules to get ahead.

 

I haven't said anything to the boys about their dad and the games he is playing. I've only begun to tell them to ask their dad for the extra's, such as the yearbook orders, the book orders, etc. If he won't do it, I'll find a way somehow. And I know that even without my saying anything the boys know what is what. They are so resilient and so much of my life revolves around what is right for them. I guess that is what hurts the most out of this-how can their father not feel the same way and want to do what is right for his kids???? To hell with what you feel for me, do what is right for the boys.

 

Thanks for your responses and suggestions please keep them coming.

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Sounds like you are walking thorugh a dark and difficult valley. Also sounds like you know what you are doing and, in time, will get ahead of this financial curve and out of reach of his knuckle balls.

 

Yes, the best interests of the children is your best guide.

 

I am wondering what are you doing for yourself in the middle of all this. Sure, you can't afford a trip to Hawaii - but what about you? I hope you are setting some time and money and slots in your plans and agenda for you.

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Time for me?? And how did you guess I love slots? Last summer I actually did set aside some time and $ and went out with friends when he had the boys, but then when school started and the $$ stopped my life skidded to an abrupt halt.

I am trying to put some $$ away for the boys & I to go somewhere this summer, hopefully with sand, sun and a pink drink with a pretty umbrella even if only for a couple of days. and I think once the family who is living with me finishes their house and I get my house back on the weekends I don't have the boys and can do some low-key entertaining, cards/board games, pot-luck dinners, I will feel much more human. Right now, there isn't enough space for more people to even come and visit for a period of time-over 2 hours-and I am very much a people person.

Hopefully, when I am getting child support regularly-although I'm afraid to depend on it-and can get the bills down to a reasonable pile I can again start to go out dancing and doing what I enjoy.

I do know that it is important to look out for me, I just have problems dong it-typical mom I think

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